A Stranger and His Dog

On an irregular basis, when the fancy strikes or when I’m reminded of it or for no reason at all, I leave my body and observe my surroundings. I step out of the confines of the mind and body and think about how I fit in the grand scheme of things – from the perspective of the universe. And I realize, consistently, how insignificant many of the things in life are. I am a decaying speck of dust on a planet of 7 billion people within an unfathomable size of a universe. Then, just when I’ve dizzied myself trying to fathom this unfathomable, the fact that all of this exists within a minuscule fraction of time in the history of the planet, of the galaxy, and that there are an ineffable more “fractions of time” to come, I begin to realize how truly small and irrelevant my worries, my pursuits, my accomplishments, my failures are.

I look at the stranger walking his dog, and I see how through the eyes of the shepherd the owner is his universe, while he and they mean next to nothing to me except for being subject matters on a post inspired by a set of fleeting emotions. Things bear significance by the emotions and attachments we give them. A single human, though mostly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, holds the power to draw up an entire universe, to be the world to something/someone else, to cause great joy and sorrow in at least one equally insignificant human being’s life, in turn leading to something much greater than the sum of its parts.

What is the lesson here? As decaying specks of dust with the ability to shape if not reality then the perception of reality, we can choose to focus on the good and enjoy life while it lasts.

Why Age Matters

Some time ago, I caught a glimpse into the soul of mankind. Its ugliness transgressed the sense of sight, reeked and echoed ugliness throughout.

It was the second time it happened when I realized it was that that happened. And I started to learn. To adapt. That I’m quite good at, which is why I’ll never go extinct. It all started when… “Hi [real estate agent’s name], I saw one of your listings on XYZ website and I was wondering if it was still available? The property is at [address]. Would you please give me a call back at … when you get a chance. Thanks!”

In retrospect, I knew what my mistakes were, those tell-tale signs of youth. Too nice. Too chirpy. Instantly, they knew I was not a middle-aged, gray-haired individual with the purchasing power worth their time. Maybe the agent was busy, you say? Maybe he didn’t get my voicemail, you say? Nope, someone else made the same call later that day and his call was returned.

Some time later, I saw another promising property, and this time I had on what I thought was, if not my A, definitely my B-plus game. Made the appointment. On day of viewing, got stood up by the agent.

Thenceforth, I vowed bluntness and what’s the opposite of chirpiness? Moroseness? Thenceforth, I vowed bluntness and moroseness.

What is the lesson learned? Is it that age matters? That perception matters? That friendliness is akin to naivety? That old age and cynicism are two peas in a pod?

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

When I was younger, which was yesterday, I thought about certain elements of the human condition that people, like myself, don’t think about until it is thought about. One such is that in decision-making, attributing disproportionate weight to past costs while diminishing, or full-blown negating, other elements of the equation is an innate propensity. Active awareness of this inherent tendency to act on sunk cost is necessary to ensure decisions are made rationally. Though popular in economics and business, the implications of the Sunk Cost Fallacy are wide and varied. A surprising first-time encounter with this fallacy made me realize that it was neither surprising nor the first time I encountered such encounter.

I’ve conceived and semi-developed a nontrivial number of business ideas as of late and dedicated my full attention to none. As such, the proverbial canons are readied but none have fired. A quick reflection has me thinking that there are three possible explanations for this. For a while, I dismally thought it was either of these two:

  • Never starting means never failing. Internally, I am not ready to take that dive. Which makes sense since I cannot swim.
  • Naysayers have gotten to me, stripped me of my aspirations, mummifying my childhood dreams.

But maybe (as the light shimmers in my eyes), maybe, it’s this:

  • Overcoming the Sunk Cost Fallacy: despite the efforts invested in these projects, an objective analysis reveals that opportunities and capabilities are not aligned. As a proponent of “if you do it, you do it right,” it is best to exercise patience until I am better fit to implement the ideas.

My $0.02 on Cronuts

Cronuts
Based on exhaustive research in reviewing metadata obtained through social media channels and forums, I’ve birthed an opinion of this Cronuts Craze.

People wake up in the wee hours of the night to stand/sit/squat in line to make the 8am opening of Dominique Ansel’s Bakery so that they may acquire these croissant/doughnut hybrids. Much like Black Friday lines, craziness abounds, e.g., a passerby offered a line-waiter $100 for a cronut. For $5 and ~2 hours of discomfort at a most inopportune time of day, many say it’s not worth it. Of course, when you’ve gone through that much effort and inconvenience and when you’re starving/adamant about breaking your fast with a cronut, your brain will tell you it’s the best thing you’ve ever had.

So, what do you do if you don’t believe me/really want to try one/are afraid of missing out on a seemingly-necessary-experience-but-is-actually-not? There are 3 potential remedies to this:

1. Party the night before. Stay out till last call. Then head on over and wait in line.
2. Get a TaskRabbit to get it for you.
3. Read about it and convince yourself/others that it’s not worth it.

A Still Moment

A Still Moment

Figuring out who you are – your morals, strengths, identity in the world – is difficult because self-assessments are hardly an objective endeavor. Knowing who you want to be – your destination, purpose, path to happiness – is nearly impossible because people change. Who you think you are today will likely change and who you want to be will likely change as you respond to surrounding conditions, internal developments, and the procedural wear and tear. Permanency is a rare commodity.

What is and what isn’t? You see the world through a filter of judgments and preconceptions, influenced by events preceding and those expected. You look at yourself through a likewise fluid lens – spectacles made from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s optimism, a sliding scale moving in unison with the moon. Certainty is a luxury afforded by none.

A moment of calm amid the storm of thoughts is all you need. A still moment to realize that sometimes you get so busy figuring out life that you forget to live.

Fear of Execution

It’s obvious why people are afraid of execution. Death is a scary thing. And if you execute your idea – an idea borne from sleepless nights and hopeful daydreams – and if you fail, lose all of your savings, end up in a bad part of town, slip on a banana peel and fall in a pool of acid, death could very well be the outcome.

There once was an article from somewhere citing a study from someplace that alcohol helps to induce creativity by inhibiting the inhibition factors associated with the sober mind. By the same token, alcohol could very well assist with this fear of execution. Perhaps with more anti-inhibitory substances circulating the highways of life (I mean blood vessels, drunk diving is bad), one’s limbs may act in accordance with the mind’s desires.

Idea for consideration: to develop a product that captures the excitement of when an idea is first conceived and archives it; essentially, a product that bottles an emotion for later use.

 

La Bouche Cafe

LaBoucheCafe

La Bouche Cafe, Hoboken, NJ –

They import pastries from Balthazar and Bouchon. They had me there.

I envision having brunch here every Saturday after walking my pet pig. We’d order the eggs benedict with salmon and mushrooms. Or on a hot summer afternoon, a cold homemade lemonade. People-watch while sitting in one of the cute tables outside, sipping a glass of iced latte.

I’ve had all the above + one of the chicken paninis. Quality food. Charming ambience. Friendly staff. Key ingredients to a happy customer.

The Daily Catch

The Daily Catch

The appeal of a place like The Daily Catch is something that befuddles me. People wait in line for an hour to get to a seat in the cramped little hole in the wall, which does look like someone punched a hole in the wall and stuck a restaurant in it. Maybe it’s the herd mentality or something like that. Everything is open. You watch the chef boil your pasta and fry your calamari, see him grab those chicken breasts from the fridge no more than 3 meters from your seat. So maybe it’s the performance piece of it.

When we decided to visit on a Monday night, there was a line of 7 or 8 folks waiting outside. Luckily, we came at an opportune time when a group of 5 or so was leaving the restaurant and an impatient couple in front of the line decided to leave right before the host called us in. The expectation of a 30-45 minute wait time was thus reduced to 5 minutes. The level of excitement then was irrationally high. We got in, sat down, and ignoring the wisdom of the venerable Anthony Bourdain*, ordered the shrimp with squid-ink pasta and fried calamari. It was good. Not good enough to warrant a 30-45 minute wait, but good. The calamari was good – batter was crunchy and not too heavy, the squid was soft, not too rubbery. The pasta was more than al dente, so was slightly disappointed. The  sauce and the flavor of the shrimp – they make up for it. I would come here again, though not sure I’d wait an hour on an empty stomach. But then on a full stomach, why bother?

 

*We learned from Mr. Bourdain that in the restaurant business, seafood is usually delivered on Friday morning and Monday morning. On Monday night, restaurants are most likely trying to get rid of the old seafood. So, you should never order seafood on a Monday night. Unless lower GI discomfort is your thing.

Life

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay

Almost

“Almost” is the most heart-wrenching word in the English language. It is a most disgusting, revolting word. It tugs at the heart strings, feeding the demons of the soul. Almost is, too, the most heart-warming word in the English language. It is forgiving. It is the soft embrace of a new beginning. Almost is also apparently the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

I thank the heavens and earth for that precious, precious word, for today I almost (almost!) kissed a fish.

kiss_a_fish