the Self essay, Uncategorized 0 comments on The Self – An Introduction

The Self – An Introduction

Personal growth is a constant reflection of the choices one has taken to aid the Self in making better decisions at forks in the path to come. Personal growth isn’t something one does by reading a book and executing against its vision. That isn’t personal growth, but instead a cheap form of outsourcing of the same. And yet the self-help sections of bookstores are filled with best sellers which promise everyone the opportunity to live the path which allowed {insert famous individual here} to succeed and potentially share, if one is a strict disciple of the process, a sliver of their success. It baffles me, and leaves me to wonder, and worry, about the nature of individuals, and the loss of Self.

Looking at society today I find myself convinced of the following: Our children are coddled and sheltered. Our youth is disillusioned and unmotivated. Our generation is lost, while our parents deliver entitlements to themselves for which we will someday have to answer to to our yet unborn grandchildren. Declaring war on apathy and indifference would just be another cheap parlor trick to join the War on Poverty and Drugs which has already left us with a farcical social safety net and a totalitarian incarceration rate. The mountain our generation must climb now isn’t one with a fancy name nor one which promises endless riches and glory, but instead one that must be taken upon by a society of lost individuals pushing for a renewed and improved collection of Selves who together at the top will have created through their journey a society in which the sum of the whole is greater than that of the parts.

This series of essays will be my contribution for this Lost generation’s quest to rediscover itself, with the hope that we can deliver a better tomorrow than the one that we inherited today. The preceding paragraphs of this post are a basic introduction of the problem that I hope to address, and the next few paragraphs are the framework upon which I plan to build.

My primary goal is to define the Self and show how awareness of the Self leads to a better understanding of one’s environment. This in turn lays down the foundation for a society of individuals who are both aware and invested in the whole exactly because it empowers the individual.

The Self is the collection of decisions which have been made during one’s journey and a loose understanding of the consequences which resulted and factors which preceded the said decisions.

The role of the Self is as the foundation upon which future unknown decisions will be made given that the anxiety over the uncertainty of the future is somewhat relieved by a faith that one’s past experiences will aid in one’s future conundrums.

The thesis is that only through an acute awareness of the Self are we able to rediscover a sense of belonging and togetherness of which the now defunct American dream has robbed us.

This won’t help others walk their paths. This is not a self-help essay. The only goal is to act as a sounding board for anyone who reads it and finds in it a nugget of interest for themselves.

just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 4 comments on Dawning instead of morning

Dawning instead of morning

It’s been a really tough week for me. I feel as if I laid myself on the line on a couple of different matters, and got burnt pretty badly as a result. I don’t handle those situations very well. Maybe it’s because I wear my heart on my sleeve to too much of an extent. A lot of it is because I saw how my father operated. It was always personal even if it was business, and that’s how I feel I approach life as well. Some of us learn from our parents mistakes, while most of us are doomed to repeat them.

And so as I was laying in bed before starting my day today, I got to thinking about how to change something without losing myself. I don’t want to lose my passion, but I need to channel my energy better when I feel as if I’ve been cut down. In my mind I realized the biggest problem that I face is that I constantly mourn the inability to succeed in the given situation which leaves me in a funk. I just don’t accept the mantra that you can’t win them all because I think I can.

My mind really started to wander, and I got to looking out through our new curtains. I could see the day starting; hear the sounds of the construction crews working outside at the Mint. The sun was fighting through what was left of a cloudy cover. And I really saw the dawn of a new day for the first time in a long, long time. I felt a real joy in being embraced by the sun as it reached out over the City. And I realized that what I need to change about my life is to quit worrying about the mourning, and start focusing on the dawn.

What then is the actual change? My challenge to myself, the path that I must walk down to grow as an individual, an engineer, a friend, a brother, a son, is to take on each day a new dawn. It’s a Sisyphian feat for sure in that while everyone else takes on another morning, I’m hoping to experience a new dawn. In the cliche sense, it could be as simple as a new street that I’ve never visited before, or an old challenge that I’ve been avoiding. But in the short term, for me, it’s going to be simply meeting the sun to make a more complete, full day of each day.

In the end of this experiment, I want to understand one simple construct. Why is it that we begin each day with a morning as opposed to a dawning, and how can I improve myself by just switching that simple bit?

Let the fun begin.

Melih gets married, Uncategorized 2 comments on And then there was a date… but before that drama (Part 2)

And then there was a date… but before that drama (Part 2)

With all of the drama out in the open… on to the good stuff.

We went home the first weekend of March to try to find a place to get married, and with it a date and a theme around which to plan. We landed on Thursday, in the midst of our No Flour, No Sugar diet, and were welcomed home to two refrigerators full of cakes and other desserts. My mom had planned an engagement party for us, and it was going to be full of desserts to celebrate. There went the diet (but just for the weekend for those keeping score). The night we got there, Micky and I met John at the Ale House and got our cheese fries on. Micky and John had red wine. You know you’re a red neck when cheese fries and red wine sounds like a good idea.

We put the diet on pause for the weekend, and had a great time with a whole bunch of my friends, my brother and a whole bunch of his friends from school. There for my mom was the Turkish Mafia. The food was excellent. The decorations were amazing. And the night was just a lot of fun. I think that sometimes I work so much that I forget to have fun, and this was a really good chance to pause and be excited about the life that Micky and I are building together. The best part was just how loving and supportive my friends have been about this whole thing. It’s the best, amazing feeling I’ve ever had.

The next day we headed up to Asheville. Couldn’t convince my mom that taking the Porsche was a good idea, but nonetheless, we made our way out west (including one stop at Bojangles), and made our first appointment on time. The party the night before kept us up until 2:30am, we were still on West Coast time, and waking up at 6:00 was quite the feat, much less making our 11am appointment.

  • Place #1: The Party Barn
    • The Farm Party Barn was a really cool place right off of a country road. It had two real issues in my opinion. One was it wasn’t remote enough that you felt as if you had gotten away from it all. The second was that it wasn’t going to have the colors that were the reason that I want to have the wedding in Asheville. I guess that’s really just 1b of it not feeling remote enough. However, the cabins that they have on site which can be rented were absolutely gorgeous, and were probably the best accommodations we saw on the trip, and the owner is a dentist in town and offers free whitening if you book for a wedding. That was extremely unique! Nonetheless, it just wasn’t quite what we were looking for
  • Place #3: The Fields at Blackberry Cove
    • Doug is the owner of The Fields, and is an absolute riot. He was by far and away the most energetic and fun person with whom we spent our day. The Fields is in a good spot down a long, windy road, and has a cool barn in which the post-wedding activities would have happened. Unfortunately, Micky and I just couldn’t get over the fact that the spot for the wedding ceremony looks at the neighbors ranch style home. Doug promised us that with foliage that you couldn’t see it (and there was no reason to believe he was telling anything but the truth), but we just couldn’t shake it…

which leads me to the where of our wedding

  • Place #2: Claxton Farms
    • Claxton Farms is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, in a valley of sorts where I’m convinced that by our wedding date (soon to be revealed) will be in a sea of colors and autumn glory. They are rebuilding their barn (very sad story of teenage kids, dry foliage, cigarettes or weed, and big flames), and we just really loved the place as we went up a half-mile of gravel road to see the barn. It also helped that they have a planning company of sorts working there which will make being in California and planning a wedding in North Carolina a lot easier.

On October 10th, 2010, we’re going to get married at a place that will be as beautiful as what we hope to build together. I think that’s a really good way to kick things off… don’t you?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Melih gets married, Uncategorized 1 comment on And then there was a date… but before that drama (Part 1)

And then there was a date… but before that drama (Part 1)

I was assuming that my wedding, of all weddings in all the time that has passed since weddings have happened, would be drama free. Not being one who looks for drama, I just assumed things would be easier for us. I was wrong.

Drama #1: Guest List

If you don’t know any Turkish people (which is tough to believe if you’re reading this blog), then you won’t know that Turks are an inherently passive-aggressive group. Yes, they will eventually tell you what they believe, but not immediately and only after a decision has been made, and most likely a decision with which they disagree. So I threw out to the family about who the guest list should include. The response was whoever you want… yeah right. So I then said, fine, I’m not inviting anyone but family and my friends.

Immediately the response changed… and single-handedly doubled the size of the guest list. And then Micky had a panic attack about losing the feeling of the wedding that we wanted, the atmosphere that we wanted and was generally stressed out. Then my mom was upset about who was and wasn’t going to be invited. Then my dad said the wedding is about community just as much, if not more so, than about us.

At this point, I just put my foot down, and said no. I’ve had way too much history with this problem. As a kid, I had to invite the whole slew of Turkish Mafia kids. If there were 20 spots at the Adventure Landing birthday party, then 13 went to the Turkish Mafia, and I had to pick 7 out of many more friends to invite. I hated it. It never felt fair. For my graduation party from college I wanted to invite some very important people to me, but I got the line about community and felt guilted into making it a Turkish Mafia event. I really enjoyed sharing the night with the people who were there, but I felt like there people very important to me, but not necessarily my parents, missing.

And so we talked, agreed on a list which was a compromise (somewhere greater than zero but less than double), and I think it was the right thing to do.

Drama resolved.

Drama #2: Surprise no-shows

If you don’t know anything about Micky (which is possible to be fair), then you’ll quickly discover that she gives an unbelievable amount of herself to others while asking for almost nothing in return. Her selflessness is something which makes her an unbelievable sister, friend, fiancee and generally any other attribute you can throw on inter-personal relationships.

I think Micky loves the idea of everyone who we invite being able to come to the wedding. That’s part of the reason why the guest list was so precious to her. That said, she has a few people who she definitely wanted to come, and to whom she wanted to bestow special roles in the wedding. One of these people really let her down, and has continued to let her down over the course of conversation. It was a huge surprise to me. I thought this was one of the few slam dunks of the whole wedding plan season.

Drama unresolved, but hopefully there’s still a chance.

[The good stuff, and the date, will be part of the second installment in this two-part post]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 2 comments on Find the silver lining… of Texas?

Find the silver lining… of Texas?

My good friend Matt Davis who had a starring role in my Goodbye Old Friend blog post two months back, hates Texas. But that’s because he was born in Oklahoma, and has been a lifelong Sooners fan. You can’t blame the guy. In fact, we can all probably laud him for being such a soothsayer of things to come.

The news that Texas will single handedly rewrite the history of the United States for school children could be viewed as the most asinine thing to come out of the Lone Star state in a long, long time. Some highlights include:

  • Deflecting Thomas Jefferson’s role as a Founding Father to de-emphasize the role that Deists played in building this nation
  • Making sure that the “great” speeches of Jefferson Davis are taught beside the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s inaugural speech
  • Adding the rise of conservatism, the NRA, evangelicalism and other extreme right (but not Neo-Con which is different) to the curriculum when teaching about the 1990s and the 2000s.
  • Making sure that country music is listed as a key cultural contribution of the United States to the world, and making sure that hip-hop, R&B and rap don’t appear on the list

I have no verification that this was in the draft resolution which was passed, but I’m pretty sure that the 44th President of the United States will be re-drawn as a Southern, white protestant male so that the minorities across Texas don’t think they could do something as prestigious as run for President.

What makes the situation much, much worse is that 80% of the country’s school systems use the same textbooks which are published for Texas. Texas has one state curriculum for a state which contributes 34 electoral votes to the presidential election. The massive purchasing power that this one state wields means that many others are forced to swallow the decisions that the Texas Board of Education makes, which as an example includes teaching creationism beside evolution in science class. This centralization of education is both awe-inspiring (that Texas understands their position, and their conservative bloc is arrogant enough to use it), and simultaneously demotivating.

When I read about this issue, I came to the conclusion that the only solution was to home school my children or make sure that I live somewhere outside of the 80% who are using Texas textbooks. Both of these options have their drawbacks, namely in terms of matching careers, lifestyles, family and everything else that goes into where you live and how you live with the the time investment of home schooling or the moving investment of finding a non-Texas textbook school district. I really got to thinking that there had to be a better solution… and I think I may have discovered it.

I think that the Obama administration should take this opportunity to empower local school districts with the technology and resources necessary to move away from physical textbooks and towards using virtual education resources. We need more students who learn how to learn from a young age, and less of the rote memorization and recitation which is our current education curriculum. I don’t care if it means we have a nation of Bohemians as a result because at least we’re building thinkers and leaders as opposed to cogs in a national factory which no longer exists.

I know school districts hate the Internet for what it is, but imagine how much it could enhance a student’s experience to have a textbook which while you’re learning about Egypt has three-dimensional renderings of the pyramids through which the student could walk, or to watch Churchill speak instead of reading about how inspirational he was. What the Internet could be, and what virtual textbooks could be, for K-12 education isn’t something that I think we should toss aside lightly, and now we really have an impetuous to act. We don’t want our children to learn from Texas textbooks.

Let me back up for 2 sentences and say that I was never a fan of a big healthcare bill, but that’s a discussion for another day. I was really hoping that immigration reform, infrastructure investment and government transparency were going to be the hallmarks of Obama’s first term. Given that two out of three of those are a lost cause at this point (who the hell thought that mid-term elections were ever going to be a good idea?), this is something that I could really rally behind.

It creates opportunity in two areas that sorely need help:

  1. Bringing more meritocracy to education at all levels of the socioeconomic ladder
    • There’s no reason to believe that a program like this doesn’t bring a sense of meritocracy to public education. Everyone know of the woes of inner-city schools, but reducing operating costs of everyone involved is one good way to allow all schools, but especially schools where budget is an impeding factor, to invest in teachers, facilities and opportunities
  2. Create jobs for this new wave of educators
    • We need a new technological revolution in the US. I don’t for a second believe that building more Internet applications will help the US maintain its role as a thought leader in the global economy. In that sense, I’m not delusional enough to think that the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world create value, but I also believe that where research is, as far as I know, and where arenas such as bio-medical engineering and clean-tech are, as far as I know, we are still at least a half-generation away from that technological revolution. In the meantime, I assumed that the nation’s infrastructure was the proper investment, but I’m not convinced that our education system is the proper investment. This will, of course, create jobs for all of the individuals involved in this new age of education.

The nerd in me wants to label this Education2.0, but really it’s the hundredth or thousandth iteration of what education could be from when we started to teach until today. Thank you Texas for kicking us in the ass, and showing us that we need to take back control of something as sacred as our own history, and we have the tools ready to do it now.

And while you’re at it, please take your governor seriously and consider secession. It would do the rest of us a huge favor.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
New Year Resolutions, Uncategorized 1 comment on Resolutions update

Resolutions update

Amazing that we’re already two months into 2010. I didn’t have a chance to stop in January and give an update on my resolutions, but I’m flying back to North Carolina today, and decided this was a good chance.

For first timers, I laid out 10 Resolutions for 2010 (which I should have trademarked because it’s an awesome name) in a previous blog post. I tried to make them all something which could be measured, and I put them out in the public sphere as a forcing function to make sure that I deliver.

How am I doing so far?

  1. Lose 25 pounds by June 1st
    • I didn’t define what 25 pounds would actually mean so let me do that now. I started 2010 at 202 lbs. That means that I have to get down to 178 pounds by June 1st. Right now, nine weeks in, I’m down to 194 pounds which puts me right on target for one pound per week. I’ve upped my soccer and gym time, and I’m at the golf course walking every weekend. Which leads me to my next resolution
  2. Play a round of golf in the 80s
    • If you’ve followed me on Twitter, then you know the love-hate relationship that golf has with me. I love it, but it’s a cruel, cruel mistress. I’ve been playing weekly at the Fleming Course at Harding Park where Saket, Matt and I saw the President’s Cup last year. It’s a 9-hole, par 30 course. I’ve never made it out of the 70’s.

      Now that said, my short game is just awesome, and last night at the driving range I really started making progress with my 7- and 9-irons. That said, this may be the most ambitious of the bunch.

  3. Increase my personal savings by one-third
    • While I had a really good idea that I was going to get engaged this year, I didn’t really appreciate how it might affect this resolution. I’m not talking the cost of a diamond ring, but the fact that I no longer have savings because now we have savings. I need to do some thinking on this one and redefine it for the next update.

      However, I am thinking about formally creating an investment club and would live to know if anyone wants in. The structure would be to invest your own money, but amortizing the cost of doing research by sharing a wiki and occasional meetings with others. If anyone is interested, then let me know.

  4. Finish the initial BFBP product
    • The good news is it’s on paper, and it won’t take too long to build. The bad news is that I’m having a tough time finding one hour per day to work on it. That will be my goal in March to help make this resolution happen.
  5. Blog five times per month
    • Success. Loving every minute of it, and I’m really glad you guys are here to share it with me.
  6. Visit one new country, and three new places
    • Total failure so far. One new country may be Egypt, Cook Islands or Bora Bora as part of the honeymoon. The new places may be Pacific Northwest. Not really sure. Would love any and all suggestions.
  7. Run a half-marathon
    • The Box, as I’m affectionately calling my place of employment, has sponsored two internal teams to do a relay marathon at the end of April. That, and losing weight, will be good indicators of how successful this resolution will be.
  8. Learn to Tango
    • I unfortunately have had no chance to work on this resolution. Honestly not holding out a lot of hope for this guy.
  9. Support Micky in helping her stop biting her nails
    • I was told an engagement ring would help. No luck. My next tactic is to use the sour apple stuff that got an old high school classmate of mine to quit. That however will happen covertly, and without prior knowledge. Very secret agent of me.
  10. Support Micky in helping her finish her sailing qualifications
    • Last weekend, Micky went out on her second cruise as the Junior Navigator. We practiced some book knowledge in the car, and I left her alone while she was studying. I did suggest that she skip the cruise because of the gale conditions, but that just inspired her to go. I give myself a “C+” score on this one.

I’d have to say that so far it looks like things are going pretty well. I’m actually really pleasantly surprised by the weight progress, and just hope that golf and BFBP follow along in the months to come.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]