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TomGuyette.com Philosophy

"You know I think that inside every one of us there is a window with a view on hell. And what happens in this book is that I stay in front of this window and I take the reader by the hand, I tell him well, we must, we shall look together through this window the time that is needed to see what is there." -- Emmanuel Carrere, from An American Bookworm in Paris

No one lives in a vacuum (except dust mites in your Hoover).

Here I present some principles from my experience (and others') that help guide my decisions and the way I look at the world. I'm trying to build a substantive list of advice, so if you have insights to add, please send me email!

Remember, these are all just opinions. Some things, you just have to figure out on your own.

Careers

Honey, at some point you're going to walk up to that cliff, spread your wings, and jump. Note that I said 'spread your wings.' That part is important. - Dorothy Drennen

Always carry yourself as though you are independently wealthy. The wealth will follow. - Paul George

No matter how down-in-the-dumps you are about a job search, know that it's perfectly normal to feel that way, and that a good job will turn up for you. All the wishes and stress in the world can not create a job from nothing. The only real pressure in the search is to find it when it appears, and to keep yourself happy until then.

You're never too old to become what you are meant to be. - Unknown

Every job, no matter how ideal, has heaven days and hell days. - Elizabeth Cote

When you feel that you have grown a great deal in a job, and that most of your growth is behind you, it is time to look for work elsewhere.

When you go into an interview, first ask what they're looking for the candidate to do. If it's something you want to do, you'll be better-equipped to answer their "what do you want to do" question with something that's interesting to you and useful to the company when it comes up. - Andrew Krause

When thinking about a career, find someone in the industry who can draw you a picture of the career path options available to you. You'll find it much easier to head in a "real" direction when you know what the possible roads look like.

Jobs in academia typically pay less than jobs in industry, but the benefits are generally far above what you'll find elsewhere.

Start searching for growth opportunities (inside and outside your workplace) from the very first day of a new job. You'll almost never find a shortage of things that need to be done.

Seek a company--and these companies do exist--who strive to further the growth of their employees, who espouse open communication about a person's abilities and desires, and who know the value of keeping a good employee happy.

Social

Never say no to an invitation to lunch. - Elizabeth Cote

Before opening your mouth to say something, weigh what you're about to say against three litmus tests: Is it TRUE? Is it KIND? Is it NECESSARY? - Jhim Midgett [My experience with this is that each person generally has the biggest difficulty with ONE of the three.]

No matter what your intentions are, if a person perceives that you have hurt them, you have hurt them. Apologizing in these cases is a show of strength and understanding, not weakness. - Jhim Midgett

When someone tells you something, especially if it's something that is extremely positive or extremely negative, consider the source and weigh the statement accordingly.

Finding a cure for the common cold would be great. Being good to those around you and improving the world a person at a time is a close second--kindness should not be a fleeting thing. Imagine what the world would be like if kindness were as prolific and fleet-of-foot as junk email!

Performance

When you are on stage, every action should have some logical punctuation. For example, don't just mime stabbing someone by twisting a knife into the air--twist the knife and wipe it off as you draw it back.
- George Piehl

Good singing is the art of not trying to sing. - Ruth Cooper

Although tension can be a great way for a stage actor to raise the energy level for a performance, it is a death warrant for a singer. If you are going to sing in public, learn to relax in front of people. Some singers need to start with learning to relax in front of themselves... if you're your own worst critic, you'll never learn to let go.

If you're directing a show, the first, most important thing you'll do is cast it. The second thing you'll do is arrange circumstances such that your cast will produce a stellar performance on their own. The third thing you'll do is make sure that they produce that stellar performance as an ensemble. Everything else is window dressing.

Religion

No matter what the Catholic church may teach, looking at the book of Genesis as an allegory for birth suggests that "Original Sin"--the knowledge of the difference between good and evil--is not innate. Evil is learned, the same as language and etiquette.

This is an idea that I haven't seen explored before; the idea of the Old Testament as an allegory for human social development. Further study may reveal further parallels.

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." -- Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Relationships

Don't move in with your potential life partner until (1) You know you're both absolutely, without question, ready for a lifetime commitment, and/or (2) You both know absolutely that you can live with each other, or (3) You can live together for a brief trial period of around four months. I have yet to hear about a positive experience from two people who moved in together while the relationship was still germinating.

Don't let the terminology get in the way. A relationship is what it is, and every relationship (even non-romantic ones) have certain conditions, boundaries, expectations, and parameters. [Thanks Jhim Midgett]

Physics

I'm not a physicist, but sometimes intriguing ideas pop into my head that somebody might find interesting or useful, or good for a laugh:

If the speed of light were zero, it would explain why we can't exceed it -- going beyond the speed of light would simply mean an inversion from a positive velocity to a negative velocity, or vice-versa.

Astronomers have recorded several incidents of intense gamma-ray bombardment of Earth's atmosphere, which come from seemingly random places in space at random times. They have theorized that these gamma-ray showers are the result of the death of a star. I can't help wondering, though... if the universe had a finite boundary, might these radiation explosions be caused by matter moving beyond the edge of the universe and being obliterated? Wouldn't it be interesting if all matter leaving this edge suddenly reappeared at the center of the universe to be recycled? This would put a new spin on the Big Bang theory: the movement of matter from a central spot to an outer region of the universe would be an ongoing recycling of matter.

Finance

Paying off your student loans / car loans / mortgage early is a safe investment that will yield between 6% and 9% annually.

Take the time to work out a budget. The first cut generally takes about an hour and a half of rifling through your checkbook, pay stubs, and credit card bills. But it will tell you a lot: if you have money to spend, it will show you how to spend it wisely. If you don't have money to spend, it will show you why.

Technology

$3000 will buy you a bleeding-edge computer system that will be in the mainstream for about 4.5 years. The same $3000 will buy you a $1500 system that will be in the mainstream for 3 years, and another $1500 system that will be in the mainstream for the 3 years after that. Unless you know you need the extra performance right now, 6 years is the wiser investment of the two.

Current trends suggest to me that in 10 years we will see a marked rise in touch screen LCD interfaces and voice interaction for home computers. Star Trek computer systems aren't nearly as far off as we thought.

Health

If you're looking to improve your overall health, there are three things that all doctors agree on that will dramatically improve how you feel, both mentally and physically: (1) Regular exercise, (2) Healthy eating habits, and (3) Adequate rest.

Your diet is the food you eat, and will eat for the rest of your life. There's no such thing as "a diet."

Generally you're much more likely to stick to an exercise program if it is convenient. When joining a health club, consider when and with whom you are most likely to exercise, and plan accordingly. - Russ Bonanno

...And invest in a walkman. - Joe McGuire

Yoga is worth every minute and every penny. If you're having trouble getting into a regular exercise program because you're out of shape, yoga is a good, healthy, slow ramp-up to lead into some slightly higher-impact exercise, especially since it will help you relax your muscles and improve your breathing. See the yellow pages.

If you suffer from back pain, see a chiropractor. Be sure that it's someone who has a reputation for taking good care of their patients. A chiropractor who makes recommendations that will cause you to come less often is worth his / her weight in gold.

Hot baths are an overrated way to relax... unless you're cold. They're great for invigorating stiff muscles, though.

Tom Guyette
5036 Echo Street Apt. 16
Los Angeles, CA 90042

1-Tom-Guyette (toll-free)
323-550-8963 (home)
guyette@alum.wpi.edu