I read a study that showed something fascinating about people who place bets in sports. The study asserts: after placing a bet, people are much more confident of their chances of winning than they are immediately before laying down that bet. Of course, nothing about the game actually shifts; it’s the same game, in the same field; but in the minds of those bettors, the prospects improve significantly once the bet is in place.

The reason for the dramatic change has to do with social influence. Like the other means of influence, this one lies deep within us, directing our actions with quiet power. It is our nearly obsessive desire to be consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a decision, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.

And then, there are feelings that come to the fore as the main source of infinite stupidity portrayed by lack of timely judgment. I feel stupid these days mainly because I don’t learn to resist at the beginning. Like the bettors, I let my obsessive desire for consistency be the hobgoblin of my mind. That said, there is hope. I now know there is something that needs to change.

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end”, Da Vinci.

Post More Selfies

Every day, I find myself in the middle of two groups of people who are theatrically different -in terms of their online presence. The first group, mostly college friends and (former) coworkers, are those who carefully curate their LinkedIn profiles and maintain executive pages with a nicely erected headshot. The second group are the ones who fall into deep depression without their facebook posts.

I have personally embraced the online presence to a large degree. For instance, I have two facebook accounts. The first one is dead in terms of activity. I opened it literally a day after Facebook got liberated out of the college circle. Most of my college friends, former and present coworkers are connected to me via that account. The second account is more active. I use it to keep in touch with my close circle of friends.

Last week and during my flight from Seattle to SF, I connected an analyzer to both accounts to study the nature of the news feeds on each account. Counting by the number of ‘likes’, here are the most disliked feed themes on my dead account :

– 41% : Political messages
– 24% : Self Promotion
– 14% : Baby photos
– 13% : Pictures of partying
– 7% : Fundraising

The result on the second (active) account is much more interesting. Here are the most disliked themes on my personal account:

– 51% : Self Promotion
– 32% : Baby photos
– 10% : Pictures of partying
– 5% : Selfies
– 0.9% : Relationship status update

Measured by data, most of my close friends are apparently a bunch of insecure motherfuckers. Besides, can you imagine how much they talk about each other given these themes? That should be a very abutting experience if that’s what gossip does. One might assert, I am gossiping too -given the nature of this post. But at least I’m doing it publicly since most of my friends read this blog.

Mass emails, facebook posts and tweets are guilt-free ways to brag about accomplishments and acquisitions. After all, the sender doesn’t get true feedback on reader response, as most people know better than to respond angrily and leave a negative e-trail. One of the sad things about the one-sidedness of social media communication is that it allows people to live the fantasy that their mundanities and complacencies are anything but.

According to thousands of near death experiences or survivors, many of them faced a life-review. A full holographic display of moment to moment, since their birth to their death. What stood out in these reliving moments was that they were able to see the impact and ripples of their conduct, behavior, thought, word and deed, on not just on the person they spoke about, but also on those connected to that person. Now if this kind of knowledge was made public, people would pause before they went about talking ill about others. The ultimate matrix watches us and plays back to us every tiny thing we have ever done in our life, or in every life.

In Bruges

Lily is someone I’ve known since I learned to know people. She’s lives in Bruges around St. Gilles neighborhood. Until several years ago there were few reasons for anyone to include St. Gilles neighborhood in their plans for anything but that changed. Young restaurateurs, artists, and fashionistas have settled in and dubbed the area as “Saint-Gilles”. That’s about the time when Lily moved to the neighborhood.

Lily is generally an honest person. She always speaks her mind and does not care how she might be perceived by others. She is regarded by people around her as a stranger -due to her aptitude in maintaining indifference. That makes lily appear tough and resilient to some.

There is a captivating story about Lily that still provokes a lot of unchecked feelings in me. Several years ago and during one of my visits to Bruges, she had learned of her father’s death right before I arrived in Bruges, but she decided to withhold the news from me. And shortly after I left Bruges, I learned about the news myself. At first, Lily’s indifference throughout my visit struck me as her deep emotional detachment from the environment and circumstance. But after a while the thought changed to something else.

The problem with withholding information from people who would otherwise react in response, is a complicated one. On the one hand, the act may not be a lie but the one who does it, inherently suggests a moral superiority that sounds like “I decide whether you can deal with this information”. On the other hand, there are circumstances where cherished values might end up being at odds with each other. In this case, I’m guessing honesty and hospitality were the values that intersected. Ultimately, Lily’s unilateral decision did create some misunderstanding and confusion between two cousins.

No Work Tomorrow

The strangest feeling to bear in the ever-changing life circus remains to be the one that signals the time of parting ways with a friend. The initial feeling comes in as a hot potato stuffed with chewy doubts. You keep questioning yourself “what part did I play in this ordeal?” and sadly, you will find some of your mistakes. So you try to push yourself back into it to pay back for your own share of the blame. But at the end everything is back to square one where it seems the friendship has seen the banshee. That’s when your past comes back to you with ferocious fangs.

loud was the sound of the birds when they landed in spite of noise from the boys with the rocks in their fists

looking to bring a man down to the bottom of a thousand ton well
… one tiny push send that man into hell

he hit with a thud, there’ll be no work tomorrow
… just a funeral for a guy with time that he borrowed


I only lived with my parents for twelve years. For variety of self inflicted reasons I was shipped off at early age to live with my maternal and paternal grandparents, and then I immigrated after that. I’ve always considered that historical context to be one of the main reasons as to why I have a tendency to fortify what my parents might have imagined for me. Often times, when my parents want me to do something specific with my personal life, I only do the part I can do from my computer.

I met Irna back in 1998. She was my coworker. She was very straightforward. After a couple of months we ended up going out on a date. At the end of the dinner on the first date, she let me know that she wanted to get married. She shared that wish while she was having a cupcake at the end of the dinner. Though she seemed very smart and beautiful, I remember my initial and implicit reaction featured reluctance, mainly because I didn’t like the way she ate the cupcake. That’s how we made decisions back in Canada.

A couple of years passed and all of our friends got married. We went to countless weddings together and played flawless we-are-a-beautiful-couple. But make no mistake the pressure was on and so I sheepishly decided to initiate an appropriate conversation to gauge her interest. Only, to find out that she needed to consult with her mother. The next day, her mother showed up at my work and seemed like a person who had been kicked by a drunken horse. She then offered to take me out to lunch. During lunch she opened up the conversation and set out an impossible set of requirements. For some odd reason, she kept finishing each requirement by saying “if you’re interested in Irna”, which I found to be probing. I quietly listened to what she had to say. My only defense mechanism was a smartass stare from the corner of my eyes while my head formed a 45-degree angle towards her. In an awkward moment of silence, she seemed as if she was waiting for me to say something, but I just called the waitress and ordered a cupcake.

Parents raise their children to make them a part of the future. Parents know so well they won’t be alive to see a big part of that future. The irony with first generation immigrants hides beneath the fact that they’ve chosen to leave their past in hope of a better future, but sadly when it comes to their children, they force back that abandoned past into the wishful future of their children.

Parents are amongst the most important people in our lives. But that doesn’t warrant a blindfolded relationship where they tell, and we get told. There should be room for reasonable discourse and pragmatic give and take. If I had listened to my parents when I was younger, I could have never been able to do this part on my computer. More importantly, there would be no opportunity to discuss relationship issues while having cupcakes.

Mother Nature

Mother Nature features contradictory narratives from time to time. She creates the best of spectacles that rhyme with unbelievable rhythm, and she takes them away in a blink of an eye as if father-time has caught up with her.

When something unexpected happens to a friend, I’d like to think Mother Nature is playing practical jokes that are not funny. Or, it feels like she makes promises of tomorrow that show no sign of realization in the present. At the end however, Mother Nature does act like she loves humanity; but sadly, she has a hard time getting along with people.

Trophy Wife

If a wife isn’t in her twenties, she’s not a trophy wife and she shouldn’t act like one. That sounds like a stupid assertion. Doesn’t it?

In the history of the world, no civilization has been so mean to aging as this one. In this youth-obsessed culture, people are so uncool after 35 they might as well don’t exist. In that realm, no one is a trophy of any kind beyond 30s and they shouldn’t try to cross over either.

Necessity shapes the mindset and conditions of people. While every life is a special one, we’re all the same in that the balance of good vs. bad shapes what’s necessary to us. When we begin to think what’s necessary, we implicitly shape our system of reasoning. That can ultimately result in sacrificing some of the values we all once endorsed such as respect, perspective, and wisdom.

Common Man

For the longest time I failed to understand the sense of nostalgia. I could never come to terms with the reasons as to why one should yearn the past.

The other conflicting thought of mine has had to do with attempting to make sense of the circumstances, events, and emotions that push one away from the sense of purity and innocence. The sense we’ve all felt during childhood. The feelings we felt in our cheerful memories, pure thoughts, and high places.

I’m developing a theory that argues the sense of nostalgia has something to do with yearning the years of purity -when everything seemed so homely and simple. We attach ourselves to old circumstances and objects to relate to what we used to feel -or- what we seem to have lost. That is what’s sitting in the soul of a common man.

Trip to LA

Bubba signifies loyalty in its purest and strongest form. You can call him at 3:00am in the morning and ask for help, and he will show up without needing the cause. Bubba has a tendency to form magical opinions on issues that are relevant to the ways of experience. Bubba’s opinions make you believe he has thought about the issue long and hard, but he has chosen to stay mummed about it. Bubba owns the credit on my belief that: silence is the common language of everyone.

It was at the end of my film’s premier in Seattle and I was getting ready to leave the theatre. Bubba was there ever so selflessly for the whole day helping with everything. As we were leaving the theatre, Bubba reached out to tell me something privately. He pulled me to a quiet corner and with a low and cautious tone said, “you would have never made a film had you married Fiona”

When I was growing up, I never had any permutation of a dream that considered me as a married man. Marriage was never a part of any plan. During college years, marrying young was a trend. Meeting your spouse in college seemed like a great idea because the assumption was that those are the only years you’re surrounded by so many smart girls. By that assumption, Liza would be a great choice for me because she was the smartest girl in the class. However, today we know that marrying Liza wouldn’t work because I still have a penis and Liza is no longer interested in such organs. Liza ended up marrying Becky and they live in Montreal.

On the other hand, my parents never forced a criterion for marriage. For instance, my mother who suspended her teaching career to be a full time mom would never ask my sister to do the same. In fact, that’d be awkward because my sister continued working when she had her first child.

Fiona chose to get married, and move to LA after we broke up back in 2006. Don’t get me wrong; Fiona was smart since she had already found her ideal husband before we broke up. Fiona wrote me once and said, “I’m happy. I’m glad I met someone with the same socioeconomic background. I’ve never wanted to marry someone who’s smarter than me”. I believe the phrase Fiona was looking for was ‘smarter than I am’. Fiona always believed it is important to keep the grammar intact, even if there are many conceptual layers in a phrase. She cared about “the optics”, maybe because she believed the spotlights were always on her.

I knew so well I wasn’t ready to get married with Fiona. I believed a happy life required a lot more than a career and a pretty girl. Or maybe, the problem is that I use that line on dates quite frequently. I thought a wife like Fiona would prevent me from working on anything that excluded her, including getting to know other beautiful and smart women. So instead of spending my years becoming a more marriageable male, I was actually learning about other things that didn’t necessarily include notions like love or forever.

Ironically, Fiona was in Seattle on the day Bubba shared his wisdom with me. What are the chances! A close friend of mine asked me to go to the same event where Fiona was. I considered it, but then I thought: some people choose to break the mold, and some people take a trip to LA.


Tony is an Irish man who works as a bartender at the restaurant across the street. He’s very approachable, and deeply kind by all measures. Tony shows up in conversations with his trademark rough edges. He says “fack” a lot. He goes up and down the bar, and in infrequent moments, stops to share the gossip about other people who sit right beside me. By default, Tony thinks all of his customers are idiots. However, there is something special about Tony. He knows about medieval history and old fashion primitives, more than my late uncle who was a history teacher.

Last night, there was a fire alarm in the building and I was forced to leave the building and wait outside -until fire fighters concluded their show. I thought, I might as well go see Tony. As soon as I walked in, he turned around and poured me a drink without saying a word. He put the drink in front of me and then asked “sit here, I want to ask you something”. I knew right then, a classic bar moment was about to be born with his show and all. He looked at me dead in the eye, and asked, “what does gorgeous mean to you?”

I admit, I had to think a lot. Albeit if I was smart, I’d not be the pensive guy at the bar who knows the bartender. Because what happens next is that, other people at the bar stare at you and keep buying you more drinks.

After a while, I was able to form a thought about the subject. Here is what I listed out for Tony. I said, “Gorgeous is the one who:

– Has a flawlessly symmetrical and kind face
– Carries a mildly reserved persona
– Makes me think, ‘God she’s gorgeous’ consistently, and with no qualms”

Tony, who’s very argumentative, reluctantly made me feel he understood the first two, but he needed more information on the last one. He said that he’d never be able to admit or internalize such thing, even to self. That said, Tony was on a good mood last night and ended up buying my drink.

Admitting someone else’s qualifications happens to be a hard task -if you’re competitive, complex, or analytical. Such admission shows some of your cards –even if you spend no other form of capital. Tony’s mindset reflects our society. The Rugged Man Society, where everyone is on his own. In such place, there is no room for give and take of credit, in any shape or form. I said all of that to Tony. His response was “Fack Off!”.

Or maybe, I’m just a late bloomer who still has inner voices of “god, she’s gorgeous”. From time to time, I am known to have a slow get-it factor. Maybe, I’m just not that smart. Well, the graveyard is full of indispensable men. Someone else will come and fill that role.