Women Asking Men Out For a Date?

Too much to lose, to ask her out,

I want her to choose, there’s no doubt.

For if I ask, and she rejects,

she’ll drop me, our friendship next.

She’ll think I’m a creep, a horny guy,

wanting one thing, and that’s a lie.

All I want, is her with me,

to treat her nice, like a lady.

So I’ll rest, and quiet I’ll be.

playing the game, of wait and see.

Our friendship to risk, so I sit and pout,

till she gives me a clue, or asks me out.

-From the Pistolero Poet.

What a profound question! Yes, profound! If it’s 1957…

So I’m talking to my roommate the other day about dating. I shared my (often humorous) experiences in the dating world. Being gender-variant clearly never helped my case… Ever. Primarily because having a more feminine mindset is a pretty terrible thing to have if you’re trying to pick up women. This is probably because we were both thinking the same thing; “I’ve given them every indication that I like them, why wont they ask me out?” And thus, we eventually walked away feeling like the other person just wasn’t all that into us when in all actuality, we were crazy about each other. Me with my crippling shyness, and her not wanting to impose or step on my toes wasn’t a good combination. I often wondered why my friends consistently tried to hook me up with other shy people. What happens when you put two shy people in a room together? No one speaks! Oddly enough, my shyness is what attracted many of those same women to me, but due to our cultural axioms, they never thought about making the first move. I related to my roommate that I could have had many more relationships had the girl just taken the first step. I’m not saying she should have swept me off my feet and paid for everything, but a simple “I like you” would have been enough for me to see that she had the same feelings for me as I had for her and would have given me the confidence to ask her out without fear of ruining a sterling friendship. What is the deal with women never wanting to make the first move? They joke about how unobservant, unintuitive, unempathetic and emotionally detached we are, but in the same breath they expect us to know what she’s thinking and if the mood is right.

My roommate said that most guys are intimidated by girls asking them out. That their fragile ego would prevent them from accepting the experience as a positive one. She went onto say that most guys want a more submissive girlfriend, and asking them out would show that they were too assertive. Obviously, I disagreed. She said that my experience as a male wasn’t a typical one and that other people would agree with her. Luckily, I just happen to work in an environment that is packed full of macho bravado. So, off I went to work to ask what everyone thought. I wanted to ask everyone I could to get a good cross-section of what the popular male opinion was on the subject. Without fail, every single guy said the same thing… They were totally fine with a woman asking them out. Some preferred it, most felt that the concept of the old tradition was outdated and irrelevant. A surprisingly progressive outlook for such a traditional area! I asked the question outside of work, in casual conversation. Again, everyone said that it was fine, some even went so far as to say that the whole idea of men asking women out was silly because women are more picky, thus if women asked men out you could eliminate much of the risk of rejection.

A history lesson from an old timer really put it in perspective for me. He related that back in the old days, women didn’t work (unless they were a teacher or nurse). So women were seen as not really bringing anything to the relationship. More of an object, something that needed to be taken care of. Since the man was the only provider, it would have been seen as imposing or vain for a woman to ask a man out. Something like the old adage, “beggars can’t be choosers”. I told him that it sounded incredibly sexist, he agreed but added that it was a common belief back then. Everyone thought that way. After I heard that, I couldn’t understand why women would want to perpetuate such a negative tradition.

Some of the comments I’ve heard after asking the question; How would you feel if a woman asked you out?

– Flattered.

– It would be refreshing, I’d really like that.

– Even if I didn’t like her, I’d still take her out just for asking.

– The best relationship I ever had started when a girl approached me.

– I’d be all about that. It takes all the guess work out of it so you have nothing to lose.

– Some guys may be intimidated by that. But they’d have to be really weak to be intimidated by a girl who liked them.

So, it seems the verdict is in. Girls take heed… If you want a guy to ask you out, get over yourself and ask him. It’ll be ok, really. You’ll probably win some cool points in the process.

I would ask that we keep this going. Is anyone out there offended by the idea of women asking men out? Anyone at all? I’m interested to hear what other people have to say about this subject, just leave your comments in the section below.

More Than “Male”

Gender variance… The quantum mechanics of the gender world.

The whole topic of gender is a much more murky concept than most people give it credit for. It certainly goes further than what’s on your birth certificate or driver’s license. I debated for a long time on whether or not to actually write about this subject, and I think most people will understand why by the end of this.

Most people think they have a pretty clear view of what gender is and how it works. It seems cut and dry doesn’t it? You’re born, the doctor slaps you on the ass and tells your parents “congratulations, it’s a boy” (or girl as the case may be) and that’s that. The only gray area may be in the case of someone who is intersexed, or possesses parts or pieces of both genders. But, the further you dig, the larger that gray area becomes. You see, when the doctor says “it’s a boy” when you’re born, a more correct phrase would be “it appears to be a boy”. Being intersexed comes in many forms, some of which may look and even function like that of being totally one gender or the other. I won’t dwell on this too long, and I don’t want to get too technical, so suffice it to say that just because you have a wank or a hoo-ha doesn’t necessarily mean you’re male or female. It really takes a science lab to know for sure. Even then, there can be some variance. When they look at chromosomes, “XX” usually means female, but not always, just like “XY” usually means male, but not always. Other codes are the markers of being intersexed.

Your gender was formed before you were born. If you’re male, then at some point a wave of testosterone washed over you as a fetus and changed the way your body and mind formed. But what happens if for whatever reason that “wash” was incomplete? What if it affected the way your body formed, but not your mind? Well, that’s one theory of how we came to have variance in gender identity.

Now that the waters are sufficiently muddied, it’s a perfect time to bring up the topic of gender identity. Most people are “cisgendered”, that means that their gender identity and their birth gender match up. People who identify as the opposite of their birth gender can be called “transgendered”. If you feel that you are both genders at the same time or one gender more or less than the other, you can be called “androgynous”. If you feel that you are neither gender, then you’re “gender neutral” or “neutrois”. If you feel like you have a dual gender identity, then you can be called “bigendered”. If you feel like you’re two or more gender variations, then you can be called “trigendered”. There are many more variations too, and I over-simplified my definitions quite a bit. This all seems like it could be very complicated, and it gets much more complicated once you find out that gender identity isn’t even limited to the standard gender binary of male and female. If your gender identity is neither here nor there, difficult to label, or constantly changing, you can use the term “gender fluid”. All of these can fall under the umbrella term “gender queer”, although some people find that term offensive.

This gets into what I call “crazy label land”, where every different nuance of your personality comes with a new label.

As for me, I identify as being bigendered. Hold on a minute, I’ve got to close the closet door. In a nutshell, there’s as many ways to define exactly what bigenderism is as there are people who identify as being bigendered, which isn’t many. Somewhere around 3% of males and 8% of females identify with the term. For me, basically, it’s like being both male and female at the same time, although sometimes I lean more to one side or the other. Originally, I thought I was transgendered… To be specific, I thought I was a failure at being transgendered. For several months I actually lived full time as female (and yes, I was hot), but after some time, living that way became tedious. Sometimes I felt totally cisgendered and wondered why I even went down that road. In those times, feelings of regret and shame about my identity were common… Sucks to have gender dysphoria in either gender. That’s about the time I figured out that I was bigendered, but by then I was so fed up with the whole thing that I just ignored it for a few years. Yeah, it didn’t go away.

The outward effect of being bigendered isn’t an obvious one. It’s something like the Native American concept of “two spirit” people. I’m just more than male. I can carry on a conversation about anything from bear hunting to eye liner. I’m totally male, but part of me is also totally female. The way I see it, some personalities are just too wide to be defined by one gender. I like to think of it as a harmony between masculine and feminine thought patterns. The best of both worlds, if you will.

To wrap all this up, gender isn’t something most people think about. After all, if you’re cisgendered, it would be a little like a fish thinking about how wet they are. No matter how much we think about it though, it’s a big part of who we are and our identity. Probably the first thing we notice about people we meet is what gender they are, since that defines how we relate to them. Our gender defines how we relate to the world as well. It’s not a stretch to say that gender largely defines how we experience life, yet it is still one of the least understood bits of who we are as human beings and as a society.

I’d be more than happy to answer questions about this one since it’s pretty much impossible to sum it all up in one post.

Zip Line Tour Of My Musical Memory

The journey of a thousand songs begins with one step down memory lane.

I listen to the radio a lot. More than most people I suppose. It’s the background soundtrack to our jobs and really, life in general. I have a lot of time to think, so I’ve started to pull together my rather nebulous thoughts on music. Hopefully, some of you can identify with some of the thoughts I have.

Although I’ve listened to almost every genre of music in my life, rock has had the biggest impact on me. You can blame my taste in music on my brothers, both of which had their musical preferences shaped firmly in the grip of “Generation X”. By most accounts, I came about very slightly after that generation ended, which is unfortunate because I can easily identify with them, and not so much with the younger “Millennial Generation”. To start this, I suppose I should begin from my first recollection of music…

As I search the chronicles of my mind, the very first music video I ever remember seeing was George Harrison’s cover of Got my mind set on you in 1987. What a fantastic video! I sat in front of the TV and moved to the beat as best as I could. I had no idea what he was singing about, but I knew I liked it. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who liked it, the video went on to be nominated three times for MTV’s video music awards. The main thing I remembered from this one was all the crazy shit flying and flapping around in the background while George calmly strummed his guitar and sang like it was no big deal.

It wasn’t long before watching MTV was as regular for me as cartoons were for most kids. Those were some interesting childhood memories, from around the same time period I remember seeing the controversial (at the time) video for Don’t come around here no more by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. From what I remember, this one did win a VMA. I have to admit, as many times as I’ve heard the song, the video is more memorable. I always imagined that it was pretty close to what one would experience if you tried shrooms while watching Alice in Wonderland. Come to think of it, Alice in Wonderland probably encourages people to try shrooms anyway. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers remain one of my all time favorites even today.

My brothers, seeing my interest in all things that were totally rad quickly introduced me to their favorites, which of course became my favorites too. I vividly remember them sitting in their room listening to Guns N’ Roses new cassette tape Appetite for destruction and trying to decide which songs would be hits. Good Lord, how could you possibly go wrong with that! They even had a Guns N’ Roses poster that was so much more bodacious than my Roger Rabbit poster that seemed so out of place in my room. undoubtedly, that is where my love of silver revolvers and thorny flowers came from. There were others too of course, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Metallica, and many more.

My next memories came a few years later. By this time I had a radio in my own room and my oldest brother was already enlisted in the Army. My other brother had his own car by now, a white Pinto with red leather interior. His big thing now was the Grateful Dead, but he still listened to what he called classics. You know, Jimmy Buffett, and the Rolling Stones. Soon after, he would enlist in the Navy and I would be on my own to pick out what was cool for myself, and fortunately, there was a new genre on the block ready to greet me with open arms and dirty Dr. Martens, Grunge Rock!

Grunge is what I remember the most from my childhood. It was the first thing I ran to once my brothers were out of the house, and the first new sound of the 90’s. It shaped every aspect of my life at the time, and I can see how it affects my sense of style even now. Primarily, my liking of simple, cheap, durable clothing items, slightly baggy and comfortable jeans, my misuse of flannel, and love for thrift store pick-ups. In many ways, it’s very similar to early punk rock styling. Grunge was simple, and that’s what we loved about it. No flashy antics, no gimmicks, just straight forward music that spoke to the masses of a generation trying to find out who they were. Oh, the memories! Vaseline and Interstate love song from the Stone Temple Pilots were huge hits, and who could forget that freaky ass music video for Black hole sun by Soundgarden? Ah, I remember them all. Bush, Hole, Collective Soul, Candlebox, and of course, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. This began what I call the “post Bill and Ted era” of music. The one and only complaint I have about this era (other than the absence of “happy” songs) was the difficulty in figuring out the song lyrics. Even if you could use all your mad crypto-linguistic skills to decipher what they were saying, the songs largely seemed to make absolutely no sense at all. Really, what the hell was Yellow Ledbetter about? It was the one song you couldn’t help but (try) to sing along with and I had no freaking clue what they were saying or what the song was about and neither did you. Apparently, it may have been an anti-war song… Who knew?

Eventually, the sound started changing. Grunge faded into the larger genre of Alternative Rock, and that gave us the soundtrack to our junior high years. The Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers probably spurred this change in sound more than anyone. Segments of punk rock and ska were going mainstream, and there were newcomers with a sound all their own. Harvey Danger came out with Flagpole sitta, Chumbawamba had Tubthumping, others followed. Pop was actually getting fairly good too. It seemed like the golden age of music! There was a lot of strange stuff that came out around this time too, like the Dresden Dolls, Marcy Playground and Aqua… But the rest was pure and great and shiny and new. Audioslave, Fastball, the Cranberries, Fuel, Third eye blind, they were all fantastic.

I took a quick trip into mainstream pop for a while around my high school years, but rock was always there. Linkin Park, Kid Rock, the Verve, Sugar Ray, Sublime, Tool, and the Offspring were the main ones I listened to. Along with Blues Traveller, and even some Creed. Now that I think about it, there’s no way to name all the bands I listened to through high school… Everything from Blink 182 to Bad Religion. Put on any music from 1999-2002 and I probably remember at least something about it. This was also around the time I got into punk rock and folk punk… There’s one you don’t hear much about. Remember the Presidents of the United States of America and their hit song Peaches? The timeline splits innumerable times here, everyday was something new. A new sound, a new band, the world was wide open, MTV was dead, and the internet was changing how everyone bought music.

It was a brave new world. Then I enlisted in the Air Force. Music took a back seat for a while I learned the finer points of folding underwear. I actually don’t remember much good music coming out for the next couple years, and it seemed like the bubble had burst. There was no new Aerosmith, no new Metallica, no new Ozzy… No one there to take their place and fill the void. Rock seemed dead and the best we could hope for was a rehashing of an old song or an old band coming out with something new that vaguely reminded us of the good old days.

However, in this modern age of information, many indie bands and independent artists are coming out with great stuff and unlike the old days where you had to see them in person to hear their sound, we can easily find them on the web. There’s a brand new day for finding good music now, and no shortage of small time bands to suit any connoisseur of rock. Find the good ones where you can, and support them. This is the grass-roots heart of music fandom, and if you’re lucky, maybe one of them hits it big. Then you can act like a snooty hipster and tell people you were into them before they were mainstream.

Enjoy the music. It’s the heartbeat of a generation, and an art that transcends canvas. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and rock out for a few hours.

Fake Centurions and other Bull.

Wow. Seriously? No comments at all? I write a very political blog, taking my own views to a fringe point of view (although one I was willing to defend for the moment to play devil’s advocate) that could easily be taken the wrong way, pointing my bony finger of blame in a vague direction that I figured someone would pounce on, all in an attempt to stimulate some conversation (if not debate) to liven up this place. I wrote in coarse language that I normally would never use in my blogs for shock value, perpetuating a “red neck”, “red state” stereotype, hoping it was like hanging “red” meat in front of hungry beasts. I used sarcasm when it was totally inappropriate, and only lightly touched on some real issues, telling only half the story, in the long shot belief that someone may just want to jump in, make Paul Harvey proud, and tell “the rest of the story”. But instead, I get more response from waving at strangers in traffic. Okay then. Either people around here are unusually tolerant of the political beliefs of others, no matter how half told, or this place is just not getting many readers. Maybe we should decorate it differently? I’ve tried writing nice, I’ve tried writing mean, so I guess the last thing to try is just to bring up a handful of topics and hope someone wants to talk about one of them. If you throw enough mud at the wall, eventually some of it will stick.

Before I start, I’ll clear up my personal political beliefs. I’m a Libertarian. Yes, just like everyone’s favorite Libertarian… Drew Carey. I don’t blame Obama for the downfalls of the current economy, although I am a bit miffed that we were promised real change in Washington politics, transparency, and honest reform, and we’ve seen none of that thus far. I do tire of his “blame game”, we all know Bush wasn’t what our country needed, but it’s been two and a half years and the people are tired of hearing about it. It’s beyond time to let go of the past. I place the blame of excessive spending on the various branches of government. I remember every year when I was enlisted, it was a chore to spend money. If we didn’t spend the entire budget, we didn’t get that much to work with the following year, thus rewarding excessive spending. Fraud, waste and abuse abounds, and it’s time to shine the light into that and scrape the sludge out of the sides of our economic hull. Downsize, and leave what’s left to work faster and more efficiently.

As far as the situation in London, there are racial undertones, however the larger story is that you can’t walk down the street in certain places in London without getting searched and hassled by the police. There have been over 300 deaths reported from persons in police custody with no real investigations or convictions as a result. The police in London have nearly been an opposition force against the people, and they have become untouchable and unaccountable through traditional means. That’s what filled the keg with powder, waiting for the right match to strike, and eventually it did. I would say that the “flash mobs” here in the states probably have a similar undertone to them.

Now with that cleared up, onto other news. A 12 year old boy scout has gone missing from a fishing trip in Utah. Being an Eagle Scout myself, I would like to believe that he has the skills to know what to do in that situation and will be found in short order. Although, he’s 12, the youngest age one can be in scouts, so he probably doesn’t have a lot of experience. If he was in the cub scouts, he’s undoubtably been taught what to do when you get lost and how to increase your chances of being found. Lost hikers are usually found very quickly, since once they’re lost they tend to travel in large circles and are normally found within a few miles of where they were last seen. In any case, I hope it works out quickly and the worst thing that comes from it is a future story he can tell around the camp fire of the time he conquered wilderness survival. Maybe he’ll grow up to be the next Bear Grylls.

In other news, an underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Oregon… Who knew there were volcanoes there? Nothing happened, just an underwater lava flow. I don’t know what it looked like, but I imagine the Oregon coast looking like a hot tub with freshly steamed delicious fish washing up on the shore. Sounds like it could have been a popular vacation spot had we known about it in advance.

In more dubious news, centurions crossed blades outside the Colosseum in Rome. Apparently, a popular occupation is to dress up like a centurion and get tourists to pay to have their picture taken with you. This has been a common thing in the area, although lately there have been complaints of “fake” centurions and gladiators charging excessive amounts of money for a picture, sometimes using the tourist’s own camera and then demanding more money before they give it back. They also charged visitors for tours that never panned out with no refund. Undercover police dressed as centurions formed a “sting operation” to catch the criminal frauds in the act, and apparently when the badges came out, a sword fight ensued… I’m not kidding. Seriously, I would gladly pay to see that. With the help of some more undercover cops posing as street cleaners, the spurious Roman soldiers were taken into custody. When in Rome, do as the Romans and only deal with licensed Colosseum guides. Supposedly, the real ones are required to speak fluent English and be friendly. If you ever feel like you’re being mugged (or crucified), report it to police immediately. Apparently, that won’t be very hard since it seems like there’s legions of undercover cops in the area. I wonder how that looked when they were booked at the jail? “What’s your name, son”? “I’m Spartacus”! Another one stands up, “I’m Spartacus”, and another “No, I’m Spartacus!”

And finally, a bull was loose in the streets of a Washington state town last night. Police chased it for hours with no result, apparently bulls are easily spooked by the slightest things, like flashing blue lights and sirens. Eventually a cowboy sitting on the hood of a patrol car (again, I’m not kidding) was able to lasso the bull and end the rampage. You have no idea how long I’ve waited to say those words. Way to take the bull by the horns! I’ll be here all week folks! Take it easy, we’re all in this together.

Thank God for Guns

I work at a prison, in the city. It’s not the biggest city ever, and it isn’t the biggest prison ever. In fact, it’s one of the smallest ones in the state. The main point of this prison is to house the worst of the worst that the state has to offer. As you may suspect, this leads to some hair-raising situations, and I’ve seen many. However, last night was a new one on me, because the threat wasn’t from the inmates, we’re prepared for that, this threat was from an area where we have no jurisdiction or authority, the community.

Correctional Officers don’t tend to have many fans. Most citizens never think about us, and those who we come in contact with regularly tend to wish they were somewhere else. Yep, no one wants our job and even we would like to see the need for our job diminish. It’s one of those thankless endeavours that I have built my life around. I do patrol on the graveyard shift.

We had just settled in to work another night when the radio lit up. Talk of needing medical personnel, a stretcher, and an ambulance. Here we go again. After some doing, we eventually had the ambulance on the compound and a crew of people ready to take an inmate to the hospital. All that went fine, but when our officer was on his way back from the hospital is where things went wrong…

A voice came over the radio saying “central control, you’ll need to send someone out to get me, my vehicle broke down. I’m in a bad neighborhood”. I’ll have the change the names of the places and people here for privacy reasons. We’ll say this guy’s name is “Officer Black”.

Then a voice answered. We’ll call him “Sgt. Gray”, “Yeah, 10-4 Officer Black, we’ll send another vehicle out as soon as possible”. All seemed pretty normal, after all, state vehicles break down sometimes. Several minutes passed.

“Hey, I’m in a really bad neighborhood, you need to send someone quick, I’ve got a lot of eyes on me right now” Officer Black said, sounding a little more panicked than before. “Yeah 10-4. Officer White, are you on the way?” Sgt. Gray asked. “Yes, I’m on the way now, I should be there in about 15 mike” Officer White said as he drove off with a state issued van. “Hey you’ve got the shotgun with you right, Officer Black”? Sgt. Gray asked, “10-4 Sarge” was the answer. Several more minutes passed. Sgt. Gray told central control to try to get a wrecker from the Department of Transportation to go to “South Street” to pick up the vehicle.

By this time we were hanging on the radio to hear how things were developing. From the sound of it, it wasn’t going well. Every minute or so the calls from Officer Black became more frantic. “Hey Sarge, more people are showing up” followed by “These guys are armed, get here fast”. At this point, Sgt. Gray informed Officer Black that there was no wrecker to be found at this time of night and to stay calm, we’re calling the police. Meanwhile, a crowd of 10 to 15 people had formed around our officer and were closing in. Each minute seemed like an hour as we did all we could do, listen and wait.

Apparently, the crowd became violent. Officer Black was forced to take action. He evacuated the vehicle with the shotgun, and instructed the crowd to disperse. “Central control, tell metro that I’m armed, these people are armed and they’re not backing down”. Was the next nervous call we heard. The hoard refused to comply, they knew that this officer was alone, that he was from the prison and didn’t have the authority to arrest them. However, they didn’t know if he had the authority to use that shotgun to defend his own life… He did have that authority, and it looked like he might have to use it. Metro was called again, but there were no blue lights in sight.

Things were looking bad for Officer Black as the mob grew more brave, but at that moment, Officer White showed up. The people scattered. “Central, this is Officer White, I’m here and it looks like everyone is headed back inside”. We all cheered, thinking that things were finally safe. Officer White had brought a can of gas and a set of jumper cables to try to get the vehicle working again. Things were looking up… Until the crowd saw that Officer White was unarmed… Either way, the presence of Officer White had changed the dynamic of the situation. The mob saw things in a different light now, but they still weren’t happy at the appearance of prison officers in their neighborhood. Slowly, things started going south again as the crowd assembled once more.

After a few more moments, to our horror, there were now two panicked voices calling for assistance. “This is getting serious guys, get metro out here now, we’re like sitting ducks!” Officer White shouted on the radio. The only thing they could do was cling to that shotgun, and hope help arrived. Sgt. Gray instructed them to stay in their vehicles until the police arrived, then try to put gas in the vehicle or jump start it when the police have secured the area. Little did we know, it would be another half hour before the police would get there as they were held up on another crime on “North Street”.

Several more tense minutes passed, I was now wondering why they don’t have convoy training at the academy and debated trying to explain to them what a box formation was and how to do 360 degree security. It’s hard to do all that with only two vehicles and one gun though. Eventually, there was no getting around it. The armed members of the crowd were back and our officers had to take action since help was just too far away. It’s a good time to note that they weren’t out in some remote area, they were in the middle of a sub-industrial part of one of the largest cities in the state. Officer Black held the mob (About 20 people by now) at bay with the gun again while White tried to get the vehicle running. Unfortunately, it was broke hard and still wouldn’t start.

Luckily, as the crowd was about to try to take the two in a rush, blue lights flashed down the street. The police were here! Well, one was there anyway, but that was enough. In an instant, the crowd was gone, and order was restored. The police called their wrecker to tow the vehicle back to the prison and everyone got back safe.

Situations like this is the reason I choose to carry a gun when I’m off duty. You never know when you’ll be thrust into a bad situation, and in this case, if it wasn’t for that one shotgun, our man Officer Black would have been skinned alive long before help could get to him. No matter how safe your neighborhood may seem, you never know where chance will take you. In the end, criminals don’t care about who you are, they only care if you have the means to defend yourself or not. As I got home this morning, I watched the news only to find that a woman on the other side of town had to use her handgun to defend her life when two robbers broke into her house, The police can’t be everywhere at once. Keep your head on a swivel out there, we’re all in this together.

Rites of Passage

I’ve been doing some thinking about rites of passage lately. Mainly, how our current culture doesn’t really have them.

In nearly all primitive cultures, there is some event that signifies the transition from childhood to being an adult. In some cultures it’s marked by the accomplishment of some act of bravery, in others it’s noted with the achievement of some level of wisdom. In ours, it’s mostly attributed to living to the age of 18. There are “mile stones”, obtaining a driver’s license, getting a first job, graduating high school, but no real rite of passage.

I feel this is one of the reasons why we have a surplus of grown men and women in our society acting like children. We really can’t hold them accountable, no one ever formally told them that they should “grow up”, so how can we honestly expect them to act like adults when they’ve never demonstrated that they could act in that capacity. I think the “should” part has the most impact here. Why should someone “man up” when they don’t have to? There’s honestly not much benefit to it, I mean, growing up sucks! In the minds of many people, there’s no up side to it. Who would want to accept all that responsibility? Trying to make a relationship work, raising kids, keeping a job, maintaining a household, being accountable for your own actions, it’s really hard! Wasn’t it so much easier when no one depended on you? When the only consequence to doing poorly was making a bad grade? When you got an allowance rather than having to work and someone else provided you with a home, clothing and food? Any amount of money you had could be spent on the things you enjoyed because someone else provided all that you needed. Those were the days huh? Why shouldn’t they last forever? Why couldn’t they?

Well, there’s no easy answer to that these days. In traditional societies, people were looked down upon and scorned if they didn’t grow up. When they did, it was cause for celebration, a welcoming into the ranks, respect, and the endowment of those things that would otherwise be unobtainable. In today’s culture, many whine their way into the ranks, demand celebration, have no concept of respect and still obtain the same things as anyone else. Peter Pan Syndrome is actually rewarded in many ways. Can’t hold a job, never graduated, can’t budget, never got a driver’s license? Don’t worry, we have social programs for that.

Much of this could be eliminated with a set rite of passage. Now, I’m not necessarily advocating that people strike out to kill a lion with a spear or walk barefoot into the wilderness for a vision quest. Our social structure isn’t set up for that and if you tried it you’ll probably get kicked out of the zoo or taken to jail for suspicion of drug use. “Honest officer, I’m just looking for spiritual enlightenment”. Our civilization doesn’t recognize the tradition anymore and I think it’s a shame. I honestly can’t think of one way that it could happen, and we’re dealing with the fallout of that now. I had thought in the past that some rite of passage could be implemented at the family level, but it still wouldn’t change how society sees our youth. No celebration for doing things right, no condemnation for doing things wrong. Since the days of personal responsibility are gone, the only thing we can do is understand how this affects our culture and do our best to deal with the consequences of that.

I do think it’s interesting to note how in almost every culture throughout time, the rite of passage is accomplished right around the time a child is turning into a teenager while our current culture holds off on calling someone an adult until they’re nearly two decades old. Maybe many adults act like children because they’ve been treated like children much too long? Maybe that’s the reason why teenagers are typically rebellious? Every fiber in their being is telling them that they need to go out into the world and gain some real life experiences to come to terms with their mission in life, but society tells them to shut up and be good little kids and stay quiet in class. We could very well be forcing kids to embrace being a child for years after they’re biologically ready to move on. Is it any wonder why so many never “grew out of it”?

Aliens, Squirrels, Conspiracy and Society.

Alright, here’s a little mental exercise in sociology.

Imagine that you turn on the news and a UFO has just landed on the White House lawn and little gray aliens walked out and said that they come in peace. Would society as we know it end on that day? Many people think it would. But why?

Anyone who makes a habit of listening to late night talk radio knows that there’s a large group of people who think that aliens from other worlds exist and that they’ve been visiting Earth for thousands of years. Many believe that the world governments know all about it but are suppressing the information to keep the public in the dark. But why would they? It is a possibility that the governments wouldn’t want the public to know about something like that because they think that people would panic. Some think of it as a vast “cover up” based in some insidious effort to control the world’s population. Others think that it’s just such a rare thing that the governments may still be in the dark. There is no end to the theories surrounding this scenario.

In western civilizations many people believe that aliens could not exist because they think it would be contradictory to Judeo-Christian theology. I fail to see why and think of such lines of thought as bordering on faithlessness. Why would belief in extraterrestrials contradict western theology? Some people say it’s so because the bible never mentions aliens… At this, I like to point out that the Bible never mentions squirrels or penguins either but we have no problem believing in those. The next logical step in the argument is to say that the Bible couldn’t possibly mention all the different types of animals but it does mention animal kind, plants, human kind, and spiritual beings and those are the only types of life that God is accredited with creating in the Bible. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, and E.T. At this, I would like to point to the story of Adam and Eve and note that they are only said to have had two children, and when they were of age, they left and found wives… So where did the wives come from? It’s clear that Adam and Eve weren’t the “first” humans, but only the first specifically named by God. The Bible isn’t so much of a history book as it is a family tree that follows one blood line, the blood line of Jesus. Adam and Eve were the first of this blood line, but we can clearly see that there were humans created on Earth before them. If Eden was a literal place, most experts theorize that it’s location would have been around the “fertile crescent”, and all the happenings of the Bible revolve around the same geographic region on Earth, around the Middle East. In fact, we can see that God’s “favorite” place on Earth is Jerusalem. Maybe “favorite” isn’t the right word, but it’s clear that he seems to focus on the location of Jerusalem quite a bit. When he speaks about the kingdom of heaven coming to Earth, he says that Jerusalem is where it will be located. Out of every place on this Earth, he has chosen this one location to focus on. Does that mean that no other place on Earth has meaning or could be reached by the salvation of Jesus? Clearly not.

It took a long time for the message of the gospel to reach other places on Earth. Distance from Jerusalem has never been a factor of salvation. Jesus died for the salvation of Native Americans, South American tribesmen, Australian Aborigines, and Alaskan Natives just the same way he died for members of the early church half a world away. Since distance isn’t a factor, wouldn’t it make sense that people on other planets would be treated the same as those from other continents on Earth? Who’s to say that there aren’t humans like you and me on other worlds? By this line of thought, it would seem that the Christian thing to do upon meeting extraterrestrials may be to convert them.

Even the Chief Astronomer of the Vatican has made the statement that belief in aliens isn’t contradictory to belief in God because they would still be the creation of God.

Getting back to the original line of thought here, it could be true that if the government is aware of aliens, they may actually want to disclose that information. Clearly, if aliens did exist, they don’t seem to be a threat to national security since they haven’t overthrown our world and enslaved us all yet. It would seem that if they can travel the cosmos, that they would also have the ability to make their presence known to all human kind regardless of what our governments think if they wanted to. By that line of thought it would seem that the aliens don’t want to be widely known, possibly for fear of how such a shock would be to our fragile civilization and they don’t want to interfere with our Earthly way of life. Something like the “prime directive” mentioned in Star Trek. This begs the question of how aliens would view our planet. Maybe not as another rock in the galaxy to conquer or study for some scientific gain, but as a sovereign nation of intelligent beings on the far side of the Milky Way neighborhood. They probably don’t take into account the belief or will of every individual on this planet, but view us more as a democracy. They may be waiting for the “majority” of Earthlings to call for contact with anyone who may be out there before they send an invitation to us to join the galactic housing committee. There are endless possibilities for why aliens may exist, why we wouldn’t be privy to that information, and that if they do exist that it really wouldn’t change life all that much as we know it.

The main point in this mental exercise is to decide for yourself how strong (or weak) society is. More importantly, how strong is your own belief in society when faced with something only slightly outside of our collective civil norm. Society may just fall apart. But if it does or doesn’t it will be the result of the individual’s own ability or inability to hold onto their own beliefs and self-identity when faced with something “alien” to their view of civilization. In short, my example of “aliens” is just a metaphor for any form of civil unrest.

The truth is out there… And it lies within yourself.

Chivalry and Civilization

It’s so hot! We are WAY above normal temperatures for this time of the year! It was never this hot before! Thunderstorms are popping up all over the place with little or no warning, and they’re happening too frequently! This clearly IS the ”end of days”! The Mayans are winning! Global warming or something, it’s game over man!

Well, no. It’s July. Yes, it WAS this hot before… Remember last July? How about the July before that? And guess what, it’ll be worse next month. In fact, it’ll be twice as bad in September because we’ll all be thinking that it should be cooling off, without remembering that it doesn’t really cool off to what we think of “seasonal” until at least mid October. You may think of this time in history as being hard on weathermen, with all the “500 year floods” and epic tornadoes, but I can pretty much sum up all the weather for the next three months; It’s going to be hot, humid, with a chance of thunderstorms. It doesn’t pay to keep dwelling on the whole “it’s never been this bad before” thing. Sure, it seems like the natural disasters are coming far more frequently these days, but a better statement might be;” It’s hot, it’s July, we didn’t see it coming because our memory doesn’t extend beyond last week, and saying that things are “epic” makes us feel better for not being properly prepared for a situation that we should have known would happen.” Most people just barely got properly prepared for winter when it started getting warm this Spring! We’ll all be ready to deal with the heat right about the time that we have the first hard frost of the year.

Be prepared! It’s the boy scout motto. I was a boy scout, in fact, I was an eagle scout, then I was an adult leader in the troop before joining the military. Scouting is a great organization. I learned a lot in scouting. If we all lived by scouting values, the world may be a far more civil place.

The motto; Be prepared.

Slogan; Do a good turn daily.

Oath; On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, to help other people at all times, to obey the scout law, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Law; A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Very much like the Air Force core values; integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Imagine if everyone was held to that standard. Imagine if everyone really was “trustworthy”. How would life be different? How different would things be if everyone really was “reverent”, and not in the religious sense, but if everyone really had a reverence for life, other people and the world we live in. How about if everyone really tried to do their best, to be moral, and helpful rather than try to step on everyone they could to get ahead in life? Life would surely be different.

With every good deed we do for others, every kind word, and moral obligation that we meet, we stave off social chaos for another few moments. Hold the door open for someone, and civilization lasts that much longer. Have reverence for our world, and we make it that much more of a beautiful place to be in. Our duty to others as humans could be summed up by the desire to leave the world better than we found it. You don’t have to be a goody-two-shoes, or a saint. Just have the bravery to do what’s right, live honestly, and help others. Simple as that.

Being prepared is the first thing you’re taught in scouts. It’s the basis for living in a chaotic world, and the mantra of those who would want to minimize the damage caused by that chaos. You know it’s tornado season, have a plan for your family in case one comes. You know gas prices are getting higher, better buy a little more food at the store so you don’t have to make another trip. You know there’s going to be lots of thunderstorms, better clean out the gutters. Oh, and the time to buy all those summer clothes was last fall when they were all on sale… Forethought is a wonderful thing. Here’s a tip, it’s kind of late now, but if you see any nice winter clothes on the rack that are on sale from last season, go ahead and buy them now. It’ll be much more expensive if you wait until it gets cool outside, and besides, by that time, you should be planning for what Christmas presents to get the kids and starting to stock up on rock salt for driveway. It’s much easier to get all that out of the way in October rather than waiting until December when you really need it but all the stores are sold out. The hardest part of planning ahead is finding room to put all this stuff until you need it. But, the reward is peace of mind when all others are losing theirs.

Add to that preparedness a dash of character. I remember when I was just a lowly cub scout, and we went on a hike and all we did was fill in pot holes. I asked why we were doing this when we could be out having fun. “It builds character” was the answer I got. I have to say, that stuck with me. No one prior to that had ever talked to me about character. Character and integrity are kissing cousins. Both entail doing what’s right, even when no one is looking. Having character is rarely about doing things that are easy. It’s not even really about doing things that you “have” to do, it’s about going above and beyond. Lord knows we’ve done so much crap that we didn’t really have to do that we must be some real characters by now! But seriously, character is important. It encompasses the ideal of honesty and the ability to help others. How does this relate? Well, maybe if it’s snowing outside, you don’t take the last bag of rock salt in the store… Maybe you leave that one for someone else who didn’t think as far ahead as you… Maybe you saved someone from getting hurt by slipping on the ice. Maybe that’s the modern equivalent to helping an old lady across the street. The person who buys that last bag of salt will never know that you made a conscious effort to help them out, but it was the right thing to do. That’s character.

If we have good character, a sence of duty to our fellow man, the ability to be prepared, and the desire to help people, then we have reverence for our world. If we are men and women of honor, maybe the chaos of this world wouldn’t be so devastating. Maybe society lasts a little longer. Maybe we save the day one more time…  integrity lives three doors down from chivalry in this big neighborhood we call civilization. Keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Summer Requiem

The heat waves linger low along the pavement in the distance like a dark swamp spreading its tentacles from one side of the road to the other, welling up on the sidewalk and swallowing up the cracked paint on the lanes. The smell of hot tar and asphalt mix and the sweltering heat of the sun radiates from the sweltering greenhouse of your shoes all the way through your body. Sweat pours downward and your whole being longs for even a moment of relief. Yes friends, its Summer in the south. Wet, smelly, suffocating heat is the order of the day. Oh, and a chance of thunderstorms. I’m sorry, when was Spring? Did I miss something?

One minute I was scraping ice off the windshield and the next I’m woefully overdressed and wishing I had some sun screen. Eh, apparently some people were waiting with eager anticipation for Winter to lose its grasp on the land and at the first sign of heat advisories they burst out of their homes and apartments with unparalleled enthusiasm, fanny packs, sun visor hats, and shorts so short that they seem almost comical. Ah, it’s Summer in the south. Cars are riding around with the top down and music too loud, as if I really want to hear what they’re listening to. Kids are out of school and in every store I go to I’m stuck behind some family brood with fifteen children of varying ages who all want something very badly and they aren’t afraid to let their wishes be known at an incredibly undignified volume and if they don’t get their way they roam around the isles acting like hoodlums on parade, picking things up, throwing them, playing with things that don’t belong to them and ignoring the personal space of others… Take a deep breath… It’s just another sign of Summertime.

But, there’s something much more sinister about Summer, the crime rates skyrocket! Beggars and thieves take up post along street corners and alleys, the caravan of pedestrians pass by blindly as the thugs carefully single their victims out of the crowd. Car jackings escalate since the cavalcade mess of unwashed masses clog the streets with their freshly washed sedans, slowing traffic down to a limping crawl. Tourists stop to take pictures and drive around lost as they try to find their way to the next attraction. Road rage abounds and the cursing is only punctuated by the spewing sounds of someone asking for spare change. Gas prices are high, muggings are up, everything is crowded and all the worst aspects of the metro area are hung out in the open for everyone to see like sweat stained laundry hanging on a line to dry. Yes, again, ’tis the season… Or as I like to call it, Summergeddon!

As you can probably tell, Summer is probably my least favorite season. Bah Humbug! Things seemed so much better when the fresh snow fell silently upon the ground, sparkling in the cold moonlight like tiny stars and covering all the blemishes of the world in a wonderous blanket of natural beauty… Now the trash lays in the open, thrown along the roadside, bare in the bright daylight and the smell of body odor, tanning lotion and grass clippings cohabitate in an unholy motherload of funk.

I tried to retreat to the wilderness for some relief from the rat race as I have done for more than a decade, but even nature has turned into a thorn laden grindhouse. As soon as I opened the door of my Silverado, the heat struck me like a solar wind. I sprinted for the shade of the trees but to no avail. The forest was strewn with spider webs, I ran headlong into one, turned around to flail my arms about in a futile attempt to free myself from the invisible foe, jumped backward to avoid stepping on a copperhead snake and a cicada punched me in the face… Defeated, I slumped back to the truck. “Screw this”, I said to myself as I picked several ticks off my jeans and swatted at a mosquito. “I know where there’s an indoor pistol range I can have some fun at”. Anything to get away from this horrid season!

I once heard someone say that “cool heads prevail”. I’m inclined to believe that more and more with each passing day that brings nothing but record setting triple digit temperatures. The apocalypse is measured in degrees fahrenheit.

Alas! The worst is still yet to come. August looms ahead, ushering in the dog days of the season. Drink lots of water and remember the bug spray. Woe to those who do not heed my warning of excessive heat and perspiration! The end is nigh, be warned! Summergeddon is upon thee!