Facebook Page?

cropped-puzzleOnce upon a time not so long ago I began RealityFragments.com – an answer to my more personal writing in a time when I was chained to technology on KnowProSE.com, when I wanted a clear space to publish my less technical side and explore it. And allow others to, to allow myself to see who was interested in what I had to write otherwise.

It’s a bit over a year now. And out of the blue last week, Facebook asked me if I was the ‘owner’ of RealityFragments.com and allowed me to be in charge of the RealityFragments Facebook page.

I paused. It had happened because my profile mentions the site – it is, after all, something I do – but this isn’t a business. It’s not a news source in any true sense of the word. I’m not looking for writing gigs. Truth be told, I’ve been procrastinating successfully with regard to writing a book by kicking around book ideas for the last 3 weeks. So. Why do I need a Facebook page for it?

I don’t. But I took it because of the key issue on the Internet, on social media: Someone else might. And it has become part of a brand. Maybe even marketing of my brand for whatever purpose that has yet to be decided. So it sits there, this page, and I have no idea what to really do with it.

Facebook seems intent on me adding a button to it. I found it enough to simply upload some images for the page after I claimed it. And then a few people liked it.

So. A Facebook page for the site – something that maybe a decade ago would have been something people immediately did so that they could somehow do something that other people thought was cool. Now, it seems so pedestrian.

This is the first blog entry I’ll share there. And it’s not designed to do anything cool, but instead explain why it exists, and why I’m not too impressed… and why I don’t think others should be. Yet it has potential for non-Wordpress.com users to discuss and comment on things if they choose to. Invariably, someone will call me a liberal or conservative, someone will use Hitler in a conversation, and people will either disagree or agree with what I have written.

I suppose they can start here.


Another time variation3The light flickers and shifts around me as I change again, as things around me change, and the world is re-evaluated. It is why I haven’t written in so long; I was not ready. And so, snippets.


I lay in bed, shivering with fever, unable to sleep and unable to get up. My mother died recently of the flu, her body found only through her having left hot water running and leaking from her apartment – I imagine under the door into the hallway. Mortality. I think about that too much perhaps because I thought of it too little, but I do not obsess. It’s just a snippet, a landmark with new meaning.


It’s hard to say when people stopped using my first name and started referring to me as ‘Mr.’. It bothered me. It stopped bothering me recently, I’ve fallen into an unfamiliar role as people pay me respect I am uncertain how I have earned from them in a world where the default setting has always seemed otherwise. What has changed?

I suppose I have decided, finally, that I am worthy of that respect. And that leads me to wonder why I didn’t think I was before, why it made me uncomfortable enough to crawl out of my own skin.

It doesn’t matter, but that it did does. It speaks of things I do not speak of, wounds never tended, fractures never set. They call the resulting sculpture, “Mr.”


A culture of one, a culture of many. I watch as people who identify with cultures war with each other by simply not communicating, shouting at each other. Once I would try to get them to understand each other. No longer; they are happy at war. Everyone who disagrees is a barbarian. As a person grounded in technology before and after the Internet, the thought that this was not the future we wanted to build sticks in my mind. We carefully moved Humpty Dumpty up one level of bricks every evolution of Moore’s Law, hoping he wouldn’t fall simply because he had not fallen yet.

The omelettes have begun.

Life washes over me differently now. Less of what used to matter seems to matter. I watch children fighting over their toys and no longer step in. They have to figure it out. If they don’t, it won’t matter. If they do, it will.

Life goes on.

Broken Contracts

Break FreeThere are contracts between people, and there are contracts between lawyers – the latter existing because contracts between people are fragile.

One of the reasons  I haven’t been writing was because I was negotiating a contract – a business deal. It started with a handshake, as so many business deals do. This was a contract between people, between men – me having something someone else wanted, he wanting something I have. The deal was for a certain amount, the deal to be completed by lawyers the next day.

The next day never arrived – instead, I got another representative of the company and family. And, right before Carnival here in Trinidad and Tobago, I was given a downpayment for a price for roughly 70% of the original handshake. I smiled and laughed, knowing I wouldn’t accept that offer, and returned their downpayment after Carnival. I simply showed that I understand the value they placed in shaking hands by returning the favor. I think they got the point.

Now I know how they do business and I can say that they don’t really respect contracts between people – I won’t name them, there’s really no need to. It’s no more than an attempt at a reverse bait and switch maneuver, as basic as that – and what I found was that once I got past that, they had nothing. So I raised my price, and they said they wouldn’t buy – and called me the next day, still trying to get me below the price of our original handshake.

“Do you think you can get that price from anyone in Trinidad and Tobago right now?”, I was asked churlishly. I responded in a firm tone, “Do you think I care?” 

And I laughed, putting it in the hands of someone the next day to deal with. I’ve seen too many contracts broken over the years – more than most, less than a few – to really care that much about a broken contract. I put it in the hands of someone else; I have no patience for people with money saying that the price is too high. Clearly, the value is not – pay the price or move on. 

It’s as if they do not matter to others, as if one’s word doesn’t matter, as if a promise is so easily broken. Trust is not something understood – Honor and Commitment are Gordian knots to be sliced.

And it’s not just business.

Social Contracts


There was a time when social contracts were more valued – we find pockets here and there among the rubble of civilization where they are still valued, where a promise or a handshake means something. When someone’s word meant something, when they were careful what they promised.

Now, we gamble on people’s greed in things more and more – not just financially but otherwise, be it emotional or otherwise.

And one thing I have learned over the years is that a world where one’s word is worth something is becoming smaller every year. Marriages, divorces, political promises, government reality, and so on. And because of that we do not trust.

And a civilization where we do not trust is not really a civilization.

A person’s word should mean something. Should. But now, unless you get a witness and everyone signs, it’s empty – expended air lost to the atmosphere, needless noise. And even with lawyers…

We are surrounded by broken contracts.


A Parting in the SeamI know we all die.

That jarring reality came early in life. The world, the cultures, everything is designed so that you aren’t supposed to think about it, but if you manage to fit into one of those cracks – the widening cracks – you realize the finality of mortality. Poets, authors… have written so much about it. Religions offer sanctuary from it. Maybe you’ll come back, maybe you’ll go to a better place.

But isn’t there always a better place? Someone always trying to sell you real estate of some form or another? Cash is easy, tears are real.

I’m intelligent. I’m not supposed to be confused. I’m the one people come to when they are confused. I have no faith that reaches further than the tips of my fingers, my toes, and where my mind can go.

I’m confused. The anger has come and went, as it’s supposed to. But it’s not so much ‘went’. There’s a surprising amount of anger there below acceptance.

One woman loved me more than I was comfortable with, and she’s gone. Another woman fought with me because… she loved me more than I was comfortable with. And she, too, is gone.

There is a rhythm there. A pulse, a silent rage that thwacks at reality now and then despite my best efforts. It’s cynical. It’s sarcastic. It seems to feel no pain, and yet it cannot exist without it.

I know we all die.

I plan for it – the unmentionables that people do not discuss. I planned for it years ago, and I may end up planning it years into the future.

But I did not plan for them to die. I should have, I suppose, since I know we all die.

Yet I failed to plan for them to die. One even told me, told me how, and I nodded my head quietly, thinking she was venting. Hoping she was venting.

She wasn’t venting. I failed. It haunts me.

Another died of the flu. How? Had I been there would something else have happened?

There is no solace here. But there is a silent rage at the world, at myself, and those who take it for granted.


Except Billionaires.

Captive SkyYesterday, I wrote a post on my other site that challenged a World Economic Forum post – as people should. Part of that post dealt with this thing we call freedom.

I love freedom, yet every time I become slightly more free I am reminded that I am not allowed to be in one way or the other. Breathing is a compromise of freedom. We Americans that dominate the social media and social networks in our own vacuums tend to believe that the United States is the only nation with ‘freedom’, when really most of the world has it and some nations are arguably more free (step out of your vacuum). As a multicultural, I get to see the world a little differently – but in the end, we know what freedom is and what freedom isn’t.

We know that in a capitalist society – and this is no smear against capitalism, it’s all I really know – that if you have more, you have to protect it. If you have something of value that you want to keep, you have to fence it, protect it, have an army of lawyers to protect your intellectual property, have a firewall on your systems (or better, air-gap them). Suddenly, by simply having more than someone else, you are less free.

Around the world, while there may be less poverty, there are more clear striations between haves and have-nots. In the Global Income Inequality post(which, oddly enough has the same citation as the optimistic post on the World Economic Forum I originally responded to: Max Roser), data seems to indicate it’s on the decline but is still high.

Who is more free, the person that has and needs to protect it or the person who does not have and cannot get it legally? Where is the freedom?

Around the world, people do what they can to be free. As individuals, we all have seen the people who plod and plod without getting ahead, those stable people that society depends on to keep us from sliding into the abyss of our own humanity and lack of it. We see those aspiring to do better, maybe working their way through college – maybe getting a job afterwards to pay off any debt incurred, maybe not. We see members of the military sign up to defend ‘freedom’ come back with lost limbs, or worse, with the scars that cannot be seen – and how much more freedom does anyone have, and how much freedom would someone have lost?

The chains of yesteryear became the financial chains after the abolishment of slavery – indentured servitude being the start, and de facto indentured servitude continues. To become more free, we collectively believe that we should accrue more financially, and when we do so we are limited by the very thing we thought would set us free.

“Except billionaires”, we might think, and yet how free are they?

Conspicuous Effort

conspicuous effort
Every now and then someone posts something of worth on Facebook; the comments on this image are worth checking out.

I have thought a lot over the last 3 years about the differences between ‘productive’ and ‘busy’. The two have become so synonymous in anglophone culture that it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. Apparently, Robin Hanson found a better way than I have in doing so in his book, ‘The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life‘.

If you read beyond the highlighted text, you’ll get to the phrase – the ‘conspicuous effort’. Where doing things is done for appearances, to demonstrate that things are being done – regardless of how useless or even damaging they are.

We’ve all seen this so many times; few of us seem to understand it. In the Navy, we talked about ‘busy work’ – never be idle when Master Chief is walking by because as squared away as you think you are, Master Chief will find something for you to do.  So we made a conspicuous effort. Better to be doing something than have Master Chief find something for you to do.

Later on in life, with a few decades of work experience behind me in the corporate world, I was focused on my productivity. To be productive as a software engineer, running through permutations in my mind of how something I was fixing or creating would be used and what could go wrong, I would go for walks. My manager at the time caught hell from the executives about seeing me walking around the parking lot, they thought I should be at my desk and hammering things out because that is how they measured productivity. By conspicuous effort.

Meanwhile, I was more interested in doing it right the first time, and with few exceptions, I typically did. Only one thing I wrote actually broke things at that company and it was such a reach that no one understood how my code could have broken anything (it was a compiler problem that I traced in assembly, but to explain it to them). Everything else was solid. The fact that I wasn’t the one getting mentioned all the time for writing buggy code was something that they didn’t notice; the walks in the parking lot were something they saw as being unproductive. If only they knew, or could understand.

I’m surrounded by people who are making conspicuous efforts even now – and some think I should be making a conspicuous effort. Someone will tell me that I need to do this or that with my land immediately, expending effort and resources to simply look like I’m doing things. They’ll look at the pickup covered in mud and dirt and think I should be washing it every day (when I know it will get dirty the next day).

We have a finite amount of time on the planet. We have a finite amount of energy in our bodies – when we’re young, we think otherwise. There’s only so much we can do.

Wasting it on useless conspicuous effort… is wasting it.  And it can do more harm than good.

Be productive. That keeps you busy enough. Trust me on this.

2018: Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Begins.

UntitledA lone drunk walks down the trace where I live, shouting, “Pay the devil jab jab” at 3 a.m. this morning – lost from a J’ouvert somewhere in South Oropouche, I’m sure, where WASA water flows more slowly than puncheon rum. Where WASA, in fixing things, inordinately breaks something else.

It’s the start of Carnival 2018. There are plenty of people out there right now enjoying all the festivities, and there will be many more. Celebrities like Trevor Noah are around, giving local performers their 15 seconds of fame in the Internet age.

It’s not my thing. To say that out loud, or dare write it, is seen as a travesty by some. But really, it’s not my thing. I haven’t enjoyed Carnival since the late 1980s as a young man full of hormonal energy – not that I haven’t tried, or others have not tried to have me do so.

Right now, photographers I know are out there getting brilliant shots of Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest event. One, Sarita Rampersad (unrelated), even took even more pictures of people on mobile phones, which you can see in an album properly titled (Dis)connected Mas. Global Voices interviewed her in 2016 about the same thing – we can see that it hasn’t had much of an effect on what people do. This year, they went with her ‘Steups emoji‘ which – and Sarita knows this – I see in a different way, as do a few others, but it is something. And a steups is appropriate when selfies and phones are disconnecting people from the most extroverted event in Trinidad and Tobago.

Because that’s what extroverts do these days, too. Where is the line between extroversion and narcissism? There isn’t any; there’s just overlap. It’s also odd to explore in the context of what we decide to share of ourselves. I’m neither, yet I share plenty that I wish to. There is room for exploration here, introspection, and some thoughtfulness.

But it’s Carnival – seen by some to be the antithesis of thoughtfulness. I know better. There are very thoughtful people out there, the vast majority, keeping things fun and real – which should be the focus. It’s escapism that comes from new found ‘freedom’ – a debatable topic if you look around Trinidad and Tobago and the financial chains that burden so many, where the hand that you hold is more often than not the hand that holds you down. That’s global, though.

Yet the news, even internationally, talked about the squelching of a terrorist threat – locally you can see the smoothing over of it; Newsday, Trinidad Express, Trinidad Guardian. The facts are lacking; now 7 men have been held last I checked. One target was allegedly the U.S. Embassy (how original) – internationally, CNN covered the story and put the U.S. military on top of things. Local police are saying otherwise, smoothing that over, while I first read about the potential threat from a British source. It’s anybody’s game. In the end, though, nothing is actually publicly known except how many were held – and one has to wonder why it made the news in the first place until one considers that it creates fear, uncertainty and doubt. That spread like wildfire on WhatsApp groups.

But T&T has short term memory loss, which leads to not being able to remember much in the long term. Until something happens. Or happens again. And then short term memory loss happens again – even in local media. Trevor Noah showed up. What terrorists? How is this not on Global Voices yet?

Never fear. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are keeping everyone safe and secure from 8,000 lbs of Venezualan dasheen. The guns and drugs come from the very same place, but the dasheen problem is real enough to local farmers. Unfortunately, because of the lack of dealing with drugs and guns – people have theories on why – the Minister of Agriculture was mocked for supporting the police here even though violent crime isn’t his jurisdiction.

We’ll all sleep better with that contraband dasheen off the streets.

It’s a comedy that writes itself into tears. We won’t even get into ‘tiefing a wine‘, a strange thing given the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, where outfits for Carnival get smaller every year and costs for them go up. Where suggestive dancing is encouraged; where some say only men ‘tief a wine’. We know better. Yes, it can be construed as assault.

Don’t hug me without consent, by the way. With an accusation, I can get you sent to jail for assault.

And until Ash Wednesday jail, Trinidad and Tobago will forget all of this. As it should.

But on Wednesday, will it remember?