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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oy, These People!

Answers For Everything

Hey All -

Just add to the topic of tonight's earlier post, we all know people like this.  Conversing with them is frustrating, uncomfortable, and sometimes intolerable because no matter what you say to them, they have an answer for everything.

This trait is the most pronounced when they are doing or saying something that is particularly unpleasant, harmful, or just plain not smart.  No matter how respectfully, courteously, or constructively an explanation or an explanation is given, it is either (a) not acknowledged, as the subject is changed with lightning speed; (b) answered with an infinite number of excuses, based on details, minutiae, and the proverbial ifs, ands, and buts; (c) met with a defensive "don't judge me;" or (d) drowned out with the intellectual equivalent of horse manure.

Now keep in mind, unlike them, we don't know everything.  We can express opinions tactfully, and explain why it might not be a good idea for them to proceed on their present course.  But the chances are, however unlikely, that some of that minutiae they fling at us might actually make sense, at least to them.  More importantly, this flung minutiae has a hidden benefit - the annoyance and irritation that it causes lessens any desire there once was to sympathize, to offer assistance, or be anyone's little helper.  

In other words, do you really want to hear all of that?  Is your life so empty and dull that you have adequate room for all of that?  I should hope your answer is no to both.  The fact that these individuals obviously have enough room for all of that should be a clear indicator that you're not dealing with someone who thinks like you do.

As Beta Males, we pride ourselves on doing good for others.  We are proud of being compassionate, sensitive, chivalrous, and when necessary, selfless.  Because of people like this, these wonderful qualities cannot be provided to everyone.

Try it once, maybe twice.  If they still have "answers for everything," or they just keep bobbing and weaving, then just walk away.  There's no shame in just saying "you win" to someone like this.  As set forth in the earlier post, let them either figure it out for themselves, or simply fall on their own sword, without your involvement.  It's OK to be more selfish than selfless when confronted with all of that.

Just let them do, or say, as they wilt.  You never know, they might still turn around and see the light on their own anyway.

Hope you all had a satisfying 2013 -- but let's all have an even better 2014!

Not Everyone Gets It

Hello All -- Time for the story of the Ten Plagues.

G-D instructs Moses and Aaron to give a more visual pitch to Pharaoh.  Despite His earlier anger at Moses for asking for Aaron's assistance, He decides to "work with" them by asking Moses to play the role of G-D, and Aaron to play the role of His prophet.  Apparently, there is such a thing as flexibility.

They demonstrate how Moses' rod can turn into a snake.  Pharaoh's sorcerers perform the same trick, but Moses' snake devours the others.  Given the snake's prior role in tempting Adam and Eve, it appears that the snake had been an enforcer of The Almighty, rather than an agent of evil.

Despite this clear use of "signs and wonders" to campaign for the slaves' freedom, Pharaoh denies the request once more.  So G-D ups the ante.  Hitting Egypt where it hurts, he turns the all-important Nile River to blood, rendering it undrinkable, and then causes an overpopulation of frogs.  Pharaoh agrees to free the Hebrews if the plagues cease, and they do, and then he retracts his agreement.  And then came the lice, the cattle disease, the boils, and the hail.  Every time Pharaoh promised to free the slaves in order for the plagues to stop, he turned back on his word, because he apparently believed that no further consequences would result.

Everyone knows someone like this.  You can explain something to them until you're blue in the face, they will look for and find an excuse to disregard it.   You can make the best argument you can, with all of the evidence at your disposal, and they can still reject it anyway.  You can actually provide the consequences for their actions personally, and watch them suffer those consequences until they can't stand them anymore, and like this Pharaoh, they simply will not learn.

Moses and Aaron were answering to a Higher Authority that wanted to remind His Chosen People that He existed, and that He would bring them to where they needed to be at a time that they were not able to do so.  Since they were not the ones making the decisions on this campaign, they did not have the option of throwing up their hands in despair before the job was finished.  We, on the other hand, have the good fortune, and the luxury, to do exactly that.

When the Point of Frustration is reached, going further will only harm yourself.  You'll only be banging your head against the wall, watching your words enter one ear and exit the other, and wasting your time, breath, and energy on an unprofitable venture.

The better course of action here is to just give these people enough rope to hang themselves.  If they won't heed warnings, advice, and constructive criticism, then they will either (a) learn things the hard way at the last minute, or they will (b) go down in flames, yet again.  You can then relax on the sidelines, either silently cheering that they finally got it, or shaking your head because they just knew everything better than you did.  At that point, it's no longer your concern, it is only theirs.

Go In Peace . . . .

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Carjacking at Short Hills Mall

Hey All --

A very sad story developed this week.  At a mall on Short Hills, New Jersey, a young husband was murdered by carjackers when he tried to defend his wife from being hurt, and his vehicle from being stolen.  Without undue delay, all four suspects were arrested, while a young widow was left only with memories of how her beloved shared his life with her, and ultimately gave it for her.

Most law enforcement agents have been warning us for years, that if it looks like a life and death matter, just let the thugs take your car.  The vehicle can either be retraced with LoJack, or possibly replaced, but people can't.  This is obviously the safer choice, but to borrow a Star Trek quote, we will not debate the murder victim's judgment at these proceedings.

But I will address relationships instead.  Last week I spoke about how there are women who would rather be with an alphole instead of a nice guy.  This may or may not be another reason why.

Some will admit it, and some won't, but many women still would prefer a man who could turn into a superhero, beat up the bad guys, slay the dragon, and take any hit that comes his way, as long as it keeps her safe from harm.  The expectation is that those alpholes, so badass and fearless, would turn into Jason Statham and lay those thugs out all by themselves.  In this regard, the women don't really see these men as alpholes at all, but as superheroes and as knights in shining armor, who have earned the right to show a small amount of cockiness, like Han Solo.  I question how many of those alpholes can really live up to all that posturing, but that's another post for another time.

99.9% of the time, there is no need for men in a civilized society to have these skills, as the chance of being so threatened is less likely than it was in the Old West or in the Middle Ages.  However, here we have the 0.1% of the time that the choice must be made.

Gentlemen, a central purpose of this blog is to convince you, the beta males, that you can still be assertive, confident, self-respecting, and even courageous, without behaving like an alphole or compromising your values.  The facts we've learned about this murder victim's tragically short life demonstrates that he was not an alphole in the slightest.  Rather, he was a loyal and loving husband who chose to disregard his own safety in favor of his wife's safety.  The (alleged) alpholes in this story have all been apprehended, and unless they hire a top-flight defense attorney, they will receive their comeuppance.

But make no mistake.  If you want to get married, even if you are living in the safest neighborhood possible, even if you've never been in a bar fight, even if there is no badass quality about you to speak of, be aware that your wife to be expects you to do the same thing that this man did.  In the heat of the moment, she may beg you not to step up to the criminal, but she really wants you to protect her anyway.

I'm not saying that this is right or wrong, but I am saying that this is real.  And life or death situations do not lend themselves to discussions of values or morals.

Hopefully, if you find yourself in this kind of situation, you would survive with a few scars, some PTSD, and an interview on the Today Show.  But the expectation is that you prepare yourself to lay down your life for your beloved.  If you are unsure whether or not you're able to do this, then you shouldn't get married.

And if you are already married, do a gut check.  Can you stand up to someone who has a gun to protect your wife?  Yes, some of you may be permitted to have a weapon on you already, but most of you don't.  Can you still face down an armed criminal while you're unarmed?  If not, get yourself in counseling and figure out why that is, so you can take the appropriate action.

Last but not least, I extend my sincerest condolences to the family of Dustin Friedland.  A good man and a loyal husband did not deserve to have his life cut short by miscreants.  I can only hope that you receive some measure of justice, and that it somehow provides closure for your loss.

Raw Deals

Hey all, about that time.  We're now beginning the Book of Exodus!

Joseph may have been the Man in Egypt, but his time ended.  A few generations passed, and the Hebrews grew fruitful and multiplied, as commanded.  But then new leadership took over, and felt threatened by the fruitfulness and enslaved them.  When that didn't keep them in line, he ruled that all newborn Hebrew males must be drowned in the Nile.

Moses, son of a Levite, was spared this cruel fate by being sent down the Nile in a wicker basket, to be discovered by the Pharaoh's daughter, who raised him as her own.  But instead of reveling in Egyptian power like Joseph did, Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster he saw beating a slave, and became an urban legend among the other slaves for this actions, meaning he had to flee to Midian.

While he was hiding out, G-D appeared to Moses as a burning bush at Mount Horeb and chooses him to free the slaves from Egypt.  He will go in G-D's name, explain this to the Hebrew elders, and explain that the Hebrews will be freed from slavery and given the land currently occupied by the Canaanites.  He also assured Moses that he need not fear what the Egyptians might do, because He'll handle them.  Pharaoh, similar to bullies of later generations, did not back off from anything unless it was stronger than him, so G-D would be Moses' muscle.  And He'd get the average Egyptian to start sympathizing with the slaves, too!

And just to prove Who was making it all happened, He showed a few "signs and wonders."  Moses still felt reluctant to take this job, as a "man of few words," but G-D told him to not even sweat it, He would give Moses the words, but if he'd rather use a mouthpiece anyway, He'll tap his long-lost brother Aaron into service.  And don't worry about everyone who wanted to nail you for killing that taskmaster, the statute has run, so nobody's going to hold that against you.

So he and Aaron give the good news to the Hebrews, and put on the signs & wonders show, and they give them credence.  They then ask Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go out for three days into the wilderness to sacrifice to G-D.  Pharaoh not only shuts them down, he directs the slave to make bricks without providing them with the straw needed to do so.

Moses asks G-D why He allowed Pharaoh to hurt the Hebrews, and G-D says, "Just wait."

Sometimes we find ourselves with a goal or mission that makes little sense to others.  Sometimes our reasoning looks crazy or stupid to those who think they know it all, and don't.  But if you know for a fact that something is right, you do yourself a disservice when you hold back.

When Moses complained that he'd rather have someone else actually do the talking in Pharaoh's Court, the text indicates that G-D was angry with him for making that request.  He had no problem talking with his fists when he killed a taskmaster to protect a slave, why is he getting scared to actually speak to Pharaoh?  Possibly because that current Pharaoh grew up with him in the palace, and might be less receptive to his new role?  Maybe because somebody could recognize his voice and say, "Why should we believe that this murderer is carrying a message from a foreign deity?"  Either way, this was a big blunder on Moses' part, because he let guilt and fear from the past immobilize him.  

He may have had a prior station in life that he had to give up for a good reason.  But it was still his calling to free those same people for whom he killed to protect.  Instead of realizing that his sense of justice, which led him to take a life, had come full circle, as he was now about to protect the entire Hebrew nation, instead of just one slave.  But he was too scared to take on this role, so he had to have his own personal spokesman.

Not to get off on a tangent, but this reminds me of those situations where a family is involved in a newsworthy story, and who speaks to the media?  A "family spokesperson."  More often than not, this "family spokesperson" doesn't even have the same name as the family.  And more often than not, this "family spokesperson" is defensive and abrasive, and forever demands that the media just "leave the family alone," knowing full well that this demand does not make the story less newsworthy.  The "family spokesperson" does nothing but prevent the real parties to the story from making an appearance, and serves as a confirmation that the actual "family" are cowards who will not speak for themselves.

Not everyone stays cool and calm when visited by a forgotten diety who makes clear demands and scares you a little bit so you'll know He's real.  Moses gets some credit because of that, but he could have grown enough courage to agree to challenge Pharaoh on his own, without Aaron as a "spokesperson," especially after G-D promised to protect him from anything that Pharaoh would try to do.  This may explain why G-D allowed Pharaoh to tighten his grip on the Hebrews a little bit . . . if you doubt yourself, you'll lose ground, but if you trust yourself, you'll advance.

And so, my Beta Brothers, take this story from the beginning of Exodus to heart.  As cute, adorable, and comfortable as it may be to be a reluctant and unassuming leader, it is far better in the long run to be a confident one.  You can still be a nice guy, but try being nice and assertive simultaneously -- it really can be done!

Go Your Way . . . .

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Negative Feedback

Hey All -- while the winter blows cold around me, a few ideas are percolating . . . .

Adding to my prior post on "the rules," I'd like to address those moments in life when someone else tells you that what you do and say is not something they agree with.  A little emotional maturity is needed, as follows:

Who, exactly, are they?

Chances are, as is often the case with beta males, there might be a woman who just doesn't feel the same for you that you feel for her.  And it's possible that, despite her statements that she would prefer a nice guy, she somehow manages to be with a world-class alphole.  Even showing her what's best about you doesn't persuade her or help her see the light, as the alphole's hoots and hollers drown out your argument.

Little-known secret about these women -- they are just as flawed as you and me.  They are not goddesses, they are not royalty, and they are not the only females in existence.  You know how we get blinded by attractive women just by their physical appearance?  How we believe that they are the only women worth being with?  How, try as we might, we're always drawn to them?  That's exactly the same thing these women feel when the alpholes roll into town.  They are hard-wired to be attracted to these jabronies the same way we're hard-wired to be drawn to them.  It doesn't mean that they are mean or stupid, or that they deserve to suffer consequences.  It just means that they're human just like us.

That being said, their rejection of you is not the end-all and be-all, either.  If that's the type of man that makes them feel complete, then deep down, you owe them a small amount of gratitude.  If they chose to be with you instead, it would not be genuine.  Their heart would not be in it, and once they realized that they still expected you to have some of those badass alphole qualities, they'd just get annoyed with you for not being that way.  A woman who really wants somebody that you're not has the potential to make your life significantly less pleasant than it would be without her.  She wants a "real man" instead of you?  Good!  Do yourself a favor and let her go have him!  Why pretend to be something you're not, or better yet, something you hate, just to impress someone who'd be happier with someone else?  That's a waste of time.

But that doesn't mean that you can't find someone else that you'll still be attracted to anyway.  There are tons of women out there who are not attracted to these alpholes, and would be more than happy to welcome someone like you into their lives.  How you meet them, and how you succeed with them will be dealt with another time, but for now, it's enough to say that this type of rejection should have minimal to no impact on your self-esteem.

Lately, this blog has encountered some negative feedback as well.  A few gentlemen who consider themselves proud alpha males are not in agreement with some of my recent posts and tweets.  Since their perspective and experiences are entirely different from mine, I expect and welcome their opinions.  I think that criticism would be better served in written format here on Blogger or on Facebook, but they don't prefer that method for some reason.

First and foremost, they seem unhappy with the term "alphole."  For all intents and purposes, this is a slightly hipper term to describe a bully, by indicating that he is an @$$#ole who embodies the worse qualities of an alpha male.  It is clear and obvious that not every alpha male is an alphole, so I don't feel it's necessary to state it.  The reason I do not parse my words, or become extra specific,or put up disclaimers to avoid generalizations, is that I simply don't feel the need to soft-pedal this message.  I cannot afford to homogenize and decaffeinate a central theme of this blog to tip-toe around someone else's offense-o-meter.  I cannot change this blog just because someone else doesn't like it.  All I can say for a response is, if you're a friend of mine, you are certainly not an alphole.  If you are not a friend of mine, and honestly have to ask whether you are or aren't one, you need a little bit of self-reflection.

Secondly, they minimize this blog's purpose.  Yes, there are people who suffer from life-threatening illnesses, missing limbs, or have had to rebuild their lives out of complete and utter disasters.  And yes, the subject matter of this blog is about something less than that.  But that doesn't make the following problems irrelevant:

There are still men who lack confidence and self-esteem.

There are still men who need additional development.

There are still men who incorrectly learned to be ruled by their emotions, and not by common sense.

There are still men who have been abused, physically, emotionally, or both.

There are still men who cannot simply "get over it," because they have no idea how.

There are still men who understand how to be good, but receive no recognition for it.

There are still men who are giving and selfless, and are hopelessly taken advantage of because of it.

There are still men who sacrifice their own hopes and dreams to play a part in someone else's show.

There are still men who have screwed up big time.

There are still men who need help, even if they don't want to admit it.

There are still men who want to be happy, and aren't.

There are still men who want to live the life they deserve.

No, none of them are facing impending death.  But some may be dying a slow, painful death.  Self-actualization could easily avert that.

Once again, I invite those who feel this way to voice their opinions here where I can see them.  Otherwise, if you're not in agreement with this blog's purpose, you don't have to read it.


Reconciliation For The Next Generation

Hey All -- sorry I missed you last week, but here's the straight dope from the Good Book:

Just as Jacob and Esau reconciled, so did Joseph and his brothers.  He had him right where he could make their lives absolutely miserable, given the power he'd earned, but somehow he saw fit to reveal his true identity and to forgive them for leaving him for dead in that ditch.

Many times in this blog, I have decried the evil of bullies, targeted the alpholes of this world, and sought to eliminate those who enabled them.  But forgiving them?  Letting it go?  Maybe giving them a friendly reminder that you have the means and the desire to flatten them, but you choose not to because it's better to be nice?!?!?!?!

Let's explore this in further detail . . . .

There's a friend of mine who casts a large and imposing figure.  The chance of anyone pushing him around or starting a bar fight with him is slim and none.  Still, when he was younger and smaller, he was bullied.  There was a classic high school loud mouth, undisciplined, spoiled moron who pelted him with spitballs and called him a lot of names bordering on racism.  Years later, after he'd grown to his full size of 6'5, he ran into this jabroni and invited him to throw a spitball "now."  After giving him the scare of his life, he revealed his true identity, and the two ended up becoming friends.

The way he tells this story, there is too much alphaganda and "might makes right" narrative for my taste.  That's not what this blog is all about, because those rules don't apply to us.  So I will extract the central idea and use it to highlight the theme of this biblical scene:  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

His reasoning is not made clear, but he knew he was right to reveal himself to the 11 brothers who tried to kill him as a younger man.  He understood that, right or wrong, they all had the same father, and they would all have the same responsibility for making sure the nation of Israel would grow fruitful and multiply.  Even though he had achieved a status close to that of the Pharaohs, he never forgot his roots, or his duty to his heritage.  And it appears to me that those higher purposes required him to forgive his brothers, regardless of how hateful they previously were to him.  And, oh yeah, he did instigate some portion of it himself, as he was not just an innocent little lamb.

Israel/Jacob seemed to acknowledge the wrongs of the past by investing in the future.  He blessed Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, echoing the blessing that Isaac administered to him and to Esau.  He placed his right hand on the younger son's head, when tradition would have stated otherwise.  Joseph tried to set him straight, believing him to be mistaken, but Israel explains that no, he's actually doing this on purpose, because he knows that the younger son's lineage will be stronger.  This appears to be his penance for tricking Isaac two generations ago.  Or maybe he's trying to set things straight from the beginning.  After all, G-D told Israel's mother that the younger son will be stronger, so she tried to finagle things to make it happen.  But now that Israel has received revelation directly from G-D, he already knows what lies ahead, so there's no need for trickery to prevent a mistake.

Whatever the reason, he's obviously learned from the mistakes of the past, and wants to make things right before he leaves this earth.  That's to be commended.  It looks like Jacob may have been the most self-aware of the three patriarchs, and his most-favored son apparently followed suit.

So it goes with us.  We are just as flawed as this ancient family, if not more, and it's just as easy for us to make mistakes.  But correcting those mistakes, rectifying the consequences, and taking preventive measures to avoid their recurrence is a sign of maturity.  In my opinion, that is one of the most respect-worthy things that someone can do.  Let's make it happen a little more often, huh?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Says Who?

Hey All -- just got back from Florida today, but I thought I'd end my brief vacation with some thoughts.

Many of my friends on Facebook are intelligent and aware of world events, though they often disagree on whether they are right or wrong.  It appears to me that many of the controversies that we face are based on whether we are willing to either (a) continue living under rules that were enacted in another time and another life, or (b) change those rules to those that make more sense.

For example, there is a still-growing minority of states that recognize gay marriage, and a a still-growing number of religions that have amended their tenets to allow gay weddings to be performed.  There may have once been a definition of marriage to include only one man and one woman, but society as a whole has evolved while this tradition remains.  If there truly are enough homosexuals that want to have the same monogamous and exclusive relationship with a partner that many heterosexuals also choose, so much so that they are willing to have that commitment legally recognized, then it is only fair to change "the rules" to allow for it.

To go even deeper, let's look at the institution of marriage itself.  It appears that more than half of all marriages now end in divorce.  Yes, there are many people who are ready, willing, and able to make a lifetime commitment to this kind of relationship, but there are huge numbers of people who enter into this arrangement for the wrong reasons, or who simply make a mistake.  "The rules" used to say, too bad so sad.  But when enough people demonstrated how unjust this truly was, most states began granting divorces on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences," because sometimes it just doesn't work.  Yes, it may be expensive to make this kind of mistake, and even more expensive to correct it, but nobody deserves a lifetime of punishment just because of "the rules."

There are also laws on the books that make no sense, criminalizing activities that are as innocuous as sneaking an extra cookie from the jar.  They are almost never prosecuted, but they are kept on the books for at least a century.

We are rational, thinking beings.  It is in our nature to question authority, and not to live according to a set of instructions, especially those that are incongruous with reality.  The fact that someone in a position of high authority felt like running their mouth, and got a rule enacted, doesn't make that rule right or just.  And the fact that someone has the loudest or most obnoxious voice does not make them the Master and Commander.  Most likely, they're overcompensating for their own issues more than they are seeking what's best for everyone else.

Unfortunately, merely disliking someone else's stupid rule doesn't change it.  And there may be circumstances where openly challenging that rule could result in a loss of livelihood.  And if you live in a country that is not a democracy, challenging that rule could be a loss of freedom, or even your life.  If you're in a situation where a frontal assault cannot succeed, smarter methods are needed.

Bide your time and encase your heart in armor.  Anytime you feel the need to curse or lament your circumstances, perform something that will instead benefit you, or work towards your escape, transfer, conversion, or departure.  But only make your move when you know that you've got somewhere definite to go, even if it's a place of your own design.

Point being, none of these rules you live under can define you.  The fact that they exist doesn't mean they're right, or that they'll be around forever.  Those being bullied because you don't measure up to someone else's standards, this is for you:  Start asking who "they" are.  Who says they know everything?  Who says they're perfect?  Why should you recognize them as the only authority?  Chances are, they're not so infallible, and they probably don't even live up to their own rules to begin with!

Yes, we know, "life isn't fair."  This is the essence of maturity, and information needed to prevent us from a life of permanent frustrated.  But that does not mean that should you lay down like you're already dead and live under injustice that actually can be changed.  Make something happen!

Thanks to everyone who has now been viewing the blog, looks like the traffic got a bit heavier -- a real Chanukah miracle!

Night all!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For Your Protection

Hey All -- still on vacation in sunny Florida, but I wanted to post something else . . . .

For the past several years, I have spoken out against all forms of bullying and intimidation.  There's not much more I can add to that, but I'd like to address the flip side -- coping mechanisms for those who are the unfortunate recipients.

If you're new to this blog, having read my new and more accurate title, you're a beta male.  You are good-natured, giving, and moral.  Unfortunately, far too many people take advantage of this.  So use this visualization technique:

(1)  Imagine your heart.  It keeps you alive.  It holds your passions, your desires, your fears, your vulnerability, and your very soul.  It is your very essence.

(2) Before you interact with other people, encase it in armor.  Solid, impenetrable armor, with jutting blades and spikes.  Able to withstand any strike or blow, and to repel any attempt to breach it.  It can't even be dented by the deadliest attack against it.

(if you're in law enforcement, don't make this a substitute for your Kevlar.  Moving on . . . .)

(3) The interior of this armor, however, is soft.  Comfortable.  Soothing.  It matches the material that your heart itself could be made of.  While the exterior protects your heart from anything that could harm it, the interior keeps it comfortable and at peace.

(4)  An added feature of this armor is a cleansing mechanism.  In the unlikely event that something does get through the armor, it acts to dispose of the foreign agent that disrupts your heart's peace.  It corrodes the unwelcome element and removes it before it can enter the bloodstream.

(5)  When you are with people who are good to you, who have earned your trust, and seek to do nothing but good, you are safe to remove this armor.  You may then be honest with your passions, desires, fears, and vulnerability.  But only do this when you have confirmed that there is no danger to your heart.  Yes, you will be able to use the cleansing mechanism should an attack happen, but be sure that it won't anyway.

(6) When you are with anyone else, keep that armor on no matter what.  Don't unlock it.  Don't let your guard down.  Protect yourself.  Don't let them infect your very being with sadness, anger, hurt, or hatred.  Don't let them break through.  Don't let them think they own you.  They don't.
That doesn't mean go all badass on them unless it's warranted, though.  Remember that we don't live in a comic book.  Just keep yourself fully protected.

That also does NOT let the miscreants, bullies, gangstas, and undesirables of this world off the hook.  Not by a long shot, it doesn't.  They still deserve consequences for their behavior of one form or another.  But they don't deserve the satisfaction of watching you crumble because your heart was not protected.

And, just in case Paragraph 5 wasn't clear enough, it does not mean that you make yourself an island.  There are times you can feel safe enough to disarm.  Just know the difference.

Yes, I am a little more focused with the blog lately.  I hope this doesn't send my long-time readers running for the hills, but I also hope I'll reach my target audience a bit better.

Beta Males, it's OK to feel.  It's OK to be afraid.  It's OK to have morals.  It's OK to be vulnerable.  But it's only OK when you use these traits as strengths, and not when they are exploited as weaknesses by the alphaganda.  Protect yourself as much as possible, not just so you can prove to others that "it doesn't bother me," but just so they don't hurt you.  Your heart is the most precious thing you have, more than wealth, more than companionship, and more than your reputation.  Guard it with your life!


Monday, December 2, 2013

A Promotion, and Maintaining Identity.

OK, a couple of unrelated Bible stories for ya this week.

Joseph got to show his dream-intepretation savvy to Pharaoh, and got a huuuuuge position in his Court.  I mean, going straight from being in jail to ruling most of the land, because he was able to predict that a famine would come, and warn the Egyptians to be prepared for it.  Good job!

So this is his chance to take a small amount of vengeance on his brothers, who threw him into the pit.  They had no clue that he was Joseph, and he was able to play the Egyptians vs. Hebrews angle for a while.

The lesson does go both ways -- one key to success is to possess knowledge that nobody else has, and demonstrate how well you utilize it.  Only Joseph was able to interpret dreams so well, and it landed him the ultimate government job.  However, once he got there, and had more power, he was in a position to completely take advantage of those who wronged him . . . that certainly can be done, but wouldn't it be a more constructive use of that power to help, and not hurt them?  That power is not a license to "get even" or "get back" at someone.  That's a page ripped from the alphaganda playbook, but it's not one that you need.

The fact that you can use it to throttle or intimidate those who put you down doesn't always mean you should use it that way.  Sometimes just having that power is enough.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, you may still need to take some action against the miscreants if it's a matter of mere survival, but in 99 out of 100 situations, merely living well and demonstrating your newfound strength is sufficient.

OK, got that one down, and now the holiday edition:

Chanukah is the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple.  For those not aware of the story, the Maccabees fought a war, against the odds, against the Greeks, who wanted to Hellenize the Jews.  In the process, they descrated the Temple, knocked over the lamps, and put up statues of Zeus to be worshipped.  But after the Maccabees overthrew them, the Temple was re-dedicated.  And miraculously, despite the fact that there was only enough oil to light the lamp for one day, it stayed lit for a week.

(Biblical anomaly -- Judaism celebrates the events depicted in 1 Maccabees, but neither Maccabees book is is in the Tanakh -- discuss?)

The theme of this holiday is resistance to conformity.  At the time it was introduced, Hellenism was hip, cool, and funky, but the expectation was that the Jews were to completely abandon and discard everything that they once were to accept this new way of being.  The fact that the old traditions were maintained, albeit by a minority of Jews at the time, and through the need for an armed response, continues to be celebrated.  But is this always a good thing?

America was always celebrated as a Great Melting Pot.  A nation of immigrants that cultivated its own identity by a mixture of other cultures to form something greater.  This usually means a fair compromise between preserving a recognizable remnant of your family's culture of origin, and the acceptance and interaction with the modern culture in which we live.

For many of us, our culture of origin is obvious in our name, or from our physical characteristics.  It can be a source of pride, or something to be rejected, depending on your personal opinion.  However, it's an inescapable part of who you are, and if you try to deny or ignore it, it still remains.

As Americans, we have a culture that thrives on the combined sharing of several cultures.  Not only does this result in the formation of a unique American culture, but also exposure to the diversity of other people's cultures.

The idea is to have them both.

There are certain ethnic groups who feel it necessary to only maintain their separate culture of origin, reject what we know as mainstream American culture, and demand that America make allowances for that culture in spite of that rejection.  This is ridiculous.  And there are also groups who have deeply felt romantic ties to their own cultures of origin, but mock and condemn other groups for celebrating theirs.  This is ignorant.

Rather, a compromise is needed.  There's nothing wrong with acknowledging your forebears and the traditions they imparted -- but it cannot be at the expense and exclusion of everything else around you, because you then do your country a disservice.  There is also nothing wrong with celebrating everything that makes America great -- but if you completely reject, neglect, and ignore the fact that your forebears came to America for a good reason, you are doing yourself a disservice, because you're obviously trying to be something that you're not.

Only each individual can decide the percentages and proportions of each tradition to respect -- but you need both, plain and simple.  This is how you stay complete, this is how you interact with society, and this is how you remain true to yourself.

Those are my two cents -- and for a real Thanksgiving treat, I refer you to my November 2011 post regarding the sham known as Black Friday.  One of these years, people will wake up and reject this most disgusting perversion of the concept of gift giving.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watch The Ego - Theirs And Yours!

Hello Peeps!  It's about that time again.

In this week's Bible portion, our heroes keep messing up again.

Joseph was, you guessed it, a favorite son.  The son that Israel/Jacob conceived with Rachel, his intended bride, blessed by Israel over the other 11, rockin' the multicolored toga.  So what does he do with his most-favored status?

He flaunts it, probably unintentionally, in his family's face.  He dreams about his brothers' sheaves bowing down to his, and then about the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing before him . . . and then foolishly tells everyone!  So bad that his brothers dump him in a pit and lie to Israel, telling him that he was killed by a wild animal.  Say it ain't so, Joe.

So then he gets sold to a high-ranking Egyptian, and his wife decides to "flirt with the pool boy."  Of course, when it becomes his word against hers, her word counts, and he gets thrown in jail.

So, as luck would have it, his cell mates turn out to be Pharaoh's wine distiller and baker, both of whom have their own dreams.  So Joseph, having a knack for all this, interprets them to mean that the distiller will be restored to his former station, but that the baker will be executed.  And wouldn't you know, Captain Paumanok really does get his job back, while Poppin' Fresh gets popped.

(most people gloss over the innuendo in Judah's house in Chapter 38.  I don't blame them)

What makes people, such as Joseph, better than anyone else?  Could be a lot of things.  When people start talking about how super cool and snazzy jazzy they are, it's very easy to interpret this positive statement as something negative.  What, your (sweat) doesn't stink?  Think you're so much better than us?  What a narcissist!

Did he really mean it?  Maybe, maybe not.  Those two dreams made it pretty obvious that he expected his 11 brothers to acknowledge him as superior.  We don't know about the other brothers talking down to him before all these dreams happened, so maybe he wasn't trying to prove himself to them.  Maybe he naively thought that since his father treated him like he was special, that he wasn't causing trouble by acting special.  Maybe his father, who was also far from perfect, could have 'splained him that acting like you're better than the rest of your brothers wouldn't endear him to them.

Lately, I've been tweeting about the alphaganda.  This story ties in with that concept.  Trash-talking about your wonderful strengths and everyone else's weaknesses, telling other people that they are less than you, and expecting everyone to become your sychophant, follower, and hanger-on, even with no ill intent, is a gross miscalculation.  Yes, we do see people who become famous with this attitude, and yes, there are tons of yes-men and boot-lickers to keep reinforcing this misperception.  But apparently the lesson Joseph needed to desperately learn was that flagrantly announcing your perceived superiority to everyone else, and expecting them all to acknowledge it, does not engender respect, or love, or anything close.

Even if the sports statistics, profit/loss margin, and percentage of gorgeous young honeys available prove that you really are superior in some way, that doesn't mean that rubbing it in someone else's face makes it even better.  If you really are that super-awesome, then your accomplishments should speak for themselves, and the adoring public should be able to perceive them standing alone.  Unless you are employed by Vince McMahon to spew these types of statements into a microphone before your match starts, you never tell someone that you're the top and that they're less than you.

And for those on the other side of the fence who feel miffed by this display of cockiness, you've got your own work to do.  Just because someone else may or may not be better at something than you are, why let that crap get under your skin?  Chances are, you didn't even care about whatever he was better at until you heard him thumping his chest about it.  And if he really is better than you at it, why not just let him have his stupid little prize?  Why should you feel inadequate or jealous just because he's running his mouth?  Yeah, it may sound like annoying mom-and-dad stuff to hear, but chances are you have strengths that homeboy doesn't even come close to matching!  Screw what that blowhard, loud mouth, BS artist is saying.  He's got no clue!

And if he does it too many times, then maybe  . . . maybe maybe maybe, just maybe . . . it's OK to call him out on it.  What's the worst he could do, talk about himself even more?  The other 11 dudes got so fed up with Joseph that they dumped him in a hole.  You don't need to go to that extreme, but if he crosses the last boundary, there's nothing wrong with having the fortitude to say, "Enough already!"  Just because he speaks the loudest and sounds the most annoying, that doesn't mean he gets to make the rules.  He doesn't decide what's cool and what's not -- it's your life, so you do!!!!

Ummmm, Dave?  I think you just combined the Bible post with your regular inspirational message.  If you're not careful, they'll think this is only a religious-based blog.

Thanks for the heads up -- but on the bright side, I got the message out with one post instead of two!  Ain't that a pip!

That's what I have, Thanksgiving is coming up.  That is to say, Thanksgiving, and not Five Weeks Till Xmas So Start Buying Crap!

Enjoy . . . .

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Congrats! (+playlist)

Realistic Frustration

Hey All.

Just another little note on anger.  Yes, I've discussed how it can never be used from a position of weakness.  But what if you're still feeling it anyway?

Is it there?  Yes.  Is there sometimes an honest reason to feel it?  No doubt.  Does that mean you suppress it, bury it down deep, and leave it unaddressed?  No.  No no no no no no NO!!!!!!!!!!

(1) Find a way to say what's bugging you, but don't say it like it's owning you.  There's nothing wrong with expressing that you're not cool with something that has just happened, or is currently happening, provided you don't flip out like Jim Harbaugh coaching the 49'ers.

(he gets a free pass because he knows what he's doing.  And he himself was coached by Mike Ditka, so he was trained to be that way)

But since you are experiencing every day frustrations, the kind that are not on national TV, you can have a calm and rational reaction, even if you are angry or frustrated at the time.

OK, great.  Now you've said it.  Now it's out of your system.  It's been established.  No repetition required.  NOW YOU CAN STOP EXPRESSING IT AS QUICKLY AS YOU'VE STARTED!

(2) Transfer the energy from expression to effort.  After you've finished saying why you're angry, it's time to use that anger for something other than just being angry.  You can:

  (A).  Laugh at the situation.  Humor is the best medicine, trust me, I know.  You already know why it sucks, now make the fact that it sucks funny.  BEST WAY THERE IS to deal with it!  For example, if you're waiting on a line that doesn't budge, start whistling Finale from "William Tell Overture."  And if you're on line right behind someone who takes too long, and asks too many questions, start whistling the "Jeopardy" theme.  And if a train is delayed or you're stuck in traffic, tell everyone within earshot, "I feel a lot of love around me right now."

  (B).  Defeat or diffuse the situation.  If someone behind you in a public place is talking really loudly and discussing a lot of personal information, thank them for sharing, and suggest discussing it somewhere else so others may hear.  If you're nice to someone, and they're rude to you, being mockingly sweet and ingratiating!  If someone corrects you, thank them for their advanced knowledge and recognize them as authorities on the subject.  If the aforementioned delays are slowing things down, either find another method of transportation once you're able, or leave the line.

(C).  Once it's over, let it be over.  DO NOT rehash it.  DO NOT air dirty laundry.  DO NOT "zap" people with "remember when yooooooou did thiiiiiiis!"  Your purpose in life is not to shoot down or judge others, your purpose is self-actualize.  Have the discipline to disarm yourself once your weapons are no longer needed.

And now that that's done, you can go back to enjoying the plethora of things about life that are good, that are satisfying, that are pleasant, and are often taken for granted.  You'd be surprised how many of those there are, but because someone hard-wired us with this stupid fight-or-flight instinct that is no longer needed, the things that anger us still grasp our attention more than those that elevate us.

As we saw in the Bible portion, Jacob's sons broke a long-standing trend.  Why don't we?  Instead of doing things that end up on YouTube, how about we be firm and honest, but mature?


Stoppping the Trend

Hey All, about that time again!

In this week's Bible portion, Jacob actually wrestles an angel, and suffers only a hip injury, but reconciles with his long-lost brother, and then stops making deals with overly-shrewd foreign tribes.

Yup, that's right.  He actually wrestles with an angel, and his name is formally changed from Jacob to Israel, in recognition of the fact that he can throw it down with both human and divine beings and live to tell the tale.  Not bad for the younger brother who stole what belonged to his older brother.  

But even more striking than an encounter with someone even more feared than an MMA fighter, was his encounter with an old nemesis.  He all but apologized to Esau, and presented him with a huge amount of livestock to gain his favor.  Esau was more than willing to turn it down, and let bygones be bygones, but Israel insisted that he accept the gift, which he did.

But then when Israel is setting up camp in Schechem, a Canaanite town, the son of a king rapes his daughter.  He and his father BS about it, claiming that he wants to marry her.  Knowing full well what happened, Israel and his 12 sons explain that the Schechemites would all need to be circumcised in order for the wedding to happen.  So after they do, they slaughter them all and rescue their sister.  Israel was not happy with this, thinking he's now got a bad reputation, but his sons tell him that they did it for their sister's honor.

Looks like a major shift, huh?  The trend is now broken!  Now that Jacob came face to face with a divine being, he's changed his tune.  Instead of continuing the deception of the past, he successfully reconciled with his duped brother.  And his sons?  They not only supported each other, but they came in like heroes to rescue their sister and to execute justice against those who raped her and refused to take responsibility for it.  This is the first time in Genesis we see an example of chivalry!  And yeah, they did BS the Schechemites so they wouldn't expect consequences, but if that wasn't justified, I don't know what is!  Although I didn't touch upon it so much in the prior summaries, Abraham and Jacob had prior dealings with shady characters of foreign nations.  But this time the 12 sons of Israel showed them that the dealing was done!

My take is as follows:  Just because someone who came before you "always did it this way," that doesn't mean you're stuck with doing likewise.  If it's not working, and there's a way to do it differently, by all means do it!  Instead of deceiving people and keeping your ill-gotten gains, reconcile with them and offer to make restitution.  Instead of treating women like possessions to bargain over, stand up for them and punish those who dishonor them!

"The system" is not always right just because it's "the system."  Granted, you may not be in the best position to make changes yourself, but you can at least make your case for why it can and should change.  Don't just march in lockstep if it's not right to do so.  Where would we all be if Israel & Sons hadn't made this shift, and started to demonstrate a little bit of decency?  Finally some responsibility and some honor -- borrow some for yourselves, k?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Karma? Or a Learning Curve?

Hi All -- now the weekly Bible portion.

After Jacob hightailed it out of there to escape Esau, on his way to Haran, he reached a place where he had a vision of (take it easy, Zeppelin fans), a stairway to heaven, and angels ascending and descending it.  It was revealed to him that this place would be the land of his numerous descendants, so he names it Bethel, meaning "house of G-D."  So G-D's gonna watch out for him, and protect him from everything that might set him back on his journey, right?

Guess again.

Jacob pulled a fast one in order to receive his blind father's blessing.  Once he gets to Haran, and meets up with Laban, one of the least moral people in this realm, he gets his just desserts.  He checks out Laban's younger daughter, Rachel, and thinks she's a cutie.  He offers to work for Laban for seven years if he can marry Rachel, and Laban agrees.  So seven years pass, and guess how great the wedding was?  A fun time was had by all, except that he married the wrong bride.  Instead of Rachel, he ended up marrying her older sister, Leah.

When he confronted him on this, Laban explains, "We don't marry off the younger before the older," a veiled diss at him getting something his older brother should have received.  But to smooth it over, he says that he'll be able to marry Rachel next week.  So that results in exponentially multiplying the same issues that Abraham had with Hagar and Sarah.   Once again, we have a smallll issue of jealousy because somebody in the family is able to bear children, and someone can't.  To add insult to injury, after one bears all the children she's able to, not one, but two, maids are recruited to join the party to beget even more kiddies.  Finally, Rachel births the youngest child, and the one most likely to be around in the sequel.

Notice how these consequences aren't so clearly visited on everyone else who does something wrong?  How neat would it be if every swindle or screw job resulted in the swindler getting swindled?  How poetic would that justice be?

But real life doesn't work like that.  We have free will, and we have judgment handled by a higher authority that is not bound by our own individual senses of right and wrong.  Sometimes the boneheads and dirtbags get away with it.  Sometimes those who have authority over these bandejos get lazy or cowardly, and don't execute the judgment that should be executed.  Sometimes they get sneaky about it, and develop a skill to hide their misdeeds.

And the times when they do receive consequences?  It could be a message.  At the time these events occurred, the Ten Commandments and all subsequent prohibitions against immorality had not yet been Handed Down.  So the family tree that we followed was venturing through the twists and turns of life without a map, be it from Google or otherwise.  Apparently, our friends needed to learn, the hard way, that deception is not such a neat way to solve problems, and that having children with more than one spouse makes life much more complicated that it needs to be.  But before such truisms, that many of us consider common sense, were codified From Above, there had to be a few test cases so the future generations G-D assured to this family would learn from their mistakes.  Whether we have or haven't is our own responsibility, but these textbook examples of how to mess up a family's life are available for the faithful and the curious to learn from.  Anytime you choose . . . .

Oh, by the way, there's a friend of mine from years ago I've recently re-united with on Facebook who has been on a major daytime talk show to discuss the polyamorous lifestyle.  Back in the days before people started defining marriage between two people, this was a much more common occurrence than it is now, but there still are those who are actually able to juggle a committed romantic relationship between three or more people.  Whatever his situation is, I wish him well, as long as he and those closest to him or happy.  I'm sure he's responsible enough to not fall into the same traps that Abraham and Jacob did.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who Is It?

Hey All.

Just a quick question:  who's out there in Redmond, Washington and Ottawa, Ontario, that likes this blog so much?  I know some people prefer to lurk, but Feedjit shows you viewing the material.  What's up?  Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Going Incognito

You knew I was gonna go there.  You knew I was not going to stay silent on this issue!

When it gets to the point that even the atmosphere in an NFL locker room is crossing the line, something has got to give.  I commend the Miami Dolphins for taking the proper action against someone whose actions went beyond harmless horseplay.

People think that a "real" man can't be abused, or bullied, or manipulated just because.  Just because of what?  He could just kick someone's ass?  Because he should be able to "just take it?"  The very thought of this is sexist in and of itself.  You don't know what's going on inside that guy's head.

We don't live in a comic book, the jungle, or the old west, and most of us aren't in high school anymore, so don't tell me that kicking ass is the only way to solve problems.  Yes, I agree that there really are people who deserve to get smacked as hard as possible, due to the aforementioned inability to behave like adults.  But they're the animals, not us, so let's not try to play dirty like them as long as we can help it.

People love saying that if someone is being bullied, then it's the victim's fault.  I put very little stock in that.  More likely, the perpetrator has issues that were never dealt with, or better yet, maybe they had parents who just got too lazy to discipline them, and couldn't explain that there's a way you behave and there's a way you don't.  No, I think that bullying escalates less because someone "asks for it," and more because early childhood behavior was not properly guided.  Hence one of my many catch-phrases, Teach These Damn Kids How To Behave.  It's for damn sure you can't teach them anything of the sort once they reach adulthood, or turn pro!  This is why we have anti-bullying laws, because society does not owe them a free lifetime pass of "just ignoring them."

I was already working on this before, but now that this story broke, here it is:

The Animal attains goals through aggression and dominance, and fear and intimidation.

The Man does so through intelligence, within the bounds of basic ethics.

The Animal follows a herd and engages in groupthink.

The Man thinks for himself and chooses whether or not to follow the herd.

The Animal bullies, plunders, and usurps.

The Man treats others with respect.

The Animal thinks nothing of causing harm.

The Man chooses his battles wisely.

The Animal does not understand right or wrong.

The Man does.

Now that this unfortunate news has coincided with the new, and more accurate, title I've given this blog, you're gonna see a little more of this.  The notion that you have to do something just because you're a man, and someone thinks every man should do it, is no less sexist than saying that a woman's place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant.

So, gentlemen, which would you rather be.  A Man, or an Animal?  If you're not sure, then let the above suggestions guide you towards "manning up!"


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rival Nations, Rival Siblings

Hey All - time to check the Book.

Once again, brothers are turned against each other.  One is granted paternal approval and endorsement, and the other is sent in another direction.

This time, there is no issue of a mother being jealous of the hired help.  Instead, G-D tells the mother that the twins she carries are destined to be rival nations, and that the younger one will be more powerful.  

So, in reliance on this Most Direct Revelation, she has Jacob deceive Isaac, taking advantage of his blindness, by pretending to be Esau so he can receive his father's blessing before he dies.  And even before that, Jacob talks Esau into selling his birthright, divesting him of nearly all if the privileges afforded him by primogeniture.  

Throughout their lives, these two have been against each other.  Their own father was able to make deals with the Philistines, but he couldn't broker a deal between his own sons.  Who can splain me that?

Most families are able to avoid this because most parents don't allow it to happen.  But what about the siblings themselves?  Why did Jacob make that deal?  And why couldn't he stand up and tell Rebecca, "I don't think this is right?"  

The message that I get from this is that you make your own enemies.  When you do someone else wrong, no matter how many people try to convince you it's right, then the resulting animosity is your fault.  If you just know, deep down, that it's wrong, don't do it.  No magic, no academics.  Just common sense.  If you're actually eager to start a battle, then go full throttle.  If not, don't be surprised at others' reactions.

Good luck marathoners.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vampires Ain't Cool

Hey All -- Hope you've got your coolest costume on!

Today is the day we have a little fun with the supernatural.  No, I don't mean whipping out a Ouija board and playing with things you don't understand, I mean dressing up like ghosts, goblins, witches, demons, zombies (huge this year for some reason), or your favorite celebrities or cartoon characters.

But no matter what you're doing this Halloween, be it trick or treating, partying in disguise, or getting ready for the NYC Marathon [nice hand from the audience here], I suggest you be careful of the vampires.

Oh yeah, vampires are real.  Not necessarily the old-school Bela Lugosi types, always seducing terrified young ladies with their suave Eastern European ways, and then trapping them in the world of the undead.  Not necessarily the Lost Boys or Twilight types either -- as neat as it really would be to stay 16 years old forever, the inability to see your reflection, the need to always invade blood drives, and the never-ending teen angst is a little much to bear for a century.   Not even the cool biker vampires in the "Blade" movies.  No, I mean the vampires that drain you of more than blood.

These vampires drain you of other precious resources.  These include, but are not limited to, your happiness, your peace of mind, your self-respect, your patience, your self-esteem, your hopes, and your dreams.  Without these, you are truly walking among the undead, just keeping up appearances, going through the motions, pretending to be alive when you're not.

Without describing the multitude of forms these vampires take, chances are you've encountered them before, or they may still be feeding off of you.  You don't need garlic, religious items, or even a blast of noonday sunlight to get rid of them.  All you need is the modicum of courage needed to say "no."  And the extra courage needed to tell them to stay away.  Doing that is even scarier than the prospect of stabbing a vampire through the heart, because we never want to be seen as evil ourselves.  But there's nothing evil about it.

And so, friends and neighbors, this one night a year, you can embrace all forms of the supernatural from a fun perspective.  But starting tomorrow, stop allowing these vampires to feast on you.  


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Passing The Test?

Hey All -- it's Sunday.  And while I watch my beloved Jets close out the first half far behind, here is my take on the weekly portion.

At this point, Isaac's mother, Sarah, dies after a long and full life, and Abraham obtains a choice burial plot for her.  With her passing, Abraham sends his servant to find a Canaanite wife for Isaac and bring her back to Hebron for him to marry her.

And how does he know she's the One?  He prays to G-D that if he asks her for water, she'll offer to give water not only to him, but to his thirsty camels that brought him this far.  And lo and behold, she does exactly that!

How neat would that be if that could always happen?  You pray for someone who says the right thing at the right time, and it happens!  If and only if we could just ask for a woman who could be that way, and have her that way!

Don't get the wrong idea, I mean nothing perverted by that . . . I'm talking about the kindness that Rebecca showed when Abraham's servant came calling.  Water was a precious resource at that time, and she's actually offering him more!  Who else does that, huh?

Well, chances are that the selection process didn't just mean someone willing to give more water -- maybe it's the kindness aspect that was sought after even more.  As you can see from the last three or four Bible selections I've reviewed, not a lot of kindness was being exhibited in this family.  There was plenty of animosity, a lot of rivalry, a good chunk of pettiness, and an extreme lack of action where there should have been some.  This was obviously a search for someone to make a real change -- to bring respect where there wasn't much before, to bring joy where there was anger, and to bring comfort where there was mistrust,

In other words . . . now THAT'S a lady!

Gentlemen, it ain't that easy to find her.  We need further dimensions to be fulfilled besides kindness, without minimizing that quality.  And the chance of anyone perfectly satisfying every level is slim and none.  However, there is someone for everyone, I'm convinced of that.  It might not be who you think it is, and the fact that they're "for you" doesn't guarantee a lifetime of happiness.  Of even that SHE'LL be around forever.  But she does exist.  And rather than being exactly the way you want her to be, chances are she could be even better!

And since this Bible portion does not even address the other Canaanite honeys who didn't make the cut, have the same focus.  Don't lament and bemoan those who just aren't "for you," and never hold grudges against those who think you're not for them.  Just focus on the one who is for you, and knows that you're for her.

Just hold out hope.  You won't have to cross a desert to find her, and you won't have to have rigid demands.  Just think about what you'd like to see most in a woman, and more likely than not, she'll quench your thirst.

Had to work for that one . . .  unlike the Jets!  :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All Of The People, All Of The Time

Hi All.

This week, Real Life has reinforced a hard lesson that's too easy to forget.  You can't please all of the people all of the time.

Recently, I posted about a select few individuals who I considered to be special, and how I felt about them.  It's not often that I do that, but the time seemed right.  Much to my dismay, someone who read the blog became offended by it, even while understanding that I intended no offense.  I tried to 'splain, but to no avail.

Lately, those close to me have suggested that I cut back on social media.  To a point, I have been, but I'm never going to drop it entirely.  I love it too much, to be quite honest.  It feels good to know that people do sometimes agree with, acknowledge, or simply "like" what I have to say.  It's not a need, per se, but it's definitely a nice little booster.

Oh noooo, I don't neeeeed validation from social media, I'm fine by myself.

Congratulations.  Please continue being so, and leave me be.

But facing criticism?  Rejection?  Perceived "offense?"  Arrogance-filled diatribes?  Insults?  Threats?  That's not as easy for everyone.  However,

(1).  You can't MAKE everybody like you or agree with you.  If they're not buying it, don't sell it to them.  Keep your target audience and sell it to them instead.  And if you have to keep defending yourself over and over again to certain people, don't even talk to them.
(2).  A minimum of criticism does not outweigh an overwhelming acceptance.  Those who support you should be given considerably more attention than those who don't.
(3).  If people force their opinions on you, stop listening to them.  What they say is not coming from a place of respect.
(4).  If you realize you might be wrong about something, apologize ONCE.  If you aren't forgiven right then and there, or more "atonement" is demanded, write them off.
(5).  Anyone who threatens you has already lost the argument.

Nope, not everyone will agree with everything you say.  But that should never intimidate anyone.  Why sell yourself short or compromise your values just because someone else feels like mouthing off, or decides to get "offended" by your opinions?  If you want to support a certain worldview because you know it's true for you, why should you let someone else bully you into dropping it?  That's stupid.

Don't make obviously racist, sexist, anti-religious or homophobic statements, that's common sense.  But anything else?  Fair game, as long as you think it through first.

Night all.  One of these days, I'll be back on my usual schedule.

And thanks to my friends, family, Close Platonics, Medium Platonics, running friends, blogging friends, LI friends, and peeps far and near for the support you've always shown me.

DISCLAIMER:  The above should not be considered an abandonment of my earlier posts warning you all to think about what you say before you say it.

ADDITIONAL FURTHER DISCLAIMER:  If you see someone post something on social media that may have been proven false, please don't be "that guy" and try to "prove them wrong" with a link to Snopes, and a reminder to everyone to research everything like you because you're perfect.  No matter how right you are, that's a slap in the face.  How about messaging that person privately, and sparing them the embarrassment?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who Matters More?

Hi All:

Time for the weekly biblical analysis.

Remember that annoying nephew Abraham had?  Well, he stayed behind in the infamous Twin Cities.  And Abraham was told by a few messengers from On High that not only will his wife give birth to a son at a ripe old age, but those Twin Cities are gonna get flattened.

So Abraham bargains a bit to look out for his boy Lot.  Almost reminding G-D of His promise to Noah not to annihilate an entire population when not everyone deserves it, he persuades G-D not to drop the sulphur on them if there are just 10 decent people in both cities.  Apparently the quota wasn't met, notwithstanding these negotiations.

So the messengers from On High walk right into Sodom to warn Lot that it's all gonna go down, and the local gangsters and miscreants pick up on it.  Lot, in a sorry show of cowardice, offers to let them all have their way with his daughters, so they'd leave him alone, to no avail.  Those messengers, in a display not unlike Qui-Gon Jinn and young Obi-Wan in Episode I, blind the crowd so they can't bust down Lot's door.

Just in time, Lot and his family escapes from Sodom before it's destroyed, although at least one member of his household just can't help but look back at the Strip one last time, only to be vaporized.  And then, feeling that they won't be able to find suitable mates, Lot's daughters get their father drunk so he'll perform a most unnatural act.  More on that below.

And what of Abraham?  Sarah tells him to boot Hagar and Ishmael out of the family for good.  This time, instead of blindly following her orders, he's actually feeling wrong about doing it.  But then G-D actually tells him to do what Sarah says, because Ishmael is not only going to survive, but be the father of his own "great nation," while Isaac gets the covenant.  So is a consolation prize meant to be enough?

And what does he do with the son he kept?  He almost kills him for G-D.  Volumes have already been written about that whole sorry affair.

What this selection shows is a major-league demonstration of misguided loyalty.  Prime examples of how not to respond to desperate times, even if the choices really are that difficult.

Abraham knew that his nephew, whom he already saved once, was going to be in worse trouble than before.  At that time, he had no problem bargaining with G-D to consider even the possibility of sparing the innocent.  He didn't know whether there were 10 people in Sodom and Gomorrah who were worthy enough to justify the cities' survival, but at that time, he wasn't afraid to ask G-D to reconsider a severe decree.  But that same urgency was gone for both of his sons.  His first son was getting evicted, and forced to fend for himself, with assurances from On High, that he'd be just fine, and not to worry about him.  He was already showing some strength of character by not merely accepting these circumstances without question, but showing real concern, as this was his son.  But where was his bargaining power then?  Why did he not ask G-D to just put Hagar and Ishmael in the Guest House?  Or maybe check out a new apartment for them?  Just to make sure he'd be OK by making the provisions -- how could he plead for Lot and not for his son?

Same issue with Isaac, but better known.  Where was his power of persuasion then?  He pleaded for Lot to be kept safe, but he didn't object when directed to slaughter his son on the altar.

And Lot's not that much better.  He was willing to let those low-lifes have their way with his daughters to prevent a worse rumble, and then later he allows his daughters to get him drunk and have him impregnate them?  True, the Ten Commandments had not yet come down at the time, so maybe it was technically okay to do that, but why did they have to get him drunk to make it happen?  And why couldn't he be a good enough father to say no?  It could be that his daughters had some corruption issues of their own, having grown up in Sodom, but this might have been his chance to set them straight now that they were out of that city.

It seems to me that we're taught to recognize lessons from these errors in judgment.  Unlike Abraham and Lot, we can use the right tactics for the right situation.  Abraham could have still stood up for Lot, there was nothing wrong with that choice, but he could have also stood up for both of his sons, and pleaded against the eviction and the sacrifice.  As gracious as it was of him to be a good uncle, he also needed to be a good father, because his powers of persuasion were needed by his sons even more than they were needed by his extended family.

Sometimes you have to think about it.  Consider the consequences and risks, and weigh which choice brings the greater benefit.  Don't waste your all of your smarts and arguments on issues that will effect you less, and don't "pass" or give up on issues that affect you more.  Just because some higher authority, divine or otherwise, demands that you do something that feels wrong, that doesn't mean you can't speak up and at least explain why you feel it might be wrong.  Choose your battles wisely.  Someone may thank you for it one day.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Close Platonics

Hey All - here it is.

Started writing this one on the iPhone app, to whence it went I heard 'nary a clap . . . .

Yes, that was lame, but you get my drift.  Back to the drawing board . . . .

Over the course of my now-lengthy lifespan, I've had many platonic female friends.  The way my life has developed, I now have more of them than I do guy friends.  I'm happy with this, because many of them are actually better friends than my guy friends are.

However, a subset has formed within this group.  An elite and secret club . . . so secret that the members may not have actually known each other.  These are my Close Platonics.

Close, meaning that they are only platonic because there is an impenetrable and immovable barrier that prevents my relationship with them from being anything more than platonic, and but-for that barrier, we might have bonded in ways that Nicholas Sparks could write about it.  But that barrier remains, although the feelings would prefer otherwise/

With these women, I've shared deep and personal thoughts -- so deep that I don't even post them here -- and they've done likewise with me.  Bonds have developed over the years, notwithstanding those barriers, and feelings have developed too.  It's frustrating, but at the same time joyous, to know that those feelings are mutual, despite the fact that they will never be acted upon.  So even if I am hemmed in, and blocked from my honest desires, I can still enjoy what is available, and not take it for granted.

The "Friend Zone" is not the place every man hopes to be.  When you're there, it's easy to assume that you've been placed there because someone else thinks you're not good/rich/strong/cool/badass enough, but they feel sorry you, so you get the consolation prize.  Sometimes that's true, which is sad, but sometimes it's not.  Sometimes the friendship is there for a good reason, and if those barriers were lifted, the further relationship that's desired might not have been such a good one.  Or maybe those barriers actually make the friendship stronger than it would be without it, sort of like an extra reinforcement.

So, to my Close Platonics, I'm thankful that I have you in my life.  It makes me happy to know that we have the bond we do, and that we can tell each other damn near everything because of it.  In some parallel universe, or maybe in several of them, we're living fantasy lives where the barriers don't exist, and it's nice to imagine how those lives might have unfolded, but here in this life, the barriers are firmly in place, where they're needed.  I accept that.

In acknowledging these limits, there is further development of emotional maturity.  Accepting the things we cannot change, etc.  It is far better to have this maturity developed and encouraged by a close friendship, chaste though it may be, than it is by animosity and innuendo.  And so gentlemen, even if you are relegated to the "Friend Zone," you can upgrade it to a Close Friend Zone.  You can assuage your feelings of frustration with the knowledge that within the limits set by others, there is still much to be gained.

DISCLAIMER:  The identities of my Close Platonics are being withheld out of respect for their privacy.  If you are one of them, you should be able to recognize yourself.  But if you have a question in this regard, please message me privately.

Night All!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Men, A Breed Apart

Ok, I know, I'm behind on the postings.  Lemme get up to date with a double portion.


Riiiiiight!  Not part of the post, just a shout out to all the Cosby fans.

The eggheads like to say, Noah was the only righteous man of his time, but he might not have been for our time.  So?  Who can tell what's "righteous" in our time anyway?  And why should it matter?  It's clear that he was a heck of a lot MORE righteous than the rest of those boneheads.  Why second guess his possible failings when everyone else around him was an @$$#ole?

But how do YOU know what an @$$#ole was?  How can YOU judge?  

Leave.  Just leave.  Thank you.

Whether he was a saint or not, he got the word that bad was coming his way, and he received, via Divine Download, detailed instructions to protect himself from it.  Even if he did show some skepticism, as the Cos implied, he'd be better off than the rest of those foolios!  He understood that while the rest of the world was content to keep screwing around, refusing to believe that consequences would result, he WAS aware that the consequences WOULD result, and began making preparations for them.  That means he was aware of the world around him, that he knew he could make a difference, and that nothing that the @$$#oles said to him would shake his resolve.  

Question whether he was "righteous?"  Sell it somewhere else!

And another thing.  After he survived in the ark with his family and all of those animals (one can only imagine the smell), G-D agreed never to curse the earth or wipe out humanity again.  Thing is, He never said He'd prevent humanity from doing that job itself.  Not to point out the obvious, but that's been happening for quite some time.

Think they all don't get it?  Build your own ark.  Protect yourself.  Be proud of what you know and how you use it.  And not to be corny, but he finished building that thing before it started raining - try not to last-minute it. 


A mover and a shaker for real!  THIS is a model of a man's life to emulate right here!  

Takes everything he knows and owns to settle in a foreign land that gets struck with a famine.  And then goes to Egypt, tells everyone his wife is really his sister so they don't kill him, makes deal after deal to become wealthy, and still manages to get out of Dodge with his wife and his honor.  This almost results in a feud with his nephew, who came along for the ride, but he just suggests that they divide and conquer to prevent a family dust up.

Just to show no hard feelings, he rescues the aforesaid boneheaded nephew from captivity when war breaks out between feudal warlords.  But still worried about his destiny, having no children, G-D reveals to him twice, once referring to the dust of the earth, and once referring to the stars in heaven, that his descendants will number in the millions, so he shouldn't be afraid.  And they'd all inherit the land once known as Canaan, per His covenant.

So few of us start on lifelong quests to be someone extraordinary.  We get stifled, we get swamped, we get silenced, and we get stuck.  We are taught a set of "nice" behaviors that make us more pleasant to be around, but also make us vulnerable.  This man, on the other hand, was a trail blazer.  He wasn't afraid to BS a pharaoh if it meant saving his life & reclaiming his wife.  He wasn't afraid to tell his relative that he needed to take his argumentative ways to Sodom, Gomorrah, Vegas, or anywhere else because he'd ruin the quest otherwise.  And he was still compassionate enough to bust him out when he was in real trouble.  He was sharp, he was brave, and he was selfless, gentlemen.  Now that's class.

Aaaaaand then there's the rest of the story.

Still no kids with his wife?  Sarah tells him to take a concubine, Hagar, get her pregnant, and we'll just adopt her baby.  So chaos began.  Hagar copped an attitude with Sarah, Abraham let Sarah get nasty with her, and G-D promised Hagar that she'll bear a son whose descendants will get nastier with later Hebrew generations.  

In spite of this mess, G-D declares Abraham and Sarah the parents of a great nation, tells them they will have a son, and that his covenant will be through this baby, and NOT with the concubine's baby.

Now what's going on here?  Sarah told Abraham to just get a concubine pregnant, which was apparently a bad idea.  And it turns out she actually was able to conceive after all - who knew?  For all of his strengths, not unlike Adam, he allowed his wife to dictate major life-altering decisions to him without questioning what consequences might arise.  G-D just got finished telling him his line would be as numerous as the stars.  Couldn't he have hipped Sarah to that revelation?  Couldn't they have just waited a little longer?  Did they really need more drama that badly?  We'll never know.  Suffice it to say, he had no grounds to question G-D, but he had ample grounds to question Sarah, and failed to do so.  It's a shame he had a brain fart on that one.

Still, even though the baby he would have with Sarah would get the covenant, the baby he had with Hagar didn't stop being his son.  That covenant stated that Abraham and his male descendants, as well as those who are hired help in the household, will be circumcised.  So Abraham and Ishmael had that taken care of the same day when Ishmael was 13 years old.  Not exactly a father-son fishing trip, but it still illustrates that he passed on some understanding of the family lineage despite the unfortunate circumstances of his conception.  

So, Friends and Neighbors, we have two men who stood apart.  One, because he thought differently, and more resourcefully, than others, and was able to save mankind as a result.  Another, because he was not afraid of challenges ahead, accepted his role as the patriarch of at least one great nation, and still made the most of a flawed decision.

Who would you rather be?  I'd like a little of both, to be honest.  Part Noah, because he was a step ahead of the competition, and part Abraham, because he started something big from the beginning.  It's just a lot more difficult being Noah because it feels lonely when you're right and everyone else is wrong.  And it's even more difficult to be Abraham and be stuck with consequences despite the best of intentions.

But gentlemen, nobody's perfect.  Learn from their strong points, avoid the mistakes they made, and a much better life awaits you.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Weekend Away

Hey All:

Format's a little different this week, but with good reason.  For the first time in a while, I took a weekend getaway that did not involve a race or a holiday.  Nope, I just up and went someplace I'd never been before, just to see an old friend from years ago, and temporarily escape my usual surroundings.

In addition to the run I would normally enjoy on a Saturday morning, I took a plunge into a Zumba class.  Not something I normally do, as it's easy to assume that I get all the cardio I need from running.  Maybe so, but it's a hell of a lot easier to concentrate on running form than to get all your moooooves synchronized to the rhythm!

Yes, I fully admit to having white boy rhythm.  :).  I did not have the moves like Jagger, but I more likely had the moves like Jack Tripper!  That's really an exaggeration, even I could pick up the moves after they repeated them that many times.  I just couldn't do it with the flair and grace as the majority of the class.  So be it ... this old friend of mine enjoys it, and I wanted to share in it while I was in town.  Stepping outside the comfort zone once in a while ain't such a bad thing.

Also, this friend of mine and I decided to second guess an issue that many would assume was a done deal.  Our federal government has stopped working because of several issues, due to the fact that each of the two legislative bodies that govern our nation is ruled by a political party which cannot concede to the demands of the other.  Since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is directly funded by this Divided House, we were under the impression that the Johnson Space Center was closed, lock stock and barrel.  A short drive off of the highway (45, I think) and an observation that nobody was being charged for parking, and a half way filled parking lot, proved us wrong. 

Of course, most of Mission Control was out on furlough, but they had a skeleton crew to communicate with the International Space Station.  And the astronauts?  Kinda hard to send them home now, ya dig?

But we were told by a friendly tour guide about the plans to put MEN ON MARS, and that woke up the part of me that always loved learning about space and reading 321 Contact Magazine as a kid.  :).  Especially learning how the launch needs to be timed exactly when Mars' orbit is closest to Earth's (no, really Dave?) otherwise it'll take 2 years to get there instead of "only" 6 months.  Also learning that being in the Orion capsule would be the same thing as being in a minivan with three other people for months on end - could you deal?

So after indulging my inner science-loving kid, I indulged my inner fun-loving kid. That night, we went to the Kemah Boatdwalk on the Gulf of Mexico, and rode one of the fastest roller coasters I've ridden in decades!  Brought me back to summers at Great Adventure and Action Park.  All good times.  :)

And today?  Saw the development and transformation in children that Sunday morning soccer games can still provide under the right circumstances.  Even got a smile out of one of those kids who really upped his game.  :).

(Ummmm, yeahhhhh, Dave, you just rambled on for a while.  Ya wanna, I dunno, get to the point?)

If I must, fine.

Sometimes it's good to step out into the unknown.  Most of the time, we do this because there's a compelling reason to do so.  But sometimes it's OK to do it just because.  Because it's a free weekend, or maybe because it's the second Thursday in the month.  Because it's just there.  Because you otherwise wouldn't.  Because it's just that good.

It's amazing what we can do when we just feel like doing it, and not because we have to.  Or because there are consequences for not doing it.  Maybe just because you know you'd be happy doing it, and if you didn't, you'd have to force yourself not to say, "what if."


PS - the above concerns traveling to previously unexplored ports of call, but obviously can cover damn near everything else.  Take from it what you will, comment, follow, like and message'

Friday, September 27, 2013

From The Beginning . . . .

Hey All --

Beginning our little Friday evening spiritual excursions.  A selection from Genesis -- the beginning.


Most of us who are of the Judeo-Christian persuasion have learned of the creation story contained in Genesis.  But I'd like to read into it a little bit deeper.

Chapter 1 details how the universe was created in six days.  That does beg the question -- if the solar system was only being formed, and the earth's rotation on its axis was a work-in-progress, exactly how long could each "day" have been?

Pretty easy . . . what was recorded as a "day" in Genesis could obviously have been a millennium . . . an epoch . . . an age of undetermined length, but finite nonetheless.  The first and second days could have been planetary formation, the third day could have been the ice age and the continents dividing, the fourth day could have been the formation of the atmosphere, and the fifth and sixth day could have been the ascendancy from the primordial soup.

Not exactly pinpointing the sequence of events, you understand, just offering a way to reconcile these ancient scriptures with what modern science has shown us.  Call it "intelligent design," call it what you will, I just would like to think that the miracle of life we regularly take for granted actually did not happen by accident or coincidence.


This is where all my agnostic friends start pointing fingers at western religious tradition, and say that it's all sexist and male-centered.  Oh nooooooo, it says Eve told Adam to take the apple, making her the bad guy, and making it her fault they got booted out into the world.  Sexist!  Prejudiced!  Ignorant!

Chill out, hippies.  Maybe it is sexist, but I'm seeing that from a much different angle than you are.

What if Adam, instead of passively taking the forbidden fruit, had said:  "Hold up, babes.  Even if what that snake said was true, that by eating this we'd actually be more aware of our surroundings, and not just happy and clueless, that thing swallowed a mouse whole, OK?  He's not a cool friend, he's a predator -- and he's making me uncomfortable in ways I can't describe.  I say we drop them apples, and grab some oranges and bananas from those other trees over there.  I'd rather listen to that big booming voice who told us that there's only one rule to follow, ever, than that thing that's wrapping itself around other animals and squeezing them until they pass out.  Really, babes, I'm not doing this."

Ain't that a concept right there -- saying no.  Standing your ground, not being pressured, and not being swayed.  No, this wasn't so much Eve's fault as it was Adam's.  He never actually felt the temptation from the snake, he just got docile and did what Eve told him to do, because he assumed that she knew better than he did.  Wrong, wrong, wrong on too many levels.  This did nothing but set the standard for generations of yes-dears and house-husbands to just do whatever "she" says to do, because she's the boss and we're just the clueless man-boys depicted in every family sitcom.  Shame.

Did the forbidden fruit give them thoughts and understanding that they previously lacked?  Sure . . . just like marijuana does now!  I've learned from those who partake that it enhances your understanding of the world, and unlocks your creativity.  But it also slows you down so badly that you can't think on your feet, and makes you want to raid White Castle in the worst way!  This fruit may have "opened their eyes," and allowed them to think, but it also got them booted out of a phat crib where they had everything provided for them with no cost or labor!  Hope it was a good high . . . .


And what happens to the next generation?  The other extreme.  They have two sons, and instead of one blindly following the other, one murders the other out of jealousy.  Was this an attempt to right a past wrong by swinging the pendulum hard the other way?  Could be.

G-D then waited for thousands of years, allowing further dysfunctional generations to pass before concluding that He just never should have started this whole project to begin with.  Could this have been the first instance of the Forgiving G-D, who then just got sick of being forgiving?  Very likely.

Clearly, the message is that we've been hopelessly flawed from the beginning, but G-D knew that already.  He must have understood that people were going to make mistakes, and he permitted it to continue.  And this is why Cain and Abel were not the perfect people that their parents couldn't be.  The first instance of that imperfection was a man's unwillingness to question what a woman tells him, even after hearing the opposite of that from G-D Himself.  The second was a man's willingness to deprive someone else of his very life, just out of jealousy.

We've gotten better since then, but we'll never be perfect.  We'll never be restored to the perfection and innocence of Eden, even if some of us are wealthy enough to live in comparable surroundings.  It's better simply accept the existence of our imperfections, learn from our mistakes, and just try to live the best lives we can by emphasizing our strengths and managing our weaknesses.  These friends from long ago obviously couldn't, but we can.

And that's my jam for now -- more to come this weekend, including the Bronx 10-Miler!