Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crossing the line

Everyone's a little racist...sometimes?

I happen to be the kind of person that loves the Avenue Q song professing how everyone is a little racist or judgmental. I'll make jokes with friends about stereotypes of people and have a laugh- but in the end, I'm really not inclined to be serious about any of it. I wouldn't discriminate against anyone for a job or refuse to work with anyone or demand that a specific person shouldn't have the same respect as anyone else based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. A joke is a joke as long as it stays that way. In fact, sometimes I'm the one to say people are too politically correct and that we should loosen up a bit.

However, this Thanksgiving weekend, I have had a change of heart. In conversation with family, they deliberately used words like Oriental and the N word when describing someone or how the neighborhoods have changed over the years. I was appalled that even though they are from a different generation, they still used words of loathing and weren't joking in any context. In one instance, they were describing the frustration with a child's music teacher and how he keeps encouraging a child with no voice talent to still sing. With no subtlety or thought, she then uttered 'faggot', a word that is full of hatred. This crossed a boundary- not only because I am gay and out to my parents, but because even if I wasn't, is something unforgivable. Words like these are the reason why a friend of mine was attacked on the subway in NEW YORK just a few days ago. I can't help to wonder: Why has it taken us so long to have a black president? Why can't everyone have equal rights? Why in 2008, as leaders of the free world can people still use these words and hurt people?

So, in retrospect, I think that the line should move back and be more rigid. When we joke around, it still perpetuates separation and hatred. These words we use are not just words, but give power to the sticks and stones - they may not be intentionally geared towards hate and you may not even be a racist person- but by doing so, it instills acceptance of the idea we should be moving away from.

Some of you may think I am being absurd and that in joking, it may be okay. Some of you may think I'm incredibly stupid and I should have realized this a long time ago. Well, what I thought was clear rationale about how and when to use or not use these words seems to prove me wrong. Even though my family loves me, just hearing someone say it about someone else, made me feel terrible and I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone who doesn't deserve it.

Finally, I know my last post was about not taking yourself seriously sometimes because in doing so you may be acting like a child. But I believe this time is one of those instances where you need to be serious because greater good can be done by putting in a small amount of effort.

Mission 14:
1) Stop making racist or stereotypical jokes- It'll be hard because we rationalize that they come out of 'some truth'- but I wouldn't want someone calling me a kike or faggot for real. The jokes make it okay when it really is not.

2) When someone jokingly says one or actually insults someone with a derogatory term, stand up for yourself or friend. They''ll appreciate it.

3) Post a time where you've felt hurt by something like this even if it wasn't directed towards you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Royal Stomp

Walking down the street, up the stairs, alleyways at 4:30am when the bar closes, the sound of clacking can never be avoided. This sound penetrates your ear like nails on a chalkboard even in the midst of pure chaos. And from this I ask, 'why do we stomp?'

I believe the answer to this is one of a few reasons:
It is a sign of confidence, frustration, haste or the sound of sweet vintage boots with an extra firm heel. All of them carry a notion of superiority or seriousness, qualifying this action as Royal.The sounds we make in unison with emotion is reflected in different ways. When we are excited or ADD, we walk in a short and quick motion making our shoes clack only slightly or when we are very calm, we walk slowly, hardly making any noise at all. However, when we are in a hurry to the office or stressed, it is a rhythmic pace that has resonance. But what does this really mean? Why do actually do it. I think it has to do with one thing: Taking ourselves WAY too seriously.

On the subway last week, I encountered a man who started fighting with another when he wedged himself in a small space. For no real reason, he came out with the most obnoxious insults that could be produced, turned scathing red, and attracted attention. After 5 minutes, others became annoyed and yelled at the guy to shut up. Naturally, the man began to insult everyone else as well. Then, a woman started complaining to people and got riled up about those who were laughing at this nonsense. She argued that she didn't have to take this bullshit after a long day of work. She couldn't understand why people were snickering. These people, the woman included, take themselves way too seriously. As it happened, both the aggressor and the pissed woman stormed off the train in a heat, stomping their feet like angry children. People who cannot laugh at themselves will start fights over bench space on the subway. People with no sense of humor will get fired up about how other people laugh at these ridiculous situations. While I could understand her frustration about not needing anymore stress- it's not her stress. Why worry about it?

The point is that why should we fuss over every little detail like children with tantrums and in doing so, ruin a great pair of shoes by stomping so heavily on the concrete? I think if we took life a little less serious sometimes, we would have much more energy, less pained feet, and kick ass boots that lasted just a bit longer.

Mission 13:
1) Tread lightly
2) Laugh at yourself or at a situation you usually would take lots of energy getting fussy over.
3) Post an instance on this blog where you've taken yourself way too seriously and what you've learned since then.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trendy Economics

Everyone is now an economist.

Surely you must have noticed that everyone, even Joe the Plumber has seemed to studied for years on end to get a degree in a highly mathematical and complex study of markets, finance, and the global political economy. Or....they have been watching The Daily Show. It's interesting to see people who had no interest in the economy except for how fat their wallet was to actually talk about it as if they know anything. They are only repeating what some other Joe Schmo has been saying.

I was with a friend of mine in a Pizza Shop talking about Obama and the economy. I am an Economics major and my friend is well versed in finance, the economy and could actually offer an extensive and well informed opinion on the topic. Meanwhile, this guy with a Busch Beer in a paper bag chimes in with incredibly flawed and wrong details and tries to give his take (or rather plagiarized gobbley-gook of every midnight broadcast on CNN he has watched while flat out stoned or drunk). Besides this frustration, it is still interesting to see people take this on as an actual concern and trying to learn a bit about it-especially after an election of a president who wants to focus on the middle class.

I guess what I'm trying to convey that I'm happy people are becoming more literate in these issues which helps to have a higher skilled and sensible decision-making population, but I'm tired of hearing everyone preach the same thing that they take off of the television and then making it your own 'observation'. I call these people 'Plagiar-fessionals'. Please give credit to those who actually made predictions or assertions. These people spend lots of money and effort getting through school and doing annoying problem sets such as the one I'm procrastinating at the moment.

Ok, so enough complaining. What are we going to do about this economy- especially if you are a college student starving anyway? Well, the PROFESSIONALS keep telling us to consume based on historical perspective, but I think there is a way to spend cautiously. Which brings us to Mission 12:

1) A very useful blog I have come across is -it is a site for the "Savvy New Yorker" giving you great ideas to save a buck or two while still injecting money into the economy. I would definitely give this a try.

2) Buy yourself a luxury item. If we ever hit dustbowl depression you might be able to sell it for a good price and feed yourself for a few months or just even enjoy a pleasure of when you actually had money.

3) Post any frustrations you have on this blog and any other ideas.

****By the way, I just want to be honest with you and say that i just search keywords and find random images for these posts. I am unoriginal in this regard and none are my own photographs. I'm evil, but I have integrity to admit it. I'd like ot credit google for these images*****

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Renting Sanity

Ever have that feeling that you aren't in your skin? It's just a vessel you are halfway in and a step out?

It took me an hour to look through what seemed like every movie in the video store and I settled on Harry Potter and Persepolis. A simple task such as opening the mailbox turned arduous and frustrating- the jamming of the key into the slot, the slow and jagged turn and the sour disappointment when to no avail, there was not a single piece inside. It could just be the aftereffects of drinking heavily the night prior that put me in a lethargic state, but even on days where I've had enough sleep and enough espresso to bring us into a new industrial age- it just doesn't work and nothing makes it better.

These kinds of days, which I imagine most people have, are the worst. These days also put more pressure on you to stay in that store and actually pick something because the shopkeeper has been waiting on you to pick that goddamn movie. You wanted a Best Picture and instead settle for mediocre and absurd. What exactly gives us these expectations of greatness? When do we realize that sometimes the actions we take are meaningless in the grand scheme of things?

While I am a happy person, it bugs me that these decisions, which have on impact whatsoever frustrate me more than leading a team on a project or a life-altering decision? Why do we (or maybe just me) get so hung up on small details?

I can't answer this and I won't attempt to because to try would be like imprisoning an elephant with only some yarn. I don't even get the metaphor I just wrote. You probably don't either and this posting is a complete rant. But anyway, hopefully, you can relate to this feeling and maybe I've made you aware to it so you can actually do something with it and get back to me. In the interim, I'm going to watch Order of the Phoenix.

Mission 11:
Today I won't be a Cobbler. By this I mean I can't give you a proper mission so I'll leave you with an arbitrary task that might help you if you feel like I do. I got this off my magnet from New Orleans.

Make Bread Pudding:
1 Loaf day old bread 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
2 TBs. butter 2 TBS Vanilla
4 Cups Milk 1/2 TSP nutmeg
3 Eggs 1/2 TSP cinnamon
1 Cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter a 13"x9" baking dish. Break bread into chunks and pour milk over bread.
Break into smaller bits and the bread absorb the milk. Then Beat the eggs and sugar together until smooth and thick. Stir in raisins if you are using them along with vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then pour the mixture over bread and combine. Pour bread into baking dish. Place dish into larger pan filled with 1" of water. Bake 1 hour or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

My adaptation:
Clean dishes immediately because after you enjoy you are just going to want to veg out in front of the television with your belt buckle off a few notches.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tipping the Scale

When did a tip become mandatory?

I remember my parents telling me times where they've left a penny because service was so bad. Tips used to be up to the discretion of the customer. Tips used to be and still are in several countries, an added bonus rewarded for great service- and not expected.

Recently, I ordered delivery and was told my tip was not enough. I gave a dollar for a meal that cost 10 bucks. That is 10 percent. As far as I know, free delivery from a restaurant means free delivery and any additional amount given is something of a courtesy. The delivery guy threatened that next time I will have to pick-up my food. After calling the restaurant to complain about how rude he was, the attendant told me that my history from ordering online showed I didn't pay enough tip (I rarely complain and usually give great tips). I told him that while it may not be recorded on my online history, I give cash for tip when they come. He informed me that I had 'strikes' and after many, they do not deliver to you anymore. He also informed me that they do not receive a salary and rely on tips. Well, I'm sorry but that is not my problem. This is the responsibility of the employer to give them salary and I should not be yelled at by a delivery guy for not giving enough. I would be perfectly happy to pay a delivery fee or if it said online what a suggested tip is then I'd be happy to oblige.

This makes me believe that people expect something for nothing. The art of customer service for the reason of customer loyalty has been lost. No longer are people friendly and say thank you for an extra bonus, but expect it immediately just for having done their jobs. If you are paid to do a job, you do it. If by chance you receive a gracious tip from someone for doing your job WELL, then that is great. However, I'm sorry, you should not get extra if you do not go the extra mile. This is supposed to be the motivation for you to go beyond basic expectations.

For example, students are supposed to do their work. If someone who does B- work receives an A, what good is it to try harder and put in more effort in order to get the A? The incentive in business and the market is to provide quality service and offer something that others do not provide, hence why you shop there and not somewhere else. Lastly, if you get a birthday present, do you go and ask for more birthday presents or a different one because it wasn't to your liking?

To ask for more of a tip or reward when it is supposed to be a courtesy to get something in the first place is just unacceptable to me and it should be to you.

Mission 10:
1) Re-evaluate how you spend your money. Are you being too nice? I've been giving very generous tips for years and am starting to think that people should earn it. Next time you have bad service, do not encourage it by giving them more than 10 or 15 percent. They get paid to do a job, if they don't do it properly, they shouldn't get rewarded.
2) If you are in a service job with a possibility for tips, try to provide great service and don't ask for more if you don't get what you hoped for. Stop Complaining.