Pull Off The Label

We are not cans of vegetables in a store that require a label to be stacked in the same area. We are people, so why do we need so many labels? There are so many labels that seem to define people that I’m starting to think that it’s made up. I’m black, female, gay, and married, but none of those define me just like those words or similar words don’t define you. One of the reasons you label vegetables is so that when you open them, you know what’s inside. Labeling people tells you nothing about the person inside. Labeling is very broad way of saying “This is me”, but why do you need to say that? It would be so nice if we could pull off the labels and people were just that, a person with a name for identification, and that’s it. “I am Anita” – that’s my identification, and that has nothing to do with who I am inside. We have got too hung up on these labels without knowing the person who is assigned a label. When you meet someone, you should look at the person, not if he is gay, straight, transgender, or anything else, just the person. We have a superficial world that looks too much at looks before seeing the person inside the body. It doesn’t matter if you are beautiful or ugly as hell if what’s inside should count more than what you look like and what label should be attached to your person. Why is it so important that you give yourself a label or a label is given to you? Does that label tell the person about you? I hope not because this world is worse off than I thought if all we are is a bunch of people trying to fit in a label like string beans in a can. When I was a kid, I saw these two people walking down the street. They were gay, I assumed. I wondered why people can’t just love who they wanted, as they were not hurting anyone. I learned as I got older that labels are used as a way to hurt people, and labels are used to define people as a certain sexual being. Again, why do you need a label to describe your sexuality? If you’re transgender, great but I rather know the person inside that transgender body. I don’t care if you’re transgender because that’s not what drew you to me. It’s that person inside that body that I want to get to know and love. I’m just saying I would rather just know your name. This doesn’t just apply to gay people but straight people as well. I don’t care if you’re straight, I just want to know your name and get to know that person inside. We are all different inside, and that is what makes us special. If you were to put all the Anita’s in the world together, we would still be different because of the person inside: there is no need to label that Anita as straight or that Anita as gay, what is the point? I really hope one day that people will stop with the labeling because it’s a false way to define someone.  It would be so much better if we pulled off the labels and just looked at the person. Maybe that would make the world a better place. It might help with all this divisiveness that is going on. It might help people to truly understand the next person without making assumptions. It could put love in the world and get rid of some of the hatred we have for certain groups of labeled people. Please take the time to pull the label off and look at the person inside before you judge. The next time someone says I’m pansexual, ask them who are they really inside without the label.

No Shame in Going to a Trade School


For some kids, the stress of whether to go to college is a pressure cooker waiting to explode, especially if they do not want to go. College is not for every kid, but parents often put their ambitions for their children on them. We are well aware of the extent some parents go to to get their kids into a university. Is college for the kid or for the parents? There was a time when the military was the go-to source of jobs for kids, especially African American kids. Parents looked at the military as a way out of the ghetto, which could eat their kids up and spit them out on the nearest-drug infested corner. That seems to have changed somewhat as military standards have changed. It wasn’t so much that parents didn’t want their kids to enlist; rather, it’s more that kids weren’t being accepted so readily.

There is an alternative out there that most parents fail to push, and that’s work that’s done with your hands. These are the construction workers, electricians, and plumbers, just to name a few. These jobs offer good salaries with much less cost to the student. I believe it’s how these types are jobs are perceived that makes them seem on the surface less important than the professions of a doctor or lawyer. Doesn’t it sound so much better to say “my child is a lawyer” than “my child is a garbage man”?

There are many kids out here who have no desire to attend college, but feel that they have no other option, so they go. Years ago, getting an associate’s degree was a sign that you’d made it, but that is no longer true. You need a bachelor’s degree, and with some occupations a master’s degree, to have a chance of getting that high-paying job. There are also cases where high-paying jobs still elude students because they haven’t scored high enough for Corporate America to even consider them. For some of our next-generation kids, high school is all they can see; they see nothing beyond that. It’s a strange thought that when you were a kid, you wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, anything that was glamorized on television. When the drug craze came about, television started to glamorize that quick money, and then kids started to go in that direction. I’m not saying this happens to every kid, but enough kids get drawn into easy money and a flashy lifestyle. Then the technology craze hit, and now we have some kids sitting in front of a screen before they can even talk. In a sense, they are raised by screens. They have little if any ambition and college, is a definite no-no. 

My grandson is in the eleventh grade, and I often ask him, “What are you interested in”? Because everything I suggest is a NO! When he was small, he had dreams; what happened to them? He isn’t a bad student, but is an average student who won’t be getting into any Ivy League school. That’s OK because there’s an alternative: a trade school. A trade school occupation is something to be proud of; it’s like building a house, something you put your back into. In this type of profession, you can look at your hands, and see the ability to take something from nothing and made it real. There are trade school jobs that aren’t labor-intense, like web developer or dental hygienist, that a person can learn to do, and they can be proud of what they have accomplished. 

Parents, I think that you have to be honest in evaluating your child. Don’t try to make your child a college student when they have shown no desire, or when they’re just barely making it out of high school. It should be about giving them choices, and trade schools should be among the options that are discussed. I checked online, and these are some of the best jobs for trade school graduates: 1. Elevator Installer/repairer, medium salary $77,806 2. Radiation Therapist, medium salary $69,504 3. Web Developer, medium salary $58,448 4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, $55,106, 5. Electricians,$52,527. These salaries aren’t too shabby for a person not going to college. 
College is great for students who are going for themselves, not for their parents. However, college often involves a lot of debt, and offers no guarantees that graduates will be employed in their chosen field after they’ve sweated for multiple years to earn their degree. A trade school involves a lot less debt, and offers better chances of employment are better in one’s chosen field. Don’t sell your child short; give him/her every opportunity to succeed, even when college isn’t in the equation.

My Secret Is Out

There’s this concept online called crowdfunding. In basic language, crowdfunding is a group of people that buy into another individual’s/company’s idea. I mean buy as in money and buy as in you like what they are selling. I actually can’t tell you how I got involved, but believe me, it had to be something I saw online that made me say, “Wow!” I was working then, though money was tight, but what I saw made me say, “I’ve got to have this!” The problem was my spouse, who wasn’t my spouse at the time, but we were dating and living together. I knew that spending money on a watch was not going to fly. Yes, the first geeky item I pledged to was a watch. This watch connected to your phone and you got notifications. This was before smart watches were the rage. What I did was to first talk up the watch by saying how it could keep me from missing messages on my commute from New York to New Jersey. Well, that didn’t work, so I did what I knew was fail proof: it was an early birthday present to myself. While I was wheeling and dealing with my spouse on this watch, I went to a newfound website of geek items and saw another watch. This time, not only could I get notifications but I could talk into it. Dick Tracy here I come! Now, I’m talking about two watches. Well, I only have one birthday, so how could I get her to see things from my point of view? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, so I did the unthinkable and just kept my big mouth shut. The website that had grabbed my attention that I was not mentioning was Kickstarter. 
Kickstarter

Kickstarter
was started in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. The Kickstarter headquarters is located in New York City. Kickstarter is a very user friendly site for project owners and backers. Kickstarter responds to questions and problems about their site very quickly and you can communicate with the project owner by clicking on the comments section or emailing him/her through the website. The comments area is also a place to interact, not only with the project owner, but with other backers, during the course of the project.
Kickstarter has a global community of people from more than 220 countries and territories. Roughly 35% of successfully funded projects now come from outside the United States, as do 45% of backers. Together, these backers and creators use Kickstarter to reach across borders and shape culture into what they want it to be, rather than accepting it for what it is. And as ideas from different cultures collide with one another, they inspire new conversations, creative approaches, and cross-cultural connections.
 

Kickstarter Project Manager 
I will discuss the technology area of Kickstarter; however, there are many types of projects that you can back, such as films, music, and books. The Kickstarter site enables people to discover and back as many projects as they believe will become a reality. When a person, or groups of people, decide to start a project on Kickstarter they must first build a project page, which includes a video with a description explaining their project. The next step for the project owner is to provide information about their budget and a timeline from beginning to end of the project. The project owner must then decide what kind of rewards they will offer backers, such as a choice of item color or engraving the item with the project name and year. These rewards are given when the project funding reaches certain milestones. Project owners have to keep in mind that they pay for all of the rewards offered to backers. When project owners think about the funds necessary to bring their project to fruition, they must consider everything because Kickstarter will not let their project become a reality if the funding goal is not met. A very important part of the project is promotion. A project needs active promotion because a project no one knows about will never get funded. Kickstarter’s fee is 5%, with an additional 3 to 5% for processing payments. If the project owner doesn’t meet their funding goal, they owe nothing.

Kickstarter Backers
There are different tier amounts that a backer can pledge. When a backer pledges early there is usually a perk from the project owner as a way of thanking a backer for coming aboard early. The different pledge tiers not only tell you the item, but an estimated month and year that you will receive the item. The shipping information will also be listed in each tier box, along with any accessories that might be given. Once he/she has met the project funding level, the project owner will give their backers updates as the project develops through each stage. Backers like to know they’ve made a wise decision in backing a project and hate it when shipping has to be pushed back time after time. My experience with Kickstarter is that projects are always pushed back for different reasons. The project owners try to give realistic shipping estimates, but often a project of this magnitude is new to many of them and they are not prepared for the problems that arise. You, the backer, have to be aware that there are also scam artist that will go through the motions of creating a project, but once funding is met and they receive their money, you never hear from them again. There is really no recourse for backers when a project owner takes the money and doesn’t fulfill his/her part of the deal. Kickstarter backing is partially about being first to get an item that no one might know about or have even envisioned. As I stated, not all projects make it to the backers. An example of this was a watch that I pledged for my daughter. It was supposed to be the thinnest watch out in 2013. The company wasn’t able to make the watch because they encountered too many hurdles that they weren’t prepared for. I recently received a letter informing us that after liquidating all of their assets, there was no money to give to backers

Some might think this is throwing money away because these projects aren’t cheap, and if a project fails you can’t get your money back. I think of it like this: It’s no riskier than the lottery or going to the casino. You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. There is a certain rush you get as the months go by waiting for your reward to make it from the project owner’s vision to you.

The Art of Cheating

Cheating, similar to a painting, needs all of the pieces to come together to create the perfect picture. There are three people involved in cheating: the cheater, the person being cheated on, and last but not least, the person being cheated with. That basically sums up the triangle of cheating. I would guess that most of us have been in one part of the triangle or another at some point. The person being cheated on and the person being cheated are just like an isosceles triangle in that they are equal in the hurt that can come from a cheater. 

There are signs; however, it’s a matter of whether you, the person being cheated on, wants to acknowledge the signs or not. There are always very subtle signs. It’s a sign that if you blink too fast, it will be gone. Cheaters very seldom in the beginning of a new relationship do obvious things that are easy for you to pick up on, but they do unobvious things that are small, so you have to be observant. If you have been in a long-term relationship that is meaningful to you, then you know your other half. You know if the person stops kissing you when he/she leaves the room or comes home from work. There may be times when that kiss that usually comes every day starts becoming every other day or every two days. You understand now what I mean by subtle? 

I know it may be hard to think of the person who is being cheated with as a causality in this triangle as much as the person who is being cheated on, but I believe he or she is also a victim. There are a lot of people who feel that the person who is being cheated with should bear the brunt of this triangle because that person should have just said no to the relationship. That person is looked upon as a third wheel for entering into a relationship that was solid. Actually, I guess it wasn’t as solid as it was thought to be. I argue that this person could not have infiltrated your relationship without there being some kind of hint that said it was “OK”. Again, the hint is usually very subtle. It doesn’t matter who puts out the hint – the cheater or the person being cheated with – it takes only that small acknowledgment of acceptance to start cheating.

The cheater is the big fish because both of the other parties of the triangle are being held together by this person. The cheater is not only cheating on the person that he/she has the direct relationship with but also the person he/she is cheating with. Yes, the person being cheated with has as much invested in this triangle as the cheater and his/her partner. The cheater is a bandit who is stealing feelings and emotions from the other two people in the triangle. Have you ever noticed that the drama that comes with cheating becomes stronger once it’s out in the open. The cheater and the side person’s relationship becomes closer, and this is because they have a common denominator, which is the dislike for or uncertainty of the person being cheated on. That common denominator pushes the cheater and the person being cheated with closer and closer until they are so close that they truly believe they are in love. I often wonder, without that common denominator, could that side relationship work? 

The triangle doesn’t care if you are straight, gay, or a martian; its all about you and how you treat someone. The person being cheated on has to dig down deep in their emotions to confront the cheater. I know it is easier said than done. I really believe that confronting the cheater as soon as the hint is in view is what should be done. No, don’t blink and hope it goes away. No, don’t try to do more until actions from the cheater match the words that come out of his/her mouth. The longer it takes to confront the cheater, the harder it will be. That’s a fact. You need to get the information, resources and finances together and just put all of that away somewhere for when you need it. The person being cheated with, it would be very easy to say just say no, but I know it’s not always that easy, especially as you get closer and closer to the cheater. I think you already know it’s wrong to get in between any sort of relationship, but there are times when the cheater presents such a good view of why this is ok that it’s like being hit by a Mack Truck. It happens before you know you’ve been hit. I’m definitely not saying that it’s ok to be the third wheel in the triangle. What I’m saying is that there could be a good reason why that person is involved in a relationship. For the cheater, there are so many reasons why he/she cheats, from you can’t cook to you can’t satisfy him/her. These things get ballooned in the creator’s mind once the cheater feels that there is no way to fix the relationship. Or it could just be that the person finds the need to have more than one person, like a polygamist. Even if the cheater comes back, it will never be like it was before, when you laughed at the same things or snuggled in bed watching a movie. The trust is gone, and, once gone, trust is hard to get back. It’s hard to forget that all of that occurred when the relationship grew from two to three people. 

You, the person being cheated on, has to be honest and open with yourself. Can you look past the hurt? Can you believe his/her words that come out of his/her mouth? Can you release the heartache that comes with having a third person in the relationship? The person being cheated with thinks that once the cheater is out of the relationship, they can be together. That’s a bunch of poop. You might lose out just like the person being cheated on because you will, in fact, get that title. I don’t get it. Just because the cheater is out of a relationship doesn’t mean you will be the chosen one. It just means you were there and were used to break up a relationship, and that’s all it means, nothing more or nothing less.

Honest communication is the only way to stop the train wreck that will come from cheating. This honest communication has to occur before the third person is brought into the relationship; otherwise, honest communication becomes lying communication. There will be times when honest communication will lead to a relationship breaking up because you may find that you two have grown apart or maybe one of you has fallen out of love. It might happen that breaking the bond between the two of you is the best thing and maybe neither of you can see it at that very moment, but down the line you both will wish that you could say to the other person, “Thank you for being honest with me.” 

I hope that anyone who is currently in a relationship and is not happy, that you stop and talk to your partner/spouse before things get sloppy from involving a third person.

My Dog Hates To Poop

GG

Mason


I have two Shih Tzus, GG and Mason. While Mason is a pooping machine, GG hates to poop. I realized when GG was a puppy that she is a very stubborn dog. I had to leave the house at 3am and would put food and water down for her, and when I returned home—usually around 6pm—her food and water looked just as I left it. When I came in the house, she would look at me with her big eyes and turn her head. I knew she was mad, but I had no choice; I had to work. I did work at home at lot of the time, but when I came home that was my punishment: she ignored me. Once, I had to go to Boston for a conference. I had to board her, and after inspecting and checking the credentials, I settled on Best Friends for boarding. I loved that place. I paid for her to go on a shopping spree in their store, ice cream, one-on-one playtime and bedtime stories. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible for the 5 days she would be there. I would call every day to find out she would eat but wouldn’t poop. I was scared if she didn’t poop soon she might get sick, so I cut my trip short. When I picked her up I felt so guilty that I cooked her a steak which she gobbled up. Who wouldn’t? She still wouldn’t poop. The next day I was ready to take her to the vet when, while walking, she stepped down on her leash to let me know that was as much walking as she was going to do, and so we turned around to come home when she finally pooped. It was big dog poop. I mean German Shepherd amount. I felt like jumping for joy. I noticed that pooping for GG is a matter of how she feels. GG is 17 years old and she is defiant in some things—and pooping is one of those things. When I take her out, I have to give her some sense of privacy. She squats and I look up into the sky. If I don’t, she squats and just looks at me with those big eyes of hers and nothing comes out. I learned this after many years of trying to figure out why she would poop sometimes and not others; it was a long process it get to that point. With GG being an old girl now, I am fanatic about her pooping because it is harder for her to smell and the amount of food she eats varies. I have tried Metamucil, but getting that in her was not working at all. I would find the Metamucil on the floor when I thought she had swallowed it. The next thing I tried was pumpkin. I mixed it with her boiled chicken, and for a while it worked, but then she got smart. She would smell Mason’s food and, because it didn’t have any pumpkin, she would try to eat his food. The next thing I tried (and still do) is smearing pumpkin all around Mason’s plate so his plate would smell the same as hers. This worked for a while, but she got wise again. She now smells his plate and goes back to her plate and only eats the boiled chicken pieces that have no pumpkin; the rest she throws on the floor next to her plate. It’s frustrating that on a daily basis I have to figure out what will and won’t work. I keep a WeeWee pad on the floor so when the weather is bad or I can’t take her out, she could go; however, she doesn’t like going in the house and would rather hold it until she can go out.

Mason on the other hand poops like a caulking gun; what goes in comes out in the next hour. It’s unbelievable that a 17lb dog could have so much poop or pee in him. I mean, he can pee outside until nothing comes out and come in the house and pee again. It’s ridiculous. When Mason finishes eating, he heads straight to the WeeWee pad and poops. I wonder how the food can digest so fast that it comes out after the last bite. I don’t know whether the fact he eats like a vacuum cleaner has anything to do with it. Mason does not chew his food, he just sucks it down. While GG hates going in the house, Mason will go anywhere at any time, sometimes three or four times a day. We, after 3 couches, have had to wrap him up before we go broke with our peeing fountain of a dog. 

They are definitely two different personalities of dogs. GG is more independent, and Mason is more of a baby. There is a 6 year difference in their age, and Mason seems like most boys: slow to learn. I think by me not being home, she learned to deal with things like thunderstorms. They don’t bother her at all, and we’re in Florida where some of the thunderstorms are very loud. Mason has great anxiety from thunderstorms; he shakes, poops and runs around chasing his tail. We tried everything like turning up the television and closing the blinds; nothing works because Mason can tell bad weather from miles away. He’s our weather dog. When we see him starting to get anxious, we know there is bad weather someplace because he picked up on it. I would check my phone when he started getting anxious and, sure enough, there was a lightening strike 5 miles away. He never fails in his weather forecasting. 

I’ll keep trying ways to keep GG going, and it is not easy. She has started something new recently of pooping only when I let her wake up on her own. If I wake her up, she is grouchy and she just walks around outside and steps down on her leash meaning, “That’s it, take me back home.” She’s an old girl now, and I let her do whatever she wants because I don’t know how much time we have left together. She’s in good health except she can’t hear so I’m grateful for that. If anyone has any more ideas of things I can try, please let me know.

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Bullying Straight Up No Chaser


Think back to when you were a child, I bet there is a fair amount of people who were bullied. We seem to forget that bullying is nothing new. Bullying is about power, it’s about making the bully feel good as much as it’s about making the bullied child feel hopeless and worthless. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that in this age of technology bullying has so much power that it could make a child commit suicide. The computer is not the problem, the problem is that people hide behind a screen and feel entitled and empowered by this sort of protection to say whatever they will – their words are the real issue. I’m one of those who don’t believe it’s guns that kill people, rather it’s the person behind the gun that’s the problem. Growing up, when you were bullied you told your parents, you had a fight or you just hid behind the other children to stay out of sight. Now though, virtual words typed on a keyboard have so much strength that they make a child feel there is nothing else they can do but tie something around their neck and hang from the highest point they can get to. Have we birthed children that have no backbone? Have we neglected our duties as parents so much that we can’t see the signs? Are we not able to hear our children calling us for help? I believe that technology takes away the ability for children to learn how to socialize. These days, when you look at kids, even when they are in a group, their eyes are constantly on their phones so they don’t really socialize anymore. This new generation of kids take it as the norm to be isolated rather than to socialize and make friends with their peers.  

There must be signs that parents don’t see when their child gets to the point where they feel hopeless and alone in their fight. I imagine the signs are there but they are hidden behind a façade of happiness. Maybe they try to be happy. If they are introverted within their family circle, they all of a sudden become extroverted outside of it. A child who doesn’t talk much becomes loquacious, whereas a talker becomes suddenly quiet. There are always signs, but we are missing them because we are so wrapped up in our own lives. No-one can accept the fact that an adult has contributed to the death of their child. Nevertheless, it’s time us parents take some responsibility for sticking a phone or a tablet into our children’s hands as soon as they can hold them. It seems like phones and tablets have become the new pacifier, one that takes away some of the parental duties that kids need the most and which should come in the form of interaction. Interaction is very, very important for a child’s growth as it gives them the confidence to deal with all types of situations. Interaction is a confidence booster that the new generations lack more and more and this lack means that parents see their children but they do not really know them. The distance between parents and children is wide and when parents realize what is going on with their children it is too late. The children have buried themselves into so much grief that pulling them back out would require a miracle. Miracles do happen, but how often? Not too often.

I truly believe it’s our duty as parents to ensure that in the future technology loses some of the power it has gained so far. We must teach our children exactly what the power of words is. Children must be told of experiences that parents have had, so they know their folks can relate. Parents must find the time to interact with their children on a regularly basis and tell them they understand their challenges and are open to discussing them together. Is that going to be easy? No, it won’t be a simple task, but you have to keep trying. Children have to know their parents won’t be judgmental, but understanding, so they can try to find a solution together. It’s easy to take away their computers or monitor the time they spend online, but that doesn’t mean they will get enough attention from you. Where is the interaction? Parents, you must be ready to bare your soul to your child and keep trying over and over again. A child needs to feel all the attention they feel they aren’t getting from you. A example of what I’m talking about is when your child comes home from school and you ask “How was school?”. You don’t just settle for “Okay”, that is not good enough because what does that tell you? Nothing at all. It will take time and you will get frustrated, but you have to keep trying, without pushing too hard. Don’t give up. I just don’t want to read about another child taking their life over some words they found on a computer screen. Remember that bullying can only go as far as your child lets it and it’s really up to you to equip them with the tools to fight back.