Monday, July 31, 2006

Why I NEVER Pranked...

See, the following news article I came across today is EXACTLY why I chose to never pull pranks. It is just too risky of a business; you just never know when you might prank the person who might go that extra mile...

[Now in a more honest and less sarcastic tone...]

Are you freakin' kidding me!?!? This lady is obsessive! This article left me thinking, "WOW! You kids just happened to pick the one out of a million people that you could prank that would go to the extent that she did to catch you! Sucks to be you!"


NORCO, Calif. (AP) -- Teenagers who toilet-papered and damaged a home now face felony vandalism charges because of a mother's extraordinary sleuthing.

Katja Base, mother of six, was unwilling to let the teens get away with it, saying she tracked them down to teach her kids about accountability.

Base awoke one February morning to find her front lawn strewn in white two-ply toilet paper. She and husband Ken also found damaged landscaping and light fixtures as well as ruined finishes on two cars.

Dog food and flour also covered the lawn.

Realizing the sheriff's department has better things to do than track down teen pranksters, Katja Base decided to do some detective work.

"There needs to be accountability," she said. "Mainly, I pursued this as a lesson for my daughters. I don't want them to ever come to me and ask why I didn't do anything about this."

Base persuaded supermarket managers to tally daily toilet-paper buys for the week and a Stater Bros. manager said there was a run on bathroom tissue two days before her home was vandalized.

At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, someone bought 144 rolls of toilet paper, cheese, dog food, flour and plastic forks, the same items found on her lawn and house. It was a cash transaction, making it difficult to trace the purchaser, but the store had video surveillance.

The video showed four teenagers making the purchase, one of them wearing a Norco High School letterman's jacket with a name stitched across the back. The store's parking lot surveillance camera showed the truck they were using.

Base then borrowed a Norco High yearbook and used online databases to get the name, phone numbers and addresses of the teens on the store tape.

"Her work was instrumental in helping us to identify the suspects," said Lt. Ross Cooper of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The information was eventually sent to the district attorney's office and prosecutors confirmed that about six youths were now facing vandalism charges. However, they would not release details of the case or names of the defendants because they are juveniles.

The maximum penalty for the adult would be three years in prison; the juveniles could face probation and restitution, district attorney's office spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt said.

Reference link to the article here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Some More Helpings for Twentysomethings...

Here are some more entries from the book I'm currently reading--Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. I like sharing these pieces because I think it is important to share with others things we learn/hear/pick-up-on that maybe others wouldn't have the opportunity or time to find out for themselves. So this is more for my viewing audience who is going through their 20's with me right now...

Getting older is an inescapable process. It is happening now as you read this. If we constantly fear the inevitable, we will never really live (p. 52).

One of the most challenging shifts between childhood and adulthood is the changing relationship with parents. The familial link never disappears, of course—your parents will always be your parents and you will always be their child. But in the days after graduation, a twentysomething slowly comes to realize that the playing field has leveled to a certain extent because there is no longer that “Me Adult, You Kid” separation. Well, not as much of one, anyway. To complicate the relationship even more, now that twentysomethings are out of school, they may work alongside people their parents’ age; they might go drinking with people their parents’ age; they might supervise people their parents’ age; and in some cases, they may even date people their parents’ age. As a result, twentysomethings eventually come to see their parents as—whoa—people. And that can be a weird feeling (p. 55).

The gap between childhood and adulthood grows even stranger when a recent graduate moves back home after college or graduate school. After four or more years of relative independence, moving on back to the old bedroom as an alleged adult is just plain peculiar. Suddenly, “As long as you live under my roof” becomes a factor again. At a time when a twentysomething is already struggling with leaving behind the shelter of college for the responsibilities of adulthood, living at home can spark something of a regression. The days of free pizza are left behind in favor of the days of setting the dinner table (p. 56-57).

Robbins & Wilner. (2001). Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Few Things to Remember Before You Cheat on a Woman

Oddly enough, while a friend of mine was doing some research through a journal database, she came across this article. I find it humorous that it came up when searching through a "scholarly journals" database, but I guess we all need some entertainment even in the midst of intense researching!


Monogamy Rules
A few things to remember before you cheat on a woman

1. When presented with the ideal cheating scenario--that is, if a flying saucer lands in the cornfield where you happen to be standing and a female alien of sinus-clearing hotness slithers down the ramp and declares that she wants to come in peace a minimum of four times in the next hour, and you take her up on it because you know no one will ever find out--no one must ever find out.

2. Someone will always find out.

3. If you get caught, the law is on your wife's side. And you won't lose just half of your stuff. The other half-the golf clubs, the surround sound, the Armani--will be destroyed in a spectacular driveway bonfire as every angry woman you know toasts marshmallows shaped like your testicles.

4. And if you're not married? Your longtime girl is bound by no law.

5. Yes, traveling for business is lonely. Phone home for a bicoastal quickie.

6. Or, to paraphrase Neil Simon, do to yourself what you would otherwise do unto others.

7. If a woman who knows you're spoken for comes on to you, it's flattering. It's tempting. But remember that she's doing it to feed her own ego, not yours. She wants to see how much power she holds over you. And if you take her bait, she then knows she must be superior in every way to your sweetie. Deep down, she has nothing but contempt for both your male weakness and your mate's existence. That should really piss you off.

8. According to the Shari'ah, the laws of ancient Islam, adulterers must be stoned to death. Before you say, "Dude, cool," we mean with rocks. In these parts, that's what will happen to your good name. Friends you made while you were a couple will disappear. Friends you had as a single guy are long gone. That leaves you with the hard drinkers.

9. You're about to be with the kind of woman who wants to be with the kind of man who would cheat on a woman.

10. Channel all temptation toward the girl you left at home. Example: When out for a night with the boys, go to Hooters, not a strip club or roadhouse. Hooters girls are the unsung heroines of relationship therapy-gorgeous, chatty, and so untouchable that you always go home hungry. Your gal has no idea her sex life will improve tenfold when you get there.

11. At the office party, pretend the coworker who's flirting with you has gonorrhea.

12. "I'm famous for all the wrong reasons." --Joey Buttafuoco

13. If your ex calls, enjoy a pleasant 5-minute conversation. Then tell her your wife's on the other line.

14. Treat your temptation as a cage match. Defeating that treacherous organ between your legs is the ultimate triumph of man over nature. It's you versus your penis. He's up for the challenge. Are you?

By Mike Zimmerman

Copyright of Men's Health (Rodale Inc.) is the property of Rodale Inc.. The copyright in an individual article may be maintained by the author in certain cases. Content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.Source: Men's Health (Rodale Inc.), Oct2005, Vol. 20 Issue 8, p175, 1p

Growing Up

Even as narcissistic as I can be at times, I can easily get wrapped up in admiring people, especially those for which I have much respect—my friends.

Sometimes it is hard for me to actually grasp the idea that I am a grown-up and capable of being a full-time adult with a career and all. Granted, I do not have that career yet, but I am of age too.

Over the past year or so I’ve gotten more and more acquainted with the idea of being an adult as I’ve gotten to watch many of my friends move into full-time career positions. I admire how they have made the transition. I can find myself sitting in awe and thinking how cool it is to have friends that I’m so close to that are real “professionals” now.

Specifically over the past year I have gotten to watch and listen to stories of some of my closest friends who experienced their first years as teachers. There truly isn’t many jobs I admire more than teachers! It’s so cool to be at our get-togethers all sitting around and just hanging out like old times and then look over at one of my friends and think to myself, “Goodness, she is a real teacher.”

We truly are all growing up…

And while over the past year I have watched many of my friends take on the true “professional” lifestyle, that has only been the beginning to the transition. Soon enough I’ll be making that transition. That’s when it will probably really hit me, but still I am appreciative of the gradual transition process I am having right now as I watch friends I love make the transition.

What I see happening now over this up-coming year is another form of transition. Now I am beginning to see friends step into the “professional” world at another stage. These are the friends I have who have gone about a route similar to my own, in that they have decided to continue their schooling on beyond their bachelors degree.

When I look at these friends it isn’t that I look at them as any “better” than my other friends, but rather as individuals who are about to take a job in a setting that is known for taking “some time” to get to—basically careers that require a masters degree or so forth.

Some of these friends will include my friends in my Masters of Social Work program who will be moving into social work and counseling positions. Being a true counselor…that’s cool to me—I just feel too young! HA! Then I have other friends who will be professionals in other areas within the year.

I am honored to say I have several friends who have taken on the law school route. While that is something I would NEVER consider, nor do I know enough about it to know what all the possibilities are in that route, I can say this, I admire those who are willing and capable of taking on that challenge.

I can think of 7 friends I have who are currently in law school and 3 who will be starting this fall. More than half of those seven who are currently in law school will be in their final year this year. One of them recently sent me an email sharing about her experience interning in the professional world of law. I found the experience that she described in the email as so cool and “grown-up” that I wanted to share it.

(I still can’t believe that there are people my age who are old enough to be doing “law” and things of that sort…I feel so young…HA!)…

[Some identifying information has been taken out of the below email.]

Of course since it's summer, I'm not actually in classes (whew!). But I do have an internship in the _______________ Prosecutor's Office. Because I've finished two years of law school, I was able to be certified by the __(name of the state)___ Supreme Court to practice as an "attorney," with actual attorney supervision, which is awesome. Some days I'm just down in traffic court dealing with tickets and traffic related things like DWI's. A lot of that is just amending tickets for the defense attorneys that come in, which isn't a blast, but it's useful information and practice. Occassionally, though, I get to negotiate with the defense attorneys and talk with the people that are incarcerated and have tickets or the people who just don't want to hire an attorney. It's really weird and a little sad that some of them know the system so well and will say things like, "but that's not the usual deal they offer." On the other hand, some of them just say really funny things, like I was told by a woman that was in jail that I was too "little" to be a lawyer-hah! I was just thinking, "okay, but you ARE in jail, so maybe you have bigger things to worry about than how little I am!" On the days that I'm not in traffic court, I'm either in misdemeanor court or felony court, which are basically the same except one deals with "softy" crimes and the other deals with the really bad stuff. Those days are more exciting than traffic days, but then it's also much more serious. So far I have gotten to argue the State's case to the judge in a probation revocation hearing and gotten to conduct a preliminary hearing, where I questioned witnesses and submitted an exhibit and everything. While they're not the biggest deals ever, they were pretty cool to me, and it was a great experience to actually be up in front of the judge and have to think on your feet when he asks questions. Right now I'm trying to talk one of the traffic attorneys into letting me do her traffic trial for her, so we'll see how that goes. Anyway, I'm there for about 25 hours a week, not including the one hour drive in traffic there and the one hour drive in traffic home three days a week, but the experience is completely worth it!

After the summer is over, I'll be doing a clinic with the ___________ Prosecutor's Office, which is where I interned last summer part-time. Along with that I'll have the regular classes for a year. I'm also soon to be published in the upcoming Public Law Review issue, which is way cool for me, since a lot of people from the legal community read the law review and it's ranked as one of the top 5 law journals in the nation for constitutional issues. I'll also be serving on the Board as the Lead Articles Editor, which will be a lot of work but will also come with class credit and resume value. It should be quite the busy year, but at least it (let's hope!) will be my last year of school ever. Let me tell you that graduation cannot come too soon, although that in no way means that I am looking forward to looking for a job, just looking forward to actually working.

Wow…that’s just so cool to me. I have friends who are doing internships acting as real attorneys…impressive!

Friday, July 21, 2006

24-Karat Friendship

Friends truly are golden to me, especially close friends…

The time I spend with friends is always a treasured time for me. Over the past week I have spent hours on the phone with two of my best friends in just a matter of two phone calls. One of the calls took place last weekend when I was traveling and one of my best friends kept me company on the phone for over two hours. The other call took place today with a best friend that I haven’t really gotten to talk to much lately, so we had some catching up to do—we talked for nearly an hour and a half. With both phone calls, the actual time spent on the phone was much longer than what it seemed like it took to me because that’s how time passes when you are spending it with people you love.

In honor of friends, I want to share a story I got through an email forward that I really appreciated. I think it is a great story to read and think about...

Those of you who are even mildly acquainted with Olympic history will recognize the name of Jesse Owens. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Owens was the United States' response to the German leaders' claim for "Aryan superiority." He achieved international fame by winning four gold medals; one each in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, the long jump, and for being part of the 4x100 meter relay team.

However, you may not have heard the story behind his long jump competition. It was a competition he seemed certain to win. After all, the year before, Owens had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that would stand for 25 years. But at the 1936 Olympics, he was almost out of the long jump shortly after qualifying began. Owens fouled on his first two jumps. A third foul and he would have been out of the competition.

As he walked to the long-jump pit, Owens saw a tall, blue-eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority," especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long.

"You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he said to Owens. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe?

Owens took the advice from his stiffest competition and qualified easily. In the finals that afternoon, Jesse Owens won the gold medal with a jump of 26 ft 5 1/2 in. The first to congratulate the Olympic record holder was Luz Long.

Owens said, "It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment."

I wonder -- do we more often view ourselves as competitors who are trying to do better or look better than the next guy, or as friends who are there to encourage others to accomplish what we know they can do (even if it surpasses our efforts)?

What great value there is in having (and being) a real friend. Solomon said, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Indeed, woe to the man who doesn't have a friend -- someone he can talk to, someone he can lean on, someone he can pour his heart out to. Writer Patrick Morley has made a stinging observation. He said that while most men could recruit six pallbearers, "hardly anyone has a friend he can call at 2:00 A.M."

Honestly, do you have a friend you can call at 2:00 in the morning? More importantly, are you that kind of friend to others? Solomon said that "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." (Proverbs 17:17). Who do you have in your life that you can turn to without hesitation in the midst of adversity? Who do you know that can confidently turn to you?

We need to be reminded by the example of Luz Long that we are not here to compete with one another; but to encourage and exhort one another.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another Scoop for Twentysomethings...

I wanted to share another passage from the book I'm reading that I think is worth a minute of your time. I think many can read this and relate...

Many twentysomethings find that the easiest way to attempt to pinpoint their identity after graduation is to define who they are by what they do. When they have a job description, they sometimes try to apply it to their identities, because that’s often the only constant they have. The reasoning is hardly far-fetched—several twentysomethings point out that within the first few minutes of a conversation with someone they have just met, one person will ask what the other person does for a living. When the person responds, the inquirer subconsciously passes judgement. But because so many recent graduates are dissatisfied with their first couple of jobs after college, the idea that their jobs make up a large part of who they are can leaven them feeling dejected (p. 16-17).

Robbins & Wilner. (2001). Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

For the Twentysomethings...

I want to share a passage from a book I started reading this evening called Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties by Alexandra Robbins & Abby Wilner.

Since many of my readers are "twentysomethings" like myself, I figure this is something worth sharing. You just might be able to relate... ;)

The most widespread, frightening, and quite possibly the most difficult manifestation of the quarterlife crisis is a feeling that can creep up on a twentysomething whether he is unemployed, living at home, and friendless, or in an interesting job, with a great apartment, and dozens of buddies. Regardless of their levels of self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being, twentysomethings are particularly vulnerable to doubts. They doubt their decisions, their abilities, their readiness, their past, present, and future…but most of all, they doubt themselves. The twenties comprise a period of intense questioning—of introspection and self-development that young adults often feel they are not ready for. The questions can range from seemingly trivial choices—“Should I really have spent $100 to join that fantasy baseball leave?”—to irrefutably mammoth decisions—“When is the right time for me to start a family?” It is healthy, of course, for people to question themselves some; an occasional self-assessment or life inventory is a natural part of the questioning becomes constant and the barrage of doubts never seems to cease, twentysomethings can feel as if it is hard to catch their breath, as if they are spiraling downward. Many times the doubts increase because twentysomethings think it is abnormal to have them in the first place. No one talks about having doubts at this age, so when twentysomethings do find that they are continuously questioning themselves, they think something is wrong with them (p. 10).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Excerpt...

Have you ever read the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom? If not, you can read here what the book is about.

It is a short little book, that is a quick read. I'm nearly a third of the way through the book right now and I can't help but smile with each page that I read because it is unbelievable how much this book reminds me of the moments I spent with a mentoring professor of mine.

Professors can be such brilliant individuals...

Here is an excerpt from the book that I read last night that I really enjoyed:

He enters the classroom, sits down, doesn't say anything. He looks at us, we look at him. At first, there are a few giggles, but Morrie only shrugs, and eventually a deep silence falls and we begin to notice the smallest sounds, the radiator humming in the corner of the room, the nasal breathing of one of the fat students.

Some of us are agitated. When is he going to say something? We squirm, check our watches. A few studnets look out the window, trying to be above it all. This goes on a good fifteen minutes, before Morrie finally breaks in with a whisper.

"What's happening here?" he asks.

And slowly a discussion begins--as Morrie has wanted all along--about the effect of silence on human relations. Why are we embarassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?

I am not bothered by the silence. For all the noise I make with my friends, I am still not comfortable talking about my feelings in front of others--especially not classmates. I could sit in the quiet for hours if that is what the class demanded.

On my way out, Morrie stops me. "You didn't say much today," he remarks.

I don't know. I just didn't have anything to add.

"I think you have a lot to add. In fact, Mitch, you remind me of someone I knew who also liked to keep things to himself when he was younger."



Saturday, July 01, 2006

2-Year Anniversary of My Blogging Experience

Believe it or not, I’ve been keeping a journal online now for officially two years! I’m pretty positive that today is my two-year anniversary, but something somewhere is thrown off, because for some reason I have my one-year anniversary posted here, on June 27, 2005; however, when I return to my ORIGINAL weblog, which is here, it shows my first blog entry on July 1, 2004. I wonder why I have my one-year anniversary blog on June 27th. Hmmm…

Anyways, assuming my first blog entry on July 1, 2004, is correct, that makes today my blog’s 2nd birthday! While it is hard to believe I have been blogging for that long, I think my number of entries justifies it.

During my first year of blogging I wrote some 176 blog entries, which is noted in my one-year anniversary post. Since that time, over the past year, I have added 219 more entries, which is quite an increase in the second year if you ask me! However, in this past year I do credit my increase in number somewhat to my weekly blog series I would post every Monday. These series contributed greatly to my numbers, as well as kept me regularly in my writing mindset.

Whether I found myself posting a picture for a caption contest, or painting a picture of a dear friend, or even relinquishing thoughts about a chapter in a book, I counted on my Monday blog series to keep me from falling victim to the overbearing-nature that our weekly lives can throw at us. I strove to not end up as one of the once-a-month bloggers. A blog that watched its reading audience slowly dwindle away as the posts became further and far between.

Over this past year of writing I have seen my blog grow and change just as I have. As a piece of me, it reflects greatly the pattern my life has followed over the year.

As I reflect on my past year and on my writings I am reminded of a year of change, based on growth and becoming more and more a part of the reality of life.

With my blog over the past year, one can read and see a change in the types of posts. A year ago I was still posting “surveys” on my blog. You know, the posts that have the questions asking about who I am, and I fill in each question with the answer pertaining to me. A year ago I was still posting about myself in a more identifying way. I would use more names of identifiable people in my life. I would use names of places and situations in my life—each painting a close description of who I am for anyone to identify me.

Today I have not posted a survey in quite some time. I’m not signifying surveys as posted on a blog as “bad” or “wrong” or anything of that nature; I have simply decided that is not the nature of my online journal anymore.

Today I have not posted specific names identifying myself with someone or a place in quite some time. Though I will not be completely unidentifiable from my weblog, I do make more of an effort to take into consideration with my writings what I think I should avoid mentioning specifically. Nowadays, I am much more cautious and aware of individuals who might have interest in identifying me and personal information about me via the internet. I am placing more and more importance on this in my life as I find myself slowly getting into my profession, which I hope to be in full fledge status by this time next year. In this line of work, one simply needs to be careful, as I could find myself working with clients who might be interested in finding out more me than I would like them to know. So the less identifiable I am on my blog, the better position I have myself in for the future.

And just as my blog style has changed over the past year, so have I, changed over this past year. I have grown and changed just as we all do with a year’s time, but as I reflect I am able to note some specifics from this past year that stand out to me.

It has been a few months now, but not too long ago, I had discussed with one of my best friends the situation I was sitting in. I felt like I was changing, and I felt like I was becoming stressed more often and upset more often and just feeling like life was changing and things were going differently for me than they ever had in the past. I told her I didn’t know what the deal was, but I felt like I was different. My friend said this, “well do you think you could just be growing up?” At the time I said, “yeah I suppose,” but really just kind of wrote it off in my mind like, “whatever.” But the more thought I gave it over time, the more I thought she could be right…

I think I have grown up a lot this past year. I think I am becoming a much more serious person…

This is not to say I was never serious in the past, but nowadays I have matured and seem to be living more as a matured adult, rather just an college kid who is over-come with the freshness of independence.

Today I have a lot more responsibilities than I did a few years ago. More than I had just a year ago. While responsibilities do not require “fun” to be abandoned, they do require one to view them as serious tasks of one’s life.

Over this past year I have taken part in two internships for my graduate degree. I have been able to talk about them via my blog. These experiences have led me to accept positions of true responsibility, not only for myself, but for helping others through points in their lives. The later is due to the nature of my degree.

These internships have been wonderful experiences for me. I have been so grateful. They have reassured me that I have chosen the right direction for my career path. They have allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that these years and years of education have not been in vain. But also, as my friend pointed out when she referenced to me that I was growing up, she said how my internships have helped me to take on the reality of life and adulthood. Though they were internships, meaning they were unpaid, they were the real thing. I was covered under malpractice insurance during the internships, because the reality of being sued did/does exist. Internships are one step shy of the real thing—that step being the lack of monetary reward.

But as my adult life has been taking shape over this past year, it also brought with it the realities that come with growing up. Unfortunately, the reality of life is that it is not always going to be happy-sailing. It is not always going to “go my way.” Things are going to get stressful, depressing, and hard at times, but life can, will, and has gone on.

Over this past year I’ve seen that life can bring hardships that we must face. For instance, I have recently noticed how my email address book now contains the email addresses of four individuals who have passed away.

Deaths are never an easy thing, but one thing I have noticed is that the older we get, the more likely we are to experience deaths to people we know. First, this is because we are all getting older as time passes, but also because the older we get, the more connections we have made through the years, only leaving us with more individuals to potentially lose.

The email addresses began with Charles Trevathan’s passing back in 2004, but over this past year I have had three more friends pass who I have left their email addresses in my address book as remembrances of their life for me to see as I frequent the book.

There was Cathy Leavell. She was a mentor and a friend to me. I had shared many fond times of encouragement with her. I put her email address to use a good many of times as we corresponded through the years of our knowing one another.

Then there was Judith Gee. She was a family friend and a teacher from growing up. She never was MY teacher, but she was my brother’s gifted-education teacher. She was the lady who gave me my first IQ test when I was going into 1st grade to get my placement into the gifted-education program. She was an intelligent lady, who was a pleasure to spend time with. My family would spend times at her house enjoying her company.

Then there was Cornelia Flowers. She was a woman full of wisdom! Though I never knew her during her pre-retirement days, she was apparently quite the teacher and principal. I only knew her as the wise older-lady who always sat on one of the back pews at church when I was growing up. She was always a pleasure to talk to and always had such great words and thoughts to share, whether on a one-on-one basis, or in a class setting. Even through my college years I kept in contact with her via the internet. My mom would tell me about how she would talk to my mom about having received emails from me and said what an enjoyment my emails were to her. I definitely learned to respect my elders from this lady!

Typically I would choose not to put people’s names, especially first and last names, in my blog. I do not like to identify myself so candidly, nor do I choose to do that to people I know, because I don’t want people to be able to make connections to my friends either through this venue particularly. But it was back with Cathy’s passing that someone reminded me that a tribute with someone’s full name after their passing can not hurt, as anyone stalking any of the above mentioned individuals wouldn’t be able to get them now anyways.

Still, besides the passing of friends over this past year, other hardships have existed. Though like the deaths, these have been situations with friends involved.

Over the past year I have given notice in my blog to tough situations I have been struggling with involving friends.

Some of these stressors have involved friends choosing to not talk to me. These situations have put quite the stress on me. At the current time, neither of these situations have been resolved; however, one of the friends has recently broke the silence they were having with me for some ten months, but still, a long road of communication lies ahead for the stressors to be relieved.

In another difficult time over the past year, I found myself faced with a situation of extreme disagreement with one of my closest of friends. During this time, my friend and I went through five days of what we both later described as some of the hardest days of our life. Having someone so close to you not talking to you is one of the hardest situations because it eats at you physically and emotionally each minute that it is not resolved. Best friends are people to treasure!

And finally, another situation over the past year led me to see just how “strong” I really was. I had to go toe-to-toe with my self-discipline this year when I found myself in a situation where my name was being slandered publicly. My name was being paired with false statements for all to see and through the duration of this, I forced myself to be disciplined and strong, even when I did not think I could any longer. This was a hardship that friends had to help me through in the end; otherwise, I don’t think my strength alone would have been strong enough.

So life has brought me quite the reality checks over this past year; most of which can be followed in some detail throughout the posts of my blog.

So two years of journaling in the books! What might this next year bring? Possibly a year of learning to adjust to the stresses of adulthood? Maybe.

So into the next year I can already see more changes coming, as I see graduation occurring and, hopefully, a new career started. So my plans are to keep posting and hopefully my readers will keep reading.

Thanks to my readers over the past two years and congrats to my blog, as it is “Life as I Know It…”

Males, Females, and Hermaphrodites

As the final installment to the series I had going this week, I want to conclude with some thoughts on how the drive embedded in religious groups can tie into the judgmental views and lead to trouble.

Just as most other groups, I see religious groups forming in ways that appear to lead to members becoming more and more similar. For Christians (the religious group I’m the most familiar with), I see this being the case.

The drives within the Christian groups are pressuring individuals toward becoming more and more alike. The denominations within the Christian faith preach for their members to become alike in the nature of their interpretation of the Bible is the way they should worship and they should be. It is almost as if they are to the point of saying, it is this way or no way. One is to live a life in a certain way in order to be a part of that community or group.

The similarities are encouraged to the point that differences are made out to be “wrong.” The stronger the drive for similarities, the more discrimination is placed on differences. Those deviating from the Biblical interpretation preached from their pulpit are considered “different” and many times labeled as individuals behaving in sinful ways.

Those favoring same-sex relations are sinning. Those doubting God’s existence are sinning. Those who are pregnant outside of wed-lock are sinning. Those sitting down to a meal with an alcoholic beverage of their choice are sinning…

These are behaviors that can lead an individual to being outcast from the “group,” should the behavior become known. These individuals become known as “the others”—the outsiders. Those kept out of the group until behaviors have been adjusted, and repented for.

It gets to the point where it seems as if there is push within the religious groups for everyone to be alike. I wonder if religious groups see it as God made mankind in His own image, therefore, we are to be as one—all alike in our ways of being, since we are made in the likeness of a one and only powerful being Himself—God. Mankind should be alike in the form of one type of image since we were made in the image of one God.

But if this is the point, I would argue this…

The God that many of these religious groups worship is also worshipped as a God of three spirits…

God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

With that being the case, can’t mankind be made in three images too—all making up the title of “mankind?”

Mankind as males, females, and hermaphrodites.

Each part of mankind can be made in “His image” just as “His image” is made up of the three spirits.

Okay, so the hermaphrodites part was just for fun, but in all honesty, I think religious groups try to put a third group in mankind, because the males and females. It is almost like they outcast some individuals to the point of not even considering them a part of mankind anymore—either male or female.

Sometimes I get the impression that religious groups can get so absorbed in the idea of people being similar and anything making someone different places them in the “others” group; not even seen as species of mankind like themselves. The “others” become outcast.

Sometimes I think it takes us being willing to open our eyes and see that those who do happen to be different from us actually are similar to us in more ways than one might think. “Outcast” or not, we are ALL members of the human race—making “mankind” our “group” tying our similarity together!

So maybe some do see it as mankind has three groups…

…males, females, and “others”…

…but whether one falls into the category of “others” in the eyes of some, their differences do not make them any less a part of “mankind,” which is believed by those same eyes to be made in God’s images…

…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.