Of self confidence, social programing and more

I’ve been thinking a lot about this thing we call self confidence and how there seems to be a big lack of it these days. I believe the root cause is in what I call social programing. Social programing are the messages that are everywhere, messages that society as a whole tend to propegate. You’ll find this messages burried in how we talk, everything on TV, etc. Social programing these days seems to be all about making everyone feel inferior, which naturally will lead to lower self confidence. It seems to suggest that everyone should conform to the same mold. According to this social programing we should all be the same size, have the same desires, wants, and generally just all be mindless drones. This same programming seems to suggest that we all need to blend in and not be noticed. For the record I think this social programming is all wrong, complete hogwash if you will. Can you imagine a world were everyone is identical in everyway, everyone just blends in to the crowd? Sounds like a horrible sci-fi horror movie to me. We are all unique beautiful people and we should be celebrating our differences and our diversity, not try to hide it. As far as blending in, more hogwash. Stand out, be notice celebrate your uniqueness and how special you are. If people don’t like it that’s their problem, they’re the weird ones for being judgmental. Being normal is so boring and weird. Why would anyone want to be normal? When people say they want to be normal, what exactly are they wishing for? Are they saying they wish they didn’t have their challenges and think someone else has a better challenge our maybe no challenge? I believe we all have our challenges, most people don’t show their challenges so it is easy to think they don’t have any. I believe it is our challenges that make us who we are. Anyway I digress, back to social programming.
Think about how often in a given day you are told, or see some sort of message, that tell you how you should loose weight, be tanner, have less wrinkles, have some part of your anatomy enlarged or reduced depending on which part is being discussed (see my post about vanity for another take on this). We are also supposed to be reserved about our sexuality while sex is used heavily in marketing, with all the double standards that go with that. Guys are studs and looked up on if they have had multiple sex partners while women are sluts and looked down upon if they act like guys are supposed to. For the record I think this another area where you can celebrate your personality, if you enjoy sex there is no reason for you to hide that.  When you think about that double standard you should realize how insane it is. This is bound to lead to feeling of ineqatcy, insecurity and certain level of neuroses. Like I said, it all seems to be about making us feel bad about ourselfs with this constant judement and negativity. The society teaches us that it is OK to be critical of others and I couldn’t disagree with that more. While being critical of yourself is OK to a degree (as long as it is for the right reasons, i.e. not for vanity) we have no business being critical of others. It is non of our business what choices people make with their lives, even if it seems like they are wasting their lives as it is their live to waste. To those that like to bring up riduculous extreme examples in an attempt to disprove something I have a disclaimer. Of course my statements does not condone assault (sexual or otherwise) or any form of abuse (more on that later) or any action that directly affect a non-consenting party. To clarify what I mean by that statement here are couple of examples of decisions that don’t affect you vs. what decisions do affect you. What a person decides to wear, have for lunch or be in a relationship with does not affect anyone else. If someone decides to burn down your house, that obviously does affect you. While anyone who knows me would attest to the fact that I am not a religious man a very wise man made some statements around 2000 years ago that I am big believer of. The first is “thou shall not judge” and the second is “love thy neighbor”. I think if we could all learn to live by those words I think we might just manage to achive world peace.
So my first challange to you the reader is to do less judging a more loving. With my preceding disclaimer in mind there is no such thing as bad or wrong love. This doesn’t mean you have to like everyone or be everyones best friend. It does mean that you should be friendly and nice to everyone. Don’t treat people differently based on their apperance but by there actions. Note I said actions, not apperance or decisions. You shouldn’t treat people differently because they don’t belong to the same church, golf club, social club, as you do. Or because you don’t approve of their wardrobe, choice of friends or choice of romantic partner. Also treating people differently because you find them unattractive is also unacceptable.
That being said it’s OK, actually very good and highly recomended, to distance yourself from people that don’t treat you well. It doesn’t matter who they are, even if they are close family or romantic partner. If they don’t treat you with all the respect and dignity you deserve you don’t need them in your life, seek out people that do and make them your family. I know people that have and been much happier for it. Sometimes people change but you can’t count on it as it happens very rarely, and you for sure can’t change anyone but yourself. If people you distanced yourself from do change you can reevaluate if you want them back in your life or not. However note that it usually takes people years to change, and most people never do, so if it’s been only few months it is safe to assume they have not really changed.
What I’ve come to realize is that we all have some sort of insecurities, call them issues if you will. Sometimes it may seem like you are the only one with issues but I can guarantee you that is nit true, appearances can be deceiving.
As I said before I think the growing trend of insecurities is in large part due to the social programing I mentioned before. We all think that so-and-so has it perfect, if I just had xyz then everything would be great. Or so-and-so is so great at xyz, why can’t I be that good at that. These are all very bad misconceptions that stem from couple of different things. Frist we are comparing someone external face with our internal mess. Just because someone is good at hiding their neuroses doesn’t mean they don’t exists. Those that you are comparing against are probably doing the exact same comparison with someone else. The second falacy we make has to do with talents. We all have our talents and because we are all so wonderfully diverse we all have different talents. Some come naturally and some require more practice and efforts than others. We have a tendancy to compare our weak talents against someone elses strong talent. Also we don’t know what it took them to become that good, how many hours a day they practiced etc., and if you put in the same level of efforts would you be as good or even better. So focus on you strengths not your weaknesses.
I feel like I’ve been all over the place with this post so I better get back to the self confidence thing I started out with.
I believe the first thing you need to do to reduce your insecurities and improve your self confidence is distance your self from people in your life that are critical and negative, no one needs that in their life,  doesn’t matter who they are. If there is abuse, physical or mental, then totally cut those people out of your life and never look back. Just for sake of clarification those that tell you are no good, you don’t deserve anything (or worse that you deserve bad things) or that no one is going to want to be with you, are mentally abusing you.
The second thing you should do is pay less attention to TV, there is much more to live than watching TV. Feel free to reach out to me if you need ideas.
I often hear people talk about how if they just got more complements they would be more secure and I speak from experience when I say that they got that backwards. Once you start to act more secure you’ll get more complements. Self confidence has to come from within, maybe that is why it is called “self confidence” and not “other confidence”. Another way to look at it is, if you don’t belive in yourself why should anyone else. Have you ever purchased a product from a sale person that did not seem to believe in the product they were selling?
Your goal in life isn’t to please everyone because that is a mission impossible that can not be completed. Your goal in life should be to be yourself and have a positive influence on other people. Stop worrying about your physical attributes, if your chest, waist, biceps, thighs, etc., is the right size. The same goes for size of your nose, ear, neck, etc. I’ve meet women that worry about what they call “double chin”, they think of it as a flaw. I tell them I find it qute sexy and I think of it as a positive thing. The point is that whatever physical attributes you are stressing over or thinking of as a flaw, chances are good someone else is admiring it (again see my post on vanity for more on that). An analogy for you on that, think of a piece of art, any piece of art. Is that piece of art trying to be all things to all people? No it is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. Will everyone appreciate it and find it beautiful? No they wont, some wont even understand why it is considered art. But that is OK. A good art dealer will specialize in one form/type of art and market to those people that appreciate that form of an art and doesn’t worry about that don’t. Walk into an art studio and start bad mouthing the art in there and you’ll quickly be thrown out.
Another way to look at is, do you like everyone and find everyone attractive? If you answer yes, make sure your noise didn’t just grow as it did for Pinocio when he told a fib. If you answer no, then why are trying to make everyone like you?
I think Drew Berrymore is attributed to the following quote I really like “let your freak flag fly high so that those with the same flag can find each other”. Meaning focus on being who you are, own it and be proud of it. Those that appreciate you for who you are will admire you for it, those that don’t do not matter in the least. 
If you want to improve yourself, improve who you are as a person. Work on improving how you treat other people and the type of impact you are having on people around you.
Once you have cut negativity out of your life, you have identified who you really are (watch the movie runnaway bride if you are confused why this is important, “how do you like your eggs” is what you should be paying attention to) and live everyday being proud of who you are your confidence will grow day by day and insecurities will start to fade away (or at least be sidelined and easier to control). As your confidence grows people will start to respond to that, which will feed your confidence and help it grow even more. Your insecurities will probably always be there, but that is OK as long as you are in control. As long as your insecurities aren’t controling you things will be great. Even if they stay in the back of your head nagging you, as long as you are in control you can just tell them to be quiet.
Remember you can always fake it until you make it and don’t listen to those that critique who you are, if they don’t appreciate you their opinion doesn’t matter.

Vanity where does it come from???

I’ve been pondering lately about this thing called vanity that seems to be gripping the nation worse than ever. What is it, where does it come from, why do we care, etc.

I get that one wants to look the best by observing good personal hygiene, choosing a hair style we think suites us and dressing in a manner that expresses our individuality. Maintaining healthy weight and just generally staying happy and healthy is also a good thing. Disclaimer: by healthy weight I am not saying you should subscribe to AMA’s crazy BMI scheme, those guys are out of whack which is whole different rant. So many people people are overly focused on attaining the weight specified by AMA’s BMI chart that it becomes unhealthy. What I mean by healthy weight is maintaining weight that enables you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can have an ideal weight based on the BMI chart, but that doesn’t mean you are healthy. On the same vane you can be considered obese by AMA BMI chart yet life a very healthy lifestyle and overall be very healthy. More on that in a different soapbox.

So beyond those basic thing (hygiene, clothing, hairstyle) why are we so obsessed with beauty? We all are in some way or another. Either we are obsessed with obtaining it, or we are obsessed with observing it.  To make a very generalized and stereotypical statement, women are obsessed with being beautiful and men are obsessed with looking at beautiful women. I’m not claiming to be immune from this stereotype.  Is it strictly a feedback loop? Meaning women want to be beautiful because men want to look at beautiful women, in other words is it all about women getting attention from guys? I find that very hard to believe because women that are generally considered very beautiful do get a lot of attention from guys and complain about all the “creeps” that are always checking them out and bothering them. Is it a matter of wanting what we don’t have, that is simply being unhappy with what we have? I find that a much more plausible theory.

It seems to be a “societal programming” that’s gone hey wire.  From what I hear women are intensively competitive about who is the fairest of them all, and to what end. Is it so that everyone will like them? If so that is a very unreasonable expectations. You don’t like everyone so why would you expect everyone to like you? Like I said those that get a lot of attention complain about how much attention they are getting, which could be a case of “be careful of what you wish for”.

Guys aren’t any better. While they seem to be generally less competitive about their own looks, they aren’t immune. They feed into this more by being competitive about “scoring” the most beautiful woman.

Meanwhile no one seems to acknowledge that there are so many different form of beauty and how everyone has their own taste of what they consider beautiful. Both genders totally buy into the programming that there is a single standard for beauty, which is totally ludicrous. Guys are probably worse about this than women. I’ve talked to guys who talk big publicly to show how they follow the programming, yet when when you have a more private conversation with them it comes out that they don’t necessary believe that. The programming is deep that they will never admit to it though.

When it comes to art though everyone realizes that there is no single standard for beauty, it all comes down to personal preference. This is why there are so many form of arts, and everyone likes different things. I really don’t know enough about art to go deeper into this analogy, but I think you all get my drift. Why can’t we apply the same thinking about each other and stop thinking that life is a beauty context where there can only be one winner and realize that we are all beautiful in our own way, that not everyone is going to like us just the way we don’t like everyone the same.

I have no magic bullet answer to this question/dilemma. There is most definitively a feedback loop component that is going to be hard to break. Speaking from a guys perspective you get caught in a no win situation because of this. You focus on someone’s beauty too much (whether by verbal complements, or the way you look at her) you get labeled a creep who only appreciates her body (or you’re sex crazed guy using complements to get your way). If you don’t focus on her beauty you are insensitive because you never complement her looks.

Proposed solution to our broken political system

As I’m writing this the federal government has been shut down for well over a week, it is my understanding that the government shutdown of 2013 is the longest in the history of the US. This has got me thinking about how our political system seems broken. The impression these days is that politicians have redefined who their constituents are, and consider special interest groups and lobbyist that give them the most amount of money their constituents. Just to clarify, this applies across party lines. No party seems to be better or worse at this than the other, so this is aimed at everyone in congress not a particular party. I’m not one for just complaining, if I am going to point out how something is broken I like have a solution. So here is what I propose needs to happen to help turn the tides on this perceived corruption. While this wont solve 100% of the problems, I believe it will solve 80–90% of them. I think it all comes down to better campaign finance laws:

  1. Ban Companies from making political contributions, if you are not eligible to vote in federal elections you can not donate.
  2. Limit how much an individual is allowed to contribute to a particular candidate on a yearly basis to 2000 times the federal minimum hourly wage. At the time of this writing that figure is $7.25/hour, so the limit would come out to be $14,500.00 per year. This limit would apply to each person eligible to vote (see #1). Donating to a super PAC that supports a specific candidate would count as a donation directly to that candidate. Super PAC’s that support multiple candidates would have to declare what the ratios of contributions are to each and peoples contributions to those super PAC’s would count as contributions to all the candidates in the declared ratios. All gifts of food, drinks, trips or property to any officials are considered political contributions and subject to said limit no exceptions. Federal law on bribing officials applies to all members of congress and executive branch and should be strictly enforced.
  3. All those that serve the federal government get the same benefits and their pays determined by The Office of Personnel Management. In other words all members of congress get the same benefit and pension as anyone else serving the federal government, and their pay should follow the GS pay scale. Serving in Congress should be an honor, not a way to get rich. No special benefits for members of congress, or the executive branch. If congress votes them self’s increased benefit, those benefit will be available to all federal employees. If congress votes them self a bonus or pay raise then that would trickle through the entire GS system. For example if congress gives them self a 5% raise, the entire GS scale just increased by 5%. No member of congress or the executive branch should get any privileges not available to any other federal employees that hold similar office. For the purposes of clarification congress is not unique. I consider them to hold similar office as highly ranking officials within DOJ, DOE, DOD, etc.
  4. Set super strict penalties for violations of the campaign limit so that people will think twice about violating it. I’m thinking something along the lines of making it a federal felony punishable by mandatory prison sentence of minimum of 5 years per offence plus a fine that is equal to double the violation. For example if a candidate was found guilty of taking a one million dollar contribution from a single donor they would have to spend 5 years in federal prison and pay a fine of two million dollars. The fine can not be satisfied by any means other than paying it in full from their personal funds, not even bankruptcy can erase it. If they don’t have the funds to satisfy the fine all their assets, cars, houses, everything, will be seized and auctioned off to satisfy the fine, forcing their family to move into low income housing and live among low class until they can get back on their feet through hard work. Another example: another candidate is found guilty of taking $250,000 from four different donors, that candidate would need to spend 20 years in prison and pay the same two million dollar fine. Plus they loose all federal benefits, including pension. Since they’ll have a federal felony on their records they will no longer be able to hold any office, can’t vote, etc. like other felons. Once they come out of prison they’ll most likely be broke from trying to satisfy the fine, have to report to parole officer and look for a common job just like any other felons.
  5. Any person or company found trying to persuade, coerce or even just tempt a politician to violate campaign finance laws should be found guilty of bribing an official and penalized accordingly.

What I believe this will accomplish is level the playing field just a little, making donations from regular folks count more in the eyes of the politicians as they will now have to seek contribution from more of their constituents and can’t count on million dollar contributions from the super rich.

Do I believe Congress will ever agree to cut off their major source of funding and agree to live more of an upper middle class life, instead of living with the super rich? I’m not sure, I think the only reason they would want to do that is to prove to the public that aren’t in pocket of the super rich. Maybe they also want protection from the super rich threats that if they don’t vote their way they’ll fund someone else to take their office.

There are however couple of noteworthy organizations working towards similar goals. First is Move To Amend which is countrywide org with state chapters and Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution which is working to get WA State legislation to support a constitutional amendment.

Bar stool economics

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all
ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it
would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every
day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the
owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he
said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks
for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so
the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But
what about the other six men-the paying customers? How could they divide
the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth
man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s
bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the
amounts each should pay.
And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But once outside the bar, the men began to
compare their savings.
“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed
to the tenth man, “But he got $10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar,
too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I did!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back
when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get
anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat
down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill,
they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money
between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is
how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the
most benefit from a 20% tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them
for being wealthy, and they just may not show up any more. In fact, they
might start drinking overseas.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

A Diary of a Blonde

January: Had to return a scarf I received as a Christmas present as it was too tight.

February: Lost my job at the pharmacy, something about not price tagging correctly. It’s not my fault though as the bottles wouldn’t fit in the price gun.

March: I’m so proud of myself. I finished a jigsaw puzzle in six months and according to the box it was four to six years.

April: Was stuck on the escalator for the longest time when the power went out.

May: I wanted to go water skiing but had to cancel it as I couldn’t find any lakes with a sufficient slope

June: Lost the swimming competition for the breast stroke event, the other people cheated and used their hands

July: Locked the keys in the car and had to wait outside in rain and wind. What was worse is that the interior of my cute convertible got soaked as the top was down

August: Couldn’t dial 911 as my phone was missing the button with “11” on it.

September: Trying to figure out why some of my M&M have W’s on them

October: Damn it’s difficult to figure out this W issue with the M&M’s.

November: Baked a cake where I had to separate 12 eggs so I had to borrow 12 mixing bowls.

December: Went to a dance for 18 and over. It took a lot of time to gather the other 17.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) debate

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) debate has been going on for some time now and I just though I pen some of my thoughts on the subject. Just a quick thing about me first that I am super straight heterosexual male in my 40’s and those who know me I would expect can testify to how “girl crazy” I am. 

There are so many aspect to this debate it is hard to know where to start. There is legal, moral and multiple religious aspects. I guess one of the first questions that often comes up in such debate is “is homosexuality wrong?” which I suppose is very legit question. To me equally legit question is “is it wrong to be vegetarian?” Both questions can be debated at length without really coming to a conclusive answer, as it all comes down to your believes. My personal philosophy is that it’s not dinner (or lunch for that matter) if it doesn’t involve a big chunk of a dead animal. I’m kind of the opposite of a vegetarian, a meatatarian if you will, as I don’t eat much vegetable at all. I digress from my initial point, lets get back on point.

Another question frequently brought up in the LGBT debate is the question of why, or why are homosexuals sexually attractive to the same gender. The reasons offered during such debate tend to be grouped into two buckets that could be labeled nature vs. nurture. In other words are they born that way or is it a learned behaviour or maybe some sort of a psychological disorder that needs to/can/should be cured. My believe is that they are born that way and it is not something that needs to be fixed or cured. I base this believe on couple of different factors. First I’ve read that there have been studies done to show that femininity/masculinity is developed early in the womb by the proper dose of hormones at the precise right time of fetus development. If this hormone dose is the wrong amount or the wrong timing it will affect how masculine/feminine the baby will be to the point of affecting their sexual orientation. While I can’t vouch for the authenticity or scientific validity of these studies, and I certainly don’t believe everything I read, this does make a lot of sense to me so I am inclined to believe it. Think about why some women are very feminine and others are much more of a tomboys, or why some straight guys are more masculine than others. To me it stands to reason to me that sexual orientation is a continuous scale of masculinity to feminine. My other reasoning is based on my personal reflection, as I can’t imagine a scenario where I would be sexually attractive to guys. I’ve had few different “what if” debates analyzing different scenarios surrounding social norms, upbringing, values, etc., and I always come to the same conclusion that I could never be attractive to guys, or even pretend I was in order to fit in. Then I take that ideology and extrapolate on it. If me deciding or pretending to have a different sexual orientation is so unthinkable it stands to reason that others are the same way regardless of what their orientation is. So then to me any arguments claiming it is a choice, upbringing, etc., makes absolutely no sense to me which leads me back to the nature argument (i.e. they are are born that way, it’s just the way they are, etc.)

With all that being said I’m actually going to argue that the why doesn’t even matter, here is why via analogy. I hate nuts, pretty much all nuts in all forms. The absolutely worst type of nuts for me is peanuts, and especially peanut butter. Just the smell of it turns my stomach. I know a lot of folks don’t understand how I can hate something so passionately that they love so much. We could try to analyze the reason, maybe I have some sort of nut allergy and my body knows it at some level without my brain recognizing it and then try to “cure me” so I can enjoy the same love of peanut butter as so many enjoy. In the end does it really matter why I hate peanut butter? And discrimination against me for hating peanut butter, such as denying me right or a privilege simply based on the fact that I hate peanut butter, is just wrong. Does it really matter why vegetarian don’t like meat? Should we try to cure them? Should we pass a law requiring all restaurants to only serve meet dishes? Does it really matter why we have the preference we do?

Lets look at the religious aspect of this debate. There are number of religions out there that teach that homosexuality is wrong, immoral, sinful, etc., They mainly site the Bible (or their holy book, such as Koran, etc., depending on the religion) as the reason. I was brought up in a Lutheran house hold in a Lutheran society in Europe and I was never taught that. I was taught to love thy neighbor unconditionally and without judgment. I do not believe that Jesus and God discriminate based on your preferences, I believe you will be judged based on how you treated those around you, not by who you choose to love. I believe that all love (and I mean true love, not manipulation and control tactics labeled as love) is good and there is no such thing as sinful or immoral love.

Lets look at the legal aspect of the LGBT debate which is often referred to as “the same sex marriage debate”. The US federal government passed a law in 1996 called “The Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199)” commonly known as “DOMA.” This law defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.  It also allowed states, territories, possessions and Indian tribes to choose whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Since then six states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. All other states, with three exception, plus the federal government do not recognize same sex couples married in these six states as legally married and do not grant them the legal rights that are granted to couples that fall under the DOMA definition of a marriage. It seems to me that the arguments behind DOMA are all religious based, which to me seems a violation of the first amendment to US constitution often referred to as “separation of church and state”. However it seems that so far the Supreme Court disagree’s with my opinion, despite other less relevant issues have been deemed a violation.

Some say the term “marriage” is a religious term and since their religion believes homosexuality to be wrong the term “same sex marriage” is offensive. They say that same sex unions can have all the same rights as long as it isn’t called a marriage. That’s a fair point, but it doesn’t seem to allow for the possibility that some other religion believes there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, so if marriage is a religious term it should be open to all religions to use according to their believes. The solution to me seems to be to either ban the word marriage altogether and replace it with union and/or prepend it with religious affiliation such as Catholic-marriage, civil-marriage, Baptist-marriage, Presbyterian-marriage, etc. If we are going to be really specific about the definition of the term marriage based on religion we need to allow each religion to define it based on each religious views. Or we can just all be tolerant and accepting of other folks views, believes and preferences.

After all it basically boils down civil/human rights issue to me. There was a time when child labor was perfectly acceptable, women had no rights, and folks with colored skin had even less right and in many cases were someone’s property simply based on the color of their skin. We look back on those days with horror as we have matured way past those sort of discrimination or so we like to believe. However I believe the current “same but different” attitude against LGBT folks is of the same mindset. It didn’t work back in the sixties for the blacks and it doesn’t work any better today for LGBT people.

In the end I believe we all just need to be accepting and tolerant of others view, believes and preference. We shouldn’t be worrying about what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes, nor should we try to control who people choose as their spouse.

As always I am very interested in your thoughts and comments on this issue.

The difficulties understanding a woman…..

A man on his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and in a booming voice, God said, “Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.”

The biker pulled over and said, ‘Build a bridge to Hawaii, so I can ride over anytime I want.’

God replied, ‘Your request is materialistic; think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind.’

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, God, I wish that I, and all men, could understand women; I want to know how she feels inside, what she’s thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing’s wrong, why she snaps and complains when I try to help, and how I can make a woman truly happy.

God replied: ‘You want two lanes or or four lanes on that bridge?’

Author unknown

The American Tourist and Mexican Fisherman by Heinrich Böll

An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The tourist then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits.

12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms

B. Six Two-year House terms

C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

The backup dilema

If you do anything on your computer besides checking your Gmail account, reading CNN and shopping at Amazon you need to backup your computer. Be it your picture gallery, your Quicken file, your letters, your novel, etc. If you don’t want to loose it, you need to back it up. As advanced and prevalent computers are these days, they still break, hard disks, die, etc. Having just one copy of a file in one location is asking for trouble. For anyone familiar with Murphy’s law you’ll know that the chances of something happening to a file is in direct portion to the importance of the file and inverse portion to the number of backups. If all you ever use is Opera, Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer likely the only thing stored on your computer are your internet site favorites. If you’re a chrome user (I’m not familiar enough with Opera and Firefox to know if this holds true for them or not) your favorites can be configured to be backed up to your Google account. So if Chrome is the only application you ever use you probably have nothing to worry about. However most computer users do not fall into that category. If you don’t care if you loose everything you’ve got stored on your computer (pictures, files, emails, contacts, etc.) you don’t have anything to worry about either, again very few folks fall into this category. If you don’t read your email in an web browser, instead use an application like Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, Windows mail, Outlook express, Outlook, etc., chances are all your emails and contacts are stored on your computer and without a backup you risk loosing it all.

Generally speaking I would say there are three types of users when it comes to backup volume: light, medium and heavy. This is how I would define each category.

  • Light users has less than 2 GB of files to backup
  • Medium user has less than 20 GB of file to backup
  • Heavy user has more than 200 GB of files to backup

A novice user may be asking what a GB is. In simple terms it is a measurement for a size of a file, kind of like the metric system. It is difficult to explain how big it is in manner that gives an accurate perspective as files can be any size. It’s like trying to explain how many cups are in a liter or a quart without first defining the size of the cup. Generally speaking though you can store about 1000 low resolution pictures or about 250 MP3 songs in 1 GB.

For a light and medium users there are a lot of viable options for backing up online for reasonable price. For light users there are even free options available, here are few options:

  • My Other Drive offers free backup for up to 2 GB, the catch is that if you go over 2 GB you’ll start to pay.
  • Drop box Also offers free backup for up to 2 GB with subscription over that.
  • OffSiteBox Offers fee backup for up to 1 GB with subscriptions over that.
  • iDrive Also offers free backup for up to 2 GB with subscription over that

I haven’t tried any of these services as I’m a very heavy backup user (I have close to 2000 GB of files I want backed up) but they all look like a good solution for the right scenarios. One thing to be aware of is overseas companies offering online backup solutions. These might all be great companies but the problem is that network connectivity overseas is a lot slower than domestically. It’s a simple law of physics that it takes longer to go 6000 miles than 2000 miles, even when traveling at the speed of light as in the case of internet connectivity. Therefore I would stick with companies in the same continent as you are (so in the US for those of us in the US) for this purpose. The only overseas company I’ve come across offering backup service is Live Drive which is based in London England. Unless they have established a presence in the US (as in US customers data is backed up to a servers in the US) I would stay away from them (unless of course you live in Europe), simply for performance reasons. As an example when I measure the transit times from my computer in Kirkland WA to the iDrive servers the average result is 36 milli seconds where as to the Live Drive servers the average is 181 milli seconds. This means that it would take me 5 times as long to backup or restore the same amount of files to Live Drive compare to iDrive.

There are two other options for either light or medium users that claim to offer unlimited backup for one flat monthly fee, but I would not recommend these for heavy users. These are called Mozy and Carbonite. While the promise of unlimited backup can be enticing there is usually a catch to those offers. I haven’t tried Mozy but I did try Carbonite and I can not in good conscience recommend them. If you want an unlimited plan I would try Mozy simply because they aren’t Carbonite.

Generally speaking there is a gotcha’s when it comes to unlimited backup plans in that the company may have a desire to keep their space use down by limiting the number of copies they store and how long they store it. Say for example your Quicken file gets corrupt and you can’t open it, your backup file is most likely corrupt too so unless you have at least couple of different versions your backup can’t help you out. This is why it is important to keep few revisions of a file and any good backup solution will do that for you automatically. Another scenario is you accidentally delete a file of your hard drive, the backup company could decide to delete your backup too which defeats the whole point of a the backup. What if they keep it for a month and then delete it but it takes you six weeks to notice it is gone. These are the dangers of an unlimited backup plan. When you pay for the space you use it is in the companies best interest to keep many version of your backup and never delete files from the backup until you explicitly delete it from the backup as this increases the space you use. If you backup 10 GB of files and keep three copies then you’re paying for 30 GB backup.

My issue with Carbonite is I feel they are deceitful and unreliable. They claim they give you unlimited backup but they neglect to tell you that if you attempt to backup more than 35 GB you’re backup becomes so slow that it becomes unusable. They burry this information deep in this support article where they outline that if you exceed 35 GB that your backup speed will be cut by a fourth, and if you exceed 200 GB your backup speed will be one twentieth of a user that has less than 35 GB backed up. At that speed it will take you years to backup just few GB, so in practical terms you really can’t backup more than 200 GB. When I contacted support to complain about my backup speeds they gave me the total run around, blaming my internet speeds, telling me stories about how some users have really slow connection and basically just telling me bunch of stories. At no point did they actually fess up on how to they were set up, I found that support article by digging around their knowledge base system. They would never attempt to do any troubleshooting or do anything beyond providing irrelevant canned answers. I complained loudly to every contact at Carbonite I could find, including support and sales with no results. Then I found them on Facebook and told my story on their wall, initially they just deleted my posts but after I persisted awhile I was actually contacted by their VP on Support who apologized for the run around the support gave me and tried to justify their policies. He offered me a refund which is the only reason why I’m still a customer. I have no intention of ever paying them, but as long as they keep giving me free service I might keep them around. In the time I’ve had them I’ve gotten couple of automated emails saying that the computer hasn’t contact their computers for over a week and to please turn the computer on connect it to the internet. I contacted Carbonite support asking for explanation and told them that this computer is never turned off and always connected, even supplied proof of that. No response from support in any fashion. I’ve also found a lot of complaining on other blogs about Carbonite loosing peoples files so when they went to restore, there were files missing or in some cases their entire backup.

For heavy or very heavy users (like myself) the options are much more limited. All the online backup options are prohibitively expensive, for example OffSiteBox charges $164.95/month for 500 GB. Amazon Web Services seems to charge $75/month for the same amount. My Other Drive seems to be considerable cheaper as their ads talk about $240 per year for twice that amount. What I opted for was to maintain a local backup as I find it much more cost effective. I purchased few external USB drives and file synchronization software. For one time investment in hardware I had myself a backup solution with only thing missing was an off-site option.

There are a lot of options when it comes to file synchronization software, I ended up going with a program called Goodsync and I have been very happy with it. The license for it $23.95 and it provides a lot of flexibility. A good backup solution though needs to have an off-site option to protect against things like fire. My solution lacks this right now. One option would be have extra hard drives and trade drives with drives off-site, either your office, safe deposit box, etc. Another option is to put the second drive into a fireproof data safe.