Wednesday, December 26, 2012

When Things Deteriorate

This Christmas has not been ideal. That's because the man who owns the townhome where I rent a room has a houseguest that has been here for a week and a half now, even though he works three days a week on the coast of Oregon. Before I give details about this situation, I want to write background info.

A year ago around this time, the homeowner decided to give up one of the bedrooms to get another renter because three renters of the three bedrooms will pay his mortgage and he gets to use that money for whatever he wants. The problem with this situation is that he decided to turn the landing area between the three bedrooms, bathroom, and stairs to the lower level of the townhouse into his own bedroom. He accomplished this by installing two five-shelf bookcases on one side and Japanese style folding screens on the longer side. This makes it more "crowded" and leaves little walking space. He recently added a dresser, which takes up even more space. The truth is, had I known that he would do this, I never would have moved to this place in August 2010. I liked the extra space that the landing area offered. Whenever I cleaned my room, I could move things out to the landing area and clean the room and then return things neatly to my room.

What makes this situation worse is that the homeowner has invited several women over the past year to spend the night or week with him and late at night, when I'm going to the bathroom or downstairs to fix my lunch for work, I have to hear the sounds of his sex life, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. At least a closed room would offer a little more privacy, even if the walls aren't sound proof. But an open air "den of iniquity" that only offers bookcases and shoji screens as walls is just unacceptable.

Back in October, the homeowner took a three week vacation to Japan, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. This is what he does with the money he saves on his mortgage. Must be nice! It was during that time when I decided how great it would be to move out while he was still out of the country. I found a place that was just a 10 minute walk from my work. A woman in her 60s was renting out a bedroom in her home and she liked me. I paid $100 non-refundable deposit for her to run a background check on me. I made arrangements to move in when she agreed to have me as a tenet. On the third visit to her home to discuss my move-in, I was finished eating the meal she had prepared for me (part of the deal included cooked meals), I had asked about nearby gyms because I want to join one in 2013 and make a serious commitment to fitness to improve my energy (and thus ability to manifest my dream life into reality). All of a sudden, I felt her hand slide across my stomach and she said, "You don't need to work out at the gym!"

I was stunned, but didn't say anything. That weekend, I was packing my things and not feeling excited and kept asking myself why I was not feeling excited about the move. I kept coming back to that incident where she "violated" my personal space. For me, touch is an issue. People just don't do that to me. For me, it signifies a closeness and comfortability, thus why I feel that only close friends and family can touch me. Anyone else does so and it will likely make me recoil. My mom has said that since I was a little boy, I always seemed to hate people hugging me. I would make wiggly movements to get out of it. I believe it is because I feel trapped and I hate feeling trapped. Others say that I have a strange way of hugging, and it's probably true. It is done in a way that doesn't "smother" me. So, I did not know how to take this older woman's unpredictable gesture of touching my stomach. The reason it is an issue is because I don't know her and I was in the vulnerable position of sitting at the table with my back to her and she was walking behind me, so she was in a powerful position and violated a "trust" by doing that when I was sitting with my back to her.

At work, I told a guy about what happened and wanted to know what he thought of it. I trust his advice and knowledge. He asked me, "What would you do if she showed up in your room at night?" I did not even think of that scenario, so it freaked me out that it could be a situation that I had not considered in my desire to move to a new place. I responded, "Well, I'd ask her to leave." He then told me that some women don't handle rejection very well and if I did that, she might not feel comfortable with me in her house and then ask me to move out. Then what would I do? I thought about what he said and responded, "Then I would have screwed myself out of my current living situation."

After that conversation, I called the woman and told her that I was not moving in after all. She asked me why and thought it was because she had "revealed too much" about her personal life (she told me that she was in a loveless 20 year marriage that produced 3 sons who are all in their 20s now, and she had been divorced for 12 years and has not been able to find a man; also she had met her ex-husband in the Unification Church and their relationship was more brother-sister than romantic / passionate). I told her that was not the case. I said that it was because she had asked me to switch from my credit union to her Chase bank (I thought this request was inappropriate and displayed potential "control freak tendencies") and that she had touched my stomach. When I told her that, she played it off as, "Oh, but I'm Lebanese and we are touchy-feely people and it just meant that I felt comfortable with you and see you as a younger brother."

I told her, "I understand how that might be true from your perspective, but that's not how I viewed it. To me, it was a huge red flag and ultimately a deal breaker."

She said, "I'm disappointed to hear this."

I said, "I am too, but you shouldn't have touched me."

I bet that she will never make that mistake again!

My move in date was supposed to be the weekend before Halloween. I knew that if I did not move out before Halloween, that I would have to stay at my current place through the end of the year, due to the hassles of the holidays, such as the mail. I was okay with that.

Until the housemate had invited some lady from Connecticut to spend the week with him, where they had sex several times a night during the entire time she stayed here.

The past week and a half, he has had a different woman than the one who visited him in November. In the two years I've lived here, I have seen him bring home one Asian woman after another. One of them happened to be a Mormon woman who rejected his sexual advances, so he dropped her pretty quickly. If the woman won't have sex with him after he goes through the trouble of making dinner for them, he dumps them. He also dumps them when he's had his fill of them and someone else has come along. It's always an Asian woman, and this is part of the reason why I feel so angry about it. The homeowner is a white guy with an "Asian fetish." I say fetish because he only dates Asian women and I have a pretty good idea why. All the ones I've met are shy, soft-spoken, submissive women who act like little girls. I don't understand the attraction at all.

I have a Caucasian father and an Asian mother, so I feel a little defensive about guys who look upon Asian women as "submissive sex slaves." I find this view to be very demeaning, as there are plenty of Asian women who are strong, opinionated, outspoken, and intelligent: Aung San Suu Kyi, Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, and a few others that are media personalities. When this homeowner dates the same type, I know its a fetish. I also know that he has a sex addiction, as he has told me about how he would date a woman he wasn't attracted to just because he needed sex every day. He's a user who has no interest in a real relationship with any of these women and I hate being a witness to it. He is the epitome of a male pig and makes it difficult for guys like me, because in my search for a relationship, I see plenty of ads by women who are broken and mistrustful of men. Why aren't women smart? Why do I have to be a witness to women falling for the wrong men and becoming victimized by it? It's disgusting to me. It angers me. Women who are being used for their vaginas, wake the fuck up!!!

So, the latest came when the homeowner volunteered to take me to Fred Meyers to get some groceries. He's usually in and out faster than I am. This time, though, he bought two bags full of groceries. That should have been a warning sign to me. He did not tell me that he had a houseguest coming for the holidays. He also did not tell me where she was coming from and how long she would be here. He's also not taking time off from work, so when he was gone for three days at his job on the coast, his houseguest was living here like it was her own place, cooking food, surfing the Net. All day. She has no car, so she's housebound in a neighborhood that is on the low class redneck side of things. Even stranger, she won't even say hi or strike up a conversation. I don't even know if she speaks English. On Sunday night, when he happened to be here making dinner with her, the oddest thing happened. She would talk to him and he would talk to me. She won't even acknowledge me at all. I find that to be really strange. I learned that she had broken one of my drinking glasses. But she couldn't tell me. She had to tell him and then he told me. Weird.

Because the homeowner is an atheist and hates holidays and loves any opportunity to make more money, I knew that he would be working the Christmas holiday, which he did. He's usually in Portland from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. This time, though, he was gone on Monday and Christmas day. But the woman is still here. On Christmas!!! Does she not have family? I just don't understand it. Why would she feel comfortable being in some stranger's house with tenets she won't even talk to while her sex partner is away at the coast working for extra bucks? He can't even bother to take time off to be with her on Christmas and she has no car to go anywhere in Portland. If she's a foreigner (her nationality / ethnicity is Japanese, I know that much), why wouldn't she want to see what Portland has to offer while her sex partner is working on the coast? It is strange strange strange that she is willing to spend days alone waiting for him and not talk to anyone else. I have no respect for any woman who allows a man to treat her this way. I don't understand why any woman would put up with it. If it were me, I would not feel comfortable visiting some woman who had tenets renting rooms in her house and being alone there while she worked elsewhere over the holidays. I certainly would not give the tenets the silent treatment. I would want to get to know them and see what they might tell me about the lady they were renting a room from.

There were times when I wanted to tell this mute houseguest: "I hope you know that he is using your vagina and you're just the latest flavor of the month. Don't get too attached!" One lady that he saw for several months actually said to me that she was sad that he was dumping her. I wasn't shocked. She wasn't attractive at all and he had told me that her personality was annoying. He was only using her vagina because it is an effort to find new vagina to fuck and if she kept giving hers up, it worked well for him until she moved away for school and wanted to maintain a long distance relationship. Even though he broke up with that woman, he did fly her up for two weekends earlier this year, just for a sex holiday. And yes, I did have to hear their wild passion. I feel like I live in a whorehouse.

For me, the most telling thing about the homeowner was the one day a year or more ago when we happened to be in Goodwill. It was a Monday. He saw an attractive woman and wanted to ask her out. I overheard him say this monologue to himself: "Let's see...if I make dinner for her on Wednesday, I should have her legs open by Friday." I was stunned when I heard him say that. That does not sound like a man who is interested in getting to know a woman for her mind or her heart. He's only interested in the one body part that benefits him.

It is insulting to me to have to witness this. I want a loving and deep relationship with a woman and to see a constant parade of women allowing themselves to be used by this man and dumped when its no longer convenient for him is an insult. If anyone deserves to go to hell, I think its this homeowner for what he does to women. Thanks to him, I now understand why misogynists are thought to hate women. They only view women as a means to serving their pleasure. There is nothing else that they value or want. I feel sorry for people like him.

To signal to the universe my intention to move early in the new year, I have made an appointment to open a storage facility this weekend to store my belongings and make it easier for me to move out when I find a place. Hopefully, I will find a better place for my soul. I have not been happy with my living situation ever since the homeowner turned the landing area into his den of iniquity. I should've moved out earlier this year, but I wanted to find a better paying job first, which would determine where I might live. But, I can no longer wait for a job to determine my living situation. I have to move and then hopefully, the change will bring about new, positive energy that allows me to find a new career. I can always move again, so long as most of my things are in storage until that day arrives.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - 1992 Style!

Carillon Scholar

Christmas 1992 * La Maddalena, Sardinia

"Benvenuti in Paradiso fin che vuoi, scivolando nel blu...nel blu..."
("Welcome to Paradise as long as you want, slipping into the blue...into the blue...")
Antonello Venditti, "Benvenuti in Paradiso"

This year, an Italian song played often on the radio but I only understood the words "amore" (love) and thought that was the title. I asked the lovely Italian ladies at the front desk of my barracks what the song was and tried singing a part of the melody. They immediately got it and informed me that the song is "Benvenuti in Paradiso" by Antonello Venditti, which thrilled me because Paradiso is the name of the barracks that I live in (supposedly the only building on the island of La Maddalena that has central heating in winter and air condition in the summer) and the song title translates to "Welcome to Paradise". I went out to buy the cassette tape and love many of the songs on the album. I'd consider Antonello Venditti to be the Italian Phil Collins, as far as music style goes. This popular and uplifting song pretty much represents the theme of my life here, in this part of the world.

I had a great year, like 1991 was. The two best years of my life. This year began with the USS ORION going underway to nearby Gaeta on the mainland of Italy. The ship was there in September 1991 when I checked aboard. I like our "second home port" because it gives me opportunities to travel on my free weekends to other destinations in Italy. I got to visit Florence, which is a beautiful and walkable city in a valley, rich in history and the birthplace of my favorite period in human history: The Renaissance. I got to see the Duomo cathedral, the museum that houses the famous statue of David, as well as Michelangelo's other sculptures, Ponte Vecchio, and bought the coolest looking green velvet shoes which I think makes me look like Robin Hood. I tried some Spumante, an Italian champagne.

The next underway period was in April to Naples, Italy. After several months of being pestered by the chiefs and officers I work with, I decided to accept a TAD (Temporary Additional Duty) assignment to the USS NORFOLK, a fast attack submarine, for a three day ride to Naples. My office hoped that it would inspire me to volunteer for sub duty, but I am an Aircraft Carrier guy and only accepted this opportunity for the sheer experience of being on a submarine. It was an interesting experience and I even got to drive it for a half hour, 400 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Shhhh! That's supposedly classified information. Ha.

In Naples, I did the usual tourist things, particularly a trip to Pompeii to see the ashen ruins of an ancient Roman city. I was thrilled to finally see this place because when I was in the 8th grade at Fulda American High School in Fulda, Germany, my English teacher Ms. Floto told the class about her trip to Pompeii and said that she would only tell the senior class what were on the walls in Pompeii. This unfairly piqued my curiosity and now that I finally learned the secret, I can't understand what the big deal was. My own visit to Pompeii proved adventurous, though. As you can see from the photo above, I happened to wear a soccer shirt (the black and red striped shirt that you see). I had no idea that this would become a source of much stares and strangers approaching me and making comments to me in Italian. All I could do is laugh, along with my shipmate who also went to Pompeii with me and try to communicate in my limited Italian, their limited English, and a dictionary / phrasebook. At the end of my trip, back in Naples at a McDonald's, an Italian struck up a conversation with me. He mentioned that I was very brave to wear such a shirt in Naples. I asked why and he said because I was wearing the shirt of the Milano soccer team and they were playing Naples tonight. Oops! No wonder why I received such reactions all day. I have to admit, I did enjoy feeling like a celebrity, though.

In May, I finally set foot back in my beloved France. The ship went to Toulon, a large French Navy base. I explored Toulon and took the train to Cannes, home of the famous Film Festival. I also took at USO sponsored tour of Monaco and Nice, where I got to see the famous Casino of Monte Carlo and marvel at the postage stamp size of the country (smaller than Central Park in New York City). I loved the port visit to France.

Later in May, my command, Submarine Squadron 22 invited a French submarine to the annual Submarine Birthday Ball. I asked to be seated at the French table, the only American who did so. After a little nervousness, I ended up having great conversations and was able to impress the French sailors with my knowledge and love of French culture and politics. One French sailor even invited me to eat lunch on board his submarine the next day, the only American do do so. They kept trying to get me to drink their wine with the meal, but because I was on duty, I couldn't and they did not understand why I could not drink their wine. It was a great experience and I did my part to foster good will between America and France!

For the annual summer underway period, the USS ORION made ports of call in Cartagena, Spain (where I took vacation to see Madrid); Corfu, Greece (a fun time, British tourists were everywhere!); and Alexandria, Egypt. I was most excited about the visit to Egypt because it had been a dream since elementary school to see the Pyramids. The first night, I made it off the ship and walked around Alexandria, buying a bunch of souvenirs, including an Islamic prayer carpet. The second day, I was signed up to go on a tour to Cairo and the Pyramids, but due to the choppy and dangerous waters, the ship's captain decided to cancel the port visit for our safety. None of the liberty boats had life jackets on them and the U.S. Navy is still shaken by the drowning deaths of sailors on a capsized liberty boat in Israel during the Gulf War. While I understood the safety concerns, it was still depressing to come all the way to Egypt and only getting to see Alexandria. So close to seeing the Pyramids, but so far. The morale on the ship was low for the remainder of the underway.

Another underway period came in October, to Villefranche-sur-mer, France (near Nice). I decided to use this as my starting point for my first Eurail vacation. With my shipmates returning with the ship to the homeport in La Maddalena, I boarded a train to Venice, where I spent a day walking on platforms while it rained. Next stop on Eurail was Vienna and into Budapest, which I only spent an afternoon / evening due to my inability to find a hostel to stay in and not finding anyone who spoke English. Budapest looks like an interesting city, but the people had pale skin and dark hair, making them look to me like vampires and since Hungarian words are superlong with little vowels, it was too intimidating to stay overnight so I caught the last train for the night to Vienna and then onto Munich. I stayed in Fulda, Germany for a couple nights, revisiting my old haunts on the Army base my family had left four years ago. I was thrilled to see my favorite teacher, Frau Karsten, and surprise her with the German phrases I still remember. It was a good emotional visit.

Next on my Eurail itinerary was Paris, where I stayed with a French family, whose daughter started writing to me earlier this year. It was great to see Paris again, my favorite city in the world. I also went to the Brittany region to visit one of the sailors I had met at the Submarine Birthday Ball. I met his wife and baby daughter, and enjoyed seeing how the French live. I never would have traveled to Brittany for tourist purposes, so it was nice to see a part of France that does not get many American tourists.

On this Eurail journey, I also got to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was a disappointment because the bottom part was walled off. I caught the ferry back to Sardinia from Genoa and already am looking forward to another Eurail journey next year (this time, I'm hoping to see Scandinavia and Amsterdam).

Finally, the year ends on such an optimistic note for me as I was very happy when Governor Bill Clinton won the election. I admit that I had doubts about him and voted for Senator Bob Kerrey in the Democratic primary, then supported Governor Jerry Brown and then Ross Perot. When Clinton chose Senator Al Gore as a running mate, though, he won my vote. Still, I'd rather have Gore as president than Clinton, but I guess I have to wait 8 years.

That sums up my amazing year. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Mayan 13th Baktun Ends Today

Today is a day a long time in coming. It has been talked about for decades. Cottage industries popped up around 2012 talk. Powell's City of Books even has a few shelves on one bookcase in the Spirituality / Occult section that is devoted to books on 2012. The media company I work for even released a few DVDs filled with various documentaries relating to theories about what 2012 will bring. People selling survivalist gear have been hawking this date since the Y2K bug proved squishable. A lot of New Age spiritualist folks were talking about this day like it would be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and people would suddenly become enlightened spiritual beings.

What was this day, though? Really. Just another day. Over-hyped, perhaps, but just another day on a planet that is quite a few billions of years old. What is it about the human mind that obsesses over doomsday scenarios? I remember the hysteria surrounding Y2K (when 1999 turned into 2000, people thought that computers would have a meltdown or something because it would think it was 1900 instead of 2000). I knew at least 10 people who got married in December 1999 and I bet that many did so because they didn't want to die virgins when the world came to an end or something weird like that. I have not seen many December weddings, so it's amazing that so many occurred in that year. If I had a girlfriend at the time, I would've preferred a 2000 wedding date myself.

Anyhow, as for the Mayan calendar, I never put much stock into it. Who knows why they never had a calendar past this date. Their civilization vanished from the earth long ago. They had an interesting way of measuring time. It's complicated to understand, though. I knew that people would feel silly about 2012 when this day arrived and nothing happened. In fact, my Christmas newsletter this year used the 2012 theme. I had parchment paper and created a two column newspaper style and called it "The End Times." I featured an alien (the grays!) holding a red balloon and included a couple lines from Nena's hit song "99 Luftballons" ("If I could find a souvenir, just to prove the world was here / And here is a red balloon, I think of you and let it go...").

This is why I believed that nothing was going to happen today:

I've heard so many doomsday, end of the world dates that it seems more indicative of the people believing those things than it actually reveals about true events.

Nostradamus foresaw events well into the 4000s.

Most importantly, though, I believe that God created our world for a purpose and its purpose is no where near complete. People still have not finished evolving. I mean, we just had another mass shooting last week at an elementary school that shocked the nation. There's clearly still a lot of opportunities for us to learn and grow. We all have things that our souls want to accomplish in our current lifetimes and it would suck if God just ended it when so many people are still trying to find their way and are in the middle of important life lessons. I know that there are still many things that I want to do. I'm not done with this world or this civilization. I'm eternally an optimist at heart and I don't put a lot of stock in doomsday talk.

But, it was fun reading comments and memes people posted on Facebook. The two images on today's entry are ones that I really liked the most. In fact, the grump catmudgeon meme has become so popular this year, with many witty commentary, that I am actually starting to find this cat pretty cute. It'll be interesting how long it will be before someone else comes up with a new doomsdate. But what I wish for the most is that this non-event end of the world date will be the last of such talk. Imagine what we can accomplish if we focus not on our doom, but on what we can achieve. Here's to a bright future.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

De-Friended By a Drama Queen

On Tuesday, I got de-friended by yet another woman on Facebook. This one was interesting, because I had thought of de-friending her on election night. Some of my friends even said that I should de-friend her, but it would've violated my personal policy regarding de-friending people. I have only de-friended people who made a personal threat against me, or a demand that I do what they say or else, kind of thing. I don't take threats very well, or demands. You can ask me if I will do something, but even if I decline to honor your request, respect for my decision needs to be accepted, even if one disagrees with my decision. That's how mature people act. I will not de-friend someone who has a different opinion than me, even if they express it in a particularly nasty way, as this woman did on election night. First, a background.

This woman is a couple years younger than me and we've known each other since we were teenagers, even though we never really had much of a conversation in all the years that we've known each other. Her parents are good friends with my parents and we all belong to the same church. However, she and I have nothing in common beyond the church ties. She's a fairly typical "Southern" girl who loves all things country / cowboy. She has a passion for horses, which is cool. She has been married three times. Her third marriage is to a guy who was once a Navy submarine sailor. There should have been a "Navy veteran" bond between her husband and I, but that was not the case. He's a typical Southern male and when I left the Navy in 1996 and assessed my Navy experience, I learned that nearly all of my personality conflicts were with white Southern men (and women) while my closest friends in the Navy were all from Midwestern states (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Ohio). I got along great with Southern black guys, but it was interesting that I simply could not get along with Southern white guys. It truly is a cultural thing, as I have never liked The South. In my view, General Sherman should've burned it all to the ground, not just Atlanta to Savannah!

Anyhow, I had never friend requested this lady because in all the holiday parties I've been to at her parents' house (they give the best Christmas party I've ever been to, many years running), she hardly ever says more than a few words to me. I'm not an extroverted guy by any means, but I guess we both knew that we had little in common to talk about, so I don't even bother. Her parents are politically conservative and I've never talked politics with them, but I still enjoy talking with them because they are good people and warm personalities and I like them a lot (as do my parents). So, when this lady sent a friend request to me, I accepted since I generally accept all Facebook friend requests by people I actually know, particularly if they belong to the same church, since we are like an extended family.

There have been times when she commented on some things I've written that she does not like. Her style is to write: "Nick, I love ya but..." before stating her disagreement. I always found this annoying because I don't use the word "love" loosely like she does and I certainly have never felt any kind of love towards her (mostly because I don't really know her nor have I made a point to get to know her nor she of me). I also hate when people preface a statement by saying something like that. It's "cheesy" and the sentiments are fake.

Her posts generally are about the latest drama in her life. She is undeniably a drama queen, though she always claims to hate drama. She once posted something regarding that "Secret" book and apparently believed it until nothing happened for her, so it was a fad that she long moved past since it didn't "work" for her. I can tell why she thinks it doesn't work, even though it does. She loves the drama and she always has drama. No surprise. I wouldn't call her an introspective person, though. She's not "deep." She pretty much lives on the surface of things, which is why I could never have a "real conversation" with her.

On election night, I posted on Facebook my happiness about the results. She was one of the first to respond, which was unusual. She rarely posted comments on my Facebook commentary. But, on election night, she posted that thanks to people like me, God will turn His back on America because we are thumbing our noses at God by electing "that Muslim" president.

I was livid and posted a rather strong rebuke. I told her that I had two things to say to that: (1) Obama is not a Muslim; and (2) even if Obama was a Muslim, there is no religion requirement / test in the U.S. Constitution. I also added a third comment, stating that anyone who believes Obama is a Muslim is basically telling me that they are ignorant of the facts. I happened to spend election night with my friends who are an immigrant family from Ethiopia. I told them about this woman's comment and the Ethiopian woman was shocked and offended. She wanted me to respond with a question, asking this lady in Georgia if she really believed that Obama would lie to his own daughters about his religion. I didn't bother, though.

The woman continued to argue her case that bad things would happen and that we offended God and that Muslims would take control of America and all this other stuff (typical teabagger nonsense). I finally had enough of it that I posted a lengthy comment in which I said something along the lines of this:

"You will never convince me that you could ever know more about politics than me. I love politics so much that I actually majored in it in college, which means that I took many political science courses and had to research and write many papers on a wide variety of political topics. I am also not married and have a lot of free time, which is spent reading a lot of books and articles in magazines and newspapers, many of which are political in nature. So, for you to say that you could know as much about politics as me because you get your political opinions from watching Fox News is not true."

I did not say, but wanted to: "It would be like me claiming to know more about horses than you do, and we both know that isn't true. How about you stick with horses and I'll stick with politics?"

So, on election night, I saw confirmation that she was a typical ignorant Southerner that I simply did not get along with in the Navy or when I lived in Atlanta. Their reality is just so far beyond the fact-based universe. When I told my discussion group about her comments, they were shocked that I would still be friends with such an ignorant person. They told me to de-friend her, she's a lost cause. I said that I don't de-friend based on differences of opinions, no matter how erroneous the opinion might be. I mentioned that she was a friend I knew from church and that her parents and my parents are really close friends, so that's why I kept her on my Facebook friends list.

On Tuesday, though, she posted a long rant confessing that she had did a lot of bad things and saw bad consequences happen because of her poor decision making. She also made a plea for people not to be judgmental towards her, since God would judge them harshly for judging her harshly. I thought it was such a strange rant, so I decided to post something that went like this: "God actually does not judge people. We are our own worst critics and tend to be a far stricter judge than God."

Several hours later, I noticed that I got a new friend request, so I clicked on it and saw her name. I thought that was strange because the number of my Facebook friends did not change. But when I clicked on her Facebook page, I saw that we were no longer friends. I thought that was strange. Perhaps she accidentally de-friended me and realized her mistake. However, based on what she's written in the past, particularly on election night, I decided that I'm glad that she de-friended me so I didn't have to get rid of her from my list. I get to keep consistent to my de-friending policy and I don't have to deal with her rants and drama on Facebook.

What's amazing is that my sister and father told me that they were shocked by the hateful comments she had posted on Facebook in the aftermath of the election. I did not read the comments she made on her Facebook wall, so I did not know what she said other than what she posted on my wall. Apparently, she basically blames everyone who voted for Obama for helping to ruin her life. I don't know how that happened, but I think her personal drama is a bigger cause of problems in her life than Obama's presidency and reelection, or those of us who voted for him.

This recent Facebook de-friending inspired me to write a reminder to the rest of my friends what my "de-friending policy" is, and apparently, a lot of people like my policy or my comments.

The most interesting thing, though, is that this latest de-friending is the third female church member to have de-friended me this year. One de-friended me over my post about Obama being born in Hawaii and calling birthers "ignorant racists." Another de-friended me in the aftermath of the General Petraeus scandal because she defended his adultery and apparently didn't like that I disagreed with her. She's a liberal who earlier this year told me that she didn't want to see me suspend my Facebook account for a couple of months. Strange, how some people are.

But, I'm actually not surprised. You know why? According to my numerology forecast this year, I was warned to be extra cautious about how I express myself this year, especially with the opposite sex, because my way of communicating would cause problems for me this year. I didn't believe it, but now I have to laugh. There must be something to this numerology after all. I just have a low tolerance for willful ignorance, so to this latest de-friend...good riddance! I hope you get some education and give up the drama. If our paths never cross again, I'm perfectly okay with that. I love living life free of drama.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Personal Ad Critique

Seeking Commitment-Minded Family Man - 32 (SE PDX)


Date:


Hello! I am a responsible, stable, warm person. I am a California transplant and I have lived in Oregon for over 8 years. I LOVE Portland and everything it has to offer: culture, parks, food, shops, all of it! I think I will probably retire here :)

I have worked for the same company for over 7 years and I have a wonderful job that I love. I own my own car, I rent a nice house in Sellwood, I have friends and a good life...I have a lot to offer! I have a nine-year old daughter. Her father moved to another state 6 years ago and has essentially disappeared from our lives...no drama whatsoever. I have always wanted a big family and unfortunately my six year relationship fell apart because he refused to help me realize that dream. I am an independent, strong person so I figured I could make my dream come true without a man. So I did. I got pregnant by a donor and I am now six and half months pregnant. I didn't think I would want to date while I was pregnant, I thought I wanted to do this all on my own. But very recently I found a fantastic person on CL whom I fell madly in love with. And since that happened, I realized I do want a life partner. I do want this new baby to have a good dad in her life. I want to be loved, needed, desired. Clearly I wouldn't be posting this ad if that relationship worked out and I realize my situation is not acceptable to everyone. I am mostly looking for another single father simply because they understand what a woman goes through when she is pregnant and all the changes that happen to her body and they will not be afraid of it. However, I am open to all types, pretty much all ages (would prefer that you not be too much younger than I am) and any ethnicity. I am looking for love and a long term serious relationship, a life we can build together. I would very much prefer you to have your own job and transportation as taking care of one child, and very soon two, is enough. I am serious about commitment so please only reply if you are too. Thank you for reading and if I am not the one you are looking for, good luck finding your one true love! 
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This year, I've analyzed a few personal ads on Craigslist because I'm amazed by the demands people make in their search for a mate. Many of the demands are incredibly narcissistic and unrealistic. I think the above ad takes the cake in unrealistic.
 
What this ad tells me is that the woman is a poor judge of character. She obviously has difficulty picking men who will stick around. It makes me curious as to why that may be. Interesting that she is only 32 (or so she claims in the ad) but after a six year relationship did not go in the direction she hoped, she decided to have a second child via anonymous sperm donor. Who needs a man, right? Then when she was pregnant, she decided that she didn't want to experience that alone, so she met someone and thought he was great until he somehow left her, so now this is where she is: seeking a man who is willing to be a step-father to her first child and help her raise the incoming baby of some sperm donor. Are women really this stupid?!?
 
To any ladies who might be reading this post, let me give you some insight into the mind of a man. Here are my credentials: I am a man. I also served on two all-male U.S. Navy ships and I currently share a house with three other middle-aged men. In the Navy, I've seen just what kind of pricks men can be to women and shaking my head when women allow men to treat them less than they deserve. So, trust me when I say that I know the male psyche. Women need to understand how a man thinks. You may not agree, but you disagree at your own peril. Seriously...take these words to heart. It will save you heartache in the future.
 
You know that alpha male with the swagger and confidence that you find yourself drawn to? Proceed with caution! This is the type of male who will give you a kid or a few and walk away when someone younger and prettier than you comes along. Once you have a child or a few, your future prospects for a mate drop considerably. Most men do not want to help raise another man's child(ren). You can pretty much forget about any bachelor with no kids of his own coming to your rescue. That guy would be a saint and definitely not an alpha male type. The type of guy who would be willing to go from bachelorhood to instant family would be one of those "boring" nice guy, beta males that so many women complain about. You have to make a choice here: do you want unpredictable excitement and the downside of having to raise children on your own when your exciting alpha male dumps you for a younger woman? Or do you want the guy who will be there with you all the way to the retirement home? If excitement is what you crave, you can always pick up a book or take an exotic vacation occasionally to spice things up.
 
When you're dating a guy, you need to let him know early on that you are serious about a committed long term relationship. Do not let him string you along, especially not for six years. Your biological clock is ticking. If you want more children, you can't afford to waste any more years with someone who is only biding his time until someone better comes along. Learn how to discern a guy's level of interest in you. He may tell you things you want to hear, but most of that is said just to get into your pants. Why allow such a loser to use you until someone better comes along? You don't have time to waste.
 
If men keep abandoning you, this is a strong sign that there is something internal about you that keeps attracting the same type of man into your life. Perhaps you should not date according to your preferred "type" and consider going out on a couple dates with the kind of guy you normally wouldn't go out with. When you're with a man, watch how he treats other people, like the waiter or waitress at the restaurant, or animals, or children. Listen to what he tells you. What topics does he talk about in conversations. Is it mostly about him, his career, his high-tech toys? Does he seem to tell you things you want to hear? Perhaps he's good at reading you and is only playing the seducer's game.
 
Finally, I hope you realize that it takes more than just someone willing to make a long term commitment to you and your children for a marriage to work. You sound like you're willing to "settle" and that's a recipe for disaster. It is difficult to find a person that you "click" with on multiple levels (personality, soul-level, physically, and emotionally). You should be willing to be alone if you don't find that man who will fire on all four cylinders for you. Being in a marriage with someone you're not physically attracted to will mean a sexless marriage. Being in a marriage with someone you don't emotionally connect with means you'll be just two strangers occupying the same space. You said that you want to be loved, needed, and desired. The ad was completely all about you and your fear of raising two children alone. What do you offer the man who is willing to respond to your ad? You want a white knight to save you from this folly you're in. Good luck finding him. He's probably in the place you're not willing to look. You have a pattern and until you break it, you'll just end up with another man who will leave you an emotional wreck. Your children deserve a better life than that.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Meddling Church Ladies

A month ago, there was the annual regional conference for all the church congregations in the Pacific Northwest region. Every year, the Portland congregation hosts this conference. I used to attend that congregation (from 2006 to 2009). I stopped going after Christine left for the Netherlands because it would have been too painful to continue going there. She was the main reason why I attended, despite the way I was treated there (asking to sign the guest book every Sunday; a pastor who acted as though I had leprosy or something; of all the church congregations I've ever attended, this one was the least friendliest I've ever been to). Regular readers of my blog should be familiar with my history regarding Christine, so I won't repeat myself here, other than say that she was everything I was looking for in a wife and I blew it by moving far too slowly and not sharing with her how I felt about her. A church member from the Netherlands happened to stay with a church family during that summer / fall of 2007 and they fell into a romance that I did not believe was possible. In December 2009, Christine left Portland to join her fiance in his country to prepare for their marriage in June 2010.

Anyhow, at this conference, one of the ladies who attends the Portland Congregation said to me, "I thought you and Naomi were going to be an item." I was stunned for a few reasons. First, how did she know that Naomi seemed to take an interest in me earlier this year? Obvious answer points to Naomi, herself, who attends that congregation. Second, why would she even think we might be an item when she (nor anyone else other than Christine) never bothered to get to know me. It is this point that really peeved me. I told her, "I don't know why you would think so. She's not even my type." This isn't being mean. Just a point of fact. The lady then told me, "She has a lot of love to give for the man lucky enough to receive it." I don't doubt that. But just because we happen to be the two remaining single people in our mid-to-late 30s / early 40s in this church in Portland doesn't mean we would be a good match for one another.

I appreciate the well meaning church folks, who take it upon themselves to try to put people together. However, they shouldn't even try to do so if they've never bothered to get to know people at a deep level. All I got out of the Portland congregation was shallow small talk and felt lonely and out of place on the Sundays I went and Christine was not there. Yes, it is true. I only attended Portland congregation to see Christine. My focus was less on God. Perhaps it serves me right. But Christine has proven herself to be the truest friend I had made in the first few years in Portland. I loved her personality and company. Everything she told me always interested me and her life history along with how she changed from her past made me admire her. She was someone I would have loved to have spend the rest of my life with. She was amazing, and another church member won her affections first. It was painful for me, but a good kind of pain. The kind that makes me a better person, just for having gone through it. In a way, in a spiritual sense, I will always be grateful to her for her friendship in my early years in Portland.

When I told this well-meaning church member that Naomi was not my type and that I was looking for someone like Christine, she quickly snapped: "Well, she's married and you need to get over her!" It was so abrupt and rude. I know that she is married and I accept their marriage. I don't want to be in a relationship with Christine. Just her friendship and the friendship of her husband is enough. The point I wanted to convey to this church member, though I failed, was that you just can't expect people to be attracted to people they aren't attracted to. I never had a romantic interest in Naomi. I don't know why she latched onto me earlier this year. I don't have to be in an actual relationship with someone to know that it won't work out. I base everything on how I feel around the person and of course, mutual physical attraction is important. Without that, all that exists would be a platonic friendship.

I know that some people seem to believe that it is not good for people to be alone and that if you throw a single man and a single lady in a room together, that "making whoopee!" will happen. I knew about this viewpoint when I was at BYU and moved into a house that was owned by a single woman around the same age as me. The Bishop's wife got ahold of that info and confronted me with it, revealing that she was one of those who believe that a man and a woman can't be alone together without sexual activity going on. Well, newsflash. I'm not a horny rabbit who will fuck anything that moves. I have my standards.

I've thought a lot about attraction over the years. The best way to reach my heart is through my mind. An intelligent woman is sexy. When it comes to the physical part, though, I have always been naturally attracted to ethnic minorities or mixed-race women and foreign women. Also, I have never been attracted to excess weight, so obesity repulses me (sorry if this offends anyone, but it's my truth). I have also been a witness to many unhappy and unfaithful marriages in the Navy, which I blame for making me cynical about marriage, not to mention cautious. I've seen plenty of guys who were more miserable in marriage than they were (or I am) being single. So, I know from personal observation and from knowing myself that one has to marry the right person with a blend of similarities and differences to balance things. So, I'm looking for a lady who is probably more intelligent than myself, otherwise I'd likely grow bored in a relationship because I'm always moving on to new ideas. A lady who is comfortable in being static or not interested in learning will be a source of contention. My brain needs to be engaged nearly all the time...except when meditating.

Another point, while Naomi and I might belong to the same church, our views were widely different. Though she did try to present herself as being more spiritual open-minded than she probably was, I found her views to be standard / conventional Christianity, bordering one evangelicalism. That may be fine for her, but not for me. Some have suggested that I give Christian dating websites a chance, but I know that would be a waste of time and money. Spirituality is the most important value that I hold so I would need to be in a relationship with a lady who is not threatened by non-Christian ideas. Otherwise, she will likely be frustrated by my interest in Buddhism, New Age spirituality, reincarnation, etc.

Similar life experience, particularly in regards to traveling to foreign countries, is an important compatibility point. As I learned from working at That Awful Place That Shall Not Be Named, the employees that I got along with the best have all traveled extensively overseas. The ones I did not get along with were those who have never been out of the country. It wasn't something that I looked for, only as an after-the-fact when I try to understand why I get along with some people and not others.

There is nothing wrong with Naomi. Just that she's not someone I feel enough compatibility with. There is no physical attraction, there was no "wow!" factor in regards to her saying or thinking things that made me want to learn more, our personalities did not mesh well (she came across to me as a bit "needy" for attention), our life histories / experiences aren't well matched, and then there's the weight and health issues. I am not a saint. I'm like most people. I just want to be in a relationship with someone where there is a mutual attraction and compatibility on our most important issues. I don't expect to find such a lady within the same church, which is why I'd like a spiritually open-minded lady. Naomi had a long relationship with a great guy who loved her just as she was. Unfortunately, he died tragically young a few years ago. I know that she's probably lonely and wanting a relationship, and there aren't a lot of great guys out there for her to choose from (she being on the low income, blue collar / working class demographic). I just wish that people at church would understand that a good match requires more than just two people of the same age group being single and looking. I'm okay with being single for the rest of my life if it comes down to that (though I hope not). I'm not a needy or desperate person, though, so I won't just get into a relationship with just any lonely lady. In my view, any woman I end up with has to be more interesting than a book. Christine was such a person. So was Jenet. And Yudelka. And a few others over the years.

I shared this with the family who drive me to church at another congregation (where I've gone since 2010). I told him that it is well-meaning church folks trying to play matchmaker that might push young folks away from church. I wish that people at the Portland congregation made a point to get to know me on some level. Thinking that eating one dinner with some fellow single church member was enough to spark a romantic relationship is just proof that the people at that congregation are as clueless as I thought them to be. All this woman did with her comments to me a month ago was re-confirm in my mind the right decision to not attend that congregation and seek out another one that is further away but have people that I actually like talking with and seeing every Sunday. Had I known about this other congregation when I first moved to Portland, I would have gone there at the beginning.

If you're reading this and happen to be someone who likes playing matchmaker, I hope you will make a point to get to know the individuals that you want to put together. Thinking that you can just put any two people together and get sparks flying is likely to end in disaster. Listen to the person and learn what they value and what they are looking for. If it doesn't work out, don't go up to them and tell them that you were hoping that they'd be an item. All it does is make the person think that you really have no understanding about who they are. I don't think any of my friends who met Naomi would walk away thinking that she was the right one for me. There's a guy out there for her, but that guy is not me and he is likely not going to be a member of the same church.

As for me, I've pushed back my search until next year. I want to enjoy the final month of the year taking care of personal things and developing a plan for 2013. This year has been a disappointment in not meeting my three main goals for the year, but it was an interesting year and I learned a lot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Video Monday: Nena



This week of Thanksgiving, I decided that the perfect music video to showcase is "99 Red Balloons" by German singer Nena, which was a big hit in 1984 when I was in the 7th grade in Bellevue, Nebraska. Since I am going to visit for the holiday one of my best friends who lives in Bellevue again and since this song is quoted in my annual Christmas newsletter, I think it's the perfect song for this week.

Back in 1984, which was still the height of the Cold War, I did live in fear of a nuclear holocaust. I believe that in 1983, there was a made for TV movie called The Day After which featured Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue as a prime target for being the headquarters for the Strategic Air Command. The movie scared me. My parents made my brother and I go to our room so we wouldn't see the scene where people died in the initial blast (probably a good thing, considering that the face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark gave me nightmares, as did the birth of the alien baby in the V mini-series). However, it was the scenes of the nuclear fallout and radiation sickness that made me decide that if nuclear war comes, I'd rather die in the initial blast than deal with the radiation sickness and living on a toxic planet.

The song "99 Red Balloons", or as it is known in German, "99 Luft Ballons", is about a nuclear holocaust. In 1984, my family was anxiously awaiting my dad's orders. He had put in for orders to Germany and we all wanted to get that dream assignment location. I learned my first German in a 7th grade languages course (they required students to take a sampler of three languages: French, German, and Spanish so that students would be able to make a wiser choice about what language they wanted to learn after having learned the basics in each of the three language courses offered). I learned that the German word for "balloon" is "luft ballon." "Luft" means "air" (Lufthansia is the German Airlines, Luft Waffe is the famous German Air Force), and not "red" as I had previously thought. In order to have the lyrics fit the melody, the word "red" was added in the English version of the song.

Anyhow, I had fun with the song for this year's newsletter. I already have ideas for next year's newsletter. I can't wait to write that one. I knew what this year's newsletter was going to look like a year ago. Since many people have complimented me on creating the best newsletter they receive each year, I have to come up with creative ideas to keep things interesting. Last year's newsletter was a Top 20 singles list with a "Billboard Magazine" feel to it (I had called my newsletter "Nicboard" and used the same font style and even the same colors for the circles inside some of the letters).

I will play catch up on the blog, since so much has happened since my last entry in September. Hopefully, I'll get back into a regular writing schedule now that the election has passed and I no longer spend hours each night reading as many news articles about the election as possible.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Video Monday: Aerosmith

I've been meaning to write posts about the Democratic National Convention, 9/11, the anti-Muslim film and the shitstorm in the Middle East, the continual gaffes of Mitt Romney but the news keeps me reading way too many articles. Plus, I've been busy searching for a better paying job, which takes up a lot of time as well. I hope to get to those posts, but rather than allowing the number of posts I want to write grow, I'll just nip it in the bud and write ones as events happen and if I have time, to write the older ones and backdate them. This week's music video is by Aerosmith. The song is appropriate because of a quote by Ann Romney that was unearthed. She had said of their college years at BYU:
"They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at [Brigham Young University], we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income ... Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time," Ann Romney told the Boston Globe in 1994. "We had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining."
Guess what, Ms. Romney? I lived in a basement apartment in Provo. Of all the places I've lived, Provo, Utah was probably the safest, most boring, suburban / college town ideal that one could raise a family safely there. In fact, I knew a lot of people who left their doors unlocked (including my housemates, which angered me because we had strange people walking into our apartment a few times). If living in Provo, Utah is "livin' on the edge", then Ann Romney seriously needs to get out more. What a shame to have all that money and not experience the world as most people live it and experience it. When all they know about the world is luxury hotels and servants handling their baggage and room service, no wonder why they are clueless about how the vast majority of the residents of this planet live.

Also today marks my 2 year anniversary of being liberated from the worst job I ever had. I feel like celebrating.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Music Video Monday: Howard Jones



This week's music video selection is in honor of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. We've seen the Republican game plan last week, with the lies, omission of political figures they don't want Americans to be reminded of (Bush, Cheney, Palin, Bachmann, Perry and Cain), and the strange performance of old man Clint ranting at an empty chair. We also saw just how white the convention delegates are, with most of the minorities giving speeches and so few among the delegates that it actually makes a safe drinking game (if you have a shot of Tequila for every minority you see, you won't be getting anywhere near drunk).

As I think about what President Obama is up against, particularly the Republican message to blame Obama for not being able to fix the mess that they created over a span of eight years, a song kept coming to my mind: "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones. Things were really bad in the last few years of the Bush Administration and it appears that Americans have forgotten just how bad if they think Romney (who doesn't reveal his plans for America out of fear that he won't be elected) will improve things. His whole rationale for being president is purely selfish: (1) He wants to surpass his father's accomplishments (his father had dropped out of the Republican primary in 1968 after saying that he was "brainwashed" by military brass on Vietnam); and (2) he wants to be the third most famous Mormon in history (after founder Joseph Smith, Jr. and the man who led the pioneers to Utah, Brigham Young). Also, his wealthy backers want him to complete the agenda that Bush was unable to do: privatize Social Security, end Medicaid, and destroy Medicare by converting it to a worthless voucher.

Things have gotten better under Obama. For one thing, he is the first president since George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993) where no terrorist attack has happened in the U.S. Another is the passage of the Affordable Care Act, though its far from a perfect thing (Public Option and Single Payer are absolute musts). He saved the American auto industry (General Motors and Chrysler). He saved Libyan rebels from being slaughtered to death by Muamar Gadhafi and helped that country dispose of their dictator without a single American casualty (shades of Clinton's successful Kosovo war). Obama is an inspiring leader in the world and popular in foreign countries that hated the previous tenet of the White House. There's a lot of things that still need to be achieved, but it would not make sense to turn back to Bush-era policies now. Things are improving, even if they aren't exactly where we think it should be at this point. People don't seem to understand just how close our country came to another Great Depression. Had Americans elected John McCain in 2008, we would likely be in such dire straits as a country. Things are getting better.

As for this classic song from the 1980s, it does sound a lot dated (nothing says "80s" like synthesizer pop, big hair, and neon colours everywhere). However, from the lyrics, you can see just how timeless and relevant it is today. It's kind of ironic that I'm featuring a Reagan-era pop song to say this week that "Things Can Only Get Better", but it fits. Enjoy!

"We're not scared to lose it all
Security throw through the wall
Future dreams we have to realize
A thousand skeptic hands
Won't keep us from the things we plan
Unless we're clinging to the things we prize

And do you feel scared - I do
But I won't stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better
Whoa, whoa whoa whoa oh oh

Treating today as though it was
The last, the final show
Get to sixty and feel no regret
It may take a little time
A lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it"

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summary of the Republican National Convention

I almost don't want to write about the just concluding Republican National Convention because the photo above summarizes it perfectly. Clint Eastwood's rambling 12-minute schtick will likely be the most memorable image of the 2012 RNC. In fact, when Saturday Night Live has its opening show for the new season, chances are pretty high that they will spoof this moment in the first skit before the "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" introduction.

There was not much to like about the convention. As expected, there were few minorities on the delegate floor. In fact, on the opening night, I mentioned on Facebook that I would have one alcoholic drink for every African American delegate that I saw. I saw one African American lady in a fancy dress. So, that was one mojito for me at my Wednesday discussion group. Ann Romney came across as a typical Mormon wife. Pure "Stepford Wife". She claimed that Mitt Romney's sense of humour won her over when they were just getting to know each other. Really? He's about as humourless as any zealot. As far as speeches go, I actually liked Condoleezza Rice's speech. In fact, it wasn't long until I heard people talking about her running for president in 2016. She's actually someone I could support for the first female president, but hopefully the Democrats will have a few options in 2016.

Paul Ryan's speech was full of lies, the biggest one being that he claimed that President Obama had closed a factory in his town and Congressional District. The problem with that is facts are stubborn things. Fact checkers pointed out that it was actually President Bush's policies that caused the factory to close and there are photos of the factory's employees holding a sign with a date of December 2008. You have to wonder about a political party that is okay with such blatant lies that can easily be refuted by documented facts and photographs. It's like Republicans aren't interested in hiding their deceit anymore. That's what a culture of Fox News will do: make blatant lying so acceptable in public discourse that no one ever faces the consequences of their lies. It should be the case that once caught in a blatant lie, the person's credibility is tarnished and no one pays any attention to them. But surprisingly, even Fox News called out Paul Ryan on the lies he told in his nomination speech.

One of the most telling aspects of the RNC is that Bush's name is rarely mentioned. In fact, I only heard it once when Condoleezza Rice mentioned it. There were plenty of speakers saying that Obama needs to stop blaming Bush for the economy, but not a single word taking responsibility for what happened to America in the Bush years. Yeah, they can ask him not to come and not mention his name in hopes of tricking Americans into believing once again that this party really cares about anyone who isn't wealthy, white, and male.

Interestingly, there were no speeches by Sarah Palin (she even lost her contract with Fox this week), Michele Bachmann, or Herman Cain. It's like Romney hoped that by keeping the crazies out, that Americans won't be reminded of what we all witnessed in the spring during the debates. Jeb Bush actually spoke and defended his brother. As The Daily Show cleverly pointed out in their coverage of this convention, this convention is "The Road to Jeb Bush 2016". If anyone should know the truth about Dubya, it's Jeb. They are brothers and Jeb has seen Dubya make a mess of his life over and over again, including the bankrupting of at least two companies that Dubya was CEO of (Arbusto and Harken Energy). Dubya was never held accountable and from a spiritual standpoint, you keep repeating the lesson until you "get it." Unfortunately for the country and the world, Dubya was allowed to repeat his incompetent management style with our government and did exactly the same thing that he did to those energy companies. Jeb has long dreamed of being president, but seeing his speech made me confident that he will likely never be president. He lacks the charisma and the telegenic looks that our media-saturated 24-hour news requires.

Then there's Clint Eastwood, who had angered conservatives earlier this year when a commercial he starred in ran during the Superbowl in which he praised the comeback of the auto industry, which many thought was an endorsement of President Obama. He seemed neutral, as when questioned about it, he said that any politician could run with the ad if they wanted to. He didn't care.

There were rumours that Donald Trump was going to be the mystery guest speaker and that he was going to do the "You're fired!" routine (with his trademark Cobra strike gesture as he says it). I bet it was poll tested, though, and the Republicans thought it was too risky. They are trying to win over the independent voters with this political pep rally, after all. Clint Eastwood is popular. Even I like him. I grew up on some of his movies and I especially love the ones has directed recently (such as Invictus, Hereafter, and 1997's Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil). In the mid-1980s, he was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-sea, California. At this convention, though, he made no mention of his "socially liberal" views. Instead, he spoke to a chair (representing President Obama) in an unscripted, rambling mess. He said a few times, "No, I'm not going to tell Mitt Romney that. You can't even do that to yourself. I can't do that to myself." There were some laughter among the delegates, but not much. I wondered if they were just as horrified as those watching it on TV. Its obvious that he was implying that President Obama was saying "Go fuck yourself", which comes across as disrespectful. If any president is likely to say something like that, it would've been Richard Nixon (who had an enemies list and called Henry Kissinger his "Jew boy").

The routine was an embarrassing moment for Clint. I bet this will be made fun of at the Oscars next year. It really is that embarrassing, and irresistible. However, I hope the Democrats don't try a similar stunt at the DNC next week. We need to take the higher ground. A mystery guest speaker is scheduled and I'm hoping that it will be George Clooney, but in light of Eastwood's disaster, Morgan Freeman would make an excellent choice. Freeman and Eastwood are friends, so it would be an excellent display of contrast if Freeman showed the country how to give a dignified speech.

Senator Marco Rubio came after Eastwood and served to introduce Mitt Romney for the highlight of the convention. I was very interested in his speech because I wanted to know if he would mention his church by name. In fact, on Facebook, I said that if Romney testifies that the LDS Church is true during his speech, that I would get a tattoo! I felt safe saying that (I don't want a tattoo) and I was right. He only mentioned "Mormon" once and it was in the context of playing with friends of other churches and how they focused on what they had in common, such as sports. Lame!

Romney looked awful during his speech. The make up was obvious and to me, he looked like a talking corpse. Who did his makeup, the mortician? There was little energy emanating from him and the crowd even looked bored. His voice made strange inflections that I was used to at BYU, because it means that people are trying to convey a sense of reverence in speaking that way. There were moments when he paused and just looked strange (like he was not happy to be there). Most of all, though, he lied in his speech. He claimed that America came together after the last election and rallied around the president and tried to help him succeed. Romney even stated that he wanted the president to succeed. Uh, what planet was he on the past four years? Did he not see those teabagger rallies with the racist signs that popped up near Tax Day 2009 and continued through the summer with the anti-health care rants? The last president that Americans actually rallied around after an election was George Herbert Walker Bush on January 20, 1989. America has been politically divisive since 1992.

What a wasted week. No truth, no specifics, no taking responsibility for what their last president did to the country. All they have to offer America is a man no one except 4% of Americans want (I came to that number by adding the 1% who hold the majority of the country's wealth, plus the approximately 3% of the population who are Mormons, even though it might just be 85-90% of Mormons that will vote for him). He has no ideas, no compelling reason to be president, no charisma, no integrity. And his delivery of the most important speech of his life reminded me of this scene from Police Academy. At least that shit was funny! If Romney becomes president, though, we won't be laughing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Politics of Weather

For the second consecutive Republican National Convention, a hurricane has caused the opening day to be cancelled. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav threatened to hit New Orleans at the start of the RNC in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though the Twin Cities are quite safe from any hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Gustav's timing proved a public relations nightmare for the political party that saw its president rendered completely impotent on August 29th, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina turned the Big Easy into the American Venice. President Bush's approval ratings sank below the 50% mark and never crossed into the majority for the remainder of his second term.

What Gustav managed to do, though, was cause the Republicans to cancel on the very night that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were scheduled to give speeches to the conventioneers. This actually worked to McCain's benefit, as he didn't really want that duo to speak at his convention and remind Americans about the party in power.

Here we are in 2012 and another hurricane had the good timing to arrive on the U.S. coastline just as the Republican National Convention is ready to start. There were early projections that it might head towards Tampa, which would have turned the convention center site into a convenient hurricane shelter. Rush Limbaugh even managed to blame Obama for the hurricane, as though our president had the Godlike powers to create a hurricane out of thin air and wreak havoc on the Republican's party. When natural disasters strike liberal cities in the U.S. for foreign countries, Pat Robertson (and Jerry Falwell when he was alive) love to claim that God was punishing the location for their sinful ways. However, this time, Robertson seems to have lost his voice. I haven't heard him release any kind of statement. How convenient!

Well, Tampa got spared. Isaac is making a beeline towards New Orleans, and is expected to arrive there tomorrow on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The timing is amazing. Is God, the Universe, or Mother Nature trying to send a message? Especially when the Republican Party is still promoting their small government / Ayn Rand propaganda nonsense. Grover Norquist is famous for saying that the just wanted to shrink government to the size where it could drown in the bathtub. That's exactly what Katrina showed us. When you elect a bunch of anti-government corporate businessmen to run the country, you will get graft and incompetence. Bush had appointed Michael Brown the head of FEMA, who had zero experience in disaster relief organizations. His biggest claim to fame involved horse trading.

Let me make this clear, though. I do not believe that God causes natural disasters. I believe that God created our world with natural laws and allows it to operate on its own. I also believe that humanity has a symbiotic relationship with our Mother Earth. We are poisoning the planet and depleting resources at an unsustainable rate. For whatever reason that Isaac has decided to show up at this time, on this anniversary date, I think we should pay attention because if Americans elect the duo being coronated in Tampa this week, we are likely to experience destruction the likes we've never seen. Not to be alarmist, but I simply do not understand why anyone would vote for a candidate who claims to hate government. After all, there is not a single corporation that will hire as a CEO anyone who claims to hate business. People with business degrees should get jobs in the corporate world. Those with political science, economics, or legal degrees should work in government. Think about this: would you rather buy a car from an autoworker who hated his job or one who loved his job?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Video Monday: Fun



For this week's music video, I chose the song "Some Nights" by a group called Fun, which I had never heard of until last week. In fact, I learned that this song was released in June and I only learned about it last week at work when I was doing research on a Patsy Cline song ("One Day At a Time"). A strange thing happened. I was trying to find info that Patsy Cline had actually recorded the song "One Day At a Time" for my job. Interesting enough, this song was considered my grandparents' song. At my grandmother's funeral, grandpa wanted this song to be played during the memorial service. I had never heard it before. I could not find evidence that Patsy Cline sang it, either. But when I was on a website researching it, a box appeared on the screen that played a clip of "Some Nights" and I was taken by the melody and had to find out what it was. This song scores a perfect 10 in my book. I love the melody changes, the pounding drums, and the rhythms that sound like some African tribal beat. The Civil War themed music video is interesting, as well.

I'm truly glad that I learned about this song from complete serendipitous luck. I haven't listened to a music station on the radio in two years, so I have no idea what might be current unless I hear it by other means. I love it when a piece of music finds me, the way "Some Nights" managed to, just like "A Better Man" was able to in 2000. It reminds me of the magical nature of our universe.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saving a Life

After work yesterday, I had debated whether to go home or to go ahead downtown for the final Flicks on the Bricks, even though a friend bailed on me due to the supposed "heat". Yeah, it was hot outside, but as I know from living here the past six years, once the sun sets, the temperature always drops considerably. Often, you do need a jacket in the evenings even in the heat of summer. That's one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to live in this part of the country. The climate suits me better than any other place in America. Mild but rainy winters, and mild and sunny summers with the occasional heatwaves. Perfect!

So, I took the bus to the 82nd Avenue MAX stop. While waiting for the train, in which the electronic board said would arrive in five minutes, I noticed one guy stumble off the east bound MAX. He did not have a shirt on or socks and shoes. He sat on the bench and called someone. I returned to reading my book. At some point, he walked next to me and proceeded to fall off the platform, and hit the train tracks hard, but he didn't fall down. Instead, he managed to run into the fence on the other side of the tracks. He hit it pretty hard. Those of us on the pier were stunned and frozen. One man jumped down and walked over to help him walk back to the platform, but he shook the guy off and walked by himself before falling flat in between the tracks.

One lady on the pier kept shouting at him: "Stop faking it!" and "You need to get out of there right now!" She just yelled it over and over, while he wasn't moving. I was growing more horrified that no one was making a move to help him and I had no idea when the train was coming. I knew it was less than five minutes. I had my messenger bag, a hand bag with snacks, and a folding chair. But no one was going down to get him, so I jumped down and tried to lift him up. He was so heavy (I'd guess about 200 pounds) and I have no idea how I was able to get him up on the platform. I had to lift his legs up and onto the platform after I got most of his body on the platform. He just laid there like a dead fish, at the very edge, so I had to move him away from the edge. He did not like it one bit.

The yelling lady started telling people to call 9-1-1, but he kept saying, "No, no! Don't call 9-1-1!" I didn't understand why. One lady came over and knelt down and spoke to him like a child. She asked, "Have you drank any water today?" He claimed that he had. It was difficult to know what was wrong with him. He was unable to walk in a straight line. I know that much, because that was how he fell off the platform right in front of me. Had I known that he would do that, I would have blocked him from the edge of the platform. Anyhow, I was shocked that when I looked at my hand, I had his blood all over it. He was bleeding from his underarm area where I had lifted him, and he had cut one of his toes. What shocked me the most is that he seemed like he did not feel any of the pain that anyone who fell the way he did would have felt. This made me suspect that he was on drugs.

He stood up and the MAX finally came down the tracks. Inexplicably, he indicated that he was going to walk forward, but I used my folding chair to block him. He told me to get out of his way or else he would punch me. I just kept the chair in front of him, like a gate. I asked if he was trying to kill himself and he said, "no!" The lady who did most of the yelling finally forced him to sit on the bench and indicated that the police would arrive soon. I got on that train, completely shaking. I have rarely felt this kind of horror in my life and it was sad to see someone in this kind of state. He did not seem to be operating with full awareness so he might not actually know how close he was to being run over by the train.

I was so upset by it that I felt tears building, but I willed myself not to cry (I was on a train, after all). I kept thinking why people just watched the whole thing. If I had decided to go home instead of downtown, would anyone have rescued him from the tracks before the train arrived? Would the 11 o'clock news report on a man who was run over by MAX? I did do a Google search when I got home and there was no information about any incident at the 82nd Avenue MAX station. I did see some older articles from a few years ago where people were run over by MAX, so it has happened before. This is probably the first time in my life where I actually saved someone's life. So why did it not feel so good? I felt horrified all the way to Pioneer Square, with a stop at Cafe Yumm! to pick up my weekly dinner, as well as to wash my hands of his blood. I hope that this man's life will amount to something. It's sad to me whenever I see people drunk or on drugs. Whatever pains in one's life, self-medication into numbness is not the way to do it. What's scary is that this man was so out of it that his safety was purely dependent upon the kindness of strangers.

I do believe that my spirit guide was with me at that moment, helping to give me strength to lift this heavy man onto the platform before the train came to run us both over. I'm reading an excellent book about the afterlife and the role of our spirit guides, so this was a perfect object lesson for me. Who knows what ripple effect this might have?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flashback Friday: E.T.

One of my favourite annual Portland traditions is "Flicks on the Bricks." Each summer at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, known as "Portland's Living Room", they have a giant inflatable screen to show a classic film every Friday for a month. This year's line up included Karate Kid (from 1984), Clueless, A League of Their Own, and E.T. I've been to at least one each year since 2006, the summer I moved to Portland. I wanted to see all of them this summer, but due to the Olympics and my not living downtown, I decided that I could only make it to the final one: E.T., which plays tonight.

This classic from 1982 has been on my Top Ten Favourite Films of All Time since I first saw it in theaters as a child. I'm the same age as Henry Thomas, who played Elliott, so this film has some personal relevance to me (it was easy to imagine myself as Elliott, because like him, I had an older brother, and a cute younger sister). I remember when the film came out, there was an article in one of the news weekly magazines that my dad subscribed to. The article talked about Steven Spielberg's two films: E.T. and Poltergeist. There were photos from both movies and I think the photo from Poltergeist looked scary, plus E.T. looked pretty scary to an 10 year old. I thought they were the same movie, though. When dad took the family to see E.T., I thought it was going to be a scary movie, based on that article and the photo of E.T.

While there are some scary moments for a kid, it was hard not to love E.T. The film is brilliant in getting the audience to see past the strange grotesqueness of the alien species and realize that in its own way, E.T. actually is a cute looking alien. Like millions of other people, I loved the movie and saw it a few times in the theater. My dad is a big science fiction guy, so I have him to thank for taking the family to see movies like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Star Wars films, as well as duds like The Black Hole, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was an inspiring film and really touched me.

In 2002, Spielberg released a "Special Edition" for theaters to mark the film's 20th anniversary, and possibly return the film to the top of the box office charts as the highest grossing film of all time, which it had enjoyed from the time it was released (surpassing Star Wars) until Titanic came along in 1997. Spielberg might have been inspired by his friend George Lucas' "special edition" re-releases of the original trilogy, but it turned out to be a dud. There were a few new scenes added into the film (E.T. playing in the bathroom, particularly almost drowning in the tub) and the ridiculous "political correctness" that changed the word "terrorist" to "hippie" (what the mother says to her eldest son regarding his Halloween costume: "You can't wear that. You look like a hippie!" Yeah, right. "Terrorist" worked. Why change it? Because of 9/11?). Also, Spielberg changed the guns in the hands of the police officers into walkie talkies. It looks silly, because from the way the fingers are formed, you can tell that they were holding guns (with fingers on the trigger). It was lame. Why mess with a movie that proved its perfection? It would not have been such a huge phenomenon if there were flaws in the film. It worked. The film resonated with audiences.

Around the time of the 20th anniversary re-release, I ran into controversy at work. I was working at the Atlanta Area Council, and still 7 months into the job. I was thinking about why the movie resonated with people at a deep level and then it hit me. E.T.'s storyline is similar to Jesus! Without realizing it, people were affected by the story and its a story that nearly everyone who grew up in a country with a Christian heritage ought to be familiar with. Think about it: Like Jesus, E.T. heals the wounded, he is popular with children, he dies, he resurrects, and then he ascends into the heavens. Before he departs the planet, he tells Elliott that he will always be with him. All those are things that Jesus was reported to have done. When I told co-workers: "E.T. is a metaphor for Jesus," I got laughed at and made fun of. I explained my rationale why and they still thought it absurd. What that told me, though, is that people are too literal in their thinking. They don't know what a "metaphor" means. And it's not as though Jesus originated the whole "healer who dies, resurrects, and ascends into the heavens" idea. There have been quite a few gods in ancient history who had similar trajectories. That's what studying mythologies, or reading Joseph Campbell will do to you. So laugh all you want, but I believe it is true. E.T.'s storyline was taken straight from the New Testament. Think of it as a spiritual tale for the modern age.

I have this film on DVD, but it has been awhile since I've seen it, so I look forward to enjoying it with an audience again tonight. It is interesting that of all the actors in the film, Drew Barrymore became the most successful. Especially when you consider how wild her childhood and adolescent years were. She nearly self-destructed but has become an adorable lady who has an interesting track record as actress and producer. Henry Thomas has been in a few roles, but not enough to keep him in the spotlight. It would be interesting to meet him. From the little that I know about him, I think he and I might've been natural friends as children. Other kids made fun of him for being in the movie (I'm sure the joke about Uranus was repeated to him endlessly by classmates who were likely to be acting out their jealousy in a nasty way). It would be cool to see him have a major role in a mainstream and successful film. C'mon, Hollywood. Give the guy a chance to make a major comeback!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chick-Fil-Hate

Two weeks ago, Mike Huckabee designated August 1st as "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day". He encouraged his listeners to show their support for this fast food chain by eating there on the first day in August. This was in response to a recent controversy when the owner of the restaurant made some remarks about not supporting gay marriage. Instant manufactured political controversy. Every August, our country seems to go through some faux-outrage controversy. Its considered a "slow news month" so that's the reason why our media will focus on missing white women, shark attacks, claims of finding Big Foot, or the most outrageous one of all: in 2006, some American guy living in Thailand claimed to be the one who murdered JonBenet Ramsey (the tyke beauty queen who was found dead in 1996). The media obsessed over that story and he returned to the U.S. to face legal action, only to find out that there was no way he was the guy (still, one has to be pretty sick to claim a murder that he did not commit, especially when he has a strange history regarding women in the first place).

I was hoping that this August might have a little substance, since the Olympics and the Republican National Convention would take up a good chunk of it. Nope. The first day of the month started with a manufactured cultural war crisis. I could tell from the postings on Facebook that this got serious attention, pro and con. My conservative friends mentioned going to eat Chick-Fil-A on that day. My liberal friends were knocking the restaurant. Amusing memes were passed along. I even saw a hilarious video of some gay guy acting like he's working the front counter at one, as Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Herman Cain show up for their meal. It was pretty funny.

My opinion is that I have little patience for overheated / overblown controversies such as this. It served to distract from the growing narrative that demanded Romney show more of his tax returns than the partials he has shown for just two years. Controversies such as this was good for Romney. It took the heat off of him. I want to see his tax returns. I couldn't care less about Chick-Fil-A. There aren't any in Portland, so there was nothing to boycott. I will admit, though, that I do like Chick-Fil-A. I ate lunch there when I visited a friend in South Carolina last year. I love their waffle fries and their lemonade. The char-grilled chicken sandwich is pretty good, too. If I lived in a place that had the restaurant, I'm not sure that I would boycott them, but I certainly would not have eaten there on August 1st.

When a photo appeared of Todd and Sarah Palin holding their order, it made me sick. Anything to maintain her strange relationship with her fanbase, the teabaggers who eat this shit up like hash browns and grits. It appears as though she has to jump into every national controversy to show that she's squarely on the side of bigotry, religiosity, and faux outrage. She's a cultural warrior chasing after fool's gold. This does not increase her stature at all. It just cements her image in the mind of most people that she's clueless and petty. Oh well. Her fans may love it, but it'll be interesting to hear what they think about her not being invited to the Republican National Convention at the end of this month. The star of the 2008 Convention has finally flamed out into irrelevance. Finally! Thank God!