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22nd-Aug-2013 09:25 pm - Unbalanced Equality?
I've read two news stories today on small business owners that have lawsuits against them for declining service to homosexual couples. Two were bakeries in Oregon. The other was a photographer in New Mexico. In all the cases the service of the businesses was being requested regarding a wedding. You can read articles on the situations here:

The original article on the Oregon situations (I believe). - May 29th, 2013
A recent follow-up article on the Oregon situations. - August 15th, 2013
The results of the New Mexico situation. - August 22nd, 2013

It appears the results of the Oregon situation are still to come. The photographer in New Mexico lost the lawsuit.

Initially my mindset was, "This is dangerous territory." While I have my personal issues with religion, I don't want to see someone punished for standing up for their beliefs in a fashion that doesn't hurt others. It seems wrong. I don't see someone having to find another business for a cake or photographs as a world shattering thing/slight. On top of that this just seems to be playing into the paranoia of people that believe churches will be forced to provide weddings to homosexual couples even though their religious beliefs specifically denounce those kinds of relationships/lifestyle.


When I take the idea of, "Due to my religion I do not offer my services to <blank>." and I fill that blank with Hispanic/Black/White instead of gay/homosexual/lesbian...well, things change greatly in my perception.

People that know me know that one of the reasons I have a view of acceptance/support for some social issues is that I am fully aware that if I had been born earlier in the history of our country, I could have experienced serious bigotry. The reason for that bigotry? Nothing more than the melanin in my skin and the heritage of my family bloodline. Looking at how the business owners acted in this situation and making it about race/ethnicity I just find it unacceptable. I think that's the country I was raised in and live in. I know there are still people that wish that wasn't reality, but it is where the majority of us are "supposed" to be.

Justice is supposed to be blind. I think that's the case in the outcome of the New Mexico lawsuit. I'm guessing the one in Oregon will be similar. Discrimination is discrimination. Still, being a person I truly believe that when an individual (or group of individuals) feels they are being forced to make a change they don't want (or especially respect) they will push back. Sometimes that gets ugly. You only need to have taken a history class to see such cases in the past.

I guess I'm trying to figure out if there is a win/win outcome that can be found in these situations. Right now, it's going in the direction of win/lose and I'm afraid the outcomes are going to be used to fuel fires that don't need additional fuel.
15th-Dec-2012 09:37 pm - Treating the symptom.
Now we're getting to the point of pointing fingers at media as the "cause" for people hurting each other.

I think blaming violent video games, tv shows, movies, etc. is an excuse of cause, not an explanation. I grew up with exposure to all of them (sci-fi and horror are my father's favorite genres). I still watch/play all. I am not violent, I abhor violence in real life, and I'm not afraid of ghosts or being attacked by maniacs with chainsaws. Of course, my father also raised me to be capable of rational thought, to think of of consequences and to be considerate of others.

If people's minds can be swayed so much by such influences then we also need to get rid of books, stop telling stories, and ban music. Exposure to media may be placed as a point on an individual's timeline, but if as a species we have become that easy to influence then the world better end on the 21st because we're too broken to fix.

We have to stop treating things that may magnify the issue (or chance of it) as if they were the issue. It's like believing getting wet or getting chilled causes a cold. It doesn't. It just makes it more likely you'll get sick. Also, for as much as those things may increase the chances of a problem, you have to acknowledge there are things that can strengthen resistance to them. To do otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

Oh, and everyone/nobody having a gun doesn't fix the issue of people harming each other either. That would be like wiping your nose in order to cure your cold.
Baseketball - Squeak
When things happen like what recently happen in Connecticut, I have a difficult time processing it. Not FEELING it. Processing it. I wonder how many others make that distinction. So many knee-jerk reactions to the situation and we tend to hear the loudest. Those extreme reactions being “Regular citizens shouldn’t have guns!” and “Everyone should carry a gun!” Those are reactions in my eyes, not thoughtful responses.

If you take away people’s guns, they get worried. They get scared. They get scared of thugs, intruders, police, military, and/or government. Basically those they perceive will do them harm more readily without access to a firearm. Unfortunately that worry is not what they know, it’s what they believe. If you believe that harm will come to you and that a gun will bring you safety, then you don’t feel safe. Not even with the gun. When one truly feels safe, they don’t feel the drive to protect themselves.

Then there is the idea that everyone should carry a gun. Well, guess what. We just saw the fact that not everyone “should.” We saw that there are individuals that will use guns (or to be fair any weapon) just to harm others. More people being having guns won’t stop that. It’s still going to happen. Also, for as much as someone may argue that a person could have stopped someone from hurting others if they had a gun to stop the criminal/killer…you also have to be willing to admit that more people with guns may have increased the chance of crossfire. To do otherwise is dishonest.

The extremes do not address or fix the issue. In fact, the Second Amendment only impacts what we’re talking about in situations like Connecticut in an indirect fashion in my eyes. Now, some people are going to say, “But if it wasn’t for the Second Amendment then the person wouldn’t have had access to the gun.” Fine. Fair. To which my question is, “Do you wish to talk about civilian access to guns, or individuals that wish to harm each other?”

You see, both concepts connect to make up the larger situation of what happened in Connecticut. However, consideration or examination of one does not automatically (or directly) impact the other. Draw a long horizontal line on a piece of paper. Now draw a short vertical line through that one dividing it into two halves. Now write “Connecticut” over the full horizontal line at the top. Write “Gun Control” under one of the two smaller halves of the line and write “Mental Health” (or something else) under the other side. Can you see it? Two smaller issues making up the larger whole. You may also be realizing you can divide the larger line into even smaller segments adding more pieces that make up the larger issue. This is how to tackle a problem if you really want to work at it.

It’s so natural to attempt to take on the whole thing at once. Plus, since it seems so natural we also believe it’s going to be easier to take the whole thing on at once. However, just because it’s natural it doesn’t mean it’s easier, or that it will make solving the problem easier. In fact, I’d argue that trying to handle all the pieces at once makes it all the more difficult to handle the larger problem. Look at the pieces of the larger problem. Chances are there is one part that you have more emotion about than the other (or others). I firmly believe (and I may be wrong) that the one you have the strongest emotion about will impact how you deal with the other pieces…or even cause you to dismiss the other pieces. I have to tell you that if you dismiss a piece that is the most important piece to someone else…good luck having a conversation. Good luck dealing with a person you tell (or a person that tells you), “You’ve got it wrong. That’s not what this is about.” Someone’s perception/belief/feelings just got invalidated. The conversation is not going to go well past that point.

Why am I saying all of this? Because it helps me process, and maybe by talking about it I may help someone else process something too. Despite the fact that I can come across overly logical or pragmatic at times, I’m a pretty emotional person. So, when something like Connecticut happens…I feel overwhelmed. My empathy (yes I have it) goes into overdrive and gets slammed. I need to sort things out. I have to understand my world. We all do. Humans can’t live in chaos. BUT, if we can’t make sense of the world based on the facts at hand, we will create “facts” to make sense of it. Sometimes these fake facts (which are actually just beliefs) then take over our arguments and perceptions. I work hard for that not to happen. It still does and always will because I’m human. However, in order to stay sane I have to back up and work to look at the pieces of the larger situation. I have to work to see the situation as it is, now how I wish it was. If I can’t do that…I’ll never resolve the problem. If we as a society don’t do the same, then I fear we won’t even come up with a temporary solution, much less a permanent resolution.

If you’re riled up over Connecticut, I would suggest you think about what part of the situation you’re riled up about the most and examine that one piece and figure out your perception of that, then move on to the next piece and find how they connect in your mind. My oldest sister once said to me, “With the way you’re always thinking about things I figured you’d end up in counseling someday. How is it that didn’t end up happening?” My response? “Because I’m always thinking about things.” It’s one thing to think about things and just continuously come up with scenarios of how it could be. It’s another thing to think about things in an effort to understand them. As long as you put more energy towards the second…I’d say you’re probably going to be better off most of the time.
24th-Aug-2012 10:59 pm - Saddleback Disappointment
I was very disappointed to find out today that Pastor Rick Warren's second attempt at a presidential forum was canceled. Now, I'm not a Christian and I'm not a religious person. It's fine for others, but it's not my bag. The reason I want to be sure I say this is to add weight to my disappointment in this forum not happening again.

During the 2008 presidential race I watched Pastor Warren's forum (I talked about it at the start of this post). It was a good Q&A. I was looking forward to hearing about this year's forum and tuning in when it happened. Unfortunately, the first news I hear about it is that it's not happening. Of course, there seem to be questions as to "why" it's not happening.

Pastor Warren is saying one thing, and the Obama and Romney camps are saying something different. Pastor Warren told the Orange County Register, "It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day." You know what? I agree. If he believes that to be the case, I find value in that. The funny thing is that I also believe the statements from the Romney and Obama camps when they say they weren't interested. Things have changed a lot since the 2008 presidential election run. The forum may not be as advantageous for either ticket.

As most of you probably remember, back in 2008 a bunch of idiotic tools believed that Obama was actually secretly a Muslim and not a Christian (not that it should have mattered to any sane individual). While the true whack-jobs wouldn't have their minds changed, an opportunity for Obama to discuss his personal faith in such a forum was very advantageous for him in regards to those that had concerns (for whatever reason), be it his "true" faith or just his views on it. This year's forum probably would have had more difficult questions for him, especially from Pastor Warren.

A while back there was a big push back against elements of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because the ACA stated that employers had to follow certain expectations about how contraception costs are covered for employees. The bishops were concerned that following the ACA would result in them breaking moral law for their faith (PolitiFact article on the situation). Basically, that element of the ACA resulted in an overreach of government. I believe that the bishops were right in being concerned. The Obama administration created a compromise. Of course, that's not enough for some...but that's a different discussion. The additional piece of THIS discussion is that Pastor Warren aligned himself with the bishops. Now, while Obama's administration may have created a compromise I personally believe a question about the situation would be valid, and I think the Obama administration is fully aware that right now there are people that are attempting to demonize Obama when it comes to religious freedoms. Obama not attending a forum this year would likely save him more grief than garner him more favor.

Now, you may be wondering why Romney wouldn't want to attend such a forum. Well, there are two possibilities in my mind. The first is that Romney is Mormon, and while Mormon's consider themselves Christians, not all non-Mormon Christians share that view. So, certain questions that have answers specific to Mormonism might not resonate well with Christians watching the forum. However, I think that would have been a relatively small impact. The bigger issue for Romney attending the forum would have come from whom he has chosen as his running mate, Paul Ryan.

You know that little run-in I brought up earlier between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Obama's administration? Well, it turns out the bishops also took issue with Ryan's budget proposals earlier this year. Yeah, those guys are busy. Not only that, Ryan upset a group of nuns with his budget proposals. A Catholic saying his religion's teachings are part of the makeup of his budget plan being chastised by two groups within his church (one a MAJOR influence)? That's not good. That's also something that in my eyes would be a fair question for Romney to face if a forum with Pastor Warren had occurred. I don't think it would have gone well for Romney.

In my mind these are all pieces to why there will be no Saddleback presidential forum this year. I think Pastor Warren is right in that one night of civility would seem disingenuous and hypocritical. Why would he want to connect himself with that? I also think that as a whole both the Obama and Romney tickets could have faced painful questions. After all, if you walk into a faith-based forum, you better be able to take on faith-based questions for your ticket. And let's face it, when it comes to faith and religion in this election year...it's a serious double-edged sword. Kind of funny considering how much some candidates (in a variety of positions) have worked to use it for their favor. Overall though, I'm disappointed FOR Pastor Warren while I'm disappointed IN Romney and Obama.

If you didn't see the previous forum from 2008 I found out that Obama's camp put up the video in its entirety. At least it's supposed to be the full thing. I didn't watch it again. Anyway, here it is if you're interested.

Futurama-Apathy Party
14th-Aug-2011 08:50 pm - Truth in Driving
Over the years I’ve developed a few different theories when it comes to observing people. If I ever decided to go after a Ph.D. I think I’ve got a few different things to test and look at. Still, there is one theory that I have that I give great weight to, and that is the idea that who we truly are comes through in our driving.

I’m a big believer in the idea that, “Who we truly are is how we act when we think nobody is watching.” When we are alone and there is no accountability, what do we do? How do we truly act? If there were someone else around would we say/do THAT thing? This is just one of those considerations I have that results in a lot of self-reflection. Now, I could also add the factor of a “higher power” as that incorporates the idea that we are never truly “alone” and so anything inconsistent with what we believe our character to be would have to be rationalized or excused…but that argument goes to a different place.

Anyway, the idea of that “real” us coming through in our driving has been with me for a while. One day I realized that if I looked for the time when we interact with the most people we DON’T know during the day, it would be when we’re driving. Tens of people (at least) who we don’t know passing by us, and interacting with us while following the “rules” that are expected of all of us (usually). Mass interaction with what is perceived as almost maximum anonymity.

Why do I think there is some level of anonymity perceived by us? Because we engage in things in traffic that we wouldn’t probably do if we were around the same people without cars. We sing, we pick our noses and who knows what else. But, when we’re caught in those situations…things change. I remember once when I was driving a group of friends back from 7-11 to school during our lunch one of my friends noticed the woman in the car next to us picking her nose. He was kind enough to catch her attention by mimicking the act. She was obviously not too proud of having been caught. I’m sure my friend’s exaggerated mimicking didn’t help, but my point stands.

While this isn’t exactly what I mean, I think it drives home the point of us losing that anonymity, even in a misunderstanding.

Look at how people react many times when they realize they’ve pulled a “bonehead” move in traffic. If possible many of us will drive away as quickly as we can from the place where we were “confronted”. When that person behind us hits that horn because we’re not paying attention when the light turns green, how often do we take off faster than we would have if we’d been paying attention?

Oh sure, it’s easy to rationalize that you’re going faster than normal because you’re making up the lost seconds resulting from being a space-case, but let’s be honest. You’re going faster because you lost your anonymity. You got placed on the radar. You were seen and noticed doing something that embarrassed you, and you’re trying to outrun the shame. Of course, the thing we don’t realize is that the same is coming from us, nobody else. Nobody can make you feel shame. You have to be open to generating it yourself FOR them. Unfortunate but true.

Look at how you drive when you’re late. Do you do the rational thing and make a call to say you’re running late and drive at a regular pace, or do you go faster than usual getting frustrated with others who had NOTHING to do with you being late being “obstacles” to you reaching yoru destination? Do you get more frustrated than usual with that person who isn’t going two miles over the speed limit in the left lane as opposed the five you would prefer? Be honest now.

Get in, get out. Sing our songs out loud, pick our noses, flip the bird to those who have no chance of confronting us (which always turns out bad when they do). So many things we do when we think we’re anonymous…surrounded by glass…that can usually be seen through. It simply makes no sense when you stop and think about it. We actually don’t have that anonymity. We can be seen. Our license plate can be memorized if necessary. If we drive the same roads often enough people DO know us.

Still, I think how we act/drive when the traffic conditions aren’t “ideal” brings out some elements of who we truly are that we would do well to recognize. Well, if we actually wanted to take responsibility and change any we didn’t like that is. Or we can just keep constructing our illusions of anonymity, which in today’s day and age makes about as much sense as thinking you can’t be seen in traffic.
1st-Aug-2011 11:02 pm - The Game
It seems like some times things just line up a certain way. Last week I was reading up on the debt ceiling increase stuff, and of course watching things on it on 'The Daily Show'. Then, over the weekend I was having dinner with someone and they reiterated something they had stated a few days earlier, and that is that I wasn't someone who was built for the corporate world. That of course is true as many elements of the corporate world seem to reward behavior that I greatly dislike, and wouldn't you know it...so does politics. Let's face it folks, politics is a business now.

Politics was never supposed to be about what it is now. It was supposed to be a way by which people served their nation. It was supposed to be about service to others, not a way to garner things for yourself. It wasn't supposed to be a career. I have a statement that is a gross generalization about a few jobs in our society, "Politician are like lawyers and union leaders. There was a time they existed to make sure the people who were overlooked were heard, then someone decided they could gain money and power in those positions." As I said, it's a gross generalization. I know not all people in those roles are selfish bastards, but there have been enough like that over the years to poison the view of the whole.

But, back to what I was talking about. The reason I wouldn't do well in the corporate world (or one similar) is that I don't like playing "the game". I despise it. I realize that I am idealistic and sometimes it may have to be played for a greater good, but I still dislike it. Now, the reason I despise it isn't just because it represents so much that I think is wrong with society. I despise it because I know I could play it. And I know I could play it well. Remember, I said, "I don't like playing 'the game'", I didn't say that I didn't know how. I've gone to a part of me that can play it, and I don't like it. It's connected to the part of me that goes into the heads of others and figures out their personalities. It picks up the subtleties of their words, their tone, and their body language. Those who know me well know I have the ability to see things in others that they don't see in themselves. We all have it. I think sometimes mine just works in overdrive.

Anyway, the game uses that part of me in a way I don't like. It results in the more cold and calculating part of me (what I refer to as my "engineering brain") using information gathered by my emotional side. I remember when I was in RYSC I was told (as I was one of my group's "Team Leaders") that I should look at stepping into the leader role more, and being a professional version of myself rather than my goofy self. When the group had a tough decision to make about a member staying part of the team (a choice I didn't believe we should have been making), that "engineering brain" part of me popped out. It was curt. It was to the point. It had nothing to do with emotion. It had everything to do with logic, and it understood the lack of warmth it was displaying. At the end of that day I asked the person who told me to be the professional what they thought of that part of me (as they had now seen it). They stated I may have freaked some people out. Years later I would have a conversation with that same person about how people I used to work with were frustrated with things they thought I had set in motion. I had set nothing in motion. I read the players. I read the environment. I made the calls of how I believed things would play out. That's what happened. I told that person at that time, "If they don't want to be pissed at me, they should stop proving me right."

So, why did I mention the politics? Because the game is being played...and the people usually playing others are getting lost. I'm talking about the politicians. Many of them are fighting idealogical battles and they're still getting railed on. A new wave of Republicans were put into office largely due to financial concerns, and they're doing what they said they would do...and they're getting nailed for it. They don't understand why. All the information is there. They just won't see it because they're too caught up in ideology, and it's keeping them from seeing the ripples.

Let me explain.

First, I don't know of a single person who wants to pay higher taxes. But there are people (such as myself) that would be willing to do so because they believe they are able and we see it as doing our part to help the country out of lurch. Please be aware, being WILLING doesn't mean I WANT. Those are two different things, and that's part of what the talking heads are missing. I've had to explain this to others when I say I'm "willing" to pay higher taxes for a time. They tend to respond with, "Well, I don't want to." To which I remind them I never used the word "want". That usually results in a short-term brain glitch for them. They have to look at the terms.

Second, there were some words that I heard Michael Moore speak years ago in an interview. I can't remember who the interview was with, but I remember something he said. The interviewer asked him why he thought people (at that time) didn't want to raise taxes on the rich (polls showed it wasn't wanted by the majority). Michael Moore had a good answer. He said he believed it was due to many of us holding the belief and hope that some day we ourselves would be rich, and said it made no sense for us to "punish" the group we wanted to be a part of. His response was quick, to the point and reading what was under the numbers. A guess on his part, but in my mind it made sense.

Third, much of our current debate on the debt ceiling sphere has been what to cut. One of those things looking at feeling the sting of cuts is Medicare. And that's what changed the game in my opinion.

You see, if you look at older generations I think you'll find people who are much more astute about their finances. They have paid their part, and they expect their due. There has been some wrangling on Medicare cuts to attempt to make it so that adjustments will be felt more by those who come later, than those who are using it now. That's great to appease older voters (which it doesn't seem to be doing), but not younger ones.

This is where my second and third points collide. You see, we can all hope we will be rich. We can all believe we can move up to that higher bracket. There is nothing wrong with that. It may help motivate some to do that which helps them accomplish that goal. But, deep inside...everyone with that hope knows it's a hope. Getting older though...that's a fact. Needing the help of Medicare...much more likely than getting into that top bracket. There is a difference between believing and knowing. Whether we're conscious of it or not...we process that information. I think what people know is starting to give way to what people believe.

That shift takes me back to my first point, being willing or able to pay higher taxes for a time. Now that some people have aligned themselves with those who will need Medicare more than those who are rich...suddenly you aren't punishing a group you might be a part of. You're trying to ensure the "fair" treatment of a group you know you'll be a part of (someone who is of an age to qualify for Medicare).

Some politicians are just not seeing this. I think more Democrats are than Republicans are. I honestly think Obama sees this. The man is not stupid. Republicans are playing the short game to give back to those who put them in power, but some of those people have now changed what they expect...and the Republicans are clueless. I told an online friend a few weeks back that there was a good chance that Obama could be a one-term president because as with the first Bush, he wasn't keeping promises. But, this debt ceiling thing could wipe that out.

Today when I was watching 'The O'Reilly Factor' Bill O'Reilly brought up a poll where Obama loses to a generic Republican candidate (I've read similar polls). Juan Williams (I'm seeing this guy more often and I'm liking him) immediately brought up the fact that against REAL Republicans, Obama wins. He reminded O'Reilly that this supposed generic Republican doesn't exist, and the real candidates don't measure up. Williams understood the emotional part of the poll and its impacts. O'Reilly didn't.

People who thought they could play the game are being played...by the game. It's changed and they're clueless. The thing is...this concerns me. Why? Because I think I see what they don't. And that just reminds me that while I don't like "the game", it doesn't mean I couldn't play it. And play it well.

I'm scared of that part of myself.
Futurama-Calculon-Soft Brain
26th-Feb-2011 10:37 pm - Change you misconceive of
OK, I've decided I need to start blogging again to empty my head. Please excuse my performance in this one. It's going to take me a while to get "back to form". However, I must deal with this stuff as my ponderings of it directly impact what will come up next.

I’ve been reading the news (and watching it) for the past week in regards to the situation going on in Wisconsin and other places in the US regarding unions. For me, it’s a combination of issues. It’s not as simple as some people are trying to make it. It includes (but isn’t limited to) the following:

  • Are the protests in WI similar to those in Cairo?

  • A governor is attempting to cut costs to help a state’s budget.

  • Do public unions have too much power?

Here is a Daily Show clip that covers this stuff (and more) pretty well. Yes, sarcasm abounds.

Do all these different issues connect? Sure as heck they do. Unfortunately trying to deal with them as a lump sum doesn’t get anything done. It’s an attempt to take care of things simply that are complex. It’s not going to work.

Are the protests in WI similar to those in Cairo?
Now, I commented on Facebook last that WI and Cairo were not similar. You can see that The Daily Show pretty much feels the same (5:30 on the above video). It’s not the same, it’s not even close. Regardless of which “side” you’re on in the debate please don’t compare it to people fighting for democracy in their nation. If you think they’re the same, you’re an idiot.

A governor is attempting to cut costs to help a state’s budget.
Scott Walker was just recently elected to office, as was a Republican majority (in WI). I gotta say there is a part of me that wants to say, “Shut up constituents, you made your bed and now you gotta lie in it.” You do realize that right now your collective (pun intended) asses are being protected by the same party that YOU chose to get rid of, right? And the best protection they can provide you with…is running away. This isn’t civil discussion. Sure, it’s not violent rhetoric, either. However, when a government (state or federal) has people whose best argument of opposition is, “Na, na, na-na, na! You can’t make me!”…I’m thinking you’ve got many more problems coming down the line. Oh, and don’t tell me that it’s the only way things are going to get done. You don’t want the changes rammed down your throat? Well, there were a lot of people that didn’t want the recent health care changes rammed down their throat, and the Democrats did just that, because they had the number. Don’t get all hypocritical on me now people.

Do public unions have too much power?
Do public unions have too much power? Well, that’s a tough one. I see benefits and negatives regarding unions in general. There is a bit of a problem with what I am seeing in a specific argument though, and that’s people saying that their problem isn’t with unions, it’s with PUBLIC unions. They’re fine with private unions. The issue with public unions for them is that those unions (in their minds) use their taxes. The thing is the same pretty much applies to private unions.

If private unions are able to obtain higher wages for their members then the prices of something likely has to go up (services or products). Just because you aren’t TOLD it happens doesn’t mean it doesn’t. It does. That’s a fact. Do some reading on why some jobs are heading to other countries. You won’t have to dig long.

Some stores/companies have unions and some of what they get for their members impacts the prices of what those stores/companies produce/sell. For anyone to say otherwise is ignorance at best, avoidance of reality at worst. So, if you make it about your money as opposed to specifically your taxes (which is your money), it’s pretty much the same thing when you stop and actually look. But, people don’t want to have to do that. That takes time and energy (and thinking, which hurts for some). I could deal more with people disliking unions as a whole. The idea that only public unions are hurting the government’s finances or their personal pocket book is crap.

This financial situation has been brewing for a while. It’s gone across administrations. We’re in trouble financially as a country, some parts more than others. People made the choices they did during the last election to put people into places to make things “right”. Those elected are doing what they’re doing in order to accomplish that. If you think they’re going too far, then by all means say something. However, make sure you stay on target. Keep your focus. Make sure people hear the specifics. Don’t do things that will result in people questioning your motives. If you do that you’ll be demonized after you get caught doing something stupid. Like this (4:30 forward is what I’m talking about):

Yes, this plays in too. Unfortunately, it’s once again another issue that affects the larger one.
Blair Witch - Mike&#39;s Trust
7th-Feb-2010 05:57 pm - Fired, folded and forged
The other day at work a co-worker was talking to a group about how they were coming along on working with each other. After a member of the group made their comments my co-worker remarked that it sounded like the group was definitely “tempering” themselves. When a member of the group asked him to clarify what he meant my co-worker remarked that they appeared to be working out the things they had to in order to refine themselves as a group.

I immediately had an epiphany in the idea that this is exactly what I have been going through lately. Not only lately, but at various times in my life, and I really don’t believe I’m the only one. Of course, me being me I had to go and read up on the process of how swords are forged (because that’s where my mind went). I also didn’t just read up on swords, I read up on Japanese swords because something in me told me I also had to understand the folding process that was used in the forging of their swords. While my knowledge is far from “deep” as I’ve only read a small amount, I did find what I needed to gain a better grasp of the things that were going on in me below the surface of awareness.

I found it interesting that in my eyes the overall process comes into three things. The metal is fired so that it can be worked with, it is folded many times to get rid of the impurities, and then there is a true final forging in which the sword’s final form is set. On top of that there are also three types of steel used in the swords. There doesn’t have to be, but it is usually the case. There is soft steel, medium steel and hard steel. Each has a role to play in the overall effectiveness of the sword.

I found it pretty amusing that there kept being sets of three popping up, but then again when I look at a person the same holds true. We are (in my mind) beings composed in simplest terms of a mind, body and soul (or heart if you prefer). For me this also extends to the three kinds of steel used in the sword. Of course, you must decide which aspect of you is your soft, medium and hard steel.

A point that I found interesting was that before the final form of the sword is forged the separate metals are worked with and some of the metal is purposely broken in order to free it from slag. You see, for me sometimes things need to be broken. It’s one of the ways you find weak points, deal with them, fix them or use those pieces in order to form something stronger, as with the sword. Does all of this metaphor end with the different types of steel and how sometimes elements of the sword must be broken before it can achieve its final form? No. Not even close.

A friend of mine used to refer to the things in life that can push us, hurt us and make us question ourselves as “life’s fire.” At least that is how I always took her references to “life’s fire.” Unfortunately I won’t be hearing her expansions or understanding on that concept anymore, but for now I’m using what she shared and finding how it applies in my own life and this metaphor.

We must be fired. We must be heated. Unfortunately we aren’t metal. When we are placed into the heat of life’s fire we are uncomfortable. We are burned. We are sometimes hurt. Still, that fire is something we must be exposed to just as the elements of a sword must be, because we cannot be folded until we are fired.

Once fired and in the proper state the metal of the sword becomes malleable so that it can be pounded, stretched and folded. The folding removes the impurities in the metal. The same can be said of us. We must be pounded, stretched and folded so that the “impurities” in our body mind and soul can be worked out. Again though, we are people. We are alive, and so this process is not comfortable in the least. The pounding hurts us, the stretching feels as though it will take us to our limits and pull us apart, and the folding can feel as though it will crush us. And we go through this process over and over. It never gets any less painful, but I do believe it can become more tolerable. It’s comes down to a Buddhist proverb, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Now that we have been fired and folded we have one piece left, being forged into our final form.

In the final forging the sum of all the sword’s parts are put together. The same is with us. However, as I said before we are human. As such we have a choice of which elements of us will be where. Our mind, body and soul can work together in the fashion we wish if we take the time to look and understand ourselves. If we don’t take the time to understand ourselves then when we finally pull ourselves together we may not “work” the way we had hoped. Then where do we go? Do we give up on our potential and what we can do? Do we discard ourselves as a flawed being? Do we admit that we are not done and that despite the pain and discomfort we must once again be fired and folded? That elements of us must perhaps be broken? What are the consequences if we don’t experience the process again when we find we are not what we hoped to be? Worse yet, what happens when we find we did not become that which we KNOW we can be, or should be?

For me, this is where I am now. I have been fired. I have definitely been burned and felt the pain. I have been hurt by the pounding, felt the as though the stretching would pull me apart and felt crushed by the folding. I had tried to pull my pieces together and found I was not happy with what I was seeing come together. For a time recently I felt as though discarding myself by giving up on my potential. I had let my pain become suffering. Worse yet, at a time when I was hurting the most I lashed out. It was only an instant, but it was there. Ironically it was at the person who taught me about “life’s fire” in more ways than one. Finally though, things snapped back into place. Within that I will share one more thing I learned about the firing process of the sword.

If the steel cools too quickly after being fired it becomes very hard, but brittle. That’s where I was. I had become hardened, and interestingly I had also become brittle…and I was well aware of it. I didn’t like that brittleness, and that’s why I lashed out. I blamed. There is also the other aspect though. What happens when the steel cools too slow? What happens when the heat of life’s fire continues too long? The steel bends easily and it cannot hold an edge. I fear there may be some people in my life that have gone to this place. Life’s fire is no longer helping them forge themselves. They are bending easy to things they could stand up to. They cannot hold the edge they wish to hold.

In either case (me or those I know) we are not who we thought we would be or who we know we are. I am lucky in that I have once again chosen to embrace the firing and folding process. It’s not easy. It is uncomfortable. It can be painful on so many levels, especially as one of the elements of firing is gone. It was something that I really thought was helping to bring out the “better” in me. Still, I know I need this process as it is. Life’s fire isn’t about what we want, it’s about what we need. It gives us the opportunity to let us work out our “impurities” and our flaws. We just have to embrace what comes with the process. It’s not comfortable, not in the least, but it can bring us closer (or back) to who we are and what we want and need in our life to be truly happy.

I just felt like writing all of this down because something in me tells me that some of you out there that read my thoughts and ramblings might find a little something in it that helps you. If that helps you find the right fire or cooling process, then all the better. In the least I hope it was entertaining.
11th-Nov-2008 06:49 pm - Veteran's Day
I actually have another post I'll be putting up in a bit (two actually...but only one will be public). Still, I wanted to make sure that I just took a moment to do this.

I'm coming up on two years now of working for the VA. I must say that it's affected me a lot. The work and environment as much as the vets to be sure. There are good days and there are bad days in connection to both. Still, I find that much like working with the kids on the ropes course back home the majority of the days I fell as though I've done something worthwhile.

I don't agree a lot with the use of military force. I believe that many times it is used as a first resort when it should be the last. Still, I understand that a military is necessary for many nations on the face of this planet. I simply wish it wasn't the case. The loss of life in death is bad enough, but the loss of a life because someone can remember how to return to it...or worse yet, the life they try to returns to leaves them...indescribable to me, and I haven't even experienced it.

There are those who would say that the people who chose to be in the military made their choice. Well, first of all that isn't the case for all. Many who are alive today are still from a generation that was drafted into serving their country. Regardless of their support of the 'why' those who served, served. I would hope that in a case of extreme need I would have the ability to do such a thing, and god would forgive me for the damage and pain I might bring to this world. If it's the greater good (as it's perceived), then I would hope I have what it takes.

I chose not to serve in the military because I had no desire to do so, nor do I now. But I do now serve those who did make that choice. Regardless of reasons then, or their outlook on their service now, I serve them. That is how I see it. Sure, I get a paycheck so that I am able to bring my skill set here but that isn't the point. For me the point is to try and help those who need and want it.

I sincerely hope I'm doing right by them.
Clerks Ani - USA!
7th-Nov-2008 02:18 pm - Role Models
I plan on seeing Role Models this weekend. I've wanted to see this movie since I saw the preview and they had the small bit of the scene of Paul Rudd ordering coffee in what I'm guessing is Starbucks. Why is it funny? Cuz the few times I do go into Starbucks I say "large", "medium", or "small." OK, I never order a small, but you get the point. Nobody taking my order has ever corrected me. If they did they would probably get a bit of a response similar to the one Rudd gives in that scene, though mine would hinge on the fact that apparently Starbucks in non-English speaking countries don't have the idiotic terms they have in front of us in the US. I have been informed that in China you can order with the words I use, or the Chinese language equivalent of "large size", "between size" and "small size." Yeah, suck it Starbucks for being pompous when you don't have to. Don't feed me that atmosphere crap.

Anyway, they had more of the scene last night when Rudd was on The Daily Show. If you liked the small piece of the coffee thing from the trailer watch this. If you haven't seen it, watch this. The clip is at the start.

I want to see this movie even more after seeing more of that scene and finding out the The State's David Wain helped write the screen play and directed the movie. The State alum Ken Marino also helped write the screen play along with Paul Rudd. Yee-haw!
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