31 December 2013

Last day of this year. Arbitrary for some and significant for others. I am somewhere in the middle. Thankfulness knows no such thing as days or years so…

1) A warm place to sleep. I’m sure this year has been truly rough for some families. There are people out there on the streets now that aren’t celebrating New Year’s Eve but are instead trying to find a warm and safe place to rest.
2) Sacrifice. At this moment it’s hard not to think about the year. I made lots of sacrifices to try and make my relationship work and it failed. I made sacrifices also when I decided to end it. Only I really know what those sacrifices are and only I can turn them into lessons. I am thankful for the OPPORTUNITY to learn from my sacrifice.
3) Cable. Surely shallow. Obviously not a necessity. However I appreciate being able to let my mind go into other places by vegging out in front of the TV.

I hope everyone has a fabulous time tonight and stay safe.

28 December 2013

Beautiful morning for a walk in the park.


1. European Starlings. Common bird for these parts. Ever since my environmental science class in high school I’ve had an eye and ear for these birds. They remind me that I’m still on the same planet and still moving forward.

2. Coffee. I enjoy it so much more when it’s from Wawa as opposed to any other place. Perfect refreshment for the winter wanderer.
3. G2V. It always gives me a good feeling when I think about how the light hitting my face was emitted from the sun 8 minutes ago. I have little tiny alien photon space travelers smashing into my beard. Reminds me of Carl Sagan. We are stardust.

26 December 2013

Great relaxing day after Xmas.

  1. My imagination. Had some great daydreams today. I envisioned what this next year will bring. I have to imagine it first before I can pursue it.
  2. Simplicity.  My new apartment has very little furniture but I did buy a fancy camping chair that reclines. So I spent a few hours reclining and watching some movies on my laptop. The simple small things in life are the best.
  3. Emma Stone. My god she is so beautiful. That is all. 🙂

25 December 2013

Happy Holidays! Few things that I am thankful for today.

  1. My brothers. Last night I stayed at my moms house so I could get an early start on making breakfast this morning. I ended up staying up late watching some TV. My younger brother Alex came home and urged me to change the TV from a documentary on lions to Family Guy. He then proceeded to bring in some graham crackers and a big ass glass of milk. I of course was envious and retrieved my own set of crackers and milk. And there we sat. Eating graham crackers and milk watching cartoons. I realized that we had most likely done this many times before in our lives. I was so thankful for that moment. Very simple but very valuable as well. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Nate was there to join us. Luckily I get to spend the day with both of them today.
  2. Good neighbors. Last night my moms neighbor from across the street brought us some cookies. They also have children our age, and now plenty of grand children. It warms my heart to know that there are still good people out there who are willing to interact and be “neighborly” 🙂 I wish them the very best of holidays and I hope it is filled with only love.
  3. A sense of order. I appreciate the fact that I live the kind of life where I want things to be in their place. I’m going to clean up my moms house before breakfast and it’s going to be so therapeutic. We will eat and enjoy each others company in a place of order.

Happy Holidays!

Why STEM-related fields and the Skilled Trades?

WE $ucceed: Beyond the Status Quo

According to the Womensphere Foundation, women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs in the United States alone. According to Gail Smith, Executive Director of Skills Canada, less than 3% of skilled trade workers are women. In the U.K., women were only 12.3% of the workforce in all science, technology and engineering occupations, including health and skilled trades in 2008. With that said, it is evident that there is a widening gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

However, it is not lack of aptitude in math or science that has resulted in underrepresentation of women in the STEM-related fields. Most research studies assert that girls score just as well as boys in secondary schools, but are still less likely than men to seek a career in science, technology, engineering or math. The reasons range from lack of female role models and support in these…

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23 December 2013

Welcome to you and to myself. I have a feeling that this is something I should have done many many years ago. At the suggestion of a friend who also looks at the world through skeptical eyes I will begin. Thanks Natalya.

  1. Life. I am aware of my existence. I look outside right now and I am aware that it is is raining because I can see it, and my brain can categorize that sight as an observation. My observation then leads to thought. That thought can now take me to an infinite number of conclusions if choose to do so. I am alive and well, which when I think about it in this sense,  has a much more deeply rooted meaning.
  2. My heart. Recently ending my long-term relationship was not something I planned on doing but HAD TO DO. My sanity was imminently at stake, and furthermore my happiness was going to be the victim. So I left. However, to my surprise I am handling it pretty well. I don’t feel sorry for myself or anyone else. My heart didn’t stop beating and neither did my ex-girlfriends. My heart does not carry emotions or flighty perspectives on my experience. My brain does that. My heart just keeps on beating without being influenced by the emotional fortitude of my brain. I’m thankful for that.
  3. My family through Facebook. I’m not afraid to admit it. I love Facebook. Since most of my family is spread across the country, Facebook allows me to experience their lives every day. All of my family members serve as beacons to my existence. I would not be who I am without them and they will never know the extent to which they have influenced me to be a better man. I cherish every moment I have with them, and I would not substitute their existence for anything known (or unknown) in this universe.

Just call me “Nigger.”

During my senior year of college, I was rounding out what was in retrospect a very valuable period of my life. As such, my room mates and I threw a party for… ourselves. After a few hours at the party I was tired and decided to hit the sack. As I undressed for bed I realized that I hadn’t yet let my dog out for the night. So I stumble down my stairs in my underwear and open the door to let him do his business. At that moment a couple of guys walk by, both white, and start making smart ass comments about my dog. Me not being one to keep my mouth shut, I proceeded to return some of the verbal jousting. Then it happened… they went there. They called me “nigger.” What I didn’t know was that some others at the party had heard this dialogue and reported it to my room mate. Now my room mate was generally a very cautious, quiet, and respectful guy. He was also a massive white MARINE. As I went back to bed, I found it funny that their best comeback was to use a word that no longer holds any weight in this society when said out of spite. I considered myself to be the winner of that particular verbal battle. A few minutes after I was in bed and I heard my room mate come into our room and grab something. It sounded like a sword being unsheathed. In my drunken exhaustion I asked him what we was doing since I couldn’t see in the dark. He said, “Don’t worry about it dude. Go back to sleep.”

What I found out the next morning was shocking. My room mate had proceeded to identify the two gentlemen and chase them down our complex with a K-bar (large knife) that he received in the Marines. When they ran into their own party he proceeded to put the K-bar through the front door and remind them that if they ever called me that again, this was waiting for them.

I’ve always wondered why my room mate was so angry and I wasn’t. He obviously was brought up to respect others and no matter what to stay away from that word. He did what he felt was right and made a statement. Now some people will criticize the violence indicating that there were more “appropriate” ways to handle that. Some people will say he didn’t do enough. I personally was flattered that he respected me enough to take a stand even if I didn’t. He didn’t want to let it go into the bag of perpetuated racism. He didn’t want it to roll off our backs as if it was acceptable. And I assure you that the two gentlemen who he went after will never forget that moment.

So what’s my point?

Over the past 48 hours I’ve been posting, re-posting, arguing, and discussing with my social network colleagues the verdict in the Trayvon Martin trial. I’ve seen extremes of both sides. From white people saying that racial profiling is exaggerated and that blacks should stop pulling the race card for something that happened in the past (slavery, Jim Crow) to black people tagging the racism card to almost everything negative or disappointing that they have ever experience in their past. I found both responses to carry low synaptic potential. So what is it if not the extremes? Where is the middle ground? What is the reality?

There is a serious institutionalized problem with race in this country. Anyone that examines the current laws for sentencing when found guilting with crack-cocaine versus cocaine will notice a disparity that cuts directly across racial lines. There are thousands of stories where blacks have been “legally” persecuted for things that whites seem to “legally” avoid. However, I don’t think there is a ring leader to this madness. Aside from the blatantly racism that exists in the mid-West, the South, and parts of the NorthEast (Boston), I think the problem exists on a totally opposite plane. Here’s why.

This thing we call “white guilt” is actually more powerful than we know. And what no one ever says out-loud is that there is such a thing as “black guilt.” Now “white guilt” comes from a generation that has grown up under the tutelage of previous generations who experienced good portions of the civil rights movement. They are unfortunately not taught to see blacks as equals (as one might think), but instead are taught to pity the black mans plight. This leads them to assume that every black person they encounter is somehow a code that cannot be understood, but must be felt sorry for. They grow up with this fear of possibly committing the most politically unacceptable of crimes. RACISM. They literally fear it to the point where they hold black people to a different, less rigorous standard. What many may not realize is that black people do the same damn thing. How?

When young black men are raised in this society, there are a large portion of them that are taught to fear police, fear white people, and fear change. All of these inevitably lead to that fear being expressed as rage. One of the biggest problems in the black community is that we have yet to figure out how to hold up our portion of the deal and demand universal excellence from our young black people. We allow “being from the hood” as a justification for different rules and expectations. The part that frustrates me the most is that we allow them to hold on to their ghetto manners as if it is directly tied to thier cultural roots. Learning how to speak appropriately and dress professionally doesn’t preclude you from going back to the neighborhood you grew up in does it? In a lot of cases it does. You are seen as a sell-out. An outsider. An “uncle Tom”. Other black youth see this judgment and when their time comes to step up and be a pioneer of progress what do they feel? Guilt. They no longer see the opportunity for just what it is, but also see it as something that they need to imprint their “ghetto” culture onto in order to mitigate that guilt. I’m witnessing that first hand in my life. Young black men reach a plateau and before they can struggle for the next step, they are enabled to remain where they are. We tell them that they’ve done good and that anyone that questions it at this point is racist and doesn’t understand the dynamics of our culture. We enable a cessation of momentum as if it’s a badge of honor. Unfortunately, what it actually does is hold back young black professionals from achieving their full potential by capitalizing on the fear and guilt associated with success. I remember being called and “uncle Tom.” I remember even in middle school being ridiculed by other blacks for how well my grades were. I remember being judged by other blacks for being in a fraternity that was mostly white. I remember wondering if I was “black enough” if I dressed a certain way, or if I was black enough if I spoke a certain way at work. Was I just uber paranoid or were there moments in my life that fed my confusion?

Now think about this from both sides. You have “guilty” whites who feel sorry for the black mans plight, and you have “guilty” blacks who are brainwashed to think success in the fullest sense is something to be ashamed of. Can we get ANYWHERE with this kind of constraint? The Obama’s of this world are exceptions… the 1 in 3 black men that will experience prison at least once in their life are the rule. And it’s EVERYONES fault.

So how can we change it. To me it’s very simple. It starts at home. Parents need to teach their children to demand excellence regardless of the situation. Teachers need to demand excellence in their classrooms. Employers need to demand excellence from their employees. And above all everyone needs to own it and not be afraid of the conversation that follows with each individual experience. How hard is it to say, “no matter what you do, treat others as you’d like to be treated, and challenge them to succeed as you challenge yourself”. It’s so simple that is makes me furious to think we haven’t figured it out yet. The president getting elected wasn’t the end of anything. It was the beginning of a conversation that had long been under the rug but the biggest thing in the room. Obama brought out all the crazies on both sides and now we can see them. We need to challenge the way they think, speak, and act. The civil rights movement was the northern star… we see it… but we still don’t understand it. And in order to reach that pinnacle of humanity we need to struggle in our journey towards it. Obama being elected president was a victory along this journey but it surely isn’t the destination for the story of America. So for me… if you’re going to tell me that you feel sorry for me because I’m black, or that I’m a sell out because I’m black and successful, then you might as well just call me “nigger” and make your true intentions known.

(these are just my opinions but I’m open to any discussion on the subject)