6/9/17 Minhaj (not menage)

It’s a unique moment in time for Hasan Minhaj. Actually every moment in time is a unique moment in time for anyone. That’s how time works. One moment is different than the previous moment or the next moment. That constant change makes staying in the present challenging to say the least. So, to put things another way, the present is presently special for Hasan Minhaj.

Who is Hasan Minhaj one might ask? And one would be forgiven for asking. You have my permission not to know. In fact, the discovery of him may even be somewhat illustrative.

Hasan Minhaj is a comedian. He’s a correspondent on the Daily Show. He hosted the most recent White House Correspondent’s Dinner, an annual celebration of free speech and the First Amendment usually, but not necessarily always (as demonstrated this year), attended by the present administration in the White House. I heard Minhaj discuss the experience of the dinner on Bill Simmons’ podcast. He also discussed his upcoming (at the time; now available) Netflix comedy special entitled, “Homecoming King.” It’s really more of a comedic one man play than a traditional stand-up special.

What makes this particular special special is that it details some of the experiences of immigrants and the children of immigrants. Experiences I cannot summon to my own memory because they do not exist for me. Luckily, “Homecoming King,” assists by laying out the unique Minhaj experience complete with visual aids to help. Images that support and emphasize, making everything more visceral.

The benefit of watching this special is that it describes a foreign experience foreign to many who might see it. The special helps cure some of the deficit a viewer may personally posses. But it does so by relating experiences and real life and real people. As a result it feels real. Funny and real. Expansive and enlightening and real. To make your own human experience presently more full you can use, “Homecoming King,” to introduce yourself (if necessary) to Hasan Minhaj. It might also help make the entire immigrant experience more real for you too. 


Freedom Friday 2/10/17 Love Your Melon!

 "I'm free. I'm free. And freedom tastes of reality. I'm free. I'm free. And I'm waiting for you to follow me."

Today, as it's occasionally known in this space, is Freedom Friday. And, as is my prerogative here, every so often I like to highlight a company or brand funneling communal effort into a community positive. By doing so, it multiplies the effect of a sale and spreads the expenditure across a wider and more positive base.

In that vein, this is Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon primarily makes very warm beanies. They've since expanded to other forms of apparel, but they began with headwear. 

Beginning that way was fitting because they're based out of Minnesota (also where my wife was originally based out of). It's very cold there very often which makes a high-quality, warm hat appropriate. However, even if you never need to brave numbingly cold weather they now offer plenty of less intense alternatives.

What they do with the money you exchange for the goods is what set them apart. They donate 50% of their profits "to non-profit partners who work in the field of pediatric oncology, fund cancer research initiatives and provide immediate support for families of children battling cancer." Two friends founded the company in college. After achieving the "goal of donating 45,000 hats - one for every child battling cancer in America - Love Your Melon set a new goal of donating 1 million dollars to pediatric cancer research and providing immediate support to children and their families...To date [they] have donated over 2.5 million dollars and over 90,000 hats." (Info taken from Loveyourmelon.com on Feb. 9, 2017)

So, I take my hat off to these purveyors of the positive by putting one of their hats on!


A part of the solution, apart from the problem

The events of the election made many happy and also many unhappy. Speaking specifically to those who are unhappy - I'm familiar with receiving unhappy news - it might be a natural inclination at first to deny it. But that ultimately won't change anything. That's just crossing your arms and pouting like Violet Beauregard. I wasn't a huge fan of Violet in the original Willy Wonka so I didn't really mind her turning violet - it's hard to sympathize with a pouter. Life doesn't always work out your way.

I think that in order to help understand the variation in our country, and in the world, it's necessary to realize that we probably create a bubble of sameness for ourselves. We criticize the "opposition" as some generalized scapegoat to others who think the same things as us. We preach to the choir about "them" being all one thing, all the same. Look at your feeds on Facebook or Twitter. Do they reflect a diversity of thought or have you expelled any questioning?

I live on the coast and don't confront issues similar to the middle of the country (like snow or ice or mosquitos ha, or rain or distinct seasons boo). If I hope to understand them and their lives then I must be open to hearing their thoughts. Only by exposing myself to those mindsets can I hope to begin to understand them. And maybe, by engaging them instead of silencing them, I can hope to shed some light on where I'm coming from too - because we're obviously quite far apart! (Notice how I wrote "apart" instead of "a" space "part" to signify a separation rather than a belonging. The latter happens a lot on social media, creates confusion, and demonstrates a lack of concern and also a lack of attention - thus undermining the importance.) By engaging we're afforded the opportunity to play the ambassador of the ideas we hold. If challenged to articluate a defense then we must examine our own reasoning too.

If losing puts you at a loss, you may well wonder

what to do now?

What to do now?

I don't know, does that help somehow?


Read a book.

Sing a song.

Take a picture.

Write a blog.


Do whatever you would normally do.

Just a little more

and a little better.


If the world feels to have conspired against you

rage hard, rage back.

Answer the world with you.


You be you and

I'll be me,

and together we'll be we.


Free to be who we are 

inspite of the craziness.

It's the simple answer 

to this fantastic, tremendous mess.


You being you

is already all up to you.

But because of this very fantastic, very tremendous mess,

you mean even more.


You being you is essential to do,

and being you rages back

against any lack,

against any sameness or attempted conformity.

Against this really fantastic, really tremendous mess.


You being you combats the idolatry of he.

So you should inject a bit more in your you 

in the face of this fantastic tremendous mess.

And hopefully the you and the me will eventually meld into a we.

In any case, you'll be someone we need desperately.


And just as importantly,

what not to do.

Don't quit.

Be true to being you.


But have a little awareness too

that you aren't everything.

You don't know everything

just like those in charge don't either.


We have to work with people with whom we disagree.

We might have to coax others to accomplish anything.

Don't push them away,

show them the right way,

by living how you want the world to be.


Losing still provides an opportunity.

Changing anything is always slow

but it provides the opportunity to show

and hopefully a chance to lead by example

and ultimately a chance to grow.


The sadness and despair of everything

might end up a good thing,

might end up a motivation,

might end up ultimately a catalyst,

for a stronger, a more informed, a better you.


You be you and I'll be me.

Together, you and me, and many others make we.

And together, we can!





Freedom Friday 5/13/16 (It's Friday the 13th Woo ooo)

I remember watching the movie “Independence Day” over and over when it came out. The year? I don’t know. Awhile ago? Oh, they call it the War of 1996 so I would venture a guess of around 1996. Yup, and it’s the 20 year anniversary (!) so, again 1996 makes sense. The movie was the type of big, meaningless, summer blockbuster that doesn’t exist much anymore (or maybe it does and I don’t see them). It was fun filled, entertaining, and action packed. Also, it contained one of the most inspirational motivational speeches ever, the Independence Day speech, given by Bill Pullman playing the President. I had fun watching and my expectations didn't extend beyond that because most childhood expectations never do. 

But now, a new film is coming out which raises kind of a valid question. What would the world look like in the aftermath of events like those portrayed in the original “Independence Day?” I don’t know. I must say that I never really considered it, but I’m interested to see the film’s take on the subject. Hopefully it’s just as fun filled, entertaining, and action packed as the, now 20 year old (?), 1996 film was. Hopefully I enjoy watching this as much, or close to as much as the original.


Sadly I doubt I will. But, one can hope. I can hope to suspend my now grown-up-disbelief (twenty years later!). In turn, I can also hope that the film meets me halfway, providing something worthy of that suspension of disbelief. That’s actually a lot to ask. Something that can return me to a time with fewer cares. A time with fewer burdens. A brief resurgence of the bliss of ignorance? For me, that's the resurgence being sold here. I'm skeptical but we'll see.

Freedom Friday 5/6/16

I was entirely unaware of this up until I was aware. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? Yes. I’m pretty sure it does. It creates waves that we are capable of detecting. And if we can’t hear it does it still make the waves? Probably yes. We obviously can't be absolutely sure of anything unless we witness it first hand but we can look at the evidence. Every falling tree always creates audible waves because physics. 

And just like I am pretty sure that a tree that I don’t necessarily hear makes a sound when it falls, I am also pretty sure that Patton Oswalt feels loss and pain. Just because I was unaware doesn’t change his experience of events. It doesn’t mean he was any more or less sad. With the same reasoning, historical events were real things that happened to real people like you and me.

And now I am aware. Now I can witness and can pass along the news. Side note, his devastation after loss of a life is obvious. I’m making somewhat of a jump, but I think that most people’s lives are fairly equivalent, at least they have similar potential. So, the loss of Patton Oswalt’s wife equates to the loss of life for anyone. Deaths that occur endlessly leave “craters” in lives.




Ehh. But that’s all very heavy stuff and I don’t want to weigh you down too much heading into the weekend. As R. Kelly profoundly sang out, “it’s the freakin weekend baby, I’m about to have me some fun.” On that note:


A horse walks up to a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?”


Freedom Friday 4/29/16

When I go out to a bar or a restaurant, I usually try to wait as long as possible to use the facilities. First of all, “breaking the seal,” is the truth. When out for drinks or having drinks with dinner, the number of trips, at least in my experience, to the restroom increase significantly after the first. But also, the later in the evening the worse the state of the premises has grown so it’s really a catch-22. After delaying the trip as long as possible one must eventually succumb to nature’s loudly escalating call.

Locating the restroom at all may initially provide challenge. If you’re lucky, a cohort already used it and can inform you of the location. If not, an employee of the establishment must be interrogated. 

The restroom almost always hides somewhere in the back (out of sight out of mind I guess?). Some establishments take this proposition to the extreme. "Extreme" usually involves stairs, up or down. Also, some require a key for entrance. I guess it makes sense for them, giving them more control and limiting the use, but it’s also a large hassle for the customer. The most difficult experience I’ve encountered in a bathroom odyssey was a bathroom located across the building, up the stairs, through a second restaurant, and down a back hall. 

“Where’s Jim?” 

“Oh, he went to the bathroom. He should be back in an hour or so.”

Happily I didn’t need a key once I finally arrived at that one, but I don’t really think the bathroom needed a lock and key given the distance required. I’m surprised I didn’t find bodies of the unsuccessful along the way marking the path like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. If we planned on staying much longer I might have needed to start my next departure as soon as I returned to the table.

However, once finally located, entering the bathroom might provide, upon entrance an added surprise. Sometimes, a nice gentleman (I’m assuming it’s a lady in the other room though I’ve never been) stands next to the sinks, dressed in the official uniform of an employee, with a basket or tip jar on the counter containing cash, and an array of mints and gum and cologne and I don’t know what else near the faucets. Upon discovering a bathroom attendant the loud and audible groan reflects my sudden and immediate distaste (why is it audible? I thought it was only in my head. You can hear that?).

No better way to treat the customers than making sure that using the restroom includes the opportunity to impose guilt. Obviously (hopefully) the attendant would not choose to spend free time in the bathroom. But now they are there, folding hand towels, waiting to pump soap. I hate it. It gnaws at my soul. The entire point of the establishment is to promote the eventual use of the restroom. Now once you, a paying customer, the lifeblood of the business, finally acquiesce, you confront someone doing everything but blatantly asking for your money in exchange for use. 

Additionally, it hurts knowing that plenty don’t tip the bathroom attendants. They escape a feeling of obligation through coarseness (at least I end up seeing it that way). The business basically monetarily rewards those crass and indifferent to others while sticking me with the charge. Sometimes the dirty scofflaws don’t wash their hands to avoid an awkward encounter. That’s even worse! Now they’re dirty jerks, brought to you by this place! It’s like the people who go to the farmers' market to try all the samples with no interest in actually buying anything. To them it’s just a free meal. Yeah, I know that’s my problem, not theirs (except for the dirty hands, that's everyone's problem). That I’m probably too sensitive, I overthink it, and I feel too much of an obligation, but my problem frustrates me! I hate when I’m made to feel feelings!

That being said, if I owned a bar or a restaurant, I might employ a bathroom attendant. 'Say wha?' I’ve cleaned bathrooms at bars before. I’ve also been in unattended bathrooms many many times. At the end of the evening bathrooms are a total mess. Unbelievably gross. Having someone there immediately makes users more considerate. If you're speeding down the highway and you see a police car you immediately slow down. Just the knowledge that someone might be actively watching completely changes the behavior of most. On top of that, I can’t imagine a bathroom attendant makes a significant base salary. The shaming tips must constitute a good portion of take home pay (which is why tipping the attendants should happen when it can and why others not tipping is infuriating). That means it probably doesn't cost the establishment a terrible amount in exchange for a much cleaner restroom.

So, what would I suggest, given both the usefulness of bathroom attendants and my utter distaste for them? I would suggest no tip jars. I would suggest they keep the premises clean and they get paid a reasonable amount. I would suggest that the customer sees them upon entrance but doesn’t have their services paraded before them upon exiting. I would suggest that using the restroom should be pleasurable just like all aspects an establishment seeks to provide patrons should be pleasurable.

How to eliminate the feeling of obligation to tip? I don’t know. Write it in the menu and put it on a sign in the bathroom. Culture will eventually change because that’s how it came to be in the first place. I didn’t even know these positions existed until coming from, I guess, the provincial to the more metropolitan and now I still prefer places that don't employ them. They are not a necessary part of business they are an element of a business strategy. I suggest changing that strategy.

Freedom Friday 4/22/16

I don’t know if you heard the news, but Prince died yesterday. If you didn’t, I’ve got some bad news, Prince died yesterday. Prince, the musician adorned in purple, not some foreign royalty. His death forced me to concentrate on him rather than putting forth the other Pulitzer worthy material I originally had ready to go. 

Prince was only 57 or something like that. I didn’t know of any serious illness except the flu or pneumonia kind of recently, I think. Those factors were just a few that served in making the occurrence a fairly big surprise. No one saw this coming.

But also, one big factor serves to make it not at all surprising. Sad yes. Surprising no. The factor is something that we all kind of ignore as long as possible. It only happens when expected, right? That is, WE ALL DIE.

Every single one of us dies. Everyone you have known or will know dies. Even Prince, whose amorphic nature seemed to exempt him from some of the basic human qualities, he died. He was subject to the same rules and, as such, suffered the same fate we all will, thus proving his humanity.

Rather than be surprised at how a life came to an end we should admire the depth of the accomplishment with in that life. I only single out recent famous deaths because those life’s events may be more well known to more people. Specifically look at Glenn Fry, David Bowie, and Garry Shandling. In some ways all these deaths were also surprising. In others they weren’t. But regardless of expectations, look at all they each accomplished in their times and how, if you even tangentially know of them, they somehow touched your life through their work (I’m assuming that you weren’t close friends but I guess who knows). Point is, they each were subject to the same fate as you. No one really knows what continued influence these sound and style servers might have levied. One can predict by projecting the past on the future but all one can really know is what actually happened.

Speaking of predicting, one predicts by looking at repeated behavior from the past and then transferring that behavior to the future. So, since 100% of people have died, one could, to a high degree of certainty, predict a person will die. That, close to certain, outcome dictates that we should change our perspective from one where a death is a surprise to one where, because of assumed death, continued life is a surprise. Then the output from the sum of all the days that didn’t result in death is, in fact, surprising.

The end result is still the same. We are still astounded by the accomplishments achieved in the life. But now, due to a change in perspective, we are surprised by the life instead of surprised by the death. 

I feel like that perspective may serve to improve every moment this weekend as it happens instead of solely reflecting upon moments after the fact. So go forth, now armed with a fresh perspective that Prince provided, and savor each moment as they happen because you will die someday, it’s pretty much guaranteed.

Freedom Friday 4/15/16

This section for weeks and weeks, at least two, was named philosophy Friday. But, I found even that loose framework too constricting. I now say to forget it. That's beyond my attention for Friday. Henceforth, I’m changing the framework, as is my prerogative. Now, here I will be calling Fridays, Freedom Friday. (Not similar or connected in any way to freedom fries which was a stupid thing for a while.) I could still sometimes discuss some sort of philosophical quarries on Friday but now, if I don’t feel like it, I don't have to, because it’s Freedom Friday. Just like on Wednesdays, this new framework allows for a little more freedom. Forgot the framework because Friday is now Freedom Friday.

Haaa. Exhale. Ooooh. Are you tense? Probably. I know. I know. It’s easy for life to beat you down and run you ragged. To overwhelm you. To make you feel like you're drowning. Like you're always walking through an endless, rainy, film-noir alley. It's dark and shadowy. Uncomfortable and infrequent wind gusts. Maybe a little wet with sporadic puddles. Luckily an antidote to the relentless pelting of the world exists in the form of cuteness. It’s hard to be daunted by too much when there's this:


Cuteness! The cure all for despair. And the embodiment of cuteness also arrives here:


Freedom Friday 4/8/16

Freedom Friday 4/8/16

April 08, 2016 in Freedom Friday

Life involves sucky things. Most people try to avoid them as much as possible, but as far as I can tell, no real way exists to completely avoid all the bad stuff.

With that in mind, competitions often result in your side losing. It’s unavoidable. But, due to the way competition works, it’s not absolutely guaranteed. Each team starts with zero points and nothing demands that one team scores more points than the other. Because the outcome is not pre-determined a comprehensive statement regarding the possible outcome cannot accurately be made. 

After losing, friends, family, fans, and other cohorts console by placating, “well, you can’t win them all.” LIES! You can! You can literally win every single competition you take part in. That's how competitions work!

When you lose, others try to make you feel better. In order to accomplish that they try to make losing seem inevitable. You shouldn’t feel as bad because you had no ability to determine the outcome. 

Truth is, losing just stinks. It’s an almost guaranteed part of life and we all are in the process of living life. Telling you that you, “can’t win them all,” intends on protecting your fragile ego but it does so by denying your humanity. It tells you while you’re already upset from losing that, by the way, you’re also not capable of determining your own life. 

The impetus for the statement is kindness. Of course those saying it mean well, but the implication of that statement is predestination. It insults your humanity by presuming the inevitability of sucky. Losing means you're human. Losing is real. If you like being human you should probably like to lose too.

Freedom Friday 4/1/16

Freedom Friday 4/1/16

April 1 in Freedom Friday

A commercial on TV, it might be for a lawn fertilizer or something, I don’t know, anyway, a commercial shows two neighbors in their front yards. One laments the poor growth of his yard. The other neighbor tries to console by espousing the fortune cookie wisdom that “the grass is always…” before suddenly stopping, realizing that his green grass literally is the source of his neighbor's depression.

This ad, probably in an attempt just to be punny, unintentionally prompts many important ideas about self, one of them being perception. 

I propose that the green yard next door is in actuality responsible for zero of the depression. Instead, it’s the feelings of comparison and assumed judgement that create the sadness. 

‘We’re neighbors, we’re basically the same. Why are our lawns so different? It’s almost the exact same dirt but his lawn is better. Maybe he’s just be better all around.’ 

But, once we reach the realization that the neighbors thoughts on the lawn have no actual affect on us we grow free of the perception of his judgment. (Unless the neighbor in some way tampered with the grass, then there’s a whole legal recourse that should be investigated, but barring that, the neighbor and the neighbor’s lawn don’t bear any responsibility.) 

Practically, you only possess two options if you want a different result. To either do more or do less. If you feel you’ve done enough then you should be indifferent to any jealous feelings. If you feel that you need to do more, didn’t room to do more exist before seeing the lawn next door? A person confident in decisions would not need the added influence of the neighboring property to change things.   

In fact, thinking further about this advertisement, a confident, self assured person should not buy this product at all. This product only appeals to lacking and flaws in your self confidence. Paraphrasing another commercial, “Don’t be like…” jealous and coveting you, be like confident you! Your yard is good enough the way it is. You do you.