This One Trick Will Help You Solve Any Difficult Problem

Dear CM88,

In this lesson, I’ll discuss how everything in life tends to balance out, no matter how far outside the boundaries you feel. You’ll learn to:

  • Weather any storm that comes your way;
  • Accept challenges with a positive attitude; and
  • Confidently approach difficult problems and find synergistic solutions.

Bullet points made it look like I was serious, right? I mean, I am, but you won’t learn anything from anything I say.

For what it’s worth, notwithstanding the click-bait title (sorry, still trying to figure out how, or when you will find out about me, so I’ve resorted to low common denominator tactics), I am serious. Equilibrium is an essential undercurrent of life. Parity, which suggests that all things are equally good, bad, or otherwise, while potentially boring as a concept, also magnetizes life so that its pendulum only swings so far from center. Those who exist completely on one fringe or the other, probably have a better chance of landing in a history book, but there is an incredible gamble as to whether the memory is positive or negative. But most of us exist in the boundaries of the centralized and karmic even flow of life. (I just took several minutes to watch that video on repeat…JOSH!)

By all of this I mean – relax. Mistakes happen, forks appear in roads, choices are made. You and I endured one of the strangest forks two beings could face: a fork in time. You remained and I propelled forward to what is a not-all-that-different future. Sure, we have less water, and more bozos taking pictures on their iPads, but life is generally flowing in the same way it did 100 years ago. It was eloquently stated in Forrest Gump that “Sh*t Happens.” It does. It did. It will.

I am embracing the future, my friend. There is a change of pace that I was ready for prior to the jump, I yearned for it and I did not expect it to be so fulfilling. But even in a jarring change, such as a state of being, or you know, time travel, there remains equilibrium in the world. You lose a case, then you find $100 in your pocket. You win a case, and you get a parking ticket. Up, down, and around. Money in, money out, calories in, calories out.

One way of illustrating this: imagine you are riding a bicycle into 35 mph wind. It’s miserable. You slog along and feel like you are going no where. You can (A) keep riding into the wind, because you have to, maybe you are trying to get home, or (B) you can accept the wind, and turn around and let it take you. Of course option (B) could take you where you had no intention of going. The point is, it doesn’t matter. You set out to do one thing and it ended up completely different than you intended. It ended up being different and you fought it and it led to regret, and resentment that you made a “wrong” choice. Your choice wasn’t wrong, it had consequences you may not have enjoyed, but it was just a choice. When the wind blows hard enough, maybe it is time to explore different options that you did not know existed when you got on the bike in the first place (extending this metaphor past its reasonable use). Or you say “F*** you, wind,” and you keep riding and grind through to your goal’s completion. At the end of option (A), maybe there is something worth fighting for.

The point is to keep perspective. Remember where you came from, and accept that where you are going may not be clear, and that is ok. Traveling through space, and time, it’s about as unclear as it gets. Relationships, jobs, chores, hobbies, all of it takes work, and infinite amounts of choices. Left/right, Brand/generic, TJ’s/Vons, this job/that job, her/her/him/him, Wire/Sopranos. Ultimately, the decision itself may matter less than the response to the decision. But maybe you just have to vibe out a bit and chill.

We are infinitesimally too small for any of our decisions to matter. I couldn’t even fill this page with how many zeros I’d need to write, just to try to explain the size of the universe. We are on a planet that is inside of a massive galaxy, that is likely one of BILLIONS of other galaxies. I don’t know what a billion of anything is, I hardly know what to do with a $100 bill. (I do actually, I do what everyone does, stare at it lustfully and then put it in my wallet and then take it out every 17 seconds to make sure it is still there.). I’d say surround yourself with people who understand that life is essentially a flat line, when you zoom out far enough. So, you know, when you have to make a tough decision, just relax, both options are probably good, and it’ll be ok.

But please, don’t make the wrong decision, for Peter’s sake.

To recap what we learned:

  • When faced with a difficult decision, reason it out, make the best call, and then say, “sweet brah.”
  • When you get the short end of the stick, think of all the awesome things you can do with the shorter stick.
  • When the wind blows against you, curse really loudly.
  • When you don’t have a choice in a matter, act like whatever option gets chosen for you was the one you were gonna choose all along.
  • Laugh at some jokes. Don’t laugh at other jokes. (I know this is not at all related but I had your attention and I think it is worth recognizing that some jokes don’t even warrant a courtesy laugh. It’s really more of a courtesy silence, which politely indicates to the joke teller that their joke is not at all funny and needs to be work-shopped some more. They’ll appreciate it in the future. I know, because I am in the future.).

You learned it all, congratulations!

Yours You-ly,

CM15

 

 

Confused about what is going on here? Maybe some back story will help. 

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User-Reviews, IKEA and Parallel Universes

CM87,

This communication to you is so patently bizarre I often do not know where to begin. It also came to mind that email and the internet are still quite primitive for you, so the chances of you discovering any of these communications in this forum are remote for at least another 7 years. I am going to print this out and fax it to your office. Please bill this under: LASC In Re Peterman re: Discovery request.

I am still guessing at how this works. For all I know, you may have stopped existing. When the Big Jump happened, I may have carried all of our collective memory with me, and the world as I perceived it in 1987 may have transferred with me. Indeed, if this is so, I truly am the center of my own universe, and other people’s opinions should not matter, because they only exist in the world that I am creating. If this is the scenario we are in, I have several more questions to ask, and feel sheepish because in theory then, I am supposed to answer them. Wait, I’m confused.

The other theory, and the one I think makes more sense, is that our lives split into parallel universes, running along equal paths, tethered through some nebulous interstellar sinews. I’ve gone ahead and drawn this out in a diagram for ease of reference.

20150311_092757[1]

The remaining question (among others) is what effect my actions in 2015 have on yours in 1987 (OH GOD, is it 1988 for you now?). We were vegetarians prior to the rift, I apologize, but I began eating meat again. Does that mean you are eating meat again? Or have you already died of coronary heart disease because of my conduct? If my conduct controls yours, is yours controlling mine? Or are we independent of each other, living parallel, but un-identical lives?

This conjures for me a serious fear: Would you even like me if we met?

(Please don’t answer that.)

Enough questions. Here’s a big part of the future: user-reviews.

Instead of stopping and asking locals where to find the best breakfast burrito in town, we now use the internet to crowd-source trustworthy reviews, and make informed decisions. I seldom randomly walk into a place on blind faith anymore. It’s all calculated by how others have rated them. Understandably, some purveyors have tried to game the system by flooding the field with fake reviews (either glowing reviews about their company, or devastating reviews about a competitor). But as is the case with a large enough sample size, even the corner-cutters get cut out.

Ultimately, it’s a good thing. One of my favorites was the demise of the Union Street Guest House at the hands of Yelpers (oh Yelp is the predominant user-review site for food, and other non-travel establishments. Travel users use Trip Advisor.) This hotel in upstate New York had a business policy that it would charge $500 if the guest left a bad review on Yelp. The policy read: “Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not. If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event, and have given us a deposit of any kind, there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

So Yelpers (and redditors) chimed in to flood the site with fake-bad reviews, like, over 10,000 1-star reviews. For example: “Stayed here for a wedding and they amputated both my legs.” Or “This place was nice until we discovered that it is actually inside of a Sizzler.” Or “We were weirded out because when we looked in the mirrors here, there was nothing there.” Or “This place only serves extremely hot octopus.”

As helpful as these sites are, they are also mired with imbecilic twa’s (that’s French). People who only use such sites to complain are the kind of people who shouldn’t be allowed to use such sites. “Food was great, service was great, bartender didn’t change the channel to ESPN-U during the Astros game and had a horse-face.” 1-star. “I came here only to use the bathroom and they said “Customer’s Only” and so I had to buy a f*ucking mocha. Bathroom was nice tho.” 1 star. “I’ve been eating nachos my whole life, I can tell you what bomb-a$$ nachos are. I’ve been called the nacho-nacho-man, nacho chief, chips’n’sips, crunchy-tuner, and Natches, Arizona, that’s how well I know Na- (I stopped reading this goofer). 1 star. 

The main problem with the sharing economy is the sharing part. Every once in a while, you think the world has some good left in the tank, and then people come along and call themselves “Crunchy-Tuner.”

But setting aside the self-centered, loud, attention mongerers, the economy is being shaped in a positive way by giving the people a voice. There is some accountability that didn’t exist in the yellow pages.  I’m actually a little concerned that you’ve probably stopped paying attention because none of this makes sense, or is at all important to you. And that’s fine. But, I think you ought to know that I don’t need to go to 8 breakfast burrito spots before I have a good one, because of Yelp. So, time = money = power.

That was a pretty good, maybe even great lesson, right?

I hate to keep harping on this, but the internet is so important, I literally don’t know what to do when it goes down at work. I can’t do any of my normal afternoon activities, which includes 30-45 minutes exploring free items on Craigslist (will explain, sort of like a Denio’s, online, but free), an hour on Reddit (cannot explain), 45 minutes looking at gnarly local news websites (it’s like dime store fiction, but, not fictional and really close to home), 15 minutes hating myself for looking at Facebook and then 15 minutes on Craigslist again to close out the day. That’s billable work, right?

But the internet is also terrible and causing people to stop using words correctly. Here are some words and phrases that need to stop. If you can help me with this, I’d appreciate it.

  • Using “tho” instead of “though”
  • Using “feels” to mean something is emotionally stimulating. For example, saying “that song gave me the feels.” Come on, this isn’t MegansLaw.com.
  • Saying something’s whatever is “strong.” For example, when a man wears patterned socks and someone says “Your sock game is strong.”
  • Saying something’s “game” is strong. Same as above. For example, you cook eggs and they taste OK, so you say, “Hey, my egg game is strong.”
  • The phrase “Keep Calm and ________.” Whatever you fill that blank with, it’s annoying. Unless you fill that blank with smaller and smaller repetitions of “Keep Calm and ______.”  Like when you are in a room that has mirrors on both sides of the walls, and you keep reflecting into infinity. That would be OK and I’d probably buy a poster of that.
  • The use of periods.after.every.word. (Wait.I.kinda.liked.that.) [robot dance]
  • I’m not even going to put hashtags on this #list, because they’re actually #really #great. But hashtagging generic #words is the #most silly.

I think the best thing to come out of Tweet-speak are really complicated acronyms. I saw one on a Billboard the other day which was like SLOLFYD (“so laugh out loud funny you’ll die”). I thought it was a piece of IKEA furniture. This modern bed is SLOLFYD.

Ikea is a Swedish furniture company that makes modern furniture and sells it cheap because the materials it uses are made from garbage and also you have to assemble it yourself. They don’t even provide legible instructions. The instructions are essentially the mascot from Little Caesar’s playing Pictionary. They sell extremely well in every market, especially on Craigslist, where they generally are fully assembled and sell for half price.

Here is how you build it.

Step 1: Get on your knees Step 2: Ceremonially present drawer on carpet Step 3: Open a gift from an unknown sender Step 4: Use a really long corded phone and walk into the Ikea parking lot. Done!

You’re missing out on a lot my friend. You’re probably watching MTV and thinking “music television is so radical, I’m gonna eat some sunflower seeds now and stare out a window.” I’ve already forgotten what the late 80’s are like.

Yours really,

CM 15

A Mild and Less Jarring Jump in Time: Lessons Begin

CM87,

I spent the first few weeks after “The Big Jump” (the one where I time traveled from 1987 to 2014) trying to make sense of things. After I wrote you, I started to contemplate what unforeseen and potentially deleterious consequences could arise from trying to communicate with you. The more I pondered, the more afraid I became that your life would radically change. I feared the domino affect would thereafter change who I have become. So, it’s been almost a full year. My sense is that you still have not found out about me, seeing as I’ve received no emails from you. Everything for me has continued in a relatively tepid manner.

It is now the year 2015. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon of you-me to no one (I let it slip to Ms. McGinty one evening over several glasses of Kim Crawford but she forgot about it in the morning). I plan to keep it that way, because job prospects are already slim, I don’t think rumors of our situation will help that in any way.

As I said, everything is monitored now to some degree. Even this communication could be mined and hacked by the Firm, or some enterprising know-it-all. By now, it’s 1988 for you? You’re still like 7 years away from the movie Hackers, which came out the SAME YEAR as The Net. Computers are increasingly important in our lives. So much so that people are going on “tech-cleanses” where they leave technology behind deliberately, in order to find themselves.

But something startled me the other day as I was thinking about death. I think about death almost every day. You’ll get this reference: sort of like Christopher Walken in Annie Hall, when he confesses that sometimes when he his driving, he has an impulse to turn the wheel quickly head-on into oncoming traffic. Not like self-created death though, just a hyper-awareness of death’s presence. And as I thought about the fleeting nature of life, I thought, “what if I die before getting to connect with CM87?” There are too many unsolved mysteries to exit at this stage.

I have significantly less wisdom than I thought I’d have to impart to you. Presumably, you are doing the same things we did in 1987 (now 1988). Sometimes I wonder, are you sitting at a computer, just like me at this very moment? Is our universe entirely parallel? Are you typing right now? If I misspell a wrd do you do the same?

We have more advanced Spell Check now, and better word processing than Word Perfect.  But an important difference that you should be aware of is that many people in 2015 regularly communicate with “emoji.” The Japanese invented a way to combine a picture (e) with a character (moji) and now we don’t even need to use words to communicate.

emoji-610x285

For example, I like frogs.

Emoji are incredibly versatile, and very cutester. They can easily diffuse an otherwise hostile text. Just send a Dromedary Camel as a peace offering.

Consider this today’s #CMFutureLesson (I’ll explain the # or “hashtag” in another lesson)

I am reaffirming my promise to you CM87: I will find you. I don’t know why this happened to us, and perhaps there is no meaning. But maybe we can create some meaning where there is none.

I keep holding out hope that you will figure out how to use email and find me.

Increasingly confused,

CM15

A Letter to Myself in 1987

Dear Clinton McGinty in 1987,

I will henceforth refer to you as “CM87.” It sounds like Terminator terminology which I figure will help you understand what is going on here, and also, it sounds really cool, even by post-millennium standards. I know this is going to sound crazy, but it’s me (you) writing to you (me) from 2014, 27 years in your future. I know, I’m still getting used to it.

It has been 5 days since the big jump. 6 days ago I was settling into bed in my/our Mid-City apartment, thinking about litigation prep on the Anderson Case. It was April 15, 1987 and life was ordinary as pie. When I woke up, I was you, except, I was in the year 2014, living in the same apartment in Los Angeles, CA. I work at an eerily similar law firm, just 27 years in the future. Don’t worry, Anderson settled in the end.

I don’t have an explanation yet as to how our situation arose as such. I thought it was a dream at first, but it is real. Here I am in 2014, writing to you/myself in 1987. The world has changed so much in 27 years, you will hardly recognize it. I will do my best to explain things to you in a concise manner, but forgive any vagueness, many things remain unexplained.

Given our love for technology, I am using a journal-style website (referred to now as a “blog”, which is short for “web-log”) to communicate with you. This was the first good idea that I had to try and get in contact with you. My principle hope is that you will eventually find this site (assuming you went on living even after I traveled through space and time). I am hoping that through it you can learn from my mistakes. It is incredibly strange writing to you like you are my son, but in many ways, you are a completely misguided fool and the future is seriously mindbogglingly confusing. Right now in 1987, the internet is only a zygote, you may not even hear about it for another 6 or 7 years. In 2014, it is an angsty teenager.

By the time you find this, you will probably already know, but the internet is essentially a large network of information, accessible via many devices, including computers, phones or tablets. It is the single-biggest difference that I can articulate between ’87 and now. Its predominant uses are as follows and in this corresponding order: pornography, people watching other people play video games, Netflix, social media and cats

Obviously, you were able to find this site.  How, I am not sure, but since you are me, I am guessing you were askjeeves’ing yourself one day and this showed up. We use the search engine “Google” now, and people just say “googling” instead of “searching the internet”.

Yes, I did just block quote myself. It’s been a crazy week so I feel like I am entitled to it.

Check back often for updates on your life in the parallel future.

As an aside, there are a number of movies that came out between the 80’s and 2014 which try to explain time-travel. I don’t know which kind ours is. I don’t know if it is “Butterfly Effect” time travel, “Back to the Future” time travel, “Looper” time travel or some other parallel universe time travel like “Hot Tub Time Machine.” I don’t know if what I do changes things for you (sorry if that is the case). I am doing my best here with a bewildering sci-fi situation.

Remember, if you ever do find this site, email me.

 

Yours seriously,

Present day Clinton McGinty (“CM14”)