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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transitioning from Being Single to a Monogamous Relationship

Single life is pretty awesome for some of us 20-something folks, and probably a few divorcees. The freedom to move and do as you please is exciting for a while. But as with all things, that life gets old, and many folks start wanting someone to call their own. Once you find that person (or persons for you polyamorous folks), it’s an awesome feeling…. an awesome feeling that lasts for as long as it takes you to realize that your new partner is flawed just like every other human being. Sometimes, the flaws are serious and potential relationship-enders (see: secretly married with a 2 ½ kids). But if you’re lucky (and I use that term loosely), the rough parts of sustaining your new relationship are the changes one must go through in order to properly convert from living single to life with a significant other. The transition can be pretty tough, especially if you’ve been single for 2+ years. Old habits die hard. Many say that they’d like to meet the one, but may not be prepared to make the changes necessary in order to make the situation successful once they encounter it. And so I’d like to make a modest attempt to provide a few tips on how to ease this transition and evolve from the simplicity of single life to a place of thoughtfulness usually needed for a successful relationship .

#1 Loose Ends
First things first. All those other folks you had on a string, but never quite reeled in, are going to have to be handled. You’ll either need to cut them loose, ignore them until they get the hint, or keep them on a very long leash. If it’s the last option, you run the chances of pissing off your partner. Answering their texts every now and again may seem harmless, until one of them texts or calls you at 2:00 am while your partner’s over. Even if your partner doesn’t ask you to explain, they likely are wondering who, besides them or your mother with a family emergency, would be calling you at that hour. And also, don’t think your partner won’t notice your loose ends posting on your Facebook wall frequently, liking every other status, and ending each of their comments with a wink. The long leash is only advised when you’re not sure about your situation. And if that’s the case, re-evaluation of whether the situation’s worth it, and of your actual readiness for a serious monogamous relationship is probably the best option.

#2 Flirtation
Flirts also have it pretty tough regarding this transition. A little harmless flirting may be cool, but you should always gauge your partner, or even just have a direct conversation with them in order to determine what’s inappropriate. You may be used to kissing your opposite sex friends on the cheek, or even playfully slapping them on the ass, but you should make sure your partner is okay with these things before continuing to do them once in a relationship. I stress finding out BEFORE. It is much better to be proactive than reactive. I assure you that that playful slap on your buddy's ass is not worth the 2+ hour argument and/or subsequent discomfort with the buddy involved that may follow if your partner is not into that sort of behavior.

#3 Friends That You Used to Date (Or Do Other Stuff With)
Current friends that you used to be involved with (almost all of us have them) are one of the things that can really be made into a non-issue if you handle it well. Make it a point to tell your partner well in advance about these folks. Furthermore, if you’re going to a gathering, and you know someone’s going to be who you were once involved with, be sure to bring it up ahead of time. Your partner will almost definitely appreciate your honesty, and it also makes you look extremely trustworthy. Few things are worse for a relationship’s trust than your partner finding out about a former dating situation with one of your current friends from someone besides you. Even if you have trouble getting it out before your partner meets your former whatever-they-were, the saying “better late than never” certainly applies here. Although they may be slightly bothered by being told after the fact, you'll still earn some cool points for giving them information that you possibly could have held onto with no consequence. Once you come off as sneaky, it’s hard to get that 100% trust back. And it’s a pain in the ass when you don’t have a high level of trust from your partner. The questions about where you’ve been, and who you’ve been with will noticeably multiply, and no one wants to feel like they have to check in at every turn.

#4 Friends of the Opposite Sex
This may not apply to everyone in a monogamous relationship, but I believe that many people may have issues with their significant other having a large amount of friends of the opposite sex. While your significant other may trust you, they have no way of knowing the intentions of the folks you hang around, especially in this culture where mainstream deems it almost acceptable to steal someone else’s dude/chick. I’ve found that the best possible solution is to introduce your significant other to your opposite sex friends ASAP. Witnessing the manner in which you and your friends interact will often put them at peace, once they see that these folks are not a threat. And sometimes you will run into a person who is simply not okay with you having friends of the opposite sex. At that point, you have to decide whether your relationship, or your opposite sex friendships are more important to you.

Finally, if all this sounds too daunting, it’s possible that you don't view the person you’re with as worthy of making a few personal changes, or that you’re just not ready for a monogamous relationship at this point. And hey, that’s totally fine. Times are changing. A lot of folks are doing polyamory now, or just choosing to remain single for an extended period of time. I think whatever your option, the first step is making peace with it. But if you want a successful monogamous relationship, it’s important that you’re able to transition from thinking for you to thinking for two. And don’t think of it as having to change for someone; rather, think of it as experiencing a personal evolution that just may lead to collective and individual happiness in your future.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How To Do a Stress-Free PhD

So you’ve been accepted into your PhD program. Congratulations??! Doing a PhD can be stressful at times, and stress is likely a major contributor to only 50% of PhD students finishing their programs. And so for this entry, I’ve included a few tips that I hope will ease the pain and help get you through the ridiculousness that can be PhDness.

Form Healthy Relationships W/ Those in Your Class
Let’s face it, PhD programs are generally pretty tough to get into. The applicant pool typically ranges from 75 to 200, but the number of folks actually selected ranges from 5 to 13. If you’ve made it this far, then you’re all probably geeks (in some capacity). But each geek likely has different experiences and areas of expertise in which they excel above the rest of the class. It is very important that you form an alliance with these folks early on, in order to benefit from those areas that you may be weak in. I’m no statistics whiz, but there are 2 or 3 folks in my Biostatistics II class that are amazing, and they’re extremely helpful in giving me tips to help me get through the class. On the other hand, folks think me to be a very talented writer, and so in classes when we have multiple specialized papers to submit, I’ve had a few classmates seek help from me in this area. Make sure that you humbly respond to any requests for assistance by your classmates, as today’s student may be tomorrow’s tutor.

Pick a Helpful Advisor (Even if You Have to Switch)
Most doctoral students are automatically appointed an advisor upon entry into the program. Graduate- level professors are usually pretty busy with research, so unless you knew them personally beforehand, I can almost promise you that they won’t give a damn if you decide to switch advisors. The key here is to talk to several students (emphasis on several, because one student may love a professor that everyone else despises) that have been in the program in order to find out who is friendly, helpful, and has some influence. Friendly and helpful are my top 2 qualities for an advisor to have, but influence can be important also if you desire a letter of recommendation for a job, or if you want to get in on a particular project and your advisor is able to recommend you to the primary investigator. It can also make all the difference in the world when it comes time to do your dissertation. If the professor has a reputation for stressing students out during that process, this is important to consider when selecting an advisor. It also usually doesn’t have to be done immediately. And so taking a semester or two to get to know all the professors so that you can form your own opinion may also be a helpful strategy.

Don’t Talk to Random Folks About the PhD
I often catch a hard time from friends about not talking about my PhD with others, but I definitely have my reasons. I’ve run into more discouragement by talking about the PhD with random folks than I have anything. In telling folks in random conversation that I wanted to do a PhD, the first response was typically along the lines of, “Oh, are you sure you need to do that?” or “I thought about doing that, but I wanted to work instead, because I’m tired of being broke.” It’s because of these responses with negative undertones that I refuse to talk about PhD life outside of family, close friends, and folks involved in the program. Some people who have a naturally competitive spirit (that’s what we’ll call it to be nice) hear PhD and think of it as a ranking. And so the sound of you mentioning a PhD may subconsciously trigger that person to either say something that would demean the PhD, or express that they could have one if they wanted to (even though we discussed earlier how difficult it is to get into these programs). They may not mean any harm, but you should avoid conversations about your PhD with these folks at all costs. Your reasons for pursuing it are your own, and they are not to be defended to someone (stranger or loved one) who insists on acting as the judge of whether or not your reasons for PhD pursuit are justifiable. With all the doubt that may be flooding your mind about your PhD in the first place, negative, non-constructive feedback is likely the last thing you need. And if you’re deciding whether to apply, and you need to talk to someone, talk to a professor in your PhD program of interest. They are, hands down, the best folks to consult, and almost always open to discussion with potential students. These professors can honestly let you know, without any type of bias, whether the PhD path is something that you should pursue.

Go Out and Have a Good Time Every Now and Again w/ Friends Who Matter
If you’re doing a PhD, the list of friends you hang out with is probably about to shrink. But it’s important that you don’t become a social leper. One of the best ways that I’ve personally found to offset frustration is to link up with friends and have a good time if I don’t have anything pressing due. Going out to dance, shooting pool, or just having your friends over to kick it can be incredibly therapeutic. While you should take post-graduate work seriously, there’s no reason it should take over your entire life. And also, it doesn’t hurt to have a few friends who are in a graduate program that can trade stories with about your crazy professor or super-eccentric classmates.

Employment, Family, and Other Obligations
Some folks work and do part-time classes during their PhD, while other folks elect to go full-time and receive funding from their program in exchange for contributing a set amount of research hours per week. There are also folks that work full-time, take full-time classes, and have children at home. Regardless of your combination, it’s essential that you determine what you can reasonably handle. Doing a PhD is much, much easier without having a full-time job or family, but if you have one or both of these things going on, you may want to consider being a part-time student. Once again, each individual has their different limits, and you simply must do what works best for you.

Take Care of Your Appearance
This pretty much speaks for itself. Going to class looking crazy is ridiculous. Taking care of one’s appearance is extremely important. While your first thought may be that you’re doing a PhD, and you’re super busy, so who cares about appearance, you must keep in mind that the PhD is one of the best opportunities that you may have had up until this point in your career to make professional contacts. How you dress definitely influences how professors and classmates perceive you, and consequently how they interact with you. I’m not saying that dressing bummy will be the reason that your genius gets overlooked. I’m simply saying that regardless of how intelligent or adept you are in a particular area, dressing nicely will only help to influence that perception.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Play Scrabble (or Similar Word Games) Effectively

I’ve told myself I’d write a strategy guide for a while now. PhD life is ridiculously busy though, so I’m just now getting around to it. I’m pretty good at Scrabble. I’ve come in 1st place in a local Scrabble tournament. Being a doctoral student, the folks I tend to play are usually university graduate students and university professors, and I beat everybody. And so since it’s something I seem to excel it, I thought it would be cool to share a few of my strategies in hopes of helping folks improve their play.
I probably won’t give up everything, but that’s not because of selfishness. It’s honestly because it’s hard to think of everything when I’m not in the middle of a game. But maybe I’ll write a Part 2 if this one’s well-received.
If you already know all of this stuff, you’re probably already pretty good and can write one of these yourself.

Tile Placement
Once during a Scrabble game, I heard an onlooker state that the word that my opponent had played (GELATIN) was a very nice Scrabble word. Although that onlooker was a friend, I couldn’t help but look at her like she was an idiot. The only nice Scrabble word is the kind that scores points. Despite the fact that GELATIN has 3 syllables, and required six tiles (the G was already in place), 11 or 12 or how many ever points is not the result of a nice Scrabble word. Scrabble is ALL ABOUT TILE PLACEMENT, unless you’re one of those folks that doesn’t play to win. Placing an X on a triple letter score that has U to the right of that space, and an I below the space (creating the words XU and XI and giving you about 50 points) is far more valuable. While building words, the focus should be to get high scoring letters on double letter or triple letter tiles, and to get your words on double word and triple word tiles. If you’re just indiscriminately spelling out the first word you see, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Count Your Points Before You Play
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you have several good-looking options, hats off. But before you play, it’s important to determine which would be most advantageous. Counting points beforehand is one way to do that. One option may give you 45 points, but the other may give you 54, so be sure to show patience, even when you have what you think is a surefire point-maker.

Also, when you have several options, it’s important to consider if one of those options may set your opponent up. Playing defense is almost as important as scoring. Your opponent usually relies on you to create an opening so that they can score. And so you must focus on limiting the amount of openings that you create. If the words that you are about to play will leave the letter S directly under and a few tiles away from the Triple Word Score, then you may want to rethink playing that word unless you are going to get a ridiculous amount of points from the play anyway. Also, if there’s a triple word score wide open, but all you have available to play is the word AND (giving you roughly 12+ points), it’s better to play it than leaving the triple word score wide open for your opponent to destroy you with. Once again, defense is all about limiting your opponents’ opportunities.

2 and 3 Letter words
If you read the paragraph above and didn’t know that XU and XI were playable words, you may want go here. These words are so important, especially in the end when you have 7 vowels and seemingly nowhere to go. Knowing these words will also improve your ability to place a word in line directly parallel to another word, creating more words (and more points). For instance, if DAMP is spelled on the board horizontally, and your last two letters are A & A, it helps to know that AA is a word, and you can play this word directly on top or on bottom of DAMP at any space above or below and create three words.

Set Scoring Goals
I typically refuse to settle for any play that doesn't produce a minimum of 20 points. Even if I don't see how to score the 20 at first, there's usually always a way (unless you're playing someone who's really good defensively). And so set scoring goals that can act as a measuring tool for your improvement. Disallow yourself to play any word that doesn't net at least 15 points, and raise the bar as you perceive yourself improving.

Closing is the biggest weakness that I notice regarding most players. Even when my highly skilled friend plays me to a dead heat and there are 7 tiles left, I know I’m probably winning because she is an awful closer, like most of you folks. First things first. When the remaining tiles get down to single digits, you have to keep a count of how many tiles your opponent has. If your opponent has all 7 of his tiles, there is only 1 tile left in the bag, and your opponent plays a word using 4 tiles, then that opponent who now has 3 tiles would pick up that last remaining tile, giving them a total of 4 tiles. This is pretty evident in Scrabble as you can see the backside of your opponent’s pieces, but not so much in electronic word games. And so it’s important to make a mental note. This is very important if the score is close, because the first person to play all of their tiles receives points based on the tiles that their opponent has, and if the scores are close, these points could be enough to give that person the win. Knowing which letters are left can be a lot of help also. If you know what your opponent has, you can strategize accordingly. Although the amount of each letter-tile available may be different for the different word games, make yourself aware of how many important letters (X’s, Q’s, Z’s, S’s, etc.) are in each game’s 'bag' and you’ll have an idea of what your opponent is working with toward the end of the game based on what has already been played.

That’s all for now, and best of luck with your Scrabble or other word game endeavors.
And if you’d like to play me in Wordfeud or Words w/ Friends, my username for both is phoenixsoul.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Phoenixsoul’s Guide To Being a Wingman

When heading out with a friend who’s looking for attention from a female in the form of a phone number, a full conversation, or some action, it’s important to understand that your actions are often just as important as his in making this a successful endeavor. The fact of the matter is that chicks usually run in cliques. Even today in these progressive times, it’s still pretty rare to see a female out and about, living it up all by her lonesome. And so when your friend sets his sights on Chick A, and Chick A decides that the interest is mutual, the greatest barrier between him and success (however you define it) is Chick B, the female that Chick A came with.

I’ve had it happen before. At the club, dancing with this girl, having a great time, and she wants to go out to the breezeway and talk. We’re having great conversation, exchanging numbers, and talking about going to get some breakfast. But then, all of a sudden, her friend comes out of nowhere, grabs her arm, gives me this look, and says something like “Whoa stranger, don’t know you, don’t trust you with my friend.” And so I was forced to watch helplessly as Chick B dragged Chick A off into the darkness right along with my potential for an amazing night.

What a hater!!!! But she was likely jealous that her hot friend was getting all the attention, and wanted to leave because she wasn’t having a great time.

Now I have no way of guaranteeing this, but I’m almost sure that if one of my friends was in attendance that night, things may have gone much differently. Although Chick B’s claim to be concerned about her friend’s safety was probably *cough* bullshit *cough*, that ‘concern’ was allowed to exist due to the lack of attention she was receiving. While her friend was having a great time, I never noticed anyone asking her to dance, or sparking a random conversation with her. To put it plainly, she had nothing but time and opportunity to HATE HATE HATE!!!!!!

This is where the wingman comes in.

Now let’s define the wingman.

Urbandictionary.com states that the wingman is the opposite of a c-blocker.

A Coors Light commercial defines being a wingman as taking one for the team, so your buddy can live the dream.
I’m into this one, too.

Now, I hate to say it, but not everyone can be a good wingman. A good wingman should be likable, endearing, unselfish, not tough on the eyes, and able to carry a conversation with a perfect stranger. These qualities sound like normal stuff, but you may be surprised how many guys are lacking one or more.

In the aforementioned situation, I believe a good wingman would notice Chick B’s concern early, and create some form of interaction where Chick B’s focus changes from us to him. Furthermore, that wingman would do everything within reason to make sure Chick B’s having a great time. If she says she’s tired, offer to buy her a vodka and red bull. If she says she doesn’t drink, then start a conversation by asking her about herself. I don’t care how tired people are, most people love talking about themselves to some extent. Be a good listener also. Responding in detail goes a long way, and is typically more well-received than “Uh-huh” and “Yeah, I hear you.”

Being a wingman is an art, and while an initial reaction to some may be “Why, should I care about someone else getting ahead?” the truth of the matter is that good wingmen are usually closer to the core in the circle of friends. Now don’t get me wrong, there are certainly far more important qualities in friends, but the good wingman is gonna get the call to go party in Vegas before the terrible one does. I have a friend who does this all the time. He gets a pretty decent amount of action when he goes out with certain friends, and so those are his preferred folks to go out with. He’ll invite them to damn near everything. Meanwhile, he has another friend who almost seems to repel women, and he calls him for anything except partying, which makes the guy feel left out.

Now I understand that this wingman thing may be complicated for some, so I’ve decided to add a few rules to help you poor souls out there who don’t know where to begin.

1) Take One For the Team

Every experienced wingman knows that usually when one friend is having a great time and the other is not, it’s because one doesn’t look as great as the other one and is receiving a lot less attention. And so he usually has to suck it up and take one for the team. Now, it’s a possibility that you may not be attracted to her, and if so, this is where a few strong drinks may come in handy.

2) Don’t Hit On Her Friend (Unless She Gives You the Green Light)

Offending the friend is just as bad as not being there to prevent her blocking ways in the first place. You want to gauge her interest to see if she’s interested in you, or just down for a little conversation. However, usually, the easiest way for your buddy to score (if that’s his goal) is for you and Chick B to connect romantically. When the hot chick sees that her friend is occupied, she’ll likely feel free to move. So if you can work that out, you’ll be outperforming your contract.

3) Don’t Always Be The Wingman

Being wingman every time is like being the designated driver every time. It’s just not right. If you were wingman for your buddy last time, this time should be your time to be the gunner. Plain and simple.

4) Get Chick B the HELL AWAY from Chick A

The idea is to limit their contact to winks, smiles, and thumbs up. Now you don’t want to pull Chick B into a separate room, because then, one of them may worry, and leave to find the other. No, you want them just close enough to where they can see each other, but far away enough where each one is relying on you or your friend (and not each other) for verbal communication.

5) Analyze the Group When There’s More Than One Friend

Check out the group and determine if one of the friends is gonna give your boy a hard time about pushing up on her gal pal. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out. See the one smiling at both of you? It’s not her. Do you see the one giving your friend that whatever look or looking away with no expression and/or not paying either of you any attention? There’s your problem child. Now oftentimes, when there’s more than one friend, you can pull one out of the group and the others will do their thing without interruption. But it never hurts to be able to recognize the pest in a group before they hop into action.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Performing for God, and Why I Don’t Mind Booing You If You’re Awful

So I went to this church function with this girl I used to seriously date. It was something like a talent show. There was this one guy that was an awesome poet, and I clapped hard for him. But then there was this other dude that sang. He was awful!!!! I wanted to stand up and start doing the Apollo thing where they boo and try to wave you off stage, but I’m not sure my then-girlfriend or the rest of the congregation would’ve appreciated that. But when he was done, everybody applauded, and I was like REALLY??? I even actually said loud enough just so the people around me could hear, “Really? That guy was horrible.” Caught a couple a nasty looks from a few old ladies, but I’m ok with that.

But while this chick and I weren’t always (or ever) on the same page, we definitely agreed that just because you’re doing it for God doesn’t mean that you can suck at it and still have your efforts applauded. If you’re awful, maybe that’s not the talent God gave you, and you should explore other avenues. I don’t know if God appreciates you dedicating that butchered song to Him.

That’s like washing your mom’s car with a bucket of mud.

Nice effort, but next time, let’s not, and say you did.

I’m just saying.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ego, Perceived Value, and Second Chances

Now I’ve been dissed before by Chick A because I assigned a lower amount of value to a dating situation at a particular time. And by the time I came around a year later, she was like “No way, you had your chance. And also, kill yourself.”

I’ve also been with Chick B who assigned a lower amount of value to our relationship than I did, and when she decided to come back around, I couldn’t be bothered. It’s not that I didn’t still have feelings for Chick B at the time, it’s just that my ego wouldn’t allow me to let myself be played by someone who had clearly demonstrated that our perceptions of each other’s value were very different. But it wasn’t until the situation with Chick B, that I totally understood Chick A’s reluctance to give us a try back in the day.

When a person makes a situation high-risk because of an unstable pattern of behavior, whether it’s being unfaithful, flighty, or refusing to commit, it makes it very difficult to trust that individual in the long run. Ego also makes it very hard to go back to someone who you feel has wronged you repeatedly or didn’t return your love for whatever reason. You risk looking like a dummy if that person messes up again, especially if you're a guy, where emotional slip-ups are less tolerable. No wonder second chances are so hard to come by.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Worry About Yourself

I don't get how you could focus on what someone else isn't doing right, when you're lacking mentally, physically, or spiritually.

I remember during my time attending the University of West Georgia, I sat down in the cafeteria with my then-girlfriend and her friend for a bite to eat.  I’m peeling the crust off of my sandwich, when her friend says with a very nasty look, “I’ve never seen a grown man sit there and peel the crust off his bread.”  Now I can honestly say that I’m not the person that I was in 2003 or 2004 when this incident occurred.  That guy and I had the same thoughts, but he’d never say the inappropriate ones out loud.

But what I was thinking was “Really fatty?  You’re giving me advice on things food-related?”  I wish I would’ve said what I was thinking.  In fact, I hope to God she reads this post so that she knows how I felt about her simple comment.  How can you give advice on food when you’re clearly overweight?  Why aren’t you peeling the crust?

Another thing I saw was an obese woman criticizing a homeless guy that smelled like alcohol.   No offense ma’am, but high blood pressure is much more dangerous than alcoholism.  Why do you even have energy to expend toward your opinion of this gentleman’s health when you’re clearly not representing for the top 10% of healthy Americans?

But I say all this, because I don’t seriously understand why it’s human nature to criticize or gossip about someone’s perceived negative traits, when you don‘t have it all together.

Let’s break it down to three categories.  I think we can agree to physical, spiritual, and morality.
If you’re lacking in any of these, then why are you even the slightest bit concerned with someone who you have no type of relationship with?

Maybe it’s just me, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but I don’t care what happened recently to Paris Hilton, my co-worker with whom I never socialize, or that girl I went to high school with.  I’m so busy trying to perfect me that I really don’t have time to critique someone else with whom I have no relationship.

Thank God I’m not nosey.  Seems like quite a distracting trait. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Should Bishop Eddie Long Step Down? UPDATE: Bishop Long's Accuser Speaks

Bishop Eddie Long isn’t the first man of the cloth to be accused of sex with boys, but he's the first one I've seen in a muscle shirt.

In the wake of the recent scandal involving allegations from three four males claiming to be victims of sexual misconduct by the Bishop, one has to wonder if the Bishop is currently doing what is in the best interests of the members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
On Sunday, September 26, 2010, the Bishop finally spoke his piece at New Birth, addressing his silence up to that point by stating that his first obligation is to his family, and not to the media. Respectable words indeed. But what was most noticeable by seemingly every member in attendance was the fact that the Bishop simply failed to say “I didn’t do it.”
Eddie Long’s most notable sermon excerpt from Sunday, “I’m not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m gonna fight” left much room for interpretation amongst church members and media alike, as post-service interviews discovered that some members were unsure of his innocence due to his failure to proclaim it in front of the congregation.

Guilty or not, Eddie Long’s church and backyard are temporary campsites, the media circus having pitched a giant tent with no sign of dousing the campfire until a verdict is determined. And even then, a Winnebago or two is sure to circle back for an expose’ on the aftermath of whatever the verdict may be. Understanding the seriousness of the allegations, and how much of a distraction an accusation of sexual misconduct by a clergyman is, should the Bishop step down?
The dedicated members say no, claiming that the Bishop has changed their life or made them new and improved individuals in some way, shape, or form. I don’t doubt this to be true, as the guy is a well-accomplished motivator and public speaker.
But what about the reason for church attendance in the first place?

What about worship?

What about God?

The distractions will likely be abundant as the remainder of this scandal plays out for however many months. I doubt that anyone wants to walk out of a religious meeting and have to answer questions about their belief in their leader’s guilt or innocence to a Channel 10 news camera, though you can at least make sure they get your good side in the progress.

And what of the looming court case and court decision?

In case you didn’t know (and you did because you’re smart), the burden of proof is different in civil court than it is criminal court. In criminal court, the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. In civil court, the win simply goes to the side whose evidence outweighs the other side’s evidence. Why is this good and bad for the Bishop?

The bad is that the Bishop’s accusers only have to prove preponderance of the evidence, meaning that their evidence of the allegations’ occurrence must simply have greater weight than Long’s evidence of non-occurrence. Personally, any man taking pictures of himself flexing in muscle shirts is enough evidence for me, but I’m not the one banging the gavel.

The good (for Eddie Long) is that even if he loses the civil case, he can always claim innocence anyway and step back into the pulpit if an investigation doesn’t reveal any irrefutable evidence and he’s not brought up on criminal charges.

So step down Bishop, especially if you’re innocent. Spare your congregation the agony of being handcuffed to the front pew for your tightrope act. As you walk to the other end of the rope, unsure of your own balance and semi-conscious of your grudge with the guy that sets up the net, spare your most dedicated followers the chance to stand on your shoulders for additional effect. Allow your members the detachment that is necessary to focus on the real reason for their Sunday morning trips to Lithonia, GA.
And if you’re guilty, then at least go quietly into the night knowing that you cared more about the faith of New Birth’s members than you did about yourself, and stepped down, even if only temporarily, to make possible a preservation of their union.

UPDATE:  Bishop Long's Accuser Speaks

Related Posts: Pastor Terry Jones: An Embarrassment to Christians Everywhere
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Science of Friendship Part I

Feeling like your group of friends acts differently toward you than they do toward each other?  Feeling like they sometimes do things and fail to include you?  You’re probably right.

The thing about a group of friends (3 or more) is that regardless of resistance, each individual will almost always end up ranking every member of their group of friends from favorite to least favorite.  Being least favorite doesn't mean you suck (although you might).  It simply means that the rest of the group's members are more compatible and/or comfortable with each other than they are with you.  Oftentimes it’s done subconsciously instead of purposely.  And so we tend to show it through our actions rather than words, and eventually form a subgroup, in which one or more of the members of the original group are not included.  Of course we invite the entire group for outings, partying, and the like, but the members of our subgroup have a higher security clearance.  We develop a special bond with them, dragging them along to help pick out our wedding colors, calling them first when we're back in town to visit, and even gossiping about group members outside of the subgroup.  We rank because human beings naturally think in terms of order.  Order is the basis for most decision-making, and so of course, we can't help it.  From the moment your 2nd grade teacher taught you "greater than" and "less than", you were a ranking machine, assigning differing levels of importance to activities, video games, and eventually people. 

If that one friend is complaining about being left out all the time, then she’s probably not imagining it like the rest of the group suggests, as you all ride off onto another film-worthy adventure not starring her.  The exception here is that the friend doesn't put the energy into friendships that she would like to receive.  And if you've been reading my posts, then you know how I feel about the golden rule, reciprocity, etc. (necessary for any friendship or relationship to stand the test of time).

But regardless of reason, the problem with groups of friends and order is that someone has to be last.  So if you're last, how do you deal? 

It depends on your personality type. 

If you value the loose friendship that you have with your group, but you still desire more favoritism or inclusion, a frequent mistake is seeking that attention from one of the group's current members.  It's likely that these people know your tendencies, where you are in life, and what you represent.  So unless you plan on making some drastic changes, it may be time to accept that these friends assign you a certain value based on their perception of who you really are.  Unless this perception is incredibly distorted, it's time to find another source for the type of friendship that you seek.  Rest assured, there are potential friends out there who will appreciate you for the eccentric, backwards-thinking individual that you are and place you on the very top of their totem pole.

If a loose friendship simply leaves you unsatisfied with your position in the hierarchy of group members, then it's time to pull yourself out of the group.  Remaining friends with the members individually, but opting out of group activities is a good way to wean yourself off of the group.  Those who were only your friend as a condition of being apart of the group will eventually fade, and although you still may not receive the tight friendship that you yearn for from the remaining friends, the overall quality of friendship will likely improve. 

Regarding this possible improvement, think of it in terms of averages.  You've got a group of 5 friends.  Let's say you rank the friendship between you and these individual members on a scale of 1-10, and the 5 members individually earn an 8, 7, 5, 3 and 2.  If you're hanging out with all 5 of these people, that's an average of 5 in terms of quality.  Now kick 5, 3, and 2 to the curb and your overall quality of friendship increases to 7.5! 

Of course, this all depends on if you value quality over quantity, or quality over multiple options.

And I hope you do, for your sanity's sake.

Related Posts: Relationship Theory: Intention VS Perception, Phoenix Soulstar's 9 Cautionary Dating Tips (For Guys)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

6 Reasons To Support The Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals (OR 6 Reasons to Stop Crapping on Women's Basketball)

After delivering a sound beating to gifted scorer Cappie Pondexter and the New York Liberty, the Atlanta Dream will go on to face the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals. Here are 6 reasons why you should support the Atlanta Dream!

1) The city of Atlanta needs a championship!

Remember when the Braves won the World Series in 1995? I was in 6th grade with my first two facial hairs, and had recently gone stark raving girl crazy. Just as a full beard began to grow in over the years, so did the constant disappointment, with Atlanta unable to shave the label (or lack thereof) of not being a “real” sports town. The false saviors have come, and they’ve departed just as quickly, many with their tails tucked and without the courtesy of choice. Jamal Andersen AKA Mr. Dirty Bird himself gave the Falcons hope with a Super Bowl XXXIII visit in 1999, but was unable to seal the deal, and was eventually forced into early retirement by a torn ACL. It’s a good thing that cocaine arrest happened after his playing days were over.

The Falcons were already headed for their fair share of bad press when Michael Vick went from taking snaps from Atlanta Falcons centers to taking snaps from one of the guys on D-Block.  Although he's been released and is back in the NFL's good graces, I always think of that movie “The Longest Yard” when I think of Vick these days. The Hawks, guided by the talented trio of Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith have become a staple playoff team, but have yet to advance past the 2nd round. Atlanta needs this!

2) Angel McCoughtry is the TRUTH!

McCoughtry is truly as gifted a scorer and defender as you’ll see in any basketball league, and she’s certainly worth the price of admission. A product of the Louisville Cardinals, McCoughtry was selected by the Atlanta Dream as the No. 1 pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Since her selection, she’s racked up quite a few notable honors:
-Named Rookie of the Year in 2009.
-Received All-Defensive Team honors (finished 2nd in voting) in 2010
-Finished 6th in MVP voting for the 2010 season
-Set the WNBA playoff record for points in a game last night by scoring 42 against the New York Liberty to lead the Dream to the WNBA Finals. That’s 42 points in a 40 minute game!!! That’s with no overtime, and no 48 minute clock like the NBA.
-Boasts a gold medal from the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil.

3) The first time Lauren Jackson of the Seattle Storm won MVP, she got naked.

Good news fellas, Lauren Jackson has been crowned the 2010 WNBA MVP. Why should you care? Well, after being awarded the MVP trophy in 2003, the native Australian bared every inch of her well-tailored birthday suit by posing nude for a magazine called Black+White. I’m a man who believes that history repeats itself.  Need I say more?

4) Heart of an NBA player, Salary of a Fan

The salary of the NBA and WNBA are actually a percentage of the respective league's revenue from the previous season. So while the minimum NBA salary is somewhere around $500,000, the minimum WNBA salary is around $35,000. The players do however receive bonuses depending on how far they advance in the playoffs. Champions, of course get the most. Don’t you want to help our underpaid ladies get a check?

5) From Worst to First

In 2008, the Atlanta Dream were the New Jersey Nets of the WNBA, losing 30 out of 34 games and finishing with the worst record in WNBA history. Now although the Nets were able to sidestep the “worst record ever” footnote in NBA record books during their 2010 campaign, the appalling and luckless seasons of the two fledgling franchises (sorry Jay-Z and wealthy Russian guy) crave comparison. Fast forward to 2010, and the Atlanta Dream has held onto 1st place in the Eastern Conference for much of the season. Now granted, they slipped into despair (4th place) after stumbling through the final stretch of the regular season, but they have yet to be beaten since entering the playoffs.

6) Don’t Be a Sexist Douche

Attending a WNBA game comes to mind, and we can instantly think of a million things we’d rather be doing than watching women play basketball (break-dancing on hot coals, playing leap frog with a unicorn, etc.). We’re all guilty of it, especially me in the not-so-distant past. Still, it was shocking that I had an extra ticket to the Atlanta Dream VS New York Liberty Eastern Conference Finals game last night, and could not give it away! I called 20 people who I knew loved basketball, and every single one was supposedly preoccupied. Now I understand the hesitation if you think of the WNBA of old. I remember the first days of the league in 1997. The play was boring, simple, and plain. Pass… pass… pass… shoot. Oh how I longed for a crossover, a dunk with one player’s genitalia (we’d need to phrase it differently for women players) in another player’s face. The showmanship is what was missing, and as we chiseled that judgment into the stone of our memories and changed the channel, we never changed back to see that this league has evolved into something worth following, even if simply to be abused by basketball-only sports fans as a brief reprieve from the brain-racking torture that is the NBA offseason.

The Atlanta Dream is averaging 98 PPG in the playoffs. Angel McCoughtry is averaging over 21 PPG for the season, and she’s only the 6th best player in the league according to MVP voting (top 3 if we're talking about clutch performers). You may not think of these types of numbers when you think of a WNBA game, but the days of 60 point games are long gone. So tune in for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals (Sunday at 3pm ET on ABC), and cheer for the first professional sports team in Atlanta that could win the first championship in a while (or for a while). You never know, you just might like it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Relationship Theory: Intention VS Perception (OR Ushering in the Age of Consciousness)

It's my theory that most disagreements in relationships are the result of intention vs perception, and the few close friends I've relayed this idea to seem to agree.  Of course, there's conflict when one partner just does something that clearly wrongs the other, but the conflict I speak of here is the result of harmless intentions by one, perceived as reckless behavior or wrongdoing by the other.

When intention and perception don't match, it's often because of miscommunication.  In many instances, when a friend or mate has pissed us off due to a miscommunication, we hear some equivalent of "I meant well" if they care enough to be apologetic.  But there are some cases where ignorance is unacceptable as an excuse, and where simple neglect is the cause of the misfire. 

Neglect to Inform

Neglect to inform is typically the most repeated of innocent intentions. A small omission of pertinent information often comes back to haunt us when least expected.  And if we're honest, we're usually conscious of certain details that we omit.  But we either believe that they'll never be brought to light, or that they simply don't warrant discussion.  But when this unverbalized information finally does see the light of day, our number one excuse is some version of "I didn't think it was important."  Too often, we fail to take responsibility for simply being neglectful. 

Careful, as your one instance of harmless neglect may trigger an avalanche of negative emotions within your partner.  You may perceive that forgettable information about you and your opposite (or same) sex best friend's romantic past as harmless, but if your partner discovers this on his/her own, a loss of trust is usually an immediate consequence, and one that is pretty difficult to rebound from.  Even waiting a few months to mention this info could very well bring your trustworthiness into question.  "I didn't think it was important" is a terrible excuse, both in general, and in terms of trying to comfort your partner.  If you let on that you consider this sort of information unimportant, then it begs to question what else you're thoughtlessly omitting from conversations with your partner. 

Give The Golden Rule a Try

I can honestly say that out of all conversations with friends, and even former partners, where they originally perceived their behavior toward their partner as innocent, when asked if they would perceive the behavior as acceptable if their partner were to do the same thing to them, the answer was often no.  So give the golden rule a try.  Before you do something or fail to mention something to your partner, simply ask yourself, "Would I be comfortable with this if the shoe were on the other foot?"  The golden rule can be a bit difficult if a person is accustomed to only considering oneself in decision-making, but the emotional rewards can be bountiful as there is simply no substitute for thoughtfulness and the return you'll likely see on that investment from your partner.

Be Clear in Your Thoughts and Words

Too often, we are lazy in communicating what we actually mean, while assuming that our words are interpreted exactly as we intend them.  Why leave room for misinterpretation?  Say exactly what you mean to cut down on confusion.  It's not enough to think it, and assume that your partner knows how you feel.  Body language is 90% of communication, but verbal communication will always reign supreme in terms of clarity.  A failure to verbally communicate negative thoughts may lead to negative feelings, which may lead to negative actions that will absolutely confuse your partner if he/she does not understand the basis for your new emotional disposition.  Oftentimes, hidden negative feelings spawned from a partner's actions or comments are a result of miscommunication and can be put to rest by simple discussion

Also, it is essential to understand how what you say may affect your partner.  A huge part of communication in a partnership is taking responsibility for the consequences of the way you express yourself.  If you're prone to yelling, then don't be surprised when your partner is less than eager to communicate an important thought that may upset you.  If you make certain statements, be aware of how they're perceived by people around you.  Some people consider it a great deal of effort to consider the possible effects of their intellectual and physical output, but if you're not ready to accept responsibility for your words, thoughts, and actions (or lack thereof), then you may not be ready for a serious relationship.

Being More Conscious

The thinker always has the edge, as he/she has considered possible outcomes of statements before they are ever spoken, and has probably thought of the likely rebuttal of the recipient, based on the recipient's tendencies.  Challenge yourself to be more conscious of your words, thoughts, and actions.  Whether romantic or professional, understand what goals you have, what actions will help you to achieve them, and what actions will likely hinder them.  Challenge yourself to think 3 steps ahead at all times.  Through your intellectual and physical output, you help or hurt your goals.  Through these things, you control your destiny.

Related Posts: Phoenix Soulstar's 9 Cautionary Dating Tips (For Guys) 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

If Historical Events Had Facebook Statuses

OK, shout out to folks at Cool Material for coming up with this, and much love to my friend Stephanie L. for posting this link on Facebook.  Please check it out, it is hilarious!!!


Related Posts: Phoenix Soulstar's Guide to Facebook Stalking Part I, 16 Hilarious But Slightly Weird Thoughts

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just Let Chivalry Die OR 4 Dates and She Can’t Even Help With the Tip? Red Flag!! (OR How Are You Only Traditional About Dating and Not Anything Else)

“Speak with a dozen women and find out they all want a man who’s chivalrous. Extend the conversation with each and discover that all have 12 different definitions of chivalry.”


So I called an escort service

Actually I apologize, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning.

So I’m having a conversation with the ladies at the office yesterday and the subject matter was chivalry. One of the ladies insists that a man should take care of everything, including at least some of her bills, their dates, groceries, her hair appointment, gas for her car, etc. Of course, I tell her she’s lost her mind. And then she proceeds to say that men my age have been ruined by women that get the check sometimes, and don’t expect frequent monetary contributions during the dating process.

Another female co-worker enters at the exact moment the young lady I’m speaking with says “Guys these days don’t understand the definition of chivalry.” Now of course, the other co-worker chimes in with “I know right, guys just don’t know the meaning of chivalry anymore, especially younger guys.” And they start with the high-fiving, elbow rubbing, and other estrogen-inspired ridiculousness.

Now I smile :) because I know I have the advantage. Fact is, I’ve known both of these ladies for quite a while, so I know that their opinions on dating couldn’t be further apart.

So while they’re still verbally attacking me, I interrupt, with “I’ve spoken with many women about chivalry, and they all want a man who’s chivalrous. But get to know them, and you’ll find out that their individual definitions of the word aren’t even close.” Without any further prodding, one gives her definition, the other instantly disagrees and offers a rebuttal, and just like that, they’re at each others throats. Now I’ll admit that I kind of set that up.

But hey, I was being attacked!!! So get off my black back about it (please and thank you)!

SO basically, I wish women would STOP PRETENDING THAT THERE IS ONE DEFINITION OF CHIVALRY!! Odds are that the woman next to you doesn’t 100% agree with your opinion of a how a woman should be treated by a man during the courting process, or even just in everyday situations for that matter.
I can’t keep count of the times I’ve heard “I can hold my own door” or “I can pull out my own chair.” Different strokes for different folks.
As with anything, preferences play a role. Your chivalry may be him paying for everything, but most international girls I’ve dated think that it’s not only offensive, but a sign of you wanting to be in total control. Actually, most of the women I’ve dated period don’t go for that.

Now let’s talk about men paying for everything.

I once had a girl tell me that when it comes to dating, she was definitely traditional in that respect. How in the *BLEEP* are you traditional in one respect? Somebody help me (her) please!!! You drink and party often, you’ve moved out of your parents’ house, you have premarital sex, and you work a full-time job and make as much as I do, but when the check comes and I’ve paid 3 times in a row, you can’t even come up with tip money? I’ll ask again (calmly), how are you traditional in one respect?

I’ll answer that: Because it’s convenient. I understand if you have completely (or even majority) traditional values. Then this makes absolute sense. But if you’re getting your independent woman on all the time, except when you go out on dates with guys, then I can’t go for that.

What women refer to as traditional dating actually has its roots in a time where only men got up and went to work in the morning, while the woman stayed behind and took care of home. The man was the sole breadwinner, and so consequently, it was his duty to provide for the woman. Now fast forward to present day where a man and woman may have similar salaries. The original reasoning has been lost in translation. Now I’ve spoken with one older woman who was well aware of how little sense it makes technically, but she also said “Hey, if you could get away with it, wouldn’t you?”

Now, the co-worker previously mentioned in this post always mentions this nonsense about guys needing to “reimburse her for her time.” If that’s the case, guys should just hire a chick from an escort service!!! Because seriously, what’s the difference? All the benefits, same costs, guaranteed smashing at the end, right?
So I called an escort service, (Adrianna’s Escort Service in Atlanta, GA), and apparently the going rate is $250/hr. OK so maybe it is just a bit more expensive to get a call girl. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this whole thing about being an independent woman one minute and expecting the guy to get the check every time is absolutely ludicrous.

My Mental Log of Comments From Women That Have Made Me Say “Check Please!” OR Things a Gold Digger Would Say:

1) Female: You gotta pay to play. Me: Check please.

2) Female: I need to be reimbursed for my time. Me: Are you a hooker?

3) Female: I’m traditional in the dating respect. Me: And independent in other respects huh?

4) Me: Dating is expensive. Female: Yeah, I wouldn’t know *laughs*

5) Female: Can I borrow $50? (on the 1st date) Me (jokingly): I'm gonna need your car for collateral.

6) *Fishes around in her purse for over 15 sec* I left my card again. I'm sorry, can you get this?

More education you say? Why I’d love to!!

Different Classes of Gold Digger:

1) Gold digger: A male or female who values a potential partner’s wealth above any of their other traits.

2) Silver digger: Chases middle-class partners because this person feels that they can’t compete on a higher level with the caliber of women/ men who score accomplished sugar daddies/ mamas.

3) Ditch digger: Attracted to impoverished people.

Don’t get mad folks, it’s just my opinion.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Superficial OR Stop C-blocking Your Soulmate

For my people who haven’t quite found what they’re looking for…

The concept of Singular Soulmatism (I made it up, but it sounds good) is what many of us are taught when we’re young. We’ll grow up, become horny, and in the midst of all the horniness, we’ll meet that single special someone that was always meant for us. It’s a cute concept, and likely influenced by traditional values. But all-in-all, it’s probably a tad bit far-fetched. I think there are many possible matches out there for any particular individual. Now of course, some individuals are so “uniquely special” that it’s no shocker that there is only one individual on Earth that could tolerate that person for a lifetime. But for many of the people that stick close to the path of normalcy, we raise or lower our own probability of compatibility dependent upon superficial factors.

I’m sure some may disagree with the reasoning mentioned here, but hear me out briefly. The thought that inspires this blog is “What personal prejudices do we allow to limit our number of potential partners?”

The majority of us are at least a little superficial. But how often does being superficial get in the way of what could be the love of a lifetime?

Now, let's stay away from confusing superficial qualities with values. Religion, belief in traditional dating, and even smoking and drinking fall under the values category.

Think about it. 6.8 billion people on Earth, and you only date African-American guys that are at least 6’0 (so you can wear your heels and still be comfortable), make at least $60,000, fits today’s image of being in-shape, and are physically attractive to you. So you’re dating all these people that look the same, and you eventually find someone close enough to plan a future with. But how do you know what you missed? If there’s a Korean guy with your exact set of values, interests, and beliefs, do you not give him the time of day just because of what your family and friends would think? It happens all the time, as we automatically disqualify an individual from contention based on things that have absolutely nothing to do with that person's character.  So I came up with 5 categories that are most likely to be a hindrance to a person’s availability. To be fair, I’ll discuss my own prejudices as related to these categories just to see how my superficial preferences raise or lower my availability.

Superficial Qualities

1) Race
I’ve dated a Puerto Rican, Caucasian, Mexican, African-American, South Korean, Nigerian, and Gambian (I feel like I’m missing one).

2) Artificial Attachments
Where you live and what kind of car you drive don’t bother me much. But WEAVE??!!! I can’t explain it, but weave and I have been worst enemies since the dawn of time. Sew-ins are ok, but the hair sheds too easily and gets everywhere. It’s such a nuisance!!!! Weave ponytails look slightly ghetto (someone’s gonna fight me for that comment). And what really kills me about weave ponytails is that a lot of women will have a totally different texture going on in their hair than what their ponytail is. If your hair is naturally nappy but your ponytail is Indian, that’s just not a good look. Throw a nap in the ponytail or some gel in your hair. Something’s gotta give! All in all, I just prefer that you rock whatever the good Lord gave you. 

Also, too much make-up is a red flag for me. A female with a ton of make-up on may not believe she’s very attractive without it. And I probably won’t either.

3) Stature
Never thought it’d be a problem, until I casually dated a girl that was 6’3. We lasted all of a week. We got along just fine, and we had very similar values, but the height was just kind of a turn off. :(

4) Weight
Once upon a time, I only dated girls that weighed less than 130. Fast forward to present day, and I can honestly say that I have less of a concern with weight, and more of a concern regarding the medical risk factors that may come along with that weight. I definitely have issues if you’re needlessly putting yourself at risk for hypertension, diabetes, and/or heart disease. There's nothing sexy about dying early. So the weight doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re healthy with it.

5) Face
Anything less than a 7, would be uncivilized.

What’s that, 2 out of 5? Wow, I’m horrible.

So to sum this up, you could be overly fond of your weave ponytail and we could compliment each other beautifully, and I still wouldn’t give you the time of day. Man, I am shallow! Does this mean that I’ve been c-blocking myself my entire life? Perhaps.

Of course I don’t care now, because I am in a happy situation. And if you’re in a happy situation, then this post likely won't be very moving. But if you’re not, it’s definitely interesting to wonder how one change to yourself could have changed your past, and could still change your future.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Phoenixsoul's Guide to Facebook Stalking Part I

Urbandictionary.com defines the term "Facebook Stalking" as a covert method of investigation, good for discovering a wealth of information about people you don't actually know.

On July 21, 2010, Facebook officially reached 500 million users. Now with the world's population being roughly 6.6 billion, this means that about 1/13 of the world is on Facebook. Figure for the countries with technological limitations, and it's safe to assume that a large amount of America is a part of it's most popular social network.

Facebook users typically post a ridiculous amount of personal information on their profiles. From a user's favorite movies, music, books, and interests, to their political and religious beliefs, much of a Facebook profile can be a cheat sheet to how a person perceives oneself. So if you don't mind being blatantly deceptive, then Facebook, when used properly, can be a magnificent tool for stalking and hooking up with the girl or guy of your dreams!

Common interests are often the bridge that we use to connect to people in everyday situations. And so with a person's interests already made viewable, proper utilization is all that stands between you and your potential stalking target.

I'll use my own profile for example. Let's pretend a girl in my class has set her sights on me, but isn't exactly sure how to approach me. Go to my Likes and Interests section, and listed in the Activities segment is Scrabble, Sudoku, Skydiving, B-boying, Poetry, Guitar, Most Things Involving Music.

Now the expert stalker typically takes the most rare interest and uses it for their own personal gain. Using any ordinary interests listed would likely be ineffective, as rare commonalities are what usually intrigue human beings the most.

Now Facebook helps tremendously with determining between rare and ordinary activities.

Simply place the cursor over Guitar, and you'll see that over a million people have this listed as an interest. So if my classmate approaches me and speaks of her love for playing guitar, the most I'll say is "Oh that's nice" because a ridiculous amount of people have interest in guitar. And if she asks if I'd like to jam sometime, there's a good chance I'd politely decline (assuming I'm not already attracted to her), because there are a wealth of folks that I can jam with.

Now let's say the classmate engages me in general conversation, and in exiting, she says "Well, I gotta go, I'm meeting some friends for a Scrabble tournament." Instantly, my interest in peaked. It'd be only natural for me to say "Oh you play Scrabble? I love Scrabble! It's my favorite board game of all time!" And then that's the setup for her to follow with something along the lines of "Really? Well maybe we should play sometime?"

Now regardless of attraction (unless the stalker is just butt ugly, annoying, or has some other intolerable quality), I'm not gonna say no, because not only do I love Scrabble, but it's also a lot more difficult to find people that love it enough to participate in a tournament. So of course I'll likely agree to meet her to play, providing her with a perfect opportunity for one-on-one time as well as an opening to dazzle and charm.

A similar method is paying attention to a person's status history. Depending on privacy settings, you can typically browse a person's wall and get a sense of who they are and/or what they feel they're missing. Some people's statuses are a little less revealing than others, so success with this method of stalking will depend greatly on how informative the stalkee is.

Now if you're a true stalker and you suffer from infatuation with someone you're not even Facebook friends with, a great way 'in' is to determine if you have common friends, which a look at the stalkee's page will quickly determine. And if you two work in the same office, have the same hangout spots, or have ever attended the same school, it is highly likely that you do. If you think you don't, please keep in mind the theory of six degrees of separation, as it truly is a small world.

Facebook is certainly a much more efficient way to stalk than tiptoeing around, secretly snapping pictures, and snipping off locks of hair.

MY SINGLE WARNING is that you appear natural and casually mention these likes and interests. Stating something about the stalkee that you could have only learned from Facebook stalking will likely blow your cover and probably make you seem slightly creepy.

Happy Stalking!

Disclaimer: The author of this blog does not in anyway encourage actual stalking. This post is intended as entertainment only.

Monday, July 19, 2010

(My Attempt at) An Objective Review of the KKK Website

So one day i was bored and decided to check out the KKK website @ http://www.kkk.bz. Now as many know, the Ku Klux Klan is an organization famous for their belief in white supremacy, and consequently, their dislike of African-Americans, Jews, and homosexuals. They are also well-known for their history of animosity towards minorities in more 'civilly lenient' times. Anyway, I thought the site was so ridiculous and hilarious that I decided it'd be interesting to attempt an objective review of it. Now obviously, I'm at a disadvantage here seeing as how it'd be difficult for an African-American to be objective, but I love a good challenge! I'll be commenting on 3 categories:

1) Design
2) Convenience
3) Accuracy of Information

Here goes...



The site looks like they gave a high school kid 50 bucks to do it. There are spelling errors, absolutely awful examples of subject-verb agreement, and such a blatant disregard for page organization that the massive clutter of the site becomes unbearable after awhile. But this is the boring part of the review, so let's just keep it moving.

Grade: D-



Dying anytime soon? The site has a section where you can leave all your earthly treasures to the KKK organization. It reads as follows:

The following wording may be used in your will or trust in making a bequest to The Knights, a nonprofit corporation.

"I give to Thomas A. Robb as trustee for the The Knights Party, inc., the sum of __________and / or other specifically described property, free of all death taxes, creditors' claims and expenses of administration of my estate, for discretionary use in carrying out its aims and purposes."

And if you do decide to make the KKK a beneficiary in your will, their lawyers will prepare it for you free of charge. What a deal!

Now thanks to the digital age, rather than having to seek out a local Klansman or Klanswoman to gain membership, you can simply apply using the site's online application. All you need is a credit card and you'll receive your hate mongering kit in the mail in 12-14 days.

Have Hispanic neighbors but not quite sure if they're in the country legally? Well there's a link where you can report illegal immigration. Of course, you likely have no way of knowing of anyone's legal status, but why not take a shot in the dark?

Now, it's safe to say that I expected much of what I saw on the site. But the one thing that even I wasn't prepared for was the section for teen recruitment! (WTF!!!) If you're a white boy or girl between 13 and 17, apparently, you can sign up with the The Knights Party Crusaders Youth Corp. That's just ri-damn-diculous.

What's more, in the "Youth Section" of the website, there's a link that says "But, I know some really nice black people." Now I have to admit, I laughed when I first saw this one. You can check it out for yourself, but be prepared for a level of ridiculous previously unknown to mankind.


This one quote is most interesting:

"Just because a person is black or another race doesn't make them bad people. But you should always be careful where you go and who your friends are. Young girls should be extra careful. Many black boys feel extra cool if they hurt a white girl. Some kids don't learn until it’s too late."

Now as appalling as the information is, the site is pretty convenient for all your race-hating needs. There's a gross amount of clutter (as previously stated), but if you can navigate through it all, then you have everything you need to become a Klan member at your fingertips.

Grade B-


Accuracy of Information

The Klan apparently wants to quarantine all HIV(+) individuals.

"While the AIDS virus is almost inclusive to homosexuals and those not of European ancestry, many innocent people have contacted the virus. Despite the moral character of a person, the virus is still highly contagious with new and deadlier forms coming out constantly. Everyone who gets it dies! Aids carriers should receive proper medical care while a cure is being researched. This is the only way to stop the spread of the disease. They should be kept from coming into contact with uninfected people."

Many statements on the site are so one-sided and inaccurate, that I think it'd be really tough for an intelligent human being to take the organization seriously.

First off, AIDS is not a virus, it's a condition cause by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Secondly, per 2007 CDC statistics, African-Americans did account for the 50% of new HIV cases regarding race, while white Americans accounted for 30%, Hispanics 16% and other races 14%. Take from it what you will, but "almost inclusive" and 50% don't quite register as similar descriptive terms to me.

In terms of means of transmission, per 2007 CDC statistics, men who have sex with men did account for a little over 50% of new HIV cases. But once again, the fact that heterosexual transmission has accounted for 30% of the HIV cases is totally disregarded.


The term "Aids carriers" is medically incorrect as AIDS is a not a bacteria, virus or genetic trait. A HIV (+) individual is considered AIDS (+) when their T-cell count goes below 200 (although some consider the magic number to be 350). The fact they even use the term destroys any credibility they might have had.

And then this statement achieves it intended purpose if you're ignorant enough to not know any better: "Everyone who gets it dies!"

Really KKK? But I guess that's always been your way. Promoting fear to achieve a desired reaction from the public.

I have patients who have been positive for 20+ years and they are still as healthy or more healthy than many people. Sure, HIV can cripple your immune system and make you more susceptible to any illness, but only if you don't take care of yourself. Don't believe the hype.

Grade: F-


It's hard to believe that the website of such a historical group is so disorganized, but I was not at all surprised by the large amount of inaccurate information. And so I believe that the grades given for each category were mostly fair. But if they weren't, who cares? IT'S THE KKK!!!

Overall Grade: F+

Sunday, July 4, 2010

16 Hilarious but Slightly Weird Thoughts

The last post was super serious, so I've certainly gotta lighten the mood. And so I compiled 16 hilarious thoughts from a few comedians (Demetri Martin, Dane Cook, etc.) and myself. Now granted, I have a warped sense of humor, but if you don't laugh at at least 5 of these, then you have NO SOUL!

16 Hilarious but Slightly Weird Thoughts

1) I wanna make a jigsaw puzzle that’s 40,000 pieces. And when you finish it, it says ‘GO OUTSIDE!!!’

2) The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.

3) Barbie sure has a lot of nice things for a girl whose knees don't bend

4) “I like parties, but I don’t like piƱatas because the pinata promotes violence against flamboyant animals. Hey, there’s a donkey with some pizzazz. Let’s kick its ass. What I’m trying to say is, don’t make the same Halloween costume mistake that I did.”

5) A drunk driver is very dangerous. So is a drunk backseat driver if he’s persuasive. ‘Dude make a left.’ ‘Those are trees…’ ‘Trust me.’

6) I was making pancakes the other day and a fly flew into the kitchen. And that’s when I realized that a spatula is a lot like a fly-swatter. And a crushed fly is a lot like a blueberry. And a roommate is a lot like a fly eater.

7) I think it would be cool, if you were writing a ransom note in Microsoft Word, and it popped up, the paperclip and said, “It looks like you’re writing a ransom note… need some help?"

8) I wonder what the word for dots looks like in braille.

9) My friend had a burrito. The next day he said, “That burrito did not agree with me.” I was like, “Was the disagreement over whether or not you’d have diarrhea? Let me guess who won.” “I tried to reason with it, I insisted, you know. I was like, ‘I wanna go outside, I like these pants, but the burrito had his way.’”

10) While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and
instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

11) Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their
profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got
the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if
I do!

12) There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are
going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

13) I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not
seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

14) When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she
hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light
internet stalking.

15) Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising
speed for pedophiles.

16) How in the hell do you fold a fitted sheet???

The Gross Immorality of Nazi Arizona

On April 23, 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, whose great grandmother came to the United States as an immigrant in 1886, signed SB1070, a bill aimed at identifying, prosecuting, and exporting illegal immigrants.

The law would give police the power to question anyone suspected of being an illegal alien, and it would require that all aliens carry documents to prove their legality. Opponents of the bill, and even some Arizona police chiefs have questioned its morality, calling it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics.

President Barack Obama stated before the bill's signing that it is not only unconstitutional, but threatens “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

Now, it is commonplace during a time of economic recession that state and/or federal governments demonize an enemy within. The following paragraphs provide unmistakable examples and consequent comparisons of just that.

A Tale of Two States:

In 1939, there were 70 million people in Germany. 500,000 were Jews. For decades there had been Jews in Germany--living, working, and contributing to the economy. No one made a big deal. But an economic crisis came. Germany had hyperinflation and double-digit unemployment. None of these woes were attributable to Jews. Politicians in Germany seized the occasion to demonize an "enemy within." Jews were identified in Germany as the source of various ills--to distract from the real issues Germany was facing.

Arizona In 2010 has 6.5 million people. 500,000 are illegal aliens. For decades there have been illegals in Arizona--living, working, and contributing to the economy. No one made a big deal. Then an economic crisis came. Arizona had a wave of foreclosures and double-digit unemployment. None of these woes were attributable to illegals. Politicians in Arizona seized the occasion to demonize an "enemy within." Illegals were identified as the source of various ills--to distract from the real problems Arizona was facing.

There's another instance of economic downturn fueling hatred towards a minority.

The Great Depression of the 1930's did demonize an enemy within. Although it's not widely discussed due to a then-present status of second class citizenship-only available to minority groups , hostility towards African-Americans hit an all time high as they were perceived as taking many of the few available jobs, due to a willingness to work for smaller wages. This was of course propaganda aimed at diverting the negative emotion of the American people, but many of the politically correct history books won't tell you that.

The moral sin of Arizona's illegal immigration bill is that the counteractive measures being put in place not only single out one particular class of illegal immigrants (anyone of Hispanic resemblance), but also encourages racial profiling by law enforcement toward legals and illegals. It's no coincidence that legals and illegals are both fleeing Arizona for other states. Citizenship or not, they see the bigger picture of what Arizona is becoming. And in all the scenarios throughout history that parallel this particular situation, there isn't one that the U.S. didn't end up condemning or apologizing for. Enforcement is indeed a very necessary portion of the law cycle, but Arizona goes about it all wrong by forcing Hispanics to carry around proof of citizenship and enabling officers to question them on the grounds of reasonable suspicion. It's simply naive to think that this doesn't result in racial profiling or racism. This is the Jews of Nazi Germany being forced to wear the Star of David all over again.

In terms of finances and economy, it's not a coincidence that the most recession-proof cities are those with the largest Hispanic populations. Examples are Oklahoma City, OK, San Antonio, TX, Austin, TX, Houston, TX, and San Jose, CA, just to name a few . These cities are considered 5 of the 10 most recession-proof cities according to Forbes. What the Arizona lawmakers fail to mention is that these immigrants are contributing to the economy (cheap labor, taxes on general purchases) whether they are legal or illegal. If they are working but not receiving any benefits (social security, unemployment), does this not mean that they actually contribute more to the economy than they get back? This is not to say that the presence of illegal immigrants is justified, but if there is some correlation between immigrants and thriving economies, then it's certainly time for Arizona to stop using the 'finance' argument as a crutch.

Arizona's bill ignites old concepts of legality VS morality, as well as constitutionality of race-related bills. With any bill being passed, both legal and moral consequences must be taken into account. Almost no one disagrees with the bill's legal intentions, but lawmakers do little to consider the alienation of legal immigrants, and the anti-Hispanic sentiment that the bill creates. This law doesn't become enforced without racism taking place, and what's more, cops know it. They can provide officers with countless hours of racial sensitivity training, but it will not change the inevitability of Hispanic appearance making someone a suspect. And it certainly won't prevent those 2 or 3 bigot officers per county from using the bill as a tool for legal harassment.

Several police precincts in Arizona have refused to enforce the law even if it does go into effect, because they believe it's morally wrong to encourage what will ultimately be a pass for profiling. When's the last time you heard local law enforcement say that they refuse to enforce a law? That in itself is an indicator that the law is morally inconsiderate.

Do not simply accept the propaganda being fed to you by the media and politicians. There are almost always holes and twisted truths in any justification that they provide for an action that supports their agenda. And don't take my word for it either. Do your own research.

Wish to sign a petition to support the boycott of Arizona? Click here.