Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beauty in strange places

Good golly it's been a long time since I made an entry. Hard to believe 2011 is come and gone already. Where DOES the time go...

So recently I've been speculating at the awesome power of life throwing you curveballs when you least expect them. Most of us fear the unknown, and understandably so. Change can be a scary thing. But at the same time, these changes can be so pleasant...so refreshing...and just plain beautiful.

It can come in the form of a job that you never believed you'd get. A job that is your metaphorical 'ticket' to a new life and new opportunities you believed long gone.

It can come in the form of a beautiful and amazing girl, whom you'd always thought unavailable and out of your league, throwing your emotion into a wonderful tailspin of risk and excitement with simply a few words.

It can come in the form of a poetic and artistic expression so beautiful and stunning you simply have to stop everything else you're doing and thinking about to even begin to understand the full potential.

Each of these things has happened to me over the last 2 months, and it makes me stop and realize I'd begun to forget that such surprisingly beautiful things exist all around us. It's difficult to always spot them out, or to grasp at the fleeting moments before they're gone forever.
Each occurance is just one more reminder to me that no matter how terrible or mundane life may become, there's always something new on the horizon. It may not be right around the corner, but it's out there.
I wish I could express myself more artistically, to help create beauty in the world around me. The talents of others blow me away sometimes, and I am left in the shadows of greatness I can never hope to match.
However, simply knowing that such amazing art is all around me if I choose to observe it is a greatly comforting fact.

I have to share a video link to the video that inspired this post and aided in spurring this thought process.

This artist is amazing, and I wished I possessed just one fourth of the talent and artistic expression he has.

As we enter 2012, I'm excited at what new changes life will bring. What new beauty is there to be discovered? I hope that all of you can share this sentiment.
At the risk of being horribly cliché: Sometimes you really do just have to stop and smell the flowers, and sometimes you just have to stop and let life remind you there are greater things at work than we can comprehend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Memories: Adventures in DART-Land

While rummaging through old emails, I found this 'story' I'd written back when I was 16. I want to share it because as I read it, I realized the writing was very good for a 16 year old. Even now, I would be hard pressed to match or exceed this kind of writing. So I'll take it away!!!....
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Chapter 1

I awoke to the sound of my screaming alarm clock. Knowing it would have no mercy on my sleep-ridden body, I dragged myself lazily out of bed. It was six o’clock and I was tired. I begrudgingly pulled my clothes on and headed downstairs to get the awful morning taste out of my mouth. When I got downstairs and looked in the refrigerator I moaned remembering we didn’t have any milk so I couldn’t have cereal of waffles. There was no kool-aid either, which is what I normally use to get the morning taste out of my mouth. I quickly got out a can of soda and chugged that. It took the taste away but left my mouth dry. I grabbed my backpack and headed out the door.
As I walked to the bus stop I thought back to my instructions. The previous night I had called DART services to get the numbers of the buses and trains I needed to take to get to Irving, and what times I needed to take them:
"You’ll take the 582 bus, which leaves at 6:31 am, to Park Lane Station. At Park Lane Station get on the light rail heading to West Moreland and ride it to City Place Station. From there take the 409 bus which will take you right by Irving City Hall."
Sounded easy enough. So I was in pretty high spirits as I reached the bus stop. I sat down to wait for my bus. I had only a few things in my backpack. My CD player, my CD case, my internship papers, my bus instructions, and Harry Potter. I brought Harry Potter to make sure I didn’t fall asleep on the bus and miss my stop. But as tired as I was, I was well alert as the bus pulled up and I got on.
Also the previous day I had purchased a special sticker from Richland that they put on my school ID. This allowed me to ride all the DART buses and trains for free until September 1st. I showed my ID to the bus driver as I climbed the steps. He nodded and let me through. I’d never been on a bus before and I found it surprisingly clean. I took my seat and the bus took off again.

Chapter 2:

I was too afraid to take out my book for fear I might somehow miss my stop, so I just stared out the window at the sun, which was a soft color of gold and orange as it rose from the horizon. After awhile we pulled into Park Lane Station. I followed everyone else off the bus and onto the waiting light rail. I had my school ID ready but there was no one on the train to check it so I stuffed it back in my pocket. The light rail was a lot cleaner than the bus and was very orderly. I found an empty seat and slumped down in it.
Never having been on a train before, I couldn’t take my eyes off the passing scenery. The landscape rolled by and the train zoomed along. We went over a bridge, across a field, and through a tunnel. The train made stops every so often at other stations and I took these times to check the name of my stop again. I briefly noted the people getting on and off, but what was there really to look at? They were just people getting off and on the train.
"Next stop, City Place Station. City Place Station next." I heard the conductor say over the speaker system. We were just entering the tunnel so there was no longer anything to look at outside. I tried to see into the darkness but I could only see the occasional light fly by. We glided into City Place Station slowly. The station looked like a small cavern, being in the middle of a tunnel and all. I got ready to get off but I noticed no one else seemed to be worrying about getting off. No one in the station was getting on the train either as far as I could tell. The thought popped into my head that maybe we, the passengers, were supposed to get off somewhere else and the train was only stopping to refuel or something.
One thing I had noticed from the previous stops we’d made is that the train didn’t stop for long, only about a minute or so. I realized that if I didn’t hurry up and get off I’d still be on the train when we started rumbling out of the station. I quickly decided to get up and try to get off.
I walked up to the doors, assuming they had a sensor and would open automatically. It didn’t. What did happen was the train started again…abruptly. I lost my balance and thudded against the wall. I tried to act casual as I walked back to my seat. I don’t think anyone was buying it though, because I got a lot of weird looks. "Dang it!" I thought, as we pulled out of the station, "I’m going to miss my bus!"

Chapter 3:

I didn’t really know what to do so I went back to thinking as I stared blankly out the window. We were going into downtown now. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, so I just kind of sat there. We passed Union Station and something my parents had told me earlier flashed into my head. They had given me a brief explanation of what trains and buses to take before they has gone out of town for the week.
"It’s simple Derek, just take a bus from here on Forest and Abrams and that will take you to Park Lane Station. Get on the light rail and that’ll take you to Union Station. From there you can take a train which will land you about a block and a half away from City Hall."
Take a train from Union Station? But when I called DART they told me to take a bus from City Place. I wondered who was right, and if they were both right, which was faster. I tried to get off again at Union Station to check it out. When the train stopped I walked boldly up to the front door, thinking that last time it only didn’t open because the train was about to start moving again. However it did not open.
As I was standing there looking confused, as I’m sure I did, a teenage girl who had been watching me from a few seats back got my attention. "Push the button." she said. Of course I had absolutely no idea what button she was talking about. I began looking around for a button. I pushed what looked like a button but ended up just being a light, further adding to my feeling of stupidity. The girl saw my added confusion and came over and showed me, however I didn’t have time to push it because the train started moving again.
As I moped back to my seat I thought about what a stupid button that was. It was a little black button on a crossbar about waist level that said, "Push To Open Doors". It didn’t even glow or anything. Did the rail service just expect people to know how to open the doors? Anyway, I didn’t approve. At the next stop I hurriedly got off to make sure I didn’t get stuck on the train again. I looked around at the station and found that the next line that could take me back to Union Station wouldn’t come for another ten minutes. In that ten minutes I began to enjoy myself, looking out over downtown. I was amazed at how easily I’d gotten here.
The whole "not buying a car and just riding the bus everything" theory my Dad had frequently preached finally came into perspective. As long as you had a season pass, I guess you could call it, who needed a car? I mean, here I was way downtown and I didn’t have to do hardly anything! I was saving on gas and insurance all at once! Maybe I wasn’t saving on time…but it evened out. The train and bus systems are good, I decided. I didn’t have long to dwell on it though because the light rail came sliding in.

Chapter 4:

I got off at Union Station to check out if I could take a train from there to Irving. Getting off the stairs onto the station I noticed a stairway ahead of me going underground like a subway stair. "That must be where I get onto my train." I thought. As I started walking toward the stairway, the light rail pulled away, revealing the Trinity Railway Express, what I later found out was the train going to Irving.
I descended the stairs and entered a low ceiling hallway heading up. I started walking up the ramp. Suddenly a very awful and distinct odor entered my nostrils. The whole ramp smelled like rotting wood that someone had urinated on and had been sitting there for ages. I half-walked and half-ran up the rest of the ramp, entering into a much larger area that looked like a lobby.
There was a person here and there sitting down reading various papers and magazines. I thought at first they were waiting for the train that was supposedly going to take me to Irving. I looked around trying to find directions to the platform, or even the times when the train came in. I didn’t see anything though. There was a counter across the room, but there was no one behind it. I couldn’t find anyone that looked like they worked there who could tell me about the train.
I walked back down through the smelly ramp and back up the stairs into the station. The light rail going back to City Place was just pulling in, so I jumped in. I got off at City Place and luckily the next bus going to Irving was just pulling up. "Man, I’m pretty lucky!" I thought as I climbed into the bus, flashing my ID at the driver.
I was finally able to start reading my book, since it would be a long time before I had to worry about getting off. I didn’t really look up from my book until we pulled into a station. I didn’t know what station it was, but according to the street signs I saw, I knew it was close to City Hall. I didn’t know whether to get off the bus now and walk around looking for City Hall or just wait on the bus and see if we went any nearer. I decided to wait.
Fortunately the bus went right past City Hall and I was able to get off.

Chapter 5:

After explaining to my supervisor why I was late, she said it didn’t really matter to her. I knew she was right because the whole reason I was working there was to get two hundred hours for my internship course for my associates degree. So if I missed time I would just have to make up for it later.
She started me off watching one of the other interns while he worked. He was taking about one hundred and fifty images and having to manually resize them in Photoshop. The first thing I did was show him a technique in Photoshop where the system would go through and do the exact same thing to all of the images with one action. Not only did this save him a lot of time but the computer was working on it’s own.
So while the computer went off on its own, we got to talking. His name was Chad Powell (no relation) and he was only eighteen. He’d been interning there for about 2 years so he knew all the ropes. Since I showed him my technique, I was already on his good side. We had a lot in common and it was fun talking.
The computer eventually finished, but by the time he had to go so I didn’t really get to watch him do anything. After he left my supervisor loaded me down with a huge stack reading to do: tutorials, software manuals, and company statistics. Luckily I was reading at a computer station that was normally used by someone else. I browsed around the computer and found his 300+ mp3 library, so this kept me somewhat entertained as I read. The rest of the day passed slow and eventfully.

Chapter 6:

I finished my last book at around five o’clock and left. As I was descending the stairs from the building I remembered that I had forgotten to ask the DART representative the night before what buses/trains I needed to take to get back home. Not knowing exactly what to do, I just went and waited at the same bus stop I had gotten off at earlier that morning, hoping that if I got on it would eventually return to City Place.
After waiting for about twenty minutes I decided to go back inside the building and call DART and ask. Once inside I asked the guard at the front desk if there was a courtesy phone I could use. He said he was using the only one but he’d be off in just a second. From what I heard it sounded like he was talking to a friend. I thought it pretty rude that a guard who has free reign over the entire building would use the courtesy phone to make his personal calls…
He quickly wrapped up his conversation and handed me the phone. I called DART and they put me on hold to wait for an operator. I noticed the guard was just kind of standing there glancing at me every now and then. I figured he wanted to call back whomever he was talking to before and finish his conversation. After several minutes of being on hold, and not wanting to be a bother, I just hung up. I thanked him and headed for the door.
I looked back to see what the guard did after I hung up. He was walking off (to do more guard stuff I guessed). He was probably just making sure I didn’t steal the phone or anything. I felt slightly insulted but shrugged it off and walked back out to the bus stop. I hoped that the bus hadn’t come while I was inside. However, after sitting there for another ten minutes, it looked that way. I began looking around. I noticed a sign across the street that said "Trinity Railway Express" with an arrow pointing ahead.
Trinity Railway Express was the name of the train I saw when I checked out Union Station, I remembered. I started following the sign until I saw another one and kept following the signs for about two blocks and ended up at the train station. After finding out when the next train to Union Station was, I sat down to wait for it.
I got on the train easy enough and enjoyed watching the passing scenery out the window. It was easy getting the rest of my way home, but what an experience the day was.

Friday, November 5, 2010

girls girls girls

Okay this is something that I've experienced a lot over the last year, and no matter the frequency, it has never ceased to bother me, and I plead I'm not the only one.

So I dunno what it is with girls these days but most of the ones I've interacted with play games. I'm not sure the motivation, I'm not going to venture a guess, but it doesn't seem to matter the age of said girl, the maturity level, or actual stage of the relationship. They all seem to enjoy playing the same games with men. I'm going to explore two of these games specifically:

First and foremost,
The 'Hey' Phenomenon:
Why do girls think this is an acceptable thing to text a guy? All by it self, with no previous expectation for a text, or previous agenda at hand. A girl will just text you, out of nowhere, saying "Hey". It makes absolutely no sense. It has no foundation for a conversation, it opens no avenues of discussion topic, and it has no agenda. But almost every girl I've texted over the last couple years has done it to me.
As much time as I've spent wondering about the origins of this useless conversation starter, the best argument I've come up with for it's existence is that the girl is just trying to get your attention...in the easiest way possible. They want you to be thinking about them, but without the effort of thinking about something meaningful to text you about. So instead, they just opt to use the most simple of all conversation starters, indeed the first word of most conversations: "Hey", and then I guess they just hope the guy will fill in the rest.
Personally, if you ask me, it's pretty damn annoying and it seems awful lazy on her part. When a girl uses this on me, and texts me "Hey!" or "Hi" or any other meaningless one word text, all it says to me is: "I'm thinking about you, and want you to be thinking about me, but I have nothing meaningful to say and am instead hoping that you do."
I wonder if guys had to deal with this phenomenon before texting became big, albeit in other ways I'm sure. I like to imagine a scenario in the 1800s where some Beau was courting some Dame and their only correspondence was by courier because he's in some war and she's living at home in her daddy's mansion, and he goes weeks at a time fighting and thinking about her, dreaming about the next letter. Finally he gets one from her, and he's so excited as he opens it, and in that old 1800s cursive handwritten script is just the word: "Hey!". What a girl!

The second mind game,
The "Fake upset" syndrome:
This is something I think has maybe been around since the beginning of time, and like the "Hey" phenomenon, it seems to transcend all age/race/maturity/and social class boundaries. So you're hanging out with some girl, you're snuggling on the couch, let's say, and you're having a good conversation, just back and forth banter about whatever. You say something that could be slightly misconstrued, and she jumps on it. She 'acts' offended at what you said/did, and pulls away from you saying she can't believe you said/did that. Truth be told, she's totally faking it and though she may genuinely have been offended to some degree, it's not nearly to the extent that she's playing it out to be. So then she expects you to apologize, warm up to her again, 'beg for her forgiveness' over some issue that she wasn't even really offended about, she's just faking it to make a show over it and get your attention.
To be honest I've had several different girls pull this on me, multiple times also within the last year. Be it 'serious girlfriend', 'new love interest', 'flirting companion', or whatever. Why a girl would want to take a totally wonderful situation, in which you're getting close and flirting over mindless things, and then turn it into a hostile environment in which she's faking being offended? I just don't understand the motivation there! Is it fun for her to put her man in an uncomfortable situation? Is she trying to assert dominance? I don't get it, and I REALLY don't like it.
Like the 'hey' phenomenon strikes me as a 'lazy' thing, this strikes me almost as an 'arrogant' thing. It's pretty bold to assume your man will immediately apologize over a 'made up' issue =\.
To be completely honest I'd love to have some girl over at my house, snuggling with me on my couch, and then fake getting offended at something I said and having her pull back and sit a few feet away and fake pouting. I'd love to just get up off the couch and be like "Okay, you wanna play that that game? Well I don't, and I believe you can find your way out the door. Call me later if you decide I'm worth your respect.", and just walk over to the door and hold it open for her.

Granted I know there's some things girls are just going to do in relationships that are infuriating, but I feel like I'm perfectly justified in ranting about them, put up with them though I may. I'd love to have the luxury of NOT putting up with it, but let's me honest, I'd need a lot of girls throwing themselves at me before I felt good about ACTUALLY upsetting ones that were just faking being upset when I demanded they leave until they decided to 'grow up'. But a guy can dream right?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A reconciliation of my beliefs

So recently I've been going through and reading and rereading a lot of my writings from throughout the years. All of my blog posts (the significant ones), all of my family letters detailing events of my life, and old journal entries. It's given me great insight into who I am and who I've become. It's also given me insight into who I used to be and what I used to think about things.

What I've concluded is this: all growing up I had faith in God, in his existence and in his caring guidance in my life. I made references to these beliefs as recently as summer 2006 when I expressed in a family letter my belief that the Lord would help take care of my brother and I as we worked for the summer in Gary, IN.

However what I also found is there was a very distinct time in my life where I began to question everything, all aspects of society and of my life. I think some of these questions led to interesting and positive realizations, but I think some of them led to destructive thought processes that broke down my faith, the faith I'd always had.

What's significant about these observations is that while reading through blog entries and family letters during that questioning and cynical part of my life, I realized most of those thoughts and philosophies I expressed are no longer applicable to the way I feel now. I read them and I feel like I'm reading the thoughts of someone else, and not my own. Which further made me realize that while I went through that questioning phase, I still have strong core beliefs that have been resolute throughout that time.

So to pull a trick out of the US Supreme Court's book, I'm going to reverse some decisions expressed in the past that I feel are no longer a reflection of my person:

1) My statement that I believed God created us but didn't actively intervene in the lives of man. I now feel like I've known all along that He, in fact, does. Sometimes He makes it more obvious, but usually it's in subtle ways that only those are are spiritually attuned will take notice of. I feel like God has intervened often in my life, some of them I've recognized, most of them I probably haven't. I hope to one day be able to recognize the hand of God taking part in my life every day.

2) My statement that I was denouncing my belief in the supremacy of God's law. I now feel like this was a silly statement to make, as I'd previously expressed a belief in God but then denounced belief in his Divinity? Those are very obviously contradicting statements.

3) My expressed disbelief in Jesus Christ being the Son of God. I feel like this also was a silly statement to make, and that I've known otherwise all along.

I dunno, I'm sure there's more, but I didn't keep notes while I was rereading through old entries. I do remember strongly feeling like I was reading someone else's writings during most of them. What I most strongly know now is that family is the most vital element of both our temporary and immortal existences. I love my family so much and they have played and continue to play a major role in my life. I wanted to share a piece of a family letter I wrote summer of 2005 during which time I was about to move from Dallas back up to Utah on a short-notice decision by my summer employer:

"Know that I love my family very much and would love nothing more than to be able to spend time with all of them at least once a week, if not multiple times a week, but it looks like the Big Man upstairs has different plans in mind for Maretta and myself. I am a very strong believer that everything happens for a reason. There's a reason why we came down to Dallas for this program and there's a reason why it didn't work out and now we're going back to Utah. I'm just glad I got to see my family at least a few times while down here. When I think of all the people in the world who never get to spend time with their family, or worse, have a family they despise, it makes me realize how lucky I am to have a very loving and centralized family."

I dunno how many 19 yr olds you hear saying that kind of stuff about their family, and when I read stuff like that that I wrote as a teenager, it makes me proud. Proud of who I've always been and what I've always known. I know it will be because of family that I will dive headlong back into religion, whether it's my family consisting of parents and siblings, or whether it's my own personal family that I'm anxious to one day begin. There's is a love in my family that I feel like sometimes is indescribable. This is something I can perceive and feel in my immediate family, it is something I know. I feel like it is also a feeling I could know in regards to my eternal parents and my eternal family, and I want to be some day able to make that connection.

I don't know what's in the cards for me, either in this life or in the life after, but I know I am capable of great things, and I would like to extend my love and appreciation for all those who have helped or will help me to accomplish those things. I can only hope to do the same for those I love.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

electronic cigarettes and the politics of innovation

Okay so what is it about smoking cigarettes that has made it so unpopular with the media and general population these days?

1) First and foremost, smoking is almost a guaranteed killer. Disregarding the fact that we will all die eventually from something or another, cigarettes are packed full of chemicals, tar, carcinogens and other things that make them generally unhealthy. These are the causes of things like lung cancer, emphysema and other health risks associated with smoking. Many federal and non-profit organizations report that as many as one half of smokers will die from smoking related illnesses. Their definition of 'smoking related' is besides the point. Smoking is just plain unhealthy, there's really no argument around it.

2) It smells. Cigarette smoke smell bad to most people. Some enjoy the smell of second hand smoke, but in general it's a pretty foul odor. Moreover, extended exposure to cigarette smoke can permanently damage many kinds of property, public or private, by creating a permanent odor of used ashtrays; in your car, in restaurants, your house, your clothes, etc.

3) It's expensive. With the taxes being constantly added to cigarettes, packs can cost up to almost $7/pack. If you smoke a pack a day, that's almost $200/mo, or $2400/yr. It's an expensive habit, that much is for sure.

4) It's trashy. The amount of trash and litter that comes from smokers is huge. Cigarette butts EVERYWHERE. Empty packs, wrappers, used up lighters, ash, etc. Quite plainly, it's a hassle.

5) It's a fire hazard. Smoking is banned in most public places these days. Not only because of the health concerns of second hand smoke, but also largely because you are holding an ember in your hand which, if improperly handled and disposed of, can very easily start a fire.

6) You could call this an argument but really it just leads back to the last 5, and that is that nicotine is addictive. Sure it's never good to let an addiction have power over you, but addictions come in many shapes and forms. The reason this addiction is so bad, is because of the other arguments listed. It'll be a drain on your money, it'll damage your property from second hand smoke if you allow it, you're unwelcome from most public places while smoking, and on top of all that it'll probably kill you. All these unwanted repercussions due to smoking.

Now, lets throw all those arguments out the window (well except for the addiction part). And with that, you have the electronic cigarette, as pictured above. The idea of the electronic cigarette is that it's designed to look, feel, and taste like a real cigarette, but without any of the negative repercussions of smoking a real cigarette. Basically it works like this. You have a battery which, when air is pulled through the assembly, powers a heating element (referred to as an atomizer) which vaporizes a nicotine solution which is then inhaled. Basic details can be found on wikipedia or for more detailed information, you can find assorted reports from both government agencies and online retailers. Ultimately, the e-cigarette is a solution to most of the problems created by smoking tobacco cigarettes.

1) E-cigarettes are said to be anywhere from 90%-99% healthier than cigarettes. Any carcinogens or TSNA's found in these 'nicotine solutions' is said to be present only in below harmful levels. All the chemicals that cause illnesses related to smoking aren't present in these nicotine solutions. That's not to say e-cigarettes are healthy, after all, nicotine is still poisonous and above certain dosages it can even cause death. However, e-cigarettes will not cause any of the usual health illnesses caused by cigarette smoke.

2) Since there is no burn, combustion or ember of any kind, the vapor produced is odorless and dissipates as quickly as steam from a boiling pot of water. There is no smell, and consequently there is no risk of property damage or general unwelcomeness.

3) E-cigarettes can cost as little as 1/4th the cost of traditional cigarettes. After the initial purchase of the rechargeable lithium battery and atomizer, the only non-renewable part of the assembly is the cartridges preloaded with the solution. A pack of cartridges (which is supposed to be equivalent to around 4 packs(or 80 traditional cigarettes) costs only $5-7, depending on the retailer. This is clearly the economical option.

4) With no burning components, no tobacco, no paper, and no filter, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to trash. Simply dispose of the plastic cartridge when it's empty and continue. No hot ash, no cigarette burns, no ashtrays, no lighters, no paper packs. Completely eliminated.

5) Again, with no burning components and no smoke, e-cigarettes pose no threat of starting a fire. As such, they are legally allowed in places where traditional smoking is banned, such as restaurants, airplanes, and other public places.

Yes, it is still nicotine. You can still become addicted to it. But if you eliminate most or all of the arguments against smoking, is the addiction still so terrible? Like I said, no addiction is good, but when comparing traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, it seems like an amazing alternative that both smokers and non-smokers can enjoy the comparative benefits of. Being that it's so amazing, why have you probably never heard of these? Or at least not seen much press coverage? Despite all the evidence, why is the government not backing these? I'll tell you why:

Politics, bureaucracy, and big business.

Obviously, there are serious interests aligned against the electronic cigarettes if the FDA can be persuaded to abandon its professional duty. Let's look at who is affected:

  • the pharmaceutical industry, who sell nicotine replacement aids
  • public health groups, who receive funds from the pharmaceutical industry and promote ineffective smoking cessation aids
  • the tobacco companies, who could see their lethal products taking a hit if electronic cigarettes ever become really popular
  • the American government, whose health plans rely on revenue from tobacco companies, among the billions generated in revue from taxing cigarettes
This is the first time I've really realized big business for what it is, and what kind of power it seems to hold over our government and media; and to honest, it's kind of frightening. When you've got a new product (I believe the idea is less than a few years old) that seems to rival that of a billion-dollar industry, why hasn't there been more coverage on it? I myself just heard about e-cigarettes this week and have been reading up on them fervently. Being somewhat of a smoker myself I tried to do plenty of research to see what these were all about. What, if any, health concerns did e-cigarettes pose over traditional cigarettes? What governmental acknowledgment has this product gotten? I've tried to look for non-biased studies and research, but it's been hard. Official statements from Big Tobacco companies have spoken against them and official statements from the FDA have spoken ill of them, but everything I've found from consumers has been overwhelmingly supportive of them. It's easy to see why Big Tobacco companies would want to crush this new rival, so I have a hard time believing anything they say, and it's easy to see how the opinion of the FDA could be 'persuaded' by all sorts of special interest groups, including the Federal Government itself, and so it seems like the only opinions I can trust are those of people who hold no loyalty to either, and just really want to evaluate the product for what it is. These are the people I've heard huge support from over the e-cigarette.

Already the federal government has tried to ban foreign manufacturers from shipping e-cigarettes from overseas, and are currently battling with domestic manufacturers. But why? The evidence I've seen and read is overwhelmingly compelling in the favor of e-cigarettes. There's definitely no way that they could be MORE unhealthy than traditional cigarettes, and the FDA backs THOSE. So why not these? It just amazes me, how our government can be bought and paid for like this. I fully expect to see further legislation against e-cigarettes by lobbyists of Big Tobacco and other agencies. I wouldn't be surprised if ultimately e-cigarettes were made illegal, for whatever bullcrap reason they will end up making. If that happens, they are basically condemning up to 50% of e-smokers to their death upon return to traditional cigarettes as their only option.


The worst part of all this is the realization that the e-cigarette probably isn't the first, and definitely won't be the last idea to be repressed from popular attention long enough to eliminate the product from the consumer market. What truly scares me is if this kind of thing can happen, what will the future of our country be? If our 'free market' isn't really free? Where do the possibilities end? If a revolutionary alternative fuel is innovated, will that idea also be systematically dismantled by the government and it's special-interest lobbyists? Has it already happened and the general public just doesn't know about it? What about in the health industry?
I think most people have heard the 'crazy' conspiracy theorists that speculate a cure for cancer has already been discovered but covered up; well I'm beginning to think those guys aren't so 'crazy' after all, and I'm truly beginning to worry about the future of our country's innovation.

If you're interested in additional/further coverage of e-cigarettes from government and press, go to this website.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

young girls

Well it's been a long time since I made a post but I thought this idea merited some written organization.

I work at Chili's Bar and Grill and recently transferred to a new store closer to where I live. One of the other servers there, Madison, is very cute, very sexy. When I started working there she immediately started flirting with me. Not like, suggestive flirting, just unusual interest in me and stuff like "we should hang out sometime" this and "you're so funny!" that. She's 19 so I had my reservations about responding but she seemed interested in me so I wasn't going to say no.

I get her number and we text back and forth a bit, semi-flirty stuff. So I asked her out on a date, we go rock climbing, have a great time. To me it seems like things went really well, and I felt like we had some chemistry. So I start getting into this girl, thinking maybe things might go somewhere. I have a party at my house a few days later, invite a bunch of friends, mostly from work, and she comes. At the party she still seems kinda into me but I feel like I'm competing for her attention a bit, that annoys me.

After that I try and set up another date, but she's really flaky about it. I call, I get a voice mail, she doesn't return my call. I text, she says she didn't get it. I ask her out for another night, she says she's working. I try a different night, she says she works that night too. At this point I'm beginning to wonder if in fact she was interested at all? Because it seems to me if someone wants to go out with you, even if they're busy they will try to offer an alternative time that works for them. "No I work that night but I'm off the night after" etc. But no, nothin. So I send her a text "Do you WANT to go out again? Because I felt like we had some chemistry last time but maybe you didn't?"

She never responds.

And so that got me thinking. Obviously her not responding says it all. And I started wondering how I could've started falling for this girl when it was apparent to me now that she wasn't really interested at all. And then I started realizing that she's just a flirt. A flaky girl who feeds off the attention that all the guys give her and loves every moment of it. It may not be her intention to have guys think she's into them when she really isn't at all, but sometimes it's not all about intentions.

So then I started wondering if I should still work at it. Because *I* felt like she was a great girl, she met most of my criteria and from everything I'd seen so far, I really thought she was someone I could really get along with. But then I started getting indignant. Why would I try and convince someone why they should date me if they don't necessarily care to? That's just stupid. Life is too short to spend time waiting for someone to decide that you're worth their attention.

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a great guy. A girl would BE so lucky to date me. And I know that sounds incredibly conceited, but I have to give value to myself so I don't end up selling myself short. I'm not saying what I have and what I am is what every girl is looking for, but I do have quite a few desirable traits. I'm working on bettering myself by going to school, I work two jobs to support myself and enjoy a comfortable life style, I enjoy a broad range of interests from video games to athletics to music to puzzles, I have a good selection of talents, I'm tall dark and handsome, I'm responsible but also care-free, I bring almost no baggage to a relationship, I'm almost void of all drama, and more.

I have some undesirable traits too, but who doesn't. My point is, I have to give myself the credit I deserve. I can't be spending time chasing after girls who aren't interested in me, desirable though they may be.

They say girls mature faster than guys, and I think I can agree with that, until about the age 15. I think girls are 15 for 10 years, and then when they turn 25 they rapidly mature and realize their party-hardy attitude towards dating and guys for the last 10 years isn't getting them anywhere and they start to realize what will. I'm pretty sure I knew that already, hence my original reservations about bothering with a 19 year old. However I guess I was banking on the exception to the rule. Not all girls are flirty and indecisive for that long. Some, like my sister and my sister-in-law, shape up much earlier. I guess that's what I was hoping Madison was. But oh well. I'm not in any hurry to meet that special someone, and they say the person who is giving the least amount of special attention to finding love is the one most likely to find it. I'm too great of a guy to be chasing after bimbos. And a lot of other guys are too. These girls will lead us on a never ending rabbit chase, and we need to see these girls for what they are. If you're in the 18-25 range, don't be frustrated if you can't find a girl that doesn't play games or send mixed signals. Wait for a few years, or date someone older. It's just not worth chasing that girl who doesn't need you, you're better than that. Keep your chin up, there's someone out there who will love and need you just as much as you love and need them, and there is for me too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ethics

I use my blog for all sorts of things, religious and political musings, expressing emotions, and to relate humorous stories and anecdotes. Sometimes, however, I just need to rant. For instance, my ethics class. I took Ethics this semester to fulfill my humanities requirement. I chose Ethics over Intro to Philosophy because I thought Ethics sounded more fun. Well I'm seriously beginning to doubt that assessment. The readings we do from the textbook are the only real meaningful content I get from the class. Everything else, the class discussion, the weekly papers, the online discussion, all a waste of time. At least that's my feeling so far.

This is a basic format of our bi-weekly classes. We come to class having read the assigned reading. The teacher starts at the beginning of the reading and starts to talk about it. Generally the chapters are analyzing philosophical and logical ways to look at things, and typically they used controversial topics to illustrate how these theories relate to important things. The discussion then goes in one of two directions: either the class keeps their focus on the ethical theory being presented in that section of the chapter, which leaves the room in crickets (my assumption is that most people haven't read it or don't get it, but sometimes there just isn't much to debate concerning the matter), OR the class ignores the ethical theory and focuses on the controversial topic being analyzed. It then turns into a debate not regarding anything having to do with ethics, but an all out argument over whether things like abortion and homosexuality is right or wrong.

Mostly I blame the teacher. I'm all about class discussion and debating class content with other classmates, but any discussion needs moderation, and if your teacher isn't moderating the discussion, things can get way off topic and out of hand fast. When I took my government classes, my teacher also used the same 'open discussion' method in teaching his class but he commanded the attention of the class, allowed only one person at a time to speak, disallowed people interrupting, and kept it on topic. He did a very good job overall in moderating the discussion. My Ethics teacher, however, does not. I don't care if she's hot, she's terrible at moderating discussion, and even if someone is just asking an open question, she doesn't do a very good job at addressing it concretely. Maybe that's just the nature of a subjective class such as Ethics, or maybe it has everything to do with the teacher. I don't really blame my classmates, even though I'm definitely annoyed by some of them. People are going to be loud and obnoxious and interrupt and try and dominate every topic, regardless of what class, the only thing that prevents that is a teacher keeping them in check.

Anyways, thats my rant regarding this dumb class, I'm not looking forward to the rest of the semester. I don't have high hopes for things ever improving. We'll see though I guess.