Monday, December 27, 2010

Online Dating Common Sense

If you're new to online or internet dating, the concept might feel odd. A bit like window shopping for a new car, house or electrical appliance. But the fact is, it can be a highly efficient and effective way to screen potential dates and mates by getting a generally idea of who they are and how compatible you might be together, before you ever meet in person.

As someone who has been on no less than five different internet dating sites and have had literally over two hundred first time meetings with guys over the course of three years, I've learned a few things about how to apply common sense to online dating. In the 200+ guys that I've raced go karts, shot pool, played miniature golf and had ice cream cones or lunch with, there were only three times the person was not who I thought or things went badly, and ALL three times I broke my own basic rules.

I believe the majority of people who online date are well intentioned people who are simply not finding love in the conventional ways. I'm sure there are a few psychopaths on the sites as well, but by following a few simple rules you can typically avoid them.

1. Don't talk to anyone who won't reveal basic stats and info about themselves, and doesn't have a picture. NEVER give out your phone number, email address or meet in person anyone who doesn't have or won't post clear, recent, full body pictures of themselves first!

2. Don't talk to anyone who openly admits they're already in a relationship or married, or doesn't want any kind of relationship ever. Unless you'd like to be part of a pointless love triangle.

3. Don't continue to talk to anyone who seems to have issues involving:
healthy self-esteem
drugs/ substance abuse
criminal history
violent tendencies
frequent drama filled breakups/ chronic relationships
emotional or mental instability
unable to keep a job
stuck in high school/ college party mode
wants an "instant" relationship
seems to have an ulterior motive for meeting people off this site

4. Don't talk to anyone who's stories don't add up. Who doesn't have a car, or a cell phone/ home phone, or any income, or any future plans or won't talk about their past.

5. Don't talk to anyone who asks you for money, wants you to fly out of the country to meet them, wants you to pay for their plane ticket to come meet you.

6. Don't talk to anyone who is desperate to become a couple instantly, talks about you two getting married before meeting (or after the first date), move in together right away or who otherwise seems desperate to get into a relationship immediately.

7. Don't meet in person anyone you haven't had at least one decent length, normal, enjoyable conversation with over a phone.

8. Never agree to things you may not be able or willing to do once you've met. This include everything from making out/having sex with them, to allowing them to stay at your house, to being a couple, to going on a trip/vacation together, etc. If after you've met in person and they've lied about who they are, you don't feel comfortable around them or just aren't interested in them romantically, you don't want to have promises and obligations you'll want to bail on.

9. Always meet in a public location you feel comfortable with, where there will be other people, good lighting and a way out if you need one. Never meet at someone's house, or let them know exactly where you live until you've met them and decided they're trustworthy. (That's why I always drive myself so I have my own wheels and if they turn out to be a stalker, they don't know where I live!)

10. If either of you have kids, do NOT bring them to a first time meeting with someone you yourself do not know. (Remember stranger danger?)

11. Be honest and upfront about who you are, what you want and have to offer. Don't stick around if they aren't honest and upfront about those things.

12. Meet everyone with low expectations but high standards. Like a job interview, if it's not going to be a good fit you don't want to force it and you don't want to settle. If you anticipate too much before hand and it doesn't pan out, you (or the other person) are going to be really disappointed. Better to not expect much and possibly be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Without Santa or Christ

What is the real meaning of Christmas?

Some people would say it’s celebrating the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year the way ancient pagan cultures used to.

Others would say it’s keeping the legacy going of Saint Nicholas a 4th century bishop who "had a reputation for secret gift giving", particularly coins in shoes left out. (Hanging stockings anyone?)

And there are many would argue that it’s the birth (or at least celebrating the birth in human form) of a god named Jesus Christ who will allegedly redeem the world from sin and wickedness someday.

And if you bring Hanukkah and Kwanzaa into the mix, it can get really confusing.

Throw in commercialization and the push to buy big, extravagant gifts and max out your credit cards and you have quite the hodge podge of expectations to live up to during the (often) most frigid time of the year.

But the fact is, Christmas or the Winter Holidays or whatever you want to call the month of December is for some reason when most people start focusing on generosity towards loved ones and strangers alike and reconnect with those they may only contact once a year.

I suggest that Christmas is not about god, a made-over Catholic bishop, or anything mythical or supernatural. (What is with all the bearded men anyway?)

It’s about rekindling our priorities towards our loved ones near and far, and extending that love to our larger human family. It’s about putting aside human differences, foibles and petty arguments and acknowledging that we are all part of the pleasure and pain that is life. The struggle to self discovery, the search of life’s meaning and the hope for happiness and love.

It’s when much of the earth is forced to take a break from growth and expansion and with temperatures dropping to sometimes freezing temperatures and availability of food and shelter depleted, we humans are reminded in very real, tangible ways that the cycles of existence include death of all living things and we should value and appreciate them while we can.

That is a very worthy thing to celebrate. A highly relatable concept that all of humanity can agree with and embrace.

There is no centerpiece to this celebration. No pine tree to decorate. No special candles to light. No Santa figure to take pictures with at the malls or gilded figurines adorn our mantles with. No nativity scene or crosses to erect and worship.

It’s much more basic than that. Much less fancy and maybe to some less appealing. Because at that point, it’s not just about buying cool electronics, expensive jewelry or gift cards for those nearest and dearest to you. It’s not about singing songs of praise to an invisible god who will hopefully someday accomplish all the impossibly Utopian things that we mortals are incapable of. It’s not about repaying a debt of gratitude to a super natural force so it will allow the sun to restore warmth and food supplies to the planet.

It's about meeting the most basic of human needs. Food. Warmth. Shelter. Purpose. Kindness. Decency. Dignity.

It’s about remembering that all humans are part of one large intertwined family and none of us can survive or be happy, if we are deprived of contact, and purpose within that family.

As pack animals, we all have a role in making this family world function. We come from different continents. We have different languages, different cultural expectations, and different government regulations. I am not placing a case for a “One World” leadership.

I am only saying that this month is an opportunity to celebrate humanity: our goodness, our generosity, our universal craving to be loved, accepted and needed. And that, should be the real meaning of Christmas. We just need a new name for it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Great vs Small Minds

Which mind have you?

Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.

Voluntary Simplicity

A radical concept in consumer driven America.

Around Christmas time? It's just about (economically) blasphemous! But I think it's a fantastic idea we should all implement in our lives, to some degree.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Is Not a Religious Holiday

Contrary to popular myth, Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, but a political holiday.

And that just might be one of the reasons it's my favorite.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pain That Leads to Pleasure

We humans act as though crying, sadness and unhappiness is an unnatural part of life. Certainly it is something to be avoided, possibly at all costs. No one really enjoys it. It doesn't seem to have any immediately obvious advantages and perhaps most importantly it doesn't make us or those who care about us feel good. And a life worth living, is marked by enjoyable experiences, love, laughter and heart swelling, mind blowing happiness. Right?

The fact is though suffering, challenges and even misery are not only a completely normal part of life, they're absolutely necessary.

Discomfort can be a beautiful thing. Discomfort forces people to re-evaluate their choices and actions. It forces them to move outside their comfort zone.

The drop in the pit if your stomach precedes the rush of thrill on a roller coaster ride and most extreme sports.

The ache of muscles being pushed beyond their comfort level is followed by increased strength and power.

The pain of life experience is what allows for competence, wisdom and the pleasure of good decision making. 

It's impossible to have an extraordinary life doing dull nothingness. You cannot achieve anything great without first being strained and stretched beyond what you were before.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The New Face of Terrorism

Because the REAL threat of National security is our children and elderly. Those who are utterly dependent on us to provide them with their basic needs and safety.

Certainly THOSE are the people the TSA should be targeting to grope and confuse. Because our babies and grandparents are prime suspects for wanting to carry weapons and explosives on a plane!

Does anyone else think this is UTTERLY ridiculous???!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who Is Shawty?

A better question might actually be…WHAT is a shawty?

The online Urban dictionary lists 8 pages with 52 user suggested entries of what a Shawty is.

The list of options vary from anyone who is short in height, younger or a close friend/ family member, to describing a small pit-bull type dog, to the length of a guy’s small penis.

The most commonly agreed upon description is a what a guy calls his girlfriend, hang out chick or friend-with-benefits who is usually an attractive young woman who comes from a ghetto/ gangster background and is probably of African American ancestry.

Going by the gangster rap songs which are increasingly referring to girls who the rappers want to sleep with or are currently sleeping with, I have a theory on what shawty means.

The trend for the last 10 year or so has been for places or people with long names to get abbreviations.

Kentucky Fried Chicken went to KFC

Jennifer Lopez became J-Lo

You use a GPS…not a Global Positioning System

You say TGIF instead of Thank God It’s Friday

And the ATM was once an Automated Teller Machine

Blame it on convenience, laziness or perhaps in some cases, a desire to conceal the true meaning of something. KFC for instance, may not want to constantly remind an increasingly health conscious nation with the longer version of their name that they’re known mostly for their unhealthy Southern Deep Fried Food.

In a country where everything and everyone is getting an abbreviation, maybe it’s not such a stretch that the gangster community came up with a new title for their FWB (friends with benefits.)

Where ever the term originated, I believe based upon who’s using the word and who is NOT using the word is very telling. I could only find two songs where a female singer referred to herself as “Shawty” One was Lil Mama Feat. Christ Brown. “Shawty Get Loose”

So here’s what rap songs tell us about “Shawty” girls:

• They’re good looking girls with bangin' bodies

• They’re sexually open-minded, freaky, on the slutty side

• They don’t expect a real relationship

• She might be a girlfriend, but she’s definitely NOT a wife

• A guy can have a girlfriend but also a Shawty on the side

• Buying alcohol and spending money on them gets them to do sexual favors or get laid

• Their name, interests and personal information aren’t important

• She might be someone to regularly have sex with, or could be a one night stand

So. Going by the heavily sexual songs that use the word and the “open relationship” with hot and sexy women they’re talking about, I’m gonna say the term Shawty came from the expression that the girl is a “Sure thing.” That is… if you show her attention and catch her eye, there is a pretty sure chance she’ll have wild un-inhibited sex with you whenever and where ever you want.

So a “Sure thing” pronounced “Shore Thang”, shortened to “Shore T” just needs to be spelled and pronounced with gangster slang. And there you get "Shawty.”

I have to admit that the term sounds better than other words that describe this kind of female. And the girls seem to find the title less offensive too.

So in conclusion: a Shawty is a girl for the moment. Someone you bang but don’t marry and have kids with. An attractive, slutty girl who doesn’t get heart-felt love and doesn’t get a relationship but will still: “put out”.

And according to Terius "The-Dream" you should tip her.

The other female artist who referred to herself as a Shawty was Trina in "Shawty Say". She had a somewhat different idea of what kind of "reltionship" they were supposed to have, but HIS behavior was very consistent with the way for a man treats a Shawty.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Death Penalty Justification

This is Steven Hayes. This is the face of a monster.

It is because of people like this, and heinous crimes like the one this and another man committed...that re-affirm WHY WE MUST KEEP THE DEATH PENALTY and ENFORCE IT!

This is a picture of Dr. William Petit Jr, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and their daughters Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11 who lived in Cheshire Connecticut.

Two men (one a newly released convicted felon already) and Steven Hayes broke into the home of this family. They severely beat the father, forced the mother to withdraw money from the bank then sexually assaulted her and strangled her to death. They then sexually assaulted the 17 and 11 year old daughters, tied the girls to their beds, doused them AND the house with gasoline and set the house on fire, leaving the entire family to die.

There is NO way that ANY sane person can hear this horrifying story and NOT realize these two men have proven they are only a danger to society and have forsaken their humanity.

They no longer deserve to share this planet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010


There are some days that seem more special than others. Days we attribute important meanings to like birthdays, relationship dates (meetings, weddings etc.) or death anniversaries hold a specific meaning to individuals.

Collectively we celebrate major holidays, anniversaries of patriotism or disaster and religious or political days. These days and the reasons for celebration of memorial are different depending on what country you live in, what your cultural and religious preferences are and your ethnic background.

But are some days special just because of the rarity of a different reason? Take the numerical date of 10/10/10, this particular sequence of the month, day and year lining up exactly the same only happens once a year. By virtue of that alone does that make it a day of significance?

Do certain numerical days have some cosmic power? Can unusual things happen on days like this? Or are they just something fun to think about and like paranormal activity, create an occasion to question odd possibilities and ask “What if?”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How To on YouTube

Don't know how to install dry wall?

Wanna find out how to do a perfect ollie?

Like to find out how to make an egg over easy?

YouTube it. It's fantastic. And completely free.

Learn how how to do things a dozen different ways by professionals and regular people just like you. Watch it a dozen times until you get it right. Or make your own video to teach others your mad skills. Just please, make it user friendly!

Installing Drywall

Perform an Ollie

Cook an Egg Over Easy

Just don't get distracted by all the random stuff that get posted!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good, Better, Best

Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. ~Emory Austin

All things in life can be broken down into two categories.

Moralists would call them Good or Bad.
Religion calls it Righteous or Wicked.
To Scientist it’s either a Fact or False.
Philosophers consider it Enlightened or Ignorance.

But there are many other terms to divide the extremes.

Truth or Fiction, Real or Fake, Light or Darkness, Right or Wrong, Positive or Negative, Strength or Weakness, Happy or Sad, Love or Hate

These polar opposites keep the universe in balance. All positive things and all living creatures gravitate towards the light. It’s not only necessary for physical survival, it’s necessary for mental (and you could say “spiritual”) wholeness.

Good fortune shies away from gloom. Keep your spirits up. Good things will come to you and you will come to good things. ~Glorie Abelhas

All living things are born with an innate ability to discern good from bad. While understanding the depths and ramifications of these two concepts take years of training and life experience, most people recognize without being told when something is basically harmful or helpful.

Animals and children tend to be good judges of character. Call it a vibe or intuition, they often can tell when another animal or person is likely to dislike or harm them, or won’t. As people get older they learn to ignore their “gut feelings”, reject “good advice” or justify bad choices and behaviors.

Since there are also degrees of good and bad, (those shades of grey between black and white) it’s not hard to find ways to say a choice or option is “better” than the “worst” or the “lesser of the evils”.

But comparing mediocre to horrible never solves problems, prevents failures or achieves greatness. Only by comparing something to how it could be better or best, will success be possible, will truths be discovered and will people and situations improve.

You are what you surround yourself with.

If you surround yourself with things and people that are negative, you harm yourself and stunt your own growth and success and happiness.

If you compare yourself to your worst possible you, you’ll never come even close to fulfilling your own personal potential. Realizing your abilities, doing what you’re good at and “fulfilling your destiny” is at the core of all enlightenment, all truth and all happiness.

People who seek honesty, kindness and love, are therefore in search of truth, strength and light. So the reverse applies as well. Honesty, kindness and love will bring you closer to things and people that are positive, real and happy.

If you have the will to win, you have achieved half your success; if you don't, you have achieved half your failure. ~David Ambrose

A person’s standards and expectations are affected by the people they spend time with and the environment they surround themselves with. All living things slowly impacted by the sometimes powerful, sometimes subtle forces and attitudes they encounter regularly.

A prime example is the Niagara Falls. Over the course of an estimated 12,000 years, the falls have eroded 7 miles. This may or may not sound significant, but something as simple as water continuously running over something as solid as a mountain, could in fact make the entire waterfall disappear in another 2,500 years. The centuries old historic site of weddings, honeymoons and tourism could in fact someday cease to exist.

People are not made of stone though. Our minds, hearts and moods are easily swayed, effected and altered numerous times every day. The experiences we have, the environment we live and work in and the people we encounter, leave deeper impressions on us than anyone may care to realize.

We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs. ~Kenneth Clark

Surround yourself with positive, optimistic, ambitious people who love life and you’ll find that sooner or later you’re adopting similar feelings and attitudes. The opposite is just as true. Spend time frequently with depressed, angry, unmotivated people who are critical and unhappy and you’ll just as surely became to look at life through a grim, tainted perspective.

The trick is not just to surround yourself with positive people, music, and attitudes; but to take what you see and experience around you and improve it. Don’t just do something. Do it well. Don’t just do it well, perfect it.

There’s a little rhyme I grew up hearing constantly from the wise woman who is my grandma. And with it, you can take any topic, situation or environment, any person, idea or attitude and make it more than it was before. It all starts with you.

Good, Better, Best
Never let it rest,
Until the Good become Better
And the Better become Best!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Agree to Disagree: A Religious Diatribe

“You cannot know how much I do *not* want to have this discussion about religion. Can’t we just agree to disagree and leave it at that?”

This was the start of a letter I wrote a logical intellectually sound friend who had been somewhat spiritual before but recently started investigating the Catholic church and was I presume hoping to warm me to the idea of being less religiously cynical. The rest of my letter to him (and anyone else who wishes to play devil’s advocate for religion) follows.

"I have been solidly on the side of faith, God, Jesus and whatnot. The first 24 years of my life I was adamantly devoted not only to embracing the “Good News” message but passing it along to anyone who seemed even remotely willing to listen. I know how that feels to be on fire the way you feel with it. I've also felt the other side of being disappointed and then just disbelieving.

I have to state first and foremost that you cannot use “holy scriptures” as evidence to support the catholic church or any religion. It’s like using a word to define that same word. It just doesn’t work.

Furthermore, the Old Testament contradicts the New Testament. Both contain information that supposedly happened before written history (so they were oral histories before people learned how to write characters?) and were either scribed from the voice of god (really?) or apparently the memories of really old men. The Four Gospels were written close to 50 years AFTER Jesus’ death. How on earth could these 80 year old men be trusted to remember in such detail the words (verbatim even!) and actions and events that took place SO much earlier?

You know how stories change over time with the telling. Just ask your grandpa (or anyone’s grandpa) what is was like when they were a kid. You know the whole walking to school six miles in the snow uphill both ways thing? It’s only funny because it’s preposterous and the tellers of these great tales TRULY remember it happening that way!

Then there is the fact that history books, political books and religious books alike are written by those who won, are in control, wish to seek control or influence and are always, always biased. Add to that, that books like those are edited, re-edited, translated and re-translated so many times the original content (if it’s any more trust worthy to begin with) starts taking on a life of it’s own and changes over time.

Then there is the fact of interpretation. God only know how much of the books have been tweeked and altered to fit the needs of a olden era or political push by a new religiously driven government (England changed from protestant to catholic every few decades over thousands of years) and therefore, all of the info is suspect and not to be trusted.

No one can prove scientifically that a heaven or a hell exist or that there are supreme beings who govern them. No one can prove scientifically that any of the books written for the purpose of improving people or teaching then how to worship a god or about the nature of god are anything but people’s personal opinions and imaginations on the subject.

You can look at religious books to garner what that religion is influenced by AT THAT point in time, but it CANNOT be used as imperial evidence of any fact or truth the way a science experiment can.

It’s simply the popular abiding opinion (or myth). Aside from the stuff put in the books to serve the purpose of supporting the motivation of a political/religious organization, I see the Bible as just a collection of old journal entries, genealogy records and some good advice. Quoting the Bible is about as valuable as quoting William Shakespeare’s plays.

In fact that’s a REALLY good comparison because research has shown that while William Shakespeare WAS a man who lived a long time ago during the times the plays were written, he WAS NOT the actual author of the plays. Another man who stood to lose his political and economic position in society if his identity were revealed at the time, paid William Shakespeare to let him use his name and identity to publish under. There is a fascinating book that explains this all, in great detail and with lots of evidence.

So anyway. You are welcome to believe whatever you want.

“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

I cannot sway you to reconsider religion as an opiate to the masses, a political weapon of controlling society in classes and ranks, and pacifier for those who would speak out against the control, or need to make sense of the chaos of life, answer the unanswerable questions about our existence and after-life and have a sense of justice in an unjust world.

And you cannot convince me that uptight people who surround themselves and others with narrow minded thinking, prejudices, holier-than-thou pride, nonsensical rules and restriction and quite literally unearthly expectations should be allowed to dictate others lives.

I won’t rule out the possibility of becoming interested in religion at some later point in my life. Right now though, it’s not for me and not something I buy into.

So I ask again. Can’t we just agree to disagree and leave it at that?"