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The power of self improvement

I posted the above from an ER while on a business trip years ago. The pain was white. Electric.

Poked and prodded

I love Persian accents. They’re unique and pleasant to the ear (at least for me). Hard to replicate.

I was at the doctor’s yesterday. Young guy. Friendly. Persian.

Four needles were staring back at me. Waiting patiently to fulfill their destinies.

“How do you handle these?” he asks.

“Generally you put the tube between your index and middle fingers and push the plunger with your thumb.”

I didn’t say that. “No problem,” I answered. “Been poked and prodded a bunch in the military. Only had one near pass-out out of hundreds I guess.” …

Photo: Duy Pham via Unsplash

Spoiler alert: I reveal part of the conclusion to an episode of Psych below after wholeheartedly recommending the series.

The first time I showed up, he did this thing with his arms across the room. Each one was raised up, horizontal at his side, fingers outstretched. He just left them there. Big smile on his face.

He wanted a hug.

Between grown men, hugs are rare. In the workplace, even rarer. Even more unique, I had just shown up at my new job, and he was my boss.

Thus began a yearlong adventure investigating a worldwide money laundering operation. …

Ending the 40-hour workweek

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Because your position is exempt from overtime pay, your salary will compensate you for all hours worked.

-Standard employment agreement

Through a glass, sharply

I don’t know what he thought about me. He never looked through the aquarium glass.

“That’s the life,” I thought to myself. “Be outside all day, have a sense of accomplishment, no one around telling you what to do or how to do it, no phone calls, no IM, no email.”

I kept on thinking how much I’d love to trade places with him. How I was tired of building PnL reports, reading about another boring power plant, handicapping regional…

A day late and a president short

Credit: Jon Tyson

I told you so

I didn’t vote in the last election. I was tired of being stuck with terrible choices each election and “holding my nose” as they say. My family and friends were aghast.

As someone raised in a conservative tradition and by then having become more libertarian, I refused to support the supposed lesser of two evils. For one thing, I had assessed the probability of attempted dictatorship by the Republican nominee as non-zero. And Donald J. Trump was even in the 2016 election a blatant liar, an opportunist on economic policy, and an utter jerk.

Who looks smart in retrospect?


ph. Braydon Anderson

Leaders should harness the jester

One of my favorite movies is Dumb and Dumber. Just so many good lines. Jim Carrey is at his finest, and Jeff Daniels plays the perfect foil (producing plenty of his own laughs).

I’ve seen it at least five times, but it’s been a while. So I am only 98% certain that there’s no hidden wisdom beneath dead bird pets and twin geysers of mustard and ketchup. The movie’s better for it. Sometimes we just need saccharin slapstick absurdity — without any sobering aftertaste.

However, there is a short half-life to charisma in leaders if not backed by some substance…

The Harvard Business School case that gnawed at me for 10 years

Is cheating part of the game? | Houston Astros Manager AJ Hinch (Wikimedia)

The flop

I distinctly remember a particular ‘case’ at Harvard Business School. The task for my class (‘section’) that day was to debate whether cheating in business was okay.

The “cheating-is-cool” side of the argument amounted to an “everybody’s-doing-it” rationale. This justification could have been easily and rightly dismissed by every person’s mother. But because it was an Ivy-League graduate program, this side of the debate was instead anointed in our pre-reading via an obtuse poker comparison and concomitant contortions. [1]

In short, the idea was as follows:

(a) business resembles a game,
(b) poker is unmistakably a game,
(c) everyone bluffs…

A fad diet’s hidden demons

Hiding in plain sight — just like IF’s demonic side | Credit: Alice Alinari

In my first post on intermittent fasting I focused on one of the major benefits of this hunter-gatherer regimen: mental focus. Over the last three years, though, I’ve noticed some detrimental effects from IF for me personally that often counter the benefits.

I find that this “diet,” if I can call it that, gives me clarity and drive in the morning in addition to the body-composition benefits that are both anecdotal (pour moi) and to large extent backed by science. Put simply: to those who are looking to simply lose weight, there is more than enough evidence to at least…

Sport informs life

Is he frozen? | Credit: Jupiterimages

The killer domino

As an adult the epic follies of your own youth-era athletic training become crystal clear, especially once you’re a parent. I suspect that this clarity helps explain why those parents take their daughter’s soccer game way too seriously. So much of what the competitors should be doing on the field is simply “obvious” to that sage who sitteth afar amidst the other elders atop his foldable Coleman throne, mighty Coke Zero in hand.

Nevertheless, I’d do so many things differently if I were to go back in time and pursue those dreams of “making it,” either in tennis or soccer…

Only a few brave souls want to take this hill

Good luck staying in ketosis after that | Credit: engin akyurt

Undiscovered country. That’s what I’d walked into. The woods ended with me standing at the vertex of a ‘V’ formed by the treeline, opening onto a meadow shrouded by mist. Untouched, dew-topped green beneath phantasmic gray and white.

I’d been walking for some hours already, but I didn’t feel the weight of my pack. Only the cool. And the quiet.

I saw a deer feeding in the meadow, so I paused, awestruck by the scene right before me and the backdrop of rolling hills.

I had to get to the next ammo box — and soon. So I eventually started…

Ellen DeGeneres, Tilda Swinton, and human relationships on AI

Author’s note: I suppose everything in here is technically an “author’s note,” but a lot has changed since I first published this story on Medium. Years ago I included Ellen DeGeneres as a character in this post on the presumption that she was “obviously likable.” Since then a number of accusations from staff has surfaced regarding a work environment that was supposedly harsh and less than fully inclusive. In recent days a number of celebrities and a staff member or two have come to Ellen’s defense. This article is not about toxic work environments per se, though I have written…


Not Siri. Sri (shree'). Navy SEAL, podcaster, machine learning, father. Trying to understand jazz. Trying to find huevos rancheros.

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