Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rape Culture, Slut-shaming, and the Blame Game

America is a blame culture. We obsess over assigning blame for situations that really have no one to blame. We direct blame not based on the facts but based on our prejudices, our politics, and our selfishness. Anyone who does not subscribe to your exact point of view is not-you, and thus, them, and so, are to blame.

Take the current discussion on rape, rape culture, and slut-shaming. There are two sides, on the same side.  One group is comprised of those who wish to protect women through punishment of those who commit sexual assaults, and to promote an attitude adjustment in men (and boys) about sexual boundaries and consent. The second group are those who wish to protect women by making them more aware of how they can protect themselves, and minimize risk. Both groups want the same thing: the elimination of sexual assaults. Both groups are correct. They are in fact one group.

There is another blame game and it is arbitrated by insurance companies; automobile insurance companies. I was once involved in a traffic accident and by the time I arrived home to report it to my insurance company the wife of the other driver had already called my insurance company telling them it was my fault, and she wasn’t even at the scene! Auto insurance companies are in the middle of a blame game, and for them punishment and restitution are important, but prevention just as much so. 

The concept of defensive driving is quite simple. Avoid being the victim of someone else’s reckless driving. Learn to recognize situations and circumstances that increase the risk of a vehicular collision, and drive in such a manner to mitigate the risks. You are certainly allowed to drive with confidence in all the locations in which you have the right of way, but that does not preclude someone hitting you. Defensive driving is about prevention, not blame.

I have a right to walk down the street. But I know, we all know, there are certain streets you don’t want to walk down. Even more so at night. Each and every one of us knows that if we walk down certain streets, or go to certain locations, we are increasing the risk that we will be mugged, assaulted, or even killed. Defensive living is to recognize the dangers and to adapt your behavior to lessen the risk of you being the victim of someone else’s violence. Yes, I have a right to walk down that street. Yes, I have a right to be here or there. But that doesn’t preclude someone hitting me. Defensive living is about prevention, not blame.

Anyone who suggests women should practice defensive living in order to reduce their risk of being sexually assaulted are instantly shouted down and ridiculed for blaming woman. They are accused of contributing to rape culture and slut-shaming. There are certainly those who think some victims of sexual assault are “getting what they ask for.” These people are insensitive, selfish, and cruel. But they do not invalidate the concept of defensive living.

Any sexual assault is never the fault of the victim. However, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of being sexually assaulted by recognizing the risks. Be aware of the situations and circumstances that increase the risk of sexual assault. Adapt your behavior. Practice defensive living. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Share Hair Care

Let’s talk about hair.

Want to know why I am thinking about hair? I will tell you why. I recently found myself in the restroom at work pulling gray hairs outta my eyebrows … without tweezers. Why do gray eyebrow hairs grow longer than the darker hairs? Why do gray eyebrow hairs grow at angles different than the darker hairs? Must be some kinda curse; gray hairs working so hard to stand out. So. Let us visit some hair topics.

Wild, Wild Hair

I am generally not a hairy person. However, over the years the hair just keeps growing in previously barren patches of skin. The first indicator of my wild, wild hair was a visit to a hair stylist. (Don’t get excited. My version of a hair stylist it the 15 buck a cut version at places like Great Clips.) One time at the hair stylist she took the electric trimmers and ran it across my eyebrows. I didn’t have Gandalf the Gray bushy eyebrows, but she ran those trimmers across anyway. Then she ran the trimmer along edge of my ears! What! Along the edge of my ears?!

This was the beginning of the curse because then I started to get hairs in my eyebrows that were longer and standing out; the foundation of bushy sprouts. Then I would sometimes find a half-inch long hair growing out the edge of an ear. What. The. Fudge. Just sticking out, growing sideways, outta the edge of my ear. Random hairs began appearing along my shoulders and upper back. Now I got hair on my stomach. A few small patches on my lower back. Hair on my butt cheeks! (No 80’s version of Mel Gibson’s ass for me.) More hair growing outta my ears, and outta my nose.

Hair, hair everywhere! Which leads us to ….


Many months ago I popped into a bar/restaurant for food a few drinks. For reasons beyond my reckoning a table of four women was paying attention to me. So I pulled up a stool and joined them. They immediately asked if I was familiar with the term “manscapping.” To which I replied, “I did me some manscapping earlier today.” Do I need to say more? Would you like to know the details of my manscaping? There really isn’t much to tell. This is mostly just a teaser topic.

Am I supposed to remove my chest hair? Because when I lived in an apartment and would go to the pool, the men were all hairless. At the gym, etc, many men seem hairless. On TV and in the movies: most are hairless. What do they do? Shave it? (Sounds like an investment in time. Who wants the stubble?!) Get it waxed? (Again, time. And money) Laser hair removal? (How effective is that? Even more crazy time, and crazy money). I am a mammal. Mammals have hair.

Onset of Gray Hair

My very first gray hair was noticed by a college girlfriend. There was no real encroachment on that front until my 30’s.  I recall when my daughter, at an age around 5, drew a picture of me and she gave me gray hair. Gray chest hair creeps in. The aforementioned gray eyebrow hairs. Okay. Get ready for it. Here is comes. Then you get a visit from the Gray Pubic Hair Fairy. Yep. If there is any reason to embrace manscaping, this would be it. Now I have noticed a little patch of gray hairs on my left arm, near the wrist. The right arm? No such patch. The left arm? A fuzzy patch of gray. Whatever.

Women and Their Hair

We can’t have a discussion about hair and leave out the women folk! Woman color their hair, pluck their hair, shape their hair, and otherwise remove their hair. And I don’t want to have it any other way. Dainty eyebrows? Yes, please. No underarm hair? Yes, please. Smooth legs? Yes, please. Take care of that bikini line? Yes, please. You know where this is leading. And when it comes to that; hair, no hair, some hair, whatever hair, it is all good. Well, as long as there is no unkempt hair. You know what I mean? Hey, as long as she cares about her hairs.

So. Final word. Hair, no hair, it’s all good.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

FRO Motivation

Sometimes before a yoga class the instructor will tell us to “set your intentions.” Concentrate on what you are going to do in, or get out of, this class. In other settings instructors have inquired about a particular pose on which you may be working. For quite some time when I was asked to set my intentions I interpreted this to mean that I was to be concentrating on a particular pose or two, or a certain aspect of poses, like foundation. Where was my focus? In the regular yoga class I attend there are 34 poses.

How many things do you have to do in a day? In a week? In a month? Do you “set your intentions” by concentrating on particular tasks? Which are the most important? This is the primary cause of stress: you focus on something particular, think about it often, worry about it, stress over it. It just one task in many, regardless of its relative importance. Between any moment and the moment of the impending important item there may any number of tasks for you to perform.

When I “set my intentions” for yoga class I set my intention for each pose. There is no one pose that deserves more attention. They are all important. For each pose I think about what I can do to make it better, to grow stronger, to increase balance and flexibility.

Sure, I have a list of things to do in any one day, week, month, year, or life. Each item on that list is important, otherwise why is it on the list?! What deserves the most attention is whatever I am doing now. Contentment is not dependent upon a few “important” tasks; concentrating on such will simply increase stress. Contentment is achieved by treating each task as important, releasing yourself from any other tasks while you work this one.

You may be facing deadlines, or an “important” event may be looming; regardless, whatever you are doing now is what is most important. Make your list, concentrate on the current item, then they will fall like dominoes.

What does FRO stand for? Well, it stands for Fro.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trayvon’s Silent Voice

George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. We know a bit more, but not much. We know what Zimmerman had to say in those taped 911 calls, and the physical evidence. Not much.

Here is something I do know. I once served on a jury for an assault case. Two people, a middle-aged woman and an older man, were arguing over a parking space at a shopping mall. They yelled at each other. The man says the woman was aggressively in his face. He pushed her away. That's it. Just pushing someone away can be assault. The man said he was justified; that her physical posture and yelling were threatening to him. He pushed her away to protect himself.

The judge gave us our jury instructions, detailing the definition of assault. What is was, and what is was not. The bottom line is who first made it physical. Who first laid hands on the other. In our deliberations we were unanimous in our dislike for the woman. She was the instigator. The man responded but she was the primary reason for the escalation. However, based on the definition of assault we had no recourse but to find the man guilty. The first step didn't matter, all of the in-between steps didn't matter. What mattered was who first crossed the line and made it physical. He did.

Of what little we know, we can say with confidence Zimmerman was the instigator, and Zimmerman stuck with it: escalation. We don't know who first made it physical. We can only hear Zimmerman's side. Trayvon's voice is silent. It is clear Zimmerman did not just shoot Trayvon outright. This we know because of Zimmerman's physical injuries. Something happened. But we can only hear Zimmerman's side. This uncertainty is what doomed the prosecution's case. Trayvon's voice remains silent.

We cannot convict a man on what we think we know. Emotions and opinions are irrelevant. Even the historical and current persecution of African-Americans, and specifically black men, with regards to this specific case is irrelevant. Trayvon's voice remains silent.

We must let go of Zimmerman. But we can learn. We can become more aware. We can alter and fine-tune the law. We can promote. We can educate. We can effect change in our society and culture. There will be resistance. It will be slow. At times we will be groping in the dark. Trayvon's silent voice can help lead the way.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rape Culture

How is it I find myself contemplating rape culture? It started with this shirt. You may be familiar with this shirt. Perhaps you have one like it, or maybe your dad does.
I have always found the protective father stereotype to be trite. So, I find this shirt to be not funny, and kinda pointless. I would normally have treated the shirt with indifference, except I may have had a passing thought that the wearer of said shirt is probably the type of manly-man who is more of a thug (the two being often interchanged). Now that I have been exposed to much dialog on rape culture I would say this shirt means much, much more. I am off on a tangent here, but then rape culture is all about tangents.

What is rape culture? Here is a good definition from this blog:

Rape culture is the normalization and trivialization of rape and sexual assault. It’s a culture in which sexual violence is made to be both invisible and inevitable. It’s a culture that teaches us that male sexual violence is both normal and desirable. It also teaches us that men are not able to control their actions when they are aroused.

Rape is very specific. Rape culture is very broad. Rape culture is boys talking about how they cajole and coerce girls into having sex, even for boys who actually stutter and stammer around girls. Rape culture is saying "that is just the way things are" when boys are being so called boys. Rape culture is saying "what did she think was gonna happen" when a woman chooses to dress and behave a certain way.

Whoever created or wears this shirt, whomever created the list, is not condoning rape culture, but they are symptoms of rape culture. This shirt is one of many signals that rape culture exists, and that we should be working to stamp it out, just as we wish to stamp out bigotry, racism and sexism (rape culture being a tangent of sexism).

I am father to both a son and a daughter. Here are the rules for dating my daughter. They are also the rules for dating my son, and the rules for my daughter when dating, and the rules for my son when dating. So, here are the rules for dating. In fact, here are the rules for life.

  1. Accept NO without resentment or anger, knowing the other is being strong.
  2. Hear YES with confidence, knowing the other is freely choosing.
  3. Say NO without fear, knowing the other will not hold it against you.
  4. Say YES with ease, knowing the other is not forcing you.

If you and who you are with can follow those four rules, well, then that is a good start.





Friday, June 21, 2013


You want to talk about abortion? Let preface this dialog with a comment. Politicians like to talk about abortion because it is a distraction topic, in the sense that it keeps them from having to talk about where the money is going. Politicians prefer to talk about social and cultural issues rather than talk about how the government is being run. You want to talk about abortion?

On the one side you have a human being growing inside a woman, and when that human being is killed then it’s rights have been violated. This make sense to me. On the other side you have a woman who controls her own body and can decide whether or not she wants a human being growing inside of her, and when you force a woman to do so then her rights have been violated. This make sense to me. And therein lies the controversy. There is no objective argument for one side over the other. Where do the rights of one end and other begin?

If you approach this purely from the point of view of the state then a human being gains their rights at birth. Prior to birth you do not have a social security number, you are not considered a dependent, you are not a citizen. If you approach it from a, let’s call it, a conservative point of view then a human being comes into existence at conception, and so is afforded rights at conception. From a biological point of view when the fetus is able to live outside the womb then it becomes a distinct living organism. But where do the rights of one end and other begin?

A woman is not pregnant. At this point no one questions whether or not she controls her own body. This is the default, beginning position: a woman controls her body.
A woman becomes pregnant. At what point does she no longer control her body? At what point can she be forced to remain pregnant?
The answer lies somewhere in the middle, which is basically what the Roe v. Wade decision says.

Here is the rub. There is no objective answer to this question. It is a matter of opinion. The only recourse is to allow individuals to decide for themselves. Of course, this is seen as a defeat by those who oppose abortion because it allows abortions. To them I say, move on. To them I say, promote sex education so woman can better control when they get pregnant.

Here is my opinion:

When a woman learns she is pregnant she should have the opportunity to decide if she wants to remain pregnant. This is her right to control her own body, the same right she had before she became pregnant. How long does a woman need to make this decision? Who is to say? A line as already been drawn; a woman has several months to decide. If a woman decides she does not want to remain pregnant then she should be able to pursue the procedure without impediments or interference from the state or any third parties.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Girlfriend Not

I don’t have a girlfriend. In fact, I have not had a girlfriend (i.e. relationship) in the eleven years since my divorce. To be truthful, I find it unlikely I will ever have a girlfriend. Let me tell you why that is.

Searching for a girlfriend is too much work. Every time you encounter a woman you are evaluating her, judging her, giving her a score. Deciding whether or not to approach, or flirt, or to ask for her number, or to ask her out. This is not something you can do just some of the time. You are working against the law of averages here, so to have any success whatsoever you have to engage in it most of the time. I am sure some men thrive on this activity. To me, however, it is a chore. It is distracting, and eventually exhausting. Ultimately, that is not who I am. It isn’t me.

Internet dating, you may suggest. That might work if most people used internet dating simply as a means of meeting people. Two problems. Sit In Judgment and False Intimacy. Everyone Sits In Judgment while internet dating. You become much more demanding, much less accepting, and generally less trusting. You are looking for what you don’t like, as opposed to what you do. When you decide to convey interest, and it is mutual, then you should meet in person. But not so for most; they prefer to exchange information, history, etc. Get to know each other online. This can generate False Intimacy. You think you know a person, but you really don’t. All you have is information, not knowledge. During this time you fill in the blanks with your imagination, which is almost always busted when you eventually do meet in person. Internet dating? No thanks.

Inertia. Some people are perpetual daters. When one relationship ends they quickly move into the next one. It is really just one long relationship. You do the same things, behave the same way, your needs and wants are the same, and your eventual issues are the same. You just trade out partners over time. When I first divorced I purposely avoided any thoughts of dating. I am used to being on my own. Inertia now keeps me out of a relationship.

Not because I can. I am not going to go out with someone just because I can. There has to be something extra there. I am not talking love at first sight (which I don’t discount, either). I am looking for something a little extra that separates her from other women I find attractive. And I have to feel this something extra, as opposed to it simply being a woman’s apparent interest in me (which is always good but by itself cannot sustain). Have I felt this something extra? Yes, I have, but to no avail.

I live my life. I do the activities I want to do. If in doing so I meet someone, get to know her, and we hit it off, then fantastic. If not, then fantastic.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Conduct Unbecoming

I am quite certain my application to become a member of the University Conduct Board will be rejected.


Please provide a response that is one paragraph long to each of the following prompts and attach your typed responses to your application:

What makes you interested in serving on the University Conduct Board?

Dirty laundry. Like my own little reality show. Well, not my show. Because it wouldn't be about me. I would get an opportunity to learn about the crazy-ass shit students do. The more salacious the better!! Then when I go out drinking I can use the cases as talking points, of course not revealing any student personal information, unless related to some (even local) celebrity. Nothing brings us together more than someone else's dirty laundry.

Describe the role you believe the University Conduct Board plays in the University Community.

The Conduct Board helps make school administrators feel all warm and fuzzy about how much they care about student welfare and personal growth, so they can convey an image other than greedy money-grubbing (as if there were any other kind). It also serves as proof in the pudding the university means serious business when it comes to putting someone on double-secret probation.

Explain your comfort level suspending or expelling a student.

If a student is truly warped or evil or cruel or hateful, then yeah, I would totally suspend or expel their ass. That would mean the laundry was especially dirty, and since suspension and especially expulsion are difficult to hide (even though it is part of a student's protected record), pretty much everyone will know! Can I drop the hammer? Yes I can.

Describe the previous experience you have that will assist you in serving on the University Conduct Board.

First off, I am a parent of two teenage children. So that pretty much gets me in right there. Additionally, I have a wealth of experience regarding university conduct. There was that one time I discharged a fire extinguisher in someone's dorm room. Or the many times we had toilet paper roll fights in the hallway that sometimes escalated into bottle-rockets. Or the time we had a "punch-a-thon" party on our floor. Or the time I was abducted at 3AM, blindfolded, ankles/wrists tied with duct tape, and taken out to the Swine Center and left in a pile of pig shit (mostly unwarranted). Or the time my room was searched for a BB or pellet gun (totally unwarranted). Then there was the time we reserved a university vehicle for a valid use but drove it all weekend, parking on the sidewalk just outside the dorm. Or the few times I filled an album cover (remember those? Like giant cardboard envelopes) with shaving cream and slipped the open end under a door and stomped on it so as to spray the room. Or maybe jamming a stack of pennies between a door and the door-jam so the resulting friction makes it very difficult to turn the door knob, effectively locking someone in their room. Maybe that one time it was below freezing and we dumped several 50 gallon trashcans full of water onto the quad and removed the front panel from the water fountain and used it as a sleigh, pulling each other around by a rope of neckties. Or the times I yelled obscenities out of the window, directed towards the lowly residents of adjacent dorms. Finally, there were the many times I played my stereo at high volume. Yeah, I have a bit of experience regarding university conduct.







Friday, May 10, 2013

My First Lockdown

The alert text said active shooter, lock down initiated. I locked down. I stood in the corner of my office. I heard a pop from outside. Is that a gunshot? Is it related to nearby construction activities? Did they get locked down, too? I am on the third floor. Can I look out the window? Can I peak around the edge? I can hear the door to the stairwell closing. Then a second time. Is someone entering the floor, or leaving? Why aren’t they staying put? Why aren’t they friggin’ locking down?!

In my building I am responsible for clearing the floor for emergency drills, and when it is not a drill. As such I have a radio/walkie on my desk. I use it for drills, and we also use them for ceremonies (for which I am required to volunteer). This morning a voice called out on the radio, saying something like this: “Attention. Attention. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. We will probably be going into lockdown. Please tune to the emergency channel for updates.” The volume was loud enough so several people on my floor could hear, and they were all soon standing at my door.

Probably? He said probably. I took the radio and went down a floor to the building manager and he decided to forgo the probably and just announce on the building intercom to go into lockdown.

Probably? He said probably. This radio message came across at about 8:55. The official lockdown was announced at 9:06. Two building occupants (whom I spoke with) entered the building around 8:45 and in front of the building saw an officer armed with a rifle. The lockdown text said “active shooter” last seen at 8:18. This timing does not work for me. Seems like a belated decision. Turns out the guy didn’t have a gun at all, and was never even close to the location referenced in the lockdown alert. Do we count this as “fog of war?”

Lockdown. What to do? You are supposed to get behind a locked door and make it look like no one is home. I turned off the lights. I locked my computer. Because, you know, if I am locking down then so is my computer.  I silenced my cell phone. I put the headset on the radio so I could monitor the emergency channel.
Where to put my body? Under the desk? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to be trapped under my desk if someone forces their way into my office. I stood in the corner, along the same wall as the door, at the opposite end. Someone forces their way in and they are getting a chair to the head, Jerry Springer style. Can’t do that from under the damn desk.

So. I was in lock down. I ended up exchanging texts with my sister to finalize lunch plans. I was IM’ing data specifications with a colleague who was working from home. I exchanged emails with my boss and co-worker regarding the co-worker’s request for time off. I stood in the corner some more and decided I was too restricted in case someone forced their way in. I rearranged the chairs and some boxes. I waited.

No real threat, but a real lockdown. Better than a drill. Am I ready for next time?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pubic Hair: the movie

Spoilers below, of course.
The movie Trance, written by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge, and directed by Danny Boyle, is a crime thriller. But once you see Rosario Dawson fully naked you don’t really care because you are too busy scratching through the hair on your head wondering about the importance of the lack of hair on Rosario’s vagina.

Let me back up a bit.

Several weeks ago I shared a table and drinks with four married women, who I first met that evening. They were clearly on a rampage to stir it up, however safely, with a bachelor. The very first topic of conversation was manscapping, which from there was an easy segue into each woman’s pubic hair maintenance routine. Bare down there is definitely in, but who wasn’t aware of this? Brazilian waxes have been mainstream for over a decade. Point being it is no rare thing to find that a woman’s thing is completely hairless.

Back to the movie.

The lead character finds hairless vaginas to be da bomb. It is his fetish. If something so commonplace can be a fetish. I mean this is 2013, not 1973. Certainly you may prefer no pubic hair, but to gape in astonished awe at a freshly shorn hoo-haa stirs only incredulity in the viewer. Incredulity towards the screenwriters. Who the hell are these guys? Raised by nuns in a secluded boys orphanage who leave the nest only to discover the wondrous world of smooth lady parts?

The lead character is into renaissance art. You know, where the nudes were usually plumb, angelic, and a tad too young looking, especially since none of them ever have any pubic hair. Then along comes Francisco Goya, who around 1800 or so paints in the faintest of landing strips. Voila, says the lead character, the birth of modern art. This was considered scandalous at the time, to include pubic hair in a female nude painting. Goya apparently paid for it during the Spanish Inquisition. Ironic, considering that actresses today sometimes wear fake pubic hair (called a merkin) in certain movies so as not to offend delicate modern audiences.

The woman in the lead character’s life, Rosario Dawson, knows of his … fetish. I guess we can call it a fetish, and not just a preference. Here is how the scene goes down, so to speak. Rosario says she knows what he likes, and she disappears down the hall into her bathroom. You can hear the hair trimmers humming away. So I guess she went back there with a 1970’s bush because I honestly thought she was going all Sinead O’Conner. Sounded like she was removing hair from the heads of a newly recruited army platoon. Rosario catwalk struts out of the bathroom (I’m too sexy for this hair, too sexy for this hair, it is gone from down there) and the camera pans up her body, past her smooth love triangle, which is triangle no more. The lead character gasps in astonishment.

I am thinking two things. One, what kind of electric trimmer removes hair completely and so effectively without any apparent burns or irritation? I need one of those to shave my face. Two, the makers of this movie are like Austin Powers, or something. Time travelled from a past forested with pubic hair to the smooth operators of today. Yeah, baby.

Friday, April 5, 2013

French Kiss This

There is an article on The Gloss, written by Amanda Chatel, about how French men are the best lovers. I follow Amanda Chatel on Twitter so I know she has been in Paris standing on French streets with French shower water on her body and nothing else under her raincoat while she French kisses her French lover. I have never had sex with a Frenchman, nor a Frenchwoman for that matter. In fact I am an American male who has had sex only with American females, so what can I possibly know about comparative sexual enjoyment across international lines?

Like that is going to stop me from talking about it. We are not products of our culture. Culture is a product of its inhabitants. Let’s correlate culture to lovemaking style.

There is a stereotype for French culture, and how do stereotypes comes into existence? Because they are mostly true, mostly. I have been to Paris so I know the French like to use open spaces. Wide sidewalks and avenues, expansive parks and green spaces. I also believe the unofficial French motto is “every person for themselves.” Best seen at the Arc de Triomphe were 12 avenues converge with no traffic control whatsoever. The only way you make it through there is by taking the initiative and being aggressive. Also exemplified by how the French stand in line. Generally they don’t; it is often a mass of people jockeying for position.

The French are about sitting around and enjoying wine or coffee. The French are about long meals with personal interaction. French movies are meandering and slow, with lingering shots and plotlines involved with relating and connecting.

Isn’t all of the above the description of a great lover? Take the initiative and be aggressive. Use open bodily spaces. Take it slow and enjoy. Linger. Relate and connect to your partner’s body, not just her naughty bits.

America. Ah, America. Fast food. Usually doing something else while eating. In a hurry to accomplish tasks. Achieve goals. Win. Destination orientated. Image conscious. Overly concerned with what others are doing. And America movies? Fast paced. Loud. Blunt. Big on the action and little on the plot. America is about the individual, concerned with meeting their own needs.

Which sounds like better sex to you??

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Someone Has To Bloom

I was leaving a restaurant after lunch, by myself of course, and noticed a flower that had sprouted in the cement jungle, along the edge of a curb. My initial thought was that flower is like me; flourishing alone in a harsh and lonely environment.

The world is most certainly harsh. Everyone wants something from you, and most often what they want is for you to go away and leave them alone. Not that they want to be alone. On the contrary, most people can’t accept being alone; they are just picky about with whom they are not alone. I am the exact same way. Am I not people? The trick is to find people with whom you can get along, and them with you; and how much you are willing to settle in order to not be alone. That is a difference between people: how much they will tolerate so as to not be alone. I am not much for settling.

That was one thought, anyway.

Another thought: you look at that flower squeezing a life outta that cement and think about how hard it must be. Life is hard, right? What a struggle it must have been for that flower. It is inspirational to see that flower flourishing. A testament to dedication and perseverance. Why, if that flower can make it against all odds then why can’t I achieve great things?!

Right. Next thought.

That flower didn’t do a goddamn thing. Or precisely, that flower is not doing anything more than any other flower. It is simply being itself. In fact, growing where it is growing is just as easy as growing anywhere else.

We humans like to confuse odds with effort. When someone beats the odds then we say it was due to effort, when it was really just luck. Something had to grow there. This flower grew there. This flower has achieved something great for being itself; for being the benefit of circumstance. If not this flower then it would have been another flower, and looked the same to us, regardless of its actual struggle, or lack thereof.

Celebrities. Famous people. So called high achievers. They are just like this flower. They are nothing special. They were being themselves when circumstances elevated them. If not them, then someone else. It is not them but everyone else who makes them what they are.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nice Hat Hair

From several different female sources I have heard talk about women and their multiple personalities. Not that they have dissociative identity disorder, but they just have different modes; one woman referred to each has being different filters. I have had relationships with women so I think I know a little something about these different personalities. I call them hats. Just think of a hat as a filter, if that helps.

We all have different hats. Since we are talking about women then let’s talk about their hats. Depending on where you first meet a woman, and under what conditions, you may only experience one hat, and the order may vary. This is by no means a complete list of hats.

Social Hat: Generally superficial and topical, polite and friendly. A woman is likely to treat you cordially even if she would rather stab you in the eye.
Work Hat: This isn’t so much an attitude as it focusing on work tasks.

Friend Hat: This is mostly attitude; supportive, open, and relaxed.

Family Hat: Geared for handling drama and unlikable family members because let’s face it, most of us come from screwed up families.

Girlfriend Hat: A specialized friend hat for relationships.

Lover Hat: Actually interested in sex.

Wife Hat: Houses the rules and regulations of marriage.

Mom Hat: It’s all about the kids.

Homemaker Hat: A work hat for home.

Woman have a difficult time changing hats. Most cannot transition quickly. What happens is women put one hat on top of the other with one caveat: she cannot where the Girlfriend or Lover Hats with any of the other hats. A woman can arrive home from work still wearing her Work Hat, then she puts Mom Hat and Homemaker Hat on top; all three at the same time. This is the famed ability of women to multi-task.

If you are in a relationship with this woman and later that night you would like her to wear her Lover Hat, then you are in trouble. She will never put Lover Hat on top of the others. You have to get her to remove whatever hats she is wearing and then get her to put on the Lover Hat. This is where most men fail. They are working to get the Lover Hat in place before removing whatever hats are in the way and the whole seduction falls flat.

Lucky is the man who finds a woman with the ability to quickly change hats.

The major difference with men is a man generally wears just one hat at time, and can usually change hats quickly. What a woman is looking for is a man with a wide variety of hats (who can add more hats with ease) and not just the standard Work Hat, Not Work Hat, Entertainment Hat, and Sex Hat.




Friday, February 22, 2013

Virgin Moments

There are times when I first watch a movie that I have a very strong emotional reaction to a scene. Not just an emotional reaction, which I have all the time. Not just a strong emotional reaction, which occur with some frequency. A very strong emotional reaction. I am always disappointed during subsequent viewings when I don’t get close to what I previously experienced. Two movies immediately comes to mind: Wings of Desire and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Spoilers below, dontcha know. If you have not seen Wings of Desire or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou then please do. I’ll wait …

Wings of Desire is about angels who roam about the world listening in on the thoughts (hearts?) of the living. Their senses are limited. They see in black and white, cannot smell, everything is muted. What they have is the thoughts of those who are near. Imagine if you knew someone from their thoughts and inner emotions, as opposed to what is filtered for external consumption? In Wings of Desire an angel falls in love with one of the living. The angel discovers he can crossover into the mortal world, and he chooses to do so in order to experience life with his love.

The scene in question is when the angel first crosses over. We have seen Berlin from his perspective: black, white, gray, muted. After he crosses over the world comes alive. He walks down a street taking it all in. The noise. The color. All of the sensations. He is overjoyed with the sensory overload. Upon first viewing (in a theater) I was right there with him. Like I was actually looking at the world for the first time, and not just seeing it fuzzily pass in my peripheral vision. I had a wonderful feeling of delight and curiosity.

On the second viewing I wanted to feel that again. I did not. I was also viewing with someone else, her first time to see it. She didn’t much like the movie, and of course had no similar feeling towards that scene.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou concerns an ocean exploration group searching for the previously unknown “jaguar shark” that killed one of their crewmates, Steve’s friend and mentor. Steve Zissou is their leader and while most of the story is his, there is an eclectic group of characters involved. The movie is about the choices we make and the consequences we experience, including the effects on the people in our lives. Steve Zissou’s search for the shark becomes a quest for the talisman of his self-actualization, and the acceptance of loss and the perseverance of kinship.

The scene in question is when Steve Zissou and virtually all the other characters cram into a submersible to descend upon the jaguar shark. They are all with him;  with all of his personal and emotional baggage in tow. Will they act as ballast and sink him to the bottom? Or will they be the buoyancy that redeems him? It is a great moment. I found myself envious and jealous that his friends have joined him and support him on this journey; on his life’s journey. He is not alone.

The Life Aquatic stands up much better than Wings of Desire. In fact, I own The Life Aquatic and have watched it in many times. As much as I enjoy it, that one scene has never been as moving as the during the first viewing.

In each instance my first viewings were when I attended a movie theater alone. Just me, a small audience, the dark, and the story. I seemingly cannot relive those virgins moments of movie watching. I simply await the moment when it happens again with a new movie.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Older Women My Own Age

On a recent visit to the dentist we talked about dating. Well, he talked about dating. I couldn’t talk because his hands were in my mouth. Which I suppose I was enduring for the prospect of dating, or more likely just to have healthy teeth, because we all know I have zero dating prospects. My dentist is a few years younger than me, and he looks even younger. We are both divorced, so I guess that added to the bonding element (ha!). He spoke of his disappointment in his aging dating pool, saying, “I don’t want to date my mother.” How many women can hear this statement and understand his point (not that you have to like it)? I understood immediately and I think most men would, too. “I don’t want to date my mother.”

How many 25 year old women find 50 year old men attractive? I would say many do. Just think of some 50 year old (or even older) male celebrities. Do these men look young? Typically they do not. They are simply older, handsome men. And many younger women find them attractive. How many 25 year old men find 50 year old women attractive? Not very many. Young men consider older women attractive when the women look younger. Women find handsome men of any age attractive. Men find women who look young to be more attractive.

Move ahead 25 years. What we find attractive is unlikely to have changed. 50 year old women are still attracted to handsome men of any age. 50 year old men are still attracted to women you look young.

Back to not dating my mother. When a man creeps into his late 40’s he begins to notice his dating pool – women near his age – is beginning to remind him of his mom. That is, what his mom looked like to him when he was in his early 20’s. I am not talking MILF’s here.

I will be 48 in a few months and I don’t want to date my mother. I don’t find many 50 year old women attractive; not unless they look 40. Although I am attempting a paradigm shift. I am trying to look at older women (i.e. women my own age) and see them with different eyes. To quote Pulp Fiction, “ I am trying real hard, Ringo.” Maybe I won’t have to wait until I am 60 to find 50 year old women attractive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Movie (mystic river) and Tangent

There are some spoilers below. Kinda. You should watch Mystic River and then return!

I re-watched Mystic River. I have seen it only once before, in the theater during its original release. I would have voted it best picture that year. I recall it had a powerful ending, but I did not derive any conclusions at that time. I have now.

You might think the central theme of Mystic River is what it means to be a man. A manly man. An alpha male. Certainly covered, but not the main theme, and what it says about becoming a man is not what you might think. The movie implies an event in your childhood can derail your train ride to being a man. In a sense, every boy is born a future alpha male. Getting there as an adult is just a product of chance. Events from your childhood can damage you; take away your mojo. Whether or not you make it to alpha male is a product of events beyond your control. Essentially random.

The central theme of Mystic River is family loyalty, completely revealed during the final scene. The story involves three families. One family is destroyed because the wife was not loyal to her husband, thus causing his death. She would say she was doing the right thing. Although she should have gone to the police with her story, and not the alpha male married to her cousin. If she would have stood by her husband just one more day then he would still be alive (albeit with other problems). Of the remaining two families  one is together because of the husband’s loyalty to and patience with his estranged wife, and the other because of the wife’s and husband’s devotion to each other. Right or wrong. Good or bad. You stand by your family. 

Now for a tangent (bait and switch?) …

There apparently is some study. You know, we asked several hundred people this or that so we can get a news headline. The results indicate that circumstances under which you lose your virginity can impact your attitude toward sex. In the simplest terms if when you lost your virginity, including how you were treated post-cherry popping, you found it to be a generally comfortable and satisfying experience then you are likely to have a more open and accepting approach to sex. And vice versa.

And what of the alpha male? No doubt even when losing one’s virginity an alpha male is gonna be all alpha-y and what not. If his partner responds well to his alpha-ness then he is good to go. He might become the classic pin-her-to-the-wall-and-pull-her-hair kinda lover so many 50 Shades wannabes are interested in. (Although, me thinks the 50 Shades wannabes are really interested in a late-20’s handsome billionaire.)

What if his partner does not respond well? If he is an alpha male to the core then he doesn’t care about his partner’s response; his virginity losing experience will not keep him from being god’s gift to women. If he is borderline alpha male then said event could knock from the manly man path, turning him into a sensitive metrosexual man who treats women with respect (i.e. a loser).

So. Bottom line. Go out and get some. Unless you respect women. Then go out and come home alone.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Begin Fantasy Novel

As Patch the wizard guided the plow behind the horse he thought of all the spells he knew and didn’t know that would allow him to plow this field in less time and without breaking a sweat. This was a common past time for Patch; conjuring spells in his mind that he never actually conjures. He had given up that lifestyle years prior. It was just too much work, requiring too much diligence, and it was very, very dangerous. Once a wizard became known, once a wizard had a reputation, then all manner of folk came out the woodwork seeking out that wizard. Some wanted help. Some wanted to hurt. Some wanted to prove themselves in a dual.

Patch wasn’t even his current name. It wasn’t his wizard name either. His mother called him Patch, and he was called Patch while growing up. He considered it his one true name. A name like Patch would generate little awe in the world of magic. In fact, it would be a detriment. It sounded more like the name of pet. Besides, all wizards changed their names when they embraced their calling. The more syllables the better. Although Patch didn’t see much sense in more than three syllables; four or more syllables turned a name into a chore. Rastabelleon. Marticusassling. The ever powerful Sharagatamlasog. Gartalon he had named himself. The Wizard Gartalon. It sounded silly to him now. All wizard names sound silly to him now, but not in his youth. Gartalon held no special meaning; he had liked the sound of it. And since it had no real meaning it took on a meaning of its own based on the exploits of The Wizard Gartalon.

It had been 14 years since Patch last resided under the name Gartalon. Wizards mature young and typically die young. Sharagatamlasog had died particularly young. Patch had retired young, and taken up a new name. A name to hide beneath. Jask. He was known as Farmer Jask. He also changed his appearance, which were quite easily the most painful spells he had ever endured, far more painful than attacking spells from other wizards. 

The field finally plowed Patch stabled his horse, put the barn in order, and washed up for supper.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Die Alone

Here is why I will die alone.

I have not been in a relationship for 12 years. That is right. No girlfriend during that time. Haven’t been on more than 5 dates with the same woman. Nothing. There are several reasons why this is so and why it is unlikely to change.

I don’t need a relationship. There is a difference between want and need, and I don’t need a relationship. As a consequence I don’t force it. I am not aggressively looking for a relationship. I date less often and I don’t go out with someone just because I can.

Inertia. I am used to being alone. Some people go from one relationship to the next; in a sense they never stop moving and it is hard for them to stop. I have stopped and now it will be hard for me to get moving. Being in a relationship has to be more satisfying than being alone. We all make sacrifices in order to be in a relationship, and I have yet to find the motivation to make those sacrifices. Basically, women with whom I could have had a relationship have not been worth the trouble.

I can entertain myself (related to above). I can always find something to do around the house to fill my time. I am not afraid to do activities by myself. I have no problem dining alone, or going to the movies alone, etc. Sure, there are many activities I can’t, or wouldn’t, do alone. But I am not pining to do those things, and I certainly won’t get together with anyone just so I can do those things.

Time is not on my side. I am 47 years old. Generally, we all grow less attractive as we age. I find myself looking at women in my age group and thinking, “frumpy moms.” And I am not getting any younger, either. Sure, there are exceptions but exceptions are usually interested in two things: other exceptions or younger. You might think aging would give me a sense of urgency, or increase my concern about being old and alone. Nope.

I used to say I never expected to get remarried; not that I excluded the possibility, it just wasn’t on my to-do list. I guess now you could say I never expect to be in a relationship, it seems to not be on my to-do list.

See ya in the graveyard. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

That That

I used to think that it was fun whenever I could say “that that” in a sentence.
I used to think it was fun whenever I could say “that that” in a sentence. 


I knew that that dog would not behave.
I knew that dog would not behave.

Then I realized that I was really just saying “that” more than needed.
Then I realized I was really just saying “that” more than needed.

Then I noticed that everyone overuses “that.” Not just in conversation, but I see it in emails, news articles, and books.
Then I noticed everyone overuses “that.” Not just in conversation, but I see it in emails, news articles, and books.

Here is what you need to do. Notice when you write a sentence that includes the word “that.” Then read the sentence with “that” omitted. Remove all that are possible to remove.

Over a week or so I accumulated the following from a variety of sources.

 Glad to hear that your date went well last night.
**Glad to hear your date went well last night.**

If you were to ask someone that knows me they would probably say that I am a pretty funny person that takes sarcasm to the max.
**If you were to ask someone who knows me they would probably say I am a pretty funny person who takes sarcasm to the max.**

She could no longer pretend that he wasn’t an idiot.
**She could no longer pretend he wasn't an idiot.**

There isn’t anything that can be done about the viewing of data.
** leave it! **

We will provide a file, and not a query that you can run.
**We will provide a file and not a query you can run.**

Moving that line is simply a matter of societal and cultural change, and technological progress.
** leave it! **

Just want all of you to know that I went to my "likes", of which I had few, and unliked them all so that you will not see them as advertising in your news feed.
**Just want all of you to know I went to my "likes", of which I had few, and unliked them all so you will not see them as advertising in your news feed.**

In that moment she realized that she wasn’t really sorry at all and she didn’t really wish him well.
** In that moment she realized she wasn’t really sorry at all and she didn’t really wish him well.**

That ought to do it!




Friday, January 11, 2013

Bit More On Guns

There is a balance to be found between all or nothing. Reasonable laws, properly enforced, can save hundreds, even thousands of lives each year. The idea is to make it more difficult for would-be shooters and criminals, without it being too restrictive overall.

Gun proponents generally have lame arguments. Here are their common tactics. The purpose of the below argument methods is to derail any intelligent discussion on guns and to remove compromise as an option.

  • Change the Subject! Talk about traffic accident fatalities. Bring up drunk driving, or drugs. Discuss all the ways people die other than by guns. Win by misdirection.
  • Dominate the conversation! Just keep talking. If something can be said in 1 sentence then better to say it in 20. Introduce unrelated topics (see above). Overwhelm the discussion like you’re a high volume clip on full auto. Win by force.
  • Zero Sum! Accept no compromise. Any gun control is bad gun control. Regardless of what level of gun control is being proposed, escalate the argument into all or nothing. Win with absolutes.
  • Insult! Question your opponent’s patriotism. Guns are the American way! The founding fathers said so! Question your opponent’s intelligence. We have to fight tyranny! Quote criminals and dictators to illustrate their gun-love. Make your opponent appear selfish and stupid. Win by belittling.
  • Can’t beat ‘em! Crime will never go away. Violence will never go away. People with guns kill people so we need more people with guns. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Win thru demoralization.
We should always be working towards reducing shootings and gun violence. The contributing factors are many. Including societal, cultural, socioeconomic, family, relationships, mental health, and access to guns. Save for guns these factors are nuanced and multi-faceted; gun control is more straightforward and tangible. Let’s get some reasonable nation-wide laws on the books, enforce them, and then move on.

Some people hear of a shooting and imagine if only they could have been there with their own gun and killed the shooter. Other people hear of a shooting and imagine if only there was not a shooting in the first place.