Socialism and Nationalism

Over the weekend, there was a riot/protest in Charlottesville between white nationalists/supremacists and everyone else.  The BBC News article can be found here.  The rally was around “Unite the Right,” extremely right-wing thinkers who believe the ways of the past without the ethical standings America stands for today and a smaller government.  Welcome to the New American Era.

Last summer, I took a history class that talked about how WWI started by exploring Europe’s bloodiest history.  I really wish some people would pick up a book, even if it’s just George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.  Book is really brutal in how it nationalism and war in Spain is very different from the front lines and the town in which Orwell returns to.  I’m mentioning this class and this book because WWI and WWII were fought over nationalism.  Sound familiar?

Look up “American Nationalism.”  New York Magazine did an article about three different kinds of American Nationalism.  Disengaged people, the smallest group of those interviewed, where those who “professed particularly low levels of pride in state institutions, and because they appeared to refrain from wholesale engagement with a national identity.”  Restrictive Nationalists “expressed only moderate levels of national pride but defined being ‘truly American’ in particularly exclusionary ways.”  Ardent Nationalists are the traditional flag-wavers in almost any crowd, people who view “Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and naturalized citizens as something less than ‘truly American.’”.  Creedal Nationalists believed in a “form of national self-understanding associated with a set of liberal principles—universalism, democracy, and the rule of law—sometimes referred to as the American creed.”

Where do you think the money lies in this?  The group where companies exist, where many Wall St. and Forbes Top 100 list people exists:  Capitalism.  Socialism with a major twist, where money walks and major players with bank rolls talk.

Still think I’m joking or off my rocker?  I helped on a paper that researched how marketers play mind games with the companies’ or politician’s audiences to help “raise awareness” or “hook” a new customer.  It was very interesting to see how emotions, clothing color, and portrayals actually got played on.  The next time you look at a commercial that you relate with, ask yourself why you feel you relate to it.  Why did the company do this or show that statistic in the commercial?  Am I relating because I feel a connection to the person speaking?

We live in an information age, yet we are increasing standing on one side of the fence or the other.  We are adamant about saying, “Do the research” while not doing the research ourselves.  We judge based off of our emotions and our experiences, which is normal.  But what’s not normal, or shouldn’t be normal, is the way we treat our fellow human beings.

Want more information?  Check out Crash Course’s Sociology playlist.  They’re YouTube videos that talk about sociology, conflict theory, and give real world examples in their videos.

With that said, hope you enjoyed your Monday folks.

 

Listening to:  “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Reading:  “The Diviners” by Libba Bray and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Quote of the Day:  “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Books…

Books and more books!

This is the month of books.  So far I have read/listened to five books so far this month and it’s only the 9th.  I have two other books started right now, with several more to get to by the end of the month.  I figured this would be a good time to tell you about them because that’s pretty much what I’m focusing on this month.

I actually like focusing on books.  I love reading; I’m finally figuring out what I like outside of paranormal.  It also gives me something else to focus on besides working and the house.  I can be positive about books.  I can be passionate about books.  I can actually talk about books and the characters, the writing styles and what I like (or hated).  As a writer, that’s super important to me.  If I know the style I like to read, I can write that way too.

This month, I’m doing the Tome Topple challenge (books over 500 pages) and Read-A-Thin (thinning out your To-Be Read list).  There are also books outside of those two challenges that I am reading/listening to.  Here are the video links to my complete TBR lists for all three sets of books.

August TBR: Read-a-thin Challenge– https://youtu.be/zK8rskow3BY
August TBR: Tome Topple– https://youtu.be/U0hWaQBLk_A
August TBR: Other books– https://youtu.be/lvI5ZxrG_g8

Overall, there were 18 books.  Now, there are 20 because I added a buddy read book that I wasn’t expecting and one of my Overdrive holds became available.

That’s what’s going on my life right now.

Listening to:  Eclectic Reads’ Coffee Book Tag

Reading:  Physical book–Shadow the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (great book!) and Audiobook—Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Quote of the Day:  “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” ― Frank Lloyd Wright

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August Goals

Happy August!

I did not do much goal related this past month.  Mostly, July was spent focusing on us moving and making enough money to move.  I was actually surprised at how much did read, watched and drove around.  There is something to be said for not worrying about school right now.

July happenings:

  • Miles reached: 645.17 (274.83 miles to Lothlorien.)
  • Weight lost: 8 lbs (Down to 266.8 from 274.8 on 7/1)
  • Books read: 10
  • Blog Posts: 7
  • Vlog Posts:  10
  • Participate in BookTubeAThon, a week long tribute to reading and books.

July’s goals are fairly straight forward.

  • Reach 750+ miles.
  • Lose at least 10 lbs.
  • 12 blog posts.
  • Finish reading 10 more books.
  • Spend 2 hours 3x a week this month.
  • Build emergency fund back up.
  • Upload 14 vlogs.
  • Sign up/Upgrade Baltimore Half to Baltimoron (5k plus Half).
  • Buy Yule Ball tickets for December 15th.
  • Participate in Read-a-Thin and Tome Topple.

Hopefully, we will know where we are moving to soon.  This whole house process is really, really frustrating ways.  Make sure you have several thousands of dollars saved up.  We thought we had enough but turns out we were wrong.  Hence why I didn’t mark anything off my list this month.  Better luck next time, huh?

Listening to:  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  Book is super cute right now.

Reading:  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

Quote of the Day: “Most great people have attained their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure.” ― Napoleon Hill

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To the Boy Who Lived…

Today is Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom’s birthday.

If you’re new to my blog posts, Harry Potter and Wizarding World is very much a part of my life and that of a lot of my friends.  My mom was still alive when the first three books were out and after she died, it gave me something to crawl into and remember her by.  Add that to my step-mom became a Harry Potter fan after the movies came out.  We would talk about the Wizarding World; she would call with random questions and I would answer them if I remembered the answer.  She also bought me the 7th book for my birthday present the year it came out.  We both cried at the ending.

On top of my memories of my moms, my sister also has a few Harry Potter based tattoos.  They’re really neat.  I need to go get my Potter inspired tattoo at some point but I’m torn between getting my house crest (I’m a Slytherin) or a version of “Always,” the word Snape utters to Dumbledore in regards to Lily.  Talk about a great love story that explained so much.

I also wanted to do quotes today, so in honor of Harry and Neville, here are my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series.

“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.” 
–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” –Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being–forgive me–rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.” ––Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” –Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?” –Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” –Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” –Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets

“When in doubt, go to the library.” –Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets

And of course…

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Thank you, J.K. Rowling for giving the world Harry Potter and everything that has come from what you have created.  Happy birthday!

 

Listening to:  J vs Ben:  The Hardest Dumbledore Trivia Quiz Ever

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Quote of the Day:  Pick an other ones above.

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Patience and Determination

This past week, I have been driving around like crazy.  It’s not been easy and I’ve spent almost 30 hrs on the road in the last week.  It should have been more.  I didn’t imagine this being a full-time job when I started it almost two years ago.

What I did imagine was getting further along in my career to where I wouldn’t have to drive around to make ends meet.  I set myself up for this though so I shouldn’t be complaining.

Determination to have a different life will always get the better of you.  When you are satisfied with the status quo, you stay where you are.  Some people are happy just surviving.  They aren’t doing much else with their lives, but they are happy for the most part.  There are days sometimes I wish I could be satisfied with a simple life, or in my version of things, the bare-minimum American dream.

I have always found the American dream to be a sham.  The big house with a white picket fence, a dog, a cat, two kids, a husband… I have already failed at this one since I’m gay and won’t be having any kids anytime soon.  But my wife wants that dream so I’ll patiently and determinately give it to her because it makes her happy.

Roots are not something I have ever wanted and/or needed.  Connections with things and homes don’t leave much space to move around for work or to have a somewhat vagabond-ish life that I had dreamed for myself as I had gotten older.  I used to joke on my dad about his wanderlust.  Looks like I have a version of that bug too.  Being married with kids and responsibilities has gone a long way to making sure that bug stays tucked away in a “What if” part of my brain.

Patience, though, keeps me stationary just as well.  Without patience, the need for instant gratification hits hard.  It’s definitely a generational thing, where I want something and I want it now.  If I don’t get it quickly, I stop working towards the goal and then when I think about it again, it’s too late or has lost the luster it once had.

Patience is definitely needed when it comes to getting the house we are trying for; determination is the only thing keeping me from walking away from it.  Determination to prove to everyone I can do this adulting thing and that I can finally get with the program to reach a lifetime milestone.  Well, that and $3,000 in earnest money (a DMV standard from those I have talked to about it.  Most other states require less.).  That’s too much money to just throw away, when building it back up would take six more weeks of me trying to kill myself.

Isn’t life grand?

Listening to:  The construction going on outside.

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity and confidence. Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine.” ― Sean Stephenson

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Saturday Night

I have been driving people around for a while now.  It’s not an uncommon situation:  When someone asks me what I’m doing at night/on the weekends, I’m driving to make money.  June saw me with no car and no extra cash for things.  Needless to say, things were, and are still, a little tight.

That’s why I found myself driving around trying to get to my monetary goal on Saturday night.

My last ride of the night was a young man in relative terms.  I don’t often work the drunk crowd; it’s my scene and I’d rather be the person drinking, not the DD.  Anyways, this guy is slightly wobbly and I’m like this is going to be a really irritating ride.  I picked the young man up; he was headed to the opposite of the Harbor.  His first comment was, “Take whatever route gets us there.”

In the following 20 some minutes, I found out a lot about my passenger.  Former Marine and he was dealing with a heartache.  His girlfriend of several years had a skewd view of a relationship.  We both agreed that a relationship is about spending time with each other.  On top of that, he had started setting up roots for their future.  He had moved to the area, bought a house, and had a decent job…He wanted the works everyone over 30 is supposed to want.  After serving his country and doing several tours, he deserved that.

What pissed me off was here was someone who had fought for our country who deserved to have his dreams come true.  Four years and newly single when all he wanted was to be happy with the person he saw his future with.  We kept talking about how nice it would be to have someone to come home to after a long day who loved you.  Her argument was that he seemed like he wanted Little Suzy Homemaker.  After talking to him, I didn’t get that impression at all.  Of course this was only over 20 minutes of talking to this guy while he was slightly intoxicated.

As an Uber Driver, what gets talked about in the car is supposed to die there, unless it’ an argument with the top dog of the company.  However, this guy’s story stuck with me all weekend.  I wanted to say something prolific about how we treat veterans like crap.  I have seen so many homeless vets and vets like my dad who hasn’t had anything good happen in couple years.  Maybe it’s my guilt of not being there for my dad right now, or when he needed me a few years ago.  I haven’t gotten past what I didn’t do when it would have been so easy to just help, and now it’s way too late to do anything about it.  Whatever it is, this young man’s story had me wanting to end my shift and grab drink just to continue the conversation.  I don’t get many passengers like that.

If you have military personnel in your life or know any military personnel, please say “Thank you” and hug them.  Start a conversation with them and see how they are truly doing AND LISTEN TO THEM.  Take them out for a nice day out and remind them the positives of what they have/are fighting for.  Help with what you can, even if it’s babysitting so they can have some time with their partners.  Most importantly, love them.

 

Listening to:  “Lydia” by Highly Suspect

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ― Vince Lombardi

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Weightloss and Comments

Yesterday I got hit with the whole “Are you losing weight because you look like you’re weight” comment.  My response was to look down, mutter “yes,” and walk back to my desk.

This morning, I was going through my e-mails before I got ready for work and saw something one of the vloggers I follow had posted about a woman who had flagged her down and wanted to talk to her about the Overeaters Anonymous group at the flagger’s church.  I shook my head; maybe the woman had had great success there, but to flag someone you don’t know down and interrupt them getting their groove on is a little much.  Unsolicited advice is a no-go.  Just don’t, please.

Over on Facebook, I’m in a couple gastric bypass groups.  Someone in one of them posted about their daughter who was going through the same struggles the person had before coming to terms with having weightloss surgery.  As a parent, she doesn’t want her child going through the same situation she did.  However, her daughter is over the age of 18; there’s not much a parent can do about their offspring’s choices after that.

Something about all of these things brought me to write this particular post this morning.  Here it goes.

PLEASE STOP GIVING ADVICE OR COMMENTING SO MUCH!

Sure, I’ve lost weight.  Yes, I work around people and people are going to notice changes.  No, I don’t constantly want to talk about my weightloss journey and I definitely don’t want to talk about how you’re having surgery because I look like I’m having amazing success with it.  If I’m out here walking or exercising, I’m in my groove; please don’t comment about it.  Or how about asking yourself before saying anything, “Would I say what I’m about to say if this person was a [insert descriptors… for this, it’s ‘smaller person.’  For others, it may be ‘male,’ ‘female,’ etc.]?”  How about that?

In my monthly goal posts, yes, I put up how much I lost the month before and how much I want to lose over the next month.  That’s pretty much it.  I’m not constantly posting pictures for Transformation Tuesday, Weightloss Wednesday, etc., because I am over talking about my weightloss journey.  It’s been seven months!  The only thing I really want to talk about is how to mentally be the smaller person.  Can you talk to me how to mentally not respond to things the way I would have when I was bigger?

*Holds temples*

For people with kids, harping on their weight is just going to make them more self-conscious and insecure in themselves.  If you’re really worried about it, start cooking differently for the whole family.  Go for walks as a family; do activities as a family!  Make it look like you are trying something different as a family.  Don’t make weight the focus.  Why is weight even a focus at that point?

WHY ARE WE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH WEIGHT AND NOT SUPPORT?

Support is different for each person.  Why can’t we say something nice to people regardless of size, race, gender, cultural aspects, etc.?  For my co-worker, just say something nice about my outfit or my hair.  For people we see out on the streets, if you have a moment to say something nice, do so but don’t interrupt them while they are in their groove.  For the parent, encourage your kids to do things with you like game night; communicate with them.  Actually have a conversation with each other where you are supportive and not destructive towards them or yourselves.

Food for thought today.

Listening to:  My Amazon Playlist

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Quote of the Day:  “Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” ― Maya Angelou

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