Thursday, May 19, 2011

Little bits of knowledge that oughta be beaten into people, if necessary

1. Lose and loose are different words with different meanings.

2. Barack Obama is not black, and is not our first African-American president. He's bi-racial, being 50% white and 50% black.

3. The thing in the middle of the road is not a medium. It's a median.

4. Using cliches when speaking to people and expecting them to act surprised at your originality or intelligence should be punishable by law.

5. Negative people suck (keep in mind, the rules listed here aim toward making a more positive world by lifting the moods of all of us).

6. Don't bring your drama to work. Ever.

7. Stop trying to "teach" your kid by their early 20's, and accept them for who they are. If it doesn't pain you, too much, give them encouragement and praise. (Sarcasm was necessary).

8. When people ask how you're doing, spill your guts sometime. They'll probably never ask again.

9. Racists and sexists suck.

10. Just because Obama won doesn't mean black people are "beating whitey."

11. If Obama loses, it will not mean white people are "beating blackey." Get past race, people; nobody gets to choose which color they will be, and none are "better" than another. If you must judge, judge people as individuals.

12. You can't prove your religion is right and that another is wrong, so stop shoving it down other people's throats and accept that all you really have is faith and hope that you are right.

13. Don't preach about any religion that you can't even follow the rules of.

14. Cheating on your other half is the most painful thing you can do. For most, that "act" is one of trust and intimacy, and if you break it, you have broken everything. Plus, if you have to cheat, are you with the right person?

15. The Washington Capitals will eventually win a Stanley Cup.

16. Just because somebody is family doesn't mean they should necessarily own your acceptance and respect without earning it. Family or not, if they are negative, condescending, or judgmental, cast them out of your life (unless they are your child; that's the only exception). If someone's life is half wrecked already, they sure shouldn't be criticizing the life choices of another family member.

17. Pot is not harmless.

18. Alcohol is as dangerous and deadly as any poison out there; stop down-playing it.

19. Men are biologically, by design, prone to "dominating the gene pool." It is only the most civilized among us that can say "no" to this natural tug in order to respect our partner. Women also cheat way more often than the statistics will show.

20. Women are biologically, by design (or eventual biological progression) better able to multi-task (I'm a huge follower of evolutionary psychology even though I believe evolution itself is a farce): imagine the cavewoman for thousands of years that had to hear the baby, listen/smell for local food, and deal with the horny caveman on her rump all at the same time. It stuck.

21. Just because men aren't as likely to be able to multi-task doesn't make them "dumb." Men can focus laser-sharp in areas where women typically cannot (the multi-tasking strength can become a curse, just as the focus can for men).

22. If you just FOLLOW the natural, legal order of traffic on the road, things will move more quickly than if you decide to stop and wave on another person. Those with solid green lights do not yield. Those turning right have priority over those turning left, all other things being equal. SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT. Turn signals are as much a courtesy as a law. Take it easy on the brakes, gas, and turns.

23. Don't close your mind on any subject, or you have killed any chance to gain further education on that subject. Leave a "working truth" in your mind, subject to change based on convincing evidence.

24. No invisible guy is better than any other invisible guy, and if your religion promotes killing or harming others, then your religion can kiss my hairy, white caboose. If your belief in your religion has no reasoning other than you were "brought up" that way, you should be ashamed. Know why you believe what you believe, and if you can't disprove another religion, don't dismiss it. You have a right to believe in your faith and practice it to perfection, but you do not have a right to punish others for not believing what you believe.

25. There are 7 billion people in the world; you are not THAT important, but you do matter, as does everybody else.

26. You are no better than any other human.

27. Legacies are created by deeds, not beliefs (making a note).

28. The world is not out to get you. Nor does the world revolve around you or exist to serve you. You are a part of it, and that's that. You make do with what you have and what you can get, or you don't make do at all.

29. Global warming is real. And if you say, "It was 10 degrees on a late spring day, and they say there's global warming!" you really, really, really need to educate yourself on the issue before speaking again.

30. You can't do it alone.

Your comments are welcome! Please add to my list; it will be a book, sooner rather than later.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Patience, for writers and everybody else

Fast forward through my first twenty years.

I was 21. I was in the Air Force, in a little town called North Pole, Alaska (the base was Eielson AFB and was not in North Pole; I lived in North Pole). I was not only doing the Air Force thing, but I was also writing for the local paper, the North Pole Independent. Somehow, I even got an exclusive interview with Olympic gold and silver-medalist, Tommy Moe.

But those weren't incredibly important to me. Sure, getting my first check ever for writing, for $85 which wasn't shameful in 1993, was cause for celebration. Especially sweet was that I took over feature writing, and the paper let go of their 4-year college-grad. lead journalist. I didn't need any patience; those things were almost a gift. An instant career with the Air Force. An instant, fulfilling hobby/side-job with writing for the paper.

What took the patience was the third thing I was doing. For the first and only time, I coached a little league football team. It was a first-year team, and I was a first-year coach.

Imagine having 30 kids buzzing about for 2 hours per day, from 8-11 years old. Now, organize them into defense, offense, special teams... separate line players from backfield players. Practice blocking, passing, dodging, hitting, tackling, handoffs, and other tactical processes while teaching them the discipline and focus needed to win, all the while making it FUN. Now, halfway through the season, take a cheerleader for the team and incorporate her into your offensive line as an offensive tackle, because, by golly, she wanted to play football. She hung up the pom-poms and bought some cleats.

Now, there's patience.

And with patience, you get good things. We won that year; even though we lost twice (our only two losses of the season) to a team known as the Fairbanks Bulldogs, a good friend of mine and assistant coach Mike Dubowski who played college football helped me coach the North Pole Lions in how to stop the Bulldogs, so that when the season was at an end and it was time for the "Arctic Bowl," our Superbowl, we won 26-0. The League president walked over, through the snow that had fallen and handed me a 5-foot tall trophy. I handed it to the kids and said, "I didn't do it. They did." (The man then said, "Ok but don't let them break it...").

Point of all this is that I'm living proof that although you may get some instant successes in your life, you can't get rejected a couple of times and then give up on a thing. You can't assume or believe that if something has beaten you before, it will again. You can't snap when the stressors in your life pile up and just "go off" or quit. If your ultimate goal is success, all you need are three things and I'd bet my very life that you get your success, and those are: patience, confidence, and determination.

Go get 'em. Be a Lion.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book excerpt: Flight Fortamente, Vol. II of the People Phenomenal series

Hans sat on the floor of his cell. He looked at the bleach-white, thick band that was wrapped around his left ankle. The rumor had only been part true. There wouldn’t be any shocks if they made it outside the perimeter of the prison, unless warden Denny "Dick" Jennings was just holding back that little fact for an extra surprise if somebody made a break for it. It would just set off every alarm known to man. Dick had bragged and raved, over and over… “Wave of the future…” “It will trip flood lights, silent alarms, loud alarms, and we can add whatever we want to it,” Dick had said, hands on his hips, chin tucked back into his three other chins.

“You guys gonna love the next thing,” he had said as they lined up in the cafeteria and started having the bracelets put around their ankles by two men in shirts and ties among six guards.

“Your hero is going to put trained K9 dogs—the ones that had a bit too much ‘aggression’ to be used by police—I’m gonna put those bad boys in cages that get automatically opened if the perimeter of this fine domicile is breached. But,” he had said, walking down the long, single-file line, pointing one finger in the air, “your hero is a fair hero. See, I’m gonna give you a chance. I personally have elected to only put the tracking range of the devices at four-hundred yards. If you can get over our impossible primary wall which, as most of you veterans know, is seventy-five feet high and smooth as shale, then get past our highly-trained, extremely observant guards, then over the twenty-five yards of razor wire, over the seventy-feet-tall secondary wall, where, upon your descent, my dogs will have already been turnt loose to offer you what your hero is going to call a ‘Welcome-to-Freedom Committee,’ if you can get past them and over the final, third wall which is a mere fifty-five feet high, with my highly trained marksmen shooting at your dumb, escape attempting asses, and you can get four-hundred yards away from the perimeter, still alive… well,” he said, his smiling face changing to a serious one—he believed he was an excellent actor … “Hell, you got a chance to escape your hero.”

He looked around to see who might make eye contact.

“Now,” he said, hands back on his hips, “I know how much you love this hero, so I have zero doubt that you would have no desire to leave these fine accommodations that I and your government are providing for you,” he said. “But, if you should,” he said, smiling again, catching as many eyes as he could before speaking again, “I’m going to ask my gentlemen marksmen to hold off, and we’re gonna let the dogs welcome you into freedom. And every dog has his day,” Denny “Dick” Jennings yelled, then, shouting quickly,” ain’t the right, Wacko Hansy Fonzie?”

Hans looked up, wanting to lay low but knowing that laying low would raise suspicions… he was, on the deepest threads, popular with the other men because he never cowered to warden Dick Jennings, and the fact that he did not befriend anyone made his allure even stronger… he was mysterious to them. He marched to his own drum… some said just a crazy loon, others said he must be the guy that they based the character of Michael Myers on in Halloween… even Biggie Smith, the giant black man serving life plus 20 that ruled everything Dick couldn’t get his paws on, had mentioned that he wouldn’t mess with Hans, saying, “It could make for unnecessary hostilities,” which was Biggie’s way of sounding smart while paying tribute to someone who may be, at least in some cases, worthy of his own feeling of fear.

But time was ticking, and all eyes were on Hans. And one area Hans was admittedly weak in was finding balance in-between two extremes.

“Yes, sir. Every dog does have his day. Even that wretched bitch you call your momma.”