Monthly Archive for April, 2014

A Life Lesson in networking to get what you want

One of the most pivotal times of my life was my internship with BT, the composer. I learned a great deal during that internship, but in retrospect, as a professional project manager today, the greatest lesson and achievement was landing the internship more so than the internship itself. It was a true venture into the unknown beginning with step one.

After making the decision to purse the internship, I knew that I essentially had to make my own way in because there weren’t any applications or listings of any internship positions publically posted. So, for guidance, I turned to Mr. Sanchez, an adjunct professor of music business. I asked him for help with networking because I knew he believed in me. He told me, “Sure I can help you, but I won’t. Basically, I’ll tell you what I tell my music business students. Not only will I not provide you with any contact information, I’ll give you a five day deadline to meet your goal. That way, you’ll never have to rely on someone like me to provide you contacts. You’ll learn how to get them yourself.” I accepted the challenge.

First step I came up with was to start with any contact information for BT I could find to proverbially weasel my way in. I found an e-mail address to his webmaster in some little print at the bottom of his website. So, I composed an e-mail to the webmaster with my intentions. I heard back within a day that he had forwarded my e-mail to BT’s manager. That manager forwarded my information to BT’s personal assistant who was vetting all of the applicants. Apparently, I was one of about a hundred applicants, which amazed me because there was no public portal to submit applications.

Then, one day about a week later, his assistant called my cell phone, the very first cell phone I ever owned, a flip phone with a black & white LCD screen. She told me where to e-mail her my resume. A few days after that, I got another call from her stating that I was a candidate of interest but that I would need a place to live in Los Angeles in order to be considered. So she flat out asked if I had a place because the internship would be unpaid. I had no clue what I would do for a dwelling, but due to my nativity, I thought that securing a dwelling must be a minor obstacle, so without any hesitation I replied, “Sure, I’ll find a place to stay. No problem.” Being from a small town, I had no idea that this could potentially be a problem in the city of Los Angeles.

Later when I talked with her in person, she said she was impressed with my confidence that I would secure a place to stay, but my confidence only stemmed from the fact that my desire to land this internship was so great that I would not let a common obstacle, like a dwelling, prevent me from pursuing my dream. A week or so later, BT called me himself, and I was a little star struck talking to my hero. But I think I stayed rather professional and asked how to best prepare myself for the internship, which was basically reading all of the manuals cover to cover for the software he uses.

That’s how a dream came true for me and learned how to network better. I found a place to stay. A friend subleased a room to me. I worked for BT for free for 11 weeks during summer of 2003. The internship came and went. But I still remember the most how Mr. Sanchez helped me grow by not helping me but my challenging me. I’ll never forget it because today, I would never be afraid to have the audacity to find contact anybody with whom I want to do business, even if that person is difficult to contact.

Since the internship, I’ve lost touch with BT, but when he tours, I still try to get in for free to his shows, so I’ll do the same tactics. I’ll look up the tour manager and try to contact them. After all, their contact information is plastered all over the net as they try to network themselves. I have successfully gotten myself on his guest list every time, with no direct help of BT’s to my knowledge. Sometimes when one encounters a “no,” one must continue to plow ahead.

Divergent movie review

I spent one of my days’ off from work going to the movie theater, and I saw Divergent. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was looking forward to it because the theme had to do with not fitting in and finding oneself.

The story telling was rather simple and linear. All of the facts were laid out one after the other. There was no active involvement required to get the story; in other words, I didn’t have to recall something from the beginning to get more out of the end. Nevertheless, it was nicely executed acting and cinematography. However, the one bad thing was the music. During certain scenes, I felt like I was watching a sappy Grey’s Anatomy episode because of how cheesy the pop music was. Then, sometimes the orchestra score contrasted this style so drastically that there was obviously a lack of continuous thought regarding the music.

I haven’t read the book and probably won’t has I have a backlog of more serious books to read, so I have no comparison for the characters. Probably the only real character development happened with the lead role of Tris, portrayed by Shailene Woodley who did quite a nice job displaying vulnerability and growth to the point it makes me wonder what her real personality is like.

Regardless of the simplicity of the plot, the symbolism made up for it. It’s quite clear that the story had a couple of main ideas to express. 1) the evaluation of classes, be it nations or classes within a nation, through the portrayal of factions as a necessary element of a dystopian society. 2) the various elements every ego encounters when defining its identity, elements such as judgment by others, fitting in while figuring out how to be unique, developing one’s fullest potential. 3) the evaluation of self-government and its relationship to the fundamental reason why to self-govern.

Overall, there are plenty of good big concepts to spark a good conversation after the movie, though this film did not evaluate each of these concepts in anything close to an entirety. They feel like that they simply have been considered by the author to be placed into the plot in fitting places. Overall, I’d recommend watching this film.

Transcendence movie review

Transcendence is excellent composition and an important an important film for humanity to discuss both the next age of civilization and what is humanity. Compositionally, every opening scene details and symbols get tied to something in the later in the story, so every string is tied off and the whole thing is rather balanced. Transcendence is probably the first commercial film that drives its story atop of a relatively accurate prediction of the capabilities of super powerful artificial general intelligence (AGI) and the promises and proverbial magic of nanotechnology. The actors’ performances were excellent, and Johnny Depp delivered quite believably on point, going from human to death to resurrection in a machine and beyond—certainly a long character arch.

As with many great films and in line with recent story telling styles, the antagonists are relatable, and one of which, Max, a colleague of the protagonists, changes sides, so one finds oneself halfway through the movie before deciding whether to like or hate Max.

I always love the theme of a machine becoming more human, and this film explored this overarching theme from the angle of making a human become a machine. I am not a true philosopher, and although this film restated at least twice the impossible test of what it means to be conscious, another, while more subliminal, question was an undertone of whether a machine can love. A human can quite easily love a machine, but how true a machine’s reciprocation of such love is beyond imagination perhaps unless it is personally experienced. Perhaps as Ray Kurzweil states it, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s so compelling that it doesn’t matter if it’s real.” One stance of that debate within the film was that love along with other emotions could be so illogical that only a human can handle the internal dissonance while a machine will never reconcile that because it is merely a simulation, and therefore any notion of love would fall apart within a machine. But frankly, how is that so different from the human experience because after all, once there is too much dissonance, it too can fall apart?

Finally, the significance of the closing scene, in the protagonists’, Casters, sanctuary garden, leaves much to wonder what is happening inside the puddle of water that is riddled with nanotechnology. My take on it is that puddle now contains a consciousness—or two. This film shows technology on the horizon of humanity, a horizon that is also the end of humanity, as we know it. The only controllable change is redefining humanity. Everyone should see this film and then decide on which side of technology to take a position. At least this way, everyone will be better prepared for both change and the dialog.

Philomena movie review

Philomena is a very powerful movie because unlike in fiction, it depicts a story arch that does not get to complete. Philomena was forced to live in a covenant to give birth to a baby out of wedlock and who was later taken away from her for adoption. She searched for her son ever since. It is based on a true story, and after watching the special features containing interviews with the creators, I believe the story is close enough to the truth to certainly do it justice and send a message to world. I always try to take a lesson away from a film, and this film by all means explains that life is not fair, there are cruel people in the world who really deserve pity more than anything else, and life is too short but not too short to spend it on driving towards an important life mission. One never knows what one will accomplish on a long journey, but if it is an important journey, then one must accept it and make the path towards that target.