My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Loath and Love Wal-Mart

I Loath and Love Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is a place where I love to go and watch people. Nowhere else, outside of a damaged food auction or a trailer park swap meet, can you see such undesirable people. I’m not talking about your standard down-on-their-luck individual or unfortunate physically-impaired person, but your complete don’t-care-what-they-look-like or how-poorly-they-represent-the-species kind of human being. And I’m using “human being” loosely here, because there are some creatures in Wal-Mart who clearly prove Darwin wrong: Organisms so faulty that to have had them exist within our reproductive population simply mocks our genetic future. Add to that your average Wal-Mart employee, usually the illegitimate offspring of mentally handicapped siblings or of such a broken spirit that they wouldn’t even pull the fire alarm if the food court started serving Molotov cocktails, and you have a perfect storm of horrible shopping pleasure.

The loath part of my relationship with Wal-Mart is much more complicated. Wal-Mart, being the powerhouse of retail organizations that they are, slowly destroys all of their competition – much like kamikaze termites eating the last tree in the forest – thus occasionally leaving them the only place in town for certain immediately-needed items. So while I love to visit the freak show that is the Made in China headquarters for the jingoistic, I loath having to actually buy anything from there.

Thus it was that I found myself standing in the Toy Department the day before Christmas looking for a last minute gift for someone that both Kela and I swore the other had bought a gift for well over a month ago. It took three customer service representatives and a call to a different store before I was finally able to get a definitive “doncurrydemnomore” from someone wearing the nametag of (and this is the honest truth) Slappy. Slappy went on to explain that Wal-Mart stopped carrying the item November 30th due to lack of demand (nooneboughtdemnomore).

Horrific national and localized economic damage aside, Wal-Mart does usually provide me with some positive benefits. I know where to go to feel better about myself, I know where to go to find people who will vote against their own self-interest just to feel like they belong to something that they never will, and I know where to go to should I ever find myself in need of a singing large-mouth bass the days before Christmas. At least, I did until November 30th.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Entry for December 29, 2009

The reason that your child plays with the box is because the toy came with its own story. Next time, just give them the box and let them create their own adventure.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Entry for December 9, 2009

Being a father I'm finding it increasingly hard to contrast the sudden feeling of pain creeping up upon me: a chilling fear, but also a realization, that certain moments must pass. One second of absolute and perfect happiness - one of the ten to twelve that comprises a whole life - with the fact that in one of these happy moments life could easily be comprehensible, but is ultimately fleeting. It is in that flawless moment of time where I am not sure to rejoice or mourn. Maybe it is both.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nonconformist Reformist

This is a blog post that doesn't follow the rules. Unlike those other blogs, it’s edgy and raw. It's kicking your ass and not what you've come to expect from those other guys. What other blog posts are afraid to say, this one will scream. It will be all up in your grill and hitting on your girlfriend. You had better prepare to be rocked because this blog post will not conform to normal. So get ready to experience the extreme awesomeness that is an insane-crazy mixture of the written word and cheap marketing buzzwords, yo!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Faith for Sale

I come from a part of the country where people have what is known as personal faith. They believe that their own values and morals are stronger if forced out into the public marketplace of ideas. Strength in character is understood to come from an internal struggle and materializes as personality principles grounded in that person’s private beliefs.

When I moved to the South years ago I was very taken back by the openness and advertising of structures of morality. People’s faith seems to be not only open, but advertised freely in hopes to either encourage others or reaffirm one’s own beliefs. To me, this is horrifying and cheapens the individual moral reasoning essential for creating an honorably-balanced person. It is only under private contemplation that character is formed and personal morals, values and judgments about things still not understood by the world at large are weighed and measured. Substituting this process for a desire to belong to a clique or by blindly following a dogma ensconced in its own problems is not going to end well for either the individual or the any culture.

What I find most appalling is the shameful way that some people here advertise their religion for financial gain. Not only is it prevalent in all classes in the deep south, it is done so unabashedly and without further contemplation. Now, I am probably the last person who should get on a soapbox about this, but I don’t see anyone else doing it – so here goes:

When you put an ichthys on your billboards, business cards or business you are essentially trying to substitute your religious group for personal responsibility. Sure, you think that it lends some sort of creditability to your business, but in reality it is explicit promotion your religious affiliation for money. Or in other words, you are selling your personal beliefs for cash.

But this type of thing reaches much further than “Hire me I’m a Christian” stickers. It actively works to create pockets of people who deal only with like-minded people. This type of action fosters isolation, animosity and xenophobia. It is not only bad for our society, it’s possibly the most un-Christian thing that you can do.

Entry for November 21, 2009

So the same party that constantly calls for privatization, and that the government can't do anything right or that the private sector does everything better, is now saying that government health care option would put the private companies out of business.

Other thing that they will soon calling for:
More taxes to combat wealth distribution
Reinterpretation of the Constitution to stop people from changing it
Increase the amount of abortion doctors to talk patients out of abortions

Today's vote will be interesting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just the Facts, Ma'am

I would like to thank everyone out there, no matter if they remember having met me at some point or another, for getting right to the point. There seems to be an overabundance of respectful individuals to just say what it is that they want or need and then move on without a longwinded explanation as to why it is that they want or need a specific thing and how it is currently affecting their life. They just state it, much like a mathematic equation with a finite beginning and end, and move on. Just like the other day when I was standing at the checkout line a Publix and the nice woman in front of me decided to regale me with the full story about how she decided that the Bush beans were superior then the store brand, complete with side anecdote of her sick sisters moving and how it will alter her impending operation, after I had asked her if she had dropped her keys. So please let me extend this warm thank you to everyone out there, whether they are currently at work, like my sister who works at a humane society office and is worried that the Christmas season will bring with it another influx of poorly gifted animals, or my father who is currently retired and living at the beach (and if you haven’t been to the beach in NC, especially around the most southern part of the state, but still north of the tackiness of Myrtle Beach, I highly suggest it. But not at this time of year, the best time to visit in around June or August. Make sure that you visit local restaurants and stores, as that part of the country relies heavily on tourism), thank you for not wasting my time.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Entry for November 6, 2009

So I was thinking, suppose you owned an account firm, needed a lawyer, or was just looking to fill an empty position that made over 50K a year. Which of these two people would you hire?

Now what does that say about the products that they represent?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Entry for November 4, 2009

Skepticism is a good thing, but you should never let it convince you of a more easily understood answer.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Entry for November 1, 2009

Nothing interrupts work faster than a good excuse.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Shirt Says it All

I’m a pretty good judge of character, but sometimes I could use a little help. That is why I would like to take a minute and thank certain folks for helping me understand who they are. For instance, a week or so ago at the Pumpkintown Festival, in front of the Boy Scouts fried donut tent, I spotted a gentleman who clearly left me wondering about his masculinity. He was just standing there, all 5’4” of him, in cowboy boots and tight jeans, and I couldn’t help thinking, “I wonder if this guy is a badass.” Then, as if a gift sent from Zeus himself, the gentleman turned around to reveal that he was truly a badass. At least, that is what his shirt said. So understanding the laws of exclusivity that is the t-shirt business, I had absolute confirmation that this person was indeed a tough, independent outlaw, who was so confident in his own manliness that he was allowed to buy a t-shirt just to convey how wickedly badass he is to the world. And for that I thank him.

This last week someone gave me the perfect idea for a Christmas gift for a hard-to shop-for family member. Realizing that I would never remember it come Christmas time, I headed to the mall. After purchasing the item I headed to the food court to celebrate with smoothie – because nothing says victory like a Grape Expectations with added whey powder. Along the way I was lucky enough to encounter a group of independent, nonconformists who prefer to be called “Goths.” You can tell they are nonconformists because they all have a very strict dress code that they adhere to, shop only in very select places, and all act almost identical. This rigid dogma that they follow out of both fear of peer condemnation and a desperate desire to fit in to their small click really shows the determination that these freethinkers have to remain individuals. But again I started thinking and wondered if this group of matching rebels was truly as free as they portrayed. Then, as if a gift sent from Ra, they all headed into Hot Topic. This sealed the deal because, as everyone knows, Hot Topic is a corporate company wholly unlike their neighbors of Abercrombie & Fitch. It may be the only place in the mall that someone who is an individual can buy a mass-produced piece of clothing from a corporate entity, created by a marketing team dedicated to making sure they their customers all look, act and support the exact same things, in order to reconfirm that they are all uniformed as 100% nonconformists. And for that I thank them.

Finally yesterday I had my last encounter with someone whose shirt helped me understand who they are. Flanked by her perfume encrusted mother, was a girl who was about 12 years old. My immediate thought was, “I wonder how this prepubescent, emotionally undeveloped child is in bed.” Sure, sex with an adolescent child is illegal, immoral and horrifying, but I bet that it’s also sexy and awesome. Which is why I was glad to see that she was sporting a shirt that said, “Sexy, awesome hotness and I’m available.” I mean, if that doesn’t just answer the questions about the availability of a sexy, awesome 12 year old, nothing will. As she passed I had yet another thought, “sure the front of that juvenile maybe sexy and ready for hot loving, but what about her backside. Would it be as welcoming and ready as her front?” Then, as if a gift sent from Rama, my next question was answered. As both mother and daughter walked away, I saw the words “juicy” on their asses. And for that I thank them because I now know everything that I need to know about them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Entry for October 24, 2009

Fall leaves are nature's apology for the gray that will follow.

New and Improved and On Sale Now!

You know that thing that you've heard of that sounded really good? We have something like that! That’s right, we’ve just started carrying that thing that you’ve been meaning to try (you know, the European sounding thing that can make your life a little better).

Yep, we also have that thing from when you were younger. Remember when that thing was cool? Well we still think it is and we sell a version similar to what you vaguely remember! Come and create new memories that can pass as old ones with fond, safe and generic references to recent history and the things that were popular then!

Feel like you should be in better shape, but think it might be hard work? Don’t fret, we’ve just created a new thing that will help you look incredible with an acceptable amount of effort! Just buy our thing, follow the simple directions and you will be happy about yourself very soon!

Think technology couldn’t get any better? Well it just did! Our new thing will give you more free time while making you the envy of others. What more could you want? Simply purchase our newly created thing, on sale for a couple easy payments, and in no time at all you’ll have a better life.

But wait, there’s more!

Want to feel like the individual that you are? Just purchase our thing and you can feel special again. Not too far away from whom you are, but enough to make you feel good about yourself for a while. Then, we’ll have a new thing that will help you again. Things have a scientifically proven power to make you feel temporarily better and that’s ok because we can always come up with new things for you to buy.

Don't wait, new things are standing buy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Entry for October 16, 2009

Subdivision (n)
1. the act or fact of subdividing.
2. a place where they tear out nature, build homes and then name the area after what was removed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Entry for October 10, 2009

All new fashion starts with an idea and ends with a laugh.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Costume Doom

Clerk: Welcome to the Halloween Costume Shack can I point you in a certain direction?

Woman: Well, yeah, I’m looking for a Hippopotamus costume.

Clerk: No problem! We have over three different styles of sexy Hippos. We even have a sexy Pygmy Hippopotamus for younger girls.

Woman: I’m a biologist who studies the Malagasy Hippopotamus and would just like a costume that looks like a Hippo for our staff Halloween Party. I’m happy to make alterations to match what I need.

Clerk: I understand and you’ll be happy to hear that all of our Hippo costumes come with an option of either a mini-skirt or a micro-mini. And all of them have a matching mask and bikini top.

Woman: What?

Clerk: Now this model comes with pasties, but doesn't include the 4" heels. Whereas this model...

Woman: Please, I just want a Hippo costume. Is there something that you can order that just looks like a Hippopotamus and isn’t.. …

Clerk: I’m not sure that I understand. You want a costume right?

Woman: Yes, of a Hippopotamus.

Clerk: So a sexy hippopotamus?

Woman: NO! Just a hippopotamus.

Clerk: But it’s for a woman!

Woman: Look here, I’ve studied devoted my life to studying Hippopotamus, they are majestic, beautiful and intelligent creatures, but they are in no way "sexy." So I don’t understand why I can’t just buy a costume of a Hippo that isn’t "sexy."

Clerk: I’m sorry, but everyone one of our female costumes is provocative. Along with the Sexy hippo, we have a slutty Rhinoceros, a seductive Whopping Crane and a Walrus whore.


Clerk: If you would like I can get my manager, he’s just finishing up selling that woman over there a slutty vending machine costume.

Woman: Goodbye.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Bellicosity Curve

In 1943 multiple Pulitzer Prize winning historian Richard Hofstadter wrote the book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life which traced social movements that altered the role of intellect in American society. In it he argued, with extreme success, that anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were functions of American cultural heritage, born out of our colonial European and evangelical Protestant heritage, and now embedded within our national fabric. He identified the major causes of anti-intellectualism in society as mediocrity in the public schools, and attacks on academic freedom in the universities and a press divided into niche markets.

The entire book was a social commentary on life leading up to the early 1960s, the increasing influence of Protestant evangelicalism, political egalitarianism, and the rising cult of practicality as the new criteria for assessing the private and public worlds. He spoke to the connection of religion, politics and public schools fostering the average person’s resentment and suspicion of intellect and of those who devoted their lives to it. Tracing through history, he then showed how this created a predictable reaction of "righteous" vengeance from a highly susceptible percentage of the population and how that rise is not only precipitated but cyclical.

I mention Hofstadter and his book because I spent this last week reading Glenn Beck’s five books, watching hours of his show and reading through his numerous pieces online. I did so because I’ve been trying to figure out why so many people find him to be a credible source of knowledge on politics, society and life in general. After submitting myself to all things Glenn Beck, I can honestly say that the people who follow this man are clearly not too intelligent. His books contradict themselves, his show is encourages people to isolate themselves, reinforce their predetermined opinions and uses the old trick of repetition to make truth out of fiction.

If virulence destroys an argument, it is only done so when fiction is embraced and civility is abandoned to mob rule. In Glenn Beck’s world, contempt of anything that he cannot understand is marketed like a commodity to a segment of the population who understands the topic less than him. What is more interesting is that his rise and eventual fall will be inextricably linked to both Hofstadter anti-intellectualism and the inevitable normal curve of shock media. Glenn Beck is the new Jerry Springer Show, Howard Stern, The Morton Downey Jr. Show or the practice of bleeding sick people. And the only way to combat his misinformation, thinly veiled bigotry and radical political ideologies, is to just let them run their course. So if you are like me would like to go all Lionel Trilling on the situation, but lack the cerebral firepower, don’t. Anything that you do to encourage either him or his momentary followers simply adds to his credibility as an anti-intellectual leader and extends the time during which he is relevant.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why is it Always South Carolina?

I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life, but no where have I lived that had a reputation like South Carolina. We moved here a week after Miss Teen South Carolina, competing in the Miss Teen USA Pageant, made national headlines with possibly the worst answer to a question in the history of all questions and answers (video here). Then our intellectually challenged Governor got so lost on the Appalachian Trail that he ended up in bed with an Argentinean mistress, only to then cry on national TV as he tried to explain to the world that she was his "soul mate". This last week our 2nd Congressional District Representative to the US House, Addison Graves Wilson, Sr. (he just goes by "Joe"), who was previously only known for being one of the last holdouts for taking the Confederate symbol off of the state flag, heckled the president in a joint session of Congress. Seriously.

Historically speaking, SC has a reputation for being on the wrong side of almost everything argument since our inception. From the big things, like South Carolina being the last state to sign the Constitution (and only agreeing to join the Union on the condition that the Constitution wouldn't abolish slavery), to SC being first state to secede from the Union and the last to succeed in reestablishing its native white government after Reconstruction, to all of the small things, like South Carolina being last state to abandon a simple money fine for the murder of a slave, last to recognize MLK Day, an educational ranking of 49th in the country, 48th in unemployment, one of the worst states for woman’s health care, one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, lowest infants birthrate, highest infant mortality, highest stroke death rate (which SC has had for a staggering 5 decades), 2nd highest death rate for oral cancer, one of the highest poverty rates within the US. All of this leads to the third worst life expectancy in the entire country (if there were ever a state in the US that could use health care reform, it’s South Carolina).

So naturally, with such an unhealthy, uneducated population, our representatives are going to be, well, representative. This helps to feed the rhetoric that amazes most of the country. They cannot understand why South Carolina has such high percentage of people who are unabashedly proud of their constantly poor decisions. South Carolina's arrogant backlash against what are mathematically unquestionable statistics, and inverse benevolence towards those who refuse to listen to elementary logic, are what causes the country to take note. Which is why, every couple of months, another South Carolinian makes national headlines for actions that the vast majority the country would categorize as "not too bright."

All of this continuously bad press was summed up by one of Politico’s lead headline this week: "What's the Matter with South Carolina?" The answer to Politico’s headline is simple. We are the most patriotic state in the country. We are the strongest, humblest and do more than any other state to make our country both strong and successful. Don’t believe me? What state would stand up against health care reform when they need it the most? What state would fight against government job stimulus when have skyrocketing unemployment and endemic poverty? What state would knowingly, historically and with full awareness of their actions, crucify themselves over and over again, prostrating themselves on the altar of every bad idea, hypocritical leader and backwards ideology, while still holding their heads up for the world to see? Who will? South Carolina will, that’s who. Without us, the other states would have no example of what not to be. That is our place in this country and we do a damn good job at it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I’ll see you in the morning,
For now it’s time to sleep.
I will stay and watch a while,
Till you are counting sheep.
Don’t be afraid of darkness.
Don’t be afraid, my sweet.
The night is just a blanket,
That helps the earth to sleep.
Creatures great and creatures small,
Will all be sleeping soon.
Under the same blanket,
Under the same moon.
So close your eyes and go to sleep,
By the light of the moon above.
I’ll see you in the morning,
In the light of the sun my love.
Dream your dreams of moonbeams.
Let the night become your friend.
The twinkling stars will keep you safe,
Till morning comes again.
I’ll be here if you need me,
I’m only steps away.
So close your eyes and go to sleep
And dream of a brand-new day.
Good night, sleep tight and I’ll see you in the morning.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Unnecessary Ingredients or Why I Don’t Eat at Chick-fil-A

When we eat out, which can be quite often, it is either for friendship, freedom or frugality and rarely ever for the food. Add to that, with a couple of restaurant exceptions, most everything that we could eat out, we make better at home. That being said, when we do eat out we’re looking for something very specific: A decent meal, at a fair price, without too much else.

Let me clarify that a bit. Cooking a decent meal, especially in a restaurant setting, is not a hard thing to do. Even keeping the price reasonable is something that is relatively easy. Decent ingredients, proven recipes and reliable methods generally yield a meal that almost anyone could find comfort in eating. With that being understood, it is in the last part of what I am looking for when I eat out that seems to be the tricky part, so let me take a minute to explain.

I don’t eat out for word play. You are never going to be clever enough compensate for average food – so please don’t try it. It is not an organic whole wheat, free-range pork belly, hothouse tomatoes and arugula arranged on a bed of potato wedges. It’s a BLT with fries. I understand the desire to create a higher perceived value because the customer then believes that by consuming that product they in turn have enhanced their own worth, but by interjecting unnecessary attempts at heightened verbiage on something as simple as lunch, it just comes off as desperate pandering. This goes for any cute wordage as well. Here are just a few things that fall into that category: I don’t want to "biggie size" anything, I refuse to "slam it up," and it’s a Large, not a Tall. If you want to sell me a larger size, just ask if I want larger size.

Also in this category are those who attempt to add a social, spiritual or other extraneous aspects to their food (I don’t want to cleanse my body and soul, I just want a smoothy). The worst offender in this category is Chick-fil-A. For those of you who don’t know, Chick-fil-A is a fast food restaurant that serves a mighty tasty chicken sandwich. It is one of the few fast food chains that is both of decent quality and isn’t massive offensive to your digestive track. Also, Chick-fil-A is an organization that prides itself by wearing its morals on the outside. And while most of this is fairly benign (they aren’t open on Sundays), some of it has become too distracting for what they serve.

During the last election all of the local Chick-fil-A’s had political signs up and the employees were encouraged to tell people to have a blessed day. While I’m all for political involvement, such heavy-handed tactics are completely unnecessary and distracting from what they are in business to do: Sell me lunch. Moreover, by trying to create a clique where all likeminded people can gather and shop, they were actively working to create an atmosphere of “us versus them.”

Each time that I stood in line at a Chick-fl-A I kept thinking, "I didn’t come to your restaurant for a political movement, I didn’t come to your restaurant to feel that I’m part of some honorable cause and I didn’t come to your restaurant to be blessed for my ability to order, I came for a sandwich," but it still always came with everything else. It is for that reason alone that I stopped eating at Chick-fil-A and probably will not return for a long time. Lunch should never be that complicated.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

I Am Now a Card-Carrying Nanotitanium Visa Member

My new Nanotitanium Visa Card finally arrived in the mail this week and I have to say that it is incredible. With a variable rate of just 32.9%, it has a hologram, is partially clear, allows me to put my own 3D picture on it AND still has room for the words “Exclusive Nanotitanium Visa Member” across the top. Sure it doesn’t allow me to accrue any points, has no benefits, and there is a monthly fee of $27.50, but there is another value that I place higher. When I pull my Nanotitanium Visa Card out and hold it up for the cashier or waiter to see, everyone is immediately impressed. It is my not so subtle way to tell the world that I am better than them, can afford to throw away money and I am part of elite, select, group of individuals put on a pedestal above everyone else. Finally, there is a way for me to express my sheer awesomeness in simple card form. And because I need to spend at least $3,700 a month to retain my Nanotitanium Visa Card, feel free to ask me to buy you something so that you can bask in the exclusiveness that is my good common sense, higher intellect and sound fiscal responsibility.

Friday, September 04, 2009

If I Had Won $260 Million Dollars

(with apologizes to Steve Martian)

There have been several very large lottery winners in the news lately and it’s gotten me thinking about playing the lottery. In the past I’ve only purchased tickets when the Powerball got up to an obscene number. I guess that at some point the potential for winning hundreds of millions of dollars overwhelmed my basic understandings of math, but I have never spent more than five bucks, so the loss was always easily forgettable.

These thoughts of playing the lottery all started a week ago when someone won $260 million dollars. Let me repeat that again, $260,000,000 dollars. Five times my cities 2008 operating budget. But more importantly, think of the good that you could do in the world with that money. An amount that large, used wisely, could make a sizable impact on many needy people.

If I had won the $260 million dollars, I think that the first thing that I would do would be to find the poorest parts of the world and build fully interactive children’s museums to teach them hope and joy. While providing jobs and helping those local economies, it would lift the intellectual level of the most impoverished children so that the next generation would be remarkably better off than the last.

If I had won the $260 million dollars, I think that the second thing that I would do would be to transfer 50 million dollars to an offshore bank account, but my first thing would still be to create the interactive children’s museums to teach them hope and joy.

If I had won the $260 million dollars, in the spirit of universal brotherhood, of course, would be the interactive children’s museums, then moving 50 million offshore and third would be to purchase the ability to command all that live and breathe using nothing more then my slightest thought.

If I had won the $260 million dollars, I would do that stuff for brats, then transfer that money, buy absolute power over people, and then celebrate my gift to humanity by having a weeklong orgy with Megan Fox, Kate Beckinsale and that French girl from the first Matrix movie… ..Moncia something. Of course I would include my beautiful wife too. She’s behind me 100% on this, I promise.

Come to think of it, maybe the wild sex thing should be first. I mean, I could die tomorrow and then I would have wasted all of that money. Don’t get me wrong, whatever that kid’s thing I’m doing is fine, but you need a celebration period to get it out of your system.

Who am I kidding; I could never build all of those interactive children’s museums in the poorest areas. It’s a logistical nightmare and I couldn’t get the political support or land needed to pull something like that off. So let’s reorganize, first: the sex, second the offshore banking – wait, the power over all should be second, then the money and then fourth, the kids. Hold on! I totally forgot revenge against all of those people in my life who’ve wronged me. They should pay for ever doubting me!!!! Make the revenge the fourth thing. And of course, if I had won the $260 million dollars, the fifth thing would be to build the needy a fully interactive children’s museums to teach them hope and joy.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hyperbolic Rhetoric is Self-Defeating

In an era in which cognitive dissonance has become a national epidemic, news programs, public figures, corporations and some individuals have increasingly turned to hyperbolic conjecture to catch the attention of the public at large. While the policy of ever escalating rhetoric works in the short term, it is ultimately doomed to failure. Everything in the cosmos has a breaking point, and most people’s tolerance for increasingly inflammatory dialog is, while on a stretching scale of acceptability, finite. So when you see someone rise to that level of incendiary discourse, know that you are fully in your right to discount anything that they say from there on out.

To prove this theory, simply flip on your TV and tune into one of the latest pundit shows (it doesn’t matter what side, they’re all the same) and take a look at what is believed to be acceptable banter. Outrage is normal, loud conflict is routine and vulgarity is expected. People choose sides and virulently attack each other in the spirit of absolute reckless abandon. Inevitably, someone will compare someone else to Hitler and the whole thing becomes a who-is-worse-than-who argument. Being that this is TV, we should expect it to be filled to the brim with the flashy, substance-lacking, pseudo-intellectuals that can pass for free-thinking as long as they stick to their script. This type of televised conversation is nothing new and only seems to ooze into more of the media as the years go by.

What bothers me the most about this ever-increasing trend of focused verbal degradation is the fact that it is spilling over into our daily lives at an alarming rate. Otherwise normal people, not being paid to make an ass of themselves, are now comparing others to Hitler, telling jokes about their political adversaries dying and generally being horrible examples of the simplest forms of civility. Sure it’s easy to get sucked into a heated discussion, but we all need to have a line that we will not cross for the simple reason that no argument won through that much hatred is worth winning.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Excuse Me, But I Don’t Care

Even though I’ve lived in the South for many years now there are some things to which I cannot acclimate. Most of my grievances emanate from individuals who find it appropriate to start complete conversations with random strangers without following any conversational protocol. I’ve had this happen in other parts of the country too, but the sheer quantity that it happens here in the South is almost overwhelming. Being a native Northern boy, I never know how to handle someone who just starts talking and refuses to yield the floor. I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to talk to them either.

Case in point: This morning I went to check the post office box and had the following conversation. Quick tip: there was no conversation before or after what is written. Below is the entirety of our exchange and for ease of storytelling I’ve named the random old guy Otis (because it seems to fit).

Otis: I just bought me some of those forever stamps.
Me (finding key for box): Um… ..ok
Otis: I remember when they were just flag stamps – I liked them the best. It seems to me that the Post Office should do more flag stamps if they want people to mail more letters.
Me: (interrupting while pulling mail out): I’m just here to get my…
Otis: People mail letters because they have stamps and they buy stamps because they like the design. So if the Post Office would put out more things people like on their stamps, more people would talk to each other through the mail.
Me: Sure . Sounds good. Listen I’ve got to…
Otis: Instead, people just talk to each other through the computers. My granddaughter talks to her friends through the computer all the time, but I can’t get her to write me a letter. She just keeps telling me to get a computer and that we could talk through there. Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, I was a naval officer in the war and we use to communicate through….
Me: (starting to walk towards the door): I’m really running late today, I’ll be seeing you….
Otis: Let me ask you a question.
Me: A long as it’s…
Otis: Do you think that the naval officers of today use computers to talk to each other or do you think that they still use the box?
Me (opening the post office door): The box?
Otis: I’m glad you asked, the box is….
Me: (faking that my phone is ringing) Sorry, I’ve got to take this. Nice talking to you. Hello?

And this is how I would have liked to handle that conversation:

Otis: I just bought me some of those forever stamps.
Me: (finding key for box): Siggghhhh.
Otis: I remember when they were just flag stamps…
Me: Let me stop you right there. Baring you telling me about how you’re giving away your winning Mega Millions Lottery ticket to the next person you see in the Post Office, there probably isn’t a thing in the world that you could tell me right now that I would be interested in hearing. Sure I might listen and nod, but really I’ll just want away from you. It’s nothing personal; I just don’t want waste a couple minutes of my life listening to you babble or complain. It’s not fair to just pin people down with a forced conversation because you’re lonely or bored. So now that I have my mail, I’ll be wishing you a good day.

But I can’t, I just can’t. These people are generally older, abandoned and just in need of a conscience or semi-conscience mammal to talk at. I have to, because some day I may be Otis.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

As Long as You Have Your Health

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Growing up where I did in Massachusetts, my parents had a couple run-ins with James Taylor. For a time we lived near him, but I still don’t care for most of his music. That being said, the words to some of his songs still resonate with me to this day. Even taken out of context, they seem to have a power that makes them live on their own.

A couple weeks ago I spent several days tooling around the area where both Kela and I graduated from high school. When we lived in the area it was fairly well off. Now, with the median household income nearing $100,000 and the median home price closing in on $300,000, it is safe to say that it is quite an affluent area. And it was in one of my retracing of old haunts that I realized how insulated that area is from most of the country. In the middle of a recessions their restaurants overflow, their Bentley and Porsche dealerships flourish and, even in the most deprived areas, they still seem very comfortable by national standards.

Spending time in a city like such as that, I can understand why some people don’t grasp the weight of poverty that smothers so many in this county. I would like to stereotype them as people who think that the poor are those who can’t afford organic food or drive cars with dents in them; that their biggest gift back to the world was that trip to Africa where they traded food and medicine to anyone who would accept Jesus as their lord and savior; or as people who never had to explain to a child why it needed to sleep through their hunger, but that would not be fair. You cannot judge someone by what they have never had the chance to learn. Instead, I fault our ever increasing segregation into socioeconomic classes, devoid of class mobility, and encouraged by companies catering to those specific sects. We have become a society who does not want to be reminded of those we’ve left behind.

From my generation back to the baby boomers, we are at best one generation out and two thoughts away from any true understanding of hardship. For the most part, we don’t go places in this country where they are likely to see it pain, suffering or poverty. Sure we may encounter a homeless mother on the street, but they will never see where and how she and her children live. We no longer understand what poverty means to them.

So maybe a quick reminder is due: Poverty and its outcomes are hunger and the lack of shelter. It’s the knowledge that if you get sick without insurance, it will mean living on the streets. Real poverty is not having access to school, not knowing how to read, not having or being able to find a job, having an all-consuming fear of the future, living one day at a time or losing a child or family member to illness brought about by living conditions. Real poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and an absence of freedom.

When I see people speak up against nationalized health care, I wonder who these people think that this is for. Do they honestly think that people don’t want to work, want to live off of the system and are truly a mass of degenerates who deserve nothing but our scorn? These are real people, stuck within a system that we created and support, and whose numbers are expanding at an extraordinarily fast rate. Every day, former middle-class Americans, previous neighbors of you and I, become part of their numbers. Of course no one knows that because they are forced out of their communities, to places their former neighbors would never visit, to be forgotten and treated as soulless government welfare recipients.

Ted Kennedy died this week. He died before having a chance to see his lifelong goal of health care for all Americans become a reality. And it was during one of the blisteringly long memorandums televised in his honor that Fire and Rain, performed by Boston born James Taylor, was played in the background of rotating stills of Kennedy’s life. Inappropriate as I found the touted connection, the words struck me as poignant.

Even though I’ve lived a life of reasonable comfort and have done what I could to pass that on to others, I have seen true poverty, I have seen politics, organizations and well-meaning individuals fail to save the weakest among us, I know the smell of depravity as it heads toward the inevitable and I have seen death for sheer lack of powerlessness. Still through all that I have seen and experienced, I always thought that when called upon, we as a country would come together, rise up as one and reach out to help those in need, one more time again. Now I’m not so sure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Entry for August 26, 2009

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Or so he said on his blog

To help with some research for a friend of mine, I've spent the last couple of weeks reading over various blogs in search of a specific pattern that he believes might exist. It was during that time that I realized that never before in the history of man have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few. My hope now is to spur a revival in selective illiteracy to save humanity from having to read the drivel of the rest of humanity. Feel free to start now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Entry for August 10, 2009

Something that I noticed today: TV manufactures don’t want you to buy their products. I’ve come to this conclusion after looking at their ads and noticing that everything displayed on their TVs are things that you could be doing if you weren’t sitting on your ass watching TV.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pretty Worthless Girl

You are in line in front of me again. I see you everywhere talking on the phone, with a gaggle of other girls, adjusting your bra and skirt. You’re usually smiling at nothing and happy to be you. I can’t blame you, you are very attractive. You have curves that make me play out hopeful scenarios in my head and a face that tells me that, if I just said the right thing, maybe.

Then you speak and it’s like Jessica Simpson being called upon in a college physics class. Legally Blonde in reality - except sometimes you’re brunette or black. That’s when I realize, again, it’s all that you have. Sure some extracurricular activities exist, but they are all forgettable and add nothing. Sugar-free eye candy, a sports car lacking a soul, just a picture of the most beautiful woman in the world.

I’ve had you more times than I care to admit. You are horrible in bed. Unskilled and boring. An effigy to beauty.

I cannot remember why it was that I thought that you would be different this time. That all of your talents would be equal to your shell. Again I realize that I’ve been deceived by advertising and bought the new model because it looked just different enough to renew my hope. Again you were a mythical white deer caught in the headlights. Again you made me long for you and again my victory was empty. No different than the worst of anyone else.

Maybe it’s the height from which I pushed you. Perhaps there is no way for you to have proven your worth. It could be that I tire of you in each of your forms, but I don’t ever remember when the effort was equal to the reward. Again I see you in line in front of me and I’m hoping you are the same.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


For those of you who aren’t sure how politics works behind the scenes, let me take a minute to give you an example of what the average American never sees or hears. This is how current anti-health care reform movement was created and how it is still run today:

Almost all grassroots movements, whether Liberal or Conservative, usually have, at their root, organizations run by heavily sponsored corporate interests that orchestrate the dissemination of information and organize the movement of pawn-like individuals to represent their interests in the most public places possible. If you ever want to find out why the latest grassroots movements came into being or where it is going, simply look at who backs them.

For information on current anti-health reform faction, simply check out Americans for Prosperity website, currently working under the subsidiary of Patients First. Their Director is Art Pope, who has North Carolina Republican Party Headquarters named after him, and whose National Chairman is David Koch, the 19th richest man in the world and the co-owner of the largest private oil company in the US. Their organization perfectly represents the real driving force behind this current anti-health reform drive. Furthermore, their website claims that they are run and comprised by normal, hardworking middle-class people, who just happen to be busing people across the country to cause disruptions at Town Hall meetings, sometimes thousands of miles away from their own homes.

This is what these groups do. They are experts at fake grassroots campaigns that promote corporate interests. Americans for Prosperity is the exact same company that drummed up support for its anti-stimulus rallies earlier this year and organized a national campaign against the notion that global warming exists. It is the same company that paid for Joe the Plumber to travel around the country to protest the Employee Free Choice Act’s pro-labor legislation. This oil industry and Republican Operative millionaires club is, according to the Republican Party Spokesman today, “just regular, average American folks.” I can almost see them now: just sitting around the kitchen table talkin’ about whether or not they can get away with saying that the government has a secret plot to kill old people.

These guys are the pros, this is an industry. Americans are now being bused to these events to stop the discussion and rattle congressman. Sure they are enraged, but it is in part because they are being riled up by over-the-top fabricated conspiracy theories about health care. And they are being directed and orchestrated by the corporate interests that do this for a living and do it very well. Add to this a media company that directly caters to, and is funded by these same special interests, and you have a formidable publicity movement with a very specific goal in mind.

So none of these protests are grassroots in any way. This is about as organic as the McRib. This is how corporate America creates the illusion of a grassroots movement to support their own interests. This is their job, they are professionals at this and this is an industry. To talk about these town hall events as some sort of natural outpouring of average American folks that have concerns about health care is to be willfully blind as to what is really going on. What is really going on is that there are professional PR operatives, generating exploitive, manufactured, strategically deployed disruptions in order to line their own pockets. These PR people get paid a lot of money for doing it and the corporations that pay for it get to kill legislation that would hurt their profits. And the real people, who they launch into these town hall settings, after they’re told that health care reform is some evil socialist plot to kill old people and to mandate sex changes, those real people get angrier and more alienated every day. Ultimately they will get left, like the rest of us, with a health care system that is broken, doesn’t work in the interests of the American people, but does work in the interest of the corporations that profit from the way the system is now.

This is what politics looks like behind your back. Both sides always have and always will do it. What I ask of you is this: don’t give them that power. The biggest secret in Washington is that you, the people, have the final say because it is you, the voters, who decide who stays and who goes. If enough of you tell your Congressman that this type of activity is not how you wish to see your country behave, it will stop. If enough of you say that you don’t want to be told what to believe, it will make a difference. If enough of you finally decide that you have had enough of this manipulative practice, the country may even have a chance to debate this issue in an open and honest setting – devoid of special interest groups, PR firms and lobbyists trying to dictate what you think. That is, if enough of you still think that you matter.

I Am Not Impressed by Your Tattoo

Everyone has a tattoo. Everyone.

Last week, while eating at a small diner in SC, I was talking to a 65 year-old waitress who was overjoyed to show me her new tattoo. It was a small dragon hatching out of its shell and was meant to commemorate the birth of her first grandchild. A week before ,I had to suffer through a muted conversation one aisle over at a book store in Georgia between two female seniors in high school talking about their matching Tinkerbelle tattoos. This has got to stop.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for free expression and the liberty to do whatever it is to your body as you see fit. As long as you are of an age/maturity level to take responsibility for your actions, I’m all for experimenting. That being said, I’m sick of hearing about it. Woo-hoo, you have butterfly tattoo on your ankle. Gee whiz, no one would have ever thought to put a tribal-looking design right above her ass. Ancient Chinese symbols on your back; I bet you’re the first to get those. A bit of barbwire around your bicep? That sure looks tough on your skinny frame.

Look, the reason to get a tattoo used to be because they were slightly rebellious and cool. But now they’re passé. They are the Crocs of self-expression. It’s like telling the world, “Hey, look at me, I would have been cool 10 years ago!” So please, if you get a tattoo, just keep it to yourself. Because the rest of us are bored by your tired self-expression.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

This last week heralded yet another awkward public moment: a white man of privilege took umbrage with someone of a stereotypically lower class for having the gall to say that her background was somehow better than his own. Republican after Republican took shots at Supreme Court elect Sonia Sotomayor for having the nerve to have once uttered, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life”.

The media circus ensued, complete with a previously outed racist Republican, launching quasi-bigoted remarks and attempting to get her to respond in some sort of super Hispanic way in hopes that she would scare every white person within 10,000 miles. Overall, the all-white male Republican panel took great pains in claiming that they will not be discriminated against for working to keep their status quo.

The problem with their base argument is that they are completely dismissing taking pride in the difference in paths that some people are required to take to reach their level of importance. This is at odds with the fact that they are always claiming that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. So there sat a proud Latina woman, one of the absolute underdogs in our society, being grilled by some of the most entitled of our society about achieving the standard American underdog dream.

But maybe that’s just it. These guys have never been down a similar road; they have had life so full of privilege that they can’t even see the true value in overcoming grand obstacles. Anyone who came up through it, while noble, clearly doesn’t understand the way they believe things are and how they believe they should always be. If the system wasn’t fixed, wasn’t stacked in their favor, people like Sonya Sotomayor might just become the new entitled class. And that is something that brings out their true intolerance.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Wish There Was a God

I wish that there was a God because I also want to believe in magic, super powers, dragons, Hobbits, telekinesis and vampires. If there was a God I would be able to walk through wardrobes into other worlds; I could hold conversations with animals and learn to fly; I would probably even take up a job as a teleportational travel agent. I wish that there was a God so that I could visit parallel dimensions and battle mythic creatures of evil. If there was a God any and all of my wishing could being true. But there isn’t and that’s okay. Enough exists in this world to keep me occupied and full of wonder for my entire life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This is a blog that some people don’t want you to read


This is a message that someone doesn’t want you to hear. It turns out that someone has been keeping some information from you and only we are able to tell you what it is. That’s right, for a small fee we can tell you what you are missing, what things those people have been hiding from you and what you could have right now if you only knew. Please act now because those people aren’t going to tell you any time soon. If you would like to find out what you are missing in your life, operators are standing by.
Thank you,

The People Who Really Care About You (and really aren’t just trying to sell you something)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Observations from Last Night’s Rusted Root Concert

To the girl dancing off beat behind me, rock on.

The best thing about the front row is being able to see the set list.

Why are you trying to take pictures of a music event? It's like just recording the audio of two people having sex.

A good live band will make you resent their studio albums.

You with the tambourine, thanks for participating.

Later, as you’re watching your cell phone recording of this concert, you’re going to wish you had paid more attention.

Any band that will meet with their fans after the show deserves higher t-shirt sales.

In every good concert there is a moment where the audience and band fuse and this new singularity howls, sweats and ungulates with a unified purpose. If you stop to recognize it, you'll miss it. So it’s best to shut up and enjoy the show.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brian’s Favorite Overstuffed Breakfast Burrito

Most of my breakfasts are fairly involved as I believe that morning is the time to put your best foot forward. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and tells those around you that you are willing to put in the work for a good payoff.

Note: This is best made with the leftover steak (steak from the night before, fajita meat… anything not stewed) or uncooked white mushrooms.

¼ cup meat, diced or ¼ diced mushroom, diced
¼ diced onion
¼ diced green pepper
½ cup medium tomato, diced
¼ cup Monterey jack cheese with jalapeños, grated
¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 large eggs
1 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp sour cream
2 dashes Red Hot or Tabasco
1 12” flour tortilla
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in skillet and cook onions and peppers until soft, add meat (or mushrooms) and tomatoes, cook for 1 minute longer and turn out on a paper towel to dry.

Beat eggs, heavy cream, Red Hot or Tabasco in a bowl and set aside.

Wrap tortilla in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds, leave in microwave until eggs are cooked.

Reheat pan and melt 1 tbsp more of butter, add eggs and start to scramble by slowly pushing eggs from one side to another with a large rubber spatula. When about halfway cooked, add drained onions, peppers, tomatoes, meat (or mushrooms) and both cheeses. Continue to cook until dry and turn out into the center of tortilla.

Fold in tortilla like a burrito (without an open side). Add 1 tbsp of butter back to the pan and add burrito folded side down to pan. Flip when browned and remove to a plate when both sides are golden and delicious.

Top with sour cream, cilantro and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I've received a number of complaints that I haven't been blogging much lately.

To this, I cannot disagree.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo - the day where the Mexican forces, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French Army by throwing empty Corona bottles at them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tea Party Protests

Bitter that your side lost? Angry that the majority of the country thinks that you're wrong? Wanna pretend that your corporate sponsored, news endorsed, political action party scripted values are grassroots and spontaneous? Then I have an event for you!

Today at your local Hooters, they will be serving beer and hot wings. I suggest that you go sit at the bar, have a drink and some wings, and try to get a grip on reality.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frantically Doing Nothing

There is a presumption that in times of crisis any action is better than no action. It is commonly thought that this failed dichotomy is nothing more than a manifestation of our fear of failure through inactivity. If you have ever seen someone drowning, you know all too well that the natural instinct to thrash around supersedes the basic knowledge that our bodies naturally float. The same is true for many other predicaments as well. The second someone believes that their situation is in peril, fast and frantic movement of any kind is naturally preferable to simple, slow-paced logic.

This phenomenon isn’t new. In Greek Mythology there is a God of drowning named Charybdis, whose actions caused her to be turned into a sea monster and lead to phrase "between Scylla (another monster) and Charybdis.” It was the ancient version of “between a rock and a hard place” and was designed to teach not only how to stay out of harm’s way, but why we do so poorly once engulfed within it. What I contend is that our evolutionary defenses against physical danger has slowly descended deeper into our psyche and now acts to protect us from ourselves.

What we are now afraid of is the quiet moment preceding any test; we fear that beneath us is nothing but failure and that drowning in the lake of one’s being is a fate far worse than death. And if one were able to dive further, past their faults, doubts and death itself, they would encounter the horror of who they truly are.

Our intuition knows what the truth never hides and our subconscious responds in defense. We fear what is most precious; something so valuable that it must be protected at all costs. We fear that our inaction will force us to see ourselves honestly and death holds no fear of the truth. My recommendation is to let yourself drown. Let life consume you. Maybe you will float and maybe you won’t. Either way, you will have faced yourself and won.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hiking on Vacation

I love hiking and over the last several years I’ve done some hikes that I’m very proud to have completed (I’m even proud of a couple that I couldn’t finish). There is just something about heading out into nature with nothing but a day pack and a well worn pair of shoes that is thoroughly invigorating. What I don’t care for, more than anything else, is some of the other hikers.

Barring serious weather conditions or an actual emergency, when I am in the middle of a hike I do not want to stop and talk to people I pass, I never want to compare gear and I am not looking to add people to my party mid-hike. Just a nod or a “hello” as we pass is just fine. You know what, if you can fit in a sentence, “the bridge is out,” “rock slide ahead,” “lovely weather today,” without breaking stride – that’s just fine. But please, please, please don’t expect me to stop and tell you about my socks or hold me up with prolonged weatherspeak. I just don’t care.

The reason that I now feel compelled to write about this is because this last week Kela and I did some wonderful day hikes while carrying Sebastian. I did not know this beforehand, but there is something about carrying a kid around with you that people interpret as, “Hey, we could use a break. Ask us a stupid question.” While I did my best to ignore most of these people, Kela felt compelled to be polite and talk to them. Doing my best to ignore her and her new friend, I usually just kept moving and forced her to offer a hasty, “Sorry, my husband really doesn’t like to stop” before jogging to catch up. As you can imagine, I’m still making amends for my bad manners. In doing so, I would like to answer all of your questions, in the exact same fashion that I would have on the trail, so to prove to my wife that it was better that I just kept moving:

1. Thank you, we think he’s cute to. Now please get out of my way.
2. He weighs 25 pounds and we trade him off as much as we can.
3. Yes we own one of those baby-backpacks, but didn’t bring it with us to California.
4. You wore flip-flops to do a 5 mile hike that rises 1800 feet and you want to talk gear? Seriously?
5. You are very clever, you are the first person to joke about making him walk.
6. He’s one year old and I’m not wasting his time on someone as uninteresting as you.
7. There are directions every quarter mile and this is the middle of a three mile trail, if you don’t know where you are now, I’m not going to tell you.
8. No, I don’t know where on the trail you can get cell phone reception.

I hope that answers any and all of your questions.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Entry for March 16, 2009

Patience for people’s intellectual abilities should always be directly proportional to the opportunities that they have had to develop those skills.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Good to be Well

Everywhere that I have lived has had some colloquial communication conundrums for those who are not from their area. In Jamaica “Seen” meant “Yes” or “Do you understand,” whereas in Michigan, “Seen” could be used in either past or present tense: “I seen him coming this way.” So when I moved to South Carolina I expected some provincial differences, but I instead noticed exaggerations of common grammatical mistakes. The most egregious, by sheer volume, is the inability of the local population to use “Good” and “Well” properly.

People often use good when they should use well, especially in speech. For those of you searching your brain for 6th grade English terminology, “Good” is an adjective (a word that describes nouns) and “Well” is usually an adverb (a word used to describe verbs). Good’s meaning indicates the noun is above average or better than normal. As an adverb, Well describes or qualifies an action or to tell how or to what extent an action is carried out. You also can use "well" to describe someone's health. The trick is to remember that you do not use good to describe verbs.

Before moving around the world I always assumed that certain spoken grammatical mistakes were either sloppy slips of the tongue or a sign or a poor education/upbringing. What I’ve learned is that some words or phrases can be local accepted by all classes and educational levels. While I find this uncomfortable, I am trying to see it as part of a dialectic difference. With any luck, I’ll maintain my good grasp of the English language and still fitting in well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seek Medical Attention

You may not know it, but your stink requires a health professional. If there was an emergency room for BO, you would need to go there. If you smelled any worse, it might be fatal. Your pits could kill Dracula. If you were slightly more malodorous, the military would preemptively invade you. You reek so bad that there should be a team of doctors examining your underarms.

But not to worry, Procter & Gamble has just launched prescription strength deodorant, because they know that you are so far above the normal level of reekatude, that your scent could make an onion cry, you odor is so foul that a priest couldn’t exercise stench off of you and if you were a color is could be called funky tuna.

That is why you need prescription strength deodorant – so that the bouquet of rotting corpses that is your natural aroma might become manageable. Humanity awaits your purchase.

Monday, March 09, 2009

You Are Not Alone

This is an article posted from the AP this week:

More Americans say they have no religion

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP – Mon Mar 9, 12:14 am ET

Children walk back to their pews after listening to the reading of a religious AP – Children walk back to their pews after listening to the reading of a religious story at the foot of the …

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don't belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves "non-denominational Christian" grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered "seeker sensitive." They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don't usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

The percentage of Pentecostals remained mostly steady since 1990 at 3.5 percent, a surprising finding considering the dramatic spread of the tradition worldwide. Pentecostals are known for a spirited form of Christianity that includes speaking in tongues and a belief in modern-day miracles.

Mormon numbers also held steady over the period at 1.4 percent of the population, while the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant continued to drop, from 1.8 percent in 1990 to 1.2 percent, or 2.7 million people, last year. Researchers plan a broader survey on people who consider themselves culturally Jewish but aren't religious.

The study found that the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Muslim grew to 0.6 percent of the population, while growth in Eastern religions such as Buddhism slightly slowed.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Entry for March 08, 2009

Science and religion can only coexist if you don't mind letting your religion constantly evolve.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Anderson, SC Jockey Lot

On the northern county line of Anderson County in South Carolina exists a cultural anomaly of epic proportions. Anything, and I do mean anything, seems to exist for sale in this one location. It draws people from as far away as the swamps of Florida to the back woods of Gatlinburg, TN, and even from the parts of Alabama where the term relative humidity literally means the moisture between two cousins having sex. This 65 acre flea market is the largest in the Southern United States and goes by the simple name: The Jockey Lot.

Each visit to the Jockey Lot is an experience that everyone in my family cherishes - mostly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Now I’m not saying that these individuals are below the national average of intelligence, hygiene or “correct” breeding, I’m just saying that a large percentage of them prove that there is no minimum or maximum amount of chromosomes required to successfully procreate. This is the crowd that makes Larry the Cable Guy culturally relevant and on job applications probably list smoking as a hobby.

I wouldn’t even mention that their personalities can be fully described in hat form, that they consider teeth something they’re going to have to buy, or that most of them have more invested in their trucks than in their homes, except that I neglected to mention you wouldn’t get a full picture of the people who will be your shopping companions if you should ever decide to visit the Lot de Jockey.

You see, the Jockey Lot is a place that allows people to openly sell live poultry, next to pirated DVDs of last week’s movie release, adjacent to a pile of used and unwashed clothes, down the row from open boxes of medication, across from someone serving food that could give diabetes to a sugar ant, and all from sellers who consider showering optional. It is a enormous garage sale of people who don’t have to look their neighbor in the eye while trying to sell them last year’s must have, and still boxed, As Seen on TV products.

Personally, I find the fact that their high art comes in DVD form, that they classify Sunny D a fruit juice and think of Jesus mostly as an accessory, as kind of endearing. In all honesty, there really isn’t anything more entertaining than waking up early on a Saturday morning, hurriedly driving to this mecca of shopping delights, hopping out of the car to immediately see a mullet-clad female using the term redneck as a complement to try to woo her hubby in the Buy American shirt to purchase a cheap Chinese knockoff of a European bag designer while their toddler is shooed away from the semi-automatic gun table. So if you do go and happen to see something like that, and you will, just know that it’s going to be a good day at the Anderson Jockey Lot.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Big Government

Here is the biggest secret in all of Washington: Both the Republicans and Democrats love big government. It guarantees them jobs, makes them more powerful and creates an almost unbreakable institution in which they can run the show. The only difference is that they like big government in different places.

Lately there has been a pseudo-outcry by Republicans over the stimulus bill heading through Congress. Their latest charge is the true and tried "borrow and spend" assault that has worked well for them. Yet when you look at their own history back through the 1980’s, they have done the exact same for their own pet causes.

During Reagan’s Administration government spending increased by 69%, with a 92% increase in defense spending as he built up the military to confront the Soviet Union (none of these numbers are adjusted for inflation). When he left office the economy was growing and the size of the government as a share of total economic production had shrunk slightly, from 22.2% to 21.2%. In contrast, Clinton’s Administration increased government spending by 32% during his time in office; which was decreased by the rapid slowdown in defense spending after the Cold War ended. When he left office, Clinton’s defense spending had increased by just 4%. So the combination of restrained growth in government and a booming economy meant that government's size as a percentage of the economy dropped from 21.4% to 18.5%.

Next up was George W. Bush, who boosted government spending by 68 % in his eight-year presidency, spearheaded by a 126% increase for defense as he waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush's spending totals don't include the $700 billion bank bailout added last fall to his final fiscal year, or the $787 billion stimulus package added early this year, but by the time he left office, Bush's government had grown as a share of the economy from 18.5% to 22%.

Over the last couple of weeks Republicans have done everything that they could to brand Obama as another Big Government liberal. And even while Obama speaks of hope and optimism about the economy, he will probably increase government spending for the next two years, only to lower if back down to that same 22% by the end of his first term – the same as George W. Bush at the end of his presidency and slightly more than Reagan at the end of his.

The interesting thing to watch is Republicans crying Big Government while approving of any spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or on weapons systems such as the F-22 Raptor fighter jet being developed by Lockheed Martin. Even such Rush sycophants like Georgian Republican Representative Phil Gingrey has recently brought an argument to the floor that buying nearly 200 more of the F-22 Raptor jets (he attempted to claim that they were needed to defend ourselves from China and Russia) at $160 million each, is a good investment. If you’re trying to do the math in your head, that’s 32 billion dollars worth of Big Government on something even the military deemed unnecessary.

What it comes down to is that Obama and other Democrats want a big government that addresses their priorities, not the Republicans' agenda. Being a liberal myself, I see the military complex of Big Government that the Republicans pushed through over the last twenty years as wasteful, but the Big Government of education, energy conservation, health care… that the Democrats are now trying to push as worthwhile investments. So in the future, when you hear someone say that they are against Big Government, ask them what specifically they don’t wish to fund. I have a strange feeling that you’ll be able to pick out their political leanings fairly quickly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Entry for March 04, 2009

If the voice of your political party is a talk show host, you should probably get ready for your party to reorganize.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is Paying for Indulgences Wrong?

I am the first to admit that I am not Martin Luther. I can say this with all certainty because I am in no way religious and because I am not sure that paying for some modern-day indulgences is wrong. As we all work to deal with things like global warming and fair trade, certain moral negotiations are going to have to be made and simply paying our share may be the most inclusive solution.

A simple case in point is air travel. As of right now, there is no practical alternative to flight, but flying spews lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. To try and make up for the environmental damage, a growing number of travelers purchase carbon offsets, which goes towards worthwhile things like reforestation and alternative energy projects. It’s the 21st-century way of paying indulgences and it helps people travel with clearer consciences, but I’m not sure that we are dealing with the underlying issue. Instead, we are doing exactly what Martin Luther had a problem with: buying our way out of serious moral obligations or personal sin.

According to the Catholic Church there are two different types of sins: A mortal sin and a venial sin. “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it” ( Or in simpler terms, a mortal sin is one that was done with the knowledge of why it was wrong and a venial sin is one that was done without.

As you can imagine, the punishment for a premeditated sin is worse than one committed without full knowledge of the offense. Even once the sin has been paid the sinner still must "strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the 'old man' and to put on the 'new man’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1473).

Which brings us back to purchasing carbon offsets to make up for the environmental damage of flying and other modern-day indulgences. If you have to keep repurchasing the same indulgence, are you really sorry for what you are doing? (Surely there are better paths that have a more immediate and specific impact) So our purchasing of indulgences are doing nothing more than justifying our premeditated behavior and delaying the choices that we will eventually have to make.

Which again brings us back to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Luther did not deny the Pope’s right to grant pardons for penance imposed by the Catholic Church; he made it clear that preachers who claimed indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation was wrong. And while the Council of Trent did away with the sale of the types of indulgences that sparked his door defacing act, the sale of indulgences for certain sins still remains in the Catholic Church to this day.

So is this simply a matter of something is better than nothing? Is it a deliverance from our wrongs because the alternative is individually unrealistic? A collective shrug and a hope that we’re doing a little, even if it is just a very little? The dance of the gray area between the lines of black and white? Does anyone actually feel absolved? Or do we all just wish that someone else would come up with a solution that we can all get behind? You know, someone who doesn’t have a plane to catch…

Over the next few years the number things like offsets and other modern indulgences will substantially increase, with some being voluntary and some being mandatory. Their money will go to important, needed things that will help work towards solutions to fix the underlying problem. My concern, as with Luther’s, is that we may be granting people moral salvation instead of actually asking people to take an active role to fix the problems that they helped caused.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Give it a Rest Already

For the sanity of humanity, I would like to clear up a couple things for those of you out there who think that everything that is happening right now, this very second, while you are wasting time reading this, is important:

These are not the “End Times”

Things are not any worse or better than they have ever been

The newest generation is no worse than yours

Each political party will get an equal chance to harm the country in time

Money and time have always been in short supply

Nothing powerful enough to create everything would ever care what you believe in

And lastly, none of this shit is new. Anyone telling you differently is selling something.

So please, for the love of all that is covered in chocolate, give it a fucking rest and stop taking yourself so damn seriously.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Entry for February 26, 2009

Is it just me, or do you want to run into people wearing camouflage just so you can say, “Oh, sorry, didn’t see you there!”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Peacock has Landed

In The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, the author Neil Strauss (Styles) gives the word Peacocking the following definition: Peacock – verb: to dress in loud clothing or with flashy accoutrements in order to get attention from women. Peacocking items include bright shiny shirts, light-up jewelry, feather boas, colorful cowboy hats, or anything else that makes one stand out in a crowd. Origin: Mystery.

Mystery is a pick-up artist and part of the seduction community. In one of their adventures Styles describes Mystery as being “dressed in a top hat, flight goggles, six-inch platform boots, black latex pants, and a black T-shirt with a scrolling red digital sign that said "Mystery" on it.” Sure you may laugh, but that same guy ended up with his own VH1 reality television series The Pick-up Artist, now in its second season. His thought behind the theory rests in the belief that, in order to attract the most desirable female of the species, it's necessary to stand out in a flashy and colorful way.

His concept, now over a decade old, seems to have grown into the national dress code. So much so that, over the last year or so, I’ve complained about everything from gaudy clothing, to being an unpaid billboard, and even the ridiculous posturing-fashions that so many teens seem unable to resist. That being said, I have come to this conclusion because the style has reached its apex, crossed into the absurd, and will hopefully be soon laid to rest because of flagrant overuse. Moreover, this shift will affect more than just clothing. It represents a general cultural shift from one norm: peacocking for status, to the new norm: understatement for shown awareness – and I couldn’t be happier.

Bring on people trying to outdo each other for how subtle, subdued, or conscience they are by blending into the background. Sure it’s along the line of making something that is good for us overly trendy, but at least I’ll be able to get a drink at the pub without laughing so hard at someone’s clothing that I shoot Guinness out of my nose.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Darwin Day - February 12

Fossils Reveal Truth About Darwin's Theory
By Robin Lloyd, LiveScience Senior Editor

With the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin this week, people around the world are celebrating his role as the father of evolutionary theory. Events and press releases are geared, in part, to combat false claims made by some who would discredit the theory.

One frequently cited "hole" in the theory: Creationists claim there are no transitional fossils, aka missing links. Biologists and paleontologists, among others, know this claim is false.

As key evidence for evolution and species' gradual change over time, transitional creatures should resemble intermediate species, having skeletal and other body features in common with two distinct groups of animals, such as reptiles and mammals, or fish and amphibians.

These animals sound wild, but the fossil record - which is far from complete - is full of them nonetheless, as documented by Occidental College geologist Donald Prothero in his book "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" (Columbia University Press, 2007). Prothero discussed those fossils last month at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, along with transitional fossils that were announced since the book was published, including the "fishibian" and the "frogamander."

At least hundreds, possibly thousands, of transitional fossils have been found so far by researchers. The exact count is unclear because some lineages of organisms are continuously evolving.

Here is a short list of transitional fossils documented by Prothero and that add to the mountain of evidence for Charles Darwin's theory. A lot of us relate most to fossils of life closely related to humans, so the list focuses on mammals and other vertebrates, including dinosaurs.

Mammals, including us

* It is now clear that the evolutionary tree for early and modern humans looks more like a bush than the line represented in cartoons. All the hominid fossils found to date form a complex nexus of specimens, Prothero says, but Sahelanthropus tchadensis, found in 2001 and 2002, threw everyone for a loop because it walked upright 7 million years ago on two feet but is quite chimp-like in its skull size, teeth, brow ridges and face. It could be a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, but many paleoanthropologists will remain unsure until more fossils are found. Previously, the earliest ancestor of our Homo genus found in the fossil record dated back 6 million years.

* -Most fossil giraffes have short necks and today's have long necks, but anatomist Nikos Solounias of the New York Institute of Technology's New York College of Osteopathic Medicine is preparing a description of a giraffe fossil, Bohlinia, with a neck that is intermediate in length.

* Manatees, also called sea cows, are marine mammals that have flippers and a down-turned snout for grazing in warm shallow waters. In 2001, scientists discovered the fossil of a "walking manatee," Pezosiren portelli, which had feet rather than flippers and walked on land during the Eocene epoch (54.8 million years ago to 33.7 million years ago) in what is now Jamaica. Along with skull features like manatees (such as horizontal tooth replacement, like a conveyor belt), it also had heavy ribs for ballast, showing that it also had an aquatic lifestyle, like hippos.

* Scientists know that mastodons, mammoths and elephants all share a common ancestor, but it gets hard to tell apart some of the earliest members of this group, called proboscideans, going back to fossils from the Oligocene epoch (33.7 million years ago to 23.8 million years ago). The primitive members of this group can be traced back to what Prothero calls "the ultimate transitional fossil," Moeritherium, from the late Eocene of Egypt. It looked more like a small hippo than an elephant and probably lacked a long trunk, but it had short upper and lower tusks, the teeth of a primitive mastodon and ear features found only in other proboscideans.

* The Dimetrodon was a big predatory reptile with a tail and a large sail or fin-back. It is often mistaken for a dinosaur, but it's actually part of our mammalian lineage and more closely related to mammals than reptiles, which is seen in its specialized teeth for stabbing meat and skull features that only mammals and their ancestors had. It probably moved around like a lizard and had a jawbone made of multiple bones, like a reptile.

Dinosaurs and birds

* The classic fossil of Archaeopteryx, sometimes called the first bird, has a wishbone (fully fused clavicle) which is only found in modern birds and some dinosaurs. But it also shows impressions from feathers on its body, as seen on many of the theropod dinosaurs from which it evolved. Its body, capable of flight or gliding, also had many of dinosaur features - teeth (no birds alive today have teeth), a long bony tail (tails on modern birds are entirely feathers, not bony), long hind legs and toes, and a specialized hand with long bony fingers (unlike modern bird wings in which the fingers are fused into a single element), Prothero said.

* Sinornis was a bird that also has long bony fingers and teeth, like those seen in dinosaurs and not seen in modern birds.

* Yinlong is a small bipedal dinosaur which shares features with two groups of dinosaurs known to many kids - ceratopsians, the beaked dinosaurs like Triceratops, and pachycephalosaurs, known for having a thick dome of bone in their skulls protecting their brains. Yinlong has the thick rostral bone that is otherwise unique to ceratopsians dinosaurs, and the thick skull roof found in the pachycephalosaurs.

* Anchisaurus is a primitive sauropod dinosaur that has a lot of lizard-like features. It was only 8 feet long (the classic sauropods later on could be more than 100-feet long), had a short neck (sauropods are known for their long necks, while lizards are not), and delicate limbs and feet, unlike dinosaurs. Its spine was like that of a sauropod. The early sauropods were bipedal, while the latter were stood on all fours. Anchisaurus was probably capable of both stances, Prothero wrote.

Fish, frogs, turtles

* Tiktaalik, aka the fishibian or the fishapod, is a large scaled fish that shows a perfect transition between fins and feet, aquatic and land animals. It had fish-like scales, as well as fish-like fin rays and jaw and mouth elements, but it had a shortened skull roof and mobile neck to catch prey, an ear that could hear in both land and water, and a wrist joint that is like those seen in land animals.

* Last year, scientists announced the discovery of Gerobatrachus hottorni, aka the frogamander. Technically, it's a toothed amphibian, but it shows the common origins of frogs and salamanders, scientists say, with a wide skull and large ear drum (like frogs) and two fused ankle bones as seen in salamanders.

* A creature on the way to becoming a turtle, Odontochelys semistestacea, swam around in China's coastal waters 200 million years ago. It had a belly shell but its back was basically bare of armor. Odontochelys had an elongated, pointed snout. Most modern turtles have short snouts. In addition, the roof of its mouth, along with the upper and lower jaws, was equipped with teeth, which the researchers said is a primitive feature for turtles whose mugs are now tipped with beaks but contain no teeth.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I realized the other day that everything that I know about death I learned from Calvin and Hobbes Cartoons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


April, 15, 1946 - It was a warm day for at Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers were pitted against the Boston Braves. Jackie Robinson stepped up to a historic at bat, brought cheered and boos and ended approximately 60 years of baseball segregation. Everyone knew that it was the exact moment that the baseball color line broke. His at bat ended in a ground out to the pitcher and he went go 0-3 during the rest of the game. But viewed in the context of time, with the achievements that he would earn as he progressed throughout his career, he stands alone as an image of change and hope in our country.

Sixty years later we have our first black president stepping up to bat. Voted in as president in an overwhelming victory, he will face one of the most challenging administrations that our country has ever seen. As he inherits a list of problems that we expect him to solve, we also expect him to be as good as our previous president was bad. Like Jackie Robinson, it is true that he too represents progress, but it is unrealistic to think that he alone will bring change to the country.

During the election and immediately thereafter, he kept telling us that it wasn’t about him. He told us that it was about us - that we must all be part of the change - but we have never really listened. Instead, we have placed all of our hope on him and believed that Yes We Can, as long as he is leading the way. We see him as our hero, an icon, a symbol of who we are. And when he is sworn in tomorrow as our forty-forth president, it will be as all of our Jackie Robinson. My only hope is that we can see his example for what it is: another good start.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To the Two Young Ladies Behind Me

Women are strong, intelligent, beautiful, amazing creatures, which makes it all the more frustrating when they won’t shut up long enough to be admired.

I understand that a coffee shop is a well known place to air ones grievances, I’ve even written another blog about it, but there really needs to be a limit. While attempting to get some work done at The Victoria earlier this week I took the only seat available, directly behind two girls talking to each other about their lives, and attempted to write.

Over the next several minutes I was constantly interrupted by their every increasingly vapid conversation. It bounced from why one of their boyfriends was stunted emotionally because he didn't hug his father on a regular basis, that one of their sisters just doesn’t understand the value of exfoliating her feet, that one of them has reached a personal milestone and now felt confident in themselves, as long as they kept seeing their therapist once a week and continued to journal, that one of them had been struggling with depression, but a crush on Jim from the TV show The Office was helping her get through it, and that they were both a “rollercoaster of emotion because of their mothers”.

Throughout the entire conversation they became louder and more piercing. Eventually spiraled into such a high-pitch frenzy that I can only explain it as two Pekinese fighting over ownership of a heavily amplified dog whistle. Needless to say, I did not get much writing done and ended up heading home to attempt to write with the usual distractions of home.

The problem was that once all I could think about was how much I had been annoyed by the mindless chittering that had driven me back home. What I decided to do was sit down and try to become a female conversational apologist. This I thought, would either help me find peace with their process or turn me into a celibate monk.

Not really knowing where to start, I contemplated how men converse. We talk just enough to know what the other is thinking. Generalities, direction, examples and specifics about things that are only loosely relevant to the conversation at hand. In all reality, we talk less because we would rather know that there is someone out there like us, who shares the same tastes as us, with just enough conflict for us to continue to believe that we are different enough to matter. Our relationships are deep within our minds, but rarely expressed because allowing them to surface would smother their meaning. Male friendship is based on things that don’t need to be said.

Conversely, female relationships are built on the opposite: reassurance that they are not alone, community, and strength through vulnerability. What those two women behind me were saying was that the challenges in their lives were just obstacles that, with a little support and shared strength, they will overcome.

After reasoning it out, I thought about how both sides always ridicule the other on how shallow their methods seem to be. Women speak on men’s relationships as things built on grunts, technical data sharing, and physical confrontations. Men generally consider women’s interactions as insipid, pointless meanderings, with sporadic emotional outbursts. And while both sides seem to deal with their emotional wellbeing in different ways, they have the same final outcome.

For myself, I’m glad that I’m male. Not because I think that my way of communicating is superior, more efficient, or even just better. No, it’s because when I need to think, I can sit at the coffee shop, by myself, and find balance with my mind and life. And I can do all of that without annoying the people sitting around me.