Category Archives: Observations
It’s almost 24 hours after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon. I’ve spent this time reading about the heroes who emerged immediately. I’ve spent very little time reading about or watching videos of the explosion. I’ve spent this time reading online newspapers and blogs written by runners. They understand the runner’s perspective on this event. So much of what I read is similar to my thoughts that I wondered if I could come up with anything unique to say. While the running community has many things in common, I hope to be able to share my perspective with you.
I was in New York City when they announced the marathon was cancelled. I spent some time being angry and frustrated, but I got over that quickly and became a typical Midwestern tourist for the rest of my trip. What got to me, though, was how non-runners were so angry at us for being disappointed, or for not going to Staten Island and helping with the relief efforts. There were many people who were pissed that thousands of runners showed up in Central Park on Sunday and ran anyway. How could the runners be so heartless when so many people were without power or shelter or food? What they didn’t know was, we were told to stay away from Staten Island because they had too many “helpers” there already. What they didn’t know, or couldn’t understand was, runners of the world unite unlike any other sport. I went to Central Park and witnessed runners from across the world joining together to organize their own marathon. While tragedy stopped the official marathon, it did not stop the runners. The running community came together as one. This community made my disappointment dissolve the moment I saw them there.
Yes, but New York was an “Act of God,” right? Boston is different, right? In many ways, yes, but the response from the running community is the same. Instead of a major weather event, it was a major lunatic who stopped the race. Whoever did this stopped the race, but not the runners. There are stories of runners helping the injured. There are stories of runners going past the finish line and continuing to run until they got to the hospital so they could donate blood. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know how physically difficult that was for them. They had to use their heart to keep running after the finish line. That’s the only way.
What happened to the people who were stopped on the course? I can identify with them because their dream marathon was cut short. I train for marathons all the time. I run even when it’s an “off-season” because I can’t stop running! I run at least two marathons a year and usually around five half-marathons a year. It’s the same training cycle with each marathon. I spend 12 weeks ramping up the miles by running at 7:00 AM on Saturdays, as well as every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not complaining – I love it! As race day approaches, I’m forced to cut back on my miles so I can recover. The lack of running, and the growing anticipation of race day, drives me (and Alana) crazy!
Being at the starting line is the second happiest part of a marathon. It’s pure joy being out there with old friends, new friends, and running friends I’ll meet on the course. The next 26 miles are a blur of gels, hydration, electrolyte depletion, strangers cheering, kids wanting high-fives, runners passing me going uphill and me passing them going downhill. The last two-tenths of the marathon is the best part of any marathon I’ve run. Everyone is cheering you on. People are on the sidelines waiting for a loved one to come down that finish line chute, but they cheer you on anyway. Or at least it feels that way to me. I cross the finish line and, despite the cramping and other pain, I celebrate my accomplishment while limping to find Alana. I limp to find my running team friends, take pictures, and re-hydrate with a beer later in the day. I need this post-marathon routine almost as much as I need to run! The people on the sidelines need to cheer and share in the joy of the finish line almost as much as we need to run.
So what does this have to do with Boston? The bomber attacked the marathon by attacking the friends and family on the sidelines. When they attack our friends and family, they attack us! I shared my marathon running perspective with you so you could understand how important it is to me. I’m not alone in this feeling. I don’t just run with a community of runners, I run in a family of runners. My family just happens to live all over the world and I see them twice a year (or more). The reason I know it’s my family is because we are all thinking the same thing about this tragedy. The lunatic wanted to stop a marathon and kill as many people as possible in the process. He, or they, succeeded in the short run. But, within 24 hours, the marathon family came together to decide that this senseless act of god will not stop us. We will keep running. We will run today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured yesterday. We will run tomorrow and the next day, and we will show up for the next major marathon (Flying Pig for me) without fear and with a renewed purpose. Our purpose will be to show the people responsible for Boston, and anyone else who thinks violence can control us, that we cannot be controlled or stopped. All you did when you set your bomb was to run away. We run for ourselves. We run for our loved ones. We run for our team. We run for our running family. We run toward hope. We run.
- Boston. (trexrunner.com)
- Boston Heartbreak (jeffpearlman.com)
- Reporter’s Notebook: A Marathon Now Tinged With Tragedy (wbur.org)
I’ve been away from my blog for over a month now, going on two months. I kept waiting for an idea to pop into my head and inspire me to sit down and write. I thought of lots of ideas, but I never started writing. I decided that I would just sit down here tonight and write whatever garbage comes out of my brain. It could be awesome, but it could be awful. You be the judge!
Have you ever had a moment when you’re in a great group of people and you’re having a blast and you think, “there will come a day that I’ll never see these people again.” I guess I’ve lived long enough to have experienced this phenomenon often enough to question it. I should be enjoying the moment, and I am, but the other side of me is thinking that this is a situational friendship. We’re friends because we work together, or because we have kids the same age and we live on the same street, or we share something else in common. Being friendly is not the same thing as being friends.
Then, the job changes, the neighborhood changes, you stop doing your normal routine and start new friendships. You try fooling yourself and your old friends that you’ll stay in touch and get together again, but the best you can do is follow them on Facebook.
If you were my friend only because it was convenient for me, I apologize. We were really just acquaintances who enjoyed some of the same things. The last friend I had who always called me to hang out or go out and do something is a person I haven’t spoken to in over 6 months. That’s totally my fault, even though the phone rings on both ends. A really deep, lasting friendship is almost impossible to find as an adult. I found one when I met the woman who is now my wife. She is my cheerleader, my voice of reason, my audience, and the person I most want to impress with everything I do. She’ll probably stick around for a while.
Do you have someone in your life who you know will be there for you at all times, no matter what? Do you have a friend who knows everything bad about you and still loves you? You might want to keep that person in your life forever.
Any adult who still thinks they can have “sweet dreams” is dreaming! I woke up at 6:00 this morning due to the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve had some doozies! This one involved a bunch of my family and extended family gathering at the house I grew up in, only this was a newer and improved house. I never went inside because the weirdness was outside. I saw a nephew, who I haven’t seen in a few years, riding a bicycle with his girlfriend. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend, but she was pretty. I saw a few old friends from the neighborhood, and my brother who currently lives in China was there. So far, this doesn’t seem weird.
I was outside carving some weird meat that turned into jello when you tried to put in on a plate. So I found these jello glasses to put it in and my friend thought that was really smart, so he stole my serving. I don’t like jello, in fact I hate jello! I love alcohol but not when it’s put in a jello shot! I won’t touch it then. This weird meat was coming from some unidentifiable animal that was still alive and didn’t mind that we were carving it up. Then, for some reason, this animal turned into a dog with a really bad grooming job with patchy fur all over his body. I asked my friend what to do and he said I would have to kill it by breaking its neck. That’s when I woke up!
Where the fuck did that come from??? I can understand the family part of it since I’ll be seeing a lot of them at my wedding next month. Alana is having stress dreams about the wedding, which makes sense. But everything that happened after I saw my nephew doesn’t exist in the real world! How is that shit even in my brain to be processed? So I did what every person who has been freaked out by a dream would do – I went to google “dream interpretation.” There were 19,100,000 results returned in 0.12 seconds. I guess I’m not the only person having weird dreams!
My first attempt to interpret this was to find out what dreaming about a dog means. This particular dog was black. What I found was, “To see a black colored dog in your dream symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend. The dark side of someone close to you is being revealed and you are able to see through to their true intentions.” I’m on to you, Alana! I can see your true intentions, I think. It was a small dog. What I found was, “To dream of small dogs, indicates that your thoughts and chief pleasures are of a frivolous order.” Yeah, that’s pretty true.
I didn’t spend too much time on this, but I couldn’t find anything about what it means to kill a dog. So I got curious and wondered what they had to say about killing cats. There was no shortage of interpretations here! My favorite was, “To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight. But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame.” Killing dogs – bad. Killing cats – money!
My next stop was to find out what dreaming about friends and family means. I went back to the dreaming dictionary to the “F” page and found an entry for facebook! If you’re dreaming about facebook, you might want to log off for a while! Then, there was a banner ad featuring the face of Barack Obama right next to the entries for “Fairy Tale”, “Faithless”, and “Fake”. Moving on. For family, we have “To see your own family in your dream represents security, warmth and love. It could also symbolize bitterness, jealousy, or rivalry, depending on your relationship with your family.” Jesus, that’s just no help at all!
Scrolling down, there is an entry for “Farting.” ”To dream that you are farting suggests that you are being passive aggressive. You need to express your feelings in a more direct manner. ” I’m pretty sure my farts are in a very direct manner! ”Feminine Napkin” – “Please see Maxi Pad.” Finally, down to “Friends” I found, “to see your childhood friend suggests that you have been acting in a childish manner. You need to start acting like an adult.” I sense a pattern now! My dream was trying to tell me I’m childish and frivolous! I think I’ll go with that and forget about the whole dog thing. I like being childish and frivolous! Now, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. I don’t want to go back to sleep!
I wonder what was on the menu when some genius came up with the cliche, “you are what you eat.” What does that even mean? You certainly can’t take that literally! If you could, I would be known as “Delicious!”
I know what I’m supposed to do to eat well, I just don’t want to. I go through phases of eating right, but I come back to eating the same stuff all the time. Monday through Thursday, I’m diligent about what I eat. Well, not Wednesday nights. That’s when I run with Team in Training and we go out for dinner and beer. I could eat right – the menu includes salads, right? Nope, I go for the mushroom and swiss burger every damn time! And bring me your darkest beer! If I want to drink water, I’ll get a Bud Light! OK, so it’s back on track for Thursday. Friday rolls around and I can eat well until dinner. If we aren’t buying a pizza, I’m making one. The one I make is actually very healthy for you and tastes amazing (that’s what she said – really she did, you can ask her)! But you can’t have pizza without washing it down with a beer, can you? Saturday rolls around, I go for a long run, and then it’s party time! Everyone needs a day off, and this one is mine.
The funny thing is, even when I try to eat well, there is always someone who thinks the way I’m eating is unhealthy. They’re probably right, but I don’t want to hear it! When I go out to dinner with a group of people, the skinny people order from a different menu. They always seem to get the healthiest item on the menu! Have they gone over to the dark side and converted to “whole foods?” Or, do they go home and have pizza and beer when we’re not looking? I’ve looked at the healthy weight guidelines for my height and I could be 20 pounds lighter and still be considered healthy. That’s just not going to happen! I’ve been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for three years now. It’s the party weight that just won’t go away!
The only time I went on an extensive, life changing, “diet,” was the 18 month period while I lost 70 pounds using Weight Watchers. I counted every “point” and tracked them religiously, which is a good analogy because Weight Watchers is a cult! I’m not dismissing them, in fact I would encourage anyone wanting to lose weight to join them. They know their stuff! But going to a meeting is like going to church. Every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, even with a hangover, which happened quite often, I was at the meeting worshiping at the altar of WW. The meeting leader was more of a motivational speaker, so it was like going to a motivational seminar every week. He told his story so often that I could get up there and recite it! But he was able to help people see that they really could eat what they want, but only if they did it the right way – with portion control. Telling food addicts that they can have a little food without eating it all is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a shot of liquor without drinking the whole bottle!
I think it boils down to my relationship with food. I’ve been a big fan of food from the beginning. Food will always be there for you. Sometimes it waits too long for me to love it back by eating it that it spoils the relationship by turning green. Then I have to dump it and get a fresh new food. You should never keep a food past its expiration date thinking that it will get better with time. Sometimes I eat something that I know is going to give me trouble in the morning, but I eat it anyway. Who can resist such a hot tamale? I often wonder if food gets jealous of other food. Does the lettuce in the salad bowl look at the steak on my plate and think, “he likes steak more than he likes me!” You both have so much to offer, can’t I love you both? Some foods just don’t belong with other foods. They just don’t get along! And why is it that “cheating” on your diet feels so good? Ice cream always looks at me and says, “come on, big boy, you know you want to eat me!” So I give in even though I know that the steak and salad I just ate are going to find out I cheated on them with ice cream.
I guess if I am what I eat, then I’d have to say I’m pretty happy. I eat happy foods and drink happy drinks. I run a lot so I can stay close to a normal weight. I actually practice portion control too! I have one piece of advice for you to follow – nothing good will ever come from a Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight. You don’t want to wake up to that person you took home from the bar at closing time, and you don’t want to wake up to a Taco Bell hangover! Finally, if we are what we eat, then most men are pussies and most women are dicks!
I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.
I wish I could take credit for writing this, so I’ll just have to be content with the fact that my son wrote it. Don’t just read it – do something to stop SOPA and PIPA! Little by little, the US Government has taken away our rights and freedoms by pretending to give us “safety” or because “we know what’s best for you.” Thomas Jefferson put it best - ”The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small élite” Keep giving up your rights and the country that you and your ancestors thrived under will not be there for your children and grandchildren!
What’s SOPA All About?
Hey there. I figure many of you lost your daily time-wasters from this SOPA blackout thing, so I’m inviting you to learn a little bit about what’s happening and why it’s important. Yeah, it’s long, but it’s easy to read, it’ll take less than 10 minutes, and I think you’ll have a much better understanding of why people are upset and how this affects all of us – not just us nerds working in the industry. I’m not here to preach and I’m certainly not starting a political argument; rather, I’d simply enjoy knowing that I helped some friends understand why this matters.
This is a complex issue that I’m about to boil down to its simplest form. If you’d like more technical information, it’s already widely available. Google it while you can.
In A Nutshell
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are new pieces of legislation targeting the very real and troublesome issue of online piracy. This has been talked about for some time, and copyright owners already have the means to pursue shutdowns on illegal content. If you want to see what they’re already capable of, go to atdhe.net, a site previously used to stream live American Football games.
What makes SOPA/PIPA different is that they aren’t designed to bring down the illegal content, but rather they’re designed to block the “facilitation” of accessing the content. In other words, censoring links, ads, and entire domains (anything .com, .org, .net, and the like). If you’re not going to read this whole thing, here’s the best way I can break it down:
- If you’re a romantic: This will censor our one truly free & open medium.
- If you’re a cynic: This will put the Web in the hands of people who make decisions with their wallets.
- If you’re a student: This will make launching a new career in relevant industries far more difficult and costly.
- If you’re a businessperson: This will destroy the Internet‘s current status as a vital economic tool.
- If you’re a developer: LOL SUCKS BRO
What It Might Do
Unfortunately, the way these have been written is so broad and uninformed that there is no way this will go into law without being abused. The average age of Senators and Representatives are 60 and 55 respectively, and primarily come from backgrounds in law and lower-level politics. Young people – how useful do you think a technology guide written by your parents & grandparents would be? Congress is applying provisions and regulations on an industry of which they have very little understanding. Sorry Dad, but your generation has no place in regulating the Web. None at all.
Here’s a bullet list of situations that are possible (others say probable, others yet say guaranteed) due to the technical ignorance of the authors:
- The US Government (Attorney General’s office, specifically) will be able to blacklist entire domains, meaning they can authoritatively decide that no one can link to ‘Site A’ at all, ever, regardless of whether or not the individual links lead to any copyright-infringing content. If you’re not in favor of censorship, this should piss you off.
- Sites like Google, Reddit, Facebook, and virtually anything with user-generated content will be forced to spend extremely valuable development time implementing new back-end techniques to ensure these links aren’t showing up on their sites. If you’re not in favor of hindering valuable American businesses, this should piss you off.
- Major copyright owners like MPAA and RIAA, known for sueing working-class families for hundreds of millions of dollars over trivial downloads, will also be able to get in on the action of serving court orders. They’ve taken advantage of every flaw in copyright regulation, and they’ll do the same with Internet regulation. If you’re not in favor of corporations abusing flawed policy, this should piss you off.
- New startups will have significantly more initial overhead (explained below), crippling the power of the Web as a business tool. If you’re against dragging down one of a small handful of succeeding industries in an otherwise bleak economy, this should piss you off.
What It Will Do
The most romantic notion about living in the Internet age is that it’s a truly free & open global medium. Any message can be communicated to the entire world. As soon as you allow our politicians to have any measure of control over it, the whole system becomes susceptible to lobbying and before long decisions are being made based on the weight of their wallets over our rights and best interests. We’ve seen it in plenty of other industries, and now they’re coming for the Web.
The Internet has also revolutionized commerce in nearly every modern industry. You don’t need a big music label to release your debut album. You don’t need Hollywood for millions of people to see your film. You don’t need a single physical store to sell your products across the world. This global connection is the reason why we see companies grow from a garage to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. The Web provides us with an accessible, low-cost, universal way of entering virtually any market.
This is very much in danger under the provisions of SOPA/PIPA. New startups couldn’t simply build a site and start making money. Instead, they’d be forced to implement costly censorship techniques, and pay exorbitantly for legal counsel that shouldn’t be necessary. This prevents the Web from being the business outlet that it currently is, and that myself and countless other young professionals in a struggling economy are banking on having a career in. One day I want to make my creative services available all on my own – if something like this is made law, I’ll likely end up doing so outside of the US.
What It Won’t Do
Here’s the real kicker: this will do virtually nothing to stop piracy. This system of blocking and censoring is one than can be easily circumvented by those who know what they’re doing. Hell, even if they block a domain entirely, I can still access the site with nothing but the IP address. I’ll spare you the more technical details – again, if you’d like to know more, Google it. But this is one thing I’m 100% on – supporters are promoting it as protection for American intellectual property, yet it provides none. This is what really infuriates me, as it will get the typical “This is for ‘murica, greatest country in the world” spin and instantly convince the lowest common denominator that it’s in their best interest.
What Do You Want Me To Do?
Look, I know as well as anyone that sometimes it’s just easier to pretend like something won’t affect you and ignore it. I do it all the time. I’m not a political activist for much of anything, and I’ve certainly never cared this much about legislation before. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m just frustrated that this could even be considered a solution by the leaders of my nation. But I can’t sit back and watch this one happen, and I hope you won’t either.
I’m not going to send you to a bunch of sites and sources, you’re going to see plenty of that today. If you visit Wikipedia, you’ll get your representative’s contact info, and if you click the black bar over the Google logo, you can sign a petition. It will feel futile, but it’s pretty much all we have.
If you’re mad, stay mad, because the bill will be revised again and again until we forget it was even a thing and then they’ll sneak it right past us. They’ve already tried to kill the hype of the protest by announcing SOPA was shelved, even though the main sponsor has since said that work will continue on it in February. This isn’t going to happen soon, but it’s going to happen eventually if we don’t pay attention. And then you’ll just have to come with me to Australia or some shit.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, ask away. I’ll be working from home today (a luxury I can afford thanks to the Web as it exists today) but I’ll hop on here afterwards to answer anything I’m qualified to.
The people who know me casually see me as someone who would seem quite normal. I don’t throw off this weird vibe (at least I don’t think I do). I tend to blend in and mirror the crowd I’m with. When I’m with people who want to have the usual “hi, how ya doin’” kind of conversation, I can small talk with the best of them. When I’m with a group of friends ready to party, I can party with the best of them. I guess I’m saying that the conversation I’m having in my head can be filtered and used for good, not evil. Sometimes, the evil slips out. I’ve been told that I tend to say whatever is on my mind without filtering it. That’s true now, but that’s not always been the case. I don’t always say everything I’m thinking. That would make my cloak of invisibility fall off and you would see how much of a nut job I really am!
When I was a young boy, I was surrounded by a large, loud family. I’m talking 13 kids, two parents, four cats, one dog kind of large, loud family! My only hope to survive was to observe how the older siblings got into trouble and I tried to do the opposite. That worked out until I was the older brother in the house. I found new ways to get into trouble! I figured out that the less my dad heard, the better off we all were. You could haul off and smack your brother in the head, make him cry, and Dad would come in and yell at the kid crying! I experienced this phenomenon from both sides. It was bizarre being the one making someone cry and then sitting there while Dad yelled at them. He gave a cursory yell at the offender, but the loud one was the one who was really in trouble. So I learned that quiet is good and keeps you out of trouble.
The problem with this is, you really can become invisible in a group if all you do is observe without adding to the conversation. It took me a long time to become more vocal in group settings. Even so, I’m not the most talkative or loudest of the bunch. When I’m with a group of friends, there’s usually one person who dominates the conversation. They can be loud and boisterous and make people laugh at how silly they are. That will never be my style. I will sit there and pay attention and laugh when appropriate. There comes a time in every conversation like this where something pops into my head that may or may not be appropriate to share. When I do share, and it gets a laugh, I learn that sometimes the weird thoughts in my head can be appreciated by others. I’ll never tell a “guy walks into a bar” joke, or clown around in a crowd. There’s too much of the “quiet keeps you safe” in me to be that guy.
At home with Alana, it’s a different story. Here, I have an audience of one and she’s a great audience! She loves the silly! I can be a clown with her. Everything I do that makes her laugh has to be repeated so she can laugh again. After being with her for over a year, I could record a “best of” album of my greatest moments in silly! When the wedding planning began, and we had to go meet professional photographers, DJs, and the Rabbi, she saw my professional persona for the first time. This is the persona I try to maintain at work, though I’m not always successful with that. She was surprised at how “serious” I was in those meetings. I just explained that’s just how I am in those situations. I can’t be myself in every situation. So, she gets to see all the crazy that’s inside my head because she loves that shit.
The battle in my brain is ongoing. If you’ve been lucky enough (cursed enough) to be on the receiving end of a snarky comment on facebook, you’re welcome. You’ve experienced the unfiltered version of me. The other me, the quiet me sitting on the sidelines is having an unbelievable conversation with myself! I really need one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over my head. On second thought, that would be really dangerous to your well-being! It’s in your best interest that I not say everything I’m thinking. I’m not really being quiet to protect me, I’m being quiet to protect you!
Last month, I took a look at how much fun Thanksgiving is. Now, Christmas is upon us. I’m writing this on the first night of Hanukkah, I work for a Jewish man, I’m engaged to a Jewish woman, and no one said Happy Hanukkah today! I guess that means Christmas rules in America! I’m not going to complain about how everyone is being forced to say “Happy Holidays,” I’ll just assume they’re trying to be inclusive and trying to find the least offensive way to say “Merry Christmas.” Or it could be that the person wishing you Happy Holidays could be an atheist or practice something other than the Christian religion. No one has the guts to ask!
One quick look at Religious Tolerance.com and you’ll see the Christianity majority in America is actually a minority around the globe. This made me curious, so I went to SelectSmart.com and took the quiz to help me see which religion matches my belief system. The results were interesting to say the least. The percentage next to each religion below is the percentage that my answers match the religion. I’ll show only my top 10:
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Mainline – Liberal Christian Protestants (89%)
3. Reform Judaism (89%)
4. Liberal Quakers – Religious Society of Friends (88%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (86%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
7. New Thought (80%)
8. New Age (79%)
9. Secular Humanism (77%)
10. Taoism (77%)
There really is a very small difference between the ideology of a Unitarian Universalist and a Protestant; between a Quaker and a Buddhist; or between a Buddhist and a Taoist. There is almost no difference in my answers between the ideology of Liberal Christian Protestants and Reform Judaism. This is not to say that I practice any of these religions – I’m just pointing out the similarities between people who do practice their religion while ignoring the existence of all other religions.
Wars have been fought for centuries over religious differences. Catholics had the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!), the 30 Years War, and the Northern Irish Conflict among many others. Islam has their Jihads. Palestine and Israel have fought a religious and ethnic war forever. The Civil Wars in Iraq and throughout the Middle East are religious wars. Even the Buddhists have had an uprising!
Deep down, we are all the same. We want to explore the philosophy of our beliefs and find people who share those beliefs. I urge you to take the quiz I took and see how close your beliefs are to people with whom you come into contact . Christians should be able to celebrate Christmas. Jews should be able celebrate Hanukah. Costanzas should be able to celebrate Festivus. All of us should be able to celebrate whatever our chosen group wishes to celebrate. You and I are not that different. You and the cashier at Target are not that different. When they wish you “Happy Holidays,” just smile and say, “Merry Christmahanukkah!”
When you think of Spock, you think of an emotionally detached, logical perspective. My life is ruled by logic. If it’s not logical, it’s just stupid! Many times, I have stuck my foot in my mouth by saying “Why would you do that?” I also get in trouble by saying, “That makes no sense!” Knowing I have a propensity to question other people’s motivations and thought processes has caused me to mask my questions with sarcasm. That’s not necessarily a good thing!
For example, I have a person in my office who begs for sarcastic responses! She doesn’t know it, and she’s not intentionally ironic, but she makes my logical approach to sarcasm entirely logical. Today, she tried to tell me that other people in the office were going to have a meeting on Thursday and they would be expecting my input on a certain document. These people have been meeting every Thursday for about a year now, so Thursday was not a surprise. The document was delivered to me a week earlier, so that was not a surprise either. So, I’m in the middle of my to-do list for the day, with the review of this document at the end of said list, when she came to my desk to interrupt me. She said, as she often does when she interrupts me, “Are you busy? I know you’re always busy, but I just wanted to remind you that the document needs your input, especially parts 3, 5 and 7 because that’s your area of expertise and they want to finalize this document at the meeting on Thursday, so it would be good if you could look it over and give them your input by tomorrow.” That’s not a run-on sentence, that’s how she talks! Every time she brings me information, I pretend to listen while thinking, “I know that, what’s your point?” In this specific instance, I mumbled after she left, “Really? I did not know that! Thank you for sharing!”
She starts every disclosure of information with a monologue of what she was thinking while making her decision on how to handle something. She will tell me things I taught her when I hired her!!! Why the fuck are you wasting my time telling me things I taught you??? Just give me the Cliffs Notes version and go away! This is not logical!!! When I asked her to give me a copy of the most recent Duke bills for a property we manage, but only the Duke bills that have gas charges, she gave me copies of every Duke bill for every month of 2011, prepared a spreadsheet showing the charges, and prepared a graph showing the fluctuations of the charges. My first, and only response was, “Why did you do this?” Her response was, “I already did this for another manager in the office, so I just thought I’d update it for you.” Of course I said, “I don’t need this! I just want a copy of the most recent bill with gas charges on it! How does this help me?!?” Once she pulled out the most recent bill and gave it to me, I was able to recycle the remaining 20 pieces of paper she wasted. Where is the logic in that thought process???
Okay, so I’m realizing I’m missing the emotionally detached piece of the Spock persona. Every time someone does something “highly illogical,” I get confused, which forces me to wonder how they could do something so clearly illogical. This confusion leads to my love of sarcastic responses because they deserve it for their illogical thought process! So if you see me with a confused look on my face, it’s not because I don’t understand you, it’s because I’m confused by how you could think in that way. It’s not a voluntary response, I really can’t help it! To answer the question I know you’re thinking, “Yes, I know this makes me an asshole!”
It’s officially “Holiday Season.” For me, that means many things, none of which are normal! First, we have Thanksgiving. For you, that means a day off filled with family you may or may not like. If you’re the host of this gathering, you have to get up early to get ready. Then, you get to clean it all up and fall into bed wishing you had spent the day at work! For me, it means a day off that begins with a 10K and ends quietly at home with the woman I love. In between, it’s filled with football, naps, and Facebook.
I have had Thanksgivings filled with family. As a child, we had to have a “kids table” for our own family! We didn’t need to invite extended family to fill the house. I liked helping Mom make the stuffing because it involved tearing up stale bread. As an adult, I found a recipe for White Castle Stuffing, so I had to make that! It was awesome! When I clean and prep the turkey, it comes to life as I thrust my hand into the cavity and make him dance. I never understood why the include the neck, but it was always a source of “R Rated” fun. Carving the turkey starts with such precision and ends with a plate of shredded meat yanked off the bone. Patience is not my strong suit.
The Thanksgiving conversations remind me of a first date. They’re always so polite and safe and no one really says anything. You haven’t seen some of these people since last Thanksgiving! If they’re on Facebook, they should know what the hell you’ve been up to so why do they always start with, “so what’s new with you?” Some families have the drunken uncle at the table who will say just about anything. Sometimes, I’m that uncle!
The first year after my divorce, my brother Carl invited me to his house for Thanksgiving. I went and had a nice meal, but it was awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t meant to offend him, I just felt like I was an intruder and not a guest. Every year after that, I was either happily alone or in someone’s house trying to find a comfortable chair. You can’t do a seat check in an away game!
I won’t even mention how much I hate using the away bathroom! (I guess I just did.) First there’s the lock that I’m never sure if it actually locks the door. Then, I have to turn on the fan to drown out the god awful noise that I’m about to unleash! Time to wash my hands. What the hell kind of soap is this? I just want clean hands – I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain forest! We top it all off by trying to figure out which towel I’m supposed to use. I’d almost rather be using the gas station’s bathroom at this point!
My current tradition with my sons is to take them out for pizza on Friday. We get to hang out and I don’t have to clean up. If I do decide to host another Thanksgiving, it’s going to include drinking games and Survivor style competitions where one family member after another gets eliminated from my house. I’ll leave the Feats of Strength for Festivus.