Saturday, December 31, 2011

It begins anew

It is New Year's Eve. Linda and I have spent the morning cooking and cleaning in preparation for hosting a few friends later this evening. It'll be relatively low key, but will still be filled with food, drinks and enough silliness to keep us all occupied.

Right now, Linda is tying up a few loose ends cleaning and I'm on hold with the cooking at the moment. So, I have some down time to think about and reflect on the year that is ending and the one that is beginning. On the eve of a fresh start, either actual or perceived, it's hard to ignore the significance of it all.

Looking back at 2011:
It was neither the most nor least eventful year I've ever had. It did, however, come with its share of trials and tribulations, but there was enough good to more than offset the cost of the negatives. It's nice when life is more positive than zero sum over a measured period. I lost some friends along the way and had some ups and downs with others. Work was work - perpetually challenging, yet overall rewarding so we'll call that a win too. I grew close with some people and reconnected with one in particular in ways that I wouldn't trade for anything. And of course, I met the girl. She is a woman in full - gorgeous, sexy, sweet, caring and yet utterly frustrating and infuriating all at the same time, but I wouldn't trade her for anything.

All in all, I'd say that 2011 had more good than bad and shaped up to be a pretty good year for me.

Looking forward to 2012:
This is the year of possible change for me. I may be getting out of the military. If not, It'll be shortly into 2013, which means that 2012 is still all about preparation and change. I'll be finished with the long awaited, very elusive college degree. My company will continue to build and get off the ground. I'll find out what I'm worth in a professional, civilian job. My relationship with Linda will grow and mature. On a sad note, I'll have to say goodbye (or at least prepare to) some very good friends here in Mississippi.

2011 was good, 2012 will be better. They are both full of change, growth, planning and evolution - more so than an average year. It is very exciting and I can't wait for all of it. This is a New Year's Eve that I am very happy about and I simply cannot wait to see what lies ahead. No matter what the outcome of any of the forthcoming situations, it will be a year of adventure.

It's all about the journey. Let the next chapter begin!

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's all about the toddler

This isn't the first time I've written to you from a plane seat at 36,000 feet in the air while on the way home from visiting the crew in NJ. There's something about recycled air and being on the last row of the plane near the bathroom where you only site if you have diarrhea or are anxious to meet people who do. Be that as it may, I supposed It inspires me. 

I am at the tail end of a Christmas trip to NJ to see a bunch of important people. Not to diminish my excellent friends that have come my way via the military, but they are just not blood relatives and my Jersey friends have been around for 2o+ years so they hold a special place. 

In any event this trip was unique and special. It is conceivably, the last Christmas visit I'll have to make since I could be home permanently, sooner rather than later. Even if that is not the case, next year I'll visit just long enough to see Christmas and then go back to MS to pack and move home within 90 days. In addition to friends and family I got to spend much of the time with a very special lady. And on multiple occasions I got to incorporate her into my circle, which is VERY important to me. I also made a good dent in the job search process as I spoke with friends, reconnected with old colleagues, and made some potential new ones. 

In the 7 days I was there I also got to see a 2 year, 9 month old man named Seany-Pants. He is the son of one of my best friends in the world - Dr. Jim. The life of an orthopedic surgeon generally precludes any visits while I am home let alone 2 lengthy ones like we had this time. Despite our closeness, I first met little Sean when he was already 9 months old. I next saw him just after he turned 2 and then this week. 

I had so much fun watching this pre-pre-schooler spell his name and count to 100 by 10s and recite his entire address. When I first met him, he kinda sat there, smiled and farted in my hand. On round 2, he was talkative and fun but how he is on a whole new level of interaction. After my last visit, he woke up the next day asking "where's Jason?" and that was before he would even refer to me by name when we were face to face. This time, he has affectionately dubbed me "Jase" and insists I go everywhere with him. I haven't had the courage to ask Dr. dad what little Sean-pants did the next morning this time around. Clearly, "Uncle Jason" is remiss in his duties of spoiling and/or corrupting this little buddy of mine. 

I know the adults in my life such as my parents and brother or Jim, Alan, and Linda miss me when I'm gone, but they are adults. They "get it." Little man just knows that his playmate was there one day and gone the next. He can't see the greater good of my disappearance such as professional development or duty to country. 

Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe Mr. Pants is over it and didn't notice me missing at all. Maybe it's for me. Maybe I realize, in the sweeping changes of a child's face and interaction that I'm missing important, fleeting moments as I while away the time in the heart of Dixie. As the mender of bones said, I see Sean in snapshot with a lot of important stuff missing in between. I said the last part, not Jim. 

Maybe Sean is vaguely aware that there was another person hanging him upside down while biting his belly just a day ago, but can't quite place the source of the tickling torture. I don't know. 

All I do know is that everyone understands I don't love them any less when I leave; it's just something I have to do. All except one. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Release

As everyone knows, I've been counting the days until I get to go home and become a civilian again. I've been getting progressively more excited as the time wears thin. I'm not long for this job. Plus I have so much to get back to and things are looking up in so many parts of life. At the same time, I have always been dedicated to what I do. I'm always one of the first to show up and last to leave. I got forced to take leave in 2011 by a boss because I'm never not there. I don't generally flaunt my military accomplishments because I'm just a guy doing the best I can, but let's clear a couple of things up. In 8 and a half years, I have never been written up or counseled for negative behavior to even the most minute level. I received my first Air Force Achievement Medal with 11 months in service; something generally picked up with an average of 3 years in service. I am the very first Staff Sergeant/E-5 (as far as anyone who's been here 15-20 years can remember) to be an instructor supervisor; this position is usually held by a Master Sergeant/E-7 or, in a pinch, Technical Sergeant/E-6. This time last year I ran the schoolhouse's evening shift which consisted of 25 instructors and 140 students in my care every day. I was recommended for this position by 2 Chief Master Sergeants. I've done more than one trip to the middle east and back. Bottom line, I've done well in my military career and take serious pride in my work.

I did all of that in spite of having a difficult time adapting to military life at some points. I was 6-7 years older than the average enlistee when I arrived. I dumped years of technical experience that I was told "didn't matter, because my job was to just do." I have been battling, for 2 years, a complex muscle problem in my legs and underwent 4 surgeries for a combined 76 staples used to hold me back together. I showed up to this base on crutches, I taught (standing for 10 hours) with the help of a cane.

I always knew the military would be temporary. It was never part of my life's plan. However, I would give 100% every single day until my life changed. I swallowed hard when I didn't agree with decisions or the system and pressed on. The mission was bigger than me. This job was about the nation, our freedom, more locally - my students. I can pass our tests, I'm not here for me. I'm here to train the next generation. My replacements. And I would do so until my last day here, with excitement and pride.

I had a situation yesterday. A minor hiccup in the scheme of things. I maintain that 99.9% of it had nothing to do with me. The details are less than important. The point is that I went to part of my leadership looking for support. The person I spoke with is someone high enough in the chain to make a decision and someone with whom I have a good rapport - a very good rapport. The response I received was not supportive. I don't mean not supportive enough. I mean not at all. I rarely reach out to people that high on the food chain for assistance, but yesterday it was necessary. I have never been so disappointed in the "military family."

But it's not all bad. There is a positive takeaway from it. As I gear up for a life change and separation fro the military and transition to civilian life, I have always felt a hole. I knew there would be loss. Being home with friends and family in an area I love, making tons of money brings so much good into my life, but leaving behind all I've known for a decade would still present a loss. And I didn't know how I would handle that. After what I saw yesterday, that all changed. I've seen the Air Force changing, and not in a way I liked.

Less than 1% of the US population ever puts the uniform on. I did every day for over 8 years so far. I did my part and then some. I've done all I've been asked to do without complaining and with pride. I've done for my country and now I can do for me. I've always known that, but now I fully feel it. I could walk away tomorrow and be comfortable. I don't need to finish every last day of this enlistment to feel a sense of completion. I have been released and set free from this self-imposed sense of obligation. I don't have to do it JUST because I said I would.

So while I spent most of yesterday upset and disheartened and disappointed; I chose to look at positively. I'm free to walk away guilt free, when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TWOC

We go through this every year and, unfortunately, it gets worse every year. The War on Christmas (and more generally, any religion's affiliation to wintery holidays) is pandemic. I personally think it's disgusting. Naturally, I plan to tell you all the reasons why the loony, lefty, liberals are ruining the good natured, spirit of giving in the United States.

But first... some facts. Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, an independent, is spewing his non-denominational feces by calling the tree in the front of the state house a "holiday tree." He says that it goes back to the state's roots in 1636 as a haven for tolerance. It seems pretty intolerant to me to not allow Christians to declare their love publicly. Does having a "Christmas tree" mean that Jewish people cannot put up a menorah? If that is the case, then we have a clear case of partiality and the tree should disappear. However, if Jews are free to put up their religious candelabra than I see no conflict. Besides, does any other religion use a tree as a symbol of religious celebration? A tree ONLY belongs to Christmas, just as a menorah ONLY belong to Judaism. There is no overlap. Holiday tree attributes the use of a conifer to multiple religions, which is untrue and waters down the meaning for Christians. How is that tolerant? Tolerance, to me, means that everyone gets a chance to practice how they see fit. A tree is, and has been, a widely accepted practice for many years. What if my tree is placed in a traditional spot in front a window where it can readily be seen by passers-by? Will that be considered a public place and offensive to some even though it is in my home?

How about upstate New York that banned both Christmas and Hanukkah? This is not in an effort to diminish favor for one or the other. This just cancels all holiday spirit. In the same area, teachers are discouraged from saying Merry Christmas. What if the student is Christian? Then they can wish that student well on his or her chosen holiday and Happy Hanukkah to the Jewish students. In order to reach a true level of equality shouldn't we be teaching, and moreover breeding, tolerance for all types of celebrations rather than ignoring their very existence?

I don't understand why we can't embrace all of them. Share the love of your particular holiday while learning about someone else's. I'm all for sending Christmas tree sugar cookies to my Jewish friends in exchange for some macaroons. I once got a Hanukkah card for a friend that had some Matzah and Manischewitz wine on a table with a card that said "For Santa" and inside it said "Just because the guy got the wrong house, doesn't mean he should starve." I thought that was funny. So did he. The point is that I have trees, he has candles. I believe it was Jesus' birthday and so does he - we just see Jesus' role in the world differently, but the Jews don't deny his existence as a person. We all get along. We all have fun. My friend Alan would typically come to my house on Christmas Eve and I'd be at his house for one night of Hanukkah.

Let's also not forget that government regulation and religious infringement by the left aside, Christmas very often has little to do with its namesake, Christ. Santa is not regarding as St. Nick in most circles. Toys r' Us and Hallmark have a majority share in the holiday at this point. It's about cheer and joy and sharing and gratitude and... honestly, shopping. It's commercialized and consumer-centric more than anything. Watering down the holidays by removing the names will make it more about the greeting card than the message it contains. We absolutely CANNOT say Christmas and ignore other holidays. I've focused on the Christmas and Hanukkah here, but I know there are others. Give everyone an equal share and move on. Getting rid of the source of all holidays does nothing but cannibalize their true meanings and further distance us from history, culture and a deeper sense of giving and joy. It makes it more about commercialism than it already is.

I believe that separation of Church and state means that the state will not endorse any one religion over another nor will it use any religious dogma as its guiding principles for law or judgment of the people over which it presides and governs. It doesn't mean that we cannot publicly embrace all religions and celebrate, as a means to love our neighbors, any religion that they may subscribe to. Anyone who sees religious symbols during a holiday time as blurring the line of the separation is mutating the intent of it to suit their needs. It's a disgusting molestation of celebrators during an important time of the year and needs to be completely suspended.

So, to the Christians I saw Merry Christmas. To the Jews I say Happy Hanukkah. To everyone else, insert religion specific greeting on your special day, whatever that may be. Feel free to let your flags fly and represent yourselves and your beliefs and escape religious persecution and diminution this holiday season. Let's take this country back to its real roots of freedom of expression and religion they way it was designed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Let's NOT be friends and the FBO mentality

Some time ago, I wrote about everyone friend requesting everyone (Let's be friends). Whether you know that person or not, and I mean really know the person, you have to friend request them. This is why I love the unsubscribe feature on Facebook. I can be friends with you and interact, but I don't need to see you cluttering up my feed the with things that aren't important to me - like how many hours you spent in labor or the fact that your kid hasn't had a solid shit in 2 weeks. If my closest friends in the world told me these things, they'd be somewhat important because they are real friends in the inner sanctum of my life. If I haven't seen you in 15 years, I'm not going to be sympathetic to the long retail shifts you work. It's not me being an asshole. It's the fact that we are just not close. However, if I delete you, then we will never BE close. So there's something to be said for remaining friends without populating each other's timelines with every piece of useless, inane minutia in our lives. Additionally, the subscribe function is amazing, although few people turned it on. If you kind of know me or know of me or simply want to know what I have to say, then you can subscribe to me without being friends. Anything I mark public, you'll see. If I mark it for friends only, then you won't. It's a happy middle ground. I'm getting a little off track here. The point is that Facebook statuses have become the mark of what is real and what is not. Want to know where you stand with someone? Check Facebook. There's even the phrase for relationships, "It ain't official until it's Facebook official" or simply, FBO.

What people fail to realize is that it's not about Facebook. Friending or unfriending someone on Facebook is not the be all, end all to relationships, but it does mean something. 15 years ago we'd tell the world when we had a break up or a falling out or even on the good side of things and we'd do it with 900 phone calls. Now we have a new vehicle. It's mass marketing. Hey, for anyone interested, I'm in a relationship/my cat died/I dropped a 9 inch turd/I'm moving to Bolivia/etc. Saves time in our transient lives. It's also a voice for the voiceless. For people who have less interaction and don't hold the attention of others, it's a way to make a statement. Facebook aggregates the lives of so many people. The status isn't what's important. The action someone takes to change it, is.

I had 2 different FBO changes over the past couple of days. They are most certainly related and they are in opposite directions. Apparently, one begets the other. Here's the story. For many, many years I've known someone. We were never particularly close, but always friendly. Truthfully, this person was friends with my brother and since we knew each other we were Facebook friends. Back in September or early October, I guess, we got to chatting via some iPhone help and then continued chatting from there. There was a minor amount of flirting and a tentative plan to have a drink when I visit around Christmas. Not long after we began chatting there was a miscommunication and TWO very LOOOOONG conversations via text message about communication and feelings in depth about what was to come. That was, for me, insanity and way too deep for 2 people who only ever spoke when they happened to be in the same room, had recently started to speak independently and had nothing beyond tentative plans to have a drink, which could have just as easily been a session of catching up since I'm never in town. Things basically died on the vine right then and there.

Then I met Linda. Things have been great. We've been getting to know each other by talking nonstop. Lots in common. Lots of interest. Lots of fun. I saw her this past weekend and we had an amazing time. We had been waffling on the whole relationship title thing. Were we together before we met. We felt it and acted it, but the world wouldn't understand. Could we even say it on the first weekend or should we wait? It all revolved around what other people would think, which I rarely give a shit about, but going through the story over and over again seemed like a hassle so maybe we should play the game of society and say nothing for a while. By the end of the weekend, that wasn't an option. We were clearly an item, forsaken all others, and wanted the world to know all about it - more importantly, there was no sense in keeping quiet. So, we changed the Facebook status and began calling ourselves a couple and went FBO. Woohoo! I say that with partial sarcasm because it annoys me a little bit that Facebook has become the grand delineator for what qualifies as a relationship, yet it is what it is and I'm happy to be at that point with her.

Back to the first situation. She sells some costume type jewelry and I thought my mom may like some for Christmas, so I went to her page to check it out. To my surprise, I had been unfriended. I asked if there was a mistake and I was told that there was not and it was a purposeful action because of my new relationship. Apparently, my actions being told on Facebook were being thrown in the Face of the scorned and that led to the deletion. So that's what I meant when I said that one FBO action begot another. It happens from time to time. People are so very invested in relationships via Facebook that the actions they take speak loudly. It's not about the status, as I mentioned earlier. It's about that someone is using the current vehicle (Facebook) to deliver a message. Rather than ignoring, it becomes about screaming to the world that this person no longer qualifies to be in your circle.

Rather than just knowing that Linda and I are a happy couple, we proclaim it to the world for everyone's approval. We wonder why more people haven't "liked" it yet. There is no more activity that you know someone, you like them, you give them a call to say hello and grab a drink. Everything is so clearly defined all the time. The edges of relationships are hard lines, not shading and blending. You're friends or you're not. You're in a relationship or your not and it's all defined not only by how you feel, but also by whether or not you're Facebook official about it. This goes on with business associates on LinkedIn as well. "Ehh, yeah I worked with the guy, but I'm not sure I want to accept his request."

It's an interesting dynamic that has been added into relationships (of all types) in the social age. This is the first time that one FBO action created another FBO action for me though. It's interesting to me.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Nice Rug

I've been out of New Jersey for 8 and a half years and some things have changed. The big one that applies to this week is the NJ bear hunt. I have to say that I don't know much about the reasoning behind it beyond the little bit I see here and there. First things first, I have absolutely ZERO issue with it. I'm not moved in the least.

Growing up, I never saw a bear. Hearing about bears in our part of NJ never happened. To my knowledge there was no bear hunt at that time either. If there was, it wasn't well publicized like it is today. I tend to think it didn't even happen, but I could be wrong. Bears were not part of our life back then. Since that time, the numbers of their population have, obviously, been on the rise. I remember the first time a bear got stuck in a tree in Powder Mill (the neighborhood my parents live in, for those not from the area). It was big news. People were taking pictures, folks from all over came to see a bear in a tree in a residential area, and it took the police/forestry/whoever several days to get it down. By now, bears in the area aren't something people even bat an eye at. That, to me, means there are too many of them. When it happens so much that you inure yourself to the event, you become complacent. Maybe bears are naturally peaceful, but any animal, when provoked, will defend itself. Provocation can be anything. I don't know how a bear's mind works. Given the people, houses, cars, noises, etc, it's safe to say that NJ neighborhoods are not the natural habitat for bears. And let's face facts, even when provoked and angered, a squirrel will not eat your face. Maybe a bear will, maybe it won't; but it has the ability to.

Should we be decimating forests and creating living environments where bears once roamed freely? I don't know, probably not, but we're people. There's a hierarchy and a food chain here. We are above bears and other quadrupeds on that food chain. So if we need a place to live, then so be it. The anti-bear hunt movement people are certainly complaining from their homes, not a hut in the woods where they peacefully coexist with nature.

Bears pose a risk to people, end of story. Whether they are an actual risk at every moment is not the point. They are big and heavy with the capability to do damage to a person or a vehicle. They are not evolved and cannot communicate with us. We can't sit and come to a peaceful resolution with a bear. We have to protect ourselves and our children. It's a pretty simple equation.

The fact that there is a bear hunt week shows good planning. It is not open season all year round. You can't just run around town shooting every black, furry creature you find. It is right before hibernation season, which, I believe, is also gestation season for the females. In the spring there are hungry, sleepy-eyed bears looking for food. Let's make sure your 5-year old is not the nearest snack.

If having a week out of the year where we can hold a managed, planned event that helps thin the population of a potentially dangerous animal and protects our own species, then why not? Let's not also forget the one fact that the "save Yogi-ists" seem to overlook. We build. More buildings, concrete, roads, cars, etc. Less trees, bushes, berries, etc. Put those together and it's less food and living spaces for the bears. Then add in the fact that when a mama bear and a papa bear love each other very much they make little bears. More bears, less food. That means they're looking for YOUR porridge, even if it's in the cupboard. We are all aware that bears have a keen sense of smell, yes? Thinning the bear population not only protects people, but also allows the ones that live to have more at their disposal.

I'm not a hunter. I can't shoot and butcher a bear. I don't have the intestinal fortitude to do so. I am emotionally and morally equipped, just not digestively. If I had it in me to disembowel Winnie the Pooh, then I would. I'd certainly do that before I let him eat my trash, my flowers, my food, and my head. Plus, bear rugs are comfy.

Monday, December 05, 2011

See you soon

It's such a short and sweet saying. One filled with short term disappointment, but long term hope and something to look forward to. It's better than goodbye. When soon is defined (in my case 16 days), it should be easy. Knowing I'll see her soon, makes it bearable to een let her leave. Knowing that I have a mere 2 weeks of work before I'm home to my friends, my family and my Linda for Christmas is so much easier to swallow than 2 months, for example.

However, this morning I took her to the airport after a long weekend that was one of the best I can ever remember. We had so much fun, we're identical and, quite simply, perfect for each other. Whether we were people watching in New Orleans, drinking beer while watching the Jets game, curled up watching (and falling asleep to) a movie or having a spontaneous, pretend boxing match in the living room, it was all smiles and laughs. At one point, she caught a giggle fit that seems nearly uncontrollable and persisted for several minutes (spurred on by nothing, I might add).

Two weeks may not be a lot of time and it'll fly by. It's a blink in the scheme of things and will ne a non-entity in retrospect. My logic tells me to not really care about something so short. Plus any negativity associated with saying "see you soon" is simply because the weekend was so positive and awesome. That should be the focus. It should anyway.

But this morning when I hugged and kissed Linda goodbye and told her I'd see her soon, it felt awful. I wanted soon to mean "after work." I wanted soon to mean when she got home from shopping. I didn't want soon to be a euphemism for goodbye. And it's not goodbye, we know that. It's see you soon, but after the last few days I spent with her, soon is not soon enough. We spent every minute of the weekend together, excepting bathroom breaks, and it didn't feel like enough.

I've had other relationships. My friends have made it abundantly clear we all know I've even had other Lindas. It's always exciting and fun in the beginning. For me though, it's NEVER been so effortless and frictionless. It's never been without a little hiccup. It's never been impossible to find something we don't have in common. It's never been so perfect.

So, this time, saying see you soon, feels like an eternity. I know I'll be criticized by some and there's a contingent of people that look for opportunities to use my words to emasculate me. I've had my ups and downs and we all wait for that opportunity to arrive where soon is never soon enough. Mine is about to land in Houston airport, headed away from me and all I can do is convince myself that 16 days is soon.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

There's more than one level of government

Saw the following comment on Facebook yesterday. It was from a friend of a friend.

Okay, President OBama was here in Scranton.. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Let's see... What did that visit do for me??? Nothing.. Let's see, my county taxes are still going to go up, my City taxes are still going to go up, my salary/wages will remain right around the same, my utility bills are all going up, I still have friends and family who are unemployed and struggling.... Well, is his visit historical??? YES! Is his visit going to impact me or the people I love in any way, shape or form? NO!! So, do I care? NO!! I'd rather meet Robert DeNiro. :)))..

Another case of ignorance. In what world the President of the United States of America deal with municipal or county issues such as taxes or even at all? City taxes? I'm sure the president is going to work his way across every city in America helping plan for city and county taxes. As far as her salary remaining the same... of course it is. The president cycling through town isn't going to bring wages up or hand out promotions. Did you do anything to get promoted? Did you perform better, learn more, work harder, gain any additional capabilities or otherwise earn more money? Utility bills are going up because there's a nationwide, nay a worldwide, energy crisis as we use more and more without making more resources and, subsequently deplete the source of all of this. Supply and demand.

Friends and family are struggling and unemployed? Isn't this something that he's tried to address? I don't like the guy, we all know this, but I can't believe that you think after one visit to a town, he's going to fix it all, and you condemn him for not making sweeping changes to your sleepy little Pennsylvania town. And by making this ignorant comment you are certainly not making it better. His visit COULD impact your town, but it's not going to all by itself. Should you care? Yes. He's the most important man in the world, by virtue of his title.

Sitting around posting on Facebook about all the reasons why it was worthless and how you don't care will breed nothing but more negativity and ignorance. This is the shit I've been talking about with everyone lately.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scrutinize yourselves

I just read that Herman Cain may be dropping out of the presidential race. Apparently, there has been another round of allegations of sexual misconduct. I don't know what the deal is. Frankly, I've paid very little attention to the candidates this time around. I know I'm very political but I don't see politics in politicians anymore. I see commercials, money and smear campaigns. I don't know what they stand for, and neither to do you. They stand for what you want them to until they get elected. They're all crooked.

Anyway, Herman Cain has been accused of harassing women over and over, to varying degrees. I have a huge problem with that and hate the fact that he may be dropping out of the race over it. I'm not particularly a Cain supporter. I support everyone's right to see their dream and run for office if they damn well choose. I don't support money hungry assholes trying to snake a free lunch out of the guy. Maybe he's the best guy for the job. Maybe he's decent. Maybe he's just enough to be a good competitor. I haven't a clue.

What I do know is that all of the women that claim he harassed them in one form or another, all claim it happened years and years ago. Where were you then? Why didn't you say anything when it happened? Does the phrase "speak now or forever hold your peace" mean anything to you? Some women say, "we were afraid then." So now that the guy is nearly a household name campaigning for the presidency and on the verge of having tons of power, you're no longer afraid compared to when he was a relative nobody?

And how many does this latest one make anyway? 4? 5? More? Are you telling me that he went around harassing a handfull of women (pun intended) and nobody found out, not even once? They didn't come out with it and he didn't slip up and get caught all on his own. And then he just stopped because, as far as I know, nobody has come out and said anything about any recent events.

So you knew Herman Cain a while back. So maybe he made a pass at you. Maybe he asked you up to his apartment after a drink. Maybe he did something that you once didn't like but it didn't mean all that much to you. But now he's running for the Republican ticket to try to become the President of the United States of America and you bottom feeding, sons of bitches need to drag him down. You need to get your 15 minutes of fame (by looking like an asshole), grab a few bucks of hush money, and ruin his career. He beat you to the punch, quit possibly. Before you got the chance to destroy him, he's all but totally decided to drop his bid anyway.

And what if these harassment and adultery charges are true but he can fix the country? What is more important? We have ridiculously high unemployment rates, no money, a rising deficit, war, and a million other problems and you give a shit if he grabbed the ass of a woman that's not his wife. Is the honest, faithful candidate (if that exists) going to be able to fix our issues? I'm not saying that Cain can. I haven't a clue. But who are YOU to decide he can't? And if you think he can't - vote against him. Don't tear down his character.

The bottom line is that I think you are all full of shit. I think you are bottom feeding, money grubbing, coattail riding, filthy, moral-less, assholes that just want your slice of the pie the easy way. I know nothing about the guy, but I think he's innocent. There's no way so many women were harassed and NOBODY said a word, he NEVER got himself caught and this went on for years. I don't buy it.

Quit casting stones and try casting a vote.

Too big to ignore

With so much changing in my near and midrange future, I can't help but think about events in the country and world over the past few years, especially the fall of 2008. It is particularly troubling for someone preparing to restart life geographically and professionally. As a business owner, it is that much worse. The economic events were so vast and deep that I am continually amazed that nobody saw it coming.

When we look at what actually took place, it is all so simple. Everything we did was predicated on the fact that the price of houses would never go down, yet we did everything in our power to drive them down, even if not purposely. Saturation of areas with houses and constant buying and selling invoked the law of diminishing return and an inflation at a rate that no balloon could possibly withstand without popping.

I speak often of intentionality and while it may not have been in the plan for bankers to disrupt and freeze credit, they plan of making more and more money alarmingly fast had so much collateral damage that there was no way it could have been prevented - once the ball got rolling anyway. There was so much greed and grandeur on Wall Street that even capitalists with deeply rooted beliefs, such as myself, cannot begin to imagine the soulless actions that went on. People can say that the homeowners should have known better than to buy a house they couldn't afford and definitely should have known better than to leverage that dollar and tack on a boat and a college tuition. One dollar cannot go three ways and still be worth a dollar each time. Yet, when the average Joe is handed the American dream by a professional, it is likely that "Joe" will put heartfelt trust in the answer and go with it.

The reason these Americans lost their homes, really is their own faults and it's not because they believed the banks. It's deeper than that. It's the lack of information I speak about so often. To this day, I can name, probably on one hand, but definitely no more than both, the amount of people that can explain how the greed that led to bundled mortgage backed securities, insuring the sold off slices and moving the risk of their books as well as the arrogance of AIG nearly sent us into the depression of the 1930s at an unfathomable speed (obviously generalized and truncated for this post).

What may be even more upsetting is how many people not only do not know what happened, but are grossly unaware of how close we all came to it. If I told the population at large that we were 5 days away from having no economy left, what would they say? Would they know that was the case or even believe me? Would they understand the concept of a credit freeze so sweeping that trucks stopped moving, shelves stopped getting stocked, things and money literally disappeared. A post-apocalyptic country would have emerged. January 2009 would have marked the beginning of a decades-long recession.

It's not that hard of a concept. The Street has been running on emotion and not on numbers for as long as I can remember and probably longer than that. No bank in the world can honor its debts if all creditors made a run on it. It's all based on trust and banks trust in each other. The absorption in our own personal worlds creates our own success bubble where we mostly don't think about all the moving parts involved. But all these moving parts have a profound impact on our own personal success bubbles. Our knowledge is limited to the news ticker on the bottom of the news channel that we see as we fill our coffee mugs and begin our transient day.

Our lack of information enabled all of this. I'm not exonerating the guilty parties, but it's hard for people to be guilty of immoral practices without people who conduct business with them. It's not entirely dissimilar to Nigerian scam artists "just trying to get your help moving money." They are wrong for doing it, but if you don't see yourself getting fleeced then you have enabled them to a large extent and should not have handed over money to a total stranger. How did you not see that coming?

So thanks to the greed of the bankers and the ignorance of the average American, my future success is potentially muted. I'll overcome the obstacles, whatever the cost. The point is, that I shouldn't have to. So America... read a fucking newspaper, balance a checkbook and pay attention to the world around you once in a while.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Automatically cut his salary

So President Obama says he will do nothing to stop these automatic budget cuts. I'm no stranger to the need to save money in my personal life and I can't begin to truly fathom what it would take to get the United States out of this mess. Frankly, I'm not interested in what or who caused it anymore. It's here. Plain and simple.

Because Congress is incapable of doing anything right at this point, they failed to come to a solution to out deficit issues. Automatic budget cuts will go into place. Things are going to get slashed across the board, but the thing about automatic is that the actions are not weighed and considered. It's automagic. This is not a time to make brash moves. Let's consider, for once, the consequences of our actions.

To that end (and I'm admittedly biased about this), the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta made a statement. He said, "If Congress fails to act over the next year, the Department of Defense will face devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation's defense." To that a scorned President replied, much like a kid denied a lollipop, that he would veto any measure taken to circumvent the automatic cuts. This will, in effect, create "a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned," to use more of Panetta's words.

As someone who has spent time in a variety of military locations both domestically and overseas, I can tell you that we need the money. There is never enough. Our national security deserves the best at all times. I've seen soldiers without enough body armor before convoys. I've seen training suffer. I've seen students piling up crammed into small rooms because we cannot pay people. There is a bubble developing in the training pipeline that will create a force lopsided in terms of rank and hierarchy which will persist for many years to come.

All of that aside, how can anyone not see the importance of money spent on national defense. Should all the "We will never forget" bumper stickers be replaced with "September what?" Have we forgotten that the horrific 9/11 attacks were the second try by these pieces of shit on THAT location. Does February 26, 1993 ring a bell for anyone? A truck bomb in the underground parking lot of the North Tower of the World Trade Center went off, but the building stood. The destruction was minimal so they came back for more. Do you think they're done?

Do you think that the beefs with North Korea, Iran, Syria, Egypt will subside and there will peace and happiness in the world? If you buy that, I have a bridge you can buy. This was supposed to be posted a few days ago, but I got sidetracked and lost my train of thought. There is a good by-product of that though. Between the start of it and now was Black Friday. The heaviest day for consumerism and shopping. Some of the videos and news associated are the exact reasons the rest of the world hates us. Materialistic, shallow needs for possessions is not something that is agreeable to our enemies. The point is that without protection, we are going to have a major problem.

Our military is the greatest in the world. It has created and protected us for over 200 years. It also has helped out the rest of the world in times of need. We cannot cripple it with budget cuts. Find other ways to save money. Congressional salaries for starters. How about the presidential salary? What the hell does he have to pay for anyway? The man has no expenses.

All I know is that automatic budget cuts that erode the foundation of protection this country has relied on for so many years is disgusting and needs to be completely rethought.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spreading joy via the evil corporations

It's Thanksgiving night and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. I have an amazing family and wonderful friends. I have a good job. I have been very blessed in many ways. I understand that many are less fortunate than I am. I also would love to help every person who has had bad luck befall them. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to do that. I heard something tonight that infuriates me more than anything else. Actually, it's two things.

First of all, Facebook is full of people complaining about the Black Friday hours. I have worked from 4:30am until midnight in a retail location. It's long. It's hard. I get that. But to bitch and moan and have arguments amongst friends about who has it worse, is so ridiculous. You know who has it worse? The people who can't get a job. The people who can't pay the rent and keep the lights on. You don't like retail? Get a learned trade. Get an education. Get some motivation and drive and learn to monetize your passion. Find a way to change your circumstances. OR OR OR OR... be the 1 in almost 10 who don't have a job. It's Thanksgiving. Be thankful that you have a job... and get your ass to work.

Here's the other thing. Apparently, people are outside stores picketing. It's a new sub-movement called "Occupy Black Friday." Their stupid ass signs say things like, "Stop supporting corporations, distribute your money among the poor." First of all, there are people, like those above, that have to work ridiculously long hours and it does suck. Those that are grateful for the opportunity, deserve the money they make. You don't deserve it for being outside with a fucking sign. Grow up and get a job. Apparently, there are people working that don't care to and maybe you can trade positions with them. Anyway, you clearly missed the point. People spend money, which stimulates the economy. It creates commerce and then the corporations make more money and make more products and the cycle goes around and around. I guess that's what pisses you off, but you missed a very key component to all of it. You see the whole thing as just a corporation, but let me ask you something - who do you think works in the corporations? Is it all fat cat rich people? Maybe there are the laborers who create the products in factories, drive the products to stores, stock them on shelves and ring them up. Maybe the people buying them are just poor people scraping to get by themselves and are pinching pennies to get gifts for their families.

Maybe, even if you had a legitimate cause, you're not going to be heard at Christmastime. It's not the time to pitch your silliness. It's Thanksgiving and people are doing Christmas shopping. People are joyful and buying presents to spread the joy. Stop pissing on everyone's parade and bringing your stupid fucking raincloud to a happy time. Get a job, buy something, spread some joy and stimulate the economy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Partisanship and employment

I'm tired of ranting and raving about Occupy Wall Street from a pure belief standpoint. I have mine, they have theirs and they will never see that mine are right. I'm not trying to be arrogant, but if I didn't believe mine were right, they wouldn't really be beliefs in the first place, would they? So I stand by my beliefs. We'll even call them convictions. I'm not wishy washy. However, being staunch is not enough to sell others on my position. So let's look at it in better, more factual detail, shall we?

Disclaimer: Nothing I say here speaks for the entire group. I also don't feel I'm making blanket statements. This is generalized simply to be able to keep it a reasonable length and I can't speak for individuals.

In looking at the overarching theme of how they feel (the protestors). They feel the rich get richer and the upper 1% has too much. They feel they are entitled to more opportunities. They want caps on the high and low end of the pay scale to minimize inequalities. Suffice it to say, none of them are extremely wealthy and self made millionaires. Many do not have jobs or, at a minimum, not full time, structured/rigid jobs. The principles of who they are and who they are fighting paint a clear distinction about partisanship. Would you say that these folks are closer to right wing, conservative, capitalist, big business loving, Republicans? Or do they fit the left wing, share for the common goal and greater good, everyone deserves a chance, help our fellow man, liberal, Democrats? I think we can all agree that they are, by and large, the latter.

Since we are speaking in large, generic polarized categories, let's continue that trend. Conservative Republicans will often gravitate toward more pragmatic degrees (B.S., M.S.) vs the loony lefty liberals who are generally more artsy (Bachelor of Arts) and lean toward careers that allow free expression. This is where this whole thing is leading to. Careers, success, and employment. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce has compiled data to see the employment rate by major. Keep in mind that across the board, the unemployment rate (as of October 2011) was 4.4 for people with a college degree (inclusive to all levels of degree - Baccalaureate, Masters, Doctoral). Here is the list of the top 10 most employed major from least unemployed down:

1. Actuarial Science - 0 percent
2. Astonomy and Astrophysics - 0 percent
3. Educational Administration and Supervision - 0 percent
4. Geological and Geophysical Engineering - 0 percent
5. Pharmacology - 0 percent
6. School Student Counseling - 0 percent
7. Agricultural Economics - 1.3 percent
8. Medical Technologies Technicians - 1.4 percent
9. Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology - 1.6 percent
10. Environmental Engineering, Nursing, and Nuclear Industrial Radiology and Biological Technologies - 2.2 percent

There are the top 10 most employed majors. The least employed of that list is half of the percentage of college grads unemployed overall. 9 of those 10 are very specifically scientific, measurable, fact based majors. No expression. No art. They are jobs that require people to show up at a certain time, meet measureable standards and performance benchmarks. Not dissimilar from the structured, numerical world of banking and finance. The only one that stands out among the rest is School Student Counseling; however, I would be willing to bet that the 0 percent belongs to those who have gone past a 4-year degree. More education ups the chances of continued employment, of course.

The Center also has found that all these scientific degrees will earn significantly more money. One such example is that a petroleum engineer major will make three times as much, over a lifetime, than that of a psychology major. The psychologist/counselor has less risk, which means they will make less money but a higher guarantee of it - once employed. Still a 0 percent unemployment rate for 5 scientific degrees sounds like a worthwhile effort.

At the end of the day, all of this data leads to one meaning - inferred or stated. Scientific, numerical, data based, technology, banking or similar career paths will always provide a greater chance of professional and financial success. Even for those who have chosen to skip the degree process and choose to work from the ground floor in these industries, it is a better bet than being on the other side. This is not my personal partisanship. I'm not going to strap a dead panda to the front of a Lincoln Navigator and run over every liberal artist I can find. I'm taking a stance based on real data from Georgetown (not a fly-by-night organization).

So OWSers, you want change. Here's a suggestion, make it happen. The choice is yours. The programs are available. The information is publicized. Want the money? Make, don't take, the money. Once you have it, use it for good not evil like you believe everyone in lower Manhattan is doing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OWS demands and commentary

Here is what the OWS movement has decided they want. This is not an official list. This is built from items submitted by members of the movement so far. I've provided commentary on each. Enjoy the show.

- Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. Unionize ALL workers immediately.
Not all workers WANT to be unionized. Forcing a union on people is the same as banning unions for the people that it makes sense for.

-Raise the minimum wage immediately to $18/hr. Create a maximum wage of $90/hr to eliminate inequality.
And who is paying for this. Is the profit margin at Office Depot high enough to pay the 16 year old stocking printer ink $18 per hour? Or will Office Depot have to double the price to account for that. It's already cheaper to buy a printer than to refill the ink in some cases. That's just one example. What about people that respond to "CLEANUP IN AISLE 6" when some numbnuts kid knocks pickles off the shelf? $18/hour to push a mop. Makes perfect sense to me.

-Institute a 6 hour workday, and 6 weeks of paid vacation.
$18 an hour to NOT work for 6 weeks? Employers have no discretion anymore? I'm not sure I even understand the purpose of this one. They want opportunity but don't want to work for it? "We want jobs, but we don't want taxing hours. Let's make it easy." It's not supposed to be easy... it's WORK!

- Institute a moratorium on all foreclosures and layoffs immediately.
So if people can't pay their mortgages, they should do what? Just keep the house? For free? No layoffs? How is a business going to buy products to sell if they're paying all of their employees and bills and having a hard time selling what they already have in inventory?

-Repeal racist and xenophobic English-only laws.
In Italy, they speak Italian. In Germany, they speak German. The language of this country is English. I'm well aware it is not declared as an official language, but let's face facts, it damn well should be. Or pick a new language. Make it Spanish for all I care. I'll learn it if that's the way it goes. Making a standard makes it easier to communicate. It goes on in the tech world constantly. We institute a standard do everyone can interact and communicate.

- Open the borders to all immigrants, legal or illegal. Offer immediate, unconditional amnesty, to all undocumented residents of the US.
The borders are open. People can come in, just like my family did. Sign a paper, become a citizen. Have some allegiance. Nothing wrong with that. Amnesty for illegal residents makes NO damn sense. If they are illegal, then they've broken a law. I want to drive a car with no license. I'll be an illegal driver. Give me amnesty. You can't do shit to me. At that rate, let's just dump laws altogether if there's no accountability for them.

- Create a single-payer, universal health care system.
It would be awesome to have 20%+ sales tax to cover that cost. I mean I totally want to pay $7 for a half gallon of milk so someone who doesn't work, feeds off the system and has no moral compass can stay healthy. This it takes a village to insure a lazy sack of shit doesn't work with me. I work. I'm compensated. You work. You're compensated. No such thing as a free lunch or free healthcare.

- Pass stricter campaign finance reform laws. Ban all private donations. All campaigns will receive equal funding, provided by the taxpayers.
So if I make a ton of money and become Oprah rich and truly firmly believe in a candidate, I can't support him/her?

- Institute a negative income tax, and tax the very rich at rates up to 90%.
To become the super rich, you have to be educated and a hard worker. Bottom line, the lazy ones that work 15 hours per week or can't spell the word spell, don't make millions. So those that learn a business, get educated, put in 80 hours per week and rise to become the cream of the crop should be taxed 90 cents on the dollar. At that rate, they won't be the super rich and end up in the negative income tax bracket. Additionally, negative income tax? So these people should work at low paying jobs at less hours a week and be rewarded for their efforts? Produce and contribute and be rewarded.

- Pass far stricter environmental protection and animal rights laws.
I won't even argue this one. I agree with the concept and the demand is very vague, so we will see how it plays out.

- Allow workers to elect their supervisors.
This may reduce the number of Peter Principle-esque bosses out there and that's not the worst thing in the world, however, this is a stupid solution overall. You already have that right. Are you a slave? No. Don't like your boss? Quit. Start a company. Be your own boss? Don't know how? Should have gotten educated. Can't afford it? Grants, loans, scholarships. You can get SOME FORM OF EDUCATION, you ignorant asshole.

- Lower the retirement age to 55. Increase Social Security benefits.
Oxymoron. Social Security is hemorrhaging money as it is. People are living longer. Starting them earlier with more money is impossible. That's like opening the drain, lowering the faucet and expecting the sink to fill.

- Create a 5% annual wealth tax for the very rich.
Define very rich and tell me where the money will be appropriated to and we'll see.

- Ban the private ownership of land.
Dumbest combination of words in the English language. I refuse to dignify this with a response.

- Make homeschooling illegal. Religious fanatics use it to feed their children propaganda.
I actually support it 10000% but for different reasons. School teaches more than books. It teaches social maturity, interaction, how to learn, how to teach, how to be a person in a multi-cultural society. I do not support homeschooling. I know more than one person homeschooled so I don't judge them, but in concept, I'm not a supporter.

- Reduce the age of majority to 16.
There are 18 year olds joining the military now that I wouldn't trust with a sling shot let alone a gun. You want to lower the bar? If a student can't pass a test, the fail. We don't write a test they can pass. Rebuilding the system doesn't work. Lowering the bar doesn't work.

- Abolish the death penalty and life in prison. We call for the immediate release of all death row inmates from death row and transferred to regular prisons.
Because people that are on death row are just misunderstood? Some people are bad eggs. Not everyone is capable of being rehabilitated. Abolish the death penalty? Maybe. Life in prison? Better not do it, some people don't belong in society; they are just dangerous.

- Release all political prisoners immediately.
Purpose?

- Immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Do me a favor and pull the emergency brake in the car while going 90 mph down the highway. Let me know if you have a smooth exit from the vehicle.

- Abolish the debt limit.
Germany and Austria are establishing debt limits because they see how that'll save them and you want to get rid of ours? Let's just keep piling up the debt. Let's never make good on what we owe. Forget reconciling and being positive. Borrow, borrow, borrow. Until we are borrowing on (and losing) YOUR money. Then you'll be PISSED!

- Ban private gun ownership.
Constitutionally protected right. Part of the values this country was founded on. This is not a change to a rule. This is an effort to turn this country into a different country. If you hate this country so much, there's a much easier solution - MOVE THE FUCK SOMEWHERE ELSE.

- Strengthen the separation of church and state.
Fair enough. My religion is not your religion, but my state is your state. Nothing against Jewish people, but I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. I don't feel that a Menorah should be on top of a public building either. However, putting a cross on the side of the road where a Christian person died in an accident is not the state on a crusade for Christianity (pun intended). It's commemorating the life of a Christian that has died and the state is not involved. Free exercise of religion, brother. You should be looking at traffic and not the trees anyway. Mind your business sound familiar?

- Immediate debt forgiveness for all.
While I would personally love this because nobody WANTS to owe anything, it goes back to personal accountability. You spent it, you pay it. That's a choice. You didn't NEED the TV, you chose to buy it. I have absolutely ZERO DOLLARS in necessary debt. Whatever I owe comes from choices.

-End the 'War on Drugs'.
So now the super rich are paying for degenerates to have better, legal drugs. They are unhealthy. They are destructive. If you want to smoke crack in your apartment and fry your brain all day, I'm all for it. That's less of you wackos to make lists like that. However, when the drug addiction becomes greater and money gets slimmer, you have to venture outside to get your fix. Too often, a step in that process requires the violent acquisition of that money. Now your problem becomes someone else's problem. Cannot work.

I know I wanted a list. I wanted to see their goals. Now I'm sorry I did. Actually, scratch that. This list is amazing. It is SO farfetched that I cannot imagine anyone taking it seriously.

Ideas for additional items:
- Make the moon be ACTUALLY made out of cheese.
- Cats should have opposable thumbs.
- Polar bears should come in more colors.
- Bring back the Delorean car (with or without a Flux Capacitor, your choice).

We can ask for any ridiculous thing at this point. Thank you OWS for writing your list from so far out in left field that you are now a joke.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The new generation of choice

Pepsi said it was the choice of a new generation. That's my generation. Personally, I chose Coke, but that's neither nere nor there. They were right about one thing. It was a new generation and choice was a key word there. We have been given more choices than any other generation - in all areas of life, including the choice to take no responsibility, have no accountability, shift the onus or pass the buck. Maybe I was just lucky in how I was raised, but I don't do that. Not to day I've never done that, but when I did I was young. I didn't know better. I was an adolescent. If you want to compare my mistakes as a teenager to those of adults, go for it, but it doesn't help your case.

Maybe it is not  ALL our fault. We are, after all, products of the Baby Boomer generation. They had more to give and subsequently we got spoiled in a way no generation prior to us ever had. But surely, we can't place all the blame above us. I had too much. I won't lie. I was spoiled at every turn. When I was younger I took that for granted and didn't appreciate it, but how many 14 year olds do? The sense of entitlement plaguing my generation is what gives the rest of them this "right," in their own minds to deserve everything, sometimes without working for it or putting anything in.

I saw a sign held up by someone that spoke of the debt generation. He was $80,000 in debt and said now he'll never be able to pay it off. He chose to take that money. It didn't arrive in his bank account unexpectedly. This is not the first five minutes of the movie "Eagle Eye." I don't know his choice of major for school or if he even finished his degree, but if it's in something that ends in B.A. the chances are that he will have a harder time paying that off. It's not that I have no respect for the arts, but it's fact that unless you catch a big break, they are generally (overall, averaged) not as lucrative.

You know what is? Being a doctor. These are the people that don't have choices in their tough times ahead. One of my best friends is just about tying up his 16 year process of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He's not wiping snotty noses. He builds and fixes bones. He is fortunate in that he's a huge nerd and has had scholarships for most of his time spend in academia so his loans are minuscule compared to some others. Regardless, he should have been living high on the hog within a couple of years and taking his best friend on vacation, right? Instead, let's take a magic carpet ride through the mentalities and choices that leave him worried about finances with a wife and child - as an ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON.

The liberal, commie, pinko, hippies want everyone to feel better and be ok. Everyone deserves a fair shot and equal treatment (wrong. Jim busted his ass for 16 years to have more. Not everyone is equal). So we give away healthcare to people that are breaking the law by sneaking in - that costs money. The cost is going up to doctors, more and more people don't have the money to pay it, they lean on insurance companies who can't keep up. They are paying less to doctors and the docs have to eat the rest. Of course, the hospital wants their cut. The average Joe gets all he or she needs, the insurance company gets to pay less since they have no damn premiums coming in with everyone shaking them down for free healthcare and the highly trained, brilliant, educated doctor is left holding Herman. Let's not even talk about the price of malpractice insurance that doctors have to carry because people sue every time they see the doctor for a cold and sneeze once afterwards (must be the doctors fault for not curing them, SUE SUE SUE).

You chose to get that degree in philosophy. You chose to go for psychology which can make tons of money, but stop after a Bachelors degree. The Ph.D. at the end of the name of every psychologist means you need to stay in school to make money on it. You chose a career path with no ROI. You spent and overspent by going to a school you couldn't afford. Why should the government pay your way out of your debt? If you commit a crime, should the community do your time?

Let's also keep in mind that functioning, productive members of society take drug tests to get and keep a job. Welfare recipients don't have to. I have held a security clearance for almost a decade and have never been in a lick of trouble, yet I have to prove myself several times a year to the government that has approved and vetted me in every other way. These people can show up, grab a check for doing absolutely nothing and have no accountability for their actions in between.

I support small businesses. I'm going to make one. We will sell candles that smell like dog shit. When it doesn't do well, I want the general public to rally around me and pay my debts, even though everyone told me it was a disgusting idea and would never work. Fair?

I want to take a job that doesn't pay as much as bankers, complain how much the bankers are making, threaten to block them so they can't get to work, shit in a privately owned park, create the need for extra police, strike their vehicle and complain when I get my ass beat, file for an injunction when the city has me removed from someone else's private property and at no point try to find a solution. At a minimum, were they ever going to outline their requests and fight appropriately or just run around and bitch. Did anyone have a clear plan or organization?

I made bad choices and got thrown out of college. I went to community college and worked my way back up to NYU. I had a great job that I lost. Whose fault? My fault. The economy was bad, but not EVERYONE got fired. I could have done something better to ensure I held my spot. I went from the New York Stock Exchange and New York University to Best Buy and Berkeley College (the little shitty one in Paterson, NJ). But I didn't stop. I took my lumps and moved on. Now I'm in the United States Air Force. I made a choice to get shelter, income, benefits, education and training. Never asked to have it handed to me.

There may not be any honor in flipping burgers, but there's honor in working for yourself if that's what it takes. Make a choice to be a better person. Make a choice to change your world and enlarge your territory. Make a choice to be an active participant in taking the blame as well as the credit when the pendulum of life swings either way.

At the end of the day, your life is your own. Take control of it and make it what you want. Take the credit when it goes well. Take the blame when you fuck up. It is what it is. Nobody else will be there to fix it for you. People will show up every day to help fix it WITH you, but it's your life and ultimately you are responsible. Hate that the bankers make that money. Feel it should be distributed differently? Become one and affect change from the inside. Or just give your millions away. Don't be mad at them. They recognized a piece of the system that would reward them handsomely for their efforts. They're shady and slimy, but that's the business and they're using it to their advantage. Kudos to them for recognizing the opportunity. They're not the ones shitting in the park with no place else to go, no job that'll have them.

Questions to the OWSers:
- When you put Zucotti Park on your resume who will hire you? The big businesses you fought against or the small business you negatively affected by your presence?
- If a small business hires you, will you take the job or do you deserve more than the man/woman with their life savings invested and more sweat equity in it than there are turds in Zucotti Park?
- If a big business hires you, will you take the job because you need the money and risk being a hypocrite or will you stand your ground and be broke, making another choice but blaming the system?
- Will you reprimand your Oakland counterparts for making weapons and helping ruin your "peaceful" demonstration?

Pepsi or Coke - working or broke. The choices are yours and yours alone. Make them, stand by them and work with them to achieve your goals. The world is NOT your oyster boys and girls. It doesn't spit pearls at you. You must make it happen. I wish you luck. I want everyone to be successful. I'd help you all if I could, but first... you must help yourselves.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

We all have to grow up someday

On the heels of last night's blog, I got to thinking a little more about the protestors and then I spoke to my buddy about it this morning. What I didn't know was a story about a Boston restauranteur who was doing very well so he opened a restaurant in Manhattan. Unfortunately, it's only a couple of blocks from Zucotti Park. The "civil" protestors that have been living in tents have not installed indoor plumbing. So they've been shitting in the park. That's pleasant, right? That means that lots of local businesses have been suffering. This restaurant owner has lost so much traffic that he had to lay people off.

I'm not talking about the big businesses. These are small business owners, not titans of industry. These are the people the protestors claim to represent - the American working man not getting his share. Meanwhile, they are on the way to putting some of these folks out of business. That seems counter productive.

Speaking of counter... let's look at the counterculture of the 60's. Timothy Leary and his "turn on, tune in, drop out" mantra had everyone questioning authority and doing their own thing. People bucked the system and roamed around a la Jack Kerouac. They took drugs, hitchhiked and lived off of whatever they could get their hands on. They added nothing to the system, BUT... they expected nothing in return either. That's the difference. And look at those people and who they became. They are the bankers of today. My father hung out on the corner of Haight and Ashbury. Then he grew up and worked on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway.

I just started a small business that markets primarily, for now, to small businesses. And they are doing well and we are on our way to do well. There's room for the average working man to make his way and do well. It just takes work. Something this spoiled generation isn't prepared to do. It's because we spoil our kids constantly. We give them ribbons and medals for losing and we don't keep score. If you never had your heartbroken you won't appreciate love. If you've never been broke, you can't be thankful for success. The balance between good and bad is important. It helps us appreciate.

I'm sorry you're in debt with school loans. I respect higher education, but it was your choice. My father went to school at night for 6 years while married. You took a $100,000 loan to do it in 4 years? Your choice. Going to a top notch school that you couldn't afford - your choice. Choosing to take loans instead of grants - partially your choice (not everyone gets approved for all grants).

And at what point did you think a philosophy degree was a good idea? Being a philosopher has never paid the bills. So what do you do with a degree like that? You teach a bunch of folks the the theory. Then they teach people. And so it goes. Like a giant liberal arts multi-level marketing pyramid. I'm calling it "Amway for hippies." it might actually be worse than that. It's all built on perceived value rather than real, usable skills. It's like a Ponzi scheme for empty headed liberals who can't find work and protest those who can.

No free lunches. Profound thought doesn't keep the lights on. Quit shitting in the park, get a job ans distribute your own wealth. Until you contribute to what comes in, you can't decide what goes out and where. You are all the equivalent of a spoiled, petulant child mixed with an entitled soon-to-be ex-wife. You don't get half my shit and whining makes it more likely you'll catch a smack than anything.

GET. A. JOB.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fate or chance?

There was a time when I got sucked into all the new-agey crap about The Secret and the universe giving me whatever the hell I wanted just because I willed it to happen. I clung to the idea that everything that showed up in my life wasn't a coincidence, but rather some immeasurable attraction based on nonexistent radio waves coming out of my brain. I guess I was in a place where I didn't know how to achieve the things I wanted so I convinced myself that I could use some kind of universal magnetism to bring them to me. That's almost like subscribing to some mystical Laissez-faire attitude that physics and hard work don't apply to my world because the universe provides. It really all sounds kinda desperate. Looking back at The Secret I feel as if I was in the outer space version of Occupy Wall Street - Occupy the Universe.

Now I'm in a place where I bust my ass to get the things I want. I work hard at my job, I'm starting my company, my money is in order and none of it has to do with the universe. It's all about reaping the benefits of my hard work. If I don't pitch clients, I can't sign clients. If I don't deliver, they will take their business elsewhere. If I don't show up to work and do what's expected of me, I won't get to keep my job then I can't pay my bills and I'll have no electricity. There are direct, measurable cause and effect actions out there. This is why I hate the OWS movement. Consider all the money the bankers make and will continue to make because they are at work doing what they do all day every day. Consider the occupiers on the street. Collectively, how many hours have been spent? Multiple that by a decent wage and imagine how much money they could have made. Have you heard that the corporate greed mongers are looking out of their windows betting on who gets arrested next? Say what you will about the cops and their behavior, but the truth of the matter is that those who are at work on Wall Street aren't getting arrested. They are too busy earning money. The OWS nutjobs are spending taxpayers money with the increase police presence.

The interesting thing is that none of that is why I'm writing this. It is all just support for the real story. I realized today that I hate OWS just a little less. They want everyone to share success and as socialist as that sounds, I have shared a success from their efforts. See... it started a couple of weeks ago. A friend of mine posted some nonsense defending these lunatics on Facebook. Naturally, I couldn't resist responding to him. We got into a friendly debate. Out of nowhere a friend of his chimed in with the exact same position I have. Seeing the amazing logic of this person, I had to take a closer look. Imagine my surprise when I saw that this person of sound mind was also a Jets fan. Now I know there's a good head on those shoulders. What's more is that this person happens to be the kind of beautiful that stops you in your tracks when you see her. Wait a minute. Is this really a knockout, conservative, Jets fan? Sure is. What do I do? Reference her taste in football teams in a seemingly innocuous flirt that actually got her attention.

The next day, I have a Facebook friend request from the Jets fan beauty. I fire off an email to say hi and break the ice. The subsequent chain of events has both of us still a little dizzy and surprised. It starts on Facebook with messages. Then it goes to text messages. Then we're talking on the phone. Next thing I know, we are in, nearly, constant contact. There is something real brewing here. And you know what? I'm not complaining one bit. I think it's awesome and so does she. We laugh at the same stuff; we're annoyed by the same stuff. We want the same stuff. We formed an instant connection. The future is long and uncertain. Nobody can say they KNOW what will happen, but... we can feel and sense what we think will happen. I'll let it unfurl and not say anything, but it's all good stuff for sure.

So what has that got to do with The Secret? Despite my feeling that I can't will anything to happen and I can't attract it into my life I sometimes wonder if Linda (Yes her name is Linda. Yes I know. Please don't say it) coming into my life was not coincidence. I wonder if something somewhere helped arrange it. It just seems too strong of a coincidence and too random and we have too much in common for it to be happenstance. I don't really believe in fate, but some things are inexplicable and bigger than a random crossing. I'll never know what made 2 people so alike (and subsequently so happy to be around each other) end up meeting in the most random of ways. It'll always be a mystery. Here's the thing. I don't care WHY. The ends justify the means. How it happened is not nearly as important as the fact that it actually happened. We will see where this adventure takes us, but I'm a betting man and I bet it'll be somewhere great.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ellen Degeneres pissed me off

I had HBO on and an Ellen Degeneres stand up special came on. She led with a statement that it was hard for her to want to do a stand up special and it is emotional because of the tough journey since she made the decision to come out. Quite frankly, I had long since forgotten she is gay. I don't care that she's gay, just as I wouldn't care if she was straight. If she, and others like her, feel like they are under a microscope for being gay, QUIT BRINGING IT UP.

If I was a stand-up comedian or in the spotlight for any reason and opened with a statement that I'm straight, nobody would care. OK, people haven't always felt that way about homosexuals. And when it was particularly bad, homosexuals would stay closeted. As time marches on, less and less people care about the sexual orientation of others. I'm not gay. I don't want to be gay. I don't want to be hit on by someone who is gay because that's not my way. However I don't give a shit if you're heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, asexual, pansexual or any other kind of sexual is out there.

All people (of different gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin etc) want is to be accepted. They just wan to be exist. Bottom line is that not EVERYONE is going to accept you for you so stop highlighting the issue that separates you. In some cases, you're creating one. In some cases, you're actually alerting people to what makes you different and drawing the line in the sand yourself. Everyone knew about Ellen Degeneres. You came out. Congratulations. It was hard and a big deal... THEN. Now it's over.

When she said it, my first thought was, here we go. You're unfunny in the first place so you're going to win people over with this shit. Nobody cares. Then it got worse. She actually opened with that statement and then said this, "I knew that some people would want me to talk about it, some people would maybe not want me to talk about it and I went back and forth trying to decide - should I talk about it, should I not talk about it - and ultimately I decided - no, I don't want to talk about it." WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU JUST DID?

So now the entire audience is reminded and proud of you for coming out again. Those that agree are just smitted by your resolve to stay in show business. Those that disagree aren't offended enough because you played to them by saying you're not going to talk about it because some may not want you to.

You're a woman who likes women. Who cares? It's not like you're the first. You're certainly not the last. Just be yourself. If you're a comic, be funny. Don't draw sympathy. It's pretty pathetic. If you're not a comedian, still... just be you. The world doesn't need to know your business.

She said one more line before I bailed out. "It's been talked about enough." Apparently not because you keep bringing it up. And then I turned it off. She's not particularly funny in the first place and the "hey world look at me because I'm gay and came out." routine is an extreme turn off. Whatever your orientation is, it's YOURS. Leave us alone. I'm for gay rights, but gay pride is getting a little obnoxious now. If I held a straight parade I'd get crucified. But that's a topic for another day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Asshole%

Occupy Wall Street just pisses me off further and further every day. These people are pissed off at everyone with more money than them. Judging by the fact that they spend all day in the streets protesting, I'd say it's a safe bet that everyone will have more money than them in no time. In any event, they've taken their cause from one epicenter of money to another. The east coast based Occupy Wall Street has a left coast contingent called Occupy Hollywood. Let's bitch at all the actors that have too much money.

They are now calling celebrities the Asshole% for all the money they have. Guess what OWS/OH!! America is the cause of their money. We fund it. We buy tickets to movies and concerts. We watch the news and spew it all over social networking sites. We love a good scandal. We gobble up every possible way to scrutinize these individuals and fault them for what they have we gave them.

A blog called "But you're like really pretty" has gained attention in the past for its satire aimed at celebrities. It is a webcomic, published every Wednesday, that makes fun of every Hollywood scandal we can't seem to stop talking about. These comics have become the hood ornament for Occupy Hollywood and it has decided to weigh in on the topic.

Some of the actors/actresses it has addressed are:

  • Justin Bieber - "I'm 17 and worth 85,000,000. I am the asshole%. #occupyhollywood."
    • I find no talent in Justin Bieber. I've heard very little of his stuff, but what I have heard sounds to heavily processed that they can do that to anyone's voice to make it better. I was also singing about heartbreak at 14 so he's basically an asshole, HOWEVER, $85M worth of fans dig him. His money didn't fall from the sky.
  • Andersen Cooper - "Gay teenagers are being bullied everyday. Some are committing suicide. But I won't come out publicly. I am the asshole%. #occupyhollywood."
    • He's a news reporter that may or may not be gay. He's not obligated to come out publicly. Will it help young gay people? Maybe, but I can't see how. Does he feel he'd be hurting his life if he did? It seems so. I guess the point is that you think he's an asshole for doing what's best for himself first. We have to take care of ourselves. Kinda of like all the "occupiers" out there trying to get their piece of the pie.
  • Beyonce - "I'm pregnant with my first child. I am building the baby a 2,200 square ft nursery. I am the asshole%. #occupyhollywood."
    • You wouldn't do that if you could? Have you hard Beyonce sing or seen her dance? You want a piece of what she's got. Do what she does. Oh wait, you can't? Then you don't deserve it. It might be over the top - 2,200 sq ft is a house in itself - but she earned the right.
  • Lady Gaga - "I'm wearing meat on my head right now. I made $100,000,000 this year. I am the asshole%. #occupyhollywood."
    • What you may not know is that is Gaga started off normal with a little bit of a weird streak. Her first agent, based in Parsippany, NJ told her to play up the weird. She was initially resistant. He insisted the public would love it, she turned up the volume and people are waiting for her next stunt constantly. Whether it's a meat suit, a bubble dress, or her coming out of an egg, everyone wants to see what she'll pull next. And none of this behavior was her idea. It was the fact that everyone knows crazy Americans want it.
And my favorite...

  • Snooki - "I blackout every Thursday night on national television and make millions. SHOTS. SHOTS. SHOTS. I am the asshole%. #occupyhollywood."
    • I hate Snookie, the show, her castmates and everything about it. I think it's disgusting. I think it portrays my home in a bad light that is not indicative of the entire state - yet people from around the country don't know that, so Jersey Shore become the their only frame of reference. The cast is not even from New Jersey, to make it even less realistic. They do all the things they should be embarrassed about and get paid for all of it. It is disgusting behavior and I refuse to watch it. I won't support it. I rarely talk about it publicly. In the days of social networking and social media, I try not to use those words in a way that can be searched or indexed by marketers. Snooki is the asshole%, but we put her there so other than opinions, we can't try to stop it. Boycott is all you can do.
The whole point is that we create these by our attention, money, public admission of likes/dislikes, etc. Why didn't they make shows like this in the 1950's? Because it was inappropriate and nobody would go, they studio would shut down after going broke. Actors wouldn't get hired if they acted this way. People wouldn't spend the amount of money.

WE MADE IT ALL OK!! WE did. Not the actors. Not the studio. US. Don't like it? Fix it. Lobby for family values. Gather people to boycott the movies until Hollywood can't afford to pay people these sums of money anymore. Affect change. Don't picket and complain how stars spend the money we gave them. It's like buying me a painting for my birthday and complaining where I hang it in my house. It makes no sense.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy a job position

This Occupy Wall Street thing is getting out of hand. I'm not even sure what they stand for anymore. Is there an actual cause at this pont or are they just angry at everyone with disposable income over just about anything? They want the rich to pay more taxes, they're screaming down with corporate America, they're shitting on flags, one tackled a cop. I don't know what the hell is going on with these dopes.

Let's talk about taxes first. Just to be sure I'm not speaking on emotion, I did some research and math. What I have is cold, hard facts. Up through 2000, the wealthy paid 39.6% in taxes. Consider that. That's about 40 cents of every dollar made going to the government. In 2002 it dropped to 38.6%. However on the low end a new tax bracket was created. Where it was previously 15%, it was now 10%. Keep in mind that the highest bracket starts at $379,150 and doesn't stop. So $379k/year is considered the same level of wealth as $2 million or $50 million. Occupy Wall Street feels the rich aren't paying their share. They are paying a higher percentage of a higher number.

Now let's run the numbers. Round numbers like $100 being the high side and $25 being the low. The high pays that 40% and the low pays that 10%. 40% of $100 is $40. 10% of $25 is $2.50. So the rich guy is paying $40 in taxes and the not so rich guy pays $2.50. Who isn't doing their part? Now let's use some real numbers from the bracket structure. $379,150 and we'll take the 35% that it dropped to in 2003. That is a whopping $132,702.50. That's what that person pays in TAXES. Imagine that. They pay in taxes what many people make in a year. That is a shitload of money. $8500 is the high side of the low bracket at 10%. That's $850 paid. Now you tell me which person is going to help improve roads or buy books for schools. Honestly, how can you say that the rich aren't paying enough? What do you want? Half? More?

The other thing people have been saying is down with corporate America. They've been doing it from their iPhones and other smartphones. Some have been camping in Eddie Bauer tents and taking pictures with Canon cameras. All of these people are complaining about the greed of corporate America while using products and services from all the companies they claim to hate. In some case they were complaining specifically about a company while use its products. How does that make ANY sense at all?

One guy actually dropped his pants and shit on an American flag in the middle of the street. That's disgusting, it's unsanitary, it's disrespectful and disgraceful, it's nonsensical, and it should be treasonous. Ok the last one is just an opinion. But tell me how in the hell that was going to help his cause? And the people that are there saw that as a good idea. They are standing around in the picture laughing. If you hate America and all of its systems so badly, just leave. Canada gives away healthcare and charges tons of taxes. Does your shit make the rich pay more taxes?

One of these non-violent tackled a cop on Saturday. Granted, the've mostly been peaceful and this situation in particular is 100% unique, but do you know WHY? It happened. The protestors were about to get arrested en masse so he tackled a cop. Why were they about to get arrested? They weren't complying with an eviction request. Before you blame the government, consider the source of the eviction request. It was the owner of Zucotti Park. It's PRIVATE PROPERTY. As a result, the NYPD (who were heroes of the world for so many years) started to corral the protestors when some of them began pushing against the police officer's scooters. In what world is it smart to get physical with a cop? The whole thing escalate and, naturally, the Internet is saying the cops were brutal. Honestly, the whole thing was over the top on both sides. Keep in mind it started because protestors were evicted from private property, didn't want to go and shoved cops.

All of these individual situations aside, what the fuck is wrong with these people? This is not how you affect change? Do you think those that make all the money on Wall Street were handed those jobs? C'mon now. All the time you spend on the streets, you could have been working and adding to society. Try getting an education. Try showing some work ethic. Be functioning members of society. You may think you're making a difference, you're just making fools of yourselves.

I'm just glad I don't work down there anymore. I couldn't handle watching this shit on a daily basis.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The decision has been made and that's it

The 1 thing I simply cannot stand about the military is the inability of people to accept your decisions regarding the military and the need to project their own values and ideas. Some people do 1 enlistment. Some people stick around for a while and leave to find happiness elsewhere. Some stay 20 years and some even 30. To each their own.

Don't tell me about the pension. 50% of my pay at 20 years will be about $24k/year BEFORE taxes. I can make up DOUBLE that money (on top of my pay) starting in a couple of years. To make my current base bay and my retirement pension I need a whopping $60k/year. That's my military base pay and 50% of what my base pay at 20 years (all averaged, estimated and rounded, of course). Add in the fact that my retirement pay would kick in 12 years from now. My civilian pay would kick in 2 years from now. That $24k over 10 years is a quarter-million dollars ahead than just starting at retirement. And none of that accounts for making a raise in the interim or actually starting above $60k in the first place. It's not fiscally responsible to stay in the Air Force, for me - as if money was the only reason.

You may want to travel the world and move from place to place. I do not. I've lived in 2 house my entire life. I like being still and settled. I love being close to my family and friends. I love my city and the general area. I love the type of work. I'm left a little disenchanted after 8 years in the Air Force over certain things (none of which I'll divulge for 2 reasons. 1) My personal feelings and experiences are my own and 2) It's not my place to paint the Air Force negatively to outsiders).

I've spoken about this before. Increasingly, as the days grow shorter and my separation grows nearer, people get preachy. They get on their soapbox and try to recruit me. Some people know my situation intimately and others don't. I'm equally annoyed. If you know me through and through, then you know what makes me, me. You know why I'm doing what I'm doing. You know my priorities. Respect them and leave me the hell alone about staying in. You want to stay in? Go for it. It's YOUR life. Mine is MINE. If you're in the group that knows me well, then you're a friend and why would a friend want to keep me here if it's not the right long term move for me. Selfish much?

If you're in the other group that doesn't know me well, then you are in NO place whatsoever to wax intellectual about what my future should entail, plain and simple. You cannot make an informed decision without the details, most of which you don't have and most of which you will not get. You simply are not capable of selling me on anything from where you stand.

This goes on constantly. It happened at my last base before I reenlisted (of which I had no intention of doing). I ended up doing it because my situation changed. My relationship status, economic status, educational status all changed nearly at once. However, I'm single, the economy is better, I started my own company and my degree will be done this time around.

I will have done 10 years in service when I leave. Less than 1% of people ever put the uniform on for a day. I took from this country as a young man doing well. Then I spent 10 years giving back. I did my part. I did it well. I did it with pride. It's simply time to move on. It's also time for EVERYONE to understand, accept and respect that. If you convert oxygen to carbon dioxide trying to re-recruit me, you'll be doing wasting time and, chances are, I'll react poorly. I'm done listening, justifying and selling YOU on MY plans.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I'm ready for some football

I'm actually ready to hear Hank Williams, Jr. ask me if I'm ready for some football. He was conspicuously missing though, wasn't he? Want to know why? Because he made an analogy that was taken out of context and now he's been pulled from Monday Night Football. Here's what happened. He was interviewed on Fox and Friends recently where they asked him about his political views. If you know anything about Hank Williams, Jr other than his music (which I don't really know), it should be that he is strong in his views and speaks his mind freely. That being said, he was taken out of context.

They asked him who his favorite GOP candidate is and he said nobody. He then referenced a golf game between Boehner and Obama and said that was the tipping point for him. They, naturally, asked him why. He said that would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. At that point, it all broke down and nobody paid attention to what he said after. They were all convinced he just compared Obama to Hitler. Gretchen who is hotter than she is smart even verbalized that.

As far as I know, Obama has not committed genocide which makes him very different from Hitler. He hasn't tried to enforce those crazy socialist views through force or violence. Also makes him different from Hitler. No sane person would be able to make it stick that they are alike, but Fox and Friends think that's what he meant. Let's keep in mind that it was Fox that interviewed Williams. Not like he barged into the studio.

He also said, "it's like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu." Notice he didn't say "Hitler playing golf with Boehner." He didn't make a direct comparison. He goes on to talk about the polarization of the parties and how we are at the most polarized point in our history. Can you imagine Hitler hanging out drinking a tasty german Hefeweizen and clinking with Netanyahu's Manischewitz? No way! Why? Aside from the obvious time period differences, there's the fact that they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Polarized, if you will.

That's what he meant. He didn't mean that Obama was Hitler. He meant that two dudes who will be opponents and at the furthest ends of the spectrum have no business being social. If you like Boehner (or even Obama for that matter), then you probably don't want to see either one of them slide away from what makes them, them.

ESPN said, "While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."

Did anyone think he worked for ESPN? Would this hurt ESPN's brand? This was really not necessary. That open is iconic and has gone hand in hand with MNF for over 20 years. The guy makes one comment that has been taken out of context and now that's all over. So reactionary and stupid, but that's what I've come to expect from 90% of people.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Big and easy... to dislike

I've been living in southern Mississippi for two years now and I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been in New Orleans. People down here rave about it. I have friends that go from Biloxi all the time. Some from Florida. It's an aggregation point for people all looking for... something. I will admit that structurally and architecturally the city is absolutely gorgeous. I love the old European ornate facades on the building and all the wrought iron work throughout. Walking around during the day to take pictures, for example, it's a nice place, but as far as I'm concerned, that's as far as it goes.

Other than that, I don't understand what's to love about it. The people there are awful. For starters they are rude to out of towners, which is amazing for a town that thrives on tourism. The shop owners are ok, but the people on the street are just generally bastards. They go where they want to go and if you're there - too bad. That's the reputation that New Yorkers have because we move fast. We will swerve around you, not bowl you over.

Speaking of the world bowl... that's how the city is shaped, AND it's below sea level, AND the Gulf of Mexico is on one side AND Lake Ponchartrain is on the other. Fill a sink with water and submerge a bowl and see what happens. I'll wait. Back? So that was Hurricane Katrina. When you did it, were you surprised at what happened? They were. I understand that Katrina was the worst hurricane we've ever seen but that bitch COVERED the Gulf of Mexico. People were told to bug out while they had a change. They didn't and then they complained. Are you kidding me?

I'm not sure I would have known the difference before or after Katrina came through. If you've ever been on Bourbon Street after dark it's a disaster anyway. It is covered in shit (literal horse shit) and smells like urine. You'll more than likely step in vomit if you go down a smaller side street. Drunk people clutter the streets to the point you can't move. You wear things you don't particularly care about in case they get ruined. And then there's the nudity. Believe me, I love a topless lady as much as the next guy, but drunk, sloppy yanking your shirt off for plastic beads while being groped or licked by strangers (as is a common scene there) is just pure filth.

The language is the other thing that bugs me. It's a combination of southern and French, infused with just a bit of uneducated and it's called Cajun. Cultural pride is awesome. Believe me, I love my ethnicity and heritage and the culture and traditions that come with it. I have an Italian flag tattooed on my forearm. But culture cannot trump the ability to interact with the public at large. Your language and speech patterns may be part of your culture but you thrive on tourism so be able to speak to tourists and have them understand your words.

While we're on the topic of language, let's talk about your football team. For starters, the Saints are not the best team ever. They were the worst team ever (all 43 years of their existence) that had A good year. So, back to language and football. "Who Dat?" is not awesome. You wanna know who dat is? Dat is the guy that sound like he can't pass 2nd grade English. Dat is the guy that I wouldn't hire to sweep the floors. After they won the super bowl, "Who Dat?" became "Two Dat!" which obviously didn't go very far. It just sounds uneducated and ignorant.

Every place on Earth has its share of people who act that way. The difference is that New Orleans (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, as Nawlins by the locals) is PROUD of it. They are resistant to bettering themselves and appearing more productive. I have no love for that city and don't understand those that do. I'm not faulting or condemning. I just don't get it. I've asked bunches of that frequent the city, "Why is it cool?" and they say a) because it's awesome (not an explanation), b) because there's no place like it (there's no place like prison and that's a good thing. Still doesn't tell me why New Orleans is cool), c) they talk about the nightlife (which you can get anywhere and you said there's n place like it). I have not yet gotten one person to really explain the infatuation. Cuisine would be a partially acceptable answer. The French inspired, Cajun cuisine is fairly unique, but nobody has ever claimed it in conversation with me.

I guess living here on the Gulf Coast I hear about New Orleans constantly. I Get told I should go more often. People get irritated with me when I say "I'm not interested" and I get responses like, "What's wrong with you? It's awesome. You need to go." If you know me then you know that forcefulness gets you nowhere with me. I do not NEED to go. There's nothing wrong with me. I have an opinion and it differs from yours. Move along.

Save critical comments. It's a personal feeling. I don't like the place. I stated why. If you like it, go there and hang out. I've been. I've checked it out. My decision has been made on first hand information, not blind hate for something I've never seen. It is what it is.