Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dear ReFraming Abby

A friend writes in...

A tenant I’m friendly with hasn’t been in for a month. I sent him an email asking if he's ok. He answers back, about family issues and other stuff and says “I hate to say it but I may have to give up the office.” I say “Sorry to hear. Give me a call if it’s not working for you, I can try to work out getting someone in there.” I go out of my way to try to let him work around his contract, but he ignores emails and won't return phone calls.

I’m confused by his behavior.

Framing disjoint!

Imagine him in the third act of an action movie. The rebels are laser-bombing his location...while you’re the friendly dude down at the hardware store. You’ve ceased to be a real person for him. Does that help?

Yes. I was trying to help him, but I’ve become a non-player character for him.

Yes, though not in an unfriendly way. Just a shift of attention. Either cover your ass as best you can or else become an equally daunting monster to get his attention - i.e. reappear in his reality.

It won’t get to anything like that. The building owner would be happy to have him pay and not use the office...and if he leaves we'd be able to fill it quickly. We're ok either way.

Me: Fine. Don’t expect thoughtful good behavior. Make HIM a non player character and just do everything by the book and give him his space.

Yeah, that’s it. Weird because we gave him a great deal, gave him leads that led to big sales for his company, etc.. But your explanation seems to be right.

Me: He’s pinned against a rock by some assault force and you’re texting him to sternly demand a headcount for next week's barbecue. "You're the one who suggested the bbq, Ken!!!”

Thanks, very helpful

no prob

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Every gutter cleaner in my area wants $150 to do the $75 job. Because they’re not, like, some stupid slobs who clean gutters.

And not only that, but you must beg them to actually show up. Because they’re not, like, some stupid slobs who clean gutters.

When they do show up, they do a poor job. Because they’re not, like, some stupid slobs who clean gutters.

We are coddled aristocrats living in Paradise. We are all Mrs. Howell.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Eschew Intuition

Here's why you never want to develop intuition:

Consider the selfish, inconsiderate, uncivilized, deluded, and vaguely malevolent qualities you observe every day in people's words and actions. How could you possibly imagine that the unspoken stuff they're silently brewing up is, like, sparkly sunshine? People actually present their best side, disappointing though it might be. So why would you ever want to delve into the gurgling subterranean sludge (ala the "river of slime" from Ghostbusters II)?

Here's proof: How many times in your life have you ever coaxed/provoked someone into revealing what they were really thinking - into coughing up the thing they obviously didn't want to say - and found yourself glad to hear it? Has it ever once brought a good result?

If that can't convince you, then flip it around. Has anyone ever coaxed/provoked you into saying what you were really thinking and the truth was something they'd possibly enjoy hearing?

Why on Earth would you want to know what people are thinking?? 

Intuition's the ultimate be-careful-what-you-wish-for.

Don't fear intuitive people, btw. The Invisible Man sees everyone naked.


Late last night, some part of me itched (I'm not being discreet; I honestly don't remember where...I was 99% asleep at the time). En route to the itch, my hand was astonished to confront my abdomen extended considerably forward from where it ought to have been.

Perpetually skinny readers will find this horrifying description puzzling and unrelatable. The rest understand.

I might easily have launched into a mental reverie of despair for letting my weight get to this point (I'm ten pounds shy of my all-time peak). But then I recalled that I've been at the gym every day this week (after two months off due to injuries and illness) where I've been working out like a Tasmanian Devil. I've been eating very modestly, as well.

I also recalled all the morbidly obese gym newcomers I'd glimpsed over the years seeming uncomfortable and self-conscious. I always wanted (if I weren't so shy) to reassure such people:
This is not the place for you to be self-conscious. The gym is where you should hold your head high. If I see you in a doughnut shop, that's another thing. But here? You're like a shaggy-headed person in a barber's chair. You're like a muddy-handed person standing over a sink. You're in exactly the right place, doing exactly the right thing. This moment isn't your insecurity; this is your strength.
Thoroughly inoculated, I turned over and contentedly fell back asleep.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Fixing Recent Posts

Sloppy mo-fo that I am, I forgot, in "Fake Lamination" to explain how the product actually works. I added explanation toward the beginning of the post.

And in "Karma Yoga Dialogue", I forgot to explain why you'd actually want to adapt the perspective of a playful child. I explained this at the end of the post.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Slog Assist

The Slog's back end needed some adjustment after 11 years, so I turned to a company called Confluent Forms. Its proprietor, David Wil-Alon Kutcher, is on the Expert team for Google/Blogger's support forum, so he's got this stuff down cold. Confluent Forms does web development, branding, digital marketing and more - including advice/coordination for issues like web hosting, app development, etc.

Jillions of brash kids and dodgy offshore characters purport to do the same (I've been down that road too many times with Chowhound, my smartphone app, and sundry tech schemes), but David's a solid, experienced person who actually knows stuff. Also, his turnaround (even though I was far from his top priority) is impressive; David consistently replies more quickly than I'm able to process. I'm the slow gear. Highly recommended!

Also highly recommended: friend-of-the-Slog Paul Trapani of LISTnet has been providing ongoing tech help and advice all these years. Paul's skilled in a number of tech and biz areas, and if he can't fix a problem, he knows who can. LISTnet is a network for tech/biz needs, with solid local presence in Long Island (LISTnet = Long Island Software & Technology Network).

Fake Lamination

There's a really good cheap way to "laminate" cards and bits of paper without the use of fancy plastic-melting gizmos. Scotch Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches, Business Card Size are the answer.
It's just sticky plastic stuff that surrounds the paper, and you trim with scissors. Which sounds sort of cheesy and half-assed, but it actually looks totally professional - like magic! - and feels like it would preserve the paper inside for years.

Here's what I use these for:

1. A small print-out I stick in my wallet containing my medical info, proxy and contact phone #s, and prescriptions (in Ariel 10 font). I headline it with "Medical Info" in red-colored Ariel 19 bold, and size/format the printout so the title appears conspicuously just above the wallet slot.

2. The same in Spanish (for trips to Spain and Latin America).

3. Contact info while traveling (hotel, Airbnb host, local emergency contacts back home).

4. A card with frequent phone numbers (I don't know a single number by heart these days, and phones do run out of juice, get stolen, etc., and cloud versions seem especially prone to failure at such moments).

If there's anything you keep in your wallet that gets shredded over time, just fake-laminate it. It's surprisingly professional in quality. And if you don't keep the above in your wallet, that's fine until there's an emergency, at which point you will be deeply, deeply screwed.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Karma Yoga Dialogue

-- What do the Zen masters and the yogis, etc., mean when they talk about transcending attachment?

That nothing matters. You absolutely don't need it to matter!

-- So, total nihilism. Just drop out, make no effort, and stop giving a crap....?

No, quite the contrary. Dive in, try hard, and do everything like your life depends on it!

-- You do realize you've contradicted yourself, right?

Well, it's a little bit paradoxical. Try it this way: care mightily about the thing you're doing right now - whatever it is! - but don't care in the least about the result, the reception, how it affects you, how you look, what it means, etc. Do the thing, but don’t make it A Thing.

-- How can you care about what you're doing without caring about the result? Don't they go together?

Not at all. There's a difference between caring about the Doing and caring about being the person who Does. Most singers become singers because they want to be singers, not because they want to sing. That's why most singers are so awful.

-- Separating those parts sounds like it would take a lot of practice. Plenty of meditation, learning to "stop the mind" or whatever?

Nope. Actually, you yourself were a master of it once. You just forgot.

-- You mean in a past life?

No, as a child. When you played, say, cowboys and indians, you did so intensely, immersing all the way. And yet you always knew you were playing. You never lost track of that. You were deeply involved in the pretending...yet you knew it didn't matter. And you never paused to consider whether you were a convincing cowboy.

Then you came to consider that perspective juvenile. Under the guise of "growing up" and "getting serious", you locked yourself into the pretending and threw away the key - by deliberately forgetting that you're playing. Suddenly everything seemed to matter a great deal. It became a much more adult-seeming game.

Your priorities flipped, so you barely immerse anymore, but you're endlessly obsessed with how you come off. That's backwards to how you used to do it! And your perspective has frozen so tenaciously that when I remind you of your old way, it sounds like paradoxical nonsense!

-- So why is that way better?

Well, young children learn languages (even hard ones!), and assimilate a huge chunk of human knowledge and culture, in just a few years. Adults, by contrast, are considered pretty much unteachable. Young children have much less stress, and they're relatively lithe and energetic, not rigid and sluggish. And they can reframe easily at will, while adults nearly always wind up stuck in some frozen perspective or other.

You had to grow up. It was inevitable. But you made the mistake of assuming you needed to push this change - to play the role and pretend to be the changed person you saw each morning in the mirror - rather than be pulled to new obligations, remaining comfortably as you were. You could have grown up without blotting out your childhood self. But even now, if you simply let go (e.g. via meditation) of the reigns you‘ve pretended to grab, you'll find that the original, fundamental you has remained alive and well and eager to play. The only obstacle is your crusty super-reinforced sense of identity.

I've created a new tag/label for entrees in dialogue form - there are five such entries so far.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Housekeeping Note

I've expanded my previous posting, "Lining up the Ducks", with bagel porn and more.

Lining Up the Ducks

“Man plans, and God laughs.” - old Yiddish adage

“People with goals generally burn the toast.” - yours truly

I have blindly stumbled, scorning myriad opportunities, throughout my life, leaving me stranded high and dry on a remote island separated by vast seas from my hopes and dreams. On paper I'm an utter failure in many respects. And yet this is how I toast my bagels:

One of my favorite postings, "Decision Factors", discusses the ultimate futility of planning and choosing:
Big-picture scenarios are like cartoons, and we don't live in cartoonish big-picture images, we live in trivial moments. This is not a movie. We're raindrops slowly working down windows, not heroic protagonists.

Rich opportunity awaits at every juncture of every decision tree. Any choice, no matter how bright or disappointing, can yield a jackpot or a dud. In the end, it's not about the choice, it's the chooser. It's you, playing the cards you're dealt - both good hands and bad - with delight and exuberance. If you focus on the rich immediacy, rather than the cartoonish big literally can't go wrong.
So... "where do I see myself in five years?" Continuing with my earthworm emulation - i.e. ingesting soil all day while expelling slightly improved soil. It's only a downer if I dramatize it. Which I don't. And, oddly, with that one little flip, I appear, perversely and magically, to win. Slothy ambitionlessness somehow yields surprising results. Not that it's something I think about much. I've got bagels to butter.

Blog Archive