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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 comic book world went berserk last week when the official trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (AOU) was released. It went even crazier when the extended trailer showing the Big 4 of the Avengers and all their comrades gathered at Starks pad, drunkenly trying to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir.
Let’s start with the extended trailer, which you can view below:
At 2 minutes and 30 seconds, this is most definitely an extended trailer. 150 seconds of lure and reeling, attention grabbing, blue balling amazement.
Let’s start from the beginning.
The Avengers New Robes, I mean Headquarters
In the opening scene, it’s safe to assume the Avengers are hanging out at Tony Stark’s pad, or somewhere in Stark Tower. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, except that in the comics, Stark Tower was one of the official Avengers’ Headquarters. In the comics the most well known of the Avenger’s headquarters is Nick Fury’s flying fortress, formally known as the Helicarrier. The Helicarrier made its first appearance in The Avengers (2012), and then again in Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014).
In the comics, the Avengers then relocated to Stark Tower as their primary base of operations. Again, who cares, right? Wikipedia concisely summarized it nicely, by saying “The Avengers have relocated to Stark Tower, although it is unknown how permanent this move will be, especially in light of the events of Marvel’s Civil War storyline,”
Boom! Right there! Did you catch that?! No? Basically, this is foreshadowing Marvel Civil War, which is a huge story arc in the comic book. On top of that, Marvel has confirmed that that Civil War will be introduced into the MCU in Captain American 3, set for 2016. How close Marvel will stick to the comics is yet to be known, but we’ll definitely get a taste of it in AOU.
The Who’s Who
Get ready for one of those most star-studded casts ever. Marvel brought their A-team for this movie, and the who’s who is going to be there, including: Captain American, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, and Nick Fury, plus we’ll be adding Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and The Vision to the mix. Even Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) is making an appearance.
If IMDB is to be trusted, we’ll also get to catch glimpses of Loki, Agent Peggy Carter, and Heimdall. Internet rumors also mention Natalie Portman reprising her role as Jane Foster. So whereas the first Avengers merely brought together the title characters of the respective franchises, the second Avengers will be bringing together secondary and tertiary characters as well.
Whether or not Falcon will make an appearance is yet to be confirmed. I enjoyed his character in Winter Soldier, and hope he at least makes an appearance, if not suits up entirely. I’m also crossing my fingers that Agent Coulson will break away from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a moment and finally come back onto the silver screen.
Captain America is Worthy
Were you paying close attention to the opening scene at Stark Tower? If you blinked you may have missed it. Hawkeye believes that the whole “being worthy” thing is some kind of a parlor trick. In an attempt to punk Thor – and rule Asgard – Tony Stark attempts to lift the hammer, followed by the remaining ensemble. For a brief moment, Steve Rogers (Captain America) actually managed to slightly move Mjölnir and the look on Thor’s face is priceless.
Yeah, so what? This is tantamount to moving the sword in the stone. Remember, you have to be worthy. Say what you will about Cap, he’s a good guy, and certainly worthy. In fact, it is official Marvel canon that Steve Rogers did lift Mjölnir in the comic books. Will we get to see some Captain America -Mjölnir action in Age of Ultron? This screenshot from the trailer of Thor dropping his hammer foreshadows that maybe we will.
Trivia: When offered to try her luck at wielding the hammer, Black Widow replies “That’s not a question I need answered” assuming she would fail, but in the comic books she is one of the few people who has lifted it, alongside Cap.
There are No Strings on Ultron
This trailer was chock full of obvious Pinocchio references, for those who didn’t have a good childhood and steady dose of Disney movies growing up. When Ultron makes his first appearance as a ravaged Stark prototype, he says “How could you be worthy? You’re all puppets… tangled in strings.” That’s the pot calling the kettle black, as Ultron walks hunchbacked, tangled in electrical cables himself. Of course, I think he was being metaphorical.
But later in the trailer we see a more advanced, personalized version of Ultron, string free. In the final scene, Ultron says “There are no strings on me” which is a direct quote from a song on Disney’s 1940 animated film Pinocchio.
In fact, if you have an ear for it, you will have noticed that the creepy music playing in the background of the entire trailer actually is a rendition of “I’ve Got No Strings” from the animated Pinocchio film – albeit incredibly altered. Additionally, Disney owns the rights to Marvel and of course Pinocchio, so this is a clever injection of cross-branding.
Who’s Pulling the Strings?
What was Ultron referencing when he made his crack about puppets and strings?
This was a jab at the Avengers, who have been toyed with frequently throughout the movies to do someone else’s dirty work, whether by Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., or HYDRA. Recall a couple events, such as when Loki tells Black Widow “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers”, or in CAWS when Captain America claims “I’m getting a little tired of being Fury’s janitor”, or even all the way back to Iron Man, when Tony found out he had been designing weapons, that due to Obadiah Stane had been falling into the hands of terrorists. All of our heroes are starting to learn that it’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and to know if you’re doing the right thing or not.
We’ve had some big baddies like Abomination, Red Skull, Hydra, Obadiah Stane, Justin Hammer, Aldrich Killian, Loki, Ronan, and now Ultron. But let’s not forget that Thanos, first revealed at the end of Avengers 1, has been quietly working away in the background. Thanos was the character behind Loki’s attack on New York, and Ronan’s quest for the 4th Infiniti Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy. We know he’s pulling their strings, but is there anyone else in the Marvel Universe doing his bidding?
We also get a brief glimpse of Loki’s staff, which has the Mind Stone he used to possess Hawkeye. If there is an Infiniti Stone on Earth, Thanos or his goons won’t be far behind. Is it possible that Hydra is on the payroll? Probably not, but it’s a curiosity.
The one thing we can almost be sure of, is that of all the villains, Ultron has no ulterior motive. He’s acting on his own.
Ultron Then and Now
In the comics, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, AKA Ant Man. In AOU, it’s commonly accepted, and quite obvious, that Ultron is the creation of Tony Stark. This was a huge leap for comic book purists, but from a movie stand point, and from a practical story telling standpoint this was the logical decision to make.
Ultron from the comics
Recall Iron Man 2, in which Justin Hammer created an army of un-manned suits, inspired by the Iron Man armor. Then in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark created his own collection of un-manned suits, each with a different purpose or specialty. These suits also had a slight degree of autonomy and decision making abilities. A common thread in all the films with Iron Man has been the presence of Tony’s artificial intelligence personality, Jarvis, or J.A.R.V.I.S. My guess is that Tony attempted to make more suits based on his own, with autonomy and AI based on Jarvis. Some how, the programming became self-cognitive and manifested itself into Ultron.
To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Hank Pym/Ant Man does not make an appearance in AOU, but Marvel has in fact confirmed that there will be an Ant Man movie starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglass, slated for theaters July 17, 2015.
How will Marvel Cinematic Universe tie Ant Man into the Ultron story line is any one’s guess. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.
Another piece of trivia for the road: In the comics, Ultron at one point constructed himself of adamantium, the same nearly indestructible metal used in Wolverine’s claws and skeleton. Disney does not have the rights to the X-Men, and Fox does, so it is very likely that Marvel will tweak the story and substitute adamantium for vibranium, the same material found in Cap’s shield.
I mentioned Iron Man 3 and Tony’s extensive collection of custom suits. It was rumored when IM3 was released that one of those suits could have been the notorious Hulkbuster Armor. In the comics, Tony Stark devised a special suit of armor that was incredibly strong, for the sole purpose of being able to subdue the Hulk, should his rage ever become uncontrollable and pose a danger to the public.
Marvel finally blew its load and gave audiences what it has been begging for, and they didn’t fail to impress!
This is cool and all, but it poses as many questions as it answers. Comic book fans finally got to see the Hulkbuster armor, so the next question is, will we get to see the World War Hulk story line played out?
Long story short, in the comics the Hulk goes berserk and endangers a lot of people. To prevent similar tragedies from reoccurring, S.H.I.E.L.D. sends Banner/Hulk into space with the intention of marooning him on an abandoned planet, where he can’t harm anyone. As fate would have it, Hulk accidentally crash lands on a planet called Sakaar with intelligent life. There, he is thrown into a gladiatorial type slave fighting arena. He fights his way through the ranks, leads a rebellion, and eventually becomes king of that planet.
The story may seem farfetched, but with Marvel releasing the interstellar Guardians of the Galaxy, blowing the lid off Thanos, and diving deeper into the space bound realm of Thor/Asgard, a spacebound Hulk story might be workable. Especially if they could use the story to intersect the Guardians and Avengers franchises, for an eventual team up against Thanos in Avengers 3 or Guardians 2.
Everyone Hates Tony Stark
Movie audiences love the fast talking Tony Stark. But comic book fans historically do not, and neither do the fictional characters of the Marvel Universe. MCU seems to be on par with the comics in this regard.
Looking Past Ultron and the Avengers
Ultron may be a bad ass villain, and off the charts compared to his villainous predecessors, but he is hardly the last of the Avenger’s concerns. Avengers: Age of Ultron is not the last Avengers movie Marvel will make. It’s not even the second to last Avengers movie they’ll make. Marvel has at least 10 more movies set for theaters between now and 2028, all part of the same continuity/canon known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU.
We’re going to see a lot more of the current lineup. Captain America, Thor, and Guardians all have sequels coming up. Marvel is also going to be introducing a lot of new characters, and it’ll be interesting to see if they pop up in the upcoming Avengers. The list of potentials is Steven Strange / Dr. Strange, Hank Pym / Ant Man, Black Panther and even The Inhumans, all which have been officially confirmed movies. Might one of these heroes come out of the wood work to help save the world from Ultron?
In all likelihood, Marvel will tie in to Ant Man, somehow. He might not be credited with creating Ultron, luckily for him, but considering his movie is coming out just two months after AOU and will still be fresh in everyone’s memories, he should at least get an honorable mention in AOU which then leads into his backstory.
The Long Haul
One thing is for certain, Marvel has pulled out all the stops. This will be the first time since the last Avengers that audiences will get to the Bruce Banner Hulked out. This movie is also paving the way for the Captain America-Iron Man fueled Marvel Civil War. And we’re almost doubling the number of heroes we’ll get to see in a single movie.
We’ve got 7 nail biting months until Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters in May 2015. In that time I have no doubt we’ll learn more about the movie by way of trailers, posters, interviews with Marvel insiders/actors, and of course the occasional leaked video.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of my blogs are inspired by recent events like what’s on the news, or by something I had been dwelling on for days or even weeks prior before getting the nudge I needed (and a spare 45 minutes) to sit down and write about it.
This post is inspired by – but not about – a dream. This dream was intense because almost everyone I know or knew was in it. People from various circles of friends, and relatives from different families, and people from different times (or decades) of my life, all hodge-podged into a single dream. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, but it felt like going through 20 years of photo albums in one go.
I woke up, mind on fire. I’ve met so many people. So many interesting people. So many different people. They didn’t all have to be from different continents, from exotic places, speaking different languages. What makes them interesting and stand out in my mind is the vast difference in personalities a lot of them had. There were so many archetypes and personality types from opposite ends of the spectrum that my Rolodex of friends, family and acquaintances could fill the pages of an award winning TV series. Something important that I realized is that they were all there for a reason. Or at least, they all served a valuable purpose, whether I keep in touch with them today or not.
The people in your life all have a purpose. They each fall into one of two camps: They are there to either teach you what to do, or they are there to teach you what not to do.
Some people are going to be messy, dirty, or unsanitary. Their purpose is to teach you to be clean, pick up after yourself, and to take good care of yourself and your surroundings. Take care of your personal hygiene. Exercise and take good care of your body. Take care of your environment, whether it’s your kitchen, bedroom, or car. Take care of the environment by not littering, not throwing your cigarette ashes out the window, and making as small a footprint as possible.
Punctual People and Late People
Some people are going to be punctual, and their purpose is to teach you to do the same. Punctuality means more than showing up on time. It means RSVPing to let people know you’ll be attending at all, and doing it in a timely manner as well. Admittedly this is an area I can improve in, and have been actively improving in.
Other people are going to be habitually late, or slow to act. Their purpose is to instill patience in you. Many events are time sensitive. Many are not. Know how to tell the difference, and only rile yourself up when absolutely necessary. Showing up 10 minutes late to a wedding is worth an earful. Showing up an hour late to a football party is not.
People with No Drive
You’ll undoubtedly cross paths with your fair share of lazy, un-driven people. How this laziness manifests can take many forms. It can be in the form of a serial couch surfer who spends hour after hour, day after day, month after month, watching way too much TV, not progressing in areas of hobbies and interest, employment, or self-improvement. This is one of the single most important types of people you can meet. They stand as a cautionary tale of what not to do. Every time you sit down to watch TV, no matter how well deserved it may be after pulling 3 hours of overtime, you’ll second guess whether or not it’s worth it.
This group of do-nothings serves a very valuable second purpose in your life, and that is to teach you to help others. It’s not your job to fix people, but every once in a while everyone can use a little help or word of encouragement. Some praise, suggestions, or motivational counsel can go a long way. Learn to reach out to others who may be in need of help. If you can help them, great. If not, then at least you know you tried.
I know a thing or two about stressful people. Actually, without knowing you, I can bet you my left leg that I know more about stressful people than you ever will. These panicking, high blood pressure inducing individuals will be one of your greatest life challenges. Everyone stresses over big things like cancer, IRS audits, colonoscopies, going for 4th down, and being kidnapped by ISIS terrorists.
Stressful people stress over things like where to eat breakfast, a flat tire, a $5 late fee, burnt toast, spilled milk, someone else’s marital problems, the color of the sky, and how far you’ve driven since they last called you 15 minutes ago.
Learning how to deal with stressful people is one of the single most invaluable skills you can master. I consider myself a double black belt in this martial art, meaning I out rank Batman.
Seriously though, stress is a killer. Stress can ruin weddings, funerals, parties, social outings, careers, friendships, and marriages. If you let stress be the prevailing emotion, you will surely be miserable. Despite how crappy or dire the situation, taking it in stride will ultimately determine your happiness.
You can’t always avoid these people like the plague, especially when they are family. But you can learn how to not get sucked into their tornado of stress, and make yourself an anchor of calm amidst their stressful storm.
Whoever first uttered the phrase “The suit doesn’t make the man. The man makes the suit.” Was a true genius. You can learn a lot from snobs. Some snobs, as snobby as they are, actually know a thing or two about their particular snobecialty, be it watches, or wine, or audio equipment. And that’s all fine and dandy. But the most important thing you can learn about snobs is this: Don’t be one.
You can drive yourself crazy heeding the insult laden, condescending advice of snobs. You’re drinking the wrong wine. You’re driving the wrong car. You’re watching the wrong movies, and you’re wearing the wrong shoes.
A $1,500 pair of Oxfords says nothing good about you. It doesn’t say that you have class. It doesn’t say you have good style. It doesn’t say you support quality. It doesn’t even say you are wealthy, or make good money. All it says is you spent an exorbitant amount of money on something you could have paid considerably less for.
Don’t spend your life trying to live up to the expectations of snobs. Remember, the suit doesn’t man the man. The man makes the suit.
You’re going to come across many different types of people in your life. Some will come and go, others will stick around for a while, and others will be with you ‘til the very end. Some people should be emulated, others should be a cautionary tale, and others should be avoided like the plague entirely.
Regardless of which category they fall into and how long they are in your lives, the people in your life all serve a valuable purpose. Learn from them.
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.
Military Phonetic Alphabet
The list is as follows.
When it comes in handy:
Driver’s License Numbers
Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)
Hard to spell names
Hard to spell street names
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you know me, or have argued with me online, you ought to know that I’m a fiscally conservative dude. People hear “conservative” and they imagine Scrooge McDuck hoarding and counting his endless piles of money while Little Timmy freezes and starves to death outside. The truth is that being a “fiscal conservative” only means that you don’t play fast and loose with your money. You avoid impulse buys, and put more consideration into purchases and decisions that might affect your financial situation. You don’t spend money on a whim. It also does not mean that you are rich.
All of that needed to be said and for good reason. I’m not a huge fan of new regulations to drastically raise the minimum wage. But no,it’s not because I’m evil.
While many people who are against raising the minimum wage claim that “Burger flippers aren’t for $X per hour! This is outrageous!”, my stance is very different. I think you’re worth whatever you can persuade someone to pay you.
If Joe Teenager can convince his manager to pay him $50 an hour to flip burgers, then by all means I support it and applaud it. Sincerely. The key word here though, is “convince”.
I don’t like the idea of strong arming someone into paying you more, especially when your employment there is voluntary.
All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties; the buyer and the seller. Imagine you’re selling you car and someone offers you far less than you’re willing to sell it for. You have the right to not sell it. Employment is no different. As an employee, you are selling your services in exchange for an income, or benefits, insurance, etc. The employee naturally wants to maximize his income, and the employer naturally wants to minimize his payroll, but unless both parties can reach an agreement, there should be no transaction. Forcing a wage on your employer is no different than forcing your neighbor to buy your car for more than he’s willing to pay for it, simple as that.
The gut-counter-reactions to this might be “But people need a job to live!” True. you may need a job, but don’t forget that businesses are not in the business of hiring people that need jobs. They’re in the business of making money. Whether you need a job or higher pay is not the business’ concern – it’s yours.
Before you sharpen your pitchforks, hear me out. Just because I’m against raising the minimum wage does not mean I’m against higher pay. Just because I’m against rape, doesn’t mean I’m against sex. Just so long as each is consensual.
I don’t mind people getting paid more. I don’t mind burger flippers getting paid more. I try to avoid Walmart which pays a “starving wage”. I frequent businesses like Costco and In-N-Out which voluntarily pay well above minimum wage. I also tip well (when deserved). I vote with my wallet. I encourage everyone to vote with theirs. If enough people do it, it could cause some shifts.
Who works minimum wage though? Who should be? Lower paying jobs are usually entry level positions that don’t require much experience or a heavy hitting résumé. Ideally, they are for teens and young adults looking to gain experience and build their résumé in order to advance to a better job.
Entry level jobs are self explanatory. They are jobs for people entering the work force. By their nature, they are meant to be short lived. You get one, grow, learn, and move on to the next level, and the next person takes your place. It’s kind of like kindergarten. They can support a lone wolf, but probably aren’t suited for supporting a wolf pack. So teens be warned! Having kids on a McDonald’s paycheck is probably not a great idea.
Here’s where “fiscal conservative” finally comes into play. Making more money is one thing. Making decisions that result in less expenses is another. People need to think of life in terms of finances. the car you drive, the neighborhood you live in, the clothes you wear, and even when and how many kids you have are all financial decisions.
Would you buy a car if you couldn’t afford the payments?
Would you buy a home if you couldn’t afford the mortgage?
Would you buy a puppy if you couldn’t afford the food?
If no, then you shouldn’t have a baby unless you can afford to raise it. Again, simple as that.
Simple as this is. Straight forward as this is. No-nonsense as this, a lot of people hear that and are offended. They’re repulsed at the idea of children being a financial decision instead of a “life decision”.
What many fail to realize is that almost every decision is a financial decision, or at the very least will result in a different financial outcome. Life isn’t free, and so long as that’s true, life decisions are financial decisions.
That’s a whole other conversation and blog post, so let me stop there. Steering this all back on track, the point to all this is simple, so let me wrap this up.
Minimum wage jobs are meant for teens and people with few obligations – not for families.
Instead of regulating businesses to take care of people, people should regulate their own actions to better take care of themselves. If you’re 40 with three kids and on minimum wage, you *probably* made some poor choices, even if it was simple having more kids than you could afford. If you meant to have one child and ended up with triplets, then clearly you’re an exception to the rule.
No matter how old or young you are, if you’re in the work force or entering soon, always be improving yourself and making yourself more commercially valuable.
If you’re a voter, vote with your wallets before you rush to the ballots.
If you’re an employer who can afford to do so, try to help your staff out a little bit. Generosity goes a long way, and happy employees work better.
No matter who you are, remember that every decision is a financial decision, whether you life it or not.
Finally, you’re not worth what you think you are. In fact, you’re not worth what others think you are. You’re worth whatever you can convince someone else to give you.
My interest has been piqued lately by a resurgence of the wage debate. Unions and labor forces across the U.S. have been staging protests over how much fast food workers should be paid per hour. This wage debate is nothing new. It’s been going on for years, decades, even centuries. See the French Revolution. In the U.S. this debate seems to flare up every couple years, and not coincidentally before election season.
A friend of mine recently posted on a link on Facebook about a recent San Diego fast food workers’ protest, which prompted a quick and furious online argument on his wall about the issue. But I am not here today to talk politics, or weigh in on this issue.
What caught my attention was that in the midst of all the arguing, my friend made a peripheral point that if people cannot afford to live on their current wage, that there are a number of solutions to their problem. If they cannot increase their wage, they can decrease their expenses, proposing that they move to an area with a lower cost of living. Mind you, this protest took place and my friend and I live in San Diego, California, so that narrows down the list of “Cheaper Places to Live” to practically everywhere else on the planet.
He was instantly hit with backlash. A friend of his shot back at him with, verbatim, “wait, living in San Diego is a privilege? that’s fucking ridiculous – if you were born there or your parents just ended up there before you, yanno, grew up, that’s a privilege, and you should move?”
I didn’t reply. But my answer to him is “Uh, yeah dude.”
He asked the question as if the rhetorical answer was “Well, um gee, when you phrase it that way, no I guess not.” But the answer is apologetically YES, YOU SHOULD MOVE.
This guy’s thesis is: Once you are born somewhere, living there indefinitely is a RIGHT, not a privilege.
Which is total bullshit, and let me break down why. I won’t use numbers and figures and charts and stats. Let’s break this down using real world practicality.
I for one have always wanted to live by the beach. The cool weather, the quick job to the beach, the smell of ocean, the drunk college kids puking on my front lawn. Okay, aside from that last part, I’ve always wanted to live by the beach, but I couldn’t because it just wasn’t practical. Okay, you only live once, blah blah. But at the end of the day, paying an extra $200 per month on rent just wasn’t financially practical in my college years. By the age of 24 I had already learned that living where-ever-the-heck-I-want is not a right, was is in fact a privilege.
On a very micro-level, every responsible person chooses where they do and don’t live, based on what is financially feasible. If you have ever been on the market for a new home, and been hunting for the right house with a real estate agent, you know what I mean. One house is perfect. Maybe it has the big garage you’ve always wanted, it’s got a great view of the canyon, a pool, it’s in a good school district, or maybe it’s a 5-mile commute from your office. But reality kicks in. “Honey I’m sorry, it’s just out of our price range.”
Now, shit’s about to get real. Show of hands, whose ancestors were born in the US? Most of our relatives at some point or another migrated here from abroad. Every year thousands of people leave their countries and migrate to the United States to call this country their new home. Some come from as close as Mexico like my grandparents did. Some come from as far as Russia, Asian, Africa, and the Middle East. Why do you suppose this is?
I don’t suppose they moved here because they thought the U.S. would offer them a worse life. They moved here because they thought they had more opportunity, could get better pay, land a better job, go to school, send their kids to school, or maybe avoid ethnic persecution. Whatever the reason, they all have something in common: They moved from A to B, because they thought it would bring them a better life.
These people quit their jobs, packed their bags, uprooted their families, moved thousands of miles, across oceans towards a new country, said goodbye to friends, relatives, neighbors, and their homeland, all of whom they’ll probably never see again, all for the shot at a better life. Some of these people cross treacherous deserts and risk death to illegally get hear, which albeit illegal still shows guts, determination, and sacrifice.
These immigrants can do all this, and yet some entitled U.S. born assholes still think living in San Diego, or this city or that city, is a right? Some people still think moving 300 miles out of state, or just to another city with a lower cost of living is unconscionable?
Excuse my French, but that, oh friend of a friend, is in fact fucking ridiculous.
It has been a volatile past couple of weeks on social media lately, with the Israel-Gaza conflict and the Ferguson Missouri shooting. Oddly enough though, my casual observations have led me to believe that the hottest button issue on the web right now, is the Ice Bucket Challenge.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media meme in which you video tape yourself dumping a bucket of ice-water on yourself. Then, in your video, you challenge three other people to either do the same thing, or donate money to a charity. The charity being linked to the Ice Bucket Challenge is ALS Association, with the purpose of funding research to find a cure for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This may not be 100% spot on, but this is the gist of it.
I’m not going to rip on the Ice Bucket Challenge, or start condemning the people who oppose it for water conservation reasons. What fascinates me is how worked up everyone has got about this issue, regardless of their stance on the subject. What seems like such a seemingly benign and oh-so-typically-cliché internet meme has turned out to be anything but cliché. The amount of hype surrounding this issue, and the amount of tension and heated arguments arising out of it are astonishing. There are several warring factions.
Faction 1: The Water Whiners
When the Ice Bucket Challenge first started, it was most popular on the East Coast and in the South. As it spread across the US, it finally made its’ way to the West coast, and more specifically California which is going through a huge drought at the moment. This prompted some people to rally against Californians doing the Ice Bucket Challenge as it was considered a waste of water at a time when our water supply was already dangerously low. These people weren’t necessarily against fundraising or spreading awareness about ALS, but against the wasting of the water.
Faction 2: The Three Bucketeers
This resulted in backlash from people who support the Ice Bucket Challenge, and dispel the water-related criticisms as baseless. Their counter argument is that compared to the amount of water people waste every day showering, cleaning dishes, watering lawns, or washing cars, the one-time use of 2-3 gallons of water is a drop in the bucket, no pun intended. This group will provide you with an onslaught of news articles and Wikipedia links confirming the Ice Bucket Challenge is the brainchild of Jesus and Gandhi’s joint efforts to stop the apocalypse.
Faction 3: The Like Bucket Challenge
Then of course you have the politically untangled. For this group, it’s not about finding a cure for ALS or conserving water. Their goal however is to spread awareness… of themselves. These attention whores will accept your challenge if it means they don’t have to donate anything. But they will altruistically donate a video of themselves to the internet. Just don’t forget to ‘Like’ their video, or they’ll keep re-posting it. You’re welcome, Facebook.
Faction 4: The Cheapskates
Probably notorious bad tippers amongst friends and family, this faction just didn’t want to donate, so they did the Ice Bucket Challenge instead.
This is a very simplified overview of the situation, and I will simplify things even more. Regardless of what your stance is on the “issue”, let us please get a few things straight:
Is the Ice Bucket Challenge a waste of perfectly good water? Yeah, if you’re in California.
Is it a huge waste of water and worth worrying about? No, it’s pretty harmless.
Is the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness about ALS? Yes.
Could the Ice Bucket Challenge be considered a success, in that it raised a ton of money that will go towards research for an ALS cure? Absolutely. This years’ donations have dwarfed previous years contributions.
So despite the waste of water, was it worth it? I’d say so.
Are tons of people using the Ice Bucket Challenge because they are attention whores looking to get shares and likes on social media websites? Duh.
So the truth is that no one is really wrong. It could be considered a waste of water, but the vast majority of people seem to be okay with wasting a liiiitttle bit of water because hey, it’s for a good cause. Find me a fundraiser that didn’t chop down a tree or two printing out fliers for their latest canned-goods drive. Find me a marathon that didn’t litter the host city’s streets in Dixie cups, PowerBar wrappers and human excrement. No, seriously. Find me a Raiders game where a fan of the opposing team didn’t get stabbed in the parking lot.
Basically, we’re all willing to trash things up a little bit if we feel that the net outcome is for a good cause.
Congrats to the ALS Association for raising a ton of money, and let’s hope that it is money well spent. Cheers to the people who donated money to ALS or other notable causes. A pat on the back to people who legitimately did the Ice Bucket Challenge to spread awareness of ALS. Thank you, to the conservationists for spreading awareness of another legitimate concern. And to attention whores who did it just for five minutes of fame, may your Ice Bucket Challenge whorish ways get you pneumonia.
San Diego shooters may know that DGM is a chain. From what I gather from other shooters and friends, the location in Mission Bay/Bay Ho is notorious for horrible customer service. In the dozen times I’ve been there, I never once found a polite employee.
BUT, the Santee location is excellent. I have been to this location about 5-6 times now, including a recent firearms purchase, and every time the staff was spot on.
Here are some highlights:
They almost always answer the phone during operating hours.
And when they can’t answer, they actually check their messages and call you back, or at least they did with me.
They greet customers when they walk in the door, and if they are busy helping someone, they still acknowledge you.
They are quick, and respect your time.
They are very polite.
They are not condescending when asking about a firearm you are unfamiliar with, which for most gun ranges can be their customer service Achilles heel.
Usually a short line for the range, from my experience.
Nothing bad to say about this location at all. Heck, it’s even directly off the freeway exit, making it easy to get to.
Their range prices are great. Much better than P2K.
Their ammo and firearm prices are market competitive. YES, you can purchase a super expensive $2,200 Sig .308, or a $1,200 Leopold scope, but these are the prices you would pay anywhere, so that does NOT earn it a $$$$ establishment, in my opinion.