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I Like Adult Toys

I am actually not in favor of kneeling during the National Anthem, but it doesn’t make me angry. And I don’t see it as an intended disrespect to our military. My father served in the military. He had a 21 gun salute at his funeral and everything. Funny, I don’t remember the National Anthem at his funeral.

However, I do understand the interpretation of kneeling as disrespectful to the flag and maybe even the country. I am a big fan of respect. If I were to attend a synagogue, I would cover my head if asked to out of respect, although I am not Jewish. If I was asked to remove my shoes in someone’s home, in this country or another, I would remove them out of respect. However, does kneeling during the National Anthem represent an inappropriate form of protest? Are their protest rules? I am going to ignore the purpose of the protest for now (although I would argue it is the only thing that matters) but choose to examine the outrage and treating kneeling as synonymous with disrespect for our country and our military.

If kneeling during the Anthem is disrespectful, what else is disrespectful? Is it disrespectful to talk during the anthem? Can I continue ordering my hot dog or beer? Can I drink my beer during the anthem? Can I answer a text? What if I stand but don’t sing? If I am at work, and someone breaks out and starts singing the National Anthem, do I have to stand? Or is it only official at sporting events? If I am watching the game at home, is it a protest if I don’t actually get off the couch? And again, not to put too fine a point on this, but do I have to stop drinking my beer?

Maybe you just don’t like Colin Kaepernick. Maybe you are jealous of people making millions for playing a game. Although I am always struck how no one seems to mind the billionaire owners for running the games, but I digress. Maybe you don’t like big rich black guys. Of the top 10 highest paid athletes, only 4 or 5 of them are black. Four or five? Is Lewis Hamilton black? Someone get back to me on that. Of the top 25, only two of them are NFL players and they are white quarterbacks. My point is, there are a lot people getting millions of dollars for playing a game, and I’m always struck how the black players, especially black NFL players seem to get the most criticism. Don’t believe me? Look it up. You’d be surprised at how few NFL players are in the top 50. And you’re going to boycott the NFL? Something to think about as you read in utter disagreement and disgust at my words. You know I’m right though.

OK. So, if it isn’t the kneeling, or the blackness, maybe it’s the protest itself.

What am I allowed to protest? How am I allowed to protest it? Apparently there are rules. The rules indicate that I can protest as long I don’t say anything disrespectful to the United States of America. What if I’m protesting America? Well, then, I’m a communist and I should leave this country. Because apparently, unless I think the US is the greatest country in the world, I don’t belong here. I am not exactly sure how this makes sense. There are actually some legitimate reasons to believe that we are not the best country in the world. Here are some facts about this country:

1865 marks the end of over a century of slavery
1890 US massacres hundreds of Sioux Indians, nearly half women and children because they wanted to maintain their Sioux ways and continue to live in peace where they lived for the last several thousand years, still significantly longer than the age of the United States.
1893 United States essentially overthrows the Hawaiian monarchy, eventually annexing it as the 50th state.
1920 Women gain the right to vote after a century of work, including, protests, strikes, and picketing the White House.
1924 Congress gives indigenous people right to citizenship, however, many states blocked their right to vote till 1965 Voting Rights Act. Thousands of native veterans were not allowed to vote upon returning from war.
1954 Segregation deemed unconstitutional, but written as black schools were inferior to white schools (which was not the case).
1964 Civil Rights Act
1968 Martin Luther King Jr assassinated
1995 Oklahoma City bombing, domestic anti government terrorists killing more than 160 people, including a daycare center.
1999-Present marred by US bombings of other countries and war.
2001 World Trade Center Attack
2008 Financial Crisis, the banks let us down.
2008 The United State’s first black president, Barack Obama
Soon after The Tea Party is born to protest the new government.
2015 Same-sex marriage is legalized in all 50 US states. Maybe at this point homosexuals can respect the country they live in. Right?
2012-2017 some of the most deadly mass shootings in US history

We currently have a President whose main form of communication is Twitter.

I am not a fan of Trump. I’m not a fan of the kneeling. I believe the reason for the protest is valid. Did the last three sentences cause your brain to explode. What can I say? I’m complex. Although I’m not a fan of the kneeling, I truly don’t believe we would be having this discussion without it. So what do we do? If it were me, I’d stop with the name calling. Stop telling people that they should stand or leave the country. Another history lesson: We’ve been here before. Here’s a phrase you can try, “I don’t agree with this kneeling business, but I would like to know your opinion. Why do you think it is OK?” or, “Let’s have a beer and discuss why you think Kaepernick’s actions have to mean disrespect to our military.” Did I mention I like beer?

Too adult? Well, maybe it’s time we grew up as a country and put on our big boy and girl pants. Because we are seriously behaving like little kids on a playground. Well, you can have your seesaw and swings, I like adult toys. Roll credits.

(Full disclosure, this is where I named the blog and I loooove it!)

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Quick blog:

I am just returning from a meeting with the Dean of my school.  I had to conduct the meeting standing up.  I apologized for half of my body being soaked with water.

Rewind 40 minutes …

I was in my office, working on a GRE Prep class and a manuscript.  It suddenly hit me that I was very hungry.  I headed over to the university cafeteria.  The place looked abandoned.  Was I too early?  Nope, I see two students casually reading at a nearby booth.  Nobody is at the cashier station to pay for entrance.  What is going on?  Then, I notice five workers frantically mopping up a flood of water.  The water is spreading fast.  I see that the cabinent underneath a sink is open and gushing out water.

I ask, “What happened?”  One person replied, “Pipe busted!”  Everyone is clearly frazzled and scrambling to soak up the water.  In my mind, I think, you can mop all day, it ain’t going to help till you get that water turned off.  So, in my calm and helpful tone, “As anyone tried turning the knob?”  I receive five blank stares.  In my mind, “Crap!”

I push up my proverbial sleeves and walk to the sink.  It’s a freakin’ Dells water ride in there (some of you get the reference).  I can’t reach the knob.  “Crap!”  On my side, in the water, body in the water works, I reach the knob, turn it, water flow stops.  I grab a plate, fill it with food, and head to a seat.  And no, I didn’t even attempt to pay for it.  One of the workers said, “Yeah, he eats free today.”  You got that right.

All of my schooling.  I have a PhD and I marvel on how most people can’t do the basic things of life.  Why don’t people know how to do stuff? (roll credits)

The Barber Shop

Several weeks ago, I was asked if my kids could participate in a photo shoot for Krispy Kreme donuts.  I of course said yes, because my kids are cute.  The pay was also good, we received 8 coupons for a free dozen donuts.  That’s a lot of donuts!  As we were preparing for the shoot, the photographer informed me that I needed to be there by a certain time.  She insinuated that “I” needed to be there.  Of course I needed to be there, I can’t just leave my minors alone with photographers.  No, meaning that I was going to be in the pictures as well.  Well, that just seemed crazy to me.  My kids are cute, me, not so much, at least not national photo shoot cute.  It turns out the shoot was meant for Father’s Day, hence the request for my presence.  I just assumed they had fake dads for that, but I digress.  I don’t know if Krispy Kreme will actually use the photos taken, but if they do, I will provide a link.

(I began this blog long ago, but never finished it. Since that time, I have discovered that Krispy Kreme did post a pix from that shoot. It was for Father’s Day. They did not post a pix with my daughter, which is ridiculous, as she is the cutest of us.)

Well, if I am going to have my picture taken, and those photos may end up nationally available, I needed to get my head right.  I needed a hair cut, more importantly, I needed a barber shop (roll credits), specifically, a black barber shop.

Now, you may or not be aware, but black folks have different type of hair compared to other races.  Of course, there are races with similar hair challenges, but if we just stick with the ever popular black/white dichotomy, black folks have different hair from white folks.

One day while driving to the grocery store, I thought I saw a black person leave a barber shop.  I thought, cool, a barber near my house.  So, before the photo shoot I stepped into the shop.  It was a very hot day and the blinds of the barber shop were closed.  I could not see into the place, even though I tried really hard.  The last thing I wanted was to enter into an unknown situation and embarrass myself.  (Can you guess what happens next?)

I took a deep breath, open the door and walked in.  A wave of cold air hits my face, both literally and metaphorically.  The white barber and the white customers stopped what they were doing and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity.  This type of event has happened to me before.  I always envision the old Wild West and band players playing their Wild West tunes.  A stranger walks into the bar, and the music stops and everyone in the tavern looks at the incoming man, as if to say, telepathically, in unison, “You don’t belong here.”  The closest I have ever come to this in real life, was at a pizza parlor in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  A bunch of bikers were eating and drinking and I felt so out of place, I ended up leaving.  A friend who was their and stayed, later told me that the group of bikers ended up ordering sodas and laughing a lot.  Never judge a book …

So, the white barber asks me, “Can I help you?”  Luckily for me, I think very quickly.  “Um, I thought you guys would be black.  My bad.”  This story would probably be funnier if I actually said that, but I was having a clever day.  What I actually said was, “I’m sorry.  I think I am in the wrong place.  A friend of mine said he was going to meet me at the barber shop, but I think I have the wrong one.  Because he’s obviously not here.”  The barber than asked a very appropriate question, “What’s the name of the barber shop?” I replied, “That is a very good question.”  No, not really, I said, “I can’t remember.”  The barber preceded to give me directions to a barber just down the road.  And said maybe I’d find my friend there.

I turned on my heels as quickly as I could and headed to the next barber shop.  I don’t THINK I turn red when I blush, but if I do, I was a strawberry in that place.  Once again, the inside of the next barber shop could not be seen, so I took a deep breath and entered.  The cool black breeze wafted over me like Lando Calrissian (come on! that’s funny).  I had found my barber shop.

Now, here is the real punch line to this blog.  White folks were getting their hair cut there.  What!?!  When did this happen?  I remember going to the barber as a kid.  It was like a secret society.  A place where black folks could let their hair down (insert rimshot).  Music in the background.  Barbers asking after your family.  People being loud.  Someone telling a story that someone else thinks is hilarious.  And always the one barber that had nothing to do, because everyone knew he was going to mess your fade up!

Is the opposite true?  Outside of Super Cuts, or Sport Clips (and no matter what they tell you, they do not know how to cut a black person’s hair) are black people going to white barbers?  I think not!  The stealing of black culture stops here!  White folks, you don’t need to be going to black barbers.  You just don’t need it!  You know what?  I blame Trump for this.  That’s right, I said it.

Maybe this is good, maybe it’s not, but it was one of the last places of segregation that I thought everyone was still amazingly OK with, but I guess I was wrong.  Yeah, I know, this blog has taken a weird turn, but it just surprised me is all.  Maybe next time I need a hair cut, I’ll head to that first white barber.  And once again, he’ll ask, “Can I help you?” And I’ll say, “Yeah you can help me.  I got next! ¡Viva la Revolución!”

 

I was originally planning on writing about Wonder Woman.  I still might, it was an awesome movie and if you have a daughter, you should go see the movie together.  Scratch that, daughter, son, kids, no kids, you should go see the movie.  In my opinion, the making of the movie itself speaks to a deeper issue, but like I said, I need to blog about, eventually.

However, I am currently stuck in a personal issue that I would love to be over.  I don’t see it ending anytime soon, but nonetheless, it is a situation that is not fun.  Someone I know is in the hospital.  I don’t like naming names, and I won’t here, but someone close to me is in the hospital.  From the outside, or people new to this person’s plight, one might incorrectly assume that they have had a series of misfortunate events that have led to their current state.  However, for those that are aware of the facts, would know that this person has made decisions, choices, basically orchestrated the inevitable outcome that is their life and most recently, led them to be in the hospital.  Do you know someone like that?  Do you have a person in your life that you watch self sabotage their life and no matter how hard you try, you can’t get them to see the error of their ways?

I’m not talking holier than though BS, although philosophy and religion can play a major positive role.  It can play a negative one too, but that too is another blog.  I am talking about that person that despite all the advice, all the evidence pointing North, all the signs that say Go That Way, they choose to go South, because “They just want to do what they want to do.”  And then, when everything does go, literally South, they ask for help.  But more than that.  They ask for help as if it is your job to help them.  And maybe you do.  And then one day, you don’t.

This blog is only marginally about that.  Soon after Memorial Day I wanted to pay respects to all those that “go towards danger” on our behalf.  Today, I had the pleasure of talking to some people that choose to live in danger on our behalf.  And I have decided, they need a day, Social Services Day (roll credits).  The name can be negotiated, but I think we need a day for those people that live in the quagmire of someone else’s life.

I have spent multiple conversations with a medical doctor and a social worker about the best plans for the future of their patient.  Both worked over several days to get the best support for this person.  They made promises that they would look into help, and they kept those promises.  They chose to ask questions to learn more, and expressed real concern and compassion.  I actively tried to limit their exposure to the mess, and they actively leaned into the situation.  Man! Do you have any idea how many people out there are working their butt off to help others?  Today, I stand before you in awe of the tireless efforts humans are putting in to help other humans.  In a previous blog, I stated that you can hate the police, but if you call 911, they will arrive to help.  Today, I learned that you can be lying in the hospital bed of your own making, and doctors and social workers will still try to solve your problems, both physically and mentally.

There are so many things in the world that make me question whether or not humans are experiencing stunted growth along the evolutionary chart.  But I am writing this blog to tell you, there is an army of women and men trying their best, working long hours, and committing their heart and souls to humanity, whether humanity deserves it or not.

So, we probably have too many days as it is, but I’d vote for this one.  To the doctors, nurses, social workers, and all those that work in social programs, thank you.

Another quick blog.  If you read grammatical or spelling errors, shut yo’ pie hole!  I don’t want hear it.  Just read and enjoy.

I hate running (roll credits).  Do you know runners?  Runners love running.  You have probably heard about the runner’s “high”, the adrenaline rush, or just the dopamine pleasure center being stimulated.  Maybe it’s true, but for me it’s hogwash.  That’s right, I said it, HOGWASH!  Man do I hate running.  So, why do I run?  Because I said I would.

I have a weird personality in the sense that if I say I am going to do something, I am going to do it.  I treat everyone this way.  If you want to piss me off, than say you are going to do something, regardless of how small, and then don’t do it.  (side note:  Did you know that “piss” is one of the words that you can’t say on radio and I think TV.  Google George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on TV, hilarious).  Anyhoo, I made a promise to my self that I would run a 5K.  I feel like everyone should be able to run five kilometers.  Seems reasonable, right?  So, I promised that I would try a new app, called C25K.  I did make one caveat, if my asthma kicks up or my knee acts up, as they are both prone to do, I would come up with plan B, maybe biking (which I enjoy).  Guess what?  Neither has happened.  Damn it!  Insert Carlin’s seven words here.

Everyone told me that once I improved my running, I would start enjoying it.  WRONG!  The crazy thing is, the app is working.  I am about to complete week six of the eight week program.  Granted, I often repeat weeks, but nonetheless, I would recommend the app.  I am theoretically two weeks away from running five kilometers.  And then what?  Because I hate the running.  Knowing me, I will download an app to run 10K.  Why? Because I’m an idiot.

I hate the fact that I run slow.  I hate sweating, which is stupid, because I sweat a lot.  I always have, and I have always hated my sweating.  So, basically, the longer I run, the more negative things I say about myself.  Seriously, if you could be in my head as sweat drips off my body like Niagara Falls, you would think I was talking to Hitler.  I hate the fact that I don’t have asthma attacks.  I just keep breathing.  I hate the fact that despite the fact that I am tired and feel like my body is going to collapse, if I just keep running, my body keeps running.  Stupid body!

Here is what I do like about running.  I like the trail.  North Carolina has Greenways which I think are awesome.  I like the surprising amount of wildlife, deer, butterflies, frogs, millipedes, snails, red-tail and sharp-shinned hawks, tree squirrels, and diverse human beings.  There is a group of women from India that I see all the time.  Every time, they remind me of my friends, Vic and Daisy.  I haven’t decided if that is racist or not.  I’m going to chalk it up to missing some really good friends.  A group of old black and white women, a group of old black women, a group of old white women, couples of various racial combinations and people walking their dogs.  It’s silly, but I love it!  It all distracts me from the thing that I hate, my running.

But I will continue.  Because I said I would.  And I will be excited when I finally run my first 5K.  Maybe my next goal will be, “Is it really so bad to weigh 400 pounds?  Let’s find out.  Because I said I would.”

I hate writing blogs fast, which is why I don’t blog more often.  But I have had this blog idea in my mind all week and I think it won’t leave my brain until I write this one.

We just recently celebrated Memorial Day.  It is the day when we take a moment to remember those that we have lost serving in our armed services.  Or, it is a moment we have an excuse to get the grill out and see how many hot dogs we can eat in one sitting.  It is a day that we often do not take seriously, perhaps because of the freedoms that the lost men and women have provided for us, we take for granted the fact that we are here because of them.  It has become the American Way.  Let’s complain about not having it good when we have it better than most.

So, despite our differences of opinions about how the country should be run or what laws are good and bad, or which groups of people are being underserved or overserved, I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to all the people that run TOWARDS danger.  I will be the first to suggest that our armed services could do things better, but I’m not going to fight in there place and that gives me less right to criticize.  It does not remove my right, but it does place my right in its proper perspective.  Here is one basic fact that I believe to be true:  I could bad mouth the police all day every day and if I am in trouble and call 911, a police officer will show up at my location.  How amazing is that!?!

So, thank you.  Thank you Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  Thank you to the Coast Guard.  Thank you to the police officers.  Thank you to our fire departments.  Thank you to all of you that run TOWARDS danger.  Because if you are like me, that is not the direction I would choose to go.

Happy Belated Memorial Day!

 

A friend of my mine called me up and asked if I had time to talk.  I didn’t, but he was a close friend, so I said sure.  My friend begins the conversation with, “What do you think about this implicit bias bull shit?”  I laughed, and we began what ended up being a 20 minute conversation about politics, black lives matter, racism, and implicit bias.  All while four kids ran around me like chickens with their heads cut off doing various tasks and getting ready for homework, bed time, or snacking.  Here is the punch line:  My friend ended the conversation with, “You know what?  That makes sense.  You should write a book.”  My friend is white.

At work, I had lunch with a colleague/friend.  As we were talking, I said to her, “I don’t have time for nuance, so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be blunt.  I have a six-year-old daughter.  Why is it so wrong that I don’t want her to share a bathroom with a person with a penis?”  She smiled, and it began a 30 minute conversation about North Carolina’s HB2 law, trans genders, Charlotte, NC and evidence for and against the repeal of HB2.  My friend used to be my student, and after the conversation I thought to myself, “I just got schooled by a former student.  How cool is that?”  My friend is black and lesbian.

Several weeks ago, I had an awesome conversation with a police officer.  I posted this brief story on Facebook at the time.  The amount of information I learned about police procedures and police/public interactions was enlightening.  I am fairly confident that if I had questions about police shootings, which unfortunately have been prominently displayed in the news in the past year, he would talk to me and answer just about any question I had.  And I am confident, the conversation could be messy, but illuminating.  I consider him a new friend.  He is a police officer and white.

Shouldn’t conversations like these happen everywhere and with everyone?  Are they happening?  Or are people just shouting across the aisle doing drive by politics on Facebook?  Facebook has turned into the virtual equivalent of guy on a street corner with a sign that reads, “You’re going to Hell! or Save the Whales!”  And then you get your dopamine rush when you get all the likes to your declarative, useless generalized statement.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy posts of varying opinions.  I especially enjoy it when someone provides a link to an article or provides their own personal insight to something they read or saw on TV.  I despise the name calling. And I could do without general statements that have no meaning or provide zero context.  Context is everything.

When I was in college, I lived in a co-op in Berkeley, CA.  Co-ops where cheap because they were run by the tenants, very socialist.  Anyhoo, there was talk of creating an African-American co-op.  I was interviewed by the newspaper on the topic.  The next day as I walked through the halls, I got evil looks from every black person I walked by.  Finally, I said to my roommate, “Is it me, or is every black person giving me the evil eye today?”  His response was, “Didn’t you read the newspaper?”  I found a paper and saw my quote.  To this day, I don’t remember the quote, but I do remember that the sentences before it and after it were not quoted in the paper, changing the meaning of the sentence entirely.  I spent the rest of the day talking to every black person in the co-op explaining my quote and the missing context.  Context is everything, but who has time to understand the full story?  Everyone should, or at least entertain the possibility that they may be missing something, but who’s got time for that?

I guess my point is that I am thankful for the friends, both past and present, that are able to fill the gaps in my knowledge on a variety of different topics.  What do you do for that?  Is your friend circle as diverse as mine?  I mean at the end of the day, isn’t this the true value of diversity?  I can’t even imagine how you grow as a human being without diverse people in your life, both culturally, spiritually, and intellectually.  I can’t force the melting pot, but this is why I am against being a separatist.  I love learning and growing through the sometimes uncomfortable conversations with people of differing opinions.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Look across the aisle and ask the simple question, “Why do they believe what they do?”  Heck, ask yourself, “Why do I believe what I do?”  You might be surprised at what you find out about other people and yourself.  A big thanks to my diverse friends, for keeping me honest, stretching me in countless ways, and challenging me to not always accept the status quo of my beliefs.  I am a better person for it.  So, ask yourself, what’s in your wallet? (roll credits).
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This happen today.  A student waiting in the hall just outside my office was talking to another student about their classes.  He proceeded to tell the other student about a paper he had to write in his class, Animal Physiology (my class).  He hated the fact that the professor (me) forced the students to go the Writing Center before turning in their final paper.  He than admitted it would likely make his paper better, but didn’t like it.  I had to stifle an outburst of laughter.  College students are like five-year-olds that make a butt load of noise to construct their tower of chairs to reach the cookie jar and are surprised when you catch them with their hand in the cookie jar.  What?  Sound travels?  Really?