It’s Got Skulls On It

There is something about me, the way I dress, the way I speak, the way I act that seems to push people in certain directions when interacting with me, especially if they do not know me…say in a customer service roll. I don’t mind, but I do find the interactions difficult to slog through or circumvent.

On our epic road trip to quilting stores around Michigan to collect rows for the Row by Row event. Row by Row, as we learned from Barb who stumbled upon the event, is a yearly event held by quilting/yarn/etc. all stores. Each store has a pattern for a row for a quilt. Each row is unique to that store. Collect 8 or 9 rows, make the full quilt and return to one of the stores to win a prize. Some stores have patterns for kids to do.

We do not quilt. We do like to travel to places around Michigan. Even better places we have not been. Thus, we made a list of places with patterns we liked, there is an online resource with images of rows from most of the shops, and headed out. Awesome thing happened, at each store the people were more than happy to answer our questions, offer suggestions, and in general talk to us.

Even better or more awesome, we found the occasional place in a new town to do something or to look at. We even found ourselves misplaced by the map ap and the kids knew what to do. ūüôā Most awesome of all at one shop, on display glow in the dark cloth one with skulls and one with candy skulls. I love glow in the dark stuff. I collect glow in the dark stuff.

I do not care what the thing is, if it glows I must have. I have skulls, brains, dogs, cats, stars, planets, a jellyfish, two sex toys (a vibrator and a giant glow in the dark dong), magazine covers, patches, and so on. I don’t care. Thus when I saw these cloths, I had to have. They woman behind the counter assumed that I only wanted the things because of the skulls. She was adamant that because of the skulls I was purchasing them.

Our kids stifled their giggles. Barb watched. I, in my desert cammies, sriracha shirt, and button festooned militaryish vest, attempted to explain to her that I could care less about the skulls, only the glow in the dark part. The look in her eyes said, “Sure.”

Three stores, down the coast, and back around to Grand Rapids for the return trip, we stopped for sushi or all of us other than our boy stopped for sushi, he had dumplings. We were already planning another trip to different stores for different patterns, there is one with Amish buggies I want, when we saw much to our surprise right next door to the sushi place a quilt shop with their row in the window. Not a bad trip.

500 Words At A Time: Career Oriented Education

When did college become about getting a job? When did the focus shift from molding, shaping individuals into leaders, thinkers, and intellectuals capable of more than a mere job? Hell, when did job or career become the sole focus of a higher education and who in the hell decided that because they need a swift kick to the head or genitals.

If you are going to college or in the case of some us older folks to get a job you may be happy with your education. I am going to hazard the level of happiness has a lot to do with how much life you have lived prior to coming to college. If you, like me, have lived a reasonably rich life then you will be happy to get the job training necessary because you will have already learned via A.) prior education or B.) experiences that college does not seem to emphasize anymore. However, if you are young, say right out of high school then your level of happiness will be high upon graduation and then smashed to the floor when you learn as all people do that job skills are not all that a job is about…and you did not get much of that as part of your education. Oops.

I walked into this college experience, as you may have already surmised, with a trainload of experience. But even I was taken aback by how career/post-education job focused education has become. I was hoping for some flexibility in my degree and I got that flexibility both due to the nature of the program and because, as I have said a lot, I got lucky. Sandy was more than happy to get me into any class I wanted, thus I was able to explore (yes, even at my “age” I explored topics not familiar to me and I suggest everyone do that). I have seen other students who do not have that latitude to explore and find what is for them or not for them.

The “non-essential” classes such as English, literature, communications, philosophy, ethics, history, and the like are given a cursory or is it perfunctory “you must take X credits of this or that,” but after that X is hit, which is very small amount back to your degree focus. Perhaps from the most minimalization view point about life and jobs focusing on the essentials of that job makes sense. But isn’t a job about more than the work?

Putting my managers hat back on, pardon me while I knock the dust off it; if an employee could not communicate effectively they were a liability to the daily operations and soon let go. If an employee could not put one and two together to get more than three-i.e. see the big picture or at least understand that there was a bigger picture, they were either relegated to the most menial of tasks or let go because I could not count on them to think about more than what was in front of them. These are not skills that I, as an employer, have the time or inclination to teach a person. I have the time and inclination to teach them job skills. Unfortunately, those skills are being taught in higher education and the other skills that take time to develop and learn, say about 4 years, are not or at least they are not being emphasized.

From my own degree I can attest that a good portion could have been taught on the job. This means that I would have had less “job” classes and more classes that would have allowed me to explore topics of interest, to learn more about how the world works and worked, and to think about anything other than “will I get a job?” The answer to that question is, most likely you will get a job, but what if and I am only speaking from experience here, what if the job you trained for turns out to the job you hate…then what?

Back to school…

Reflecting On The Year in Blogging 2014

Note from the Management: Reflecting on the Year in Blogging 2014 was originally posted on Scrawlings of a Mad Man (now defunct). I thought as 2015 comes to an end that I would post this as a baseline for Reflecting on the Year in Blogging 2015. Tomorrow, 2015.

This was my first blog.  This blog still holds a place in my heart, even though I do not write here daily as I do on Speaking Out on Life.  I like this blog, the way this blog has evolved; one week or so a post where I can write about those things that I do not write about elsewhere, but that is not totally true either.  I had to start a private blog where I could write about sex.

There is something about writing to a very public and very large audience or potential audience that I enjoy.  I am not looking for fame or fortune as a blogger, if that were to happen I would not turn my nose up at the opportunity, but I do like being able to write about what I want when I want.  Unless that subject is sex and then someone somewhere gets their nose or panties in a bunch, then I get my blog restricted from the very people that I enjoy writing too, the audience of the world.  However, writing in private to a limited audience while entertaining at first quickly lost the appeal as I knew the audience, they knew me, and as a result conversation was limited.

I enjoy the conversations.¬† Sure I do not get as much conversation as I used to, but that is part and parcel of what I write or don’t write about these days.¬† I hardly expect anyone to say anything about the rants I post here, unless that someone happens to be from the college, but what could they say other than sorry.¬† Foodies, Gamers, and other people over on Life keep quiet.¬† Not sure why. Most likely because I am not writing anything worth commenting on, even when¬†I wrote about¬†Robotech RPG Tactics, there wasn’t much conversation.¬†¬†I wrote about the issues and problems that I encountered, found, and experienced while working with the game.¬† There was no rant because, each post had a purpose.¬† Over on Brainstorm, there are no conversations at all.¬† That is because we are new and writing to a niche audience, gamers who enjoy reading about the process of creating a role-playing game.

There is, for me, a joy in seeing a comment from someone asking a question or presenting something that I did not write about.  I can respond to them and provided they respond back a conversation starts that anyone who reads that post can enjoy and add to if they so desire.  That happened a lot when I wrote about sex.  There were posts where the comments were twice as long as the post and would spin off onto other blogs and posts on my blog and other peoples blogs.  There was a sense of community.  It was a very welcoming community.

I do not seek praise.¬† I seek conversation, communication, and constructive criticism.¬† I enjoy when people ask questions, or point out other aspects that I did not write about.¬† Those are the reasons other than my love of writing that I blog.¬† I just wish that I could really write about what I want to write about.¬† Unfortunately…well you know the story.

500 Words At A Time: 15 Week Crash Course

There is an unmentioned aspect of classes or at least I haven’t written much about it, the social aspect. While my general disdain for students is well documented, there have been¬†plenty of¬†times where I have befriended students. However, there is a pattern to this and after the second year, a pattern I did not bother to change.

Week 1: Meet people sitting next to me. Generally this consisted of me observing them along with the rest of the class. Potentially a head nod, “smile,” or muted greeting. Unless the student was around my age, I prefer to keep my distance.

Weeks 2 through 14: Eventually find one or two students who don’t mind me and I don’t mind them. In general, they are students who keep the childish behavior to a minimum, try in class, show up to class, and otherwise make an impression upon me. Avoided like the plague are crotchtexters and disruptive students.

Week 15: Last class, say my “goodbyes” and other than seeing a them in a hallway never see them again. Just like when you leave a job.

There have been notable exceptions, but age (mine), experience (mine), and other circumstances (mostly mine) see that these exceptions have not lasted much longer than the 15-week pattern. I’m trying to think of a way to write about this social pattern. Not blame, but explain in a clear way.

As a 40+ year old person I have done a lot and seen a lot. There is not much new to me in regards to the “college experience.” I did my partying. I did the girlfriend thing. I did the stay up all night. With the exception of joining a fraternity I did the “college experience” many years ago. I am not interested in doing it again and I really don’t have an interest in people who are either.

I understand their need to party, to procrastinate, and all of that. This a time for them to experiment and find their way. This understanding does not mean that I want to be around it, listen to or talk about it. Plus, my age has a “parenting effect” on conversations. Its a weird effect, but one I have seen way too many times. The things I say often get treated as if their parent said it. It makes for an odd situation, because I am not interested in being their parent, but there is that social mechanism in place and it is a shortcut to the end of¬†conversations.

For those people who I do befriend, it is always around a shared interest such as video games. In fact, video games comes up a lot. I do like my games; all games not just video games. As much as I like to talk about games, I like to talk about a lot more than games. In fact, unbeknownst to anyone here, I do not like most gamers. Years of working in a game store and even more years of socializing with gamers has me very weary and bored with most gamers. If the only thing you can talk to me about is games, even games I like, I get bored. When I get bored, I move on. Unfortunately, this is a time when many of the students are learning their social skills and learning that they can not only be interested in more than one thing, but that the various things they are interested in can intersect in all aspects of their lives.

Another weird social interaction is when students try to be like me. I know that sounds weird. But there are people who see what I do, listen to what I say, and try to emulate me. Unfortunately for them, they do not see the work I have put in both in class and over a lifetime to be able to do what I do. Thus, when they attempt to behave like me in class it gets awkward. When they can’t write or perform like I do, things get strained. Suffice to say, I keep an eye out for people trying to do what I do.

I haven’t even gotten into the parenting and/or authority figure social aspect…guess that is another 500 Words. ūüôā

Social Media People Smell Obi-Wan

When we last left the social media lecture, 4Chan and Clorox was the discussion, but classroom grooming was the post. Meanwhile, if you have not read Star Wars, yes I wrote read, then you may not be aware of the following-not only did Obi-Wan cut off a person’s arm in the cantina scene, he bisected two others.


Cut in twain.

Sliced in half.

Now that makes the whole “Han shot first debate moot.” Yes, I said moot. Who cares if Han shot first when a Jedi, guardian of peace and all, comes out of retirement and disarms (ha) one person and kills two other by bisection? What happened to violence as a last resort, especially in a barroom brawl in a galaxy far far away where Jedi are supposed to be extinct.

And that is how social media and people smell come together.

Did you learn anything?

Probably not. Well you should have learned that in the book Obi-Wan was a combat beast and it makes you wonder why the fight between him and Vader on the Death Star was so blah other than they went with a broadsword style of fighting and put an elderly man in one scene…but I digress.

Class picked up right where the professor remembered leaving off which was a discussion of social capital. Which is not the capital of any state. Social capital is the concept/idea that social ties can be turned into capital, such as money, advice, idea, or a job to name a few.

There are strong ties, people who are similar to you in outlook and tend to be close to you-family and loved ones. These are few in number, but can provide larger amounts of capital in a single instance. There are weak ties, people who are not a close, can have a variety of interests, and are many in number. Weak ties provide less capital per instance, but there are more of them, thus more capital overall, plus the variety of capital that can be gained from weak ties is more diverse than strong ties.

This lead to the discussion of the Online Community. This is of huge interest to me since one of my goals has been to turn my blog (s) into a community where people gather together, read, discuss, post, and the whole process becomes more organic than me writing a post and you read. When I had a human sexuality blog, before WordPress got all banhammery, there was the start of that community.

A post would lead to long discussions between commenters, myself, and other commenters. Those conversations would spin new posts from me, typically addressing a topic brought up in conversation. It was a good time on the blog. Readers felt invested and would often take conversations had on my blog and turn it material for their blog where a conversation was started. See where this is going? Over a period of four months the beginnings of a community were forming over several blogs. It was something I wanted and want to do again.

Thus, the classroom topic and what I am doing on this blog are dovetailing.

So, we have the beginnings of the Online Community discussion comes up when the question was asked, “Why don’t you join all of the student organizations on campus?” This was an attempt to demonstrate that Ferris State University is a community as a concept, with sub-communities…alas the person next to me said, “People smell,” in response to the question. I may have been the only person who heard him, but it short-circuited my brain.

This may have had something to do with a recent trip to a game store where upon opening the door all of us were assaulted with the stank of unwashed gamer. Regardless, I could not stop laughing…thankfully class came to an end.

Now have you learned something? ūüôā

You Are A Category

“I am a man, not a number.”

“That is incorrect.”

“I am not a number.”

“That is correct, you are not a number.”

“Then I am a man.”

“That is incorrect. You are a category.”

“I am not a num…wait, what am I?”

“You are a category.”

“What happened to the number?”

“Numbers are obsolete. Men are obsolete. Categories are eternal.”

“I am a man, not a category.”

“You are a category. Be seeing you.”

And that sums up Mass Media for the day. I hope that you found that enlightening and entertaining. I know you did. Because if you are reading this blog then you and I probably share a category or two and possibly because you cannot see me, sorry the monkey is not me, you may, without realizing it imagine and idealized me, which is you. Did I blow your mind yet? Probably not. Unless you thought the monkey is me. The monkey is very affable and makes a good mental substitute for me.

The big take away for me today is that humans are easy to group together and predict what they will do. This should not be much of a surprise, there are top men…I said Top Men…experimenting with us everyday and writing about what they “discovered.” Go to a mall is what I say. That should be more than enough social observation, see the people in the wild and try not to fuck up their environment.


No malls you say?

Oh, well then, by all means continue to group people together and see what they do. And what do people do when they do not have visual and auditory clues about the person they are communicating with?? Why they seek out areas where they are similar. For the Social Identification Deindividuation Effects or SIDE theory that means finding categories that you have in common with other people.

Categories¬†could be anything, from gender, political or religious affiliation, to a common experience. Once you identify a fellow category member you and they feel better about each other, the world, online, and can communicate. In fact, you may…probably will, begin to idealize them and the communication.¬†How do you idealize them?

Well you imagine that they are like you. Why would you do that? Because you like you. You are pretty darn cool and interesting. They are in the same category with you and you probably have other categories that you share an interest in, which makes them cool and interesting like…well you.¬†And when that dick from another category came in and started talking shit about your category, you and your friend flamed the shit out of the interloper. You defending your category.

Oh sure there are other theories that say that when time and word count along with some other information are thrown in you will have the capacity to form a relationship with another person online. In fact, because it is online, once the time, word count, and warranting occurs-what is warranting-well you are checking out their vocabulary, spelling, patterns of communication, and possibly stalking them online to verify that what they have said is true-that you and they will share more information, faster, and the information will be more “intimate” (not just dick pics) because of the online environment.

Personally, I think that theory, Social Information Processing (SIP), is part of the SIDE theory and in fact plays a large role in why identifying your category and people in your category matters so much. First find your category, SIDE, then SIP, with members of your category. That’s just my theory…in reality…

You are a category.

be-seeing-you_zpsb7c9a7c4Be seeing you.

* If you are not familiar with The Prisoner TV series then some of the dialog may not make sense. Find the show, watch the show.

Bouncy All Over The Place Mentally Day

I went to bed reading The Martian. He spends a large chunk of the book trying to grow food to stay alive.

I woke up tired and hungry. This made me grumpy. The irony of waking up hungry, realizing that all I had to eat over the last 24 hours was 2 hot dogs and falling asleep reading about a man trying to make food was lost on me. I was being grumpy.

I drove to class. I normally walk, but being grumpy and hungry had me in no mood to walk. I ended up ordering the first Whopper of the day. Having been a manager at Burger King, the first Whopper of the day is the best Whopper of the day.

I have a superstitious side, thus when the black cat went to jump in front of the car I stopped the car. The cat starred at me. I starred at the cat. The cat crossed my path. This should mean bad luck for the day, but I am going to take the tack that bad luck would have been running over the cat. Hopefully, I get a pass.

ParkingI ate my Whopper. I felt better, but still tired and now off kilter. I wonder if my parking spot has anything to do with that.

I wait for class in my usual spot. Gorgeous barely begins to describe the temperature, cloud cover, wind on my face, scent of rain, leaves in the trees, and animals doing winter-prep things. Then a horde of students ruins it all. I resist the urge to pelt them with rocks while screaming “HEATHENS!” at the top of my lungs. Why should the rocks and my lungs suffer seems to be my mindset.

I talk with a fellow student about activism and Star Wars Battlefront. Suffice to say that the two topics do intertwine, but only after sharing several stories of force chokes. The professor breezes past us with a “Hello,” unusual given that he usually shoots the shit with us. Both of us check our clocks to see if we are late. Student suggests professor needed to use the bathrooms.

I sit down and immediately I do not want to be there. Not for any specific reason. My body is all bouncy, my brain is all over the place, and I have this sensation of get up and go. Perhaps, my animal hind brain is thinking that I too should be preparing for winter. Stocking up food does sound good, but getting the hell out of here sounds better to me. Bouncy and unfocused I sit through lecture.

I raise my hand to ask a question, “since soap operas have the same general theme it makes sense that soap operas as a genre would have a similar effect. Reality shows however, have many different themes, how does that impact the social cognition theory?” Given that reality shows tend to be about an individual’s attempts to be successful or the center attention, the theory works.

I raise my hand later in class. At this point I am really bouncy, really all over the place mentally (I have, I think, worked out several minor mental conundrums by this time), the issue at hand is Mad Max and cultural studies and how the heroes are protectors. My point, is that the bad guy was also a protector. Was he the same kind of protector as the heroes, no, but he was protecting a much larger group of people. Since my brain was not on task, I did not get around to asking, what happened to the larger group of people once the bad guy was killed by the good guys, without his protection (admittedly messed up).

I am home. I am still bouncy and mentally all over the place. I look at my notes from class, lets just say I hope my brain was paying more attention than my handwriting. I have been reviewing my weekend, seems the off kilter started before now, I am only noticing the effects now…my review, not so much of a review of two weeks, unless you count links, and more of a review of a day, just like this post…one very bouncy, mentally all over the place, off kilter review of a moment in time, my time…