"In Our Generation",
Earth Life Issues,
and Mark Prado
We should all pursue purpose and meaning in life, appreciating life on Earth and Earth's place in the Universe.
This website includes the following things:
- The most important issues in our generation -- humankind survival, and preservation of Earth's unique life, which I summarize briefly on my website HumankindSurvival.com -- most importantly by recognizing the imminent threat of advancing biotechnology as regards man made, engineered super pathogens and artificial intelligence, which threaten the very existence of humankind and possibly life on Earth, and the solution, Space Settlement;
Please note: The above clickable links take you to entirely other websites of mine.
- My own personal knowledge, experiences, and outlooks in life, and how they may help others; and
- Topics of religion, ethics, and the human experience.
You (if you are a human and not a bot or A.I. reading this) and I are actually in the most important generation of all geological time, due to the advancement of technology to the level of potentially making humankind extinct by a man made, engineered super pathogen. This technology will happen for sure within my lifetime, and the lifetimes of other people who live the next 20 years or so. It is mind boggling to think it's this one generation out of all geologic time, but it is. It is our responsibility!!
Our generation is also destroying the environment and unique life on Earth at an extremely high rate, all out of the greedy pursuit of money and excess luxury. People talk about it but don't do much, not enough, as individuals, corporations, and governments. As regards nations, you won't win a political election talking about the environment, but you can win by promising to expand the economy at a faster rate (and maybe by cutting taxes, paying benefits, catering to special interests, etc.), without much regard to the environment. What politicians on Earth are talking about super pathogen extinction threats, or talking much about the environment and the uniqueness of life on Earth in this Universe?
Humankind, Homo sapiens, is a very dangerous animal. Yes, there are many good people in the world, but there are lots of bad people, and simply reckless and careless people who just follow their self-interest. We have gained dangerous technological capabilities which can make humankind extinct. These capabilities are advancing exponentially, and they will be misused. We must protect and save humankind from these threats.
You and I and everybody else are born as animals with emotions/instincts but also intellect, and the two often pull in opposite ways. We are born and die as individuals, but if we understand our place in the Universe and life on Earth, then we can better guide our lives, and become part of a holy fabric of life under constant construction and evolution.
Unfortunately, emotions and narrow self-interest motivate most people. Emotions play a role in religions and the concepts of life after death (fear of death, the survival instinct), "heaven", and "God", often in selfish ways such as only personal desires to go to Heaven after death. (In this website, I discuss these concepts.)
Politicians get elected by appealing to peoples emotions, and following the most common selfish desires of people. Much of the world runs on emotion, not intellect. Rationalization often follows emotional desires, and is not intellect.
I was born into a Christian community in Arkansas, USA, though I quickly transcended that, and have never adopted a dogma, nor altogether discounted religions, sects, or philosophies, just because they didn't conform with my "in" group (tribal instinct) which I by chance was born into. There are pluses and minuses to all religions. I have traveled to many places in the world and analyzed peoples' beliefs, how they run their lives, and how groups operate, so I have a broad perspective on this.
I appreciate truly ethical people and groups that really do good in the world no matter what religion, culture, or nationality they are, and I also love people who fall short, sometimes far short, of living an ethical life whereby I wish to help them from this point forward.
When you are on your death bed, what will you be thinking about? Most people are not thinking of money. Some people, like me, will be thinking about our place in life and the Universe, what we have done in the world for it, and what we have taught others for carrying on the work.
Many other people quickly avoid the question, because they don't want to think about it, or they have some exciting distraction that day, or they have a lazy and simplistic world view, such as "It's God's will" and there's nothing they can do, or they only want selfish personal afterlife and don't really care about the world.
My own start in trying to actually do something for the world began in my early university years in the late 1970s, when I had to make a career decision. I asked myself what I want to do in life, and then some of my professors asked me the same question, sensing that I am serious about doing something good for the world. I heard many remarks that I was exceptional because of my interests well beyond classwork. That was by my simple decision, not because of any particular talents. My university years were a turning point in my life.
However, I felt very much in the minority about that. Most students were into the pursuit of making money, socializing and conforming with their local group including into frivolous things (tribal instinct), and/or pursuing some narrow specialization for a profession to make money and not interested in much else in the world. Some followed a strict religion.
During my later university years, and after graduation, I have spent a tremendous amount of time (and expense) trying to help humankind solve many of the challenges of our generation. After the university, I moved from Arkansas to the Washington, D.C., region for around 10 years to try that approach. Then, over the next 29 years, I have traveled in the world, to see things myself, and come to understand much of the diversity of the human experience, good and bad, and relative. I have spent time in government, business, and now in recent years decidedly minimalistic and down to Earth living except internet, after so many experiences and having given up on a lot of business.
My life has been a roller coaster with its ups and downs, diversity of human experiences, and changes, as discussed in my personal timeline sections.
I am human, with a meathead brain programmed with mammal/primate instincts, and limited cognitive ability. I've had many shortcomings and made many mistakes in life in my younger years, which are part of the human experience. I eventually have recognized many mistakes, learned from them, reprogrammed my brain so they are not repeated, worked on changing habits, and started creating a better future. I try to understand and help other people likewise. I hope this website is helpful at least along those lines.
Buddhism teaches that the mind naturally works in a corrupted way, and we must learn to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, plus two further paths (for a total of 10). I learned this from experience a rather long time after arriving in Asia.
I hope that I can persuade more people to also break out of their preoccupation with ordinary things like making money way beyond what is sufficient, following their feelings/emotions/instincts too much such as in pursuing romances with the opposite gender (mating instinct, the most fundamental of all), allowing themselves to be distracted too much by meaningless things, and just following their job too much. Instead, people should make some time to pursue meaningful purposes in life.
For every mistake I have made myself and corrected, I am more qualified to help others do likewise. Experience helps in understanding, and then understanding helps in improvement.
I don't know how much longer I will live and be very mentally productive, which has become a more serious issue as I have gotten older, turning 64 this year, so I am currently trying to document things and focus on the most important things regarding life from Earth. I feel the effects of aging, and have already had friends who passed away. I want to try to help people and life on this planet while I still can.
This website covers what I think are the most important issues which humankind should be working on a whole lot more. I have done some professional work on this over the decades, but the vast majority of the work was unpaid and totally at my own expense -- and self-sacrifice.
It also covers my personal life, so that others may learn from me. I like to help others, and like many kinds of people of various cultures, races, and backgrounds.
My approach to the world is scientific. I have always excelled at science since I was at a very young age, which I think is not so much from innate ability as it is from environment -- exposure at a very young age, especially the big encyclopedia we had at home, my mother taking me to the library often, and my focus. Also, growing up in a wild nature environment was very important in my formative years, though I had less social experience, and lacked city street smarts. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses, and I appreciate how others are better than me at many things, especially socially. I would have turned out very differently if I had been raised in a different environment.
Personality wise, I have always been sensitive, fairly quiet, gentle, and straightforward. I am not a joker nor an entertainer. I have often been slow to understand that something is a joke, and I still struggle to detect sarcasm (which I don't like nor use). Instead, I have been a curious learner, and like to teach people informally. I'm oblivious to most of the entertainment world and who's who in it. However, I'm broadly experience interacting with real people of a diversity of cultures and backgrounds. I much prefer reality over fiction. I don't play games. I appreciate sincere engagements.
At the university I started in engineering, but then changed major to my favorite subject, physics, and graduated with a B.Sc. with minors in political science and mathematics. However, so much of my education was extracurricular, browsing the library in my spare time and visiting carefully selected professors and students who really cared about the world. It was in my home state, the University of Arkansas, but after graduation, I headed for the Washington, D.C., region.
One of my deepest disappointments is that many people, after I educate them about opportunities to help the world in important ways, are still just not interested, and continue to focus on their same old mundane pursuits. When I'm successful with some others, it's very encouraging.
Having meaning and purpose is much better than pursuing money making too much, status (ego), hedonistic adventures, and seeking excited happiness as a goal. I have been lured down those paths, too, for awhile, before getting back on track otherwise. Now, I feel satisfied and content, and happy in a peaceful way (not an excited way).
We are born as individuals and die as individuals. There are many important choices and decisions we should make ourselves, independently, and not just follow people close to us.
Local conformity and groupthink are natural social instincts for personal survival, well being, and comfort zones, but they can go too far, be it one's religion, close social circles, corporate operations, or government work. This kind of social inertia can stop people from doing the most important things which they could do in life, because their local "in-group" doesn't think or do that way.
I opened my mind and expanded my horizons, helped others to do so likewise, and tried my best for this generation, God knows.
When we are near death, at least for me, I will not be thinking of how much money I made, nor my relative status, nor my exciting adventures of little meaning. I want to think back about the good things I did in the world, and the people who I have taught to carry on doing good things for the world after I have died. I've had successes and failures, and tried to teach others what I have learned. I have regrets. On the positive side, I remember the times that I didn't follow the local groupthink, or stopped following it, when I recognized issues and questioned them. When I am near death, I want to know that I have tried to do the best things for life on/from Earth in my generation.
Don't wait until you're too old.
It has been extremely frustrating to have spent decades pointing out the risks to humankind, and the solutions, just to see the vast majority of people react with light transient interest, or disinterest and quickly shift back to their other preoccupations, or outright denial and disagreement, and in the end no action nor persistent interest. Some other people have independently seen the above concerns, mostly in much more recent years, but there has still been little interest in society.
Most people just continue with their preoccupied, self-interested focus, activities, and world view. If humankind does not survive the technological age, then it will be because of the selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-interested focus of the vast majority of humans and human nature. Beyond themselves are their local groupthink, job, religion, own culture, political identity, and nationality. Getting people to think out of the box and actually do things for the world beyond their usual routine has been a huge challenge.
Many people have short attention spans. They're reactive, not pro-active. They are creatures of habit.
So, it has come down to exceptional people, a tiny percentage of our population. Let's just hope it's enough, and in time.
I welcome your opinions and anything you may wish to say. I also appreciate when people just drop me a message to let me know they have read sometime on my website. It's encouraging.
My main two interests have long been:
- Space industrialization and colonization utilizing resources of the Moon and asteroids near Earth, to make humans invulnerable to disasters in Earth's biosphere (such as a human engineered super pathogen) and to create new cultures. You can see my longtime website SpaceSettlement.com for more information on that.
- The extinction threats of biotechnology, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. You can see my website GainExtinction.com about that -- how technological gains raise extinction threats, and efforts to prevent human extinction.
This website is mainly about who I am, not the above two topics which have separate websites of their own. This website is about my outlook on ethics and the world, articles on my analyses and views on various matters, and reports on some of my experiences in the world. It often touches upon the above topics, but also covers other philosophical and world issues.
However, the above issues two are the most important ones, and they are not about me, they are about humankind and OUR responsibility in OUR generation.
- Why create a personal website?
- About Mark Prado
Why Create a Personal Website?
Firstly, for what purposes do I write a website on myself and my outlook / values / philosophies / interests / projects?
I wish everybody wrote a website about themselves! It can save a whole lot of time and effort getting to know somebody well, to get to know their values and interests, and help you choose what relationships to invest a lot of time and effort into.
A website is a very good way to organize information about yourself. In later years, people have been posting transient stuff to timelines of Facebook, Instagram, and so on and so forth, but I still think a personal website is by far the best organized and most time efficient way to get to know the most important things about somebody, and to get much more complete information.
If you don't have a personal website, then perhaps you should create one, too. Then put a link to your website on your various social media networking sites, all pointing towards your one personal website. Focus on maintaining just one main website in detail, as most social media websites are not designed to go into much depth, instead into transient stuff. You can also add it to your emails to selected people, in your signature.
The one thing we all have limited amounts of is TIME. The internet age allows us to get a whole lot more done with a lot less time, and that includes getting to know people.
I have little patience for old style people who insist on first having a personal meeting without having done much if any online research on a person in advance. Personal websites are partly for time efficiency in getting to know somebody. It is a waste of time to introduce and discuss with people verbally, over and over, what is already here on my various websites in much better clarity.
I enjoy in-person meetings, lunches and dinners, after filtering for companions who are serious about building on shared interests and values. Both sides should filter each other and agree.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate the value of meeting special people in person, though usually first over the internet.
(I am not out to meet ordinary people in order to entertain and educate them one-sidedly as the expert, nor to pontificate for just ego gratification. I am a do-er, not just a talker.)
This website is also partly for outreach, to find other people who share the same values and interests and are really willing to do something with their lives for the greater good, not just passing entertainment with a short attention span.
(A personal website may also clear up some inaccurate information elsewhere, as well as serves as a historical record.)
I have no shortage of ideas, only a shortage of time and good partners, so this is a main method of outreach to other people who may want to work together with me along the lines of shared values and interests.
Some of my projects have an entire website of their own, which are linked from and to this website. Other projects and concepts have not started yet or are not ready for the public. When somebody else has a project which I can contribute to, that's even better!
There may be some things for others to learn from my experiences, so they can learn them in a time efficient way and without having to go thru the school of hard knocks at considerable wastage of time and expense, and can apply my wisdom so they don't miss opportunities.
The most important of my websites are not-for-profit about human goals, purpose in life, and the leading edge of progress as I see them.
The less important ones are my businesses which I depend upon in order to financially support myself, and hence to support my work on humanistic websites and projects. Actually, I haven't been very good at business. I've tried many businesses, with failures and some successes, and I now know that I would have done much better in a career in academia or government.
However, in self-employment and consulting, I got to see so much more of the world, and so much more diversity, first hand, than I would have in one of the "ivory towers".
I am here to contribute to the Greater Good. I am not a self-indulgent person. Even though I have the power to indulge myself, I limit what I do, always think about the environment, do what's best for my health both physically and mentally, and keep in mind how all my options and everything would fit or not fit into contributing to the greater good.
Relationships and people are very important to me, especially people who are on the cutting edge, or people who I can work with well, or people who are very different from myself who I can learn significantly from and/or are ambitious in their own complimentary way.
In a recreational way, I am drawn towards people who are different, be it philosophically, culturally, politically, or however, whose lives, outlooks, and viewpoints differ from my own, and/or who have skills and strengths in some areas better than or complimentary to my own. At the very least, it helps me better understand some parts of human nature in different parts of the world. Often, these are people I learn good things from, vicariously, and can work with.
As long as I can carry on a reasoned conversation, and mutual respect and trust can be established, then I can engage in personal or business relationships with people, if I believe they will honor their word.
Reliability of people is very important. We need to know in what ways we can trust and/or rely on each person, and in which ways we cannot, based on their values, interests, and situations. It is best to not expect too much of people or be too demanding if that is not natural to them, and that is OK. It is important to have realistic expectations, a reasonable degree of clarity, and longterm harmony.
I wrote the following a long time ago, and I'll go ahead and leave it on the home page for now ...
About Mark Prado
I am not a conformist nor a trend follower. I adopt trends which make sense, as many have been well vetted to become a trend, but many other trends are questionable so I diverge. Often I'm in a small minority, and sometimes I lead a new trend.
My father was a psychologist, and my mother was rather independent minded and unconventional herself as well. In some ways, my parents were opposites, which is even better, but each had weaknesses where the other had strengths, so it was complimentary.
Beyond my family, I look at other people as members of our species with their own genetic predispositions and upbringing environmental experiences. Regarding environment, I've been fortunate to live outside my original culture for about 20 years and have traveled around the world, and have seen both the relative advantages and disadvantages of each system.
I analyze people by assessing their interests, values (what's important to them in life), caring and consideration of life and the world, knowledge, how they view the world and their place in it, how far ahead in the future they think, their strengths and limitations, and of course personality elements such as whether they go mainly by thoughts or feelings, their habits of thought, depth of dealing with new issues, and so on. I enjoy socializing with people of nearly all types, socioeconomic strata, backgrounds, and cultures, for a short while. I find humans of all walks of life to be interesting in their own way. I have not lived my life in an "ivory tower" or limited to any particular socioeconomic or geographical realm.
It seems that I am a significantly different person after each few years of experiences, though I have always maintained my same main values and humanistic interests since I was at the university, when I made major changes within myself, my outlook, and my purpose. Experiences in the world have dramatically changed my views of things, regarding what realistically is feasible, and how I can best contribute to progress. I have not given into temptations (including financial) to compromise on my values and purpose, unlike so many people I have known who just go with the flow of their particular groupthink.
Along the way, I don't do the same things over and over for very long, but seek out new opportunities, in the human experience.
This includes relationships of various kinds.
Indeed, this is what got me into doing internet as a pioneer starting in the mid-1980s, long before it was trendy or popular in American culture, much less the world, and remember the times that I had to argue to skeptical people that personal computers, modems, and emails were better than relying on secretaries, paper, voice calls, faxes, and meeting people in person. Internet is what got me keenly interested in computers.
The majority of my best friends and associates have been the most interesting people worldwide who I met on the internet, not those from my immediate physical environment, going back to the 1980s. Nonetheless, I've met many good people people by chance face to face.
Still, after 2010, there are many ways that I use computers and internet which few other people do. Many of my systems I still design and develop myself because nothing suitable exists.
My computer and the internet are a cyborg-like extension of myself. My hard disks store most of my memory, computers and networks are increasingly an extension of myself in how I function fundamentally, including project management, accounting, data and people databases. I customize my interface to my computer memory and how I interface with others, as much as I can.
My staff, associates, and friends are also an extension of myself and I am an extension of them.
Computers and internet are a means, not an end. Relationships are a great part of this.
Social networking is important, but I am far from satisfied with the structure of social networking sites such as Facebook, Google groups, or most others. Linked In is an OK business network site but also very limited. None have the structure which I would have designed for. (Within their existing structure, I would adjust them for better usability, to offer more options for customization, some standard templates of alternative menus, and other things, but I don't work for them ...)
On social networking sites, I just put in my basic data and then put in a link to this website. This way, I update only this website, not a lot of social networking sites, and can organize my information using the same tools and formatting which I do for my other websites.
As you may see from reading my early life, people were not important to me back then. A scientific understanding of the world and the universe were, and I loved nature. It was really during my adolescence, and much more seriously after my university years after moving around far beyond my home state environment, that people and relationships started to become very important to me.
My last fulltime job was just a few years out of the university. After that, I have run my own businesses and consultancies since 1987. The main motivations were:
- Gain more experience with a diversity of people, groups, interests, and cultures, rather than a narrow range by fulltime specialization (the Ivory Tower syndrome)
- Run my own schedule -- I am not an 8 to 5, Monday-Friday person; I am 24/7 -- working, sleeping, time off -- my own schedule
Over time, I have cared less and less about what other people think about me, and have become increasingly secure about myself. I know and understand myself, though for many years early on I was a bit more defensive. At times, I've gotten a bit cathartic, but I'd rather get things out sooner than later, and let people either take it or leave it, thereby saving me time from the outset. Suggestions are usually appreciated. I have no time for BS. Also, you don't need to mince words with me. I may be sensitive at times, but that's my problem, not yours, when applicable. Comments which are applicable may take a little time to ponder. However,
BS > null
It is important to learn from mistakes, and that comes only from being realistic, including taking a big step outside of yourself and looking back.
Often, that means taking a step into others' heads.
While many sophisticated and well read people are good to be around, many are not due to the usual issues of ethics, ego, greed, overindulgence, carelessness, and so on. Money does not impress me. I put great emphasis on ethics, and try to discern peoples' values and interests in life. Sometimes it is relatively ordinary people, especially earthy country folks, who I love to be around for awhile. Country folks usually are very honest and straightforward. Country villages usually have a nice community conscience.
In my younger years, when first doing business in the big city, I started playing by some of the games of people who I would deal with. As I have gotten older and wiser, I have dropped pretenses and gone to "this is it, take it or leave it". I can move on quickly. (My associates have often been surprised when I drop big prospective deals, because I think they're not what they may appear to be, or too risky or problematic... and I can walk away and turn to something else quickly.)
When we come across careless and self-serving people, especially when they steamroll over us (rip us off, or get aggressive), the pain can make a strong impression. It's important to keep in mind all the people who are good to us, who often don't elicit such a strong reaction. We shouldn't turn into bad guys because that's how the world works. I'd rather be a good kind of guy. I have enough already. The intrinsic things are better than the extrinsic, for the most part.
Just driving anonymously on the road, it's easy to remember all the people who cut you off when you turned on your blinker to change lanes, but it's important to remember those who slowed down to let you in, and people who stopped to let you make a u-turn. This tends to vary from urban to rural settings, and from country to country. (My favorite: Perth.)
Periodically, I have to get away by myself in nature, just relax so it's only me and the cosmic consciousness for awhile.
I could live like a monk if I didn't have responsibilities, to both my family and moreso my generation and the world. Escapism is not right. Nor is hedonism, greed [is not good], and excessive indulgent consumption, just taking all you can because you can with your money power and what's offered.
The greatest joys and indulgences are not material, they are in appreciating the little and big things in natural life and the universe, and engaging in guidance of progress for the Greater Good.
One should appreciate life, and it is good to know one's individual place and purpose in this time, world, and universe.
The time of our life is limited, and we should not waste its moments. Most every day now, when I wake up, I think about my "calibration" questions:
- How does today fit into my longterm plan in life's big picture?
- How old am I now, and am I taking the best care of myself?
It is my purpose in life to contribute to evolutionary progress in my generation as best I can. That starts with understanding the world, the universe, and the relativity of everything to each other. I do things (1) which others are not doing and (2) which need to be done.
For a contrast, I am the opposite of copy cats, and not a reactive trendy conformist. I am just me, and do what I think and feel is best in view of the big picture. I don't need the approval of those immediately around me. If you're looking for somebody who is trendy, then you may as well close this website and mouse elsewhere.
In fact, what drove me to be an internet pioneer starting in the 1980s -- to link up with the best minds in the planet -- well beyond those in my immediate environment.
Watching the internet unfold is one of my greatest sources of happiness. I used to introduce people to the word "internet" and try to persuade them to use global networks, "push". Now it's "pull" to the extreme. It's great, such a distant memory of my work pushing people.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual content on the internet, the applications, it is still push, an uphill battle.
My main project in life is humanistic, www.SpaceSettlement.com to ensure the survival and positive progress of intelligent life from Earth, in view of human extinction threats due to our own advancing technology which can easily be used against ourselves.
The former website, SpaceSettlement.com, is the solution and is a massive website. The latter website GainExtinction.com , is the problem and is relatively brief.
Unfortunately, on most days when I wake up, I usually have some business to get done in order to make sure my businesses survive, my employees (and their families) are OK, and my customers and their dependents are all right. I am not rich, I was not born into a rich family, I pursued a scientific education rather than a business or mainstream engineering one, and I've had to learn business from experience, for which I haven't had any big lucky breaks yet.
Nevertheless, I keep in mind the big picture and work in moments here and there to build, brick by brick, a better future.
An individual cannot do much on their own, so in order to achieve bigger goals in life, it is important to develop a team with shared interests, values, and goals.
For example, it is my goal to have my business running itself as best it can, by promoting and developing individuals in my business based on their good intentions, competency, good nature, and recognition of a shared destiny in the big picture. Once others can manage the various sectors of my business on their own, then I can spend more time leading, writing, and creating & developing philanthropic yet sustainable projects. If someone else could do something, then I should not be doing it. There are too many important things in this world that nobody else is doing.
This website is my personal website. I have many other websites which are about projects, places, and business activities. Most of those websites are interlinked. This one is from the personal angle.
If you want to get to know me as an individual, then this website provides that. It saves both you and I a lot of time in this regard. I have always preferred to read about others' histories and gotten to know them that way whenever this option existed. I wish more people would develop personal home pages, and I hope this may be a good example. Who are they ("being") and what are they "doing".
I also hope there are some things to learn from my experiences, vicariously, especially during my business years of age 25 to date. Otherwise, it would be a partial waste of a life, so I will document significant experiences here.
Any sort of feedback -- criticisms, praise, comments -- is welcome. That's the best way to improve oneself, correct mistakes, and broaden one's horizon. I haven't always taken criticism well in my life, but I have learned to rise above my ego instincts as part of my continuing development. All my life, people have commented on how I get along with such a wide variety of people, and my ability to understand others' viewpoints.
Brief History and Self-Description
I am a calm, thoughtful, analytic, action-oriented "creative solutions" person. I am not a hedonist, nor am I materialistic. Happiness is not my goal in life; it's an important means but not an end.
My nationality is the United States of America. However, I tend to forget that, since I've lived overseas since 1994, and the vast majority of my friends and associates since 1995 have been non-Americans from all over the world (with very few Americans). Having studied political science at the university as a minor, and been an avid reader about the world, I have always tried to see the world from various viewpoints, none of which dominate. A multipolar world is the best checks and balances system we can have. I am patriotic towards principles, such as a free media, ethnic equal opportunity, and other things, regardless of country. Internet and multinationals have eroded national identities ... more about that in my Nationality section, under Travels.
Somehow, happiness finds me. If I look for happiness the conventional ways, it doesn't last as long nor is it as deep. I'm just too unconventional. When I forget about happiness and just do what I think I should be doing in the world, then happiness comes to me and is enduring. As always, some of it's because I'm doing what I think is meaningful, not trying to conform to others, as far back as I can remember. However, it's also about working on my attitude in new situations, some of which are pressed upon me by circumstances beyond my control.
I love to pioneer and explore new and different things and places, much more than the typical person. I usually do this alone, simply because I don't need to worry about or take care of anybody else, and to maximize my freedom. It is risky to explore new things and places. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but attitude has a lot to do with one's ability to even see the good and interesting sides.
Free enterprise and business is done ethically and responsibly. "Business is business" is NOT any motto of mine, unlike many peer/reference groups or groupthinks. I think by myself and choose good people to associate with, which does not include many "successful" people with economic class but lacking intellectual and good spirit class.
I've always driven a familiar old car which I've come to love like a partner (until my company bought a new one in 2006 so our property business could drive customers in a good car, so I drive it to not wear out the old car), live cheaply, invest most of my spare money into various philanthropic and business ventures, and try to make enough spare TIME for myself, in a nice environment. It doesn't matter how much money I make, I look and spend humbly so I have more free time. If you spend too much, you have less free time because you must work more.
My young background is a boy who grew up in nature (forest, hills, little mountains) and came to love and appreciate it. I was things-oriented, not people oriented, and sought peaceful refuge alone most of the time. When I entered adolescence and the mating instinct arose, I became much more social and fairly popular. However, I see a big turning point when I went to the university and really grew up into adulthood.
At the university, I pursued scientific subjects (as I always had before, in extracurricular reading) and eventually got my degree in physics (after nearly completing an engineering degree before abandoning that field for physics), and was a sort of "professional student" in that I took a variety of courses which did not count for my major. I also found that I qualified to get a minor in political science (and was elected president of its honorary society, whereby nobody knew I actually wasn't a political science major). However, the vast majority of the education I got at the university was not for credit, as was the lion's share of work I did. I spent weekends in the library reading all kinds of things, and drove my car or motorcycle into the mountains with the most wonderfull books.
After graduation from my state university (University of Arkansas), I turned down better paying jobs elsewhere and packed up my car and drove to Washington, D.C., as my first step into the thick of things in this world. I did some volunteer work for not-for-profit organizations, eventually got a great job in advanced planning in the US space program for the Pentagon (my first good paying job), and started to teach myself how to use a computer (this was 1985) so that I could write my own analyses and plans.
As PCs were new to the world, in my free time I helped other good people and organizations to computerize (from pens and paper), and that included modem communications for people networking. I taught myself a lot.
My main frustration was that I didn't have much energy after work. My best time of day is the morning, when my mind is clearest, but I felt I was wasting the best time of my life on things which weren't really important -- the defense space program. I also get "a second wind" late at night, which clashed with my need to get up and go to work in the morning. So many days, I was so tired at work. I'm so much more productive when I get my sleep completely.
A friend of mine was a freelance computer consultant and though he did not make much money, his example of a flextime lifestyle with broad exposure to the needs of different realms of this world had appeal to me. (I didn't agree with a lot of his sociopolitics but a lot of it I did, as he had some brilliant fundamental human issues worth contemplating, too.) Anyway, the idea of becoming a computer consultant, especially in modem networking, really switched me on for its human applications, not so much the love of technology. One day, I decided to resign my job (which I had dramatically lost interest in for reasons I'll discuss elsewhere), so I resigned it and started a life as a computer consultant with emphasis on communications. (I also had some opportunities at that time, but I forewent them to invest in this career of people networking.)
Notably, I'd hardly touched a computer by 1985, yet in 1987 had quit my professional career to become a computer consultant. (All I'd done is a 1 hour course in a card-reading mainframe in 1978, nothing after that until I bought a PC in 1985 for word processing. Took it apart, looked at it, put it back together, learned what a floppy disk is, a hard disk, an operating system ... and application software and a modem!) I know this is ancient history to many young readers and is hard to imagine, like my Thai wife growing up without electricity in her home, yet so highly literate and worldly by gaslight, eventually becoming a journalist at a high level. Anyway... it's all about what you can do...
I didn't know much at all about business, but I figured that the best way to learn is by doing it. I've always had a lot of self-confidence, not too reliant on others' opinions and comments. Everyone thought I was nuts to quit a dream high level job with a lot of social prestige and money, in order to take up what was seen as risky, low income, and had the perception of a low level techie job. It wasn't "techie" to me, but I did need to learn a lot of techie things.
While I had come to understand how computer systems work in general, I was not interested in the technical aspects, though I could figure them out as needed. (Most of my learning was on-the-job for customers, but I didn't tell them that, and when I figured out a solution, they usually assumed I'd known it all along.) I was interested in the human applications, not the technical stuff. However, I had to invest a lot of time at the outset learning the computer basics, so I practically volunteered (minimum wage) to work at a computer assembly and repair shop for a month or two right after I quit my job ... working right alongside a Romanian nuclear physicist who had gotten amnesty in the USA (these were still the Cold War years) but he was clueless about business and cynically thought I was nuts about what I just did and the future.
Especially communications - that was my main goal. I set up private networks, and also one of the first purely private, public access internet service providers in the Washington, D.C., region, back when less than 1% of the US population even knew what internet was, and the user@domain email standard was not even established yet. Web did not exist, and the main applications were email and forums (usenet, fidonet, others).
I met such a diversity of people. Writers and researchers, such as co-authoring books. Journalists. Travelling businesspeople needing to stay linked to their office. A writer for an Oliver Stone movie. Interesting nonprofit organization -- leaders and staff. I had something to offer practically anyone in any high position in society. Nearly everyone was interested in me after I offered this.
I was known for making computer systems very easy to use, and which gave people the solutions they needed, without making them too dependent upon me, and not making them learn techie stuff though I did train them as much as I thought they could use and absorb without overloading them and changing their attitude. I did what was best for them, not what was best for me. So many were relieved to switch from their techie (who knew technical things a whole lot better than I did) to me (who knew what the customer really needed, and made it simple and easy to use). I tried to just be the manager of their techie whenever possible, if the techie helped me back and had a good win-win attitude.
I must say that a major factor driving me to be a consultant is that I valued a diversity of experience in business as well as peoples' personal projects, rather than sitting in the same old company working in the same kinds of projects. My period of consulting from 1987 to 2001 was invaluable experience.
Some of my consulting was for the US government, mainly the US Agency for International Development (USAID), but some also for the United Nations and others such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and countless private networks. I set up the first internet connection for many countries, linked to my Washington, D.C., "hub". This is all a long story, so I will cut it short here, except to say that it eventually led to an opportunity to travel to the city of the Asia Regional Office (headquarters) in Bangkok, Thailand, at no expense to me and where I stayed in a luxury condominium without needing to pay rent. I decided not to turn down that adventure opportunity, for better or for worse (the impact to my life of which to be discussed later).
That relationship and consulting actually went slowly, and in my free time I also explored and marketed to the private multinationals in Bangkok and met a lot of Australians and British company directors who offered to hire me for consulting. As I have always preferred the private sector over government bureaucracies, I switched after just 4 months, which also meant I moved out of my free housing in the heart of the central business district. Actually, I chose to make a big break:
My outlook is that if you are going to live in a foreign country, then go live in the purely indigenous suburbs, not among the transplanted Western people and the gold-digging indigenous vendors hunting in the expat part of town. So after exploring the greater Bangkok metro region, I moved out to a distant suburb where I would sometimes go for days without seeing another foreigner. I learned to speak Thai and to read the Thai script somewhat (a derivative of sanskrit and pali, but a phonetic alphabet, unlike Chinese thank goodness).
The years 1994 to 1998 were golden years in my life, between my consulting and personal relations with multinational private sector people and operations, analysis of foreign cultures which I lived in, and travels to various other Asian countries (and occasional consulting there, too).
There was one big loss, however. I was outside of the US, and internet was very slow to come to Asia. When I left for Thailand in 1994, I was one of the leaders of the internet and could have made a fortune in the US when the "information superhighway" bandwagon first started. In Asia, I was very much cut off. By 1998, I was way, way behind. I probably could have retired by 1998 if I had stayed in America, and spent the rest of my life focussing on my philanthropic projects.
Indeed, the 1997 Great Asia Economic Collapse meant my work dried up in Thailand, and in fact the vast majority of people I was working with, who were in the engineering and construction industry, left. With nearly all of Thailand's savings and loans going bankrupt, Thailand's economy shrunk a staggering 10% almost immediately, and its currency plummeted. I had saved in Thai Baht by working in Thailand, not US dollars, and new laws had been passed to stop the exit of money at the very start of the collapse, so my savings dropped by more than half in a very short time, in terms of converting them to US dollars. Plus, many of my customers left without paying, and they'd gotten far behind in paying before the crash (it was an economic liquidity problem, long story).
I was basically looking at starting all over. Practically no work, and best to stay in Thailand where my Thai money was worth something.
I spent the next year living off savings, and since there wasn't much going on, I chose that time to complete writing a book which I had intended to do 10 years before on space settlement utilizing resources of the Moon and asteroids near Earth.
The feedback was great, and it got well over a million visitors (the equivalent of a best seller of a million), but no big money philanthropic supporters, just some book buyers plus donations of low to medium size which were insufficient. Most volunteers proved quite unreliable, though some became very special people and most reliable within their capabilities. Special people on this planet in this generation. A fraction of 1% of precious people, like "parts per million", people per million.
Some of the last of my savings went to travelling to the US in 1998 to a professional conference where I presented a paper at a conference (and arrived to find out I had been appointed as moderator and other roles, which had somehow been lost in email, most likely their network). That was followed by a trip to Japan, which I had long wanted to visit and analyze the culture, but it turned out to be a fantastically expensive trip and that was the end of my 5 years of travelling around Asia, for that time period of my life.
I returned to Thailand and an economy which was in a much deeper recession than I had realized after "finishing" my break to complete my book and website, as there was practically no new work at anything near my old consulting rates, unemployment was a real problem, with demand down and the competition of supply willing to work at desperate wages.
My savings and money eventually went down to zero, literally, and I had never been so poor since my university days. I had to borrow to eat!
I was forced to stop and focus on business 100%. However, it would be different this time. No more operating as an independent consultant. I would set up a company, hire and train my own staff, and manage my own employees. Eventually, the company would run on its own, giving me free time rather than being the only productive person to make money. The only problem was that I had no money to get started, and trying to find business partners willing to take the risk proved too much of a time waster. Most people want a guaranteed salary, and will quickly lose interest in the longterm when any shortterm money opportunity comes along.
Starting with nothing, I did start some new businesses, purely bootstrapped, in fact several businesses since I needed diversification for security. I always paid myself last, and at first I was the lowest paid person as CEO.
These businesses have taken years to develop to their current status. I am on the verge of realizing my steppingstone goal of having some financial security and sustainability -- not in terms of savings, but in terms of monthly income derived from teamwork which is not too dependent upon myself, with enough to pay everyone and invest some into expansion, plus enough diversification of the business to be fairly immune to any one major event. I have some good people, I have learned a whole lot, and most of all I have hope for the future.
I have no big debts, no credit card debt, no house mortgage in Thailand (paid off), only a car payment and some old debt to my father which he hasn't wanted to burden me with. I don't like debt, in contrast to most people, and I believe in sustainability.
Another thing that separates myself from many people is that I can take a lot of pressure and difficulty without getting moody or giving up. I look for this in other people who I consider working with, who will continue to persevere in a civil way to solve an important problem.
I also owe a great deal to Sam Fraser, my friend from New Zealand, who was the volunteer artist for my www.SpaceSettlement.com website. After that, Sam came here in 2001 to help me start this business, and has been a key to its success. Sam is still here and we plan to be partners and friends for life.
I have 2 wonderful half-Thai daughters.
Over the years, I have learned to improve my ways of thought and my role in the world. My animal instincts are well understood and kept in perspective. My ego is recognized, checked, and double-checked (with help from my good friends). However, I do get temperamental when frustrated about lack of progress in my own life, and I let that energy flow whereby I channel it into focused work. Getting angry with myself sometimes gives me the necessary energy and focus to get over a hump. (I also get angry with careless people, but they are usually lazy and the only thing that gets them to work is fear, then I move on to better people, but I'm known for having a temper and straight words at times.)
I don't hold grudges long (and never really did). Achieving power and money do not corrupt me nor make me arrogant, a problem I have seen in a lot of other people. (A little bit of money in Thailand gives one a lot of power! However, my main experiences with this also include in American circles in the USA, especially Washington, D.C.) I don't use brute force over other people. I tolerate a lot of abuse from others, and just try to minimize animosities and a bad attitude, while maximizing reason over emotion. I quietly give up with an awful lot of them, simply move on to better horizons.
Finding overlap of interests and values is a key, and developing them in a balanced way.
Success in life will come down to the team work, and that is my main focus at the moment: finding good people and ways to work together.
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