Friday, September 9, 2011

Aren't you glad?

I love technology and I thrive with the wonderful and various ways we can communicate in our world. Years ago when I was dispatching at a local police department, if an officer requested a vehicle registration request, we would write the plate number down, pull out "The Book" - a wide-carriage printout of all the vehicles in the state. One book for cars and one book for motorcycles and pick-up trucks. Then, we'd look up the plate (numerical order) and highlight it, take "The Book" to the radio and give the officer his information.

Sometimes, this would take a few minutes, sometimes not as many. Now, most officers have a laptop or other wireless device and gets the information almost immediately, but certainly in just a few seconds. Most officers don't remember a time when the data wasn't computerized. (With that comment I am dating myself, but you still have to count the years yourself...)

Personal communications is something else and right in line with this. Cell phones were once the size of a large brick (and called thus) and now are about the size of a playing card, and not a whole lot thicker! We went from "hearing" about computers to having ONE in the house, to having one per person in the house, sometimes more. Even our youngest children seem to have a need for the own computer and cell phone. And now we arrive at the point of this story.

Last night, I'd gone to some strange kid's soccer game and got home about quarter to eight. I had stopped and bought a fast-food burrito on the way home and ate it while trying to go through some email. (and Twitter, and Facebook, and, well, you get the idea.) I'd been home about 90 minutes and noticed I had missed some text messages on my phone. Three from "Chase". They read as follows:

801*******: Hi there

801*******: Are you there? It's me Chase

801*******: You alive?

Not having a clue who Chase was, but figuring I'd try to at least find out if I was missing something, I sent my reply:

Me: I'm here. But I think you have the wrong #

And then the magic started. The magic of instant communication plus accessibility and multiplied by confusion.

801******: No, I was just at your house.

Me: Well, I've been home alone tonight. What is the name of the person you are trying to talk to?

801*******: Chase. I told you Chase

801*******: Why are you home alone?

Me: Because nobody else is here. I still think you have the wrong #

801*******: No it was my drother

801*******: brother

Me: What is my name?

801*******: It's okay if you don't want to chatting

Me: I'm not against chatting, but I think you are looking for someone else. What is the name of the person you think I am.

801*******: What's your name?

Me: What do YOU think it is?

801*******: Yes

At this point, I could see that communication while present, wasn't firing on all eight cylinders. I took a picture of myself, just a face shot, nothing major but something so "Chase" could see who he was talking to. I added the text "Does this look like the person you think you are talking to?"

My new found friend's response was:

801*******: I have to go to bed now. I am only 11.

Maybe I should have been clued in by the context and spelling of the texts, but most people do that in text messages.

Also, I'm not sure what it says about me, but someone then asked me if I was glad I didn't send him a picture of my penis. Okay, NOT that I am in the habit of sending out pictures of my penis, but it kind of makes me wonder why THAT question came up...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friends, networking, and helping

Every once in a while, I will I will post on Twitter or Facebook something about "It's all about networking". I have truly been blessed to reach out and find old friends, family and new friends. Some of these people I see weekly, some I haven't seen for years and decades, and others I have never met. I am so grateful for these friends.

Some of the postings are funny, some are sad, some are angry and some are cries for help. The networking is a good thing; you can get and give suggestions for places to eat, services needed, or even make connections to run races together, go shopping or ride motorcycles. We can share pictures and videos, jokes and concerts.

Sometimes the jokes don't make sense, at least not to me, and sometimes an opinion gets shared that you don't agree with, or someone doesn't agree with yours. It's all good - it's LIFE!

Sometimes the mean people or haters come out. Most often the haters are people that have a voice simply because they have a venue to use. They validate their opinions and denigrate yours they same way they would control an in person conversation - they "shout" (all caps) and they repeat their words to overwhelm you with their own logic. The worst ones that I've dealt with are the ones demanding some kind of tolerance for their particular "whatever" but refuse to to allow you your own opinion.

Really? I have to accept and even approve of your ideal but you get to sit there and tell me mine is just wrong?

Every once in a while, I have been lucky to converse with someone who decides to be brave enough to share something personal with me. Sometimes funny, sometimes angry and sometimes pain. A handful of days ago I was blessed to be able to talk with someone about some pain they were holding. I hope I helped. I hope that I was able to provide some sort of relief and comfort.

I know I would like to thank them for trusting me enough to share something personal.

I'm not going to user her name, suffice to say they she falls into the category of "known her for decades, haven't talked for years". I can say that I've got some kindred feelings with her. She'd been hurt by someone in her family previously and was the unfortunate recipient of continued pain from the mistreatment by this person. I went through the same thing, but I've already written about that in another blog. Read it there if you want, I'd prefer that the focus here is on my friend.

She reached out one night with a post on Facebook. I misunderstood what she posted initially, I blame it on being tired, could be I'm a little slow. We posted comments for a few minutes then went private to have a more personal conversation. As she spoke about what was really going on, I offered what small comfort I could, commiserated with her, and was just there for her. Well, electronically there for her.

I'd like to think that she got something more out of it than just typing late one night. And if you're reading this now, know that I still offer an ear, a shoulder, or even just yell at me to vent.

I'd also like to ask anybody that DOES read this to please watch, please be aware that sometimes what people post on Facebook and Twitter is an attempt to say that they are hurting. Maybe they are just lonely, maybe they are just dealing with a moment of stress. Maybe, as with the other night, they are venting to release some pain.

I firmly believe that we are charged with serving one another, helping as we can, and offering what we are able to. We volunteer for things that are important to us. Please, when you find yourself in a position to offer, volunteer to help a friend.

And, to my friend, I care. I hope you are finding a way to heal. I hope I helped.

Monday, April 4, 2011

He was no friend of mine

Part One
Definitions of bully on the Web:

· Strong-arm: be bossy towards; "Her big brother always bullied her when she was young"
· A cruel and brutal fellow
· browbeat: discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
· A hired thug
· A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people
· A hired ruffian; a thug
· A person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people
· A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people

Some bullies are looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. When they pick on someone else, it can make them feel big and powerful.

Bullies often pick on someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on kids who get upset easily or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Getting a big reaction out of someone can make bullies feel like they have the power they want. Sometimes bullies pick on someone who is smarter than they are or different from them in some way. Sometimes bullies just pick on a kid for no reason at all.

How to deal with a bully:

Don't give the bully a chance. As much as you can, avoid the bully. You can't go into hiding or skip class, of course. But if you can take a different route and avoid him or her, do so.

Stand tall and be brave. When you're scared of another person, you're probably not feeling your bravest. But sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully. How does a brave person look and act? Stand tall and you'll send the message: "Don't mess with me." It's easier to feel brave when you feel good about yourself. See the next tip!

Ignore the bully. If you can, try your best to ignore the bully's threats. Pretend you don't hear them and walk away quickly to a place of safety. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness. Acting as if you don't notice and don't care is like giving no reaction at all, and this just might stop a bully's behavior.

Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. Tell the bully "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to. Kids also can stand up for each other by telling a bully to stop teasing or scaring someone else, and then walk away together. If a bully wants you to do something that you don't want to do — say "no!" and walk away. If you do what a bully says to do, they will likely keep bullying you. Bullies tend to bully kids who don't stick up for themselves.

Don't bully back. Don't hit, kick, or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. Fighting back just satisfies a bully and it's dangerous, too, because someone could get hurt. You're also likely to get in trouble. It's best to stay with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.

Don't show your feelings. Plan ahead. How can you stop yourself from getting angry or showing you're upset? Try distracting yourself (counting backwards from 100, spelling the word 'turtle' backwards, etc.) to keep your mind occupied until you are out of the situation and somewhere safe where you can show your feelings.

It’s not your fault! As the victim of a bully you must remember that the way you are treated is not your fault. Unless you did something specifically to provoke the bully, you are being targeted for any number of reasons, none of which you have any control over.

Part Two

I dealt with a bully for many, many years. Nothing really physical, nothing really overt, but it was there every single time I saw him. Within minutes of seeing each other he began to throw out taunts and jabs, verbal assaults that were meant to hurt – there was no joking about any of this. The only time that he had any civility in his mouth for me was if he wanted something from me. And even then if it seemed like I was going to deny him what eh wanted the bullying would start. First, the chivying and heavy-handed demands, and then ending with derogatory and demeaning comments when I stood my ground and didn’t just give in to his demands. He was no friend of mine.

As I said, it was nothing really physical, and I’m pretty sure I would have come out on top if it had come to that, especially in the later years. Maybe not so much when I was younger or early teens, but I grew up and was physically more than a match for him had it turned that route. I am glad that it didn’t, however, for many reasons. He was no friend of mine.

Later in life, as the years went by, I learned a lot more about this bully and picked up a lot about what drove him and his actions. Verbally abusive and persuasive as he could be, even he avoided physical conflict. The demons that drove him were mostly his own private demons that he would inflict on others when he felt the pain of their existence. He was no friend of mine.

He wasn’t above being vindictive and I think he went there more so when he was feeling particularly foul. His moods would change like lightning, Affable and grandiose one minute, everybody’s friend – especially yours if he wanted something. A small, bitter man when he didn’t get his way, pouting and hurtful. If he had no direct offense he could draw on, he would create one or make derisive comments about your looks or how you dressed. He would make judgments about your hair, your weight, or whatever he could to make you feel smaller-than and to make him feel larger-than. He was no friend of mine.

Towards the end, in my defense and disgust, I did what I could to simply avoid him. That wasn’t always possible and at times I was merely civil, but I am proud that I never provoked him, neither did I cower and simply accept his derision. I could see when he was around me he had learned that maybe he ought to just leave me alone. He wasn’t getting the pleasure of direct assault, but from the comments he made to other people I deduced that he had decided a behind-the-back attack was the method to choose. As most bullies, when facing confrontation that they can neither control nor win, they go behind you and start with a smear campaign, making comments to others on “his” side, or at least not on your side. I doubt that unless he was fueled by the intoxicant of his choice, he would not have attempted to direct attack. And I suspect that even then, as vile as his comments, he would have held short of a physical assault. He was no friend of mine.

Oddly, in the beginning, I dreamed of being his friend. I really WANTED him to like me, to accept me. I thought well enough about him that I bragged about him to my friends. I admired him and attached myself to at least the image that I thought he was It wasn’t until later that I started to catch on to things he said. By then, I was growing into one of the versions of me that was maybe a little more aware of life. For years I still liked him, and wondered if he really meant what he was saying, more likely convincing myself that it was a joke. All things considered, he was no friend of mine.

He died recently. His life of excesses and the pollutants that he ingested caught up with him. He had years of self-induced health issues and regardless of whatever stories he told, whatever demons he created or fought, the issues he had to deal with were none of my creating. I can say that while I wasn’t his biggest fan, I wished him no ill. He had my pity, but nothing more. He wasn’t a target of mine; he wasn’t someone I hated. He was no friend of mine.

I spoke with his daughter via messaging after he passed and was only somewhat surprised to find that she was deeply offended that I couldn’t offer more than I could at his passing. She promptly lit into me with how he had dealt with things from his childhood that “haunted” him and that “it is no surprise that he had the troubles he had” from what he had to endure. Although she only mentioned one thing specifically, I suspect that he may have created others as well. And it’s amazing that he supposedly carried the grief of that one event through all the years, even when dealing face to face with that person that committed this supposed insult. The event of which I speak happened, quite literally. Years before I was even born! I had nothing to do with it but from our conversation I was given to understand that this catalyst was what drove this bully to bear down on me throughout the years. He was no friend of mine.

I have thought about this conversation for a couple of weeks now and still cannot see the connection wherein the fault lays at my feet. Were I to see this, I’m pretty sure I’d walk up to it, I have a tendency to take blame well and see no reason to hide from what I did, for good or ill. I am also pretty quick to admit that I am far from perfect, but my perfection, or lack thereof, is between God and me. No man gets to judge me least of all a bully. He was no friend of mine.

He was no friend of mine. He was my own brother. My family. For years I loved him. I loved him enough to use his name when I named my own son. And about that time was when I came to see that what I thought saw as humor was hate; what I thought I saw as acceptance was derision. What I thought I saw as love was loathing. He was no friend of mine.

I did not wish him ill, and merely avoided him as he did me in the later years. His daughter was unable to tell me exactly what I did to him to cause this hatred, what I didn’t do to alleviate his pain. She apparently has decided to pick up his torch and treat me with the same disdain he did all those years. Well, I didn’t cause her pain or create her demons either. I don’t judge either one of them but I also won’t purchase that particular piece of emotional baggage that I caused any of their pain.

I’ve created enough of my own, but I will deal with that on my own as well.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is it entitlement or what?

Is it entitlement or what?

What is it with people lately? I am a volunteer instructor teaching classes that have a variety of students – different ages, from 9-10 year olds to adults of almost any age, male and female, and even physically challenged. My latest class has a couple of students that apparently have nut allergies. A applaud their mother who approached me prior to the start of class, except she took it too far. She proceeded to tell me that it was required of me to tell the rest of the class that nobody could eat any snacks in the classroom and would need to exit to the sales floor of the business which has been gracious enough to let me user their facility. I reminded her that this was a business and that I was not going to have the students take their breaks on a sales floor while they were trying to conduct business. She proceeded to tell me that it was required because of the severity of the allergy for her two children. I tried to mollify her by telling her that I would explain the situation to the class. I was in no way accepting the responsibility of her own children eating something they are allergic to.

I finally got the class underway and in the midst of the opening I observed this mother standing in the doorway and slowly sliding into the class. After she had sufficiently interrupted the class, I asked her if she had something to say and she stated “Well, I wasn’t going to interrupt, but since you offered…” and proceeded to instruct the class on how there were two “special” students with allergies severe enough that they had epi-pens with them at all times and that it was the “responsibility” of the rest of the students to protect her children.


I mean this lady was telling the class what the ingredients were in the snack machine and telling them what they could and could not eat. She was telling 34 other people to babysit her two children.

Personally, I would have thought her time would have been put to better use by teaching her two kids how to avoid the fending nuts in the first place and to behave under their own control rather than rely on strangers to mete out a little self control.

BTW, throughout the class people were eating peanut butter sandwiches, chips and cookies and neither child had an event. Neither did they attempt to eat someone else’s food.

I understand the concern. I can sympathize with the fear of the possible reaction. I don’t understand trying to put the onus of responsibility on complete strangers.
Additionally, why is it that friends and family decide that the only times they need to contact you are only if they need something or feel obligated to?

I had a pretty close friend several years ago. Close enough that most people knew that if they couldn’t find one of us, if they called the other we were probably together. We spent enough time together that we would practically finish each other’s sentences. We camped, hunted and fished together. We taught together and we were involved in Scouting together. We had fun.

A few years ago he stopped calling. Or rather, he stopped calling unless he needed something. He also stopped returning calls. I still hear from him or get text messages from him if he needs some information I can provide or if I can do something for him, but that’s about it.


It seems as though I’ve fallen into the same situation there. Lately, unless they feel obligated or need something, they all act the same way. And heaven forbid we should say no to something or not be able to just jump to perform. Plan a dinner and invite family and friends and the night before be told that everybody’s plans have changed. “No, we didn’t know how to tell you.”

And heaven forbid you should live farther away than other family. I mean, it might take five more minutes to drive to your house and that just isn’t convenient. Not even once a month, like we asked.

And somehow, I feel responsible for the whole thing. I’m not exactly sure what I have done to offend people en masse, but apparently I am damn good at it. If I post on a Twitter or Facebook thread, they die. Friends stop calling and family treat me like a pariah.

I guess this is where I am supposed to apologize, so here you go: I apologize. Whatever I did, I am sorry. I’m sorry you don’t like my convictions or where I stand on things or that I moved too far for your convenience.
Or that your kid has allergies.

That being said, Thanks for treating me like shit.

For those few who still aren't offended, thanks for being there when I needed it.