June Gloom

Please enjoy this lengthy update from me. I have to tip my hat to the ever-amazing Alison for encouraging me to write. When you’re done reading her blog, please check out my pal Jes too as she travels to Seattle.


Might I interest you in some excuses as to the recent silence over here?I’ve been justifiably preoccupied. Moving and dealing with movers, unpacking and looking for fun government documents, trips to Target, Vons, Trader Joe’s, and the Manhattan Beach Library, and starting a new job, ended my 3 month stint of homelessness and unemployment. I chose to call it a mini-retirement, but let’s not haggle over semantics.

I left Ventura on Saturday, June 4th and moved to Manhattan Beach. Finally the last trip, driving my packed to the gills car, on US interstates. I’d misunderstood the movers’ ambiguous message, thinking they’d arrive on Sunday, June 5th. Nope, they were only loading the truck (my items were stored in Atlanta) which would ultimately deliver the items to me on June 16th. For 12 days a lovely Serta air mattress served as my bunk, and Trader Joe’s frozen food sustained me. I knew when everything arrived this brief interval of discomfort would quickly fade. And it has. The most important thing is that I now have internet.

I looked at a number of places from Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and El Segundo to eastwards, towards Lawndale. The proximity and convenience of this spot to my job, Trader Joe’s, the beach, and nearby parks, made it an easy decision. For some strange reason not having a refrigerator is a thing out here. Nearly half of the places I perused had no fridge. Yes, you must provide your own fridge if there isn’t one. This spot also has a fridge and a gas stove in its favor. It’s old though. The walls are so thin you might as well say, “Bless you,” when you hear a neighbor sneeze.

Manhattan Beach, and the entire South Bay, flows with money. Every other car cruising by is a Maserati, Tesla, Ferrari, or a Benz or a Beemer. If you want to live near the beach and get a 2 bedroom, it’s $3500 a month. The weather, the food, the beach, the vibe, and the scenery, it’s all beautiful and it will cost you. Some call this cost the “Sunshine Tax.”

Dude it's June Gloom
Dude it’s June Gloom

One thing that is not beautiful is what the locals call June Gloom. There’s also May Gray. In the morning a thick, gray fog spreads out over the city. The clouds don’t leave until early afternoon, sometimes later. Some like it, they enjoy the cooler temperatures the fog brings. Not me, I demand sunny skies and warm temperatures at all times. That’s why I moved here! I won’t have to endure these awful 60 degree temperatures much longer. June Gloom is almost over.

I am learning a lot about marketing, writing, and the semiconductor industry at the new gig. I’m writing press releases again, something I haven’t done since 1999. I’m observing and noting the office rhythms, learning who does what, how do things get done, and which roles the players have.

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My rad 80’s style skateboard from Soul Performance

Skateboarding is something I do now. I even rode into work one day. However I am nowhere experienced enough to ride the deck along these busy streets. One weird move or fall and I could be under a truck. I do ride it around my place and I’m getting better. I’m learning how to stop more fluidly and turn with more control.

This past Thursday, June 23rd, my buds from the rocking Atlanta band, Big Jesus were in Echo Park. I excitedly drove through rush hour Los Angeles traffic to see my pals. They played a very short 30 minute set but those that saw it, saw a tight, rocking band with lots of confidence. To see their growth over the past few years was special. They’ve worked hard and I’ve said they’re the next band to break out of Atlanta. Don’t forget I used to sign bands. I’d definitely sign these guys.

Made it home safe after riding through the rain. Completely soaked.

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Thank you bike, you served me well :(

While so many great things have happened, unfortunately my bicycle was stolen on June 20th. I locked it outside our office that morning. It was still there during my walking breaks. Around 4:30 I was outside on the phone when I noticed it was gone. I went into the nearby businesses to ask if anyone saw anything. They didn’t and it was gone. It’s a bummer, but I’ll get another bike and this time, a much stronger lock!

I started the Ketogenic way of eating (woe) back in April while I was in Ventura. When I moved without any of my cookware I was in a bind so I broke ketosis and ate carbs. I’m happy to be eating Ketogenic again! My goal is drop my body fat and gain muscle. After I get a bit more settled I find a decently priced gym where I can work out.

Today, June 26th, was a day of firsts. I had a first date. A first Bumble date. It was my first time in Downey (we met there as a halfway point) and it was my first date with a Filipino woman. While it wasn’t a love connection we both agreed to stay in touch. We’d talked on the phone several times previously and we texted almost every day. So I have a new California lady friend!

Before you go here’s what I’ve been digging.

Movies: Devil Wears Prada – This year marks the 10 year anniversary and I’ve always loved that film. Very inspiring.
Eye in the Sky – Excellent film with an excellent cast which asks hard questions about modern warfare.
Brothers Grimsby – I’m a Sacha Baron Cohen fan and this film might be his best yet.
The Martian – Simply an amazing and awesome film.
Embrace of the Serpent – Loved this film about an Amazonian shaman across several decades.

Shows: Maron – I’m a Marc Maron fan and this season may be my favorite so far.
GoT – I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I’ve wanted to quit watching it so many times but then something amazing happens.
Silicon Valley – One of the best comedies out now.

Music: Moz, Chairlift, my rad 80’s playlist, Steely Dan (I stupidly missed their recent show at the Hollywood Bowl)

Books: Spiritual Economics – I’m reading this a second time. This book is packed with gems on every single page.

That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise to do better about updating. I have no excuses now, except laziness.

Daily Posts #5 – Sugar Is The New Smoking

I’m writing a longer post about sugar, with links to lots of studies that you won’t click on or read. In the meantime, I’m predicting that in the next 5 to 10 years, the use of sugar will dramatically decline. Sugar will follow cigarettes and seat belts. We’ll see how changing our attitude and behavior toward sugar will greatly benefit our health and improve our quality of life.

I know how hard it is to give up sugar, especially here in America. I struggled for years to break its sickening sweet spell. I’m on day 9 with no sugar and it’s getting easier.

In the past few days there have been times when I wanted to dive into an entire tub of ice cream, swimming in its delicious, sweet, insulin boosting nectar. Then I think about the kind of body and level of health I’d rather have, than that temporary high.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to watch the documentary Fed Up. It’s on Netflix. Watch it and you’ll see this is a real problem.

Daily Posts #2 – What Age Is Old?

A friend posted this video and I wanted to share it. Watch it.

It was troubling that Millennials considered ages 40 to 50 old. By that ridiculous standard I’m old. Then the same Millennials acted out how a 40 or 50 year old person would walk across the street, or do a pushup. Watch the video to see that.

This is a “gotcha video” where AARP pulled the ‘ol switcheroo. So you know the twist was coming, but it was great. I loved seeing the 50 to 70 year old folks in this video. They have taken care of themselves. They are examples of aging with strength and discipline. Take that you ageist Millennials!

Taking care of your body and mind now is as important as saving money for the future. Not doing it is selfish. If you don’t take care of yourself now then who will take care of you in the future? You’re placing that burden on your children or society?

I whole-heartedly agree with the message of this video. You’ve got to stay active and keep on learning. To quote 311, “If you like learning life is large.” Old is when you stop learning.

April 10th Update – Ventura, Dog Sprints And Interviews

Another beautiful day in Ventura

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Hey everybody. Greetings from Ventura, California aka “the whitest place on earth.” Sorry I’ve been lax in writing. I’ll do better.

Since I left Atlanta so much has happened.

Our cross-country trip exceeded all expectations. We couldn’t have planned a more beautiful, amazing, once in a lifetime trip. Lowrie and I drove from Atlanta to New Orleans, New Orleans to Fort Worth, Fort Worth to Austin, Austin to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree, Joshua Tree to San Diego, and San Diego to Ventura. We stayed with some phenomenal friends along the way. We drove 3,500 miles.

We saw so many beautiful landscapes and experienced so many unique adventures. I’m going to put together a video of our trip soon.

I’m staying with my friend Kelly in Ventura while I get settled out here. I’ve become friends with Kelly’s two great dogs, Chelsea and Chloe. We go to the park and run sprints together.

Since I arrived on March 11th I’ve hardly been idle. In the mornings I’ve searched for jobs and leveraged my connections for opportunities. I’ve had meetings with some folks in pro audio, advertising, and marketing. It’s going well and I’m hopeful I’ll find a great situation.

After eating all the amazing fat food on the road trip I had to get my exercise discipline back in action. I was getting robust. Thankfully there is a gym and pool at Kelly’s place. Many days I’ll read by the pool, lift some weights, and swim some laps. I’ve found a great $5 yoga class at the Ventura Buddhist Study Center. I’m also focused on giving up sugar. Working on day 3.

That’s it for now. I’ll do better about posting. How are you?

11 Dating Best Practices For Men

I’m not a dating coach but I probably could be. I wish I’d kept track of all the dates I’ve had. This is not a brag, it feels more humiliating and sad, but I’ve probably dated over 250 women.

I can feel your judgmental questions. What is every woman not good enough for you? Are you being too picky? Are you only looking at flaws and focusing on those? Did you give it enough time? Are you looking in the right places? Are you waiting for the perfect woman? And my personal favorite, what’s wrong with you? Shut up and save your judgements. I’m not being defensive. I’m confident I’ve done my best and the truth is, I haven’t met the right woman yet.

With all this experience, I’ve developed some dating best practices. These have made dating easier and more tolerable for me.

1. Rip off the band-aid

Both sides know quickly if it’s a match. Yes, it takes time to get to know someone, but usually you know right away if there’s any chemistry. Go with your gut and don’t waste her time, or yours. If your gut tells you it’s not a match then trust it and follow through like a gentleman. Within a few hours after the date is over, send her text letting her know how you feel and…

2. Be honest but not hurtful

Practice truth with grace. There’s no reason to be blunt, rude, or mean to a woman you’re dating. By going on a date with you she’s made herself vulnerable to you. She may have been rude, uninterested, or using you for a Tinder dinner. Let all that go. It’s not your place to reveal her ostensible flaws. Keep your communication honest, direct, and kind. If you’re not sure about your message, run it by a trusted female friend before sending.

3. Don’t put all your cards on the table at once

We all have a past, but you’re not obligated to share it on a first date. Do you have a kid? Multiple divorces? Your innermost desires in a relationship? They don’t have to be revealed right from the start. This information is important, but sharing it early on could derail things and it’s not appropriate. It’s not that a woman can’t handle your past, of course she can. Trust me, if you like each other and there’s real chemistry, the right time will emerge for this. Wait for it.

4. Be yourself

Everyone says to be yourself on dates. What does that even mean? Don’t create a character based on what you think she wants. Don’t be something you’re not in order to gain her approval. Share your real opinions, ideas, and thoughts. If you’re into working on your Raspberry Pi talk about it. If your thing is Giallo films, talk about it. If you love obstacle racing on the weekends tell her.

When you talk about the things you care about and are passionate about your real personality is revealed. This is attractive. These are things that make you unique and interesting. Some of these may turn her off. She may have zero interest in what you love, but when she sees you come alive when you talk about your passions, it’s good. Which leads to one of my favorite things…

5. You can’t say the wrong thing to the right woman

This philosophy was liberating for me. I think this is one of the most important ideas in dating. A lot of guys worry about what to say and how to act. If I’m being my authentic self (as described above) then she’s going to recoil, or be attracted. This is all out of my control. This approach removes the expectations, worries, questions, doubts, and fears in dating communication.

I’ve said some truly dumb things to a woman before. Guess what? She shrugged it off because she liked me. If she’s into you she’ll look past your stupid remark. Hopefully she’ll even give you a hard time about it. That’s when you know it’s on!

6. Always pick up the tab

Guys should always pick up the tab. When the date is winding down and you’ve asked for the check, have your card or cash ready. As soon as the bill lands on the table do not hesitate. Pick it up immediately and pay for it. This removes an awkward conversation of who is paying and how to pay, and honestly, it’s a slick move. I guarantee, if you continue seeing the same woman, she will eventually beat you to the check and pay. I once had a woman say, “Do not argue with me, I’m paying for this one.” If that happens thank her and let her pay. Until then, it’s all on you.

7. Learn some chivalry basics

They say chivalry is dead but I disagree. Start with a few simple things.

Walk on the outside on the street. This means you should always be closest to the curb. If she is on the outside then gracefully position yourself so you are on the outside. For women that know this rule, they love it.

Open doors. Open her car door. Open entrance doors. A bonus move is making sure her seat belt is securely fastened.

Assuming you picked her up at her house, at the end of the date, get out of your car and walk her to her door. If she met you out somewhere, walk her to her car and make sure she leaves safely.

If you want to go super old school pull out her chair as she sits down, and stand if she gets up from the table. Watch Mad Men to see what I mean.

I know a lot of feminists will scoff at these ideas and maybe even argue with me, but here’s my attitude. When I’m dating a woman, it’s my job to make her feel safe and secure in my presence. This is someone’s daughter or sister, or maybe someone’s mother. I’d want her parents to appreciate how I treat her. For me these actions are signs of respect to a woman, not that she’s weak and can’t take care of herself.

8. Communicate when you want to communicate

If you want to call, call. If you want to text, then text. Do not fall into the trap of communication rules. She’s an adult and can decide for herself what to do. However, once you’ve sent the message, that’s it! Do not follow up. No matter how much you want to hear from her, no matter how much you like her, do not send a second message. If she wants to talk to you, she’ll respond. If she doesn’t then move on. Which leads me to…

9. Express interest but don’t be needy

So many times when I was interested in a woman I’d obsess over a reply. This is senseless. You’ve got to let it go. Remember you cannot say the wrong thing if she’s right for you. Women are intuitive and usually know if you like them. This is where your confidence is key. Know that you are a good guy with a lot to offer the right woman. (If you don’t feel that way work on figuring out why.) If she wants you in her life she will let you know and will make room for you.

This is a broader topic but remember a relationship will not make you happy. Your happiness comes from within, not from her approval of you. Always in life remember, anything outside of yourself does not determine your happiness or worth. This is especially true in dating.

10. Make the first move

If things have progressed well and there’s mutual attraction, congrats! It’s a rare thing to find. You’re a guy so if you like her, she probably already knows.

Again, I’m sure my feminist friends might argue, but I believe the man should make the first move in escalating to a physical level. It’s like picking up the check. Remove the guesswork. Take the lead and kiss her. As soon as you start the move you’ll know where you stand. She’ll leave zero room for doubt here.

My personal thought is don’t go for the kiss on the first date. That is way too soon. There are exceptions to this rule but they’re extremely rare. On a first date, I suggest going for the hug and leave it at that.

11. Always make the plans

I believe it’s my job to make the plans for a date. I also apply the 1o date rule here. Plan those first 10 dates. If she’s comfortable with you picking her up at her place, then do that and do not be late. Tell her where you’re going so that she can tell someone where she’ll be. She has no reason whatsoever to trust you early on.

If you make it to 10 dates with a woman, somewhere along the way she’ll ask you to join her in something she wants to do. Odds are you won’t have to plan all 10.

Guys what are some of your dating best practices? Women, what do you wish guys would do better when dating?

11 Things I Learned In 2015

2015 was a great year for me! Don’t worry, this post is not one long humblebrag. After about 3 years of being stagnant, I kept on going and finally had breakthrough year.

Here are 11 lessons I wanted to share:

1. If you can do it, do it now

My uncle has lived in France for 10 years. 5 years ago I told him I was going to visit. I’d never been to Europe and going was on my bucket list. However, another year would pass, growing my procrastination and excuse making skills, but not growing my life experience.

“Hey I’m going to visit this year. Just getting it all together. I’ll keep you posted.”

Then, another year would go by.

During a conversation with my dad, he encouraged me to skip the beach vacation I was considering, and to go see my uncle. I listened.

My trip to Paris in August of last year was life-changing. All these years I could have gone but I always had an excuse: it wasn’t the right time, it’s too expensive, I’m too busy, it’s too late now,  I missed the window of opportunity. All of these statements were fear based and ultimately preventing me from having amazing experiences.

If you have the means to do something you’ve always wanted to do, do it and do it now! If you have the vacation time, take it! Buy the ticket and pull the trigger. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, it can be anything you’ve always wanted to do: take piano lessons, study acting, or driving cross-country. Do it now while you have the chance!

2. Travel by yourself

Don’t let the excuse of traveling alone dissuade you from taking a trip. I’ve taken many excursions by myself and there are many benefits. You can do whatever you want and change in the moment. You can move at your own pace. Traveling alone also makes you accountable for your trip. With no one else to lean on you’re responsible for the plan and making your trip a success. I covered so much ground in Paris by myself.

3. Experiences count more than things

Paris is one of the most amazing cities in the world. The things you can buy will not replace the unforgettable meals at places like La Relais de Venise or Chez Gladines. The perfumes and miniature Eiffel Towers could never replace the thrill of walking through the world’s finest museums. This applies to life in general. The live shows we see, the historical landmarks we visit, and the friends we make always hold more value than cars, clothes, computers, or tchotchkes. Speaking of friends…

4. Making new friends is thrilling

In 2015 I became friends with 2 women who greatly enriched my life. One woman I dated briefly, but we both agreed we were better as friends. Another woman I met through some mutual friends. She invited me to see Brandi Carlile and we’ve been having fun ever since. I love the excitement and newness of an emerging friendship. When there’s an instant, kindred connection of shared interests with someone new, it brings a spark into your life.

5. Biking is the best way to commute

In September I began biking to work. Our office ran out of parking spaces and offered some compensation to those who’d either walk or bike to work. Fortunately, I live close to the office and have a short commute, so it was an easy decision. I love biking into the office, most of the time. On cold or rainy days, I often question (and curse) what I’m doing, but I use the opportunity to practice mind control and stay in the present moment. I also saved a lot of money on gas. Through September until the end of the year, I only filled up my car 3 times.

6. Review your life

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In 2015 I began using the Passion Planner. This outstanding planner got me into the habit of reviewing each day, week, and month, making sure I stayed on point. Last week I did a year-end review. I can clearly see where I succeeded and where I needed to improve. Consistently reviewing your life is like referring to a map. It helps you stay on track.

7. Take personality tests

Our company uses the Birkman Method extensively. The information this test yields is revelatory and indispensable in relating to my co-workers. It gives helpful insights into why they act the way they do, and how I can best approach them. Birkman also shares insights into my strengths and helps me understand my tendencies. I’m a big fan of any personality test that gives valuable info about myself and others, and helps us all better interact with and serve each other.

8. Yoga is amazing

You can read my post about yoga here.

9. One measure at a time

At the beginning of the year my piano teacher gave me the challenge of learning a Bach two-part invention. It is the hardest piece of music I’ve ever played or learned as an adult thus far. Going measure by measure is the only way I could accomplish this goal. Every day during practice I worked and persevered until finally, I was able to put the entire piece under my fingers. It’s been so rewarding. I still have a lot of work on this piece but the knowledge, skill, and ear-training I’ve achieved going measure by measure were musical and personal highlights of this year.

10. Establish a solid morning routine

I’m a goober so morning routines fascinate me. Setting up my day correctly and methodically is important. There are creative, physical, and spiritual tasks that, if I complete before getting out the door, allow me to move through life with greater ease, and grace. Without a good morning routine, I can become “Hulkish.”

11. Keep going

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” While I wasn’t necessarily in a bad place,  I’d been stuck for a while. I’d fallen into a rut of doing the same things, going to the same places, and thinking the same thoughts. In April I moved near Cabbagetown. That move helped me change up my routine significantly. In January of last year I was promoted to a Senior position on my team.

Even though it didn’t feel like anything was happening all those years, I kept on working and improving. Eventually something happened. My situation, outlook, and routines changed for the better. I just had to keep moving to get there.

What did you learn in 2015? Share the wisdom please!

10 Things I’ve Learned From Yoga

Tony Horton, putting all of his lame jokes aside, is a great teacher. Horton introduced me to yoga when I completed P90X back in 2010. Since then I’ve done yoga off and on, finding a YouTube video, and sometimes revisiting Yoga X. After an amazing vacation in Paris in August, I felt a strong urge to get serious about yoga, and to get to some classes. I got a really good mat and found a studio. I’m so glad I did. Since October I’ve practiced anywhere from three to five times a week at Mystic Lotus in Cabbagetown. I’ve fallen in love with this ancient, beneficial and beautiful practice.

Here are 10 things (among many) I’ve learned so far:

1. Yoga benefits all aspects of life

My friend Drew, who teaches at Mystic Lotus, reminds me that, “yoga is a tool that uses the body to train the mind.” Yoga is challenging and requires a lot of mental focus. Balance postures force my mind to hone in on a specific point and to let go of control. Learning to activate specific muscles makes me aware of how I sit and walk. This focus and awareness is useful in all aspects of life. I’m constantly finding way to apply the skills I develop in my practice.

2.Yoga reduces stress, depression and anxiety

The release of tension, anxiety, and worry, which result from yoga, is like nothing else. During practice I can feel my body and mind releasing negative energy that does not serve me. Yoga allows me to move through life with more ease and relaxation. Studies even show that yoga helps with depression and can increase overall feelings of well-being.

3. Yoga is especially helpful for musicians

All that mind training I mentioned? I’ve found I can apply it specifically when playing music. Tension, anxiety, and incorrect breathing such as holding one’s breath, are enemies to a musician. Playing music in a relaxed and aware state, allow the music to flow. The awareness and activation of specific parts of my body, cultivated through yoga, show me where I’m tense, and where I need to relax. I also get more awareness of where my mind is, while playing. Am I hearing the music or merely going through the motions? Yoga has made me a better player.

4. Yoga first thing in the morning is an outstanding way to start the day

I recently completed a 5 week early bird challenge with the extraordinary teacher, Maggie Benoit, at Mystic Lotus. For 5 straight weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I woke up at 6 am for the 630 am class. I paid in advance for the series which gave me a lot of accountability to not miss a single class. There are numerous benefits to starting the day with yoga. Your stomach is empty. Your mind is clear. The world is quiet. The day begins with a good intention. The benefit of this challenge was starting my day open, fully awake, and energized.

5. There are so many ways to breathe

Recently I watched Awake and one statement stuck with me. Yogananda remarks, “I don’t see how you Americans are living, you’re all breathing so improperly.” Breathing, and moving with breath, is one of the most important aspects of yoga. From Nadi Shodhana, Lion’s Breath, to Ujayii breathing, all of these exercises release tension and help me relax. That’s just scratching the surface of breathing exercises!

6. Yoga gives an unequaled natural high

Running, biking, and lifting weights, sure they all release endorphins, but nothing equals the natural high from yoga.

7. Good teachers make a big difference

I began my practice at Mystic Lotus because my friend Drew teaches there, and because it’s right in my neighborhood. This isn’t a paid advertisement for the studio! However, I’ve been consistently impressed with each teacher there. Essentially I am a beginner at yoga, so finding a place where I could practice without judgment and fear was crucial. I’ve learned so much from all the teachers there. They earnestly care about my practice and well-being. They make small, but very necessary, adjustments to my poses, and help me find my best expression of the pose. They show me how to press into the earth, grounding myself, and are helping me get more open with each class.

8. Comparison is futile

I love to compete and win but that doesn’t work in yoga. I’m glad I learned early on that comparing myself to the teachers and more advanced yogis doesn’t serve me. It’s ok to want to progress and achieve my fullest expression of a pose, but berating myself because I can’t do Trikonasana without a block, is dumb. My practice is about me and my growth, no one else’s.

9. There are lots of books on yoga

I’ve already got 3 books stacked up and ready to read on yoga. Autobiography of a Yogi, Light on Yoga, and Asana Pranayama Mudra BandhaThat is only a smidgen of what’s out there.

10. It’s about the journey

Right now my practice is focused on getting open. It will take time to get there and I need to practice patience with myself. I’m early in my practice but I’m so excited to continue this journey. I’m eager to learn poses, to gradually increase my flexibility, and to train my mind to be quiet, and relax.

Have you done yoga? What’s been your experience? Have you thought about doing yoga? What’s stopped you from getting started?