Monthly Archives: July 2009

Outside of Your Perceptual Awareness

The other day I was sitting in the park, talking to a friend of mine. It is a fairly large park, and there is both a large concrete area, for skateboards, and break dancers to practice, as well as a large grassy area, for little kids to run around and chase Frisbees without worrying about what happens when they fall over. The grass is very soft. And although they have several signs advising folks not to feed the birds, there are always a few people tearing apart pieces of bread for them.

As I was talking to this guy, a flash caught my attention. It’s funny how that works. You’ll be talking to somebody, or watching something, and your attention is pointed her, and then something happens just outside of your conscious awareness but not so much outside of it that you can’t at least notice some kind of activity going on off to the side. It’s like your brain is monitoring what is going on all around you, in case somebody drops a suitcase full of money, or a hungry tiger suddenly materializes. That way you can put a bookmark in your conversation and come back later after you’ve picked up the money and escaped the tiger.

I remember seeing a study done once on human perception and memory. It was done at a University. During a lecture, one with one of those big lecture halls you see on TV, a professor was giving a lecture. The professor was in on the experiment, and all of his students were test subjects. Off to the side was the professor’s briefcase. On the other side of the brief case, was the front entrance. Because the lecture hall was very large, it had two entrances, one in the front, and one in the rear. During the experiment, both doors were closed.

Right in the middle of the lecture, somebody burst in the room, ran across the front of the classroom, grabbed the professor’s briefcase, and ran out. When this happened, most the students were facing forward, so they wouldn’t even have to turn their necks to see the thief (who was also part of the experiment.)

What happened next is very interesting, and has been a known fact within police forces for many years. All of the students were told it was an experiment shortly after the incident, and given a detailed questionnaire regarding the appearance of the “thief.” Most all of them got his description completely wrong. Some even chose the incorrect ethnicity of the thief. Others didn’t remember the right colors of his clothes; some imagined he was wearing a hoody (perhaps as to explain to themselves why they couldn’t remember his face,) and many other things.

One thing a police detective will tell you is that if all they have is eyewitness testimony, they don’t have much, and it is incredibly difficult to get a conviction, let alone a warrant for the arrest if that is all they have to go on. For the police, physical evidence is key. Without physical evidence linking the suspect to the crime, they usually don’t even bother.

One reason I’ve heard for this is that memory is something that you have to “pre-frame,” meaning that you have to consciously choose before you see something that you want to remember it. If you see something that you weren’t expecting, you aren’t likely to remember it. This is perhaps due to an aspect of evolution. The brain isn’t really set up to remember stuff unless it is important to us. And the only things that are important to us automatically are food, predators, and sex. Of course in modern society, food, or resources, is in the form on money, and predators is in the form of anything that we deem a threat to our safety. And of course sex, is and will always be, sex.

Perhaps because the students didn’t recognize any of these three in the experimental thief, their brains didn’t deem it important enough to remember. Had it been their own briefcase that was stolen, they would have likely remembered it. Especially if the briefcase had been filled with money and phone numbers that would likely lead to easy sex. Then you can be sure that they would have remembered every detail about the thief.

So after I turned my attention to the flash I saw in the park, I noticed it was a street performer, doing a juggling act, and he had thrown something up in the air. When it (whatever it was) had reached its apex, it exploded into three balls that came crashing falling down, which he of course caught and started to juggle. I suppose that is a great way to get attention if you are juggler. It certainly got mine, as me and my friend actually stood up to go over and watch him juggle, as so many others did in the park, most of whom gave him a sizable tip in his juggler hat after he’d finished.

Make All Things New

I was taking a bus last weekend to a town not too far from here. It’s in another prefecture, and they have a really good museum there. They’ve taken five hundred or so of the most famous paintings from all time, and reproduced them using some high tech ceramic imaging. (Gotta love Japanese technology!) Supposedly they are completely weather proof and everything, so they will last two thousand years or so. So if mankind decides to destroy ourselves through global warming or nuclear holocaust, at least the aliens will find all of our best art work when they come scavenging in a thousand years or so.

So as I was riding this bus, I was reading through this guidebook. When I travel, I usually don’t like taking tours or planning my trip out extensively, like some people do. In fact, all the times’ I’ve traveled overseas, I’ve only booked the first one of two nights in advance over the internet, and after that I sort of make it up as I go along. It’s much more fun that way. So I usually read whatever travel books are available, get some information online of what I can see there. That way when I get there, I kind of have an idea of what is available, and based on my mood, and the weather, and whatever else happens, I can plan my trip accordingly. When I came to Japan for the first time, I was in one city (I honestly don’t remember which one) and I was deciding on what city to visit next, and I made my decision by taking a poll in the bar I happened to be drinking in at the time. That’s really a fun way to travel.

When you really look at some of the decisions you make, most people would be surprised at how many of them are really made by taking other peoples opinions into consideration. When people spend their valuable time and money on packaged tours, as is common in Japan and in other countries in Asia, they are pretty much letting somebody else make ALL their decision for them. Which is good in some ways, because it allows them to completely relax and just enjoy their trip without worrying about what’s coming next. It’s good when you can release anxiety like that.

So as I was flipping through what information I could find about my destination, I started chatting with the girl sitting next to me. As I turns out, she was from the town I was going to. Only instead of being excited to be going there, she was a little bit depressed. She was going back home after a long week of vacation in the city where I live. And like most people, as I’m sure you can imagine, she wasn’t looking forward to going back to the daily grind. Coming home after a vacation can be a depressing thing indeed.

It’s interesting when two people can look at the same thing and feel completely different interpretations of it. There’s that old story about two guys in prison, and one guy looked out the window and always look down at the ground, and was always depressed, while his cellmate would always look up at the starts and feel inspired and uplifted. The guy that looked up at the stars went on to win the Nobel Prize in Bio-Medical Economic Literature, while the guy that looked in the dirt all time turned out to be the guy that invented telemarketing. Or something like that.

But once I told her I was going on vacation, and asked her opinion on the fun things to do in her town, she got a little less sad, and a little more excited. Although she had to work the next day, so she wouldn’t be able to show me around personally, she seemed to find herself in a much better mood after telling me all the cool things about her city, that only a few moments ago she was dreading returning to. I guess putting things into a different perspective can really brighten your mood if you want it to.

And sometimes when you can do just that, you’ll be surprised to find that some of things around you will take on a whole new meaning when you allow yourself to see something that has always been there for the first time.

Get to the Root of All Desire

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He was a relatively new friend, one that I had met recently, in a bowling alley of all places. It was one of those big places that has several lanes, a bunch of pool tables, a full-blown sports bar, and a group of karaoke boxes in the back. Here when you go and sing karaoke, you don’t sing in a big room in front of strangers, you hire a private room so that you and your friends can drink and belt out tunes to your hearts content without worrying about being judges by others.

It’s interesting when you think of all the bowling alleys you can go to. Some are set up just as bowling alleys, some are set up like the one I went to above, or before, where you can get many entertainment needs met in the same place. If you go with a big group of people, you don’t all have to hang out together. You can break off into smaller groups and kind of do your own thing, and still be together in the same place. It’s interesting when you think of how many ways there are to satisfy different levels of criteria.

So my friend was telling me about his consultant he’d hired to help him start his business. He has several different products, related of course, and he needed help to figure out how to sell them as effectively as possible. This is a lot harder than you think, because when you are a business, and you hire a business consultant to help you sell as much as your product as you can, the business consultant is doing the same thing. His job, as a business consultant is to sell his consulting services to as many people as he can. And most people don’t have look very far back in your experience to find people selling stuff that is more in there best interest than your best interest.

But this particular consultant came highly recommended by many people, so he was fairly confident he was going to get his moneys worth. The consultant told him that when he attempted to sell his product, the idea was to elicit as much as the customers criteria as possible. That way, he could easily show how his product was a good match to fit the customer’s criteria. When you fit your product to your customer’s criteria, it is almost certain that a large percentage of them will buy your product.

Of course, this isn’t quite as easy as it can seem. Because many people aren’t even aware of their own criteria, getting it out of them can be tricky. This is where some really good non-confrontational conversational sales skills can come in handy. Of course if you are selling cars, and somebody knows they want a red car, it’s fairly easy. When you are selling something harder to pin down, like landscaping services or estate planning, this can be a bit more difficult.

It’s like another friend I had. She is getting close to thirty years old, and around this part of the world, if you are female and thirty and not married, that can carry quite a negative social stigma with it. So of course she took some steps to make sure that didn’t happen to her. Nobody wants to have a negative social stigma. So she went to a relationship counselor. And the first thing she asked her was what was important to her in mate. She had never really thought of this before, so she didn’t really know how to answer. It took several sessions with her coach to final flush out all of the things she thought were important.

Her coach had her put them in three different categories. Must haves, Like to have’s, and must not haves, or deal breakers. When she had her list set up like that, it became much easier to go out and meet people. She said a really interesting thing happened when she developed her list of criteria. Before, whenever she went out into a social situation, she was pretty shy, because she always thought people were judging her. But as soon as he developed her mental list, she felt a lot more power and control whenever she found herself in a conversation with somebody. It was as if guys were unconsciously trying to qualify themselves to her, to fit her list, even though she never overtly communicated it.

That was several weeks ago, and I’m guessing, since I haven’t heard from her she’s doing pretty well.

And my friend that had hired the business consult said that as a result, his sales were slowly increasing, and he is really starting to get excited about his future.

What Catches Your Interest?

The other day I was walking down the street, just ambling along. It was the weekend, and I had slept in a little bit later than normal. As such I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I was a bit hungry, although that wasn’t my only purpose for going out. It was a nice day so I decided to stroll downtown to look in the shops, do some people watching, and eventually gets something to eat. You know how when you do this, it can be better. You just float along without any particular destination in mind. People can really enjoy doing this. It can be better than the other way.

So I was just looking in shops, occasionally flirting with girls I passed on the street when I bumped into an old friend. He’s the kind of friend that one would consider low maintenance. The kind that you only need to send a random email to every few months to keep each other up to date on things. Then when you get together, you can quickly remember all those good times you’ve had together, and all those good feelings can help you to really enjoy the present. Other friendships are so lucky, and you have to consistently keep them going. It’s almost like when you were a kid and you convinced your mom to buy you a hamster. It looked really cute in the store, but when you got I home and realized what pain it was to maintain, it didn’t seem so cute any more. And the paradoxical thing is that although it became a pain, this slowly turned into a commitment that through completely different reasons caused you to maintain an interest.

Just before I bumped into my friend, I noticed a commotion across the street. It had seemed that there was a sizeable crowd gathered. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we humans are highly susceptible to follow the crowd, even though many of us don’t like to admit it. When we see a crowd it becomes very hard to resist finding out what the heck is going on.

So naturally I crossed the street to investigate. It was a new surf shop that mainly had surfboards and peripherals. I’ll admit I know absolutely nothing about surfing, which is embarrassing having grown up in a beach town where surfing is popular. The draw was two girls dressed in bikinis, which were one of many clothing items that the store apparently carried. The two girls were professional models who were hired for a couple hours. Their job was to stand outside during lunchtime and attract as many customers as possible. Obviously it worked

Despite my complete lack of knowledge regarding surfing, I nevertheless had to take a look inside. It’s interesting when you look at something. As I was looking at all the surfboards on display, I couldn’t help but notice that some were really interesting, and I couldn’t help but to get really curious about their design and origin. Others that I didn’t think were as interesting only earned a passing glance. Which is interesting in and of itself, the way interest is generated and all that. Why would one surfboard catch one person’s interest, and another surfboard seem completely boring? Not to mention all the accessories, not that I have any idea what they are used for. I ended up spending about twenty minutes walking around the inside of that surf shop. I guess the owner really knew what he was doing when he hired those two bikini models.

After I found out that my friend hadn’t eaten yet either, we decided to head down to a Thai restaurant. There, you can order based on scale of hotness. I always appreciate a spicy meal, so I endeavor to go as hot as I can take it. My friend, on the other hand, being from the south, doesn’t have much of a taste for spicy food, and likes to keep to dishes of four or less.

The Power and Danger of Persuasive Language

There’s been a lot written lately about persuasion. When I say lately, I mean the last thirty years or so. Before then, whenever somebody wanted to sell somebody something, they usually came up with some snappy advertising jingle, and put the product, along with the jingle or some slogan in front of as many people as possible, in hopes that they would be convinced to buy this product. Advertising agencies were the ones that generated the jingles and the slogans. Company execs would pay a huge amount of money to these advertising firms in hopes of creating a memorable meme, or what Mark Twain called “Ear Worms.”

That way the product would be magically attached to this earworm and when people decided to buy a product, that would be the first one on their minds.
Because most people have inherent experience being persuaded to do things, clean your room, finish your vegetables, and everything else humans get conned into doing, they felt that learning persuasion, as a science wasn’t something that needed to be done.

Enter NLP.

In the seventies, a group of guys discovered some incredible language patterns that some therapists had learned to use on their clients with almost magical success. They modeled these patterns and found that when string words together in a certain way, they would have a certain effect. If this sounds similar to coming up with a jingle or a slogan, you are absolutely correct. The difference between them and a jingle or a slogan is that these new patterns had more of a scientific basis them. Jingles or slogans were generated largely by how the ad executives felt about them. How they thought they would work based on their feelings.

These new patterns had a certain degree of structure and repeatability. Meaning that a message structured the same way would generate the same effect in various individuals on consistent basis.

With jingles, they sort of “hoped” that they would work and just threw them out there. Many times when they didn’t work, they would blame the market, or the economy, or the product. They never really sat back and said “Jeeze, this jingle really sucked ass.”

Language patterns on the other hand, had a consistent effect, regardless of the market, or the product or the economy.

But with this new language technology, another problem exists. Before, people had to really focus on creating a good product that many people would get real value from. With these new patterns, it became possible to create the illusion of short-term value that would slowly fade over time, leaving a bad taste in the consumer’s mouth. It became easier for people to focus less on the steak, and more on the sizzle.

The thing the many of these persuasive language-using salesmen don’t understand is that when they say, “sell the sizzle, not the steak,” the underlying presupposition is that the steak is a quality steak, not some old leathery piece of meat that has been in the freezer for six months.

With this new language technology, it has been possible to sell the sizzle, when the steak is really not worth your chewing effort.

If you can combine a decent product that will provide long term value for your customers, with some of these persuasive language patterns, your success is virtually guaranteed. Not only will people be convinced to buy your product over all of your competitors, but also their appreciation of your product will generate sales and referrals and additional income for you.

That is what they mean when they say “Win-Win.”

The Right Mix Will Get You Noticed

The other day I was sitting in my favorite restaurant. It is a Thai restaurant, one of the better ones in the area. I like Thai food very much, so I’ve eaten at most of the ones that I know about. And this particular one is really good. Because they are so good, they are usually very crowded around lunchtime. They are also very smart, because they are only open from 11 AM until 2 PM, to maximize their profit, and minimize their expenditure. And because I like to go when it’s not crowded, I have to show up at just the right time to maximize my own enjoyment. And to be honest, one of the sources of my enjoyment is that the waitresses there are very cute, and very fun to talk to. If I go there when they are busy, then obviously I don’t have much of an opportunity to speak with them. I also usually bring a financial newspaper with me, so I can read about the latest news.

Once I was talking to a local rice farmer. Around where I live there are plenty of rice farms, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now. I don’t know if you are a big eater of rice or not, but here in Asia it has been a large part of their diet for thousands of years, so they have the art of growing it down to an exact science. This farmer was telling me about how you need to plant the seeds at exactly the right time. If you plant them too late, the ground has already saturated all of the nutrients, and if you plant them too early, their roots will take before the rains come and that will affect their development. It’s important for the rice seedlings to enter into the ground at exactly the right time.

Cooking rice is a completely different matter. If you’ve ever used a rice cooker, you know how easy it is. It’s like that commercial for that world famous kitchen appliance where you just “set it, and forget it!” In order to cook the perfect batch of rice, all you really need to concern yourself with is the ratio of rice to water. Then just pour them both in, click the button down, and you’re good to go. And the best part is, when the rice is done cooking, the rice cooker will shut itself off immediately, and will keep it warm for several hours, sometimes even overnight if you have one those fancy cookers.

Eating rice, on the other hand, all bets are off. Some people eat it plain, some put really spicy red sauce in it, some people put meat next to it, and then scoop up a piece of meat and handful of rice, others will mix everything together. Still others will throw the rice into big wok with other vegetables and some shrimp and make fried rice. There is really no end in sight to the different ways you can eat rice.

But the times when I’ve gone to the restaurant too early, it has been busy, and the waitresses were very hurried, and not only did they not have time to chat, I felt if I sat there reading the paper like I normally do, people who were waiting might get impatient. And times when I mistakenly showed up a little late, I didn’t have time to lounge and relax. Timing is very important.

I remember once in high school chemistry class I got into trouble because I mixed two chemicals in the wrong proportion. It was supposed to be exactly three and half to one, but I read the instructions wrong and mixed them at two and half to one. Of course my experiment didn’t turn out very well, and the teacher got angry with me for not listening. It wasn’t as bad as the time I mixed two chemicals that I wasn’t supposed to mix, causing a terrible stench that evacuated the lab. I was allowed to come back in after that.

Now when you start to talk about playing golf, that is different topic altogether. Then you need to factor in wind speed, temperature, club face angle, and how good your short game is. But that will likely be covered in another post. In the meantime, be careful how you mix things together, either with time or with elements of nature. They can come out pretty good if you pay attention to what has been going on here.

Comforting Thoughs Lead to Increasing Ideas

This morning I was doing my usual exercises. I do some setups, a bridge, some Hindu squats, and I have a large elastic band that I use for some upper body work. It saves a lot of time this way; as I don’t have to go to the gym, and it saves quit a lot of money, because the only cost was for the elastic band contraption (which I bought from by the way), which was about fifty dollars. While I was doing my exercises I noticed something strange about my apartment. Because it’s recently become hot, I started sleeping in another room, because I only have an air conditioner in one room, so I sleep in that. And I usually do my exercises right when I wake up, so I do them in the same room where I sleep.

It’s interesting the things you notice when you change your schedule just a little bit. The human mind is a fantastic thinking machine that has developed an extraordinary amount of flexibility over the years. And when I say over the years, I mean over the last million years or so of evolution. On the one hand, the brain is incredibly flexible and adaptive, but on the other hand it can get into a rut rather quickly.

I was reading an interesting article the other day that was talking about how many of superstitions actually stem from the fact that people are afraid to change their habits. Which turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, because once superstition grows to a certain level of acceptance in any society, it becomes a familiarity in and of itself. Likely rooted in the natural and beneficial human desire for safety, humans tend to stick to what works, without having much of a proclivity to stray from the beaten path. Once you something over and over again, and you like the results, there is tendency to stop look for small ways to improve yourself, and start to develop a strong attachment for the same way of doing things. The funny thing is, according to this article, is that many of the methods and techniques we pick up along the way are completely random, and don’t really have anything to do with the outcome.

Just because we tried one random thing, and happened to coincidently get the same outcome, we somehow convince ourselves everything that we did contributes to the outcome.

This is how people grow attached to lucky shirts, going through the same pre-swing ritual in baseball and golf. I’m not sure if I agree with this guys theory but it seems to make a bit of since.

Sometimes when you change your schedule or routine, really cool things can happen. You can notice new ideas, and look at things in a different way.

Once I was driving to a friend’s house, and there was construction going on that I didn’t know about. I had to take a different route to get there, one that I’d never taken before. I found a bagel shop (for those of you that know, I love bagels). I had to stop, and was surprised to find out they have some of the most delicious bagels I’ve ever eaten. They had a salted bagel that had really huge chunks of sea salt all over it, like fourteen-carat chunks of salt. This something that you don’t’ come across everyday, so needless to say I was happy that I had to take a detour.

And what I noticed in my new bedroom this morning while I was doing setups as how much softer the floor is. And to think I’d been wasting all my time sitting in chair on this soft tatami mat floor.


This morning I was out on my normal walk. The weather was a little hotter, and a little drier than normal, and there had been a bit of a wind last night, so the visibility was extraordinary. You could see details on the mountains that you normally could only guess at. And they looked a lot differently than I usually imagine. Not that I spend a lot of time contemplating what the mountains appear through the normal haze that surrounds my small town in the mornings, but nonetheless it was interesting to see the detail and outlines that you don’t normally see.

Once I was supposed to meet a regional supervisor at this company where I used to work. Nobody that I’d spoken to had met her before, although they all had an idea of the kind of person that she was. Most had heard stories from other people who knew somebody that talked to somebody that had met her, and had the real inside scoop, if you know what I mean. One of the more interesting things about getting the inside scoop is you are never really sure if the scoop is actual information, or somebody’s secret interpretation of someone else’s imagination.

Like sometimes when you read a movie review in the newspaper, and it somehow colors your perception of the movie that you want to see. Maybe you only kind of wanted to see this movie, and the reviewer said it was the best thing to come out since “The Sound of Music,” and of course because you love musicals, you really got excited. Then when you saw the movie you were a little bit let down because the singing and the cinematography wasn’t exactly up to your standards. Or maybe you have the pleasurable experience of having a so-so expectation of a movie, and then a review you happen to accidentally glance over describes the movie as only slightly more entertaining that having a root canal by a monkey without any anesthesia for you, or the monkey. Then when you see the actual movie, it is not so bad. Of course, in light of the horrible review you read, perhaps because the reviewer wrote it after having said root canal, you are completely blown away as the movie in question beats all your expectations.

Sometimes when a company will release its earnings report, at first it seems like they are doing pretty good. Like they may say they earned fourteen dollars per share, which is pretty fantastic in today’s market. But when you realize that they were expected to earn fourteen dollars and three cents per share, and only earned fourteen, you can understand why their stock dropped seventy five percent in the first twelve minutes of trading.

I don’t know if you’ve ever met somebody before without any notice whatsoever, but it is kind of an unnerving experience. It’s like you are sitting there minding your own business, and then this person walks into your office and says “Hi I’m your new boss,” or something like that. After you spend a few seconds searching through your brain on how you are supposed to respond to this person, and you come up completely blank, sometimes the best thing to do is just simply pretend they are an old friend. Because more than likely, the other person is going through the same transderivational search in their own brain, so when you act like you are best friends, instead of imposing your reality on them, you are actually doing them a favor by filling in the blanks. And since they are your new boss, it can’t help to have been best friends with them before you’ve even met them. It can be tricky of course, but the benefits are fabulous.

So when I finally met my boss, she turned out to be pretty nice. It seems that everybody I talked to had her confused with somebody else. Maybe a character from mythology or from TV, I’m not sure. And I don’t know how long the mountains will stay as clear as they are, but I kind of like looking at them through the fog of vagueness, as it seems more romantic that way to imagine some mystical mountain creatures living there, even though nobody has ever seen them before.

Seventy Five or a Hole in One

When I was a kid I had this kit that I bought from Radio Shack. It was a 75 in 1 do it yourself electronic kit. It had a large circuit board, and it had a booklet that showed you how to hook up seventy five different simple electronic circuits from strobe lights, to radio receivers, to lie detectors. It was pretty cool, and most kids had them. They were really popular. The cool thing about them was the way they were designed. You would think that having seventy-five different electronic circuits would have a lot of complex components, but it was actually fairly simple. There was quite a bit of overlap between the circuits, so the whole kit could easily fit inside a small box, much smaller than you’d imagine.

I remember a friend of mine bought a specific golf club once. He had played golf for several years, and for the longest time only had this set of clubs that he’d bought a long time ago, back when he was in high school. For the longest time he never used any other club except for these. Then one day he was invited to play in a tournament at a course that he normally couldn’t afford. His boss knew somebody and he got picked at the last minute. He showed up, with his old inexpensive set of clubs. He was ok at first, but somewhere along the line he got into trouble

On the back nine, he found himself in a particular unique hazard. It was a partial pond, but also a partial heavy grass. He looked into his bag, but he didn’t have a particular club for that shot. After a few moments delay, he finally settled on an eight iron. Not the best club for this, but it worked. For some reason, even though the shot was a good shot, and everybody complimented him on his resourcefulness, he felt a little ashamed of having to pull out an old eight iron into that situation. He’d noticed that all the others around him had all kinds of specific clubs for each particular hazard.

Of course as soon as the tournament was over, he went out and shopped and shopped until he found a club that was designed for that particular hazard in mind. He promptly put it in his bag, where it stayed.

I had this professor in college, a professor of philosophy. Dr. Mclurg at San Diego State, probably one of the most influential professors I’ve ever had. He had a particularly engaging way of arguing. He’d grab your attention, pull it in, and you couldn’t help but to see things from several different perspectives at once. Whenever the class finished, I always felt as if my mind had been irreversibly expanded, and I could never go back to my previous way of thinking. One of the striking things about him was that he almost always wore the same shirt. It was a normal, regular button down shirt, but he seemed to always wear the same one. It was if he had decided that the particular thing you are using, despite whether it’s an article of clothing, or an electronic component, as long as it works, it doesn’t really matter what other people think about that. It’s not like the shirt that you wear is going to affect your philosophical arguing points.

Probably the coolest thing I ever did with my seventy five in one electronic kit was to take the strobe light, which was only set up for the amps and current for a small 1.5 volt bulb, and run the light in my bedroom through the circuit. It created a really cool powerful strobe light. And it actually lasted a few minutes before the whole circuit board caught on fire due to overheating. Probably the best thing about that was, by the time I’d saved up my allowance to buy a replacement kit, the newest version was a 150 in 1 kit. Me and my friends really had a blast with that one, and I managed to not burn down my house in the process.

Last time I saw my friend, I asked him if he’d ever used that club, and of course he said he didn’t. He kept it as a reminder to always make sure he was using things for the right reason, and not because he thought he was supposed to according to what other people supposedly thought.

The Elephant’s Path

Once upon a time there was an elephant. He was an adolescent elephant, but he had been separated from his pack. He was out playing with several friends of his, and had gotten lost. The whole elephant group was on their way on their yearly migration pattern. This young elephant was at the age where parents usually let the elephant find it’s own way; because they need to remember how stay on course of their yearly migration path. Most people know that elephants have very good memories, but one thing that many people don’t realize about elephants is that they need to practice this memory from a very young age.

As such, when elephants go wandering off like this young elephant did with his friends, they were concerned, but not overly so. They knew that the elephant would initially find its way. Of course different parents had different time when they let the elephants go roaming off by themselves. After all, they really couldn’t get very far. It was hard to find a large group of elephants slowly moving east. It might take a young adventurous elephant a few days, but they usually found there way fairly easily.

Which of course, was why the parents of this particular elephant weren’t very worried, because he had shown fairly good memory so far. They had made the trip three times already. The first two times the young elephant had stayed very close to his parents, and had wailed considerably when they tried to run up ahead to see if he could find his way. On the third trip, he seemed to be able to stay fairly clear of his parents. Whenever they tried to round him up when they were getting ready to leave with the rest of he group, although he had eventually caught up with them, he seemed to have an “I can do it by myself attitude.”

You know how it is, when you feel a little bit resentful when people are telling you that you should do a certain thing, even though you know that you should probably be doing it anyways, but you kind of resent being told what to do? That is exactly how this elephant felt on that trip.

But now it had been three days since he had seen any other elephants. He had found a couple of small streams to drink from, and finding food wasn’t a problem, because after all, he was an elephant. But he was starting to get lonely. He missed the company of his friends, and that feeling you get when you see something familiar. He was right at the halfway point between enjoying being on his own, and feeling that familiar pull of doing what you are used to all the time. Like you feel like if you go one way, you will go back to how things always were, but if you go the other way, there is no telling how much fun and excitement you could have. The only problem is by going the second way, you might encounter danger that you didn’t know existed before, and you don’t know if you can handle it.

It’s like you have to choose between normal, safe, medium amount of fun, to an opportunity of fantastic excitement and adventure, coupled with a chance of horrible slow impending doom. Even though you are afraid of the doom, you can’t help but to feel compelled to follow this new path. To keep going forward until finally figure out exactly what you are looking for. Like following the familiar path is following the path of other people, and following this new path is following your true heart, wherever it may lead.

The young elephant kept trudging along, all of these thoughts swirling around in his quickly developing adolescent elephant brain. He came up to a rise, and surveyed where he had been, and where he could go. Up ahead, about five miles, to the east, he saw a large, slowly moving cloud of dust. At first he was happy to see it, because he knew it contained his family, his friends, and the rest of the group. To the west, he saw a vast plain filled with unknown trees and mountains and animals he may have never seen before. He knew that up ahead, in six weeks, time, both paths would converge, and all off the elephant groups would meet together. He looked one last time at the far away and slowly moving cloud of dust and certain safety, and then to the west, to the unknown. And he made his decision.