1/31/16

1/28/16

Parents . . .


Well, the parents made their annual pilgrimage to the midwestern Mecca (aka Wichita) and they are just hours away from wrapping up 21 days in the Wichi-Wichi.

Much like with last year there was a lot of excitement and a lot of anxiety (it is me, not them - grocery shopping makes me anxious, paying for groceries makes me anxious, eating groceries makes me anxious, talking about anxiety makes me anxious) and a lot of really great time has been had.

This year - building on last - we not only spent some time with Debash's parents but we met all of her sisters, brothers-in-law (and, seriously, people learn the proper way to pluralize that label and its ilk), nieces, and nephews and saw most of them twice, in some cases thrice. With families to merge later this year it made sense and with all this time to burn it felt like the right thing to do.

We went to MHK, we went to KCK and KCMo. We went to Crown Center. We went a lot of places. We also spent a lot of time around Wichita and enjoying the sites and restaurants and people (my parents also spent three hours looking for the East 13th Avenue Warren (a movie theater six miles (yes - six miles) from our house) but that is a different story for a different day.

For NOW - I'm just glad they came and spent so much time and that we got to enjoy them and they got to enjoy us and their granddaughter. We might not see them again until the fall (our annual summer trip east is in limbo) so to have 21 days to start the year off was perfect. I'll miss them. They might miss me. Time will tell.

1/27/16

Selfish . . .

So there was a piece on yesterday's "Morning Edition" that is still stuck in my brain. Or maybe my brain is stuck in/on it. It will take you about 4:00 to listen to it but here is the gist:

There is a TON of wind in Western Kansas and there is (largely) wide-open spaces between there and everywhere else and there are very few people (relatively) between "here" and "there" so there are innovators trying to capture the wind there and pass it through wires to 1.5MM homes back east but, well, people.

So there is a farmer on 500 acres on Northwest Missouri who loves the earth too much to let the wires that might carry said power run through her land that would power millions of homes and, well, preserve the world and its beauty (or help slow the destruction of) except, well, eminent domain flaws (protections?) and people.

So this got me thinking . . . how do we really define "selfish" in the year 2016? Can I be annoyed or angry with this woman (and others standing in the way of what seems totally logical)? At first blush . . . yeah. There is no reason to say your 500 acres is worth more than the millions of other acres that might, in time, be turned up (for what?) for power. There is no reason your love of your little sliver of the earth is worth more than the other love for the earth. There is no reason to believe you should be able to stand in the way of this sort of progress or development. No way. Except, well, ways.

Because she and her family have honored their 500 acres. They love it there. They are at home and at peace. They didn't ask to be in the path between rural and urban. They didn't force everyone that lives in those big cities "back" East to live there. They are not the reason we have an energy crisis in this country. They are not the reason for the spiraling costs and so on. They are not any less important than the wants and needs of others.

Then I really stared thinking . . . who else is being selfish here? The companies that benefit to profit (in time - it will be a while before wind gets fully "in the black") who are going to make money long after this woman's piece of earth/peace of mind has been violated and long after those 1.5MM households get lazy about their new, cheaper energy and just use more and more (selfishly) to up the problem more, etc. are just as selfish.

So here's what I'm suggesting - love the earth, turn off a light every now and again and try to think about your own wants and needs in the context of others in both the short AND long term and, if the pros outweigh the cons . . . maybe be selfish.


1/26/16

Songs I Am Not Ashamed to Love . . .

The kid and I were on the way to the grocery store on Sunday (we live a very full and exciting life, folks) and it was requested that we not listen to KMUW (there are a few weekend shows we're not crazy about) so I fired up my (or should I say OUR (that's right, suhn - all three of us share THIS account) Google Play Music All Access Family Plan (still the WORST name in streaming services) and started breaking out the JAMS. And the kid knocked them down one after another.

I tried to explain to her that life is short and things change (what are the odds there are any "forever" hits in the Taylor Swift catalog (serious question for you to ponder)) and that music today is not at its best. She disagreed (a pattern I anticipate will last until her contrarianism actually kills me) and I pushed on.

Here, dear reader, are the top ten songs I want my kid to love because I love them. And then I realized I don't care who loves them because I love them. I love them. I. Love. Them.

10) "Back For Good" by Take That - A bunch of model-pretty men with hair too good to be actually rained on while they "sing in the rain"? The notion of just accepting full blame for all problems? What's not to love? This time, it is forever.



9) "One More Try" by George Michael - Let me make sure I understand . . . there is a teacher that was teaching things that he doesn't want to learn and the previous (teacher?) made him cry so he won't learn to do the thing he won't do (hold you, touch you, think your his). I'm confused. And that is okay.



8) "Everything I Own" by Bread - I'll cry if I even try to explain this one to you. I want to love anything as much as these fellas love this mystery person. Or be so loved. Or something like that.



7) "Umbrella" by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z - Before the world saw her as the victim of domestic abuse we saw her as a joyful young woman with chords for the ages. I don't know anything more recent from this pop ingenue but this song is enough. Don't even get me started on the Travis Barker remix.



6) "Set Adrift on Memory's Bliss" by PM Dawn - Christina Applegate, you've gotta put me on. Or something like that. Come on, man. Two brothers rapping about Jesus in a string of pop hits in the early/mid-90s? You gotta love the hustle and put the piece of the cake back on.



5) "2 Become 1" by the Spice Girls - I'm not saying I'm going to explain this song to my nine-year-old (because it is, candidly, inexplicable) but there this song was just so sticky sweet (so much so that the one Spice Girl only sings on the chorus - she was clearly not having it) in its commitment to commitment and physical sharing. Super rapey if it were men singing it but, hey, let's go with it.



4) "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men - When I die you can put me in a plastic bag and drop me at the side of Kellogg Ave. but be sure this song is blaring on your car stereo as you pull away. You owe me that much.



3) "Come to Me (Peace)" by Mary J. Blige - I have blogged about this song many times. NO ONE likes it but me and that makes it better. When you all are ready come to me - I'll restore your freedom.



2) "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton - You never forget the song that was playing the first time you hit a hole-in-one on Tiger Woods PGA Tour on the PS2. Or at least I'll never forget.



1) "Yellow" by Coldplay - They are going to play the Super Bowl in two weeks and I am willing to bet this song will show up and I think that is wonderful because this song is stellar and the live version of it is even stellarer. Coldplay is the Fast & Furious of pop music . . . "no one" likes them but they are billionaires and have more record sales and awards than just about everyone. Suck it, critics.




1/25/16

Get More Smart . . .

There is a really great quote about delay and urgency that I always repeat to myself when I'm trying to force myself to action. It states, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Nope. Wait. Wrong quote. Let's try this one - "Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?" Yeah. Better.

Here, appetite aside, is the reason for this quote making an appearance on the blog so early on a Monday morning - we put off too much in this life and ONE of the things we most easily (in what can only be considered CLASSIC misuse of the word "irony" which will be appropriate considering what I'm about to say plays back to abuse of the word "irony") is learning stuff and challenging our brain.

I DO mean things like another language or how to properly spatchcock poultry (that IS as dirty as it sounds) or the difference between traditional and classical design or how music written in 2016 is still considered "classical" (or "traditional").

I ALSO (more importantly) mean things like how laws are written, discussed, voted on, approved, confirmed, enacted, enforced, appealed, upheld, revised, or whatever combination or twist on the above comes along. I can also mean this in the context of what a candidate means vs. what they say and who they are vs. what they stand for. I could also mean this as relates to the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim "G-d" (spoiler alert - they are all, technically, the "same"). I could mean it in the context of wine and beer (what is a malbec, anyway?). I might even mean it in relation to your kid and what they are in to and what they watch, read, listen to, and enjoy. Maybe - just maybe - I mean all of the above and more.

Get more smart, people. The world NEEDS you to.

But, seriously, we should go get some burgers and put it on the tab for at least 24 hours.

1/22/16

Guest List . . .

There comes a moment in every groom's life when he realizes one very, simple truth . . . he's very, very lazy in his relationships.

I'm not talking about his relationship with food, water, shelter, or his smartphone. I'm not even talking, necessarily, about his relationship with G-d. I'm certainly not worried about the average fella's relationship with reality or sanity. Nope. I'm talking about all the other relationships - the real ones, the ones with, you know, PEOPLE.

Take, for instance, trying to work on a "guest list" for a wedding. I'm going to say something impolitic and inappropriate and insensitive but, frankly, it seems that 80% of wedding guest lists are mandatory.

Parents, siblings, their spouses, nieces and nephews, and a handful of real, true friends that you can't imaging having a "moment" (positive, negative, or requiring bail money) without are all givens but not long after the thought of building out a wedding list gets really dicey, really quickly.

Let's talk work - Bosses? Yeah, sure. They have the power. Cubemates? Yep. They have to hear about all this crap anyway. Underlings? I mean . . . well? (deep exhale)

Then you've got your social groups (non-profits, religious communities, etc.). Clergy? Stands to reason. Executive Director of the group that does the work you so admire? Can't hurt. Fellow board members? Maybe all but that one f*cker who is only "here" because they like the "thanks" at the annual dinner. The dude you volunteer with but don't know his full name or "situation"? Sure. But you'll need to figure out his name. The person who sits in the pew behind you and always has kind things to say but you don't know them? I mean . . . well? (deep exhale)

So now you're looking at your "formers". This, to be clear, is a different breed because these are people that, once upon a time, were your GO TO people for getting drunk, getting stoned, getting crazy, getting work done, getting through Algebra, getting home for the weekend, getting through a rough spot. They WERE but that was "then" and this is "now" and they are "there" and you are "here" but you love them still and occasionally stalk their Facebook page so you're good, right?  (deep exhale)

Now you're up to your current friends. And let me be clear on this one . . . here is how we define a "friend" - if you had just three dollars to your name and they needed four you would find that extra dollar somewhere and make it look easy because they would (not just in your hopes but in your knowledge) do the same for you. Or something like that. I'm almost 40. I have like six of those people in this life. Okay, fine, five. Four?

But then this is where things get weird. Let's say - for sake of discussion - this is your second marriage but your betrothed's first. And they are super excited for this and they also do politics and "nice" and "polite" and "enjoyed obligation" better than you do (if only because they do it at ALL). Let's say they are also in their home state and their 300 cousins are all "here" too. Let's say all this. Do you try to keep the crowd "even"? Do you try to have it feel like a mutual "thing" or is it okay if it feels more like "their" thing?

So you struggle. You hem. You haw. You deeply exhale. Repeatedly. Then, when you think you've lost the will to actually live (not hyperbole - you weren't there, you don't know) you snap in and BOOM you're populating out a list of guest that would actually make the floor cave in. You go from ten mandatories to 95 "yeses" and 40 more "maybes" and you start freaking out because you feel like you've caught "the fever".

But you calm down and realize this is life. This is how it works. The current friends are more numerous than you thought (and they all have spouses that are super fun to hang out with) and you realize that your formers may be "there" and you may be "here" but if they love you now the way they claimed to love you when drunk at 3 PM and waiting for another pitcher of beer that won't matter and you realize that even the person who only wants credit once a year probably enjoys a nice slice of fancy cake, and you understand that you should invite the President of the congregation if only because they are kind and warm whenever you meet them. You feel like your intern and her boyfriend will be vital to the event's success (if only so you can text them ten minutes before the ceremony and say "I need a soda the way I like it" and they will text back "I already have one for you and the blue sour balls you like when you get anxious.") and you are populating that list to the point where suddenly the one who "gets" it has fewer people than the one that "hates" it and you suddenly feel guilty about digging in on this list but these people . . . these people are vital.

These people are important. These people should have the opportunity to attend or not and they should have the knowledge that you NEED them there when they get the mailing with the nineteen pieces of cardstock and four envelopes and "forever" stamps and the explanation of where and how to book the "wedding hotel" rooms.

You've been lazy in your relationships but for one sparkling evening in the near future you're going to bask in the glow and love and support and presence of everyone you've ever valued and hope that they bring with them every hope and good intent they've ever had for you because you, curmudgeon, are going to NEED it.

1/21/16

SLF Becomes Debash . . .

So I'm going to continue to keep the identity of my betrothed a (relative) secret but I'm also going to stop calling her "SLF" on the blog.

Henceforth she shall be known as "Unmitigatedness" . . . too long. "Zaftiginy"? Too private. "Sweetness"? Too adolescent. "Dumpster Fire"? Too far. "Beloved"? Too Oprah.

Debash. Let's go with debash. As in Yiddish for honey and not in the "pet-name/crass man to 'stewardess' in 1970s flight" way but in the literally way as in "sweet and sacred gift that sustains and allows growth and blossoming". Yep. SLF just became Debash. Publicly.

It only seems right that the woman I plan/hope/should/would like to/have agreed to/am committed to/am lucky to spend the rest of my life with have a nickname befitting just how much she means to me.

That and "Ol' Girl" was overruled.

1/20/16

Rant List . . .

It has been entirely too long since I just posted a list of ten things that I'm currently upset about (if for no other reason than me being me).

That can't be right. The WORLD "needs" (sarcasm) to know what is on my mind now that 2016 has really gotten under way (we're like 4% done with it already) so I can now "safely" say (if this year were a kid it would, statistically, be walking and feeding itself cigarette butts by now) what upsets me and feel good about being justified in that self-induced torment.

You'll note some of this stuff never changes and none of it makes any sense yet - here I am - upset about nothing.

  1. KU Jayhawk Basketball - Eking out wins, losing big, making excuses. I've lived in Kansas nine nearly nine years. I've got enough time served to declare them overrated and their fans abhorrable.
  2. Donald Trump - Enough already. I'm really, truly over it and it is not funny anymore and now he's flying in Alaska's Greatest Idiot to join his circus of self-focused foolery and the media is, of course, eating it up. Where have all the "good" Republican candidates gone?
  3. Gluten "Allergies" - I've been seeing and reading more and more about restaurants and food service organizations going out of business and/or being jammed up by everyone's favorite non-allergy. If you really are allergic, bless you. If you are not just admit it is a personal preference and stop implying the world owes you every food you've ever loved without the best part of said food.
  4. Closet Alcoholics - Yeah. This one seems out of left field for me, too. But I've gotta' say that if you're too proud to realize you have an issue and/or think you're too smart and cunning for the rest of us to know you realize you have an issue you should sober up long enough to start to sober up.
  5. Wedding Planning - Yeah. I said it. I am sure it will all be fine but nothing points to personality differences more than trying to walk the fine line between something "just for the two of you" and making sure no one you've ever known feels disrespected in the process. We're equally guilty and there is no trouble at home but I can't wait to wake up the morning after.
  6. In-Freezer Ice Machines that Spill Cubes Around Inside the Freezer - You know why. You know . . . 
  7. Muscles - When you're trying to find them under layers of fat and then inspire them back to life they really, really hate you. Like a teenager having their bedspread pulled off them at 6 AM on a Saturday. Only worse.
  8. Cheese - I wish I could quit you.
  9. Adult Drama - We're all adults, right? So why do we still snip at each other and gossip about each other and stir the pot for the sake of keeping the pot stirred with each other? C'bawn.
  10. Speculum - The word more than what it is used for (doesn't involve me much). Annoying.

1/19/16

Oscars . . .

There has been much discussion (some of which was mocking in tone and reaction) around this year's crop of Academy Award nominees and their lack of diversity (100% white nominees in the individual category for a second year in a row).

Now I'll be the FIRST one to clarify that the Oscars are not real life and they are in no way to be taken seriously or relevant in the world itself (simmer down, pop culture lovers - you are NOT right to say they are relevant or important - they are gold statues that are rewarded based on marketing, PR, and occasional trickery they are not indicators of us as a society) but I'm also the FIRST to admit that they are a symptom of a much larger problem in this country and in our society: inclusion is a concept vs. a reality.

Some stats (if Wikipedia can even be trusted at all) that are worthy of note as you consider the dearth of diversity in the individual Oscar categories (director, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress).

Black:

Best Actor (20 Nominations, 4 Wins (20%))
Best Actress (10 Nominations, 1 Win (10%))
Best Supporting Actor (17 Nominations, 4 Wins (22%))
Best Supporting Actress (19 Nominations, 6 Wins (30%))
Best Director (3 Nominations, 0 Wins (0%))

Asian:

Best Actor (3 Nominations, 2 Wins (66%))
Best Actress (1 Nomination, 0 Wins (0%))
Best Supporting Actor (7 Nominations, 1 Win (15%))
Best Supporting Actress (6 Nominations, 1 Win (18%))
Best Director (6 Nominations, 2 Wins (34%))

Hispanic/Latino:

Best Actor (1 Nomination, 0 Wins (0%))
Best Actress (4 Nominations, 2 Wins (50%))
Best Supporting Actor (1 Nomination, 0 Wins (0%))
Best Supporting Actress (0 Nominations, 0 Wins (0%))
Best Director (0 Nominations, 0 Wins (0%))

Total Minorities:

Best Actor (24 (5%) Nominations, 6 Wins (7%) out of 440 Total Nominees and 88 Total Wins)
Best Actress (15:440 (3%) Nominations, 3:88 (3%) Wins)
Best Supporting Actor (25:440 (5%) Nominations, 5:88 (3%) Wins)
Best Supporting Actress (25:440 (5%) Nominations, 7:88 (8%) Wins)
Best Director (9:440 (2%) Nominations, 2:88 (3%) Wins)

AVERAGES (98:2,200 (4%) Nominations, 23:440 (5%) Wins)

So, basically, the Academy (with its own membership ranging from 3% to 23% - depending on what source you chose to believe) has a long, long history of under recognizing and under-rewarding anyone other than white actors and actresses. NOW if you were to rank overweight talent or handicapped/disabled talent or Muslim talent, etc. you'd be equally stark to see inclusion but that doesn't negate the cries for more diversity . . . it enhances them.

I'll say this - movies are horrible. Of the top 50 grossing films of 2015 22 of them were sequels, six were reboots, and an additional seven to nine are likely to become "franchise properties". Looking at the next 50 makes the problem even worse. While I HATE franchises as a general rule of thumb the reason that is relevant here is that the Hollywood system is now based entirely on making "safe" (almost-guaranteed to make money) so if the 37 films that are part of a "franchise" in the top 50 in 2015 didn't star or involve minority talent the likelihood of them incorporating said talent is fairly small (more over - and to be clear - these movies don't exactly get lots of Oscar nods anyway).

The issue is this . . . for minority talent to win they must get nominated and to get nominated they must work on films that are worthy of the honors (or alleged honor) and that means studios must fund and "green light" them and Americans have to go see them (you see the loop, right?). If Fast 7 (a very diverse cast, for the record) can't get a single nod even for the first-ever-rap-song-in-a-movie-that-will-make-you-cry than Will Smith shouldn't get one for just showing up in a movie about concussions that the NFL and every sports journalist and outlet in America took umbrage with and told everyone how horrible it was for no apparent reason (speaking of a money making machine that is disconnected from reality and no one cares - how about FOOTBALL?).

I blame the Academy but I, sooner, blame its members for not insisting on better projects and opportunities that might turn in to nominations and wins later. And I DO hope people protest the awards - if only because they are, well, stupid.

1/18/16

2016 Goals and Objectives . . .


I spent last year sharing my progress (or lack of) against my stated (public) objectives for 2015. I did better, believe it or not, against my private goals and objectives. I've sat and stewed and pondered extensively about how to best-handle 2016 and I've set my most ambitious AND extensive goals and objectives (private and public) ever. I keep all the really good stuff private but below are some public things that we can all share in (and by that I mean I welcome your happy thoughts and encouragement).

2016 PUBLIC GOALS

  1. Be Prepared to Be Married
  2. Eliminate Social Media "Noise"
  3. Become a "Better" Father and Partner to the Women Central to My Life
  4. Eat a Healthier, More-Diverse Collection of Foods
  5. Get More Politically Active
  6. Become a "Better" Jew

2016 PUBLIC OBJECTIVES

  1. Exercise +5 Hours/Week
  2. Read 24 Books
  3. Lose 84 Pounds
  4. Stream -10 Hours/Week
  5. Release 24 Podcasts (Episodes)
  6. Learn +10 Hours/Week 
  7. Sleep +7 Hours/Night
  8. Have 36 New "Experiences"
  9. Spend +5 Quality Hours/Week "Alone"
  10. Have 24 "Date Nights"

2016 OBJECTIVES STRATEGY

I won't make this part of my regular, monthly updates (and likely won't include the "goals" either (since those are more difficult to prove against or even validate) but I wanted to provide some insight in to what the above mean (when not entirely obvious). These are as much notes for me as anyone else.

GOALS
  1. Getting married is about planning and shoe rental but it is also about finances and updating wills and revising mindsets and ensuring you're fully ready for a partnership. I failed at this during my first attempt. I won't repeat that error.
  2. I may, well, QUIT Twitter and Facebook this year (for personal use) but if I stick around I'm going to stop just barking and making noise and listening to noise. It doesn't help anyone.
  3. I'm okay but I can and should be better (see not above) and, like I did in 2015 in my private goals/objectives, will continue to dedicate time and energy to it.
  4. There is a new theme emerging in my my research on being healthy and not constantly using the word diet . . . eat better and more diverse foods. Seems so simple, right?
  5. I talk a lot of crap about politics in Kansas. Time to DO something about it.
  6. Before, during, and immediately after my conversion I was fully dedicated to my Judaism. I still go to services every Friday I can and I am an active and engaged Jew but my learning, now, is more about momentum and trivia and anecdotal insights. I want to rededicate myself to being a really, truly, fully, BETTER Jew.
OBJECTIVES
  1. Seems obvious enough but I will NOT be running (by way of training for half marathons, etc.) this year so it will require more diversity in my routines and exercises and how I approach this challenge. I anticipate raising the weekly bar by March but want to start low.
  2. Obvious enough. Comic books (other than multi-hundred page graphic novels) and books with my daughter (unless we raise our bar) won't count. The link above takes you to my Good Reads reading list for the year
  3. 12 lbs/month. I pound every 2.5 days. Seems totally doable, right?
  4. The BIGGEST time suck in my life is my Roku, laptop, tablet, and smartphone and all the streaming services and video options I have. I'm trimming that fat back to focus more on quality than quantity.
  5. We're doing this. More details coming soon.
  6. I am going to get smarter this year. Stretch my brain with religion, politics, mathematics, arts and crafts, music, and maybe some other stuff. Time will tell but I'm going to shift screen time to smarts time.
  7. Another huge trend in my research around becoming a healthier, happier person? Sleep more. I currently average around 6.33 hours/night. To find another hour of the day to do nothing should be simple enough - especially with less streaming and social media noise, etc.
  8. This one is sorta vague on purpose. I'll say this - I'm positioning an "experience" as something I have not done before but have wanted to and/or said I never would. 
  9. We, as 21st century middle aged professionals, spend very, very little time alone doing anything other than commuting, sleeping, or engaged in personal hygiene. I, for one, am going to start by tracking my own alone time and then, likely, adding to it. This will be my archery time, or my thinking and blogging and creating time. This will not be my reading time, etc.
  10. Obvious enough but something I've gotten lazy about. I do a little better with my future wife (we might have a "date" every four or five weeks) but I want to make that more common (a dozen at minimum) and resume having them with my daughter. 

1/14/16

Business Cards . . .

I remember - wayyyyy back in 1998, following a five-month internship - when my boss made me full time, made me earn my first paycheck and THEN ordered me my first-ever box of business cards.

To be clear there was a typo (my email address was wrong) and there were a few formatting errors (irregular kerning) but none of that mattered (once I accepted they were not perfect) because, frankly, they were MINE and I had "arrived". From that moment forward I would be able to confidently greet any business colleague or peer with not only a winning smile and a confident handshake but a piece of heavy, heavy paper in my hand with alllllll my vital details for them to consider and pour over and then take back and type in to their fledgling Microsoft Outlook contact book. It was magical and I was a sorcerer.

Fast forward 18 years - yes I had a realization earlier this week that my professional life is now old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, get drafted, and click "enter" on porn sites - and I'm still getting boxes of business cards (between running out of them, a company name change, a title change, and a re-positioning of our company I've had FOUR boxes handed to me this year) but I'm not sure why.

I don't ever pass by a Chipotle, Jason's Deli, Subway, or whatever-other-place without dropping one in the fishbowl hoping to win free lunch for me and my two friends. I use them to clean the gunk out of my keyboard (I eat breakfast, lunch, and many snacks at my desk). I have handed out at least eleven of the 1,000 ordered for actual business purposes. I carry them with me at all times (wallet, laptop bag, carry-on bag, etc.). I get why they are still a "thing" but the thrill is largely gone.

But there is an upside - of the many, many things I do at work I manage business cards for colleagues and others in the field. We're a growing, happy, healthy company so I do a LOT of this "managing" and I can tell you that I still, at least once a month or so, get a chance to witness the thrill and glee of a person getting either their first-ever box of cards or a box of cards that ties them to a job they love.

That's something, right?

1/13/16

Y'all-Qaeda . . .


I've held off on this post because, well, I think the whole thing is stupid and I'm embarrassed to be a white, male American when stuff like this happens but I have to say at least a little "peace" on the "standoff" at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

There has been much discussion (most in mocking tones) about this non-standoff in the rural northwest but here are a few things that stand out to me:

  1. A number stated to be "about 100" people, claiming to love America so much they wanted to challenge the "tyranny" of its government, invaded a closed wildlife refuge and want you to believe they are "reclaiming" the land.
  2. These people went to Oregon under false pretenses that they were there for a peaceful rally (but they still brought tons of guns and camo with them - but apparently not enough "snacks").
  3. They were "really" there to protest the sentencing/imprisonment of two of their rich, white brothers who plead guilty to arson on federal land and accepted their just punishment.
  4. They set fire to the land, owned by the federal government, that they "lease" for their cattle (and other industries that involve "the land") for a pittance and there are strong overlaps between this group and the "other" Bundy takeover of federal land (in Nevada) in 2014.
  5. The group claims to be peaceful (but there is ample content online of their members posting statements, photos, and videos in direct contradiction) and they claim to hate the government but they are on federal land - illegally - and they use federal land for their livelihood and they want people to send them "care packages" via the US Postal Service (which is, contrary to many's presumptions NOT a part of the federal government but is, instead, a vendor to the government that will never be solvent because of pensions and other financial responsibilities - but that is another post for another day).
  6. The group claimed they would leave if asked - the were, they did not. The group claims to want fairness for all - they don't, they want more benefits for themselves. They group claims to be willing to die for their cause - easy for them to say in a society where white people in rural America can get away with a LOT (unless they are Steven Avery).
  7. Anywho, this is almost over (no thanks to any local, state, or federal government or public outcry) because the group is apparently going to head home (they are, as mentioned, low on snacks). 
  8. But they won't leave without leaving their mark. Fences have been cut, equipment damaged, signage destroyed, buildings violated, securities breached, etc. etc. etc. 
Here's my thing with this . . . who the f*ck do these people think they are? They are not advocating for the fair release of "their" land (fun fact - the federal government owns all that land out west because they "bought" (and by that I mean stole and forced the natives to flea) it from American Indians forever ago. To lease federal land that you are making a strong profit off is fair. To ask it to be just "given back" (the "back" part, for focus) for mining, deforesting, grazing, and otherwise pileging seems nuts.

More over there is a strong, for me, undertone of what is wrong with America in 2016. MUCH of the support of these "patriots" in Oregon comes from so-called "Three Percenters" and "Oath Keepers" are the same misguided men and women who descended on St. Louis when the RESIDENTS of the city walked and protested (and, admittedly (some) violated laws there, too) because of the murder of one of their own (because there were "laws" and there is "order" that needs to be protected, apparently) and they are the same men and women that co-opt the imagery and icons of our shared nation to, largely, promote the interests and legacy of a society where the power has almost always rested with white men.

Sure, sure - there are members of these groups that are women and children (because kids can make informed decisions on their patriotism - if by that you mean what type of juice box is their favorite) and there are minorities (because sometimes life doesn't make sense - much like lower-class Americans who support the agendas of wealthy businessmen in politics). 

I'm disappointed. I'm sad that "we" have decided that this is more funny than scary and upsetting and I'm frustrated that the governments chose to do NOTHING (yes, I get that there is no actual threat and I fear that these people won't even face their due process of law under this great Democracy they claim to love so much they would die for it) while we still live in a country where kids can be shot and killed for mouthing off to a rent-a-cop and some claim it was "justified" and I am sorry to say that, as a white male in America these people are my (sorta) contemporaries.

I, like the III% and Oath Keepers know my American history. I know that this sort of behavior should be in our past and should be scorned. I, like those citizens in Oregon, know it might never actually move in to just our "history". 

1/12/16

I'm An Adult . . .

So there was this truly terrific (but truly long) read from The Atlantic the other day called "When Are You Really An Adult?" Go read it. I'll wait. No? You won't read it? Fine - but that is one indicator that you might not really be an "adult".  But I'll paraphrase and save you the trouble. The gist is that there are no longer any rules or absolutes for when one becomes an adult (as if there ever were - remember when Americans finished a formal education at age ten, had a wife by thirteen and were dead by thirty? Know how many cultures/societies in the world still follow that approximate timeline?).

Sure, sure - there are indicators . . . graduating (or deciding not to), getting a job (or not), moving back home (or getting your first place), flopping those two arrangements, getting married, getting a tattoo, getting a credit card, getting a debt counselor, getting a divorce, getting a kid - on purpose, etc. etc. etc. 

But there is also more and more research to show that none of these things makes you an adult and we're seemingly, as a society, accepting there never will be - and perhaps there never were. One SUPER helpful millennial (with a blog called "adulting" (totes presh, no?) and a book with the most charming and evocative title ("Adulting: How to Become an Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps") even goes so far as to acknowledge that this slight/indignance is not even unique to the current crop of can't-figure-it-outs (aka "Millennials"). She concedes . . . . 
“It’s not just hard for Millennials, I think it was hard for Gen X-ers, I think it was hard for Baby Boomers. All of a sudden you’re out in the world, and you have this insane array of options, but you don’t know which you should take. There’s all these things your mom and dad told you, presumably, and yet you’re living like a feral wolf, who doesn’t have toilet paper, who’s using Arby’s napkins instead.”
That's terrific and funny and charming and quaint and so big of her. Ugh. I digress (and should get in to the part where I claim to be above and more mature than mocking a stranger for trying to be funny - and if Kelly Williams Brown has her Google Alerts on point and sees this - I'll say OPENLY that I actually laughed very hard at much of the things I read on your blog and think you're on to something and we have a very similar approach to life and owning our lives so don't hate me for being an old curmudgeon (vs. "adult")).

Here's the thing . . . I don't WANT there to be an absolute on when one "becomes" an adult. I don't want it to be based on boobs or pubes. I don't want it to be based on debt or sweat. I don't want it to be based on pay stubs or cherubs. I want it to be something we can and will chose to own - noting that we should all chose to own it and that, once owned, it is forever. 

You want to be a 20-something who writes books that people in their 60s can be inspired by (which is a real thing the above blogger/author/journalist)? Go for it. You want to be an 80-year-old Grandmother talking trash to your grandson? Have at. You want to be a 39-year-old divorced man with a kid and a fiancee and a mortgage and a job in middle management marketing for a hospitality company? I FULLY endorse that lifestyle but here's what all three of you above folks (and those in their sphere of influence) should know . . . none of that is "being" an adult. 

BEING an adult is what allows you to have and process and share and borrow and give and take all those things. An adult, I will argue, is a person who's had experiences and learned from and contextualized from them and who can then, in turn, share them and pay them forward. They are like teachers without the horrible pay, and weight of the world on them. They are like clergy without the G-d. They are like doctors without the letters and 'script pads. They are like real people without the need to label themselves as anything to feel comfortable with who they are.

I'm an adult. And, as an adult, I get to blog here and talk trash there and act whatever way I want. I'm going to own my commitments, I'm going to own my words, I'm going to own the repercussions, I'm going to be over here if anyone wants to chat about the above and not toil as long as I did on my way to ownership.

1/11/16

Gun Policy . . .

Guns, as you may have heard, have been in the news a LOT lately. Well . . . for the last seventeen years (hard to believe but "Columbine" (as the massacre has been footnoted) was in 1999). There has been much discussion of guns and gun policy and gun rights and gun ownership.

I've ranted on the topic on this blog many, many times (in various contexts and levels of passion/rage/grammar-be-damned-emotion) but the one thing that keeps jamming me up on this, as a marketer/PR person, is the "language" of the discussion and debate on guns.

We talk about "rights" (Amendment 2/Bill of Rights 2 to our Constitution ensures "the right of the people to keep and bear arms") in a way that implies that every one of our rights (as equally "guaranteed" in the Constitution and subsequent amendments) has not been pinched, refined, broadened, or enhanced by hundreds of years of scrutiny by the Supreme Court and thousands and thousands of laws, ordinances, codes, rules, and restrictions laid out by state, county, and local governments (consistent, also, with the language of the Constitution). Of course we rarely talk about those other rights in a financial way.

Sure, sure - free speech is used to protect and enable the porn industry (which has been successful save countless examples where people can't hump children, animals, corpses, et al) but there is something particularly troubling about those who hashtag their tweets "#2A" because 99.9% of those Tweets (and their account users) do not (at least in their language, tone, and execution) understand the difference between the Bill of Rights, the upholding and enforcement of it, the state of the laws and efforts to refine the aforementioned amendment, and the interests of the industry that profits from guns.

Many don't see the truth and lies in the call to arms (pun intended) of endless insistence that President Obama is "coming for their guns" (his record on guns is, from my perspective, DREADFUL) in his efforts to outline sensible ways to keep guns away from people who seek to use them for harm and/or from those who seek to buy and sell guns outside of the existing or future/coming sensible efforts to control how those people might access guns. More importantly many over-emphasize their own ignorance on the actions and role of the Commander in Chief when they say that he is not allowed to lay out a framework through executive action or non-stop begging of the legislature to take the opportunity to do "their" job to begin with.

They are simply wrong. I know this and stand by it despite being labeled a "Left" a "liberal" a "beta male" a "sissy" a "woman" and a "ball-liss (that is how it was spelled when hurled) puss" and worse via Twitter in the recent weeks and months.

President Obama KNOWS that his executive action will not stop gun deaths just as he KNOWS that his directives don't in any way infringe on the right we have ("to keep and bear arms") but he also knows that even if they save a few lives annually and limit the unmonitored and unsafe passage of guns from person to person (note that the right doesn't actually state you can shoot other people or buy and sell guns) he thinks they are worth it. More over the President intimated several times the other day that he would still welcome Congress to actually act.

The WORST part about the 30,000-or-so Americans killed every year by guns (through mass shootings, homicides, suicides, and accidental shooting death (please, gun right zealots learn the difference)) is that their deaths can never be fully contextualized so long as we can't have a real, honest, direct conversation that starts with Americans getting off their lazy, uninformed high horses and learning how our government works, what our "rights" really are and the history of them, how the gun industry is manipulating all of us, how a gun death is defined and the categories of them, what the guidelines President Obama's leaders laid out the other day really say, and then - for good measure - how they feel after reading and contextualizing all of the above.

I'd also like the understand how and why those who are of sound mind and body and comfortable with/confirming to sensible gun policies for the buying, selling, owning, carrying, and usage of guns would not want to immediately distance themselves from those who don't meet all of the above (I'm super comfortable with porn but if you've got kiddie porn on your laptop - you're not my friend and I don't have any interest in protecting your "rights" to it under free speech/expression claims).

I'm a liberal. I'm comfortable with and proud of that. Liberalism (at core) is not actually a bad word nor an adjective for someone who seeks to infringe on individual rights (the opposite would actually be an easier argument to make/defend) and I'm 100% fine with legal, sensible, safe gun ownership and even regulated, tracked, and sensible buying and selling of guns. I'm against the ability for people to just carry guns anywhere and everywhere. I'm against tables full of guns that just anyone can shop from. I'm opposed to the mentally unwell, criminals, those who seek to or have vowed to harm others, and those who are not ready and willing to take gun ownership and the "rights" therein seriously. I'm transparent in this position.

We should ALL be informed and open in our positions on guns and how we arrived at them. It is the right way to start a real conversation.

1/10/16

Sunday Funday . . .

Ladies and gentleman, ARETHA FRANKLIN (and the President and First Lady of the United States . . . and a pink watch). Please to enjoy.

1/4/16

Leia . . .


I am, for all intents and purposes, a "typical male". I have a hard time (try as I might) not noticing women. I don't openly lust after them (often) and I don't think (perhaps I should say I hope and pray) I've ever been outwardly inappropriate with any of women. I'm speaking, perhaps obviously, about women minding their own business and walking around or filling their gas, or shopping at the grocery store.

Because of my sexual wiring and personal preferences there are very few women of the silver screen that do much for me (particularly the older I get) but I have to say - will full candor - that any of you Internet trolls that are going out of your way to criticize Carrie Fisher's appearance in the new Star Wars movie (yes, I saw it with my daughter this weekend and while I'll admit it is 100x "better" than the first six pieces of crap combined it is still not, in my never humble opinion, a "good" movie). I digress.

Back to my point. There are actually men (of all ages, I would like to point out) walking around amongst you right now who feel somehow robbed that Carrie Fisher, nearly 40 years after first appearing as "Princess Leia" has, in fact, aged. They think she's gotten "old". Some called her "fat" (which is an abuse of the word by any stretch). Many think her face is too wrinkly. Yes. These are real criticisms.

Apparently they remember her as the "sexy" woman who wore bikinis and flitted about kissing her brother and Han Solo in the middle chapters of this never-ending trope of horrors. I'd like to point out to you Perverts of Perverts that the ONLY time we really see Leia's flesh is when she's an actual slave. In chains. Forced to dance for Jabba the Hut (who I have to presume is all misplaced masculine woe in the form of a big, mucus covered "hut"). Is THAT the Leia who longed for? Is THAT the one you hold in your creepy sexual fantasies? Because she wears robes, turtlenecks, cloaks, and hair buns in my memory.

If Carrie Fisher ever was beautiful or is now (I'd say "yes" to both timeframes) is not the point and she was very clear that she wants the debate - pro or con - to stop. That some expected her to remain young, nubile, and "sexy" (while standing next to a Harrison Ford who looks far less "Han Solo" or appearing in the same film as a Mark Hamill so changed by time they won't even show his whole body in his brief appearance (oh, yeah, sorry - SPOILER ALERT)) is stupid. It is crass. It is lame. Look at ANY woman you know who was alive in 1977 (regardless of her age at the time) and ask if she looks the same . . . or if you want her to. If the answer is "yes" you're lost and you, as Carrie Fisher so casually remarked on Twitter - can blow us.


1/3/16

Sunday Funday . . .

With nuptials coming up and my weight always, always, always on my mind I will likely turn this blog in to some sort of group therapy in the coming months. You've been warned. Let's start with the notion of how to be okay with yourself while trying to improve yourself.

1/2/16

2015 Objectives (Update 12/Final Update) . . .



"They" say that if you want to reach your goals - you should share them and your progress. Soooooo . . . here's the year-end summary . . . 6 YES, 4 No. That is the simple majority and proof that goals and objectives are hard (I just had to read a little more and register for a class to get to 8:10 and if I had put the fork down and run a little harder I could have gotten to all ten.). Here we are, though. Year over and life lived.

OBJECTIVES . . .
  1. Read 24 (or more) books (for ME - reading with my daughter doesn't count). MISSED. 22.5 finished. I came close. I'll be better in 2016.
  2. Run 10 miles/week (on average). Yes. That is 520 miles (or more) in 2015. CRUSHED. 15.6 miles/week. (811 total miles on the year. I ran 0.000000 feet in December.)
  3. Finish a half marathon in under three hours (as many tries at it takes). MISSED.
  4. Lose 100 Pounds. That's right. Get. Less. Fat. MISSED. I can't even talk about my weight at this point. Sad, sad state of affairs.
  5. Reduce wasteful spending by 10% (this is actually more about not growing my spending - I'm pretty friggin' frugal now). CRUSHED. Reduced overall spending by 28% year-to-date. I'm calling this one a victory. 
  6. Increase savings contributions by 12.5% (I've been pretty minimal on this one lately - time to grow my future). Updated 401K, IRA, 529, Investments, and Insurance products by 113%.
  7. Earn college credits (I'm going back to school, one way or another) in 2015. MISSED. Not, gunnnnn do it.
  8. Reduce social media time by 25% (10 minutes/day or less). CRUSHED.  December was also rough. Politics and end-of-year lists, etc. had me distracted. Luckily I was (generally) strong January - October which let me finish at 6:15/day for the year.
  9. General Nutrition. SUCCESS. Since this was never quantified I'm going to declare it a "win" because I took it seriously and improved around it.
  10. Food Diversity. SUCCESS. I've opened this one up quite a bit and am getting better and making a plan for 2016.

1/1/16

The Year in Pop Music . . .

DJ Earworm started doing his pop music mashups a long, long time ago. They just keep getting better. I didn't really enjoy all the hits of 2015 (because, well, I'm not in the target audience) but this mashup made me happy.