History

Uber Tales: Why Taxis Are Scared and Uber is Good For People.

Taxi drivers hate Uber drivers like me.  I’m being literal, they really, really do not like us.  It’s not so bad here in Orlando where I drive in the late night / early morning hours (I get glared at occasionally), but in major cities like New York and other countries where Uber hasn’t already been banned, taxi drivers will actually become violent towards Uber drivers.  It’s not hard to see why; they’re being beaten at their own game.  Taxi service has been around since before we had motor vehicles.  Over the years as places like Manhattan grew into the sprawling metropolises they are today, public and alternative transportation became a huge necessity, which gave rise to the booming taxi cab service that would become a major component of city transportation and a prominent cultural icon.

For nearly a century cab service was without competition.  Sure, there were different cab companies, but they all abided by the same general rule set and system.  They were competitive with each other’s pricing and most often operated the same style of vehicle.  Sure, you had different levels as you do today: Private, higher end “town car” service and localized “pedal cabs” for getting around downtown, but for the most part the position of the taxi cab in our society went without competition or alternative for many decades… until now.

Originally only upscale cars.

Originally only upscale cars.

Where Uber Came From:

In 2008, Garrett Camp, the founder of StumbleUpon (which he sold to Ebay) got together with another web visionary named Travis Kalanik.  Both were coming off of previously successful ventures and looking for their next big thing.  They teamed up to tackle the taxi problem in San Fransisco, and the original “UberCab” prototype app was born.  By 2009, Camp had re-taken over StumbleUpon and hired Kalanik to directly control and develop their ongoing UberCab application.  After much testing and development, UberCab was launched in San Fransisco on July 5th, 2010.

However, even from the beginning, challenges arose.  By October of 2010 the city of San Francisco served UberCab with a cease and desist order for operating a cab company without proper licensing.  So Uber dropped “cab” from their name and officially became “Uber”, an “upscale ride-sharing service” just as AirBNB allows hosts to share their apartment.  Using this model, the founders raised significant capital from eager investors and launched in New York City by May, 2011.  Following that success was Seattle, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago and even Paris as the first international expansion.

In some places it's almost warfare.

In some places it’s almost warfare.

Up to this point, Uber had been primarily based an affordable premium vehicle (“Black Car”) service.  But just as they began to face some backlash regarding surge pricing and fares over the holiday, the unveiled their next secret weapon: UberX.  Based on the above mentioned AirBNB philosophy, this service is cheaper and focuses on newer model hybrid and sedan drivers to get customers where they need to go.  This facilitates expansion into more cities and draws even greater ire from taxi services and cities seeking to regulate the quickly growing trend.  By 2013 Uber was facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines and new competition from other ride-sharing services like Lyft and Sidecar.  However, that same year, California officially recognized “Ride-Sharing” as it’s own official transportation category, providing specific regulations, but paving the way for Uber and other services to operate without the previous fines and roadblocks they had faced.

However, opposition is fierce for Uber, from competitors like Lyft and especially from large, well-established taxi companies and unions.  Because of this, less progressive states are slow to act on regulations regarding the status of ride-sharing platforms.  Much of it is because of outside pressure and in other cases they simply don’t know what to do with it.

Why Uber is Important:

With the history out of the way I can relate a bit more personally to you.  With all the politics involved and the headlines, what you don’t see is the actual good that Uber and it’s drivers are doing for the everyday person.  Allow me to give you a few examples:

"Are you my Uber?"  "No."

Perfectly normal night for an Uber driver.

A few weeks ago I got an early AM request in the Winter Park area.  Shortly after accepting the ride through my app, the client called me.  He had a flight leaving in just over an hour, and the taxi that he had requested a day earlier “couldn’t make it”.  This was for a very important meeting,in Chicago that day and he could not afford to be late.  I didn’t promise I would get him there because the time frame was tight, but I was at his door within five minutes and had him to the airport with about thirty-five minutes to spare.  I don’t know if he made it or not, but he was grateful to have some kind of hope and without Uber he never would’ve had a chance.

Fast forward to about four nights ago and a much more severe situation.  Around five-thirty in the morning I get a request from a neighborhood nearby.  As I’m traveling to the address given, the client calls me and I pick up.  She says: “Hello? Listen, I need you to help me.  I don’t know where I am and I need you to get me out of here.”  I tell her that I’ve got her location on GPS and I’ll be there in a couple minutes.  When I arrive in the area, I find her walking down the side of the road in a black dress with her phone flashlight on for visibility.

She gets in the car and immediately thanks me.  She explains that she had been downtown and had foolishly come back to this guy’s place.  When she arrived she discovered she was alone with he and three of his roommates, and while he had been relaxed and laid back while they were out, he had become aggressive and “creepy” when they arrived at his place.  When she politely (tactfully) tried to defuse the situation, he had put his hands around her neck and began acting more aggressively (to be clear, not violent yet, but implying that things could escalate if she wasn’t cooperative.)  Keeping her calm, she managed to talk her way out of the house by telling them that her friend was worried about her and was already on their way to get her.  Once outside, she used the Uber app to request me so that I could find her and get her home safe.  She relayed this story to me as we were driving and said things like “you probably saved my life”.  While that might be an overstatement (she was already out of the house by the time I got there,) the fact is that a taxi would never have made it to her in the five minutes it took me to get there (especially at 5:30AM in the morning.)  She believes that if she hadn’t gotten away soon, he would’ve come looking for her and it could’ve ended badly.  We stopped at McDonald’s along the way and I dropped her off at her apartment with the trip costing her somewhere around fifteen dollars.  Small price to pay for “salvation”.

Uber makes it a lot easier to be responsible.

Uber makes it a lot easier to be responsible.

The two above are specific examples, but I also want to talk about the huge number of drunken college students and downtown dwellers that might otherwise decide to try to drive if not for Uber.  I’ve heard numerous stories from people who’s friends have been killed in alcohol-related crashes and others who have had their licenses suspended.  The general consensus is that taxis often take too long, cost too much and the drivers are often rude and/or “creepy”.  In contrast Uber is “cool”, “fun”, comfortable” and usually much cheaper than their taxi counterparts.  This social standing and minimal financial impact makes a huge difference with the (often underage) college students to whom conserving image and money are their primary concerns.  At two in the morning, when the partying is either done, or ready to move to the next location, people don’t have a lot of patience, so they want something quick, easy and that doesn’t require too much thought.  Uber fits that description perfectly and that’s why despite opposition the company is growing at an exceptionally fast rate.

Why taxi cabs are scared:

Taxis are working on an antiquated dispatch system that is unreliable at best.  Larger companies like Mears Transportation have launched apps to attempt to compete, but that’s only a surface improvement.  In order to really have a chance their entire system needs a modern overhaul.  The general consensus is that taxi cabs are more expensive, far less reliable,  have lower quality and/or dirtier cars and have drivers that are either not personable, angry or (once again) “creepy.”  I think this has a lot to do with the structure.  Most cab drivers rent the car from their company.  They pay something along the lines of $100 to take the car for a twelve hour period.  That means they begin their day in the hole, having to make that money back before they begin to make money for themselves.  Then, they are pushed to maximize their twelve hours in order to make as much as possible.  This means that breaks, meals and naps are all discouraged during their on time.  I’m not sure about you, but after ten hours (or less!) sitting in a car, I’m ready for a nap, and that’s with several breaks.  It’s no wonder that a lot of cab drivers are irritable.

Realistically... this doesn't happen... (at least not involving the driver...)

Realistically… this doesn’t happen… (at least not involving the driver…)

In contrast, Uber is modern, easy and convenient for both the driver and rider.  As the driver It’s my car, so I’m inclined to keep it clean and take good care of it.  I drive when I want, for as long as I want and take breaks whenever I want to.  That means the only time you’ll see me driving is when I want to be driving.  If I don’t feel like it, I can simply shut the app off and take a walk, take a nap, or meet a friend for a meal.  Combine that with an app that allows the customer to summon me or another driver in three taps or less and you pair up happy riders with happy drivers.

Meanwhile for the rider you have an app-based, cashless system (your credit card is attached to the app.)  There is no worry about tips (you CAN tip, but as drivers we never expect it and don’t get grouchy about it… the point is to keep it all in the app) and no need to fumble for cash or a credit card.  You simply get in, get where you’re going and get out quickly and comfortably.  On top of that, in my experience Uber is about one-third to half the rate of a taxi during normal pricing.  Surge pricing can close that gap some, but it needs to be nearly three times our normal rate to match up in most cases (and if you wait twenty minutes the surge will probably reduce or go away completely.)

Orlando has only had Uber for about a year now, and it’s continuing to gain in popularity.  Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions about riding or driving Uber.  I strongly recommend you give it a shot, and if you plug in a promo code given to you by an existing driver before your first ride, it will be free up to $20 (which can get you a long way!)  I shamelessly dropped my promo code a couple posts back, but since we’re on the subject, it is P9W5KUE.  You can use that for your first free trip and also if you’re interested in becoming a driver for some kind of kickback after so many miles.

They aren't slowing down.  At all.

They aren’t slowing down. At all.

I’m not so much concerned about any extra bonuses as I am getting more of you into using Uber though.  I really feel like it’s an ideal solution for modern transportation that is being embraced by all walks of life from the poor college student to the rich celebrities and everyone in between.  Furthermore, it builds connections between people that might otherwise not exist and enables those who otherwise wouldn’t have feasible transportation to more easily get around.  Whether the taxis like it or not, this is the future of private transportation and it’s good for everyone involved.  Their only choices are to evolve and keep up, or get left behind.

For a great and well-written article on typical Uber rides via GQ, check this out: http://www.gq.com/story/uber-cab-confessions

Thanks for reading!  

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Generations

A young man I know recently posted this quote I’ve seen a few times:

“I am a millennial. Generation Y; born between the birth of AIDS and 9/11, give or take. They call us the global generation. We are known for our entitlement and narcissism. Some say it’s because we’re the first generation where every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. Others think it’s because social media allows us to post when we fart or have a sandwich for all the world to see. But it seems our one defining trait is a numbness to the world. An indifference to suffering.”

While this is technically untrue (Gen Y is defined as being born in the early 80s and the virus that causes AIDS in 1983), the fact that he would feel the need to post this in reference to he and his era made me think a little.

Being born in 1979, I’m technically a member of Generation X but I fall into the grey area on that is the area between the end of Gen X and the beginning of Gen Y (one ends and the other begins in the early 80s.)  According to the internet (the authority on all things true…) Generation X is described as:

“People born between 1961 and 1981, are highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family oriented. The study dispels the materialistic, slacker, disenfranchised stereotype associated with youth in the 1970 and 80s. Unlike their parents who challenged leaders with an intent to replace them, Gen Xers are less likely to idolize leaders and are more inclined to work toward long-term institutional and systematic change through economic, media and consumer actions. Compared with previous generations, Generation X represents a more apparently heterogeneous generation, openly acknowledging and embracing social diversity in terms of such characteristics as race, class, religion, ethnicity, culture, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”

Oh John, you romantic slacker you...

Oh John, you romantic slacker you…

Pretty good right?  Well it would be, if it were entirely true.  Let’s look at some of the pop culture that reflects that generation (X): Movies like The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Empire Records and even Kevin Smith’s Clerks defined Gen X young adults growing up over two decades.  What did they really say about us?  All were essentially young adult characters who were more interested in philosophizing and falling in love than actually settling with a long-term career and family.  Sure it’s fiction, but that still sounds a little more accurate when I recall my high school environment and the years after.  It’s a generalization of course, and the majority of us have turned into functional, comfortable members of society on some level.  But generally speaking generation X was whimsical growing up, and eventually they got really good at it.  So good, in fact, that they brought the rebel, non-suit, out-of-box mentality to corporate America (and the White House…) and created some of the more innovative and successful companies ever, many of which specialized in consumer technology and quite literally paved the way for the very traits that defined the following generation.

But what’s important to remember here is that generation X had a pretty slow start.  They started in the shadow of the post WWII baby boomers in an era where space travel was a magical, advanced reality from a distance, but beyond that their worlds were very small.  They lived in communities and had long-developed routines from the generations that came before them.  They rebelled against this by really not doing anything for a long time.  They slacked off, and they dreamed of doing something different, and easier than what was always done. Only years later as they came into their prime and felt the desire to leave their mark on the world, did they focus their mental abilities on developing better ways to productively do less. That’s right kids, modern technology was developed and advanced by Generation X to make it easier to get by while being lazier.  At work, at home, for entertainment, the Gen X folks created more ways to get things done without really doing anything.  Naturally, the whole world adopted these revolutionary ideas, and the world that once was vast and localized became much, much smaller and connected.  So the stage was set, for Generation Y.

They call us the global generation.” 

Well... it's gotten a lot smaller...

Well… it’s gotten a lot smaller…

 Yes indeed, that’s more accurate than it’s ever been.  With the world (excluding those at least directly walled off) now connected, any person, anywhere is literally a few button pushes away.  With that comes information some people never ever dreamed existed as well as realities about the planet and the people that inhabit it that many could not imagine and would rather have not known.  The world is small now and it’s innocence is lost.  For anyone that is connected, the bliss of ignorance is essentially destroyed.

“We are known for our entitlement and narcissism.”

What they should really be known for, is being born to a world that nobody else ever has been.  Do you think people were never entitled before you?  Far more so.  And narcissism has also existed since people discovered their reflection.  For somebody to suggest that generation Y is any worse is just silly.  One look at the class-based societal structure that dominated much of the world throughout the history of civilization will show you a great deal of very obvious entitlement and narcissism.  The only difference Generation Y has shown, is that they accept it as a flaw, and don’t care to hide it. They are the first generation born with the ability to broadcast everything they are to the world, their perfections and flaws and celebrate it.  In short, they give zero fucks about the labels anyone places on their humanity.  Gen Xers started it by rebelling against what was always traditionally “proper” on a massive scale, and generation Y is simply taking it another step further.  Humanity is, and always has been flawed.  Generation Y is just not buying in to pretending it’s not.  They are the most real generation we’ve yet encountered.

“Some say it’s because we’re the first generation where every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. Others think it’s because social media allows us to post when we fart or have a sandwich for all the world to see.”

Don't worry humanity, a little visine should clear that right up!

Don’t worry humanity, a little visine should clear that right up!

Unfortunately, being real is not all fun and games.  While Generation Y has produced some of the most brilliant and revolutionary minds possibly ever, the flip side is that they are rapidly dismantling the curtain that so much of humanity had pulled over themselves in the previous generations.  When that curtain is pulled back and that light is cast, the reality of humanity, possibly even the majority of it, is ugly.  With the world connected, there is nowhere to hide, so the ignorance, lies, brutality and utterly pointless evil of humanity is exposed over and over again, every day.  Many ignore it by focusing on that “fart” or “sandwich” that was posted instead.  Some recognize and passionately speak out against it.  Some actually do something.  But the reality that Generation Y has to face more than any generation before it is the constant reminder that humans generally suck, and there’s no simple way to fix it. No longer is it the good guys vs the bad guys like the Allies and Axis.  Now it’s “our ideas vs your ideas, and we’re both wrong, but let’s see who is less wrong.”  It’s no different than it ever was throughout history, but now it is seen and cannot be unseen.  Now it stares Generation Y in the face.  

“But it seems our one defining trait is a numbness to the world. An indifference to suffering.”

This is also nothing new.  Before perhaps, a great deal of blissful ignorance took the place of numbness or indifference.  But what really happened is that Generation X created the tools to remove the pretty wrapping, and Generation Y cut it away.  What faces them was an ugly, festering wound that had always been there and they realized they (like all the generations before them) were causing it.  It isn’t numbness or indifference to the suffering, it’s more like hopelessness.  It’s more like “Oh jesus christ.. it’s everywhere.. it’s the whole world.. it’s ME.. how the hell can I possibly fix THIS!?” This realization is quite literally paralyzing.  It forces people to just keep doing what they were doing, or following who they were following, because if they don’t find something to do in order to distract themselves or feel like they are helping, they risk falling into fear, despair and depression.  It’s not the first time people have discovered humanity’s penchant for terrible things, but it’s the first time it’s been a forced global awareness.  That, is what Generation Y has to face.

Like THAT guy.  He knows what he's doing.

Like THAT guy. He knows what he’s doing.

So, how do we fix it?  God? Though many still attend and have their faith, religion is no longer the blind fix-all it oncechampioned itself as, and the more progressive religions admit that outright.  Our “leaders”?  Well American politics is questionable at it’s absolute best because even a good person at the top has to listen to what represents “the majority”.  We have to face that said majority is more often than not controlled by a majority of people that are part of the problem.  At the same time though, we’re well past the point of no return in terms of society.  Without outside intervention (ie: catastrophe or act of god) there is no way to “reset” the rules of the game.  No, there is no clear way to fix it.  Thankfully though, more and more people from Generation X and Generation Y (and even those before them) are trying.  I think the best way any individual can do anything at this point is find the people who have learned the rules of the game, are doing what they believe are the right things the right way, and then follow them.  

But first things first.  The feelings that spawn the quote from the beginning of this article are the challenge that Generation Y must overcome.  What the quote said is not the problem, where it came from is.  What I mean is that nothing rings more true for Generation Y, the aware generation, than the need to face themselves.  Before you can be a part of any solution, you have to be certain you’re not a part of the problem.  It may sound cliche’ and zen-like, but when a huge amount of individuals learn to be all the things so much of humanity has not traditionally been: straightforward, peaceful and especially honest.. then the world will notice and just maybe the world will change.  Maybe it is a little narcissistic, but you have to fix you first, end of story.  Perhaps that will be the legacy passed on to the next generation.

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tail (Part 3)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 3: The Enlightened End

(*Note: This is a continuation of what can be described as a semi-fictional history.  The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true.  In order to get the entire story it is suggested you read the previous posts first.)

Weeks passed and things seemed to return to normal for Kaska-Ta. It was fall now and that brought arguably the best weather of the year in the south. To strengthen their bond with both the local tribes in the southern topics and their tribe leader The King of Trees, the Prince of Stories would make many trips lasting several days. Sometimes he took some of the elder students with him, others he went to train with his seniors. The only way to become a king was to continue learning from those who were kings or were further along than he was. So he often had to make the trip to the north in order to be sure he was learning and growing properly. As a result, older warriors such as Kaska-Ta, The Lady of Diamonds, The Lord of the Butterflies and The Roman would take turns leading the younger warriors in drills. Sometimes this went very well for all involved, but the absence of the prince was missed in many ways.

It was said that to become a king, you would be judged by the quality of your warriors, and most importantly the leaders among them who make future princes, princesses, generals, kings and queens. Most who were present at the time believe that this pressure, along with a declining economy among their tribe caused a great level of insecurity that was taking hold in the Prince of Stories. The leaders in the north did their best to reinforce him by also visiting often (especially since the Gull General had fathered a child with one of the women of the southern tribe.)

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Ouch. Unfortunately it happens.

However, as time went on the insecurity in the Prince of Stories manifested in many ways. Some of the warriors, especially the prodigy Mockingbird, were coming very close to the Prince of Stories’ ability in combat. When they would spar in the circle as was the custom, it would start out beautiful and elegant as it should be, but the Prince of Stories would become frustrated when he could not clearly best his student (who was now, in actuality the student of the Gull General, and many others…) As a result he would change the tone of practice without warning and become overly-aggressive, ending the training with some sort of unexpected violence. Everyone could feel the mood of training drop, and as time went on, though he was not to the same level of ability that the Mockingbird was, he too was the subject of this aggression.

Rumors surfaced that the Prince of Stories was having personal issues with his wife. This was not the tribe’s business (though his wife also trained with them occasionally) except that many believed it was serving to increase the insecurity that was now blatantly obvious in their prince.   Some of the warriors had turned to the Gull General and the the King of Trees to speak to him about these things and find a solution, but whatever the meetings spoke of behind closed doors, they did not provide a solution. Kaska-Ta was becoming increasingly aware that the culture of Kappo Aera was not actually conducive to functional long-term relationships. During his time there he had seen some formed, but they all eventually fell apart. Indeed those that existed when somebody joined the tribe seemed destined to end. There were a couple of exceptions, including the Lord of the Butterflies and his would-be wife known as Dagger. But they were the exception and carried a different mentality than typical for the tribes of Kappo Aera.

Judgement Day.

Judgement Day.

And then everything escalated. One day Kaska-Ta was approached by his friend, the Red Lady. She had been the same friend who had been uncomfortable months before when they had made the pilgrimage to Krawen. After much dancing around the subject, she confided in Kaska-Ta that she had been talking intimately with the Prince of Stories. Kaska-Ta was by no means foolish enough to believe this was one-sided, and easily connected the events of this and the Prince of Stories’ marital issues. There was a long discussion that ended simply with Kaska-Ta advising against it and warning her that there was absolutely no possibility that it could end well.

In the weeks that followed things simply spiraled more out of control. His marriage issues became pubic and the Prince of Stories became desperate. It leaked into every aspect of the tribe. The elder students began to unravel and were pulled away from the tribe by both personal and professional reasons. One night, Kaska-Ta helped the Prince of Stories to his temporary home away from his wife and children, and they talked for many hours under the moonlight about how abusive and angry she had become. All the while Kaska-Ta (unbeknownst to The Prince of Stories) was aware of his quickly diminishing involvement with the Red Lady. He had used many sweet words to woo her, but he could not make a definite decision to leave his wife. The desperation and the situation were quickly causing her to reconsider her involvement. Regardless, Kaska-Ta didn’t care. Perhaps it was his experience in Krawen, or perhaps it was what he had seen from countless other elders and historical accounts, but the Prince of Stories was basically another book in that page. He was just a prince, a leader of a tribe, who had taken to a woman who trusted him as a teacher and betrayed both her and his wife.

Whether it was the work of the gods or simple circumstance, Kaska-Ta was seriously injured in a very simple training exercise a short while later. About this same time he was given an opportunity to study and work under a very different type of leader. He was called a Grandmaster, and he hailed from the lands far to the east. He did not leave the knights of Kappo Aera right away, but as the Prince of Stories became more and more desperate, the tribe fell into greater financial issues and many of the elder students whom Kaska-Ta had bonded with, were gone. While he was healing, Kaska-Ta could not train physically for a long time, and so he fell into visiting periodically, less and less frequently. His time was done… almost.

capoeira-por-do-solA few months later Kaska-Ta was able to spar again and was called to the ocean where the leaders from the north had gathered after the previous day’s ceremony (which he had missed because his new Grandmaster had needed him.) Because this event drew in those Kaska-Ta had bonded with over the years, Kaska-Ta decided to attend. At some point during the festivities a sparring circle was indeed formed, but Kaska-Ta was called out. They performed the rite of initiation that meant Kaska-Ta would receive a new rank. One by one each leader and master came into the circle to battle with an exhausted and rusty Kaska-Ta, and when all was said and done, he was publicly given a new rank, one that meant he was only one rank away from becoming a lieutenant, a true leader among the tribes.

But Kaska-Ta knew he did not deserve this new rank. He thought to himself that he might work hard to earn it, but he knew the truth. The tribe needed to expand in order to save itself from its economic issues. He, and many of the other elder warriors were being recognized in order to promote them to be leaders in hopes they would stay and draw in more people to the tribe. The King of Trees knew the situation was desperate. Later down the road, when the Prince of Stories was given the rank of General despite losing so many of his loyal warriors, Kaska-Ta was genuinely upset, but he was already gone.

That day at the ocean was the final day Kaska-Ta officially spent with the tribe. Though he would visit from time to time, he had a new journey and a new Grandmaster to attend. He kept in touch with many of the elder warriors that he had spent so many days with so long ago, but the more time went on the further away he drifted until he’d been gone longer than he was there. The integrity of the new, strict, eastern Grandmaster, and the Master underneath him reassured Kaska-Ta that this was not soley a warrior’s culture, but one that is perpetuated by specific cultures of specific people, many of whom were attracted to the history and ideals behind Kappo Aera. It was about freedom, and expression and far more sensual than other warrior clans, but unfortunately many twisted that to their own desires, and often to the detriment of the females involved.

History of Freedom

History of Freedom

The longer he was away, the clearer this was to Kaska-Ta. Even as some of his old friends asked him back, and the King of Trees himself migrated to the tropics and asked Kaska-Ta to return, he could not. He knew how the leaders of the tribe saw him, and perhaps a part of him wasn’t able to let that go, but he also believed he shouldn’t have to. There we some with a similar mindset in Grandmaster’s Tribe, but they were not typical, and were not encouraged to be as they were in the shadows. They would cause Kaska-Ta some level of conflict in the days that followed, but none had any power over him as the leaders of Kappo Aera had.

Years later the eventual conclusion Kaska-Ta reached is that neither philosophy was right. One used the concept of freedom to excuse that which should not be excused, the other was so strict it sought to strip away many things that made people individuals. Kaska-Ta, after many years and many stories with the Grandmaster’s tribe, would again become a wanderer. But he was not exiled, he was finding his own way. And that, is an entirely different story.

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tale (Part 2)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 2: Tragedy and Doubt

(*Note: This is a continuation of what can be described as a semi-fictional history.  The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true.  In order to get the entire story it is suggested you read the previous post first.) 

The land of Krawen is a dangerous land often covered in shadow and inhabited by many kinds of demons. On this night, as it was well past the witching hour when the demons are most plentiful, it was foolish for Kaska-Ta and the Owl Princess to linger outside the protection of a palace. As they were speaking a band of four demons passed nearby, but did not to seem to take notice of the carriage or it’s inhabitants. As it turns out, that was only a clever act.

Choose... and act.

Choose… and act.

Before either realized what was happening, a loud smash hammered the side of the carriage where the Owl Princess was sitting, the four demons approached, each with deadly fire-sticks in their hands. These projectile weapons were known to give great and lethal power to those who otherwise had none, so, especially with the princess to think about and four on one, even a warrior like Kaska-Ta had no chance of recourse. The demons pointed the firesticks, at the two of them and commanded them out of either side of the carriage. Kaska-Ta was quickly thrown on the ground and a firestick put to his head while the other demon scoured his pouches for riches. Kaska-Ta had no intention of fighting until he realized the other two demons still had the Owl Princess on the other side of the carriage. In that moment, when he thought of what they might do to her, he resolved that he might die that night. He pleaded with them not to harm her, but they told him to be silent and dug the firestick harder into the back of his head. Despite that he knew he could not allow the demons to violate her and do nothing.

Kaska-Ta’s calm compliance turned to anger and his own inner-demon that he normally fought to restrain began to surface. He knew he had to surprise the one that held the firestick to his head, and that if he could not act quickly it would be the end right away. He was certain he had no real chance, and that he would probably be killed unceremoniously, but he had already resolved to act.  However, in that moment, before he acted, he heard the other two demons approach, and the Owl Princess was put on the ground next to him unharmed. Any resolve to fight faded, and after seizing what they thought were all their valuables, they jumped into the Owl Princess’s carriage and sped away into the night.

As Kaska-Ta and the Owl Princess picked themselves up off the ground the others made their way out of the palace. Mockingbird said he had seen them jump in the carriage and leave… but Kaska-Ta could hardly hear him. He was both enraged and defeated while the Owl Princess broke down in tears. They were separated and the city guards were called to investigate the incident. Eventually they went to the guard captain’s headquarters with the Gull General. He was quiet, but did his best to calm the Owl Princess and Kaska-Ta while she was recounting the loss of her carriage to the guards.

Sunrise over Krawen

Sunrise over Krawen

By the time they returned to the Gull General’s palace it was morning, and Kaska-Ta was scheduled to travel back to the southern region that day. It would’ve been a simple enough matter to have a member of the tribe take Kaska-Ta to the airship landing by carriage, but the Gull General could not be bothered to make such arrangements and none of the other Princes or Kings thought to make a point of it. The truth was, he was livid at Kaska-Ta for endangering the Owl Princess, and he had his own mission in mind that day. He dropped Kaska-Ta at the nearest transport station and left him to travel the long road to the airship landing with the masses. But before he left the carriage, Kaska-Ta said his goodbye to the owl Princess. He told her to be strong, and not let the demons win, and then he kissed her, briefly. It was not romantic, they had bonded through trauma, but at that moment they were close. The Gull General was certainly displeased, but neither of them cared.

The one fortunate turn was that they had not managed to steal Kaska-Ta’s money. Somehow, in their haste the demons had missed his pouch which contained an unusually high amount due to his traveling. So though he was exhausted, had no personal means to send messages and was still recovering from the situation itself, at least he had funds for the long journey. When he arrived his tribe was there, supportive and sympathetic.

The Castle of the Southern Kingdom

The Castle of the Southern Kingdom

Over the next few days after Kaska-Ta arrived back in the southern tropics, the tale became easier to tell and things began to feel normal again. He heard from the Owl Princess and she was having a harder time recovering emotionally, but she was getting better by the day. If anything her concern was to the many rumors floating around of what happened and why.   Many stories had been told, including recounts of how the Gull General had heroically set out alone on his mighty steed the same day Kaska-Ta had left. Scouring the realm of Krawen in daylight, he eventually found the cave in which demons that had attacked resided and had summoned soldiers to arrest them and retrieve the carriage.

Kaska-Ta had avoided mentioning the Owl Princess in his recounts because he also didn’t wish to perpetuate the spread of rumors, but those who were present (such as Mockingbird) also knew what had transpired, so it was impossible to keep completely quiet. Regardless, days and then weeks passed and the memory of the incident faded.

Until a private message arrived for Kaska-Ta from the Gull General, it read:

I wanted to wait a few weeks to make sure that what I wrote was free from all emotion. Initially I was nothing but anger and I needed to let that go. Your actions and behavior in my palace were the topic of discussion for days after you left. None of the men in the house could understand why you acted the way you did while you were here. So that we are clear I am talking about your leaders and kings. When you set your sights on the Owl Princess we were all just a bit confused. After speaking to her and hearing her side so that we were not just basing our judgment on what we saw, we were sure that we were confused about your intentions. It appears that you were interested in her and made some very bad decisions and actions.

To tell her that you were upset about the amount of time that she spent with me is an insult. You were a guest in my palace, and you were upset with a woman you had just met about how much time she spends with me, in my home. That makes no sense. If a woman spends time with a man who is your host, you back the fuck up. Under different circumstances, like had he not allowed you to stay in his home, do what you want. I take this as a personal insult to my kindness for allowing you to stay and you are not welcome in my palace again. After the Princess told you to back off and insulted you, you persisted in your efforts. Under the guise of asking for a short ride to an airship landing that is 90 minutes away you persisted in trying to talk to her.

You took her out of the safety of my palace to the outskirts at well past the witching hour. Even further you followed her to her carriage and stayed. In effect not allowing her to leave because you were in there, and still talking about a ride to the airship landing. You took advantage of her kind nature by continuing to ask her and sitting in her carriage knowing she would not send you away. Even had the demons not attacked, this is unacceptable behavior for a man. We wondered what kind of sex act you were hoping for her in the carriage. As men we know what we do, we persist until there is no hope of conquest. You never had hope in this situation, but you persisted until the end was past and tragedy struck. To say that you never should have shown romantic interest, weather blatant or covert, is an understatement. From the beginning she was not interested but you never gave up. As a man you broke a cardinal rule of manhood. Never put a woman in danger. Not even in the south would I sit unprotected in a carriage so long past the witching hour with a woman. So why do it in these lands with a princess as she is?

You asked to be attacked. Of course I blame the demons, but they only work on opportunity, which you gave to them. Take the following as lessons: Never put a woman in danger. Never persist where you are not welcomed. Take no for an answer. Do not take advantage of the kindness of others. And never disrespect a man in his own palace. When your prince left you here, you were his representative, so what he says to you about this incident has nothing to do with me. As a member of our tribe, what you do on a journey such as this reflects the rest of the group. What the King of Trees says to you about this incident has nothing to do with me.

As a General in this tribe and the man you offended I would never cross a line and use a training circle to show you my anger. My anger is gone, I will not go after you in sparring, I will not try to hurt you in any way. I told you what I needed to say to you, and now it is done. Reply to this or to just let it go. I will let it go and we do not need to discuss it further unless you choose to.

Again this was from me personally, I will visit your tribe in 2 weeks and I have no intention of discussing this with you or acting towards you with any anger.”

 

Kaska-Ta was shocked. Not so much by the Gull General’s anger or banishment from his palace (he had no desire to return there ever again anyway,) but by the statements made in the letter. He, Kaska-Ta, had persisted in his efforts? Unwanted!? He had taken advantage of her kindness!? He was “hoping” for a sex act!? This was simply not the case. He could understand the conclusion given his… liberal reputation among his tribe, but that had been the last thing on her mind that night, and he’s known it. The Gull General had a story that had not transpired, and this disturbed Kaska-Ta greatly. Now, the leaders of his tribe had this judgment of him, a judgment that was false. It was true that he’d had a part in endangering the Owl Princess, but he had not understood the danger, and his ignorance was indeed his fault. But the other accusations… they made no sense. Had the Owl Princess turned on him so easily? He supposed it was possible, she lived within the Gull General’s territory, and so it would be much easier to feed him a story in order to make peace there.

Kaska-Ta sent a reply essentially explaining that he believed there were many misperceptions, miscommunications and possibly two different stories being told. He accepted responsibility for being recklessly foolish about the timing, but also knew that was the only place that conversation could’ve happened as the Owl Princess did not wish the Gull General or any of the others to overhear her laments.   He was thankful, and hopeful that perhaps Mockingbird would back up his side of the story as he had been there for much of it. Still, Kaska-Ta had doubts. Many false stories had been been floating around now.

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The Sunset of the Golden Age

That evening, Kaska-Ta sent word to the Owl Princess of the message he had received. He asked her what she had told the Gull General and if the things he said were what she truly felt. When her reply came it seemed much as he’d expected. Immediately after his departure the Gull General had cornered her and demanded she explain herself to him. Though she denied saying the things the Gull General wrote about in his message, Kaska-Ta could easily understand her desire to protect her own situation, especially after a recent trauma such as she had endured. In the end, somebody was lying, and it came back to him either way. Kaska-Ta wanted peace, so he did not push her, nor did he instigate with the Gull General after he did not respond.

A few days later the Gull General arrived. It was exactly as he said it would be in his message; no signs of malice or unusual aggression when training. When not training he and Kaska-Ta more or less avoided each other. Neither the King of Trees or the Prince of Stories said anything further. The matter was done and Kaska-Ta had his peace. But in addition he had learned an important lesson about the mentalities of his superiors, and though he would continue with his tribe, this lesson would stick with him and remind him every time he saw similar situations transpire. This was the end of his golden age. The beginning of doubt.

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tale (Part 1)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 1

(*Note: This is what can be described as a semi-fictional history.  The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true.) 

Long ago in tropical lands far in the south, there lived a warrior known as Kaska-Ta. Years before this story, he had been a lonely, exiled traveler going by a different name. But a group of knights had taken him in and given him a new name. The Knights of Kappo Aera taught him the ways of song and dance and war, and became his family.

Early on these knights lived under the rule of a mad king. This king was not evil, but arrogant and violent to some.   Thus, for this and perhaps some other reasons in the shadows, the Prince of Stories who led this particular band of knights separated himself from the kingdom, causing much divide and resulting in a feud that would be forgiven by many but never forgotten by all.

Tropical Lands

Tropical Lands

For a time these Knights of Kappo Aera remained autonomous, the Prince of Stories who now led them called upon some of the elder knights (including Kaska-Ta) to help him train the younger warriors properly. Overall their band was happy and Kaska-Ta enjoyed spending time with and helping his peers where he could. Often, when sparring with the Lady of Diamonds or the young prodigy known as Mockingbird, he could not help but smile. In those times there was synergy and peace, even in combat.

However, the Prince of Stories who now led newly separated tribe knew he was not yet prepared to be a king, and so over time his uncertainty grew until a general from a different tribe he had met in his travels invited him to meet his own king. This king was far departed from the prince’s previous king. Though a giant physically, he was calm and serene much like his name. This man was the King of the Trees. After much discussion an arrangement was struck in which the Prince’s tribe would join with that of King of Trees and his Gull General. Thus began the golden age for the knights of Kappo Aera who would now be recognized as warriors.

It was during this time that the Prince’s Tribe was the most active and many locals came to join the tribe of warriors in the tropical south. The King of Trees and his Gull General hailed from a much colder climate and so made the trip to visit the young warriors often. Kaska-Ta was happy, and enjoyed the company of his tribe both new and old. But as everything must, things would change.

Fierce! But...

Fierce! But…

The traditions among all the tribes of Kappo Aera carried heavy tones of misogyny and disrespect for the female members of the tribes. Though the more progressive members of the tribes didn’t believe in such things, and it was often brought up only in humor, the fact remained that it was very real occurrence as evidenced by behaviors specifically at social gatherings. There was a saying that a true lord among the warriors of Kappo Aera would have a woman in every land that they traveled to. Combined with that was the Kappo Aera tradition of deception as a battle strategy. It was very often said that the sparring circle in which they trained battle was a reflection of their outside lives. As such, this deception made it’s way into many of the member’s actions. Thus was eventual bane of Kaska-Ta.

Kaska-Ta was well liked by the tribe, and especially so by many of the female members. He was kind, flirty, and humorous and made them feel at ease, especially when others were far more aggressive and overbearing than he was. Though not initially problematic, Kaska-Ta began to hear whispers from other warriors (both male and female) that some of the higher ranking warriors were displeased at the attention he was receiving. Of course, Kaska-Ta knew not all of these whispers could be entirely trusted either, but among the many there was some truth he could confirm himself. He resolved though, as long as he had his people, he would simply carry on.

The time came to make a pilgrimage to northern climates. It was the summer months so the weather was very agreeable. One of the great kings from the far off lands in which the tribes of Kappo Aera had originally descended would come and bless all the warriors under the King of Trees.   The prince and as many of his southern tribe as possible made the pilgrimage in order to strengthen their union with the warriors under the King of Trees.

A Krawan Demon Prison

A Krawen Demon Prison

The Gull General existed in a dangerous part of the northern lands known as Krawen, but offered up his palace to most of the travelers from the south. However, Kaska-Ta was given different arrangements and was sent to be hosted with one of the students and families who trained under the Gull General. Though this family was very accommodating, very friendly and he had excellent arrangements, Kaska-Ta did not like being separated from the rest of his tribe. One of the newer females in his tribe had become close to him (intimately for a short time, but that time had already passed) and sent messages that she was uncomfortable among all of the generals and princes. Kaska-Ta expressed his desire to re-join his tribe, and the next day was allowed to stay in the Gull General’s palace (later he would learn this was much to the dismay of the General.)

The ceremonies began and all seemed well. Kaska-Ta marveled at the amazing talents the guest Kings, Queens and other royalty exhibited both in music and in combat. His extended family of warriors from the northern tribes of the King of Trees were equally impressive. It was an overall a joyous occasion filled with much learning and positive energy, which was what Kaska-Ta had always loved about the Kappo Aera tribes. In the evening he and some of his tribe-mates new and old were taken to largest city on the continent to marvel at the many towers and castles filled with mystic lights and great paintings. The day had truly been great.

The next day was another ceremony for another local tribe who was allied with the King of Trees. This tribe’s leader was a great scholar of his art named Onaib. Though not yet a king, he was well on his way and was truly a professor of the art and beauty that was the culture of the Kappo Aera tribes. Kaska-Ta was familiar with this teacher from a previous ceremony in which he had traveled south and personally tested Kaska-Ta (among other young warriors of the southern tribe) in combat. He was good natured and skilled while sparring and greeted each student with a combination of vigor and gentleness. He sought to test, not to punish the younger students and Kaska-Ta respected him greatly for it.

Her Namesake

Her Namesake

Transportation to Professor Onaib’s event was arranged for Kaska-Ta and his tribemate Mockingbird traveling in the wagon of a student of another small local tribe known as the Owl Princess. She mused that her and Kaska-Ta had similar hair color and they got along well early on. One of the wheels broke along the way, but Kaska-Ta and Mockingbird were both skilled at such repairs and before long they were traveling again having bonded some through the small circumstance. They made the ceremony right on time and all was well.

During the ceremony, the Owl Princess remained close to Kaska-Ta and would often mess with his hair or rest her head on his shoulder. He enjoyed the attention, but it drew the attention of both his tribe’s Prince of Stories and the Gull General, whom Kaska-Ta was unaware had their eyes on the Owl Princess. As the day progressed the ceremony completed successfully and after further celebration many of the warriors (including the Owl Princess) made their way back to the palace of the Gull General. Immediately after the ceremony, during the after parties and dinner, Kaska-Ta had noticed the attention of the Owl Princess was being intentionally diverted away from him, to some extent by the Prince of Stories and then aggressively by the Gull General.

Once at the palace, the Gull General disappeared to the tower, and so too did the Owl Princess.   During this time, the Mockingbird, who had long been adopted as a second son of the Gull General warned his tribe mate Kaska-Ta that the reason the Gull General had pulled the Owl Princess away was because she had long since been “one of his girls”. Kaska-Ta replied that she had told him she was without a dedicated mate, and was somewhat surprised because the Gull General had recently impregnated one of the southern tribe women, though it was not established they were dedicated mates either. “It matters not… you know this.” The Mockingbird replied. Yes, Kaska-Ta was familiar with the culture, even if he didn’t agree with or follow it.

69e8746bf35ce80eec33946f36cbb38141afaa66473df48c35c0f5fdfe727d32Later, after the festivities had died down, the Owl Princess approached Kaska-Ta, who had been distant and asked him why. Irritated at her deception, he asked her why she had not told him of the Gull General, but she did not answer and instead became defensive, denied her involvement and moved away again. However, when the witching hour had passed, he once again approached her to say goodbye as she intended to return to her home and kingdom. At her request, Kaska-Ta agreed to escort her to her carriage. When they arrived at her transport, away from the ears of the palace, she asked him to stay with her a short time so she could speak with him. Kaska-Ta agreed and for some time they spoke of her family and then her involvement with the Gull General. She was sad, and said that he confused her by sometimes treating her as a princess, and then other times ignoring or even berating her. She knew that he paid attention to other women, but sometimes when he was with her, he would be so tender that she felt he truly cared. Kaska-Ta was irritated by this as he had heard such things many times before.   But he listened patiently, trying to cheer her up and convince her  that the fault was not hers. Unfortunately, during this dialog disaster struck…

Homecoming: In the City of Seattle

I always told myself that when I returned here I would return triumphant.  As if I had gone off on some journey to find a great treasure (The Alchemist?) and would storm the city, riches in hand to show everyone that I had “made it.”  Granted that I have not really returned, I’m just visiting, and on some levels I HAVE “made it” compared to many who struggle on a regular basis. Regardless, maybe it’s a good place to check-in and gauge my development.

No seriously, It's pretty cool.

No seriously, It’s pretty cool.

I’ve spent the last two days putting in nearly thirty-five hours of work.  My current employer specializes in live productions from concept to the show itself and every element in between.  It’s very cool, hip, artistic work and it takes a lot of skilled individuals to bring it all together.  Any of you that have ever worked any sort of production already know that the last few days coming up to the show have to potential to eat your sleep time.  Thankfully a good final result, happy clients and cool people on your team (Along with a LOT of coffee) really help you pull through when you’re on hour 17 after three hours of sleep the night before.

It’s both cool and ironic where our event was this round.  When I lived in Seattle I often thought of how cool it would be to stay in the twin towers of the Westin Hotel.  I used to come here (I’m at the Westin as I write this) with my parents every year to eat at the Japanese restaurant that served my all-time favorite food: Shabu-shabu.   It’s no longer here, but the burger bar that they added is seriously fantastic (I JUST finished it)!  This time I was on the 35th floor out of 40.  It afforded a great view and a comfortable bed.  It’s not the penthouse suite yet, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

3rd and Bell.

3rd and Bell.

The logistics also proved as a reminder for me.  The first night we alked a ways for a team dinner at a restaurant on 2nd and Bell in downtown Seattle.  The relevance in this is that we walked, and it took is right by a building I used to live in (3rd and Bell.)  While it wasn’t the ultimate end to that version of me, I was in one of my much darker phases while I lived there.  My ex and I were estranged, and I made a lot of very questionable choices that would be unthinkable now.  That place is another gauge for me to measure my growth since then, and it makes me grateful.

Now that my work is done I have the opportunity to spend a couple of days catching up.  Tonight is drinks with some lovely ladies I went to high school with, and tomorrow evening I will see my father (I spoke to him earlier, he’s quite excited.)  I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I like this city a lot more this time than the last time I visited.  Granted I was in Hood Canal, and not in the city except briefly, to visit.  But the city itself appeals to me more (even the solid grey sky that has re-appeared since the unusually good weather that heralded my arrival.)  I could live here again I think, the way it feels now.  That’s not to say I’m going to just yet, I will go where my path takes me and right now my place is still firmly in Orlando.  But when I’ve “made it” perhaps I will return triumphant and survey the city from my penthouse.  If I like it as much as I do right now, that’s all I would need.

Homecoming: A Historical Prologue

This post isn’t about Halloween (I did a “fear” post a little over a week and a half ago, that’s all you get.)

For those of you that are still with me, as I write this (I’ll likely post it after we land…) I’m now 38,000 feet above middle-America (Nebraska at the moment I believe) on my way to Seattle for work and then a little play.

Yarr!

Yarr!

The extent of my Halloween celebrations this year involved dressing like a pirate (which I do a few times a year anyway…) and going to work.  This is partially because I always wait until last min and fail to get super excited about my costume, but this year I also had to be at my office by 6:30 AM in order to catch my flight.

Some of you already know,  but I spent a little under the first quarter-century of my life in the Seattle/Washington area.  Though I left when I was around 27, I also moved around a lot when I was young, so stints in Montana, South Dakota (when I was very young,) California, and even Japan are included in that time period.  Regardless, Washington state was my base, where I was born and the closest thing I have to a hometown.

When my logistical situation stabilized a bit as a kid, I was finally able to stick with the same class from 6th grade through high school graduation.  However, I didn’t have the elementary history a lot of those kids did, so it left me feeling awkward and outcast.  Most of middle-school was trying to find the individuals with whom I had common ground but by high school I started to get my social footing.  I was never a part of the popular crowd, but especially by sophomore/junior year, I had a solid group of people that I spent my time with.

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I mean… I had my reasons… (I’m in the middle…)

Early in my high school career, when my family went through a particular low point, my father and I found ourselves homeless.  To his credit, despite our difficulties, my father made it his top priority to get me to school every day as he tried to earn enough money to get us back on our feet.  Eventually some family friends in the Mill Creek area (roughly and hour away from my High School) took us in, but I refused to change schools.  Again my father was gracious enough to make the commute every morning and evening so that I could have some level of regularity.  When we finally got back into an apartment, it was still a distance away in a town called Juanita.  Again I refused to change schools, but memorized the bus routes and spent over an hour on the bus before and after school in order to remain with the group of people I had spent years attempting to connect with

Ironically, I graduated in 1997 and lost touch with a large majority of those people.  Over the years (as often happens) I grew apart from most of my high school friends and went on to develop my life that eventually landed me in Florida.  But then, even more years later (getting into our thirties!) through the wonder of social media, we began to reconnect.  It’s very interesting to see how people change and grow over the years.  Some have changed to the point very little is left of who they were back then (that probably applies to me…) and others very much remind me of the kids I knew in High School.

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Homecoming 1997

This trip, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting up with three of the ladies from my past (including my Senior Homecoming date AND my Senior Prom date.)  It’s literally been over fifteen years since I’ve seen these people in the flesh (I had little interest in my ten year reunion.)  I’m looking forward to both reminiscing and stories of the years in-between.  It really is mind-blowing to think about how your life grows into something completely different than you could’ve imagined back then. Perhaps it is not like that for everyone (I’ve known some to do exactly as they said they would do… and others that are still trying) but I believe for the majority, people develop in ways and directions they never could’ve imagined.  Perhaps they’ll allow me to share a small bit of their stories here after we catch up.

I also plan to visit my father while I’m in the area.  As you have probably gathered, my childhood was (all too typically these days) rocky and difficult.  We were always relatively poor and my parents did the best they could while battling their demons, but those demons and a number of factors contributed to my growing up too quickly and learning to be independent at an early age.  Years later, I am estranged from most of my family and I am more or less friends with my mother and father.  I (obviously) owe them my life and will do what I can to support them as they age, but I don’t remember the last time I felt a close family bond with any member of my biological family.

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Dad – This man knows how to feed me.

That said, especially the last decade or so my father has made great progress.  He went back to school, graduated from the University of Washington with a Computer Science degree, and has a very zen-like low stress philosophy (very much the opposite of his younger days.)  This particular philosophy might’ve been some of the best “advice” he ever gave me (other then my sex talk: “Use a condom.”) he said something along the lines of: “I remember when I was younger I would stress about everything I had to do. I held on to all this stress… it would just ball up inside me and every time the smallest thing would go wrong, I would instantly get angry and explode, causing more problems and making me feel physically sick.  But one day I just realized how pointless it was.  Stress never fixes anything or makes anything better, so I decided I’m just not going to stress anymore.”  Such a simple concept, but it made a huge difference in his approach to life and also impacted me early in my adulthood.  It wasn’t the first or last time I would hear such an outlook, but I saw the transformation in my father for the better and it convinced me.

On a random, semi-related side note, my father is the reason I’m such a hardcore carnivore.  When we could afford it, the man grilled/broiled up a mean steak (he can even prepare a cheap chuck steak to be tender and tasty!)  But the one thing I will always crave from him are his Franks’s hot sauce buffalo wings.  He has a mixture of Franks, butter, and some random spices that make a high calorie, highly addictive and ridiculously delicious buffalo sauce.  I eat way too much and pay for it later.  It’s totally worth it, every time.

Before I get to all those festivities though, there is work to be done.  I’m fortunate to be flying out on the company’s money, but the flip side to that is that we have a major show to put on that will involve over 32 hours of work for our team in just two days. Today is the calm before the storm, I’ll write again when I survive it.