Happy New Yeah (To be read aloud in a particularly drawled out Massachusetts accent)

This message comes to you from an undisclosed location in Seoul, Republic of South Korea. I type these words in between large gulps of South American red wine and a belly full of homemade Korean food courtesy of those who shall remain un-named. If this message reaches you in time only know that I have come out on the other side of the wormhole that was the year 2014 and seem to be molecularly in tact.

Actually this post comes to you a few days late. No one should be surprised at this given the lack of discipline I’ve shown blogging for god-knows-how-long. I had most of it written already but was just enjoying myself too damn much bouncing about Seoul and other parts of Korea to sit down and upload it. Oh, well. Here it is.

Christmas came and went without much fuss or fanfare (for me, specifically) here in Korea. Don’t get me wrong – people were partying like it was 1999 all over the place, but as I’ve become more comfortable living in my own introverted skin, I choose to bow out large social gatherings more regularly. Personally, most of the festive nature around Christmas this year came in the form of me dressing up like Santa Claus for the kids I teach and telling each of them in their ears that I know what they really did this year and that receiving presents would not necessarily be a foregone conclusion unless repentances were made as soon as possible. Some responded with fear and distrust, others laughed at my attempt at infusing Catholic guilt into them by saying “James Teacher, I know it’s you. You’re not Santa. Give me my present.” I got my beard pulled off so many times I stopped counting.

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I was invited over to a Korean friend’s house for Christmas eve dinner and I went with a full heart and empty stomach without much in the way of expectations for the evening. I expected more of a cocktail party, but was pleasantly surprised to receive a heaping plate of roasted chicken, mashed taters, brussel sprouts, stuffing and gravy. Even though most of the expected guests cancelled last minute it was great to actually spend Christmas eve with a family, in a real home, rather than the hobbit cave I have come to call my own. Even if I had stayed at my own place that night and made myself dinner (rice, eggs and kimchi has become a staple for me), I would have been content enough. I took my Christmas Eve this year with a particular gratitude.

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It was also nice to call home and talk with everyone once our time-zones lined up and I knew everyone would be in one place together. It’s not my first Christmas away from home and I remember being distinctly sad in previous years when I’d call home and it seemed like everyone was having fun without me, like they forgot me. I’d bite my lip and try not to sound sad and isolated in whatever state or country I was in and say “well I hope you have a Merry Christmas, I should get going..” until I was able to hang up the phone and go be blue.

I laugh when I recall the time I was living and studying abroad in Prague and wasn’t home for a Christmas. I was 21 years old at the time and my friend Max who came from a large Catholic Haitian family was also in Prague with me. We were in opposite phone booths talking to our families and got off the phone around the same time and both were on the verge of tears because of how tore up we felt over being away from our families. We of course coped the best way we knew how, by finding Chinese food and getting drunk with other foreigners and wound up having a fun night.

This year, calling home I had a particular fortification in my heart that didn’t bring any level of sadness to bear. I had learned so much about myself in 2014 that I was actually happy to be standing tall where I was, even though it was fully across the planet. I made a choice to do something, I made it happen and here I was. I had no regrets. I had done right by my family and loved ones as best I could and I honestly had no regrets. I was able to offer my best self to my family and be honest with how I felt — I felt happy.

All of my fellow foreigner teachers took off to warmer climate destinations for vacations this year. Places like Thailand, The Philippines, Vietnam, Japan (maybe not warmer) were on the list and frankly I wanted to just pick one and go myself. When you start talking with people about good reasons to come teach English in South Korea, one of the first things people tell you about is how “cheap” and easy it is for you to travel to exotic locations you’d probably never see living in the Western Hemisphere. While we do get fairly substantial breaks from work, our Winter break being nine days total, I didn’t feel like I had the time, confidence or money saved to make a trip. Knowing myself to be a fairly sensitive traveler who likes lots of time and comfort to get from one place to another, I realized I was going to be on a shorter than preferred timeline trying to get to and from my far off destinations traveling alone and likely confused. Though I was constantly brown beaten by some foreigners for squandering my time off and choosing to stay in Korea, I knew in my head that taking my week and two weekends to recharge from a hectic two months of getting acclimated to Korea would be wise and more enjoyable than others gave me credit for.

So, what have I done on break so far? Well, I’ve slept a lot. I’ve caught up on that good sleep that comes when you have absolutely nothing you must do the next day. I’ve seen some movies at the movie theater that is a 15 minute walk from my apartment, I’ve worked out a bit and have taken a couple trips to Seoul to explore new neighborhoods and meet up with friends. All good stuff.

So what does it mean that it’s 2015? On thinking about how or if I wanted to make any more resolutions this year, I felt truly lucky to realize how far I’ve come in 2014 and that mainly I just hope to continue on the path I’ve set for myself. It’s more of a multi-year plan. Wellness is they key that holds everything together. It’s been a long time, if ever at all, that I’ve been able to look at my life as it stands and not really feel conflicted that a period of time had passed and I hadn’t capitalized on it in a), b) or c) way.

So here’s to you. Here’s to your new year. Here’s to your last year. I hope the passage of time hasn’t been too fast or too slow or too uncomfortable for you and if it was any of those things, I hope it was in tandem with some amazing growth and self-realization.

Cheers!

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No Blank Check With My Time

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Okay, some details updates:

  • When I lived in Prague there were some amazing street foods that I became quite addicted to… street sausage (no, that wasn’t my actual nick-name), Christmas Carp, smazney cyr and other assorted goodies. Korea has some good street food too! See the picture above… yes… street fire roasted sweet potatoes!
  • I’ve been sick a good portion of the time I’ve been here. I think I got the flu my first week and then got a cold a couple weeks later that hasn’t let up. I got an ear infection yesterday which prompted me to have my boss bring me to a clinic today for some antibiotics. Luckily they are already working and my ear doesn’t feel like there’s a drill bit stuck in it anymore.
  • I’ve traveled almost every weekend that I wasn’t sick. I’ve been to Seoul (the Itaewon area) twice already and went to a poetry open mic in Ulsan last weekend. I’m not sure if I’ll be up to traveling this weekend as I’m still feeling crappy, but we’ll see. I have a long list of places I want to go.
  • Things are still good with the job and the kids. They challenge me, are wicked cute and it’s a massive learning experience that is invaluable.
  • Still hoping to make some more friends to do stuff with that doesn’t involve a ton of drinking. People love to drink here… it reminds me of how I was when I was in my 20’s. I have some fun memories, but not looking to get sucked back into that lifestyle. I’ll keep putting myself out there in those regards.
  • My apartment is pretty much all squared away. I convinced my boss to loan me an extra TV of his and my clothes are all put away. I’m living a minimalist’s wet dream right now. A true bachelor pad.

Coming to teach ESL in Korea I sort of wrote myself a blank check for figuring out what my “next” step would be. I was not sure if teaching would be my end-goal or if I’d find something else out of left field that would inspire me to rush back to the United States to continue on my career development journey. After being here for about a month I’m feeling it’s a bit of column A and column B.

I want to enjoy my time here without putting too much pressure on myself to decide my long-term goals in a specific time frame. Luckily for me, inspiration hits when the pressure is off. Considering I’m an unattached, single 30 year old man, I have the ability to take a lot of different paths of interest.

Within about a week of getting to Korea I stumbled across an NPR episode on the growth of wind energy technician jobs and how there are only about half as many candidates with the necessary skills to fill jobs right now. I’ve wanted to work in renewable energy for a long time, but never quite made it happen. Not for lack of effort, but I’ve always had a distinct shortage of education and experience when it comes to technical skills and renewable energy in particular. That, matched with the fact that every job I’ve had as an adult has been as a white collar marketing guy, lent zero credibility to my desire to work in an industry that was physically demanding and blue-collar-ish.

So, it slowly started to dawn on me that if I really wanted to take this path and if it was still burning a considerably large hole in my chest, I should give my best effort to see it through. Granted, there will be boundaries and challenges to making a career in wind energy possible. First is, as always, money. I’ll have to go back to school for at least a year, maybe two. This isn’t some super expensive degree from a four year university, luckily, but it will still require I put a significant amount of money aside while I’m working in Korea for the next year (or two) to be able to afford this type of degree. I doubt I’ll want to or be able to take another student loan to get this certificate or degree so we’ll see how that part pans out.

Also, there’s always the wild card. Will I discover some unknown passion or love here in Korea that will make me say “fuck-it-all” and choose another path? I’ve done that before, so I won’t write myself off yet.

Regardless, I think it’s important that I didn’t write myself a blank check with my time. I came here to enjoy, but to also learn about myself and make some decisions at this pivotal point in my life so that I don’t wake up one day when I’m older and say that I let opportunities slip by while I wandered aimlessly.

I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds from this whole experience.

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Naked and Unafraid

This past week after work one of my coworkers asked me if I wanted an “interesting experience” with a mischievous grin. I was tired from having hyper children crawling on me all day while I tried to teach them English and my first impulse as an introvert was to go back to my apartment and re-charge for the following day. However, I figured I owed it to myself to at least try something new, even though I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I was told it was a “spa” and that it was unlike anything I had ever done before. I was advised to keep an open mind and that it might not be for me. I was more intrigued after being warned of the weirdness so I happily agreed with a “how bad could it be?” mindset.

So, we walked about 20 minutes from our school to a neighborhood that I had never been to in Cheonan. I probably couldn’t find it by myself if I tried right now, or maybe I could trust blind faith. Either way, we showed up to what looked like a typical gym. We paid at a welcome desk, about $4 USD per person and my coworker smiled and said “here we go.” He lead me into a locker area and after a confusing ritual of taking our shoes off, putting our shoes in one locker, walking to another locker room, I was told, “time to get naked.”

What ensued was a typical male gym locker room experience. Hell, it was a typical after-phys. ed. experience at my all boy high school too. You strip down and head over to the showers. Except, there was an entire self-service spa here. It’s called a jimjabang. Yes, it’s pretty much a bath house. Now you might be thinking, is that the same sort of place the singer George Michael got bagged for soliciting another young gentleman back in the 90’s? Well, hell if I know.

Essentially what you do here is open up the pores in your skin by alternating between hot tubs of various heat level, steam room, sauna, icy baths, swimming pools and ice cold showers. I’ve done such things while staying in a friend’s cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin in the dead of winter. I’ve been blessed throughout my life with pretty good skin so exfoliating has never really been something I was too concerned with. However, I’m a sucker for a good hot tub, especially if it’s just a few marks below scalding. Luckily these hot tubs are very hot and big enough so you’re not too close for comfort with the other buck naked dudes splayed out getting their skin treatment on.

I think the series of events that unfolded were as follows: first you’ve got to shower before you go in the spa area, so you just wash up with soap and water. Then, you dunk in a hot tub for a bit and soak for a while, which leads to a steam room. After steaming for me was an unquestioned amount of time (think somewhere between discomfort and unconsciousness), you walk to an industrial looking shower that pours ice cold pressurized water on you. Hampton Beach Innie Club. Then, you go back to the hot tub area to the hotter tubs, which are, even by my standards, hot as hell. Then from there, you get into a lap pool which seems really cold as well and do some laps to get your blood flowing. Then, back into the fire; a 130 degree sauna for say 10 minutes to death. After the sauna you go lay on cold bricks and marble flat on your back until your heart rate normalizes and you start to come back to the real world. Then, it’s one last dip in the special hot tub which looks like a kiddie pool that a dirty dog just got out of. Apparently it’s a specialty soil bath that is very good for your skin. I reserve judgement.

After your repeated scalding and cooling in rapid succession, you head over to a separate shower area again and scrub the skin off of your body with a body cloth that feels like it’s been dipped in commercial grade sandpaper. You just lather and scrub, lather and scrub and lather and scrub until your skin starts to either bleed or feel clean. For whatever reason, I can take the super hot water, but rubbing my skin until its raw turns me into a weakling, so I just finished up a little early and headed back to the locker room with my co-worker.

At the end of it all, I felt good. I felt like my skin was clean.I also felt like I lost at least a quarter inch of epidermis too. At what cost? Well, at just $5 USD, I think it was a fair price for such an experience. Would I recommend it and do it again? You betcha. As long as you don’t have too many body self-esteem issues (there are dongs literally everywhere) and you don’t mind putting yourself through dramatic shifts in body temperature, I think it’s a fine experience to re-invigorate just about anybody.

For the ladies curious about jimjabangs; yes, there are jimjabangs available just for females too. I hope to be invited to review one of those someday as well.

Until next time, stay weird and righteous.

Posted in humor, south korea | 2 Comments

Week One in Cheonan – Sniffle, Sniffle, Cough, Cough

I’m writing this to you from my tiny studio apartment in the Buldangdong neighborhood of Cheonan, South Korea. I flew into Incheon last Sunday night around 6PM and then took a bus to Cheonan where my school director picked me up and brought me to my apartment. I went to bed almost immediately after having been on the road (or in the sky) for what felt like forever, but was realistically closer to 18 hours.

I went straight to work that Monday, getting to know my coworkers and shadowing classroom teaching for a few days. Wednesday I started teaching my own classes. It’s funny how preparing to teach sucks, but actually teaching is fun. I’m not sure how that works, but that’s what I feel so far. I hate planning, so I guess I need to just get good at looking like I plan well. But I really do love teaching the kids and playing with them.

My kids are between the ages of 5 and 12. A pretty wide range. Most of the teachers at my school have been there for several years, so it doesn’t seem like a place with high churn rate, which is good. The owners of the school seem nice enough and have been helping me get my medical screenings and immigration work squared away, but maintain a general stoicism that I’m coming to expect from them as the year progresses.

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About 36 hours into getting here I started to feel a little off. The jetlag, which I’m familiar with from traveling abroad a few times, was really getting the best of me. I was waking up in the middle of the night or super early in the morning and unable to fall asleep. I started to feel a little sick on Wednesday and tried to ward it off by going to bed early, but with all the clamor and stress of being a new teacher, by Friday night, I was fully in the grips of some awful virus. Headaches, chills, body aches, sweats, stuffy nose and probably fever. I was a mess. I really wanted to go out and explore this weekend and thought about trying to power through it, but realized I was going to have zero luck with that. So I went home after work on Friday, meditated and took a short nap. I woke up feeling way worse and tried to grab food in a restauraunt right near my apartment and was politely asked to leave because the lady running the place spoke no English and couldn’t take my order. So, I went across the street to the other place I knew of in my neighborhood and had porridge for dinner (see picture above). It was good, but I’ve already had it 3 times this week and wanted something different.

Saturday I woke up feeling terrible still, so I pretty much stayed in bed all day until 5 PM, when I put some clothes on and forced myself to leave the house in search of food. I went down to where my school is, where I know there are restaurants with picture menus that I can order from and grabbed some food. One of the ladies working at the restaurant heard my voice and saw me generally looking and feeling like shit and brought me over a big cup of hot broth and told me in broken English to drink it and that it would make me feel better. It was a very nice gesture and one I appreciated very much. After that I made my way back home, talked with my mom on Facebook chat and then went to bed early again and woke up a reasonable hour today.

So, all-in-all, South Korea has been an interesting experience so far. The little kids are fantastic. The food is very good and interesting (and very cheap!). Getting sick my first weekend was a huge bummer, but I’m hoping I’m developing anti-bodies that will ward off more germs as the year goes along. I need to find some vitamin C packets somewhere and make that a daily regimen.

I’ll try to keep these updates going out as regular as possibly without being spammy. I’m off to find some bibimbap for dinner and hopefully avoid getting asked to leave for having no Korean language skills yet. Luckily I found a few survival phrases on my phone that night help me.

As always, feel free to email me any time or Skype/Google Chat me if you see me online!

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Hopefully A Good Example of What Korea Is Going To Be Like

Get ready to shake your butt and not understand why.

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Cheonan or Bust!

OK, here’s the update. I just accepted a job offer teaching in Cheonan, South Korea at a school called ILS (International Language School). It’s pretty close to Seoul, the water and a bunch of city life that I’m excited to explore.

I start November 3rd, so I’ll be hanging around the USA a bit longer than I originally planned, but patience is a virtue. Hoping to be productive, get some more freelance work and maybe travel a bit domestically in the meantime.

I must say, I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of advice given to me along the way by people who have been there and done that with the ESL teaching thing. I wouldn’t have figure it all out on my own in time, I’m sure, so thank you! You know who you are!

If anyone’s interested in checking out ESL teaching jobs in South Korea, I’m pretty much an expert at the process now, so feel free to ask me!

Anyways, that’s my news for now. I’ll be updating more as time goes along.

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An Update On Pretty Much Everything… Oh, And I’m Moving Overseas (Probably)

Where I’ve Been

2014 has been an interesting year. I haven’t posted much on my blog because I spent the early half of the year in a bit of a daze as I packed up my life in Colorado and slowly trekked back East, interviewing with various companies along the way. It simply has been too hard for me to write about in explicit detail. But generally speaking, I went through a breakup. Not just a breakup with a woman whom I loved very much, but with an entire family, with friends, with a city and a lifestyle that I had come to be quite comfortable in. The heartbreak was real. I’d be dishonest if I said the first half of this year wasn’t some of the hardest times I’ve been through in my entire life, yet somehow I managed to experience some of the biggest stretches of growth in my life as well. As one of my favorite quotes from a BJJ Master says: “Reduce your elements and become efficient in very small details.”

Gratefully, with some help and a lot of space and time I got some things physically and mentally back in order that hadn’t even realized were holding me back. It wasn’t a fast or easy process, as I so wanted it to be, but sometimes the right place and time happens upon you and you have to agree to go through the entire process of healing and growth, regardless of what it takes to get through. Or you could just choose not to grow, but that’s a whole other matter…

So here I am at a turning point. A moment that will shift my entire life as I know it. I’ve prepared myself for this by getting in shape and losing over 40 lbs through diet and exercise. I’ve also doubled-down on my mediation practice and mental fortification through reading more.

So here we find ourselves.

Bye Bye Wheels

Yesterday I sold my 2008 Toyota Yaris. That car was damn good to me over the years. It’s seen a lot of this country with me and has never failed me when I needed it. I was in a pensive and grumpy mood when I was closing on selling it because everything about the situation seemed like it was stripping me of my identity and mobility. Yet, it was my idea to sell my car under these circumstances. I could have waited a few more weeks, taken a few more job interviews, or just put it off a little bit longer for maybe more money, but what as I signed the car’s title over and accepted payment, all of my anxiety about the transaction vanished and was replaced with gratitude. I had just sold off the single most valuable asset I owned and I now had what I needed to take the next steps I’ve been planning for so long.

Where I’m Heading

In about a month, I’m planning to move overseas to South Korea to become an ESL teacher for a one year contract. I’ve held off on telling many people I know because I’ve had various potential employers here state-side whom I’ve been speaking with over the past few months and I was sort of just waiting to see if they made me an offer that would convince me that going overseas wasn’t worth it. But, after spending months researching what teaching ESL in South Korea was like and lamenting on a past decision to pass the same opportunity up I realize that this is exactly what I need to do right now in my life. I’ve wanted to do this before and never did it. Now is the time. So, besides selling my car, I figured publicly announcing to the world my intentions to move across the world should seal the deal on my options. Bold action breeds bold results, or so they say!

So, now what? I am car-less for a few weeks and I don’t know my school, city or departure date yet. Figuring out the exact place I’ll be traveling to in October is of utmost importance. I’ll also consider one or two short trips to take that I’ve passed up this year because of various reasons. But, besides that, I’m taking the next 4-5 weeks to essentially deepen my relationships with friends and family before I go. It’s important to me that everyone know exactly where they stand with me leading up to this.

I’m not sure what else to say except that this choice I’m making truly is an expression of who I am and where I am at in life right now. I am trying to live my truth regardless of how it makes me look to others. I’d encourage everyone else to try and do the same, for that matter. Life is too short. You really don’t know what could happen to upset our perfectly laid plans at any moment, so how much true happiness and expression are you willing to put off and sacrifice in order to have a life that appears safe and calm from the outside?

More updates to come on where I’ll be going and when.

Posted in personal development, relationships, relocation | 2 Comments

Book Review: Is This Legal? Inside The Story Of The First UFC From The Man Who Created It

I consider myself to be somewhat of an MMA subject matter expert. Of course, I am humble in knowing that I only know what I know from following the main-stream media coverage of the sport and its athletes and figures. However, I’ve been around since 2003 obsessing over every event in the UFC and overseas as well.

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So, when I got an email from Art Davie’s media team asking me to review the book “Is This Legal?” I was instantly intrigued. I really enjoy tell-all books. I think the last book I read from an insiders perspective of MMA was Pat Militich’s biography which I absolutely loved. But, I was a fan of Pat’s before reading it and frankly, I had only heard of Art Davie’s name a handful of times before getting this book in my hands to review.

I’ll be very honest about something – I came into reading this book with a real bias against it. I know a lot of people in the MMA world dislike Dana White or the current UFC as a business and have gone their own ways in saying how they built MMA, not White and the Fertittas. I was just hoping this book wasn’t going to be chapter after chapter of arrogant bullshit and shit-slinging about stuff that is way under the bridge.

I was pleasantly surprised to read the opposite of that. Art Davie does a great job of painting himself as a humble, passionate, eccentric business man who was in the right place at the right time in creating the UFC. He does, however, give some insight into the dynamics of the Gracie family that made me slightly squeamish to read about. I’ll attribute that feeling to the fact that I’ve come up and gotten my blue belt under a really old-school black-belt and it’s sort of just understood that you don’t air other people’s personal dirty laundry, especially when they are considered the grand master’s of the sport. I suppose Art Davie took off his own blue belt and put on his businessman coat when he decided to do that. That’s his call.

All-in-all, the book was entertaining to read, had a lot of cool stories about early-stage figures in the original UFC that frankly don’t get brought up anymore and gave a peak into the world of what many for us take for granted – an un-charted and largely illegal new sport that took over the world in later years.

While a lot of the fighting terminology and general descriptiveness is based on terms that seem somewhat antiquated in modern MMA circles, this also gives you a feel for what the atmosphere for this sort of event was back in 1993. It’s almost hard to even consider what it would be like.

My main criticism of the book is that Davie describes one of the tournament fighters, Gerard Gordeau, as a potential member of the Neo-Nazi party, only going on to clear that description a few hundred pages later in the book saying that the salute he was doing wasn’t a Nazi salute, but actually a martial arts salute. I even thought myself that Gordeau might be a Nazi when I read it, only to find out later that he wasn’t. If I hadn’t finished the book, I would have had a forever-spoiled view of Gerard Gordeau and that wouldn’t’ have been fair.

I’d recommend “Is This Legal” to anyone for entertainment value and as something to bolster your knowledge of the sport of MMA and it’s roots in the original UFC. While it seems like this book is set on another planet at times compared to what the UFC is today, it should give you some perspective into how far things have come since then.

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Review of “Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon

I’ve been a hesitant fan of Thomas Pynchon since 2005, when I met a beautiful and way-smarter-than-me German woman in Prague taking a literature class with me in Charles University graduate school. She was talking to me about how hard “A Gravity’s Rainbow”by Pynchon was to understand and she seemed frustrated enough about it to make me curious if I could impress her by reading it.

So, I bought an English language copy at a local Prague bookstore and started reading it. I didn’t actually finish it before heading home to America that semester because A)  I had so much damn reading for my other classes and B) it was hard to read. Actually, the hardest thing I had ever read up until then.

Reading Pynchon isn’t for everyone. He’s won a National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow and his level of writing is said by some to be on level with greats such as James Joyce (who I’ve never tackled). It took me about 6 months to get through, bit-by-bit “A Gravity’s Rainbow” once I committed to it and it took the same amount of time this year for me to read “Bleeding Edge.”

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Considering that Thomas Pynchon is in his 70’s’s I was very surprised at how well he was able to encapsulate the early 2000’s where “Bleeding Edge” takes place. Also, the fact that he’s not a tech entrepreneur in any way that I know of is impressive because he really does get some nuanced bits of information about what it’s like to work in the information and tech based businesses. I can vet some of that just from my own experience working in tech throughout my career.

When reading Pynchon, I’m always cautious to critique him too harshly because I sometimes feel what he’s writing about and how he’s writing about it might just be over my head. Then again, I probably don’t give myself enough credit. “Bleeding Edge” does an interesting job of writing about a complex world of international embezzlement, 9/11 culture in the early 2000’s and the tech bubble of the time. I haven’t really read much around that time that felt appropriate and accurate, but this book does a good job.

I’d say that this book isn’t Pynchon’s greatest work. “A Gravity’s Rainbow” still is. “Inherent Vice” was a ton of fun to read too. “Bleeding Edge” wasn’t so much fun as some of his other books.

I might have to read it again, but as of now, I’d judge “Bleeding Edge” as a B- effort from Pynchon. I’ll be interested to look up some other reviews on the internet as I haven’t read any other opinions on it before writing this.

I hope Pynchon has another good novel in him at least. We’ll see. We’ve been lucky to have what he’s given us so far. I’ll keep reading what he rights in attempt to expand my mind and hopefully impressive the next impossibly smart women I meet at a pretentious cocktail party.

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Your Social Media and Community Best Practices Are Bullshit

As I’ve spent a lot of hours interviewing with a lot of companies over the past few months, I’ve realized a trend in the types of companies and people I’d potentially like to work for and the ones I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes at.

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When I get pressed to discuss industry best practices in social media, I’ve literally started responding with “I don’t care.”

This might seem abrasive or arrogant, but frankly, people who ask these questions are the types of media professionals that don’t “get” the new waves of digital technologies that are constantly evolving. It’s like trying to keep up with SEO. If you introduce me to someone who’s been an expert in ever single change and best practice in SEO over the last 8 years, I’ll point out someone who is either full of shit or on some Rain Man level of information retention. You don’t want a historian who simply tracks changes over time running your social and community building programs if you’re trying to do anything interesting. You need someone who’s willing to learn, absorb and try new things, regardless if they are or are not in vogue with the rest of the industry.

Everyone is making this shit up as they go along. EVERYONE. I don’t care how much of a savant someone might seem in articulating the current state of social media, when it comes to predicting how tight behemoths like Facebook and Twitter make the collar on marketers, it’s anyone’s best guess until algorithms are changed and everyone sees how bad their marketing reach really is.

I suggest employers ask candidates what their thoughts are on specific problems. How would they solve them? Ask them what annoys them about the current state of affairs in marketing. Don’t ask them to recite what Brian Solis  Gary Vaynerchuk are going on endlessly about lately.

If I, or any of the other candidates can’t look at your product or service with a fresh, objective, un-biased set of eyes and figure out a unique marketing strategy or approach, their value to your organization is and always be limited.

The companies I have been most excited about are the ones who don’t want anything to do with the status quo. Those are the places to be.

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