Friday, July 20, 2007

An old-man moment, but not in a Doc sort of way.

I had a moment yesterday that was very surreal, in an old-man sort of way. When I was a kid, I complained that I had to walk VERY far to school. Why couldn't I just take the bus like everyone else? My dad would get all old-mannish on me, and without using the phrase "uphill both ways", he would suggest that in comparison to his childhood, I had it easy. You see, when he was a boy of my age, that being about 13, his father would already be out working in the fields when it was time to go to school. So Dad would have to hitch up the team of horses himself, hop on the sled and drive himself and his sister 24 miles (they had not invented kilometres in Dad's day) through the snow to the one-room school house in Moline, Manitoba. Moline no longer exists as a town, and the school house now serves, as I last recall. as a meeting location for the traditional Monday night baseball game among the six farmers and their families who still remain in the area. But Dad still remembers the smell of the horses and the bumps in the "road".

I had to agree with him at the time. That did sound more difficult to me than the silly 5-kilometre walk I had between Java Street and Glebe. In fact, when I went to University, I would still occasionally walk to school or home, and in the winter I would walk to Dows Lake and skate on the canal. And, as I look back on it now, the walk never really bothered me. I would get up at 6, have breakfast, walk into school by 7, run 10 km with the rowing team, be back by 8:15, work out in the weight room until 8:45, and be in class, smelly and sweaty, by 9...maybe that's why I never got any in high school...then a water polo practise at lunch time in the pool, and after school either football or rugby practise, depending on the season, followed by my 5-km walk home. Piece of cake. (Now, I am not sure I could walk 5 km, let alone work out and run 10 after I got there. Sloth, apathy, and a lot of beer and nachos will do that to a person.)

With my move to a new house, my girlfriend got very worried. Her oldest son will now have to walk considerably farther to school, and she is very concerned about it. And all of a sudden, I hear myself, as though my young-guy brain is completely detached from my old-guy body, saying "in my day..." My day? When was my day? Six months ago? It hasn't been time enough since I went to school to begin referring to such times as "my day", has it? When this kid was born, I was just about the same age he is now! So why am I talking like this? And yet it continues to pour out of me, like I can't stop myself, like I am aging rapidly right in front of my own eyes. I am afraid to look in the mirror now, for fear of having some drastic Dorian Gray type misfortune befall me. "I used to walk 10 clicks, to and from school, every day, whether it was raining or snowing or sleeting or hailing"...I don't even know if "sleeting" is a word! What am I, some kind of embittered relic of a mailman? Come on!

But I kept going, stunned by my own inability to stop talking nonsense, until I finally came to my senses and snapped out of it. But then I went to mapquest. I looked up the new house, I looked up his school, and I realized I had been right. A complaint about the distance travelled makes sense if there is a serious distance to be negotiated, and I still wish Mom had given me a drive during some of those blizzards where it took me an hour and a half to walk home. But in looking at the map, and calculating the distance, I realized I was right. I SHOULD be talking like an old man. Kids these days ARE soft. And so are their mothers. My dad: 24 kilometres. Me: 5 kilometres. My girlfriend's son: 575 metres. From our door across a field to the front door of his school. Five hundred and seventy-five metres to Glen Cairn Public School. OH, the humanity! I tell you, it wasn't like that once. Kids were tougher in MY day...I'm gonna stop now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


What a show! We all know (I hope) how good John Fogerty really is at writing a catchy hook, a hit song, a brilliant melody. Perhaps only Brian Wilson was ever his equal in this regard. But until last night I never knew what a sensational guitarist he was. CCR's songs are fantastic, two-minute sound bites that seem to come from some divine melody creationist somewhere behind the scenes, and not from the brain of just one man. Outside I Heard It Through The Grapevine, there are very few moments in the history of Creedence that showcase Fogerty's guitar at all. But wow! Can that man ever play, and can he ever entertain!

Last night at the Scotiabank Place, Fogerty put on a clinic. Not just a guitar clinic, but an enthusiastic, joyful performance that really solidified for me how unbelievable he was in his day, and still is. The man is sixty-one years old, and it's embarassing to me that I am less than half his age, and I have less than half his energy. He absolutely LOVED playing that concert. And I would have thought it would have been fairly boring for him, playing all the greatest hits and cranking out the same tunes night after night, but there he was, enjoying every minute he spent on stage. Every single song he played was instantly recognizable from the hook, which is a testament to the unbelievable catalogue the man managed to amass in such a short (relatively speaking) recording career. The only hook I didn't recognize right away was Lodi, because he used a different arrangement.

And loud! That crunching guitar, the voice...he may have lost a few notes in his upper register over the years, but he's absolutely as powerful as ever. Apparently, during his sound check, the security people asked him to turn down the volume some. I guess he complied, but as the show went on, the volume crept higher and higher until he was playing at the decibel level he desired. Almost a Who-level assault on the eardrums, but it was perfect. Not an obnoxiously loud show, like April Wine busting out their Marshall stacks at the Lone Star, but a fantastically powerful rock and roll performance, like The Who when they came through town. Some people need that kind of volume (Big Sugar comes to mind) to get their sound across, and some put more emphasis on volume than on quality (April Wine, I'm looking at you). And sometimes, a show does not NEED a massive sound to be great, but benefits from that level of noise simply by being so awesome that you need FULL VOLUME awesome to get the full effect, such that the show is still with you in your ringing ears a full...14 hours later as I write this.

Fogerty was that kind of show. One of the top five shows I have ever attended, up there with The Who, Bachman-Cummings, the Strokes, and B.B. King. He said this was the first time he'd ever been in Ottawa, and I certainly hope the crowd reaction to this show is enough to bring him back. Fantastic!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some help for your sales meetings.

The boys found the phrase "corporate strap-on" quite descriptive this morning. So much so that Woody suggested I create some sort of on-line lexicon for those who would like to use this new sort of terminology in their business meetings. In that spirit, I will begin with:

1. The Coporate Strap-on. This is what you receive when the corporation for which you work takes by force, from you, the dignity you desperately cling to, in order to make more money. For example, you say "I am worth this much money to the company". And your company, which is, say, Wal-Mart, says "I'm sorry, we didn't make enough profit last year to justify any raises to our staff". Of course you know this is baloney. But you have no choice but to bend over and take it, because you need to keep your job. The most obvious example of the corporate strap-on is when you go to the gas pumps. Imperial Oil is making billions of dollars, and because you can't go on living and working without gas in your car, you bend over and they stick their Esso-brand strap-on right into your car, and by extension, your nether-regions.

2. The Fiscal Reach-Around. (This is a phrase coined by Woody, and I love it.) This takes place during the application of the Corporate Strap-On. While telling you that all they can afford is a three percent raise, the company may attempt to make you feel better by giving you the courtesy of a fiscal reach-around. This may take the form of a bonus. Like, three percent is all we can afford MONEY-wise, but what we'll do for you is this: Your salary will not increase at all, but we will give you stock options worth FIVE percent of your salary. This works for both of you. You get two percent MORE than before, financially benefitting you. Eventually. When and if you are allowed to cash out this stock. And it works for the company, because now they are able to pay you less actual money, and they also have made YOU financially dependant on THEM. It's win-win! As they say, It takes two people to execute a reach-around.

3. The Circle-Perk. This is a technique used by companies to ensure co-operation among co-workers. You see, the perks you receive depend upon the input of other employees. You get tickets to a hockey game. You take some clients. Those clients have a good time, and they decide to invest with your company. When they invest in your company, they give you gift certificates to THEIR company. You take those gift certificates and distribute them to your co-workers. They use those gift certificates, and enjoy the services of the new corporate partner. That partner makes more money, your company makes more money, and you get to attend a hockey game. Everyone wins, and YOUR company gets to reap the rewards and collect the money. They are then the recipients of all the quality results that come as a result of the Circle-Perk.

4. The Cluster Buck. Suppose you work for a company that actually owns many smaller companies. They group these companies together into something larger, something they call the "cluster". What is good for one small portion of the company good for the whole cluster. Each branch of the cluster would benefit immensely from working in tandem with the other branches. However, there is a chance that each branch is looking out for their own best interests at the expense of the cluster. This leads to a totally bucked-up situation, the Cluster Buck. Perhaps you need to realize that your own personal money is not as important in the grand scheme of things as the overall money of your cluster, and the umbrella corporation that owns that cluster. Remember the cluster buck is more important than your own buck. So don't buck up.

This is all I could think of for the time being. When I think of more, I will add to this on-line dictionary in the hopes that someday all these terms may be used in board rooms across our nation, lending veracity and accuracy to all corporate proceedings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

House warmings and the welcome wagon, part II.

When I moved out of the downtown apartment, I moved to Henry Farm Drive in Nepean. Or, in Laurentian. I don't really know where it is. But it was close to Algonquin College and Miller's Crossing, which meant lots of drinking and babes. Which was good. But not for the neighbours. A few of the guys in my college class already lived there, and it was already known as THE party house. Ryan and Stu and...some other guy I memory is a little hazy about that time. But I do remember the party we had to welcome me to that place. Now the two biggest party houses in the class would be house. And the cops came. And then they came again. And once more. The one cop was shining her light directly into my eyes EVERY SINGLE time. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and I pushed the flashlight out of the way. That's when I realized why. She was an old friend of mine, a girl I had a brief flirtation with when we both worked as security guards. She just didn't want me to know it was her, because she couldn't really stay mad at me. We had a brief conversation, and although it was very short, it made the neighbours even angrier. This was my first day. I never met the neighbours again, without the police.

This year, the last of us (by that I mean the final guy with any connection to our original group) moved out. The neighbours were long gone, but the cops were still very familiar with the place. There were many other places over the years - the neighbours in Kanata Lakes found it rather disturbing that I would go outside for a smoke after coming home and not bother to take off the French Maid uniform. I lived with Kent again at that point. When I lived with John on Flora near Bank street, it was a place that was too small for two people, really. I left the house at 3:00 every morning for work, and the only bathroom in the place was in John's bedroom. I didn't want to wake him up, so every morning, I would wake up, go outside, and pee off the front porch. I lived there only in the winter time, which meant that every morning John would leave the house to be greeted with my name in the snow. The neighbours must have seen my name a lot also, because they didn't seem to like me much there either.

In the end, I don't think now is the time to become the pictionary and fixing-stuff-in-the-garage neighbour. I told Sang the other day that I was going to wear my french maid uniform every single day until the welcome wagon comes around to my place. I need to make a decent entrance, anyway.

House warmings and the welcome wagon...

I just took a walk in my new neighbourhood - or, at least, my soon-to-be-new neighbourhood. It seems like a friendly place. All the neighbours, even though they don't know me at all, stop to say hello. They talk over the fence to me while they take a break from mowing the lawn, they stop in their dog-walking to have a brief chat. I don't tell them I'm moving in soon. Is this the kind of area to which I am moving? The kind where I will get a bunch of guys coming over with tools whenever I fix a fence? Where the guys will come over and grab my beer from my fridge while I'm working in the garage, and tell me to measure twice and cut once? Where the womenfolk will bake brownies and bring them over, and my girlfriend will cut their hair and talk about Bon Jovi? I don't know that I want that.

Until now, I have rarely known my neighbours. Not out of any kind of contempt for suburbia on my part, but rather because of a contempt of me on theirs. The first time I moved away from home, I was 17 or 18, and I moved in with my buddies Sang and Kent. I had been hanging out at their place, right by Mooney's Bay beach, for a few weeks, and it seemed like a good idea. The day I moved in, I slept with the next door neighbour, a woman who was considerably older than myself. Sang and Kent nicknamed her Mrs. Robinson, and I had my first Dustin Hoffman-esque experience. (My second was when I had these giant coke-bottle glasses and got marooned on an island with Steve McQueen.)

A week after I moved in, the Welcome Wagon lady showed up, with a very nice wicker basket filled with baked goods from the neighbours and coupons from various local establishments. A very nice lady. As Sang recalled recently, when she arrived, between Sang, Kent and myself we were carrying seven beers and wearing one shirt combined. If memory serves me correctly, only Sang would have been wearing a shirt in that house, ever. The lady is taken aback, but she pulls herself together to go on with her Wlecome Wagon speech. She begins..."Your neighbour, Mrs. Robinson, saw you guys moving in, and Mrs. Robinson called me - great lady, by the way, Mrs. Robinson..." now she was REALLY taken aback, when all three of us could no longer contain ourselves, and fell to the floor laughing. I never did figure out where she lived. In fact, by the time I had moved out of that house, two years and four roommates later, I had still met only one neighbour. And her name was NOT in fact Mrs. Robinson.

The next place I lived was downtown, in an apartment building on Laurier. I never met any of the nwighbours there, ever. I was only there a few months, but in that time we had some seriously crazy parties. Loud, boisterous, and insane. My buddy Mark lived a few floors above me, and his was the smoking room at parties, and mine was the beer room. We had a great time, and the walls must have been awfully thick, because we would go all night and never once had a noise complaint. Not once! Eventually, I moved on to a different place. As I left, I met my neighbours for the first time. And boy, did I ever feel like a schmuck! Every single neighbour I had - both sides, most of the floor, and the apartments above and below - was a paraplegic. Apparently, James and I had happened into the one apartment on the floor that was not reserved for the physically disabled. I am a giant jerk.

More on the digital...less on the rectal.

A big discussion followed Randall's explanation of his violation by finger in the name of medicine. We attempted to determine what was better. Having a male doctor do the procedure, or a female one. Doc made a good point, that being that a female doctor is likely to have thinner fingers, and as such it might hurt just a little less. This makes sense. However, Randall's doctor may well be a former member of the East German "women"'s swimming team, and as such has fairly thick fingers.

The second contention these guys had was that women likely have a softer, gentler touch, and are less likely to forcibly examind the prostate. On this one, I disagree. I think a man would know how uncomfortable the other man is with the process, and as such they would be more likely to do it carefully and with as little discomfort as possible. on the side of men, one on the side of women.

I think what it comes down to, however, is one's own personal comfort level. Either way, man or woman, you are going to be embarassed and uncomfortable, at least a little. You are going to force the doctor to do something that is likely unpleasant for him or her as well. Maybe even more unpleasant. I don't like to think which end of the process I'd rather be on. In fact, I will no longer dwell on that, or I may have nightmares. But the doctor can't be enjoying this either. And I think I would feel for the doctor as well as for myself were I going through the process. And as such, I would prefer to have a male doctor doing it (personal preference again, I suppose) because I wouldn't feel quite so bad. I would still feel bad, but I would not be thinking "oh, this poor woman, having to look into my rectum". And I would sleep better as a result. On my side.

The corporate strap-on vs. the digital rectal test.

I was in Rogers Video yesterday with the kids, and I was rentin' us up some games for their new Wii video system. I grabbed a pile of movies as well, so I had new stuff the review for Cynical Cinema. When the bill came, the kids were surprised that it cost so little. The nice lady behind the counter explained to them that I was a Rogers VIP. When they asked what that meant, I explained that I, just like the nice lady behind the counter, had sold my soul to the coporate entity known as Rogers, and that the price of my soul was half-price movie rentals. They seemed confused. I explained, to their wide-eyed astonishment, that Rogers was more than just video game rentals! No, they are a "corporate empire", and they also provide us with cable, internet, and telephone. They bring us radio stations, TV stations, and a second-rate baseball team. Had I ever chosen to have a cell phone, they would have provided that too. You see, I went on, they put all these services together in convenient things called "bundles", where you can pay for everything you need all at once.

They were stunned. ONE company can do all this? They were further impressed when I explained to them that some day, they too would work for Rogers. You see, I said, Rogers will own most of Canada by the time you are old enough to work, so even if your first job is behind the counter at a gas station, you will likely be pumping Rogers brand gas from a Rogers brand hose, filling up the latest model of Rogers-mobile. (Here's hoping that when this takeover does occur, you will actually be filling up fuel-efficient cars with Rogers brand alternative fuels - one can only hope.) I told them that they were lucky to know me, because I basically got in on the ground floor! By the time Rogers owns the world, I will therefore own some of the world as well. I will be a very important powerful man, I told them. They were impressed. Boy, were they happy to know Eric yesterday.

Today it came home to me just how pervasively and subtly Rogers was beginning to own the world. Or at least Canada. Randall went in for what they call a "digital rectal" exam. This is a fancy way of saying "finger in the butt test". All men should really get this done. Not necessarily by your wife, or a neighbour, but by a medical professional who is checking for prostate cancer. Apparently they can just FEEL the prostate cancer simply by poking it with their finger. Which is tremendous, but certainly causes no less discomfort to elderly gentlemen like Randall. We had just been calling it the "finger in the butt test", when a listener called up and kept talking about the "digital rectal" exam. He seemed to really like saying "digital rectal". He said it about four times. Woody then made a keep observation. When you say digital, do you mean Rogers digital rectal, or Sympatico digital rectal? Everything digital must be owned by either Rogers or Bell, and therefore this exam must be part of the package. Now THAT's a new kind of bundle!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Searching for Elvis...

People are nuts. Every now and then I see a pattern in leaves, a cloud that looks like a face, something like that. I think "neat" and I continue with my day. Not so for some. Suppose you made a grilled cheese sandwich, and you thought that there was a pattern on it that looked somewhat like a human face. What would be your first reaction? Would you say "neat", and then eat it? Probably. At least I'd like to hope so. But some will say, I could SELL this! On eBay! Thank God there is an eBay out there to give these people the publicity they richly deserve. I made some nachos, saw the face of the virgin mary in the cheese, and I preserved it in this handy ziploc container, and I expect to get eight or nine thousand dollars for it online. And there's another thing. If you DID see a face, and you DID decide to hang on to that grilled cheese, rather than eating it, would you just say "here's a neat face", or would you say "this is the face of the virgin Mary". To what kind of person would this be obvious?

The answer is, a lunatic. Not necessarily a religious zealot type of lunatic. But rather one of those opportunistic lunatics, the get-rich-quick schemers, the guys who invent products like the Jump To Conclusions Carpet. They see an opportunity, and saying that an image is Jesus or the virgin Mary is a sure bet. Because it preys on the lunacy of the religious zealots. But today we heard one we had never heard before. What is the next step after Jesus and Mary? Well, there is no way to say that you saw the face of God in a pine come. For all we know, the face of God IS a pine cone. So they grabbed the next best icon. Eschewing such obvious choices as Buddah and Vishnu, this woman saw...Elvis Presley. Well, he IS the king of rock and roll. In this case, mostly rock. Yes, a "rock collector" discovered a...rock...with the picture of Elvis unmistakeably imprinted on it's side. It was time to cash in.

I don't know what's going on with Doc. Either he is having financial troubles due to his chronic gambling, and he is desperate to get some kind of nest egg before he retires, or he has crossed the line and joined forces with the maniacs. His big idea this morning was to send me out to find something with the face of Elvis on it. I thought the whole thing was an excercise to show that if someone looked hard enough, they could see something in anything. So I grabbed three leaves and four rocks and went back to the studio. I showed them to Doc, explaining that I thought I could see Elvis in one of the rocks, another looked a little like a fish, one was a happy face, and another was a Mandelbrot set (which the six mathematicians who read this might find ironic). But no! Apparently, everyone had to be convinced! I though Elvis was there, or at least close enough. He had a chin, a nose, and a pompadour. Profile, sure, but good enough. Not so. I was sent back out.

Through fields around the station, our own rock gardens, and even with a brief bout of disgusting dumpster diving out back, I found a gem. A rock which (really) had a remarkable likeness of a Bing Crosby profile, wearing one of those old-timey hats with the flat tops and the wide Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. OK, maybe it was a profile of Dick Van Dyke. Whatever. It was good. But it was not Elvis. So I was sent out again. This time, I found the Bat symbol. You know, the one the mayor of Gotham City shines into the night sky when there are doings transpiring of a nefarious nature? It was on a rock. But not good enough. Or was it? No sooner did I raise the Bat Rock up to show Doc and Woody back in the studio, then who shows up? Bat Boy! Straight from the pages of the National Enquirer, Bat Boy appeared before me, delivered by chauffeur directly to the radio station where I was standing! I got him on the phone. It turned out to be Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien, but what a coincidence, and what a discovery!

Frankly, I think the best cover for someone so sinister as Bat Boy is as mayor of a middle-sized, nondescript town in Canada. Most of the attention will be paid to the federal government, and so to some degree you can operate "under the radar" - get it? (I'm going to write comic books.) And you have a serious power base from which to execute your horrible and evil schemes. I'm watching you, O'Brien. You'll never get away with this! And I never found Elvis. I guess we at the Doc and Woody show are doomed to be poor, at least for another week, until Doc hatches yet another hare-brained get-rich-quick scheme.

More Catherine Zeta-Jones. Or, Michael Douglas vs. Confucius.

I recently met my dad for lunch. We agreed to meet at the J&J schnitzel house on Wellington, at 11:45 Wednesday morning. I was there about an hour early, so I figured I would go in, have a beer while I was waiting, and read my book. I was reading The Color Purple, and I figured I could finish by the time he arrived. Unfortunately, the J & J schnitzel house was recently shut down and closed. Now it is an empty store, advertising that something called "Absinthe" is coming soon. So I sat down on the ledge of the window outside, and read my book until Dad arrived. In the meantime, I creeped out the painters inside the restaurant, the people at the bar across the street, and many of the passers-by. Because this place is right on the edge of Westboro and Mechanicsville, I creeped out only around 50 percent of the people. The Westboro residents. In Mechanicsville, this sort of behaviour is fairly normal. They looked at me funny because I was not reading Guns and Ammo, but aside from that, they went about their business. Homeless guys sitting around reading books makes sense. What else do they have to do?

My dad finally showed up at the appointed time, and we chose the pub across the street, a place called O'Donnells or something like that. Irish pubs tend to run together for me, since they are all pretty much the same. He had just been in China, and regaled me with tales of agricultural talks and human rights abuses. while he was there, he picked up a copy of the Analects of Confucius for me. Knowing my penchant for philosophy books, both modern and ancient, this made sense. Now, I would like to state for the record that when I say "modern", I mean Sartre, Camus, Emerson, Throeau...I do not mean modern like "last thirty years". I have come across but one decent philosophy book that has been written since 1980, and Sophie's World is still all about the ancient philosophies and offers nothing really new.

When you go to a book store, say Chapters, (who am I kidding. They're all Chapters now.) Even used book stores. If there is a "philosophy" section, it is not just the Plato and the Aristotle and the Kant. It is also full of the modern garbage, the stuff that does not belong anywhere near philospohy. The Chicken Soup For The Soul-type stuff. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Spitwads. How to Win Friends and Influence Morons. Things of this nature. I had a former boss whose shelves were lined with all these books. For a while, I blamed Sun Tzu. Because every officious, irritating, terrible boss in the world has all these books, plus a copy of his Art of War. They seem to think that hidden deep within The Art Of War there is some kind of blueprint for agressive business practices. That if they develop their business acumen based on the theories in The Art of War, they will win! And be rich! They seem to like the idea that "business is a war".

I have always found this stupid. A while later, I began to blame Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko. I finally saw the movie Wall Street, and in the film, he explains his evil business empire is the result of learning important things from Sun Tzu. Had he said Machiavelli's The Prince, then I assume every one of these obnnoxious restaurant managers and security guard supervisors would have The Prince instead. Damn you, Michael Douglas! And Catherine Zeta-Jones, again, just because. I want to father your children? Who told you to say that, David Hume? OK. so all this explains how these books end up on the bookshelves of the rich and insipid. But what is the slippery slope that takes us from Paine's The Rights Of Man all the way through to Zen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance? Come ON!

Now I know. It is Confucius. I now blame him for the advent, many thousands of years later, of the Chicken-Soup-type self-help jackassery I see on bookshelves. Having read the Analects of Confucius while sick in bed over the weekend, I understand this evolution. I'm sure the man was well-intentioned in his time, but he would have burned every manuscript he had if someone could show him what his effect would be today. Here it is, Confucius' influence: Bite-sized philospohy. for those of us too lazy to read a book, and delve into the meaning of what we read, and attempt to see a different perspective, here it comes, in easy-to-absorb bite sized heat and eat morsels. Why would you prepare a chicken, cook all day, buy ingredients and make a meal out of it when you can just take that frozen PC Chicken Kiev out of your freezer, heat that up, and serve it to the family? (I'm one to talk - sometimes I'm too lazy to make pizza pockets.)

Confucius is all about the sound bites. He's the MTV of ancient philosophy. Things getting too intense? Don't worry, you can always pause for a commercial at your convenience. Read six lines, jump cut (hopefully with sound effects) to the next bit, read three more lines, jump cut, beer commercial, four lines, tampon commercial, eight more lines. Easy! Confucius said "there are the virtuous who shun the world". Done! That's all you have to read. Stop, yank out your yoga mat, meditate on this for a moment, figure out it's meaning, then read the next verse. The Analects of Confucius is simply a very very ancient self-help book. At the time, it passed for phiolosophy, but that time has come and gone. Self-betterment is OK. It is a worthy goal. And it is better to get it from a book, I suppose, than from a Tony Robbins video. Self-help books, yoga and mind and body and spirit, all laudable, but they are New Age. They belong in the New Age section. They should come with free granola bars, and you should not be allowed to purchase them unless you are wearing sandals and can contort yourself into the lotus on command. Damn you Confucius! Almost as much as Michael Douglas!