Category Archives: Society

Happy Thor’s Day

In the last couple years Americans seemed to have caught on to the fact that Thursday means – or at least sounds like – Thor’s Day. In fact it does stem from Thor’s Day but Thursday is not a one off in that it is not the only day of the week that gets its’ English name from the Nordic mythos.

It might come as a surprise to many people out there that in the English language, all the days of the week are named after a deity or thing of worship, and their roots date back to Nordic and Greek paganism/mythology.

Here is some interesting stuff you may not know about the days of the week.

Sunday

The first one is quick and easy. This one should come as no surprise to anyone, but Sunday actually means Sun Day, or day of the sun. At least in English. On to the next day.

Monday

If the first one was the day of the sun… wait for it. Monday comes from Moon Day! This is also the same in Spanish – Lunes – and several other Latin languages. Even the Germans call it Montag.

Tuesday

Tyr got a day of the week and Loki got didn't? I call bullshit.
Tyr got a day of the week and Loki didn’t? Ain’t that a bitch?

Okay, let’s get on to the interesting stuff. Tuesday through Friday all get their names from the Norse calendar, so what the heck does Tuesday mean? Tuesday comes from Teiw’s Day, which comes from Tyr’s Day. And just who is Tyr? The history is sketchy and often contradictory, but the popular consensus is Tyr was Thor’s brother. Nudge, nudge, Marvel! I hear a sequel coming on.

Wednesday

Moving on through the Norse pantheon we arrive at Wedne. Wait huh? All those Scandinavian languages are weird. I’ll cut to the chase here, but Wedn actually comes from Odin. Odin -> Woden -> Wedn. Aside from the d and the n, this one seems like a bit of a stretch but you gotta trust me on this. Or visit Wikipedia.

Odin banishes thou from Asgard for saying Happy Humpday!
Odin banishes thou from Asgard for saying Happy Humpday!

Thursday

Come on. The name of the blog didn’t give this one away? Thursday means Thor’s Day. Next!

Friday

If Wednesday was the day of Thor’s dad, then Friday ought to be the day of Thor’s mom, right? We’ll like it or not, it is. Friday actually comes from Frigg’s Day. Most Germanic languages also reference Frigg in some way or another in Friday, whereas most Latin languages have dubbed Friday after Venus.

Thor's mom has got it going on. And did you see how she was kicking that Dark Elf's ass?
Thor’s mom has got it going on. And did you see how she was kicking that Dark Elf’s ass?

Saturday

And which one of Thor’s relatives is Saturday named after? None actually.

What gives? Saturday was the ancient Norse equivalent of their sabbath, or day of rest, just like in Judaism. SaturnAs such, they never actually named Saturday. In the absence of a name for this day of the week, most cultures veered towards naming it after the Greek deity Cronos, or as the Romans called him, Saturn (better known as Zeus’ dad). Thus Saturday means Saturn’s Day.

But let’s get back to whole sabbath thing for a second. Native Spanish speakers actually gloss over this one quite often just because it’s their primary language, but the Spanish word for Saturday is Sabado, which actually means sabbath. Cool huh?

Cool Theory, But No

One idea that I tossed around once was that the seven days of the week were literally named after their respective number of the week, assuming the week started with Monday. It goes like this.

  1. Mon = One
  2. Tues = Two
  3. Wed = Three (somehow)
  4. Thur = Fhur = Four
  5. Fri     = Five
  6. Sat   = Six
  7. Sun   = Seven

Of course this isn’t the case, but the lining up of the letters and how the first syllables sound is a very interesting coincidence? Or is it?

Interesting Facts

A lunar cycle is about 28 days, and a week is 7 days, so a week is essentially a lunar cycle broken into quarters. Why did almost every culture around the world (on all continents) decide that a repeating week schedule ought to be 7 days, vs say 14? I don’t know, but it is interesting that there are some common threads in the way the days of the week are named, whether they are Latin, Germanic, Indo-European, Indian, or even East Asian.

The common naming convention is that Monday and Sunday are almost always named after the moon and sun, respectively, regardless of where in the world you are. Tuesday through Saturday are named after the five planets in our solar system visible to the naked eye. That’s understandable, but the weird part is they are all named backasswards in the same random order.

From the Sun outward, the first five non-Earth planets are in a different order than the days of the week.

  1. Mercury – Wednesday
  2. Venus – Friday
  3. Mars – Tuesday
  4. Jupiter – Thursday
  5. Saturn – Saturday

Now I damn well better hear everyone saying Happy Odin’s Day from now on!

Firearms Every Beginning Gun Owner Should Have

In the last couple years, the prepping, doomsday preppers, and bug-out-bags have entered the common American vernacular. Shows like Doomsday Preppers, The Colony, Walking Dead, and Falling Skies have all catapulted the ‘end of the world’ to the forefront of pop culture. Zombies make for great entertainment, and we can’t help but scream at the TV and debate how each of us would be the best survivor in the post-apocalyptic world.

Guns are by no means the solution to end all solutions in an apocalyptic world. But they are a good place to start, and a lot of people have been getting into firearms lately, especially in light of political attempts to ban and restrict them.

Short and Sweet

This list is not super long, and that’s intentional. I can give you a list of 30 guns I think are ‘totally bad ass’ but it wouldn’t help.

  1. Most people can’t afford dozens of firearms
  2. Most people don’t have the space to store dozens of firearms.
  3. Even if you do have the money and space, how many guns can you physically carry with you on foot at one time?
armory
Maybe one day…

If you’re new to firearms, looking to build your arsenal, and you’re in North America, this is a short, sweet, and practical list of firearms to start your collection with.

Criteria

Forget the spinning rims. Here is the criteria I used when deciding what made the cut.

You want a firearm that is going to be:

  1. Reliable
  2. Durable
  3. Useful
  4. Practical
  5. Accurate
  6. Easy to find replacement parts for
  7. Easy to find ammunition and magazines for

Right off the bat, this list eliminates a lot of the firearms and rounds on the market. Sorry, no Uzis, Desert Eagles, flamethrowers, or grenade launchers.

9mm Luger

Firearm Type: Pistol

9mm
I own a Sig 2022. It was around $460.

Also commonly known as 9mm Parabellum, this round is the screwdriver in your tool belt. The 9mm is not the biggest round on the block, but it will tear through most heavy clothing and drop bodies just fine, though it might take a well-aimed follow up shot or two depending on the target and distance. If stopping power has you worried, that’s what God invented hollow points for.

What full metal jacket 9mm’s lack in stopping power, they make up for in carrying capacity. 9mm’s are considerably smaller than their 40, 45, and revolver counterparts, making it easier to carry large quantities of them, whether in your ruck, or in your magazine. California regulations aside, most 9mm handguns hold anywhere from 13-18 rounds with non-extended magazines.

If you know a gun owner, you know gun owner who owns a 9mm. Yes, in public, the 9mm is the butt of all jokes, but in all seriousness it’s a must have. It’s readily available, easy for women and children to handle, accurate, easily reloadable, and lethal.

Notable 9mm Luger Firearms:
  • Sig Sauer P-Series (P226, P2022)
  • Glock 19, Glock 17
  • Springfield Hi-Power
  • Beretta 92FS / Military Beretta M9
  • Springfield XD-9

.45 ACP

Firearm Type: Pistol

45
Considered the king of pistols many. At the very least, the 1911 is the grandfather of the modern pistol.

Quit your belly aching already. All the .45 loons reading this probably had a coronary that 9mm was listed first. The .45 hasn’t been around for over a hundred years for nothing. It’s a tried and tested round that has seen combat on several continents. It is the measuring tape of your tool belt, and for many 1911 enthusiasts, the round by which all other rounds are measured.

The 9mm’s older and much bigger brother, the .45, will ruin anyone’s day. Layers of clothing won’t deter this determined round, and it’ll even fight through plywood, 2x4s, and small appliances to reach its intended target.

Not quite as common as the 9mm, the .45 is still commonplace in American households and never in short supply at the local gun store. In hollow point form one shot is all you need to make your point.

But be warned. Most .45 handguns have a naturally limited magazine capacity of 7-8 rounds, making them not much better than a revolver. You have half the lead, so make every shot count, and don’t bet on suppressive fire.

Notable .45 ACP Firearms
  • 1911 .45 ACP
  • HK45
  • Glock 21
  • Springfield XD-45
By The Way

You’ll notice I did not mention .40 SW, and numerous other rounds, like .357 Sig. .40 caliber is an in between round that brides the gap between 9mm and .45 ACP. Smaller than a .45 letting you carry more rounds, but packing more punch than a 9mm, the .40 has a cult following. The problem is that outside of law enforcement, .40 SW is not very common. Of the 50 or so gun owners I know, just two own a .40 SW, and lo and behold, they both work for the Border Patrol. In my experience, its on-shelf availability is unpredictable, it costs as much as .45, and hardly anyone owns one making magazine changeability impossible. They might be great during times of peace, but in times of OH S**T, you’re better off with a 9mm or .45 ACP.

12 Gauge

Firearm Type: Shotgun

shotgun
“Just get a shotgun!”

I don’t quote Joe Biden often (or ever), but he had a point. Just get a shotgun. I don’t mean to be sexist here, but women and kids probably shouldn’t be firing a 12 gauge without many hours of instruction. To the uninitiated, shotguns, and 12 gauges especially, have a lot of kick.

The shotgun is the electric drill of your firearms tool belt. Shotguns are very multifaceted and come in handy in a wide range of situations.

Shotguns have 3 main types of ammunition: bird shot, buck shot, and slugs. Bird shot is great for hunting, you guessed it, birds. Buck shot is great for hunting bucks. Are you catching on yet? And slugs are great for killing anything, including Orcas. Shot guns are great for hunting, close quarter combat, and shooting through walls, locks and hinges.

12 gauge is EVERYWHERE, it’s always in stock, it’s always dirt cheap, and everyone has one. If the crap hits the fan and you can’t find any at the gun store, you’ll be able to find it on the street very easily. Not to mention, shotguns themselves are incredibly inexpensive. A very good shotgun can be bought, new, for $350-$500 at Big 5, when not on sale.

Notable 12 Gauge Firearms:
  • Mossberg 500, 930 and 935
  • Benelli, various
  • Remington 1100, 11-87
  • Remington 870
  • Winchester Super X Pump
By The Way

Again, you may have noticed I did not mention 20 gauge, and other shotgun varieties. 20 gauges area hoot and half to go trap shooting with. But availability is also the Achilles heel of the non-12 gauge varieties.

 .223 / 5.56

Firearm Type: Rifle, and occasionally pistol

ar15
A must have for any everyone firearm owner.

15 years ago, owning an AR15 made you something of a celebrity amongst your gun owning friends. These days, everyone has one, or ever three, and for good reason: they work.

True, a good AR15 might run you $800 – $1,500, but their essence is in their modularity. No two AR15’s are the same, and you can customize them to fit your specific needs. The backbone of the AR15 is the ammunition it uses.

.223 Remington, also known as the 5.56 NATO, is a great round. It’s been used by the US military since the 1960’s in every military campaign we’ve been in since. It’s accurate, long range, has adequate stopping power, is astonishingly inexpensive, and it quite possibly grows on trees.

AR15s are everywhere too, meaning there are tons of replacement parts available. The AR15/.223 is a very low recoil firearm and very light weight, making it an ideal choice for women and children.

Good enough to hunt with, and cheap enough to train with, AR15’s are great for just about everything. .223 is great for hunting anything from rabbits to medium sized deer, and people. Tougher targets can be taken down by steel core armor piercing rounds, for about the same cost. For their cost, availability, accuracy, and modularity, there is no gun/caliber combination on the market that will give you a better bang for your buck than an AR15.

Notable .223 Firearms
  • AR15 based platform
  • Ruger Mini-14
  • Remington 700
By The Way

AR type rifles come in many calibers, including 9mm, .40SW,.45ACP, .22LR, .308, and dozens of specialty rounds, making it the single most modular weapons platform ever designed.

.22 LR

Firearm Type: Pistol, Revolver, Rifle

22
A .22LR is the perfect gun for introducing children to firearms.

Last, not least, but definitely the smallest, is the ever popular .22 LR (Long rifle).

Not only should every gun owner have a .22, this should probably be the first firearm you own. .22 rifles and ammunition are very inexpensive. Ammo can easily be bought in bulk. As of January 2015, a ‘brick’ of 550 rounds is about $20 at Big 5, and it’s called a brick because it can fit in your hand.

.22’s are great for firearm introduction, training, recreational shooting, and hunting small game such as rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and birds. They are very light weight, have virtually no recoil, and therefore make great firearms for women and children. The first firearm I ever shot was my dad’s Ruger 10-22, around the age of 5.

The .22 has so many strong points it’s probably easier and shorter to name its drawbacks. In fact, there are really only three drawbacks to the .22LR; lack of stopping power for large targets, jamming, and not reloadable. If you don’t reload, and if you are smart enough to not take on a gang of marauders with nothing but a .22, that really only leaves jamming.

So, to summarize, .22LRs are inexpensive, great for training, can be used for hunting varmints, incredibly accurate out to 100 yards, quiet, low recoil, easy to shoot, incredibly fun, very readily available, and can be used for many rifles, pistols, and revolvers making it very versatile, and so small that you can carry hundreds of them without much effort or fatigue. Just make sure to clean them often, and have a side arm handy should they jam on you.

Notable .22LR Firearms
  • Ruger 10-22 (Rifle)
  • Marlin Model 60 (Rifle)
  • Ruger Single Six (Revolver)
  • Ruger Mark Series (Pistol)
  • “AR-22”, an AR-15 based rifle that shoots .22LR, or an actual AR-15 with a .22 conversion kit. This allows you to have 2-in-1.

Conclusion

Note, this is not a list of “best guns ever”. This was a list of practical firearms that people in North America should start their collections with, which is very different. In the event society collapses and Americans are left to fend for themselves, 9mm, .45ACP, 12 gauge, .223 and .22LR are going to be the most readily available forms of ammunition out there. If you have a firearm chambered in one of these that you have trained with, these are your best bets. Yes, there are other guns and other rounds, but in an emergency you want a gun you are familiar with, and know how to operate, so being trained in something that is universal is key.

Afterthoughts and Honorable Mentions

7.62×39

Firearm Type: Rifle

ak47
The AK47 is a never-fail, robust tool of awesome.

If there is ever a war fought on American soil, 5.56 is the round you’ll find the most of on the American battlefield, because of it’s widespread use by the U.S. military. And in the event such a war happens, our enemies will likely be using 7.62×39, as this is the ammo of choice for Russia, China, North Korea, and most of the United States geo-political foes. The 7.62 is not the best round. It’s as likely to key holes it is to spiral, and it isn’t the most accurate round out there, but it packs a punch and tears through wood, concrete, and flesh.

Notable 7.62×39 Firearms
  • AK-47
  • SKS
  • Saiga AKS
  • Ruger Mini-30

 

.308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield (tie)

Firearm Type: Rifle

When you graduate from shooting .223s, you can upgrade to a 30 caliber variety. While the .308 and .30-06 (pronounced thirty-ought-six) are very different rounds, they share a lot of overlap in terms of their usefulness. Both are large rounds, have been battle tested, incredibly accurate well past 500 yards, and will take down any game on the North American continent. Some of the best rifles ever designed are chambered in .308 and .30-06, such as the Springfield M1A/M14 and the M1 Garand, respectively.

m1a

Notable .308 Firearms
  • Springfield M1A and M14
  • AR10 Variants
  • FN-FAL
  • Savage Axis 308

m1garand

Notable .30-06 Firearms
  • M1 Garand
  • Remington 700, 760, 7000
  • Savage Axis 30-06

 

The Cold Hard Truth about Beauty and the Beast

Okay, let’s set the record straight on Beauty and the Beast. I loved the Disney movie since I was a kid, but come to think of it, I have a bone to pick with a few things.

Despite common misconceptions, Gaston is not the villain in Beauty and the Beast. In fact, some might even argue he was the unsung hero of the movie. Yeah, maybe he’s a weeeee bit misogynistic and self centered, but to say he’s the villain of the movie is definitely over reaching.

For in town there's only she, who's as beautiful as me.
For in town there’s only she, who’s as beautiful as me.

Let’s get down to business.

He has Good Manners

Oh, you thought Gaston was rude? You’re so ignorant. Read a book already. While your bigoted self was bumping along to Belle, you may have missed the part where Gaston exhibited his amazing manners “Pardon… ‘Scuse me… Please let me through”

Gaston is the classic gentleman
Gaston is the classic gentleman

He’s Faithful

True, he never successfully wooed Belle, but he was faithful to the idea of being in a relationship with her. At the very least, it’s safe to say he wasn’t a philanderer. Remember those three banging blonde chicks who were always drooling all over him? Gaston could have had any of them, or all of them, but instead he had his sights fixed on Belle and only Belle. Is that true love or what?

Three banging blondes
Three banging blondes

He’s Strong

He can lift three women above his head, with one arm. You won’t even find a Cirque De Solei performer who can do that.

He can break a leather belt by flexing his neck muscles. Leather, by the way, has a tensile strength of 1800 PSI, and those are conservative estimates.

And what about the casual one-hand push-ups?

He even went toe-to-toe with the Beast in hand to hand combat.

He’s Not Afraid of Commitment

Most women complain that men aren’t willing to commit to a long term relationship. Gaston proposed to Belle and even threw her a wedding, and despite customs he knew her family was struggling financially so he paid for the entire thing himself. Talk about chivalry.

Commitment? No problem.
Commitment? No problem.

He’s Very Talented

He can juggle up to six eggs at a time without cracking them, plus an egg basket.

He's roughly the size of a barge.
He’s roughly the size of a barge.

He’s got a good vocabulary. Do you know what expectorating means?

He can fire a musket three times without reloading, which is actually impossible. So on top of everything else, Gaston might be magical.

He’s a Pillar of the Community

It’s quite clear that all the villagers look up to Gaston, not only as a source of leadership, but as a source of protection. He’s arguably the best hunter in the world, and it’s his job to keep the villagers safe from wolves, criminals, and other dangers.

Imagine this scenario. The townsfolk find out there is a dangerous monster who is beating and starving women, and locking people in dungeons. He already has two victims under his belt, and who’s to say there won’t be more?

Gaston bravely leaps into action, rallying the town and summoning their courage to confront the monster threatening their town. Does Paul Revere ring a bell?

The British are- er... the Beast is coming!
The British are- er… the Beast is coming!

And more importantly, let’s not forget who asked Gaston to go to the castle and rescue Belle from the Beast. It was Belle’s father, Maurice.

The Beast is no Saint

Beast may have got the girl in the end, but just because he was romantically opposed to Gaston doesn’t suddenly make him the hero of the movie. While people say Gaston tried to imprison Belle and Maurice, it was more like house arrest. After all, they were placed in their own basement, and for a few minutes at most.

Let’s not forget that the Beast successfully imprisoned both of them, and kept Maurice a prisoner for weeks. Beast only agreed to free Maurice go, if Belle agreed to take his place, with the intention that one day the Beast might get some giggidy time with her. That’s not just sexual harassment, it’s quite possibly sexual predation.

Gaston is the bad guy? Riiiiiiggghhhhhttt.
Gaston is the bad guy? Riiiiiiggghhhhhttt.

And of course there is the physical abuse, the forced starvation, the verbal abuse, the elder abuse, and the horrible work conditions suffered upon his employees. Come to think of it, the Beast is actually an asshole.

What about Belle?

On one hand, she had Gaston. A local boy who worked hard and trained to master the art of manliness and become the ideal provider and protector any woman would dream of. He constantly threw himself at Belles feet only to be rejected repeatedly.

Yay! Spousal abuse is totally worth wealth and luxury!
Yay! Spousal abuse is totally worth wealth and luxury!

In the end, Belle choose a man who was abusive in every way conceivable. Why? Because he’s filthy rich, and lives in a giant house with maids and servants to spoil her rotten.

That should come as no surprise to anyone. Here’s a clue, in the opening scene/song of the movie, Belle refers to living in a “poor provincial town” and talks about how she despises it. So Belle doesn’t like poor people, and she considers anyone from a small town to be a hillbilly idiot. Bigot much?

In conclusion, Belle is an entitled, classist, gold digging whore, and Gaston is the fucking man.

In With the New?

I swear, I’m not against change. You might think I am, but I’m not. Change can be good, change can be bad. I don’t think it’s quite accurate to make the blanketed statement “change is good”. I think change is just change, and good or bad depends on the situation.

Some people can be way too anti-change when it comes to certain things, for example changing their underwear, or apartheid. But nowadays I feel like the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, and now people are aching for change simply for the sake of change. They want new for the sake of new.

The new norm
The new norm

I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, or simply a contemporary societal thing, but whatever it is, I’ve noticed that more and more people are adhering to the out with the old, in with the new mentality. They’ve fallen for the whole ‘new and improved’ bit. But truth be told, new isn’t always improved and sometimes changing things too often or too hastily can be detrimental.

Technology

People are constantly burning through technology and replacing it with something newer. People say “OMG! I can’t wait to get the new iPhone 6!” but in other words they are saying “I can’t wait to get rid of my iPhone 5”.

There’s nothing wrong with upgrading from time to time, but if you have owned every. single. iPhone. that’s been released you might have a problem.

Losers.
Losers.

Imagine that at one point you were excited enough to camp out front of the apple store for three days in a fucking tent in 40 degree weather to get your new phone, and then imagine that in 9 months you’d be just as anxious to get rid of that very same phone. Does anyone else find this ridiculous besides me?

And let’s not forget the ever rotating roster of iPods, televisions, goPros, tablets, and laptops.

Cars

You’ve met the car whore, right? These people, usually men, change cars more often than they change their car’s oil. It’s too big or too small. Too slow, or not fuel efficient enough. Not enough storage, or a pain in the ass to parallel park. Whatever the reason, these people’s cars have a life cycle of 18-36 months. The second that lease expires, boom, new car.

Romantic Partners

I suppose this is worse than the car whore. You may notice I refer to a lot of things as whores in my various posts. Selfie whore, car whore, attention whore. But what about real whores? I get that in some areas like LA and NY being an actual whore is a rite of passage. Not knocking on casual dating. Or even casual sex. The people playing that game have a clear directive: DTF. They know they aren’t in it for the long haul, or even the short haul. The game is get laid and bounce, fair enough.

HPV waiting to happen.
HPV waiting to happen.

But what is up with serial daters? These people are incapable of not being in a relationship. There is no such thing as being single for them. They are eternally on the rebound. As soon as they are done with one relationship, they are immediately on the prowl for their next failed relationship. It doesn’t affect me at all. But I worry for these people, because they are constantly setting themselves up for emotional disaster. I wonder if they give actual relationships a fair shake, or if they duck and run the second things get a little shaky.

Fads

Another thing people are constantly cycling through is fads. More so now at an alarming rate than ever before. Forget tangible things like say consumer goods and ya know, human beings. People can’t even commit to a damn idea these days.

Gluten free, paleo diet, the green movement, the occupy movement, juicing, kale, acai, hands up don’t shoot, the ice bucket challenge, exercise, twerking, planking, Harlem shaking. These things are short lived fire crackers that ignited with a bang and disappeared just as quickly as they arrived.

fads

Think about something like Snapchat, which literally is a photo or video taken and shared with the intent of being discarded in a matter of seconds.

In With the Old

Again, I’m not anti-change. But there’s something to be said when people are constantly getting new cars, clothes, boyfriends and girlfriends, gizmos and gadgets. They are so fidgety and anxious they are always bouncing from one thing to the next, never sticking with something long enough to really enjoy it.

People can’t listen to the radio without constantly changing the station. They can’t even listen to their own playlist without changing songs every two minutes before the current track is done.

I’ve been told my blog posts are too long, even though they would only make up 5-6 pages in a paperback novel.

When I found out about Robin Williams passing away two hours after it was announced, my friend informed me “that’s old news”. Old news? Really?

People are hanging out with one friend but ignoring them, because they’re too busy nose deep in their cell phone texting someone else.

Yeah, new can be cool. But what about things that are so good they are worth keeping around for a long time? Isn’t that worth even more? What about not moving so fast that everything worthwhile is instantaneously converted into yesterday’s garbage?

In with the new, out with the old?

Forget that. In with the old.

Friends hugging
Friends hugging

Merry Fucking Christmas

As everyone probably knows, my mom is Jewish. However it may come to a lot of people’s surprise that growing up, we never had a “Hanukkah Bush” or a “Hanukkah Tree”. Yeah, we had a menorah on the mantle, but every year we also went to the tree lot and decorated it and put an angel on top, and my mom insisted to everyone that our tree was in fact a Christmas tree. Even as a non-Christian she never had a problem having a Christmas tree. And why should she?

I’m not particularly religious. I do believe in God, but I’m very secular. Not being a religious person, I can see how Christianity, or at the very least, Christmas, is constantly being put on defense here in the US.

You have a couple people constantly taking jabs at Christmas.

Happy Holidays Trolls

A lot of us have been conditioned to say “Happy Holidays” because of years of indoctrination from HR and PR people at work telling us it’s no longer acceptable to say Merry Christmas. Oh, and you’re fired if you say it at the holiday party on Friday. Did you get the memo?

How do I describe that there is nothing inherently wrong with saying Happy Holidays while at the same time acknowledging that it’s bullshit we must say it to avoid “offending” some uptight, over sensitive pussies? I guess I just did.

Hulk smash people who say Merry Christmas!!!
Hulk smash people who say Merry Christmas!!!

As stated above, my mom is Jewish. I can’t remember her ever getting bent out of shape when an unsuspecting neighbor would tell her “Merry Christmas!” but a lot of people do. Who are these trolls that sit and wait for the opportunity to pounce on well-intended people who had no idea you were lurking under your dick bridge? “We’re Scientologists in the household! Raw raw raw! You should say Happy Holidays!”

Asshole Atheists

Disclaimer, I don’t think all atheists are assholes. And not all atheists do this, but the ones that do are so incredibly fucking annoying and douche baggy about it they get their whole section.

Some atheists just like to shit all over everything remotely religious, especially Christian related, and especially during the holidays.

“What’s that? Merry Christmas? Don’t shove your religion down my throat! We’ll let me regurgitate to you my pre-rehearsed diatribe about how God isn’t real and you’re an idiot. Take that Christmas!”

atheist

Side note, they only like to do this to Christians for some reason. You’ll constantly hear atheists say “Christianity is the cause of X million deaths and blah blah blah, fuck your religion” right to a Christian during Christmas, but you’ll never hear them say that shit to a Muslim about Islam during Ramadan.

Let me also offer up that not all atheists share the urge to suck the life and joy out of the holidays. My girlfriend is an atheist and she LOVES Christmas. She says “Merry Christmas!”, and writes Christmas cards, puts up Christmas lights on her Christmas tree, and buys Christmas presents for her friends and family.

Counter Culture Fucktards

These people are more annoying than asshole atheists. They probably are closet atheists and just don’t want people to know, so they disguise their anti-religious garb as being strictly anti-consumerism, which everyone knows is a façade.

Come Christmas time, these fucktards will tell you alllllll about how Christmas has been hijacked, and how all things Christmassy are actually rooted in paganism, or were invented by Hallmark, and therefore you’re not even celebrating Christmas. What’s their end game here? Are they hoping everyone is going to be all “Oh my gosh, you’re right. Fuck me. I guess I’ll mope around during the holidays and be a miserable little twat like you. Thanks for nudge!”

"Well Christ wasn't even born on December 25th, wah wah wah, boo hoo"
“Well Christ wasn’t even born on December 25th, wah wah wah, boo hoo”

Like really, who the hell cares? For fucks sake, we get it. You don’t like Christmas and you’re too much of a pussy to come out and say it, so instead you have to shit all over Christmas trees, and Santa, and Rudolph, and giving presents. You’re counter culture and annoying as shit. We got it. Go suck a dick already.

 

Get Over It Already

You don’t have to be a Christian to like Christmas. It’s a cool holiday! During October everyone decks their home out to look like a horror movie. In December everyone decks their home in awesome lights, snow, and furry critters. It’s like EDC for a whole month, but with hot cocoa, and without the ecstasy. People actually hold open doors and use manners, and have parties, and listen to Christmas music, and have ugly sweater competitions, and play the elephant game. Parents get to spend quality time with their kids decorating trees, and get to watch their kids eyes light up. People get to hang out with their family, and maybe enjoy that new 70 inch TV they trampled an old lady for on Black Friday. Plus, all the amazing food, and time off work/school for most of us.

If you like Christmas, keep on keeping on, and don’t feel one ounce of guilt for doing so.

If you don’t like Christmas, that’s fine, you don’t have to.

And if you like to shit all over Christmas, get a life.

Have a Merry Fucking Christmas!

ninja santa

My Take on Sons of Anarchy

I’ve been an avid fan of Sons of Anarchy since it first aired back in 2008. SOA lasted a lot longer than people expected. Series creator Kurt Sutter originally didn’t plan on the show lasting any more than 3 seasons, but with record high ratings and level of viewers, the show was stretched out to 7 seasons. I would say that with the exception of Season 3, the entire series was amazing. Here is what the show is, and meant to me. (Spoiler alerts ahead).

soa jax

Honest

Sons was dark, it was edgy, suspenseful, hilarious, bloody and violence, and at times it was even heartbreaking *cough Opie Cough*. Most importantly, it was honest and faithful. In that honesty, the show never pulled any punches. It didn’t take the easy route. It didn’t run your characters to the edge of a cliff and work up a nail biter, just to reel them back in like some bullshit CW TV show. Sons would kick him (or her) right off. Fan favorites, show veterans, women, and children. In Sons of Anarchy, nothing is sacred.

Sons of Anarchy is not dickless like Vampire Diaries

Sons of Anarchy is not dickless like Vampire Diaries

Faithful

It was faithful and ‘stuck to the script’. Kurt Sutter once had a quote on the SOA website blasting other studios for having no balls. SOA has balls. Big balls. They would go there. No other TV show would have had the balls to air anything remotely close to the Season 2 or Season 6 Premiers. It was also faithful to the viewers, and wouldn’t cut the story or viewers short, just to make filming easier. The 60 minute show would frequently air 75 or 90 minute episodes, usually 2 per season, the entire sixth season was 90 minute episodes, and the series finale crept up on two hours. Does your TV show do that?

Depth

If all you know about the show is what you’ve seen on the commercials or ads, then you haven’t the slightest idea what the show actually is. Get past the criminals, the bikes, beards, guns, skulls, and highways and show has a lot of meaning and depth to it, which I have explained below.

Religion

The show, and specifically the series finale was ripe with religious innuendo. The bread and the wine left by the homeless woman was obviously a reference to Jesus, and the sacrifice he made. Whereas Jesus sacrificed himself to cleanse the sins of his fellow man, Jax in his final days did the dirty work necessary to prevent his brothers from having to commit to sin at all. They get to live free of punishment, because of Jax’s actions. The way Jax died, arms spread out, also ringed of Jesus Christ. Heck, even Jax and Jesus both start with J, as did both of their father’s, John and Joseph. But that could be stretching.

Take this wine, this is my blood, which shall be given up for you.
Take this wine, this is my blood, which shall be given up for you.

Harbinger

After years of fans wondering “what’s the deal with that homeless lady?” Jax finally asked the question outright in the series finale.

Was she Death? Was she God? Time? I think she was Fate, but more importantly, she was a harbinger, or omen. She presented herself to numerous characters over the course of the show, but usually to Jax and Gemma. The common thread here is she always appeared just before a wave of change, such as before Jax’s mission to lead the club away from crime, or before his final rampage.

Harbinger of doom
Harbinger of doom

Death

The last thing the homeless women gave to Jax in their final encounter was her blanket, as if to give him comfort or solace. She knew what he was going to do, and that gesture reassured him of his path. Not only that, the blanket itself was instrumental in the execution (no pun intended) of his plan, before offing August Marks.

Most importantly, when Jax wore the blanket, he looked like the Grim Reaper – Death – which the show alluded to all the time. That was actually some scary shit.

Jax as the Grim Reaper in Series Finale
Jax as the Grim Reaper in Series Finale

Family

The show is all about family, and what you would do to protect them. I think this show’s answer to that question is “anything”. And what happens when one of your loved ones hurts another. The problem is that one man’s path to protect his family might cross paths with another, and when that happens, we witness anarchy.

This was no more evidenced than by Gemma’s longstanding and heated relationship with Tara, and their tug of war of influence over Jax and the kids.

soa family

Martyrdom

Martyrdom and self-sacrifice was as big a theme as any in this show. Jax and Juice selling their souls to protect the club. Tig sacrificing himself to avenge and protect his daughters. Gemma hiding her rape to keep up the morale of her family and the club. Tara sacrificing a promising career and future to love a criminal and raise his son from another woman.

But then there is the sacrifice. You know what I’m talking about. The moment that stands out tallest among them all: When Opie sacrificed himself to the prison guards to save his brothers. Without even any context, this scene was the most heart wrenching of the entire show. But why? Because Opie had already lost so much to the club. Of all the club members, he had spent the most time in prison because a fellow member betrayed him. Then Opie was set up to look like a rat, and in a case of mistaken identity his wife was viciously murdered at the hands of the club. Then, in an effort to cover it up, Opie’s father was also killed by the club president. It seems so unfair, because Opie had given so much already. But Opie also had nothing else to lose. The club was all he had, so for him self-sacrifice was the only move he had.

Opie made the ultimate sacrifice.
Opie made the ultimate sacrifice.

For those who are well read, Opie and this scene reminded me of the Boxer the horse, and what befell him, in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

Anarchy

You’d think the Sons – given their name – would be all about anarchy, but they aren’t. The Sons actually have a very organized system set up for how they handle their affairs, and deal with members and insubordination.

Despite this, the Sons do land themselves in a handful of shitty situations that at times seem very chaotic. Chaos is the protagonist of the entire series. It is amazing how one misstep, one lie, one deception, one bullet, can result in such a devastating and endless series of events.

Yeah, Sons of Anarchy sounds cool. But I think the point of the club’s name is not so much to literally mean “children of chaos”, but more likely, that we are all the byproduct of chaotic situations. Jax Teller is the show’s biggest testimony to that, and despite his actions or best intentions, he couldn’t change himself or his club. As my friend Brett tells me, a rock cannot change the river.

David vs. Goliath

This ties back into the religious innuendo, but the underdog narrative also makes for good story telling in general.

In season one, the sons are a big fish in a small pond, operating unopposed in their small, fictional town of Charming, California. They are in the minor leagues, and their protagonists are a rival small time motorcycle club, a street gang in Oakland, and some skinheads. As the show moves on, the threats escalate, and the enemies the Sons encounter get bigger and badder.

The Sons graduate, and clash with skinheads, rival MCs, the Aryan Brotherhood, the ATF, the IRA, the Russian mobs, the Chinese mafia, crooked cops, sadistic US Marshalls, Mexican drug cartels, and even the CIA.

The World Keeps Spinning

With a lot of cunning, the Sons (usually) ended up on top, by the skin of their teeth.

I think the message of the show is to keep on keeping on. No matter what adversity you face. The problems, the troubles, the confusion. Do the best you can with what you have, work hard and push through to make the best life you can for yourself, your family, and your children.

We’ll always be remembered, but the world keeps spinning long after we’re gone.

soa world keep spinning

Thankful

With Thanksgiving a week behind us, this post might seem a little ill-timed, but the hell with it. I’m posting it anyway.

I have a ton to be thankful for. Some of those things are obvious like my health, a roof, food on my table, etc., and some are not so obvious, and I want to take some time to bring attention to them, and also bring attention to some of the people I am happy to have in my life.

My Parents

I am so thankful to have my parents. Not just parents, but my parents. My parents fucking rock. I wasn’t born super rich with a billion dollar trust fund to my name, but my parents always took care of me. Although divorced when I was very young, and even though they did not always agree, my parents had a unified front when it came to raising me. Many divorced or separated parents use their children as a bartering token, or form of leverage to enact revenge on their ex. My parents didn’t do that. When my (step)mom came on to the scene, she faced the obvious challenge of being a third wheel when it came to me. But if anyone asked me today, I would tell you have 1 dad and 2 moms. Not 1 mom and 1 stepmom. And my birth mother would agree with you. I’m fortunate to have been raised in a (very unusual) situation in which my parents were able to put parenting before politics. Something truly rare these days with divorced parents. Moms and Dad, I’m thankful for you.

My Enormous Family

Most of friends have but a glimpse of the size of my family. Let me break it down to you. As its height, I had 4 grandmas, 4 grandpas (yes 4 each), 2 moms, 1 dad, 1 brother, 1 sister, 9 aunts, 9 uncles, and 20 cousins. We’re unfortunately without Grandpa Hernandez at the time of writing this, but I’m still so happy to have my enormous crazy family.

Grandma’s house on Christmas and Thanksgiving was always the place to be. Drop in any random Wednesday and you’re bound to bump into a few cousins. Grandma would say I was “too flaco” and sit me down to eat something. Score.

There was the ever abundance of relatives keeping your ass in line. It truly takes a village to raise a kid. When I fucked up, and I did plenty, I had not just 1 or 2 relatives barking at me, I had a village of relatives lecturing me to not fuck up again. And for that, I am truly thankful.

My Good Family

Out of 25 grandkids in total, you figure at least one of us would have ended up on the wrong side of the law. Nope. To the best of my recollection, no arrests, no DUIs, no gang members, no domestic violence, no drug addictions, no alcoholism, none of that shit. Even an unfathomably low level of inter-family bickering.

Am I bragging? A little. But more importantly I’m thankful that our family instilled a sense of values into us. That none of us grew up to be low lives. That we all kept our shit together in rough times, and Grandpa passing was a very rough time. And that after all these years, our reunions still fill the house with noise and laughter.

 My Role Models

I had a very big and diverse group of people who raised me, in addition to my three wonderful parents.

Fred, Todd, De Veau, Johnny and Tawny, Jeff, Steve, Tobie, Vicky, Enas, Mr. and Mrs. Diaz and countless others.

If you read this post, you know who you are. You helped mold me into the person I am today (for better of worse!). You all kept my ass in line when I was a kid and even now into my adulthood. You are all honorary parents of mine, and I am thankful for having you all in my life.

My Awesome Friends

Getting older is tough. People grow up, and grow apart, and admittedly it can be very sad. I prided myself on having a select group of close friends, vs. an endless list of “associates”. Here’s a quick shout out.

Jenny, Adriana, Anders, Becky S, Becky W, Brett K, Brett N, Brian, Candice, Fred, De Veau, Jon B, Jon VM, Louis, Melody, Nick, Ryan, Stephane, and TJ. (Please notice with the exception of Jenny that was all alphabetical, so no one getting butt hurt on me).

I haven’t kept in touch with all of you as much as I would like to, but I am nonetheless thankful to have you in my life.

My Upbringing

I’m thankful for the life lessons I was taught and raised with.

Family is important.

Respect your elders. Look out for your siblings and those younger, weaker, or less fortunate than you. Stay together no matter what.

Work hard.

Work ethic is very important. No, don’t waste your years working away, but also don’t be a lazy sack of shit. My grandparents worked their asses off for my parents. My parents worked their asses off for my siblings and me. And I’m gonna work my ass off to give my kids the life they deserve.

Do right.

From a young age I remember my mom and dad telling me to do the right thing. “Boy, always do the right thing”. Those words echo in my mind every day. Don’t rip people off to make a quick buck. Tip well. Share. Be charitable. It’s not that I’m righteous or holier than thou. I’m legitimately thankful I was raised to be that way, because not everyone was and it pisses me off.

Martinisms

My dad is Martin, and he taught me what I call “Martinisms”. Here are some of my favorite martinisms:

  • If the mind is weak, the muscle must grow.
  • Stupid hurts.
  • Two in the chest, one in the head. When in doubt, empty the clip. Bullets are cheap, life is expensive.

And of course I’m thankful for bacon and California burritos.

Seriously though, this Thanksgiving I had a lot to Thankful for. For those in my life I hope you all know how thankful and grateful I am that you are in it.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

How Not to Use the Self-Checkout Lane

What better inspiration for a blog than one’s firsthand experience of something incredibly annoying? Recently, I was at Albertson’s patiently waiting for one of the four self-checkout kiosks to become available. I waited in line for what felt like an eternity (6 minutes), because the four other patrons ahead of me had a combined IQ of 17.

When grocery stores first introduced the self-checkout kiosks, they were God’s gift to man. The inept, the decrepit, the fearful, the outright lazy, and parents with kids dared not venture into the strange land of do-it-yourself. Why spend time scanning groceries when there’s a kid 10 feet away perfectly willing to do it for me, and bag my groceries alphabetically.

But one day the unthinkable happened. The sky darkened. Stupid people became more brazen, and starting using self-checkout.

Self-checkout machines were not invented as a form of entertainment, or to raise your self-esteem. The whole point behind the self-checkout lane was (and still is!) for people with only a few items to get in and out as fast as possible. All the rules about how to use and how to not use the self-checkout kiosks boils down to one thing: Hurry the fuck up.

Have Payment and Sufficient Funds Ready

What better way to look like an ass than to be caught pants down at the kiosk, fumbling for your credit card or digging in your pockets for an extra 17 cents. The kiosk didn’t just pop out of nowhere and boom, suddenly you’re first in line and caught off guard. While you’re making your last pass down aisle 12 and begin making your way to the register, you should be getting your ducks in a row. As soon as you find yourself staring down that machine, you should be hitting the ground running, ready to scan, swipe, bag, and bounce.

Payment
Have your payment ready

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

A for effort for the people who try to be quick. But if you’re going so fast every other item doesn’t get scanned, then F for execution. You know in the slasher films where the girl is being chased by the killer, and she’s trying to unlock a door but she can’t, because her hands are so jittery she can’t even stick a key in a damn lock? That’s how you look when you try to be a show off at the self-checkout. Take it easy, and scan each item methodically. If you really want to be quick, remember this one piece of advice: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Frustrated People
The cause of mass shootings

No Alcohol

If you haven’t figured it out by now, every time you purchase alcohol a store rep has to come over, check your ID, and type in some authorization code that seems to take an eternity. Even though the store lets you, the unwritten law is don’t go to the self-checkout if you’re buying alcohol because it holds up the line. As a matter of fact, when at self-checkouts, don’t purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or any products that require you to present an ID or get help from a store clerk.

Alcohol on Shelves
No Alcohol at the self checkout!

No Produce

If what you’re buying needs to be weighed, or if you have to manually scroll through an endless list of different breeds of tomatoes, then you don’t belong in the self-checkout lane. Women tend to be the biggest offenders of this rule, probably because women are more likely to buy produce, and men are more likely to buy frozen pizzas. If you’re getting one banana, your sins are forgivable. If you’re into juicing, or it looks like Carmen Miranda is hiding in your basket, then you need to get in a regular line. The rule here is: If it has a bar-code then get it. If it requires a scale then forget it.

No Produce
No produce in the self-checkout lane

No Coupons

In this instance, women are the only offenders. Coupon collectors are already annoying enough as it is when you’re in a regular line with a skilled cashier who knows what the hell they’re doing. Imagine the frustration of everyone in line behind you as you un-crumple a million paper coupons and tediously scan each one. The whole point of the self-checkout is expedience, not thriftiness. If you want to use coupons, get your ass in the regular line.

Coupon whores don't belong in the self-checkout lane
Coupon whores don’t belong in the self-checkout lane

10 Items or Less

Yo mother fucker, I see you over there and that’s clearly 12 items.

Seriously though, be courteous. I’ve noticed people have started breaking the 10 items or less rule in the regular express checkout lane. It’s becoming the new speed limit. The sign says 65, but we all drive 70, and cops let you slide by without a ticket.

If you require the use of a shopping cart to hold your entire purchase, then you don’t belong in the self-checkout. Baskets only people!

This person does NOT belong in the self-checkout lane.
This person does NOT belong in the self-checkout lane.

Leave the Kids at Home

This is a store, not kindergarten. If you can’t find a sitter, fine. But make sure your kids are well behaved, and most importantly, don’t let your kid use the machine. Yes, you win the parent of the year award for wanting to teach your toddler how to buy groceries, but when there’s a line of people behind you, set the kid aside and make haste. Kids are slow, and if they touch the wrong button or mess up the machine, then a clerk has to come over to bail you out. Teach your kid something useful like how to file taxes, and do it on your own time.

Kids Shopping
T-t-t-today junior! Leave your brats at home

Bag at the End

It sounds counter intuitive but from personal experience I’ve found it’s usually easier and faster if you bag your items after you’ve paid. When scanning, simply place the items on the weight tray. The kiosks usually take 5-10 seconds and the end of each transaction to process your cash or credit card payment. Use this time to two-birds-it and bag your groceries while the machine is wrapping up your purchase and printing the receipt.

The New Whores of the 21st Century

Long gone are the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. You pedal your ass on the street corner and still call yourself a whore? That is so 1990’s. No, no, no. I’m not talking about actual whores / prostitutes / hookers. Whores have evolved since then. In fact, the word “whore” no longer exclusively refers to someone who sells sexual favors for money. In today’s common usage, a whore can be anyone who over indulges in something – usually something incredibly annoying. It can also mean women or men. Let me now introduce you to the new whores of the 21st Century!

Selfie Whore

The term Selfie didn’t exist last century. In fact, it was first coined in 2005, making it less than a decade old at the time of this writing. But despite selfies being so young, they have gained tons of popularity and notoriety in the “social media” world.

Now, don’t confuse a selfie with a self-portrait, as there is a huge difference. Self-portraits have been around for centuries, are tasteful, and are intended to accurately depict what’s going on. Selfies are more of a disease, in which the selfie taker feels the compulsion to take pictures of themselves from exaggerated angles and lighting, in weird or inappropriate places, poised with stupid faces, to deceive the viewer of said selfie. They also look incredibly ridiculous while attempting to take the selfie.

Just take this girl for example.

Instagram Whores

When selfie whores graduate, they rank up to become full on Instagram Whores. Why stop at taking photos of yourself, when you can take photos of absolutely everything?! Duck faces and bathroom shots are so amateur. Instagram whores have mastered the craft of taking photos of their legs, their food, their pregnant belly, the sky, and their friends’ shoes in a circle.

Remember when you’d go to Disneyland with your friends, and there would be an Asian tourist aiming their camera directly at the ground, taking a photo of the asphalt? And you would ponder to yourself “What the fuck are they taking a picture of?” We’ll fear not, because taking pictures of dumb shit has officially become the cultural norm.

Man photgraphing the ground
I’m getting the angle juuuuuuusssstttt right.

I think The Oatmeal described it best, with this list of 7 things you really don’t need to take a photo of.

Filter Whores

An off shoot of the Instagram Whore is the notorious Filter Whore. As if taking pictures of dumb shit wasn’t enough, these people have to lie about the dumb shit they are taking photos of by applying wanna-be Photoshop filters on every photo they take.

Another recent phenomenon is the use of the hashtag #nofilter. I find this particularly interesting, because people feel the need to clarify “This time, I’m not lying”. First of all, it’s interesting because most of the time people use #nofilter they are in fact still using a filter. “Oh right, I’m supposed to believe the sky is orange in your neighborhood, and over here at my house 4 miles away it’s blue.”

Beautiful sunset! #nofilter  riiiiiiiiiiigghhhhtt
Beautiful sunset! #nofilter riiiiiiiiiiigghhhhtt

I have a novel idea. How about when you don’t use a filter, you simply don’t tag your photo, and when you do use a filter, you fess up and tell everyone what filter you are using.

Hashtag Whore

That gives us a nice, smooth transition into the topic of the Hashtag Whore. Taking photos of yourself at weird angles, dumb shit, and even lying about it is not enough. No sir! The truly committed whores have also reveled in the dark arts, and learned of a new evil: The Hashtag.

Again, I’m not against hashtags. Their original function was pretty nifty, actually. By hashtagging a photo, you allow other web-goers to find similarly tagged photos and posts they may be interested in. It’s like a crowd sourced search engine. Fair enough.

But then, the true hashtag whores came out of the wood work and do this.

The most annoying couple you know
The most annoying couple you know

Attention Whore

If someone has mastered all of the above, then they are officially an Attention Whore. Attention whores engage in social media, but not to be social. Their entire existence revolves around the never ending need to seek out attention from everyone and everything by any means possible. Facebook? Sure. Instagram? Of course. Selfies? Who doesn’t! Pictures of your food? Because taste buds are so old fashioned! Filters? Reality isn’t good enough. GoPro? I’m a hero! Hashtags? The cherry on top.

Nothing is too small, stupid, or pointless to share with the world for this group. Expect pictures of everything and anything. The food, the sky, themselves, their feet, their legs, how they look in the morning, traffic conditions, their reflection, their food before they eat it, their food after they eat it, their dog, their cat, their baby, their baby bump, sunsets, and sunrises.

Attention Whore
Because what good is a picture of the beach without your feet?

Why enjoy things for the simple sake of enjoying them, when you can rub them in everyone’s face? If it exists, by golly, they’ll post that shit to Facebook and tag it to death. But fear not! If not enough people Like it, they’ll delete that shit and post it again tomorrow.

Go Fuck Your Selfie
Go Fuck Your #Selfie

 

Business Communication Part 1 – Phone Communication

I can go on for days about communication, so rather than turning this into an essay, I’ve broken this into a series of blog posts.

As part of my job, I do a lot of communicating with a very wide and diverse group of people. Some are starving college students, others are multimillionaires. Men and women, young and old, tech savvy and old school, married and single, blue collar and white collar, domestic and foreign born, first time homeowners and real estate tycoons, and everything in between. Over the years and with my experiences I’ve learned quite a bit about the dos and don’ts of business communication – what works, and what doesn’t.

This advice is not your typical “their vs they’re”, “are vs our”, “to, too, and two” spiel you can find anywhere. Assuming you are already literate, here is some communication advice you can actually take advantage of. Despite my intro, not all of this is not strictly business communication advice, but advice that will prove useful in any context.

For Part 1, the you need only relearn your ABCs, and your 123’s.

Relearn your ABC’s.

“B like Boy, A as in…. Apple, N like Nancy, C like….. ummm….. Cat?” If this sounds like you spelling out “Bancroft Street” to a stranger over the phone, then you are putting yourself and others through a lot of unnecessary trouble.

Every day I hear my clients struggle with reading off VIN numbers to me over the phone.

It’s about time you learned and memorized the US Military Phonetic Alphabet, also known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. This handy system will save you time and embarrassment when spouting off an endless series of letters. The system was specifically designed so that when reading off letters over radio transmission, it is easy to distinguish between one letter and another.

"Oscar Mike Golf! That was hilarious Sarge!"
“Oscar Mike Golf! That was hilarious Sarge!”

Military Phonetic Alphabet

The list is as follows.

  1. Alpha
  2. Bravo
  3. Charlie
  4. Delta
  5. Echo
  6. Foxtrot
  7. Golf
  8. Hotel
  9. India
  10. Juliet
  11. Kilo
  12. Lima
  13. Mike
  14. November
  15. Oscar
  16. Papa
  17. Quebec
  18. Romeo
  19. Sierra
  20. Tango
  21. Uniform
  22. Victor
  23. Whiskey
  24. X-Ray
  25. Yankee
  26. Zulu

When it comes in handy:

  • Driver’s License Numbers
  • Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)
  • Hard to spell names
  • Hard to spell street names
  • Policy numbers
  • Anything where you’re spelling out a word with tons of letters.
  • A surefire way to garner respect from military clients and peers.

A is not for Apple. From now on, it’s Alpha. Familiar yourself with all 26 letters and practice them regularly. Memorize it. Learn it. Love it.

Relearn your 123’s

Another task I do daily is collect phone numbers, street addresses, and credit card numbers. Believe it or not, there are right and wrong ways to do this.

I doubt you’re pronouncing the numbers wrong, but you could be reading them aloud the wrong way.

Do Re Mi... ABC... 123... Baby, you and me!
Do Re Mi… ABC… 123… Baby, you and me!

Credit Cards

Credit cards are conveniently broken down into four groups of four digits, with the exception of American Express. When reading your credit card to someone over the phone, make sure to read the numbers the way they are commonly displayed:

For example: 1234 pause 5678 pause 1234 pause 5678. American express displays their numbers in groups other than four. In this case, try to break them into groups of 4 anyways.

Phone Numbers

Another big one I noticed people botch often is reading off phone numbers. First of all, always read the area code. Never assume the other person knows the area code. More and more, even “small towns” have multiple area codes as populations swell. San Diego County for example has three area codes, 619, 858, and 760. Los Angeles probably has twice that.

Second, remember that people write slower than you can talk. So when reading off a number of any kind, make sure to sllllooooowwww down. The pauses let the person listening to you catch up, so they don’t have to ask you to repeat yourself.

Third, just like with credit cards, read phone numbers the way they are commonly displayed. For example: 619 pause 555 pause 6789.

Numbers In General

Do not use the letter “O” for the number “0” (zero). This can be especially confusing for alphanumeric chains where either a letter or number can possibly be correct, such as an account number or email address.

Read each individual digit. Do not combine digits to make larger numbers.

For example:

The chain “7-8-5-2” should be read “seven-eight-five-two”.

The chain “7-8-5-2” should NOT be read “seventy eight-fifty two” because this can then be misinterpreted as 70-8-50-2.

Regardless of what the number is, try to break down long chains of characters into groups of four, and pause between each group, just like you would with a credit card. This makes it easier for the person on the other end.

Conclusion

That’s it. Relearn your ABCs and your 123s. If you can do that, you’ll make life easier for yourself and anyone you communicate with over the phone.