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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Positive Reinforcement

The Magic of Positive Reinforcement

Hey All -- Sunday night, and it's about that time, so here it is . . . .

It is often said that a pat on the back is sometimes more helpful than a kick in the pants.  It is also often said that attitude determines everything.  This week, I saw both of these axioms tried and proven.

I have a 91 year old grandmother, known for much of her life to be a "tough old bird."  She never let anyone or anything keep her down, but it appears that the aging process has caught up to her.  She has taken an extended stay in a rehab center and a local hospital due to various complications.

My Mom, being the loyal daughter she is, couldn't stand to know that my grandmother was suffering while she was many states away.  So, on a whim, she and my Dad decided to fly up here to New York and see her, to make sure her condition didn't get any worse.

Within 24 hours of their arrival, her condition improved.  Within 48 hours, she was discharged from the hospital.

Days after that, I came to visit her too, and I saw something really special happen.  Both my parents tried to explain to my grandmother that she would need to continue the exercise and physical therapy that she had been prescribed in order to continue to be able to walk.  My father had the more persuasive approach -- unlike his children, my father has always hated exercising.  He still does, but since he survived a triple bypass, he knows he has to do it every single day.  He explained to my grandmother that he hates exercise just as much as she does, but that sometimes we have to do things we'd rather not do because the alternative is unacceptable.  My grandmother, much like her first grandson, never liked being told she had to do something distasteful, but she listened to my father nonetheless.

The reason that much of this blog is devoted to denouncing bullying in all of its forms is because bullying is the ultimate example of negative reinforcement.  It is the continued and involuntary exposure to communications and actions designed to convince the recipient that he or she is abject and worthless.  Through the constant repetition that accompanies it, it usually results in convincing the recipient that this message is correct, and if left unchecked, it results in the recipient's demise.

Fortunately, positive reinforcement is just as powerful.  When delivered with the same repetition as negative reinforcement, it convinces the recipient that the Four Pillars apply, and then some.  When mixed with a certain degree of action in lieu of the repetition, it can work near-miracles.  Case and point, when my parents came to visit my grandmother, she almost became her old self.  My grandmother understood that there were people who cared about her very deeply, and wanted her to be healthy, and were willing to do something extra to make that happen.  Sometimes knowledge of self-affirming truths like these can move mountains.

This is further exemplified in my chosen sport of running.  When we see people who run at a less expeditious pace than we do, we do not ridicule them.  We do not question their intelligence or their gender identity.  We do not mock them, impugn them, or condescend.  Instead, we cheer them in, as if they were going for a world record.  We remind them that they are achieving an incredible accomplishment merely by putting on their shoes, pinning a bib on their shirt, and participating in the race to begin with.  We reinforce their efforts to put forth their best efforts.  And these people tend to cross the finish line happy, regardless of their time or pace, because hearing these messages reminds them that they were not mistaken to run that race.  Sometimes, those messages encourage them to run another race, and then another, and then another, and then another . . . .

There is a place in this world for criticism and judgment.  Please keep both of them in that place, and have the wisdom to know when they're not necessary.

There is also a place for encouragement, reinforcement, and positive affirmations.  Quite frankly, there is a greater need for them than there is for even the most analytical criticism or the clearest judgment.

Oh pleeeease, why should anyone care what anyone else says, they should already believe in themselves first, let them develop their own self esteem on their own time, they should have thicker skins . . . . .

Grrr.  Shut.  Up.  And.  Leave.  Please.

Next time you see someone suffering, show some positive reinforcement.  If it's a homeless person in the subway, maybe some spare change would let that person know that somebody still cares.  Or better yet, give him that sandwich that you might not have really wanted to eat for lunch -- that would be even better reinforcement.  If you see somebody forlorn or sad, shoot them a quick smile -- that costs nothing.  It'll lift somebody up an inch or two, and it might improve your disposition too.

As stated earlier on Facebook, this blog is taking an upward turn -- more positive reinforcement, as documented above, and more encouragement towards goals and success.  Just in time for the Ten Days of Awe, which will be explained to the uninformed in the next week or so.

Good night, everybody!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beta Male Inaccuracy

Hi All!

Every man has an arsenal of weapons inside him.  They include, but are not limited to, their intelligence, cunning, higher thinking, sense of humor, determination, and discipline.  They also include their anger, which can fuel the fires enough to enhance and strengthen all of the above traits, and then even more.

However, the anger is the trickiest weapon in the arsenal because it is the most difficult to focus and aim.  And part of the reason why some beta males hopelessly remain beta males is because that weapon is either misdirected, or deactivated when it is most needed.

(1).  Misdirected:

The anger is aimed at targets that are no longer reachable, or possibly no longer in existence.  Yes, we all know, let the past go, blah blah blah, that's the same old song that our adversaries, the "we don't care" crowd, loves singing to us. But without conceding their mantra of apathy mixed with sunshine and rainbows, aiming at a target that you can't even hit is a waste of ammunition.

Per my prior posts, you can only beat your adversaries when you fire your weapons at them while they're still in front of you.  Not by waiting until they leave the room and talking trash about them.  If you do that, they own you.  Not only are you not firing your weapons at them, you're turning them against yourself and imploding!

Yes, it's true that you can build up resistance to your own weapons over time, because you know them better than anyone.  But you still scar yourself in the process.  And sometimes you can get so addicted to doing that because you think it's safer than actually confronting your adversaries.  In the long run, it's more dangerous than anything your adversaries can do, no matter how much resistance you build up, because you're still wasting your ammunition on yourself, leaving yourself depleted.

(2).  Deactivated:

This is why I have a real problem with the "we don't care" crowd.  Countless times in my life, I've looked to members of this crowd to say something to silence my critics or provide some reinforcements (yes, I was wrong to do this, but that's not the point).  All I've gotten out of them was a shrug and a so what.  The fact that these people make themselves laughing stocks, or completely not noticed, is simply not relevant to them, and it comes at a time when they SHOULD be doing something about it!  "It doesn't bother me" is not what you want to hear from a so-called friend.  And if they send you down Apathy Road too many times, guess what?  They are not your friends.  No matter how many times they say that they're not your adversary, or that "I didn't say you were right, but I didn't say you were wrong either," they are your adversary if they do not have your back.  Lose these passive-aggressive pseudo-friends with all deliberate speed.

Don't follow their lead.  Be wise enough to know when you should be aggressive, and when you should pull the trigger, and when you should take action, without being prompted or being taken aside for someone to whisper in your ear.  Don't keep your guns in your holster when they need to be fired!  STAND UP FOR YOURSELF when you need to do so!  It doesn't mean you become an Alpha A-hole!  It means you love yourself more than you hate them!

(3).  Accuracy:

And therein lies the question:  WHEN?

When do you aim and fire, and when don't you?

That's entirely fact-specific, I'm afraid.  Nobody can really give you any hard and fast rules as to when to keep the safety on, and when to shoot to kill, because it all depends on the situation.  Sometimes you just have to choose your battles.  But common sense provides a few guidelines:

(A):  DO fire when your adversary is attacking you, and you know it to be an attack.

(B):  DO fire when there are too many "we don't cares" droning away and doing nothing to contain the problem.

(C):  DO fire if you gave someone a "free pass" last time, and they assume that it's a lifetime free pass.

(D):  DO fire even if the "we don't cares" beg you not to fight after you've been attacked.  And feel free to fire at them too, since they're obviously protecting and trying to enable your adversaries!

(E):  DON'T fire when doing so will not result in a victory, but will only result in job loss or reputation loss.

(F):  DON'T fire when it's too late to do so.  And don't kick yourself even if you did make a mistake in not firing when the target was in range.  Punishing yourself for making a mistake is a stupid-assed thing to do, and it's the same as doing your adversaries' job for them.  Just get past it and get ready for the next time.

(G):  DON'T fire on your real friends.  They're not the "we don't cares," because friends actually do care.

Bottom line, peeps, we have huge strengths and laudable attributes.  The worst thing in the world is not use them when it counts.  The second worst thing in the world we can do is waste them by using them at the wrong times.


That's my song, peeps!  :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Good Man -- The Video

A Good Man

Hi All -- It's about that time.  :)

There's a friend of mine who's run into a few circumstances not of his own making, but he's overcoming them.

He's a trial lawyer, and a great one.  He represents criminal defendants in Long Island and New York City, and he takes pride in the work he does.  He can slice and dice through the prosecution's case, show everything that it lacks, and show a jury how the People have not even come close to making their case.  He can expose the complaining witnesses for the frauds they sometimes are, and demonstrate how they should not be deemed credible.

Outside of Court, he's a family man.  He has a wife and two daughters, and is active in his church.

However, it appears that the firm he works for may be seeking to move in a different direction.  While he has demonstrated his ability and obtained favorable results for his clients, his firm is more concerned with keeping its expenses as low as possible.  The proverbial writing is on the wall, and he has read it.

But rather than bemoan these circumstances, curse the hand that is dealing them to him, or rage against the gods, he is taking action.  He is networking with other criminal defense attorneys in this area, and if need be, he is prepared to hang out his own shingle.

It is often said that G-D helps those who help themselves.  Well, this attorney is definitely doing that.  I know he will succeed no matter what because he has always been driven and disciplined.  It was always his dream to become an attorney, he has achieved it, and he is very successful.  I have no doubt that sooner or later, he will be able to compete with his current firm, and become even more successful.  Whatever happens here should have little to no effect on him in the long run.

As has been said before, it's much easier to react than it is to act.  Of course, when bad things have just happened, or are about to happen tomorrow, some reaction is expected.  That's part of being human.  But the key, as this man is already doing, is to stop reacting after the initial shock wears off, and to start thinking and making your next move.  When you're responsible, like he is, you spend the required minimal amount of time stating the obvious, that the situation sucks, and a LOT MORE TIME making a better situation.  Thinking this way gets his family behind him.  And gets a nod from one of his friends who happens to blog . . . and that would be me!

So, peeps, let this guy serve as an example for all of us.  He is putting the Four Pillars into practice, because he has earned respect, since he exists, matters, and belongs, and he deserves success.  And since his current situation is not providing him with what he deserves, it could be said that he is being granted a favor, because now he can build his own success without being constrained and confined by the surroundings that they erected around him.  There's no limit to how high he'll reach!


NOTE:  The subject of this blog post, while anonymous, has granted me his consent to post about his situation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Twenty Five Year Old Lie

Hey All -- gettin' serious tonight.  An all-nighter at the office can do that to a man.

This week, she started paying what she owed.  She finally started paying off the judgment assessed against her by the man she wronged.  What's sad is that he'd vacate that judgment if only she admitted what she did.

In 1988, a teenager named Tawana Brawley, in a misguided attempt to avoid whatever punishment her ineffective parents would have tried to dish out, almost started a race war.  She falsely accused a large group of white men of gang-raping her.  No charges were filed, but at least one man's reputation, marriage, and career, were destroyed nonetheless.

Steven Pagones, a former Dutchess County prosecutor, was accused of being part of this fictional mob.  Even after the dismissal of all charges, the accusations nearly ruined him.  So much though that a jury found Ms. Brawley and her "mentors," including the The Rev-Al, liable for defamation.  While her mentors honored their obligations and compensated Mr. Pagones for his loss of reputation, Ms. Brawley tried to disappear.

Apparently her mentors failed to advise her that judgments grow interest, so she now owes four times as much as she did once the judgment was entered.  Fortunately, the law allows a very long time for creditors to collect on judgments, since debtors have a bad habit of going into hiding like this winner did.

But now, after all this time, she's finally started paying.  Not voluntarily of course, but only after this city's finest tabloids found her current whereabouts and Pagones and his attorneys were able to garnish her salary.  With any luck, they'll probably obtain the lion's share of that judgment once she passes and leaves her estate up for grabs.

Ummmmmm yeahhhhhh Dave . . . I'm reallllly not being condescending, but is there a point here?  You made me get up from Family Guy for  . . . . ?

Funny you should ask.

Rape is a horrible crime, second only to murder.  It is a violation of a body, the destruction of a soul, and the disruption of a life.  It is taking a process that was designed for intimacy, and sometimes for love, and using it as a deadly weapon.

So if you're going to accuse someone of committing this heinous act, and it's not true, you deserve the same punishment that a convicted rapist would get.

In my opinion, that former prosecutor was too kind to seek only a civil judgment.  What about abuse of process?  What about the taxpayers' money she wasted in order for a grand jury to be assembled, when she didn't even appear, because she knew she was lying?  What about the media circus that she started, the race-baiting and drama that now seems commonplace today?  Why exactly should that go unpunished?

Because of your age?  Because of your race?  Because of your gender?

WRONG.  If you were old enough to concoct that ridiculous story to avoid the consequences your parents should have (and probably wouldn't have) dished out, then you were old enough to face real consequences from telling that kind of lie on that kind of scale.  Who did you think you were, and what did you think you were doing?!?!?!  What kind of undeserved sympathy were you really expecting, and did you think it would absolve you of any responsibility?!?!?!?

She can scowl and complain all she wants at the money missing from her paycheck, as it will the rest of her natural-born life.  Maybe she'd really scowl if she had to spend some time in the S.O. wing of the state penitentiary.

When those lacrosse players at Duke University were cleared of all rape charges, the corrupt District Attorney who indicted them faced the music, but their accuser never did.  I guess this is the closest we can expect in terms of justice for those who falsely make rape accusations.  G-D willing, these recent events may change that for other cases.

DISCLAIMER:  As stated above, rape is a crime for a good reason, and there is no statute of limitations on it for a better reason.  Those who truly have been the victim of rape should never be afraid to come forward and tell their story.  Those who truly have NOT been so victimized, think first.  You won't get away with it anymore.

Feel free to comment, peeps!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Don't Let 'Em Faze You!

Don't Let Them

Hi All.  :)

(1)  You state your case, and set your position.  They're still not satisfied.
Phony intellectuals raise objections to your respectful entreaty.
Eyes start rolling, hustling commences, can't you just drop it?
We don't have all day to hear this, let's just make a deal and move on.

(2)  Tongues start wagging about obligations and frustration spews up and out.
Comparisons are made to those who play easy, and drop their weapons at once when asked.
Pontification reigns, arrogance oozes, threats are issued, fingers are pointed.
Time is running short, you're making an issue, your argument's nothing but a waste of time.

That's their problem.

(3)  You have the facts and you know the rules, you have the evidence and the record is made.
They cluck their tongues and rely on presumptions, they disregard the obvious and irrefutable.
They expect the world as they demand it, tied up in a bow with a Hallmark card,
And when they receive it that often, it becomes business as usual, expected and inevitable.

(4)  Yes, you can prepare for and stop the onslaught, and stop the bleeding from the gaping wound.
And sure you can explain that all could be lost, and that it's better to make peace than lose a battle.
But sometimes the battle is meant to be fought, and sometimes a statement needs to be made.
And sometimes the sneers and catcalls and arrogance fail to drown out what's underneath them all.

(5)  So if you pull out all the stops and hit all your notes, and it falls on deaf ears despite it all,
Be proud of the record that you created, as a higher authority may be more attuned.
And maybe, or possibly, perhaps or perchance, you may score a direct hit,
And spoiled children will wail and scream in horror at the concept of unmet desires.

It's OK to believe you can win.  And it's also OK to win, too.


(A)  I'm aware that it doesn't rhyme.
(B)  I'm also aware that the rhythm is slightly off.  I was on a roll anyway.
(C)  If you want to know what my underlying meaning here is, please ask me.  Don't assume.