Showing posts from 2019

125. Conventional Titles

Recently, I was hanging out in the job market. It's a market I hadn't visited in 16 years. It looks and feels like a lot has changed!

One of the most interesting things is that people seem to be able to make up their own job titles with no repercussions: you can be a sensei, master, guru (basically anything Bruce Lee would have been called)  expert, commander, chief and many more!

I don't know exactly the amount of self esteem one needs to unironically and seriously call themselves something as superlative as a "thought leader", I only know it's at least twice as much as I currently have.

I actually don't have a problem with being called any of that, it's just that calling yourself those things seems a bit presumptuous. I've been called a guru before, but I would never, ever, call me that. In my profession, one of the biggest tenets is to "lead with humility". You quickly become an oxymoron if you title yourself a guru.

There's no p…

124. Casa/home


“No Podemos Regresar a Casa”
Cuando decimos eso, casi siempre queremos decir que tú o el lugar donde crecistes han cambiado muchísimo. En el caso de Venezuela, nuestra casa literalmente no existe. Yo se que no se compara con lugares como Siria, pero es impresionante como todo un país fue eliminado por las terribles decisiones gubernamentales.
Desde que abandoné  (todavía se siente como que la abandone) a mi Caracas en el 2003, se ha convertido en uno de los países más pobres en la región y el crimen se ha vuelto insoportable. La última vez que fui fue en el 2011 y no la pude reconocer, a mi Venezuela. Todos estaban cuidadosos, estresados y asustados. Mi corazón siempre piensa en los que se quedaron atrás.
Cuando veo fotos de mi valle, el valle de la ciudad de Caracas, yo y miles de mis compatriotas soltamos un suspiro grande. Yo la tome por sentado por 25 años, pero nuestra preciosa cordillera es una de las maravillas del planeta.
Este comic fue inspirado cuan…

123. Betrayal

My wife and I are bird watching. This is as weird for me to write as it is for some of you to read. I have personally not been a fan of these winged beasts throughout my life. A goose once bit my 4 year old weewee and I decided all animals in the Aves class deserved my scorn; a very human reaction on my part.

Nonetheless, my wife has hung a bird feeder and I built a perch for my cats. I thought they'd enjoy the entertainment. The jury is out. They keep slamming the window to scare the birds away. At first, this primitive strategy worked. However, and this is why I'm starting to love birds, the modern dinosaurs have started to realize that a window pane provides ample defense. They are definitely more ballsy (cloacaful?) now. They just mock my feline girls nowadays.

My wife is amazing at recognizing the birds. My skills are a little short at the moment. I just see two types, brown ugly birds and colorful birds. We also get this type:

My wife promises me that it is not a bird, …

122. Sight Seeing

These last few eternities we have been in an Alaskan cruise ship. My wife and I aren't exactly cruise folk. We like to make our plans and build our own adventures with as little people around us as possible when on vacation. We are definitely not minglers at the promenade kind of people.

That said, this trip has been magical. Seeing whales and bears and cracking glaciers has been a unique experience when combined to the absolute decadence of a cruise ship. Want to have three lunches composed of desserts? It’s OK, in this lumbering, luxury liner. Two dinners, one of New York pizza and the other of Malaysian fare? You absolutely can in this bloated floating city.  At least my wife has gone to the gym thrice in this geriatric grand ship.

Me, I’ve been failing at the one thing I thought I could do: Drink my 15 drinks a day provided by my drink package. My record is 12. Today is our last day and I hope I can do it! Edit: I got 13 and a Perrier ☹️

We saw whales. Lots of whales. From the cr…

121. Paper Towels

I love thee, paper towels. Most men that I’ve ever met love paper towels. These absorbent tapestries of angelic white are definitely a better invention than sliced bread. I have not been able to properly communicate to my wife how important paper towels have been in my life. All the errors they have been able to undo. Cat vomit from 5 different pets have posed no trouble for my bleached, thick friends. I’ve been able to harmelssly evict countless bugs with these corrugated beauties. Cooking misshaps? Not here! Mystery blood from a rowdy party? Not in my house!

Never mind the weird side glances I get from my wife when I use a fresh paper towel sheet to pick up a dirty paper towel sheet. How many other tools let you do that ad-infinitum? She doesn’t believe in the miracle anti-bacterial goodness of a simple sheet of paper. Once, when I cleaned pre-used kitty litter that I spilled in the kitchen, she didn’t believe that a quick wipe with my pick-a-size banners of pulcritude would be eno…

120. Open Minded

Hey folks! You can try this at home! Start broadcasting that you need a change in life, that you are willing to try something new. You will start receiving an advice avalanche from people you know (and some you don’t). The amount of life improvement nuggets that exist in the universe of humans seems
absolutely infinite. 

We are all culpable of this. I remember when I first tried meditation for anxiety. I couldn’t help myself telling people to try it! Meditation, or more specifically the perceiving of oneself without emotional engagement, worked for me during hard times. The thing is, it is not for everyone. Not everyone needs to meditate.

Terry Pratchett’s quote has always stayed with me: “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”. In it’s most benign interpretation we have people really trying to help, from their limited focus. In one of the more pernicious interpretations we have cult leaders and their t…

119. The Choice Patient

The choice patient is a Republican talking point. Most people in the United States already have no options in their insurance as it is done through their employer. If you have a public option that will pay for your main healthcare needs, only a portion of Americans would need to supplement it with  something else. And this is the United States of America so there will always be VIP options, I have no doubt.

We need to go to Universal Healthcare. On that the Democrats mostly agree (Biden's 97% promise falls short to most others). They disagree in how to get there. You heard on the democratic debate one of the main rifts: Should we have a federally managed, exclusive public option or should there be a space for private insurance? I am not intelligent enough to know what will be best in our current economic and political climate but hear me out. An exclusive single payer system is very rare in large countries.

France, Spain, Germany and Canada have a role for private insurance. Ther…

118. Shortcuts

I'm not going to lie. I loved drawing this one. I’m on the second week of forced unemployment and being able to draw this one was a great release of tension and anxiety. This comic combines some of my favorite things. It is about  clever shortcuts, diversity and the one game that changed everything for me: Super Mario Bros. for the NES.

I can barely remember what I had for breakfast (and I made it myself), but I remember the day my mom bought me the NES and this game like it was yesterday. Seeing the box art for the first time, with its blown up pixel art, was an indelible memory. My brother said that the graphics looked like shit, because it was so blown up. When we were finally able to hook it up at home, all kinds of people came by to marvel at the graphics. I remember everything from the first goomba to the first time (after lots of tries) that we lowered the flag in world 1-1. It was a good time to be alive and young. Video games have always been there for me when the world …

117. The Layoff Episode

Last week, my department got laid off, along with dozens of others around my organization.

In my  job as an internal consultant, I made use of my talents to help the people I cared the most about: the employees (from front line to leaders). It was in the direct help to employees that I derived the most work satisfaction. I will definitely be mourning the loss of the opportunity to help my co-workers for a long time to come.

I am unsure what I will pursue. At this moment, many roads seem viable that I hadn't seen before. I am both strengthened and overwhelmed at the choices. I really want to be in a position in which I can continue to help workers achieve better outcomes for their customers and themselves.

Extra Panel:

The Psychology of it All

It had been telegraphed to us that we would lose our jobs, so I had time to build up to it emotionally. Or so I thought! The mixture of shame, disappointment and anger that comes after a moment like this is not possible to prepare for. I alw…

116. Travelling Without Moving

Travelling is the activity my wife and I enjoy doing the most. We love everything about the process. We love perusing our Lonely Planet books before a trip, learning some basic phrases (if the destination is in a different language), and having something to look forward to.

I find it funny that we frequently find ourselves in very similar places no matter where we go in the world. Dark, underground places with craft beer and cocktails. Honestly, if you wanted to abduct us in a foreign country all you need to do is advertise local craft beer in your basement.

We are completely different people when we travel. She is comfortable with a lesser amount of planning (she leaves her planner at home!) and I become observant and experience every pebble of every road we take. Perhaps our Nirvana would be to achieve these states in our own backyard!

Another thing that happens to us is that we become ravenous. If we do plan, we mostly plan where we are having our three meals, dessert and midnigh…

115. Murder, She Heard

My wife took me to a live recording of  “My Favorite Murder” in Houston this year. It was a great show, but it was also very eye-opening. First of all, the crowd was 90% female. The hosts, too, are female and hilarious about this dreary subject. Not until recently had I noticed the connection between these kinds of shows and gender.

It dawned on me during this show that this is about female survival. By far, the victims in the murders discussed in the show are female and the perpetrators are male. It is something that I barely register in my daily life but is probably at the top of women’s minds frequently. There was a good episode about this in Aziz Ansari's show "Master of None" in season 1. Going home alone is a completely different experience for boys and girls and it sucks a lot. "My Favorite Murder" works with that and evolves it. There’s useful tips embedded in the show, like “f#!k politeness”,  a lot of the murders happen to people that felt something …

114. Facing Issues

When I am walking down my work’s hallway, I see lots of faces. Sometimes, out of the blue, my processes break and I let out a mess of a face in return. It’s like a Jim face if Jim had diarrhea and was afraid people would notice.

Where do we learn to do these faces? I sure as hell didn't plan to develop this response to another human being. I must have caught it from some other awkward nimrod.

The people in my head are based slightly on Khaneman's 2 system theory. You can find out more in this earlier blog post.  Some days I love the slower, thoughtful #2 (blue) and some days you can’t but appreciate your instinctual, hurried #1 (red). The origins of these creatures can be seen in this popular post, as well.

I often think about these two theoretical processes. Number one is the one who types posts in twitter and starts fights with Trump supporters and horrible people. Number 2 is the one who erases these posts before they are sent.

Extra post:

It’s contagious.

113. Truth Bombs

Having iron-clad thoughts written in stone is not as laudable as it seems. For some reason, people seem to idolize personalities with unwavering opinions. I feel it's a dangerous thing to celebrate. We should be ready to update our opinions with the introduction of new evidence.

Like most Venezuelans that escaped that socialist dystopia , I was a libertarian when I came to the United States. I believed that all people needed to do was to work really hard and they could make it in a place like the USA. I have learned a lot since then. I have learned that we are definitely not all in equal footing. I came across evidence that hiring practices were racist against black sounding names (This is a recent meta-analysis);  redlining has deprived many communities from prosperity and even children are disciplined differently in school. Over time, African Americans also get longer prison sentences. All this paints a picture that is particularly harrowing for black males in this country. Thi…

112. Career Fairy

I thought of this one while my mouth was agape and being toyed with. I don’t dislike my dentist, but he could learn a bit about human behavior from his dental hygienist.

When I first started going to the dentist after a huge gap (in years, not in my teeth), I was a mess. I never flossed, my gums were very squirty and I brushed pretty unimpressively. Move forward a few years later and now I floss about 75% of the days, I use a cool electric brush and I take a lot better care of my dental health. All of this through the coaching and encouragement of my dental assistant.

Throughout those years, my dentist has not seen a story of improvement. Just another guy he sees for 5 minutes and still is not great at oral health. I feel he could use some lessons from my dental assistant about behavior change.

I see the same pattern in other professions. We are biased about what we do, so we expect others to be like us. Dentists see people who don’t give a crap about oral health. Doctors see people …

111. The Devil We Didn't Know

Ted Bundy's mother told her son “You’ll always be my precious son.” just before the execution. I feel like I get it now. We have a feline Bundy in our home. Her victims are electronic cables and my wife's jewelry, but make no mistake, she is deadly AF. I have also never been so much in love with an animal that has wronged me so much. 

Khaleesi (yep, should've known) has cost me around one thousand dollars on electronics so far (including an expensive wired headset). She has ruined some of Roxanne's jewelry. And what did we do about it? We bought her a little throne to sit by the window.  I don't understand who I am anymore.

When she started ripping apart everything I hold dear, I was told so many different things to try. I was told to spray vinegar on the cables. She seemed to really enjoy the taste. Like adding hot sauce to your pasta. I was told to buy protective casing. They usually were no match to her entrepreneurial spirit. The only thing that worked was cha…

110. The Anniversary

My dear readers, marriage was never in my plans. Since I had long decided to be child-free, marriage didn’t seem to be so necessary. I still don’t think it’s a necessary part of life, just do what feels right, people!

I had been with my partner for about 5 years when I popped the question. We were on a wonderful vacation in Asia and there came a moment in which I couldn’t think of anything other than asking her to marry me. I bought a cheap-ass (wow hyphens are important) ring from the street and popped the question out while in a pool by ourselves. It came out of nowhere, and as an absolute surprise to both of us. 
In terms of compatibility, I had never met anyone like her. She laughs at my shitty jokes, while belting out far superior material. She likes to kick ass at work and kick ass at relaxing. She has taught me many amazing things, from craft beer to spicy food. She is the person who I want to grow up to be, most of the time. She swims and splashes between the oceans of of bad…

109. Accidental Excercise

I will never enjoy working out. I know that people in the self-help fields try to stay away from ‘always’ and ‘never’ statements.  Well in this instance, they are wrong. I will never enjoy working out.

However, I do enjoy walking nearly 10,000 steps every day and it is because I get to walk to work. So that has to count towards my fitness goals, right? Right? *crickets*

I like the concept of accidental exercise. Somebody should write a book about the micro-exercises that we could do all day that could have a non-infinitesimal effect.

Parking far away from your your destination.Standing up at work.Carrying weight when walking from meeting to meeting.Gesturing maniacally while talking.Forgetting stuff in your car a few times a day.Taking the stairs I hope someone writes this book that confirms my bias that I am doing ok.
Extra Panel:
One way to become more absent-minded.

108. Forbidden Fruit

First of all, let me be on the record stating how complicated I find that in English the word for the burning spiciness is 'hot'. So a dish can be cold and hot (Like Thai Larb) because it's served cold but it is spicy hot. Or hot and not hot, like  pizza margherita. It's a little screwy and you know it.

88% of my Facebook page readers seem to like-a the spice-a, so I bet my love of all things hot is in not lost on you lot.

I find that my new found love for hot food is inspirational. I had spent my whole life avoiding that category of seasoning. I just didn't need it. When the love of my life introduced me to this, I felt for it instantly. Right now I think I eat even more hot food than her. It's not a competition, but I'm killing it. There's something about that burning, tasty, lingering feeling that comes with adding a few SHU to your meals. It has changed my life.

How many other things like this are waiting in the periphery of your mind? I discovered…

107. Happy.

Authenticity. Most of the time when someone says something nice about me it’s about authenticity. When they say negative things, it runs the gamut: absent-minded, forgetful, weird, clumsy, childish.

I feel authenticity is a spectrum, however. Too much authenticity and you get the far-too-honest-asshole,  too little authenticity and you have the con or shyster. I try not to linger too much on the corners. Speaking of which, my wife and I are currently absorbed with the podcast "Who the Hell is Hamish". If you are interested in people with zero authenticity, it is a must listen.

Authenticity is defined by some psychologists as the congruence between your internal and external self. It’s hard for me to keep one from the other, so what you see is usually what’s going on inside.

I have never been able to shape my face to something other than what I am feeling, yet somehow it has been the appropriate thing to do for my entire life. So if you’re like me, frowning your worries away…

106. Uplifting

Esteemed readers, I am not an overly ambitious person. That makes me a rarity among many of my friends and family. It took me a long time to discover that it is perfectly OK to be just OK in the dimension of ambition.

What I found to be true in my life, however, was that you can lack the classical ambition of things and status and yet have a yearning for making an impact. Currently I work with an organization that helps adults obtain the literacy skills that the system failed to grant. It fulfills me more than any promotion or more bundles of cash could. However, I’ve also discovered that I don't need to help assholes.

Psychological research warns us against the rat race of the pursuit of happiness. The jollies you get from achieving your goals are short and fleeting. So if you are not enjoying the journey, it will be all for naught. So, dear reader, if you’ve read this far all I want is to share that little nugget. Make sure you are not focused on other people’s goals. Choose a d…

105. This Place Sucks

Ahhh. The internet. The promise of the library of Alexandria, but the reality of the Library of Babel. Gen Xers saw this whole thing unfolding. We saw how it started as a place with great niche information, interesting message boards and slow loading porn. We saw it evolve into a place supported by ads, shaped by your biases and with fast loading porn.

Today any idiot can have a webpage (what-what tens of thousands of hits right here, baby). Any idiot can write in the internet's pages. And every idiot does. I like to think about the messages that we put out there and try to make them sound like they came from a human mouth in a social setting. It's awful! You would just hear people saying stuff from their subconscious, consequences be damned. No real back and forth, just a bunch of people saying awful things about other people, other artists or other gamers. No one really comports themselves like this in a social setting. Except that one dude, but everybody hates him!


104. Primitive Regression

Dear readers, social behavior is like a muscle. And mine is as flaccid as your average GOP member's dangling neck blubber. I have always found joy in solace, happiness in oneness and validation in self-immersion.

I enjoy hanging out with some people. I really, genuinely, do. However, even the most interesting, laid back, and nice people drain me a bit. The only person who doesn't exhaust me is my wife. For some reason she just feels like an extension to me. Like an angelic ingrown hair or a serene wart, she is a part of me. Legally. She is bound to me legally. So if she is upset that I just compared her to a wart for shits and giggles, she would have to go through a lengthy process to get rid of me.

There has been years in which I venture out more than others. Years in which I say yes to social contact a little more freely. Those years seem to be also years in which I save up on bail money just in case.

In any case, here's the extra panel:

It's an homage to Mystery Sc…

103. Bilingual Fail

Being bilingual is not always all fun and games. Some of the problems I've had because of being bilingual are:
Hearing people talk about me when they think I can't understand.Being confused by two sets of grammar rules that make no sense.Being the de-facto guide if travelling to a country that speaks a language I know. Becoming the target of racism. Yep. Racism. The only instances of racism that I have experienced in the United States are when someone detects my accent or hears me talking to someone in Spanish. In a very memorable one, a man with a red hat (pre Trump, there must be something about red) asked what the hell I was doing in his country. I answered "To take your jobs and bang your women". Some friends I was with defended me from what would have been the pounding of my drunken life.

The few cases where I've experienced this made me realize how bad some minorities have it. I've felt belittled and hated by another human due to my birth place, it is…

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124. Casa/home

123. Betrayal

125. Conventional Titles

122. Sight Seeing

121. Paper Towels

120. Open Minded

117. The Layoff Episode

118. Shortcuts

119. The Choice Patient