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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'