Ice Bucket Challenge

If you had told me a week ago that a very good part of my social network was going to pour ice water over their heads and pay $100 I wouldn’t have believed it.  

It just goes to show that the future is full of twists and turns and although we can take good guesses about what will come we will never really know and continually be surprised. 

As for my thoughts on this strange social networking anomaly?  Well, I hadn’t even heard of ALS a few days ago and doubt most others had has well.  Yet, everyone now not only gives a donation to this charity but pours cold water over their heads to boot!  

I comment ALS for this stroke of genius and giving to charity is always a noble act.  

I would say however that ALS is not the only charity out there and there are thousands of well deserving charities that also need money.  As for the friends pouring water over their heads?  This is the first time in the history of Facebook where people are actually posting videos of themselves.  I believe it was the first video posted ever for about 90% of my friends.  I guess it is kind of fun challenging your friends to do something silly and then actually having them do it especially when you don’t see them often or, ever.  Helps keep the social ties intact what have you.  

Unfortunately, I cannot pour a bucket of water over my head.  I cannot do it because I’ve become a natural contrarian, a person who doesn’t like following the crowd.  This event has already become too popular for my tastes.  As for the charitable aspect it would seem ALS is doing just fine in terms of donations at the moment and I’ve already written a few checks to other charities this year and didn’t even have to pour water over my head.  Or perhaps, I’m just feeling grumpy at the moment.  

Grumpity grumps……..  


My life 1998 -1999

I’ve been going through my old computer files recently and came across my old journal that I wrote from ’98 to ’00.  This was the time when my study abroad in Spain was ending and I spent two years studying at OSU before leaving for France.  After this period my journal writing took a nose dive and never recovered.  I still wrote on rare occasions but instead of a journal I wrote in my online blog.  Since a blog is public I censured myself pretty heavily and only wrote what I was comfortable letting loose on the internet.  The bad news for me is my personal thoughts and feelings were thus not written down and lost forever.  

Rediscovering old memories was fun but it was the long forgotten emotions and feelings resurrecting themselves with such force that kept me reading almost half of the entire journal in one sitting!  I had quite forgotten the emotions that girlfriends caused, the anxiety over passing tests and a fear of closing a very big chapter in my life and facing an unknown future.

It came as a shock to me to read and remember how influential and powerful the relationship with various girlfriends affected my mood!  Many of the entries make me want to reach into the past and smack myself!  Three girls in particular caused such drama that it seems every entry over a certain period of time is about them and they had me strapped into an emotional roller coaster.  

I wish I could send a message to myself as I wrote those entries letting myself know that I’ll win in the long run.  I would say, “Younger me, you still haven’t discovered Asia.  Have patience and your wildest dreams will come true.  Soon you won’t have to put up with bitchy, self absorbed, white chicks anymore.”  It sounds a bit cruel to say but you have to understand that these three caused me a lot of grief and I’m fresh of the reading of my journal where I’m mad at myself for putting up with such nonsense!  

The interesting thing is I still remain in contact with those three.  In fact, I remain in contact with just about everyone.  I treasure the experiences I’ve had and I treasure the relationships that were made.  I often say that “Mateo never forgets,” and I’m certain that the people I say this to have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.  

The meaning of that phrase is I remember my life, experiences and friends exceptionally well.  I not only remember the event but I remember my mindset at the time and pretty much how I felt at that time.  I find that others my age may remember the event but over time it simply becomes a faded memory.  The memory recorded a full featured Imax movie with stereo sound but as time passes the memory fades into a damaged black and white Kodak picture.  

It is quite easy to remember something from the past but it is not so easy to bring back the feelings and emotions and to feel them as intensively as they were.  I find that the smell of a familiar scent weather it be a perfume, freshly cut grass or even an old classroom will bring a flood of memories.  Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most powerful for reviving memories.  After that I would say sound such as suddenly hearing an old song is the second most powerful followed by sight.  

One clear example that vividly illustrates people my age forgetting their past is simply trying to reconnect with old friends on Facebook.   In some instances it feels the same as though they were strangers and sometimes even more difficult than a stranger would be!  Why is that?  Because they have forgotten the experiences, they have forgotten the feelings and no emotional connection remains to the times we shared.  I feel as though I’m one of the very few who can revive those emotions.  I remember clearly that we were friendly in high school and can approach others as though no time has passed at all.  It is my experience that most will shy away.  Only the outgoing and extroverts will enthusiastically engage in a re-connection.    

Perhaps a reason for their forgetfulness is that they don’t want to remember.  Lives change quite dramatically over a decade or two and it could be that the few who are able to remember the high school or college experience fully simply don’t wish to.  They now have families, responsibilities and may feel uncomfortable remembering youthful, carefree events that occurred before.  I don’t have that problem with it personally.  In fact, I love to strain my memory and try to bring back memories and emotions as clearly as possible.  I find that alcohol and music from those times gone by are an excellent combination to revive old memories.  Actually I’m trying right now with music and tobacco free pouches.  Unfortunately I chewed “dip” when writing in my journal over a decade ago and although I won’t touch the stuff again I thought it would help jog my memory and really get writing if I tried to mimic my habit with the tobacco free stuff.  

But to get back on point, some people may be uncomfortable with their own past.   They prefer to leave what is past in the past.  To me, I find this extremely wasteful and sad.  The experience of being alive is a most incredible event!  Why would one want to purposely forget a very intense, exciting part of it?  I’m referring now to the high school and college days when life was changing very rapidly and with an intensity that most likely will never be felt again.  I find that people who really want to forget their past are equally as likely to want to forget their present as well which of course does not bode well for the future.   



Friday March 4th

Another very long dry spell with no written post.  It seems that writing is something one must physically make themselves sit down and do.  It just does not come spontaneously.

Or perhaps it is because I’ve begun to self-sensor myself now that my entire social circle is now on the internet and thanks to Facebook have become much more active.  It is no longer a place where I can just throw out my thoughts to the wind, my family might actually read this!

Maybe I became adverse to writing since my server had about as much computing power as an Atari gaming system.

Well good news, I’m going to sit down and write, the odds of people I actually know actually visiting my blog is still slim and I figured out what caused my server to run slower than molasses.

So what to write about?

Let’s start with one of my more common themes which is my amazement regarding the lack of amazement among those that have become so accustomed to technology that they no longer are amazed.

It also amazes me how much people use the word amazing in Facebook posts.  It seems that which was previously very common and ordinary has become “amazing” when posting one’s feelings about the previously ordinary on the internet.  One could be forgiven for thinking that most Facebook users walk around all day in a daze as they are continually enraptured by everything that surrounds them.

My breakfast, burrito, friend Ami, bus ride home etc was Amazing!

My train of thought took a serious detour there.  It must be the amount of amazing tea I’m drinking and I’ve over-caffeinated myself.

What if I told you back in 1998 that one day there would be a communal forum where you could communicate instantaneously with everyone you ever knew?  What would you want to post, or say given this extraordinary ability?  Do you think you would:

1.)  Complain about something small?
2.) Praise Jesus?
3.) Say something political since the simple obvious fact will change the stupid opinions of all your friends on the other side of the isle?
4.) Show what the burrito you’re about to consume looks like?
5.) Post every single picture with your boyfriend?  Post a selfie every single day?
6.) Post something philosophical that you snatched from somewhere else?
7.)  Shame everyone into posting some cause or other because you’re sure that “95% of you won’t do this, but are pretty sure you know the 5% that will?”

I don’t know about you but I certainly know about me.  I am growing a bit weary of the same themes running through my Facebook news feed.  It was entertaining for a good long while but over time I think I’ve been preached to enough, had my mind go a bit numb from all the pseudo news articles “10 things / slideshow that every something or other should know,” or be invited for the millionth time to play some waste of time FB game.

I’d like to go back to the time when FB was fresh and exciting.  I’d like a do over of getting reacquainted with all the people I had lost touch with over the years.  Getting reacquainted with them by a poke just was not as sufficient as a nice hour long conversation we used to do in the “olden days.”

Of course it is not all gloom and doom now.  I do enjoy seeing pictures, getting personal updates and generally being able to easily keep track of everyone.

Now that I think about it, you only get out of certain things that which you’re willing to put into them.  Perhaps if I become more efficient at using Facebook or the Internet in general I shall get that much more out of it!

I shall give it a try.

And with that self-revelation I’m going to close this post.  My young son just appeared in front of my office sans pants and it looks like I’m needed to restore some order in the household.



As you can see I no longer write very much in this journal.  In the past I used it as an open diary of my daily discoveries, experiences, thoughts and opinions.

While I still like to express myself through writing, I find I must be much more cautious now.  The reason is that what one writes can and most probably will affect them in the real world now.  Corporations, co-workers, HR and most likely your boss will check the internet for information for the first interview and most certainly if they decide to hire.  Instead of the internet being a place where one can freely express themselves it has turned much more into an all seeing big brother who wants to snoop on you.

This wouldn’t really bother me if it were only my friends but “social” has now spread forcefully into work life as well.  Only two years ago most companies really didn’t know what to do with social media and put vague restrictions on it.  Now, there is a push to have employees become social for business reasons.

It is not Facebook so much as it is LinkedIn.  I do not feel uncomfortable with this but find it weird that anyone can simply look you up and learn very much about you just by visiting a profile.  This unease really came to me when I noticed the “see who has viewed your profile,” and saw there were plenty of people checking me out on a weekly basis.

I’ve always been a first adopter of technology and especially various movements on the internet.  To prove this, out of all the people I know (in my FB network) I was the second to sign up.  Only one Ivy League HS classmate beat me to it.  Now I’d like to continue this trend by pulling back a bit and becoming a bit Antisocial.

Of course Antisocial to me simply means pulling back and deciding not to post every single idea that pops into my head.

Socially:  In case you hadn’t noticed, going on Facebook now means receiving political instruction and which politician sucks, a bit of life advice, directions on what to do or what not to do when interacting with the poster and if we’re lucky a short snippet on how great Jesus is.

I for one have decided to post only beautiful pictures regularly and perhaps a witty saying or two from time to time.

My FB network breaks down like this:

80% – Voyeurs –  These people never post.  Most of them just check out others profiles but it also may be many do not use FB much at all

10% – Constant posters – These are the 8 posts a day people.  Anything that that happens no matter how mundane will be posted about.  Recently I read “Enjoying my morning coffee than going to take a dump.”  The poster of this proclamation is quite comfortable sharing his every move!

Isn’t it like these folks are creating their own Truman Show?  Remember that movie how Jim Carey realizes his entire life is a TV show?  Isn’t posting everything a bit similar?

10% – Occasional posters –  No explanation necessary.

Business:  Us old Netizens realize that once business has conscripted an internet movement, the fun is definitely over.  Yes yes, I realize LinkedIn is a great way to network and build up a great variety of contacts.  When used properly and with enthusiasm it can actually make one very successful.

The problem I see is that everyone and their mother are trying to be successful on LinkedIn and one of the main ways this is done is by becoming an “information center.”  Now I have a very big portion of my network jamming my newsfeed with “important information!”

I subscribe to three magazines I very much like and often I don’t have time to read all of those.  Why on earth would I want to read all of this “important information” on my LinkedIn feed when 99% of it is stuff I really don’t care about?  Besides, this information is being shoved before me, not requested by me.  And if I wanted to know, I would just find the answer on Google in .5 seconds.

In summary, I think we as a society are riding the social train a bit too enthusiastically at the moment.  Social networks are new and just like a new toy are being played with a bit too much at the moment.

My prediction is that there will come a time in the next few years where people start to become a bit more Antisocial.  This should occur first on FB where people will realize they should not just spout off about politics, religion and whatever else they wouldn’t bring up so easily in real life.  Secondly it should occur in LinkedIn.  Right now LinkedIn is an open door where any stranger can walk in, have a long look around and walk away with your career.  LinkedIn is going to have to put some privacy restrictions on there.

Finally there is the worst which is Twitter which I have never understood.  My image of twitter is a massive mob of neurotic patients with their faces constantly buried in their cellphone screen who become distracted by every beep ping and buzz.


Even the news is now quoting Twitter.  The caption seems to be along these lines:


That is what the headline translates to in my brain.  Now, we have a gazillion so and sos’ SAYING SOMETHING on a daily basis and the common person really wants to know everything so and so said!

As I listen to this beautiful piece by Arvo Part I am peacefully reminded that we start everyday with a blank slate of possibilities.  We can be whatever we choose  and create whatever type of life we desire.  For me, this involves a lot of introspection and a firm grasp of who I am.

I find this peace, the quieting of the mind quickly slips away if I involve myself too much with the hordes demanding that I be social and pay attention to not only what they said, but what so and so said as well.  Yes, I am going Antisocial and am sure that given time others will follow.


Growing up and Passage of Time

It has been quite a while since I really sat and wrote down a personal post.  I used to do this quite a lot back in 2003 – 2006 but then I realized people were reading this stuff.  That is the problem with writing from the heart when you have a readership, you tend to censor yourself.

Then came along Facebook and it seemed your entire world became connected online and that things you wrote were completely exposed to everyone, not just the anonymous internet.  Well, the good thing for me, is I’ve been “unplugged” from all of that for about a decade and therefore really have no fear about writing what I wish.  Most of it was political things that I learned while being abroad but in the past few months I learned how to spin it off into a separate blog with the help of my expatriate friends.  There is always protection in a group!  🙂

Well, enough of those thoughts, I just wanted to write post like the days of yore and I’m not really concerned about who will read it or not.

Today being Friday, I sad down, cracked open a bottle of Spaten beer “Oktoberfest,” and turned on the T.V.  Have had a lot going on in my life at the moment and just wanted to take a minute, vegetate in front of the tube and relax.

The TV show that came on was “Friends.”  Now this TV show has been with me throughout my entire adult life.  It was on while I was in High School, College, Japan, Vietnam and in San Francisco.

When I watch it I wonder to myself if my life would have been like that had I stayed in the USA.  To rent an apartment, share it with friends and then have a bunch of life experiences with those same friends.  Quite a few of my friends come to mind when I think of people I would have liked to share an apartment with and the fun we would have had.  But I chose a different path and thus had completely different experiences.

The episodes affect me now as I have recently purchased a house and am no longer living in an apartment, in the middle of a big city (Tokyo, Saigon, SF) but have “retired” to the backwaters.  Actually, I was unable to cut the ties completely and am still 20 minutes from San Francisco but cannot help the feeling that a big chapter of my life has closed.

The funny thing is that the characters in Friends moved on a long time ago and it was about time I did the same.  Yet, we still get the reruns which bring the storyline back to the mid-1990s.  It makes me wonder how fast time moves on and how much things change.  You start to reflect if you made the right moves, did the right things and if you are “successful” enough.

In this culture we live in it would seem that one cannot ever be “successful” enough and even if you were to reach that point then you would be midlife before you did.  Then, upon reaching that point you look back upon your life and wonder if you made the right decisions on the way to “success.”

I for one, always have my “midlife crisis” a bit early.  I knew at 19 that I would not be a famous professional sports player and now at 33 I have the same thoughts most people might have at 40.  Still feeling good about things but that pressure to achieve seems to never go away.  It doesn’t help that economically we are in a very bad time and I wonder how many “superstars” there could have been but simply were not due to the recession.

So, I watch Friends and see the fun they have and wonder how my life would have turned out should I have chosen another path.  With Facebook it is very easy to see what others have done and you start to ask yourself “What is the meaning of success?”  You see what they do and wonder if you will ever reach a point where you are simply “comfortable.”  In the culture we live in, it seems that one can never be successful enough.  Perhaps it is just the times we live in and watching Friends, it would seem that the same problems they had in the mid 1990s’ continue to this day.

If you have never seen Friends, let me just show you the beginning and listen to the words.

So no one told you life was going to be this way. 
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA. 
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear, 
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

Reading the Facebook updates, it would seem like some of my friend’s lives accurately reflect this description.  None of us would have thought that upon High School graduation.

As for me personally, I do not feel “stuck in second gear” but given the times we live in, I would think that I’m in 3rd gear with the chance to stall at any moment.  I still have confidence but the economy is different now and it seems like a “live or die” type of environment.

In High School we all thought that we would be kings of the world… and then we grew up.  We all still want to be happy but the weight of the world is giving us “challenges” as they say in business parlance.  Some find themselves in school, others with families, some fighting that corporate ladders.

Kind of interesting how an episode of “Friends” can bring all these thoughts to bare.

In any case, this is what is on my mind this evening.  Will try to write more in the blog, but as I mentioned, now that I see many people actually read the stuff I feel that I am self-censoring myself more.  It could be I wish to conform, or it could be I think job recruiters may actually read this stuff.  In any case, I shouldn’t worry about that and write this down for not only myself but for others who may be thinking the same way.  The most valuable type of post is what is written from the heart.

In case you haven’t, check out: for interesting perspectives and a bit of reality in these times of silly media.  I still spend most of my time there and I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Signing off,

El Mateo