For the Moment

Not too long ago I saw a clip from an interview with country music star Dierks Bentley. In this interview, he revealed that he still uses a flip phone as a mobile device. His reasoning is that being constantly connected to multiple mediums robs him of being ‘in the moment’ and he feels his creativity is sorely diminished. So, a simple means of communication only when communication is necessary is all he feels he needs. I can relate to the creativity comment. I am gaining some momentum with my guitar lessons and I find some forms of modern technology do take away from the ability to focus on tasks at hand – namely, creativity. Maybe I’ll get back into blogging. And maybe even a new song or two will emerge.

I’ve tried to do the one or two month social media (SoMe) detox or cleanse at times (to the relief of some :-). I did this by disabling accounts and making myself invisible and unfindable but not gone. Inevitably I return to the same old time stealing practices that ate more nonsense than not and is void of value for me.

When buried in a mobile device or almost any modern technology, you are always ‘there’, and never ‘here’.

The second half of 2018 starts today, July 1. So I am initiating a new SoMe approach. Kinda like a mid-year resolution. I am not exiting social media – and let me be frank, I am referring primarily to Facebook and Messenger. I am not leaving altogether – at least not now. I will be removing mobile apps thus cutting my 24/7 access to it from my phone. If my current phone was paid off, I’d look into a lesser smart phone. I will still check here and there every few days – Messenger also. But, it will be on a laptop and only when I permit myself a legitimate break from all of life’s ‘in-the-moment’ moments. And there are always an abundance of those moments so visits to SoMe will, by God’s grace, be few.

Ciao for now,


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Reminders of a Stained Personal History

Many people have told me that the substance abuse issues with which I battled as a teenager and then emerged from stronger than ever made me who I am today. When I was 18 years old, a casual observer might have rightfully doubted if I would lived past the age of thirty. I was living a life rife with disrespect for self and others.

This all happened around the age of 18 and 19. Beginning at age 21 I embarked on a college career that took nine years to complete culminating in a Bachelor’s of Chemical Engineering from Villanova University. I worked 30-35 hours a week for a 250 person engineering firm concurrently to this so I had no life for that decade. Ten years following that, which included nine with a global professional services firm, I went back for an Executive MBA (also Villanova).

I share this because often I am told that rather than be ashamed of my past (I still battle with shame constantly) I should embrace the good that emerged from it. I have a strong sense of appreciation for things that many people (dare I say most) take for granted.

There is much in my memory bank that is associated with those dark days. Do I block them out of my mind? No! They were mistakes. And from them, I emerged a stronger person more capable to deal with what life throws at me than I otherwise would have been able to.

It ain’t all pretty but it’s me. Not proud of it all, still ashamed of much, but never to be forgotten.

This is my personal analogy to the removal of objects that remind us of our national past.

Have a Great Day!

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Explaining Trump Support

Many wonder how the heck any sane person could ever vote for Donald Trump. I am not a fan but I do offer one possible explanation. Remember the debacle the U.S. got into when we tried to force democracy on a people in the Middle East starting over 10 years ago under the first Bush W administration? Well it was a debacle precisely because we jammed a new (and frankly not wanted by all) ideology down their thoughts.

The United States is in a similar boat today. Our national ideologies are generally routed in conservatism. Having liberalism jammed down the throats of people not in agreement or not prepared for it is the under-current for Trump support. He is a shitty candidate for the resistance but it’s all that this group has. 

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No Joy Without Gratitude

In the aftermath of a brief recent rant on Facebook about the White House’s seemingly slow actions against terror (which I have since taken down) I have been “double dared” by a good friend Rich O, to post something positive today. I happily accept. In light of what seems to be going around “ALS Ice Bucket” style is the “Gratitude Challenge” I am not sure if there is a charity benefiting from this but I have to believe that whoever takes the time to acknowledge sincere gratitude in their life is the primary beneficiary. According to author and speaker Brené Brown, a life of true joy cannot exist in the absence of actively practicing gratitude. So Rich, here is my acceptance. There is a quote I once heard in Boy Scouts many years ago that goes something like this:

“When money is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When honor is lost, all is lost.”

I have seen this attributed to Billy Graham, Walt Whitman and an unnamed general in the Civil War. In any event, my gratitude lies in this phrase. I am healthy. Through I work at it, I know that I am fortunate to live in a civilized time and place that allows me the ability to do so. The same goes for money. I am not where I would like to be but I am grateful for what I do have and what I have earned. Moreover, I am grateful that I am physically and mentally able to learn and earn.

Now for honor. I am not perfect. I make mistakes with the best of them. I can, however, profess my gratitude that I was raised honorably and with a sound set of values. As to whether or not I reflect those values into the world, only those with whom I interact can opine on that. I can only hope I do.

In closing I am very grateful for friends and family who are willing to accept me warts, (and Facebook rants) and all. Who can ground me when needed and whose mutual respect still endures.

Thanks for reading and thanks Rich for the double dare.

Have a Great Day!

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You are not a quitter. You are grounded.

With the exception of these opening two paragraphs, the entirety of this post was written by George Bruno. I met George in the Fall of 2013 and in only a handful of interactions with him, I can assert that he is grounded in his distinction between “celebrity” for it’s own sake (i.e. ego) and “celebrity” for the purpose of being impactful in the world.  Having felt incomplete myself in an otherwise well paying and relatively secure career, I voluntarily took the exit ramp in 2008 (not the best of economic times) with only one idea – to create something new. Although that which I was to create was not even defined.

What follows is a recent Facebook post by George and his subsequent comments. It is full of such resonance for not only me, but also so many others I have come to know in the past several years.

A lot of people will eventually say “I dabbled in a little acting for a few years”, then will go back and look for a “real” job. They needed that little diversion where they actually thought they were going to “make it big”. Every city has it’s community of “superstars”. Then you dial it back to a dribble and subscribe to the longterm plan and you roll the dice every now and then. BUT you needed those few spectacular hopeful years, made a few friends, and learned to stretch your brain in new ways. It was all good. It’s OK to pull off the road to the rest stop or even just change the route altogether. You’re not a quitter. You just had a reality check. You’re smart. You’re a better speaker now. You’re fearless in front of crowds. You network better. You can go back to a career or life with some new skills. So when someone says “Oh, you’re an actor..or an artist…or whatever creative title you choose” It’s Ok to respond, “Yeah, I dabbled a little”. It’s all good.

Most actors would be better off as motivational speakers or trainers. Same skills. Same gratification. BUT ten times the income. Some people love hearing others say “I saw your commercial”, but don’t know it only paid the actor $400. In their mind, the recognition is the pay. (That pays a lot of bills doesn’t it?) Commercials seem to be the actors version of a selfie, lol. Been there. Eventually you get tired of being broke.

Want to be a celebrity? Start a business, be successful, create jobs, help others get rich and achieve their dreams.

Thanks for reading and thank you again George.

Have a great day!

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An apology to Sara Michelle Gellar

I am riveted with embarrassment and anger over a recent experience with photos on Facebook.  Because of where things stand as of this writing, I am compelled to using this platform to extend a public apology to Sara Michelle Gellar.

While trying to tag a photo on Facebook of my cousin’s dog (French Bulldog named Gellar), Facebook autofilled the name of the New York born actress Sara Michelle Gellar and I found myself technically unable to untag the photo. I have never known so much mortification and anger at maximum levels simultaneously.  While I accept making mistakes, Facebook cannot be designed to default to the nearest popular name when entering a name – and more importantly – one must be allowed to untag a photo when a mistake in tagging is accidentally made.

This post was not written to vent, but rather to try and get in front of this and offer my humblest and most sincere apology to Ms. Gellar.

(Note: I am aware that the chances Ms. Gellar even ever knowing of this is about the same as the chances of me winning the lottery. Nonetheless, I was left feeling extremely uncomfortable that this happened.)

Matt G.

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Solve for X

AlgebraAlgebra – the bane of existence for countless secondary school students. And for many, algebra is a source of entertainment in the way of puzzle solving for many others. I fall into the latter category. Engineering was my undergraduate academic path perhaps in part because, at least from my perspective, the path to problem solving was more prescribed than not. By this I mean we were taught algorithms and formulas to use when solving the myriad of problems we might encounter. When we were faced with a new problem, our creative latitude was bound by the constraints of mathematics and science. We were in a sense always guided by rules in our pursuit of a solution.

Later in my career I was involved in computer coding of moderate complexity at best to automate repetitive computational tasks. While I had creative license to derive the solution, I was nonetheless limited by the rules of logical syntax – and yes, even algebra. Any computational line of code using variables to store numbers is, by definition, using algebra.

Contrast that with what we refer to as ‘design’. Perhaps not the textbook or mainstream definition, I would not be for off in tendering a definition of design as something that is bound only by the limits of human imagination and can arouse strong and enduring human emotion. Design is manifested in so many parts in our lives: architecture, furniture, appliances, automobiles, technology and yes, even – dare I say especially – literature.

Design is what it is because of what it evokes in us. That is perhaps its most significant distinction from algorithmic problem solving. Other than a transitory personal victory, (“Yay, I got the right answer!”), algorithmic problem solving is not evocative in the way that design is. Emotional reaction to design is a highly personal matter. And since we are all different from one another, successful design can be especially challenging. It requires a level of creativity than goes far beyond the creativity required to overcome challenges of the situational and physical environment.

Building a structure to withstand the demands of its environment offers few creative options; all bounded by the rules of physics. Designing something, on the other hand, to move people emotively is to operate without rules and its limits extend all the way to the expansiveness of the human mind. Similarly, writing a collection of words to entertain or otherwise maintain engagement of an audience is one thing. To write something that shifts the way a person sees the world and how they operate in it is another. As I have suggested, there are no rules in design. There is however, a necessity in understanding and contextualizing humanity’s common denominators – whatever they may be.

My point in opining on this is personal and poignant. I am (for better or worse) in the throes of trying to bring – yet again – a new idea to the marketplace and thus into the world. It is relatively new and the even the sense of need itself requires no small amount of effort to create. At this stage, there are no rules, no sets of formulas or equations to arrive at an answer – other than a few known fixed costs. The answer is not known. The answer itself is being created by constantly moving forward. And that is a paradigm I am not used to. I am extremely grateful for the support and contribution of a few friends without whom I wonder if some days I would be overcome by otherwise feelings of despair.

I close with a quote from Charles Kettering, the famed inventor and head of research for GM. “A problem well-stated is half-solved.” Perhaps design and problem solving are two sides of the same coin.  We solve for x and we design for y, or z, or p, or q, or r, or…

Thanks for reading. Have a Great Day!

Matt G.

Image credit: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

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