On Race; Why We Actually Are All Different and Not the Same

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Credit to Miguel Coimbra

This is a topic that I have a hard time talking about, simply because I am afraid to share all the true details; the ones that haunt my past (and to some degree, current) self.  I, admittedly, have acted in racist manners before, sometimes realizing it, and sometimes not realizing it.  Let me say this:  Watching a movie that encourages racial relations is not enough; hearing a sermon on loving other races is not enough; seeing a YouTube clip is not enough.  The only way to bring racism (or any prejudice) to an end is to engage with those people as you would anyone else that you love.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, it’s not always that easy, as is the case with most endeavors.
What’s the most-used sentiment when it comes to racial equality?  In my opinion, it is the statement, “We are all the same.”  I don’t find this to be true.  In regards to having rights, and being treated equally, we should all be treated with the same respect.  But in regards to personality, we are all different, and this is where most people make a wrong statement.  We are not the same.  Not all Asians like noodles.  Not all blacks like chicken.  Not all those of Hispanic descent like enchiladas.  Not all blacks like basketball.  Not all Asians like Yao Ming.  Not all Latinos like soccer.  Even on writing this, there are people who prefer I use the term “African-American” and then there are those who prefer the term “black.”  I cannot differentiate between all the preferences without first communicating with someone what they prefer.
So, why exactly am I writing about race relations?  Well, the best way to answer that is to bring through my journey.  It seems to me that race relations has been the most prominent theme in my life, in both good and bad ways.
(This article was started on September 9/19/14, and will be continued shortly)

A Blast From the Past – Revisiting Atari’s 2600 First-Year Release Cartridge Games

Atari_Rainbow_by_dracadiosa

Top 100 Video Games

I have been working on a project lately – that is rating every video game I can get my hands on, based on personal opinion mostly, although encouraging user input to re-review to change my opinion.  While I have only had a few hits and votes here and there, the webpage has been very entertaining.  I only remember starting with the NES, so getting to play old-school Atari isn’t really nostalgic for me; it’s the first time I’ve played them (I did get to play Pitfall as a bonus stage from the SNES version of Pitfall, that is the only exception).  By and large, I think the Atari just has too many games for such a simple system.  At the same time, one must understand that this was the basis and foundation for the games that would later come to fruition.  Without Atari, who knows if the Nintendo competition would try ti infiltrate the market?  Even more so, one of my favorite SNES games was Pitfall–this would not have happened without an original.  Most sports games, in particular the NES versions, found their beginnings with the Atari models leading their inspiration.  Admittedly, I have played a few non-1977 releases, including Space Invaders & Pac-Man, but the first release of 1977 was what would determine the fate of the Atari’s success.  I have to say, looking at the games, they seem to have inspired my cellphone games and apps you may see on tablets or Iphones.  These games really are the games that started it all, and I dare say without them , the smartphone craze would not be nearly as successful.  Some games are now downloadable apps, such as Combat; but I have the most fun with a game called Surround.  It is basically a 2-player version of a game called Snake, which appeared on one of my Nokia Phones many years later.  These games aren’t story-based, but they make a nice way to kill some time nowadays, especially if you can find a phone app rendition, or are lucky enough to have an Atari at home.

Where Are Your Priorities?

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Credit to Miguel Coimbra

I recently started wondering, where are my priorities?  Are they in a good place?  I think I have some in a good spot, while others could be tweaked a bit.  The first question you have to ask yourself is, what should my priorities be?

If you’ve ever gone to church, almost all of them will tell you something along the lines of put God first.  While there is a whole other debate on religion and Christianity, I’m not going to delve into that today, I’m merely pointing it out to help you understand why my priorities are the way they are.  I do think the Bible has one very important point:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  As I kept reading, I believe the Bible has it right, but Christians have it wrong.  The Bible not only says to love your neighbor as yourself, but also to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (not just in church) (Hebrews), and to be “sincere” in love (1 Peter).

Your time here on earth is short when you look at the big picture.  The last 10 years have flown by in what seems like seconds compared to what it felt like when I was a youth.  To me, there is nothing more meaningful than the relationships you make while you are here.  They are valuable, and precious; and most of them do not last even this entire life.  In my case, one of my relationships happens to be God, so in essence, I do put that at the top of my priority list, as I find inspiration from the Bible on how to live better than any human, but people are my 2nd biggest priority.  This ranges from family to friends to new acquaintances, basically to whoever allows me into their life.  Some view this as clingy or needy, but I would not change a thing.  The people I have met have shaped me into who I am, whether we had good moments or bad.  They have influenced me in ways I cannot imagine differently, and more than anything, I can tell the difference between sincere friendship, and someone who’s just faking it to “be nice,” which generally turns out to come across as the complete opposite.  With the exception of my brother, the majority of my relationships center around comedic effect; I try to make light-hearted jokes about almost everything.  People complain so much about their life sucking, but in a reality check, if you are American, you likely shouldn’t be complaining.  Sure, sometimes life goes down a certain path, the best way I’ve found to deal with it is laugh it off.  There’s no sense in being depressed over something I cannot change (On a side note, depression is a serious issue, I am not insinuating people to just “get over it,” this is simply my means of handling those rough situations).  That actually brings me to my next point:  not everyone handles things through comedy.  This is my big flaw, because I just don’t know how to be that vulnerable without someone getting hurt in the process, or more likely, my nature of wanting to joke will come out at inappropriate times, and thus ruin a friendship.  I genuinely want people to be happy, and this is a mistake.  There are times when it’s appropriate to be sad.  I would not joke around at a funeral, it is a time of grievance.  Mourning with those who mourn creates a sympathetic and empathetic bond that goes beyond friendship; it is shared respect for someone who shared a special bond with both of you (in most cases).  If you haven’t cried at a funeral, I would have you ask one question:  do I take relationships seriously enough?  Am I so invested in a person that I don’t just cry at their funeral, but I cry when they mess up, or when they hurt themselves?  Otherwise, we become robots, incapable of feelings.

So, what causes this lack of feeling?
Well, I suppose it’s different for everyone.  For one, I feel as though sometimes my feelings are zapped up by video games, and (ironically) computers (facebook in particular).  If my time is invested in a game, my emotions tend to come out with the game–frustration due to difficulty, overjoyed at beating a hard part, and I have even at times been a little choked up either by musical background or a great story.  In particular, I remember being teary-eyed thanks to a scene in Final Fantasy III for SNES between Celes & Locke.  Now, if I could view my relationships in the same light, as having to fight through those tough parts, it might make a difference.  Maybe my emotional levels are exhausted by the games, but even if I stop playing them I don’t suddenly begin displaying emotion to all my friends; thus I think it required a more interactive experience with people than what is currently existing.

Moving on to a different priority, what about careers/jobs/finances/money/wealth?  How important should this be?
Well, I will simply leave it at this:  The more money you make, the more likely you are doing something either corrupt, illegal, or at least taking advantage of someone.  I learned this best in banking:  We try to create a need for someone who doesn’t really need something in order to sell them something they don’t really need, and more often than not should not get.  For example, a loan or credit card.  Even if you work in HR, you are still supporting a company that most likely does this.  Here’s where I stand:  I recently saw a friend post on facebook that the world’s messed up because every goes to college and ends up doing a job they hate, so they should just go do the job they love.  The example in this particular video was bungee jumping, indicating that the bungee jumpers should start a shop selling bungee equipment and other outdoor materials.  The problem with this is that it lacks a true understanding of a business model.  To sell a bungee cord, you need a bungee cord.  To have a bungee cord, someone needs to make a bungee cord.  To make a bungee cord, there needs to be factory workers, an authoritative manager who drives the production process and makes sure his employees are working; distributors, shippers, exporters, importers, people who make harnesses and hooks, the list goes on and on and on.
Let’s take this further:  In order to start a business, you need entrepreneurial skills, and a good understanding of business plans (startup, plan of action, mission statement, health code awareness), accounting (ledgers, balance sheets, factory overhead) among many other factors.  It is not that simple to just “do what you love,” because generally you will end up hating what you once loved to do.  So, how should we prioritize jobs?  For me, this again goes back to relationships, all my priorities circle back to relationships.  I need to know that I will like my team, and yet respect them.  I have learned over the years that I need to enjoy my coworkers more than anything else.  The job itself doesn’t have to be overly enjoyable as long as I have coworkers and i can laugh with.  I have also learned that while managers do need to be authoritative at times, there is a fine line between authoritative and disrespectful, or even sometimes abusive.  Thankfully right now I have a great management team that displays the better sentiments of those qualities.  Furthermore, the motivation for your job should be to support yourself, and your family if you are the provider, so the priority really isn’t the job, the priority is again the relationships; the job is only the means to which to handle that priority.

What are your thoughts?

Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last? (Dating Pt. II)

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It’s a question that has been asked since as long as I know.  Why do girls like jerks?  Why do nice guys finish last?  Why don’t girls like me, I’m so nice?  Why do I fall for the bad boys?

As a self-proclaimed nice guy, I discovered something about myself:  I wasn’t as nice as I would have liked to think.  At the same time, there is some truth to the frustration of males who are actually being nice and the gullibility of some girls.  I will do my best to shed some light on this subject.

When I thought I was a nice guy, I was not so frustrated with a girl rejecting me for a date; I was more enraged by the TYPE of guy she immediately dated and the REASON she gave me that she did NOT want to date.  Example:

Me:  Martha, I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go out sometime?
Martha:  I like you as a friend, but I’m just not ready to be in a relationship, I’m just not sure what I want right now.

3 weeks later, Martha is in a relationship with Paulo, the backwards-wearing hat guy who swears in class and talks down to the teacher, and is constantly sent to the principal’s office.

See, the thing is, I would not have been upset with the girl if she dated one of my friends or a guy I deemed was acceptable, because I knew it would be good for her; however, when she goes for the biggest jerk she can find, we begin feeling a sense of nice-guy duty to protect you from the horrid evil of womanizing sex-crazed manipulative abusive waste of space.  I know what you’re thinking; aren’t all guys sex-crazed?  Well, probably, but some of us won’t manipulate and abuse you or demand it immediately.

Continuing the story, Martha & Paulo remain in a relationship for 2 years, complaining about all the abuse and cheating to the nice guy, and then finally breaks up.  So, what next?  Nice guy swoops in, right?  Wrong.  Marko, Paulo’s best friend asks Martha out, who is exactly like Paulo, except possibly a bit milder.  As in he only cheats twice per month, whereas Marko cheats 4 times a month.  This relationship only lasts a year, as Martha says she realizes jerks are not for her.
By now, I have moved on, and started seeing Missy, the somewhat less attractive girl who actually said yes.  So, Martha finally comes to me and asks me out.  I say no, because I am in a relationship.  Martha cries and begins to phone me almost every night, text crazily, and do everything in her power to get me to hang out with her.  Eventually, out of guilt, I hang out with her, Again, I tell her I can’t date her, but I want to, right?  But I can’t cheat on the other girl, either.  Martha remains single for a few months, and Missy and I eventually break things off.  I need some time to move on, so after a few months, still talking to Martha, I finally ask her out, but she says no, she’s in a weird place at the moment.  3 weeks later, she begins dating Paulo AGAIN!

And this, girls, is why nice guys claim they are nice guys, and claim you are idiots.  This story is indeed one I have experienced, and one that is told by many men everywhere.
Now, girls, you are right in saying that a nice guy should not expect sex because he is nice.  The problem is if and when you give sex to the guy who does NOT deserve it.   However, guys, if this is the type of girl you are dealing with, is she really a sweet girl?  A girl who gives it up to someone because he has power and status based on his aggressiveness?  A girl who tries to manipulate you, lies to you, and tries to be a homewrecker?  Not so sweet after all, huh?  You see, we often associate “sweet, nice girl” with a certain attractive look, and it is rarely the case.

Now, for the part I think the ladies want to hear.  Admitting my own web of deceit and the shame of my horrible man-ness.  Well, I think I started off as the nice guy, I said.  I constantly went through life being a “nice friend.”  Basically, I was shy and never asked a girl out all throughout high school.  For one, while I never asked a girl out, I was the guy who stared at girls constantly, all the pretty ones at least.  Basically, that was my day, look at a girl until she stops looking, then look at another girl, until she stops looking, then back at the other girl.  Oh, gee, sound familiar?  That would have been a great basis for a relationship, right?  “Why’d you ask me out?”  -“Because you’re pretty!”  Great job.

But let’s move forward a bit.  For one, any guy who’s ever been heartbroken should be able to tell you that when the breakup occurred there some arguing going on, and I’m no exception.  When this happens, all emotions are on the table; while I may have been nice during the relationship, I became a jerk afterwards, maybe to get even or something, I don’t know.  But that’s not what I want to focus on today.  What I want to focus on is how we men make poor decisions without even realizing it, which have the potential to make us jerks.  During my second relationship in college, we were both nice to each other, but I wasn’t really happy in the relationship, and neither was she.  We were ok, but I think we felt like we were settling.  When I went home, some of my friends wanted to hang out, and threw a party.  I went, but I should have realized:  drinking + girls + no other source of entertainment.  So, what happens?  Most of the people there were already in a relationship together, except for one.  She happened to be 17, while I was 22.  Not that big of a difference, but still jailbait.  Of course, she flocked to me and tried to sleep next to me.  To avoid getting arrested, I pushed her off the couch and she slept on the floor.  I did this because I was drunk and that was the only thought I had other than, don’t get arrested.  No matter what I did, I was going to be a jerk to somebody.  If I neglected the party, I was a jerk to my friends.  If I cheated, I’m a jerk to the girlfriend.  If I do what I did, I’m a jerk to the 17 year old girl.

The other, more reasonable option was, don’t get drunk, then sleep on the floor.  The problem with men isn’t usually that we CHOOSE to be jerks.  The problem is that we don’t think about our days – we don’t plan ahead and think about the scenarios that MAY happen.  The problem with supposed NICE guys is that we are PEOPLE-PLEASERS.  The problem with people-pleasers is that they try to PLEASE EVERYONE.  The problem with pleasing everyone is that WHAT PEOPLE DESIRE FROM YOU IS NOT ALWAYS HELPING YOU.

Share your thoughts and comments below.

Discussion on the Art & Pursuit of Comedy

Recently, the media world has lost two legendary comedic personalities in Robin Williams & Joan Rivers.  Prior to this, I had been pondering what it might be like to be a comedian, or even to go on a show like Last Comic Standing or America’s Got Talent to audition, just to see what would happen.  However, I had some reservations.  The reason is because I felt depressed to some extent, as in my material was depressing, and not necessarily funny; in other words it hit too close to home in a negative sense.  However, when I learned that Robin Williams’ died of depression-related suicide, I felt a bit taken aback, as he was genuinely funny, and that’s when it hit me.  Most comedians are simply relaying their emotions through comedy, and this is how they deal with their pain.  Joan Rivers put this forth very directly when confronting a heckler, and I must say, dealing with a heckler is my biggest fear.  Now, let’s get down to it.  The discussion is, 1).  what are some reasons a person (such as yourself or someone you know) should get into the business of stand-up comedy?  2).  What is a good source of material (life experience, one-liners, sarcasm, etc)?  3). If your area does not generally hold venues for stand-up, is it appropriate to perform on open mic if the open mic is completely music and poetry-related?

Remembering 9/11

Looking back on this moment in history, I’m not sure why it became such a big deal.  Yes, it was a travesty, it was heartbreaking for many, and I’m not discounting the horror of the people who were directly affected with family in close proximity to 9/11, nor am I defending the actions of Al Qaeda.  Yes, it was right to retaliate and make sure cautionary measures were taken.  But what I am saying is that there are plenty of other equally troubling, equally devastating stories that go on day in, and day out, both in terms of impact and at times, number-wise as well.  Some may crawl up to your Facebook, and at times it may make the news, but more often than not it is a local newspaper that is only remembered by that city and possibly it’s borders.  So why was this Al Qaeda incident so pop culture?  Did you know that in my town alone, a city about 1% the size of NYC, has had terrorist threats and school shutdowns from BB gun casings being found?  The bomb threat was from a man who supposedly left a box outside a bank on a main highway; I don’t think it was real; and in the case of the BB Gun casing, I don’t know if there was any intent, or just someone being negligent/disobedient, carrying his hunting gear with him.  Either way, it affected my city greatly, and the only people who knew about were my city.  It reached the newspapers in a 4-sentences article with no images, other than the local one.  Thankfully, in both of these stories, nobody was hurt (to my knowledge), but it begs the question, why are we publicizing (even still today), Al Qaeda and minority terrorist attacks (most frequently from people of middle eastern descent); more than we publicize the white male terrorists at home?
I remember the day I heard of 9/11.  I was sitting in one of my classes (I actually forget which class it was), and my global studies teachers came running into the classrooms freaking out saying we’re under attack.  We were hundreds of miles away from the attack and had nothing to be worried about in regards to our own safety.  However, the threats posed in much more close proximity pose a much deeper level of intimidation and fear, as it’s not any organization, but just any every day individual could be a suspect, and I might never know it.  Now, take my article as a whole, and put things together.  The local threats have been minimalized and marginalized to such a small scale, and the bank story has been long forgotten, while the school shutdown was fairly recent, so this one is still fresh in our minds.  However, I fear that only in a short few months, this, too, will be forgotten.  People who were not in the school during this case will likely not even know to be prepared.  Day in and day out from my street a car is stolen, arson is committed, or property is graffiti’d, and while I am unsure if people are being prosecuted or caught, the crimes continue every so often.  (To be fair, all I ever get are notes from my neighbor saying her property was stolen/damaged, I have never seen anybody in the act).
However, my car was, at one, time, hit while parked on the side of the road – the culprit confessed and paid, though, as it was a neighbor; however proceeded to hit another parked car some months later.  I have even seen the SWAT team on my road in a small town before.

So what’s my point?  My point is, remembering 9/11 is good for mourning the loss of loved ones and remembering to be prepared for emergencies, but simply remembering does not prevent others from doing bad things; we need to be mindful of our surroundings, and if you see something suspicious, contact your local authority, but ask those with access to media to take a stance on protecting the neighborhood; rather than making sports and budget concerns their headlines, let’s make safety the headlines.  I believe this may help deter, to some degree, those who have criminal thoughts.

Dating

9/11/14 – Dating. Man, I’ve got the whole dating thing figured out, because I’ve dated like 4 girls (Sarcasm there). This is a subject I could write about for 50 million pages, and quite frankly, it already has. Every day, there is something to be said of dating. “Nice guys finish last;” “Girls only like jerks;” “Why can’t I find a good man?” “Why are all the good ones either taken or gay?” “Get a room!” “I kissed dating goodbye” quotes; movies galore: “Pride & Prejudice,” “Titanic;” “Her;” “Marty;” “Casablanca;” “The Notebook;” among many many others. Most of the time, the movies are much of the same: Guy likes girl, girl despises guy, guy forces girl to date him anyway, after much arguing she is convinced he’s not so bad, and they fall in love. There is some variant on the setting, but by and large, that’s the thick of it. We adore these movies, then rant against them saying they’re Hollywood bologna, and we blame the media for a misguided idea. But here’s the weird thing: I’ve found that good television; as in the television we stay tuned in to watch; is actually just directors taking advantage of what we already desire. In essence, it is not Hollywood making our desires, it is ourselves with the desire, being lured by the media. And why does media keep producing the same storyline over, and over, and over, and over, and over again? Because we keep watching. In essence, what this tells me is that people, especially girls, are genuinely seeking an aggressive, assertive, (often British), attractive male husband, just like the movies! Here’s my advice. STOP IT!!

Why? This is the IDEAL man, right? So, if, by some miracle, this man shows up at your doorstep, run away. Why, you ask? Well, doesn’t it make sense that if such a man existed, that many, if not most women, would be attracted to him specifically, especially if many are complaining they can’t find a good man? If a man is this perfect, he is either acting, or desirable; neither of which is good for you.

But wait, if this is true, then wouldn’t I be settling for less than perfect, you say? Yes, yes you are settling for less than perfect. Because perfect does not exist. If your expectation is perfection, you will only be disappointed. Let’s take Pride & Prejudice for example. This theory of love does not work. Man starts off fairly shy; girls takes it as pride (I’ve not once heard a girl say a guy is prideful because he shyly refuses to dance). They talk, they argue, and the basis for the good relationship is arguing. Good communication is not indicated by how well you argue. Good communication is about listening and doing; yes there are disagreements, but I believe we have become entrapped by the notion that a relationship is only working when there is conflict. SOME disagreement is ok, but not constant conflict and tension – it is exhausting. Furthermore, when in disagreement, please, for the love of God, compromise, both of you. Back to the movie, Mr. Darcy STALKS Elizabeth. I don’t know about you, but any girl I’ve ever known would call the cops in that situation. And yet, the reaction to Mr. Darcy is all the same, “Where’s my Mr. Darcy?!?!” He is fictional. Why? Because if the perfect man existed, all of you would be screaming for him, challenging for his attention and hand in marriage, and being that he is a guy, he would likely play around for a bit and hurt many feelings before making his choice.

Now, back to my personal dating stories and advice to men: It’s ok to wait. It’s ok to wait for a girl you get to know before trying to take it too far. It’s also ok to be single. Love yourself first, and you will be happy with or without the girl. Next, don’t generalize. My main mistake is that because 2 of my ex’s were needy, all women were needy. Because one girl was materialistic, all girls were materialistic. Let me stress this: figure out what you are looking for, what bothers you in a relationship, what you know would be good for both of you? Do you want someone with similar interests who you can hang out with, or an opposite to bring new adventures? Figure these questions out first before just asking a pretty face out. Also, TALK! Be confident. I noticed a girl wearing sweatpants and a Syracuse sweater at the grocery store; I love Syracuse basketball, so I complimented her on the cuse shirt. It was genuine, and I didn’t expect her to throw her arms around me right then and there, but if she happens to appear again somewhere, I’ve already got brownie points. Be ok with just complimenting a girl without having to get her number. Trust me, the no expectation thing works wonders if they see you again; it’s like fate for them or something I guess. That said, I’m no expert, but I know I don’t want divorce, so I am very choosy when it comes to woman, and I can say there is probably only one girl I can honestly say I have a legitimate interest in right now that I could honestly say might work out. That’s not to say I won’t ever date other women; some have chased me, and I have said no before! Just simply, be yourself, but be your confident self. Too often, the “nice guys” take “be yourself” as “be your quiet self, waiting for an extroverted female species to approach you.” Actually, this did happen to me, and I learned it wasn’t for the best, at all. Mix things up. Tell the girl you want to take your day off from work to read or do something without her so you’ll have stuff to talk about with her next time.