Losing Hope for the Human Race

I had wanted to post more about the journey that my family is going through with my uncle having ALS, but for the first time since I started this blog I have felt like my privacy has been invaded. I’ve had plenty of stalkers in the past, but for the most part it has been people that have so little going on in their lives that somehow mine seemed better or more interesting to them. Those people are easy to ignore and avoid. However, the piece of work that I encountered through posting about ALS is not.

I get a phone call the Sunday after posting about my uncle’s disease. Finding my phone number is not all that difficult if you have a couple of brain cells that fire together and poke around my domain. One of my resumes had it on it so he contacted me.

I would give you the number and name the dude is using, but thankfully the ALS community is aware of this con man and I am not about to give him even more publicity.

He identifies himself and I am thinking, how does this guy know me? He is talking in a very familiar way, and wants to know how my uncle is doing. I don’t recognize the voice or the name and the dude starts using sales tactics talking in circles and asking me questions so he can answer them himself. My brain keeps going back to, how do I know this guy?

Then he starts to talk about how he has the CURE for ALS and its not a drug! its all in the power of thinking!

OMG THIS DUDE HAS CURED 3 PEOPLE OF ALS!

That is when I start getting irritated. I am not the most knowledgeable person about the disease but I do know quite a bit… not to mention that since the diagnosis I have researched quite a bit more.

I kept my cool and continued to be polite while I looked the guy up and his phone number online. I find out that he is a con man and that he promises people to teach them how to “think” terminal illness away, because they get sick and die simply because they are not thinking right.

I stop the guy in its track and ask him what is his pitch? What is he selling? and the guy switches to anger mode. He starts to use guilt saying that if I don’t want my uncle to be cured that is fine, but that I don’t need to curse at him (mind you, I never did that; even as angry as I was I kept my cool.)

I politely asked him to please never contact me again, and lucky for me he has not. He has however harassed many others in the ALS community and seems to want to treat a new disease every couple of years. I am guessing that is when he runs out of the money that he has scammed from his last round.

I could not believe that someone would actually prey on people with this much emotional distress, but it makes sense. People in families going through what we are going through are looking for hope, answers, a way out. There is a lot of garbage out there in the world, and some of it stinks more than other. I can only hope that since more people are internet savvy now, they look up people like this right away and find information before sending people like this one money.

American Life Subtext

When I heard the premise of the show Weeds; “Lots of drugs, lots of sex,” I kind of wanted to skip it. Thankfully my wife suggested we give it a shot and since we both love Dexter, what the heck, let’s watch it. I had never expected it to be the social commentary that I am starting to find out it is. It has even opened a can of worms for me. I have resisted the urge to talk about this subject for a while, as much as I resist the subject of children and atheism… because most people will just not get where I am coming from.

I am lucky, I am 1 in a billion lucky. When I talk about my wife, most people think I am just scoring brownie points. Finding an intelligent woman that also happens to have the same cultural background with me is amazing. Some things you can explain, others you just have to live and even though we grew up in the same city we have very different experiences about Colombia. She gets all my obscure references to stuff from Colombia and now understands the gaming community, better yet she is part of it. Even though we share so much, there is also a lot of differences and a lot to discover and learn from each other. The part that is important for this conversation is that she is also very naive about American culture. Living in Canada made her think that Americans and Canadians are pretty much the same in a lot of ways… here is where subtext enters the conversation. The whole idea of the American dream is so different for all Americans that at times it feels weird that so much goes into a single idea.

Weeds is a show about a wife that loses her husband to a heart attack and to keep up with her suburbia lifestyle starts dealing marijuana… “weed.” We are watching this together and I commented to her that most American people think Colombia is all about the “drugs” but never understand that we are really not consumers of that product. Colombians are more about the drinking and dancing than doing pot hidden in the basement of a house. Consuming mind altering substances is more open and part of partying than hidden illegal activity. I guess what can you expect when most people think you fly with chickens and pigs right next to you on the plane when you go down there. I have laughed at all the ignorant people that think just because I am Colombian I can “score” them drugs. I love leading them on. What they don’t often realize is that I do know who can get them what they want, but it has nothing to do with my ethnicity and all to do with me being able to spot the people with the “connections.”

Drugs are part of the American subtext that most people either chose to not see, or don’t know how to discern. The big difference between drugs and alcohol is the legality of it. I have cut back quite a bit on my drinking mostly for health concerns; but hey, it is legal and I like being able to enjoy a beer in a public place. That does not mean that I have not been able to see more drugs here in the US than what I ever saw in Colombia. I also happen to know lots of people that are regular drug users and are your neighbor, coworkers or friends, and most of you probably don’t have a clue or know how to tell.

That is what makes the show Weeds so funny. It reminds me a lot of the people that simply don’t see the fact that most people are not made from ticky tacky and live in little boxes. (BTW that song is pretty cool.) The sad part is that I have seen many, many people trying to live the rat race to live like those people, or at least appear to live like those people that have a “perfect” life. They look down upon the guy with the tattooed face, but fail to realize how free he is and how cool he is with the decision that he will not get a corporate type of job.

Here is where our view of society breaks down. Most people spend more time trying to live in the subtext part of life rather than actually being true to who they really are. In Colombia we call that “El Qué Dirán”

Even though I wrote about this before, just check out what the urban dictionary has to say,

The unspoken belief in latin-american culture that every person’s actions in society are subject to the scrutiny and criticism of every person they know. El Qué Dirán is a way to regulate the behaviors of the fringes of Latin America, by concentrating the disapproval of their parents and friends through gossip. Often invoking the health of said parents as a criticism “Did you hear about Rosa getting pregnant? By that artist boy. Her mother must be near death!” – Typical El Qué Dirán gossip.

Where the whole thing changes is that it’s not as simple as “keeping up with Johnsons” anymore. It’s all about saving face in a high school like fashion. Probably one of the reasons I never really got into the whole twitter thing and kept mine private. I hate the fact that people are waiting to see what you say to “one up” you online. Always trying to say, “I know more than you!” or the synergy of your gravitational veritas diverges from the core of your bullshit. In reality, most of those people have never reached the simple conclusion you are thought in any good philosophy course, that you really don’t know much… and the more you learn, the more you realize that you don’t know anything at all.

People start living a life that is just a facade to maintain their perceived “social status”. Much like the exclusive community being painted in the show “Weeds.” It has to be a sad moment in someone’s life when they realize they are not living for themselves but living the picture of what other people think they should be like. Who are you working to impress this week? Did you buy that shirt because you like the color and the texture of the material or is it the new trend. (which reminds me I still have to post about how much I hated my last “trendy” pair of glasses.)

I have no idea how many people are that blind. Most people that are worth your time in this life are not posers and are pretty comfortable with who they are. The perfect mother in “Weeds” whose husband is sleeping with someone else and kids hate her, is the perfect example of someone that is delusional about the true subtext. To me the subtext of America and the American Dream should be about happiness… but then again, the best country in the world does not seem to be all that happy at all.

Wake Up People

I stopped writing about politics because most people are pretty uninformed when it comes to the subject. It is amazing how easily people turn into sheep because they prefer to listen to the talking heads on the T.V. and also like to get their morals from other people instead of thinking for themselves. I am little pissed off right now that most of the news coverage here in the US have already begun to paint Jared Lee Loughner as just some unstable person, a lone wolf… are people seriously that naive that they think hate speech and political stupidity don’t lead to these types of acts?

I am sad that I had to go all the way to the UK’s newspapers to get more information on the guy that shot an ELECTED OFFICIAL. Trying to get through the noise I gather that he thought our government was trying to mind control us with the use of grammar, and that our currency is bad because it is not backed by gold and silver. He was not only a right wing nut, he was also pretty scary to those around him.

Some people are so stupid to think that when they start talking about politics and using hateful speech, that people around them view them as someone that should be looked up to for what they believe. In reality, most people that see and hear that level of nonsense on someone put them in the “nut” category and start dismissing not just their political view, but pretty much everything they say. The moment that you buy into hate speech it is the moment that others disassociate you from intelligence.

I know a lot of very conservative gun lovers. I was sure that something this big will outrage them and make them denounce how horrible an act this is. Nope, they are pretty busy fearing how Obama is going to really institute big brother into our lives and maybe, just maybe he is the Antichrist and will be putting the mark of the beast in all of us.

Why is this making me so upset. While the congresswoman is fighting for her life, all I can think about is those six other people that are dead. Someone very dear to my heart is involved in the political process. If the headline was not in AZ but in MO, there would have been a chance that he was at a political event.

As human we are flawed because sometimes what does not affect us directly its missed by our radar. I have no idea how I would have reacted if my friend was amongst those shot. All I can ask is that people wake up, stop the hate speech and start really evaluating what is it that you are letting into your brain and promoting. Gun violence is sad as it is; but it is a sad day when your elected officials start getting shot.

Greed

Recently I have been thinking a lot about happiness. I posted recently about being the positive, half glass full person I try to be, and also about how to me it does not seem like people rationalize the connection of money and evil.

This morning I was listening to sports radio on the way to work and Troy Aikman of all people started talking about greed. I am not a fan of Troy, mostly because he is always with Joe Buck and I just dislike the way he calls games. If you don’t follow the NFL, basically the next year could make or break them. There is going to be a new labor agreement as well as potentially turning the pre-season’s game into actual games that count towards the season. I was just having a conversations last night with Jimmy about how the Thursday games just seem like way too much NFL (specially with college games, etc). Troy brought that point up as well and said that he thinks the NFL is too greedy and in our lifetime football might not be the most watched sport. Again, the show must go on.

I believe NASCAR also got greedy and has seen a decline on their revenue. I don’t know much about that sport so if someone has some insight there, it would be interesting to hear if maybe greed was a player there too.

The greed of some affects many… but aren’t we the ones that perpetuate the cycle? Or in the case of baseball just stop watching?

I seriously don’t know how to begin digesting all this information. I know that if the NFL missteps in the coming years they could suffer like baseball did and become second or even third watched sport. I know college sports are really becoming more popular and soccer is becoming stronger in the US.

My bro-in-law recently wrote something on facebook that made many people think, including me. Colombia is being hit by one of the worst rainy season in 40 decades. The climate is attributed to “la niña” and it has affected millions of people. The government does not have the resources to deal with the issues, his point was simply that all the festival and big city wide parties in December were still being planned like nothing was going on. I guess the show must go on in this situation as well.

I am not the most charitable person and while I do give to some causes, I am probably part of the problem. I guess the choice to consume or not is a powerful thing, but cheap products at Wal-Mart are sometimes too good of a deal to pass up. I am not sure if I would have stayed in Colombia and never moved up here if I would be partying this December or looking for a way to help those less fortunate. I am sure by tomorrow I will have another personal endeavor that will take up my thoughts, but at least I wanted to write this to remind myself that sometimes greed can damage not just the sport I like to watch, but might deny people the resources that are necessary to simply survive.

To Be a Man

This morning I had a really interesting conversation. Most of it centered around a good friend venting about relationship issues, but then I starting to think about how most of the problems centered around not having the notion of what it means to be a man. Then things got a lot more complicated in my head. What does it really mean to be a man… it could mean so many different things to so many different people.

My definition is pretty straight forward. A man is a provider and protector. His word is bond and he does not engage in childish behavior. A man has his priorities in check and plans ahead. A man has an open mind, but also clearly defined set of morals and values his integrity as well as that of those around him.

One of the situations that seems to be the most confused by people is that to feel like a man, testosterone has to be involved. Out-drinking someone, punching the lights out of someone, having a bigger car, being the ladies man are all things that simple minded people see as a mark of a real man. That is not to say that a real man cannot be or do any number of those things, but he is not defined by them or need to have them reaffirmed to solidify his manhood.

Nobody is perfect though, and we all make mistakes when it comes to wanting to feel macho by answering to nobody and just getting crazy. I know when I go to Michigan and hang out with some of my friends out there debauchery and childish behavior ensues. However, I don’t need to get drunk every single week and be out all night to feel like I am a real man.

So my question is pretty simple, and it goes out to both sexes. What is your definition of a real man if you are a woman. And dudes, what things make you feel like a real man? Do you need some kind of reaffirmation? Do you need a man-cave?

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