The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Everyone is NOT a winner

 

For some time, especially during the earlier part of this decade (201x), there was a lot of pressure put on schools and children’s sports groups to have an “Everyone is a winner” policy.

A good example of this is a flag football group that my son belonged to.  While they did not come right out and SAY that everyone was a winner, each week they would give an award to one of the players for outstanding sportsmanship.

It did not really dawn on me that this is what was happening at first, and to be honest, I was more lost in the fun of watching my son play than actually paying attention to the awards part.  But when I did see it, it was a bit of a shock to me and I felt a little disheartened.

It was about four weeks into the “season” when they were doing one of their little ceremonies that they picked out this one little boy as this week’s outstanding player.  I did not know the name, but when the little boy came forward, I realized that this is the little boy that would never play.  All he did was cry and throw tantrums.  I remembered that there was one time that the coaches were trying to get him to play, so they HANDED him the ball and told the other kids to stay back and let him run.   But all he did was sit on the ground with the ball and cry.

Even my son, who was five at the time came to me afterward and asked, “Why did he get an award, he never played.”

This is where I decided to make sure that I teach Gideon that this is not right.

I work hard to make sure that he understands that there are always going to be winners and loser.  But that losing does not mean that you you ARE a loser.  It means that you made mistakes and to try a little harder next time, or to try something else next time.

Until this flag football team that my son was on, I had thought that people had moved away from that whole “Everyone is a winner, just for trying.” mentality.  Granted, trying is the main point and if you do not try, you do not even have a chance to succeed.  So in that respect, credit should be given for taking the chance, for getting out there and for making the effort.

But no… You are NOT a winner just because you MADE the effort, and I was lucky in that my son could see this even at his young age.  He could tell that if you lost, you lost.  There are no rewards for failure and there is no victory lap for the losers.

He also understands that congratulations should go to the winning teams.  When we have been places where we play against someone, and they win.  He is the first one to go over and shake hands with them and congratulate them.  If he is the winner, he is happy, and will jump around, but will always take time to complement the other player.

If it is so easy for my son, a six-year-old now, to understand this and to live that life, then why is it that the adults that run these programs and for the parents that participate in them to figure it out?

I have taught Gideon from the start that he will win some in life and will lose.  I have told him that he will probably lose more than he will win and that is fine.  That is it not about the loss itself, but about the way you handle the loss and how you express it to others.

Being a good loser and understanding that you lost means you try harder next time, is every bit as important, maybe more so, than winning and knowing that you did it all right.   Right now Gideon seems to understand that, he will say things like, “Poppy, I know what I did wrong, I will get it right next time.”

I hope that he keeps that up.  Keeps that mentality and drive, and does not let teachers or other parents take that away from him.

Thanks for reading.

Respect and BEING Respectful

I recently became part of a debate on Facebook, with a friend of mine, over a video that was posted.  Well, not really a DEBATE, but a discussion.

The issue came up over this video that was posted on Twitter:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/7/1696774/-Young-girl-flips-off-Infowars-interviewer-instantly-becomes-a-Twitter-favorite

I would like to point out that I have no fondness or dislike for Info Wars, personally I am pretty apathetic about them and the people they have working for them.  So this is not in defense of them in any way.   Personally all these pop-up “News” providers can disappear and I would be perfectly happy.

The issue came up when a friend of mine on FB posted this and praised the girl for he stand.  My issue was not even with her “stand”, if you could even call it that.  It was with the way she presented it.

When the “Reporter” approached her and made a snarky comment, she responded with vulgarity and flipped him off.  When asked who taught her to talk like that, she stated that it was her mother.

I am all for people’s First Amendment rights to free speech, but I was also brought up with the understanding that if you have to resort to profanity, then you have lost your argument.  You are now trying to defend your point with ignorance and not intelligence.  I sort of see this as another form of Godwin’s Law, but without the man in the mustache.

If you are able to stand toe to toe with someone and have an intelligent discussion/argument without the need to call names and cuss, then I have every respect for you and will appreciate your effort, even if I think it is wrong.  But if you have to resort to name calling or profanity, then my first thought it that you do not know enough about what you are defending to state your point with any intellect and may not even know what you are talking about or defending in the first place.

But the root of this issue for me is respect.   The argument was made to me that this “Reporter” show her no respect so she was not obligated to show him any and it was also said that respect is earned, not given.  I would argue the opposite on two points.  First, yes… respect is earned, but there are different types of respect at play here.   Should she respect him as a reporter?  Maybe not, that is not my place to say.  But should she BE respectful?  Yes, by all means.  We should all be respectful to people, especially those we do not know.

Granted, in some cultures here in our United States, profanity is something common, even used as a greeting (for anyone that has been to Brooklyn.) But if someone comes to you and challenges your ideals or beliefs, then the proper response would be to discuss, use your knowledge on the topic as a weapon against the person questioning or challenging you.

I wonder if this girl had stopped what she was doing and politely asked, “Can you explain what you mean?”   I get the feeling that it would have disarmed the “Reporter” and caused him to actually carry out a dialogue with the gal and that would have allowed him, and her, to better understand each others stance and point.

And I think that is what a lot of what is going on right now.  People like this learning from their parents or peers that they do not need to be respectful of others.  We need to get that back.  Remember, these are the people that will be running, or ruining, the country one day.  Do we really want someone in office that thinks the first proper response to a challenge is to fly off the handle and show the bird?

Do you want to annoy The Samurai?

Yeah, this is going to be a rant.   Sort of like Peter Griffin’s “You know what grinds my gears” from the show, Family Guy.

For the most part, I am pretty laid back these days.  Not a lot gets to me or annoys me.  It has taken me years to achieve this zen like state with regards to people that used to be able to find that chink in my armor and get to me.  But there are still things that will get to me.   I would like to talk about a few of them here, because there are some people out there that I just DONT THINK UNDERSTAND that what they do IS annoying.

“Guess What?”

This is tops of my list.  There is a person that uses this more often than anyone else I know and each time it is like grating nails on a chalkboard.  I mean, I have heard it from others, and it is mildly annoying from them, but this other person… She will be silent for long periods of time, then out of the blue, I will get a text message, “Guess What?”

For the longest time, I bit… I would ask, “What?”  About one third of the time I would never get a response from her and I would have to ask again.  There were even a couple times I can recall that when she finally responded, she forgot what she was wanting to tell me.  So in my thinking, it was either a lie in the first place, or just not something that was important enough to start the conversation anyway.

Whenever I get these messages, my mind thinks of ways to mess with the person sending them.  Another friend of mine that has been the victim of the “Guess What” messages told me we should start responding with:

  • You’re pregnant?
  • You’re excited about something?
  • You’re depressed?
  • You’re experiencing intense gas?
  • You’re having a bad day?
  • You’re having a great day?
  • You’re having vaginal spasms?
  • You’re going to die?
  • You’re needing help?
  • You’re going to college?
  • You’re sitting on a Cactus?
  • You’re making amends?
  • You’re an idiot?

I finally told her about a year ago that I would not longer respond to “Guess What” messages.  So, as promised, the next time she sent me one, I deleted it without reading it.

Note:  This is something that she obviously forgot, because two days ago I got, and promptly deleted, a “Guess what” message from this person.  To quote Homie the Clown, “Homie dont play that!”

“Irregardless”

Anyone that says or uses in written form, “Irregardless”.

I firmly believe that IF there is a Hell, there is a special place for people that use this fake word.

I cannot say that people that use it are lazy, because when you think about it, the word they SHOULD be using is “Regardless”, which takes a little less time and effort to use, so they are just working that much harder to sound ignorant.

I know that there are people out there that use it because they may have heard it and thought it was real, but as soon as they are told otherwise, they need to stop.  Moreover, when I was growing up, my mother taught me that you should know what a word MEANS before you use it.  So if this is applied, then people would see that while yes, it is listed in Websters, they would see that it is not something that they should be using.  See the attached.

So while yes, they do say it is a word, it is not a standard word and, technically you are saying “not regardless”.

So move on.

People that pronounce the “B” in Subtle.

Yes, there are people I have met that do.  So stop it.  I know it can be confusing and yes, English is a confusing language, but if it is your primary language, get used to it and say the words right!

 

Getting invited to parties, because they need a Tech.

This is why I stopped going to parties.  No lie.

I can count at least ten times (yes, I know, fool me once…) where I was invited to a party or event, then at some point, the host or their significant other come to me and ask, “Can I have you take a look at something?”

Then I am led to their computer and told a story about how something is no longer working.

Because I am a nice guy, I do it, then end up missing the party and later hate myself for falling for it… yet… again.

I have put a stop to it, though.  If you want me to look at your computer because you pulled some bone-headed maneuver and messed it up, make an appointment with me for another time.  If that was the only reason you invited me, fess up, and I will leave now.  Otherwise, let me have fun.

 

That is it for now… as I think of more I will post another article.

 

Thanks for reading!!

Continuing Education

In March of this year, 2017, I made the decision to return to school.

This was not an easy choice, but it was one that I knew, if I wanted my family to have any security in the future, I had to do.  I know that I have a decent amount of money in my retirement right now, but I would like to make sure that there is a little more there and since I am pretty much as far as I can go with the company I work at now, this was the only option that made sense.

This was not a spur of the moment thing.  This was something that I had been planning for some time, and researching various schools through which to complete that which I had started many years ago.  I had also been pretty hard on a friend of the family, Rian, about the fact that she kept finding excuses not to go to college, so I figured I had to put my money were my mouth was.

Originally I started going back to college in 1997, I took some classes, then I could not find the time to keep going because the school schedule and my work schedule would not work together.  Then there was also the issue that I kept running into a problem where the classes I wanted were all backlogged.  In some cases the waiting list was into the next semester.  So I just did not return.

When I started looking at schools this time, I was advised that I should look for schools that would also allow credit for life experience.  I mean, I have been in the IT industry for about thirty years, that should account for something, right?  So I changed my direction and began looking for schools that would allow this.

One of the schools names that kept popping up was Western Governors University. Then one evening I saw one of their commercials on TV with Sage, the Night Owl.  I took this as a sign that maybe I should consider them.

When I first approached them, I was called by Mike, one of the entrance counselors.  He called me several times before I finally took the call.  To be honest, I was avoiding him intentionally.  I was scared to death about going back to school, about the financial responsibility, about the fact that if I did this, “Shit was gonna get real.”

The enrollment experience was great, Mike was informative and once we actually spoke, he gave me the time I needed to think things through and even gave me resources to make sure that WGU was the school for me.  And it took be a few weeks of researching to find that it was not a bad deal.

Through my research, I go in touch with a person at UCLA medical center that had recieved his Masters through WGU.  To be clear, this was not someone that Mike pointed me to, this was someone that I found while looking for information and then ran into.  This person at UCLAMC told me about his experience, the pros and cons, etc.  In the end, he told me it was not like I would be expecting of a college or university, but it was worth it.

About that time, one of my other feelers got a tickle and I spoke with a woman that was a nurse in Austin, Tx.  She had not only gotten her BS through WGU, but was now working on her MS through them while working through a private medical facility there.  She told me that she had had a rough start with them, but her Mentor was accommodating and worked with her through the first term until she was back on track.

This was enough for me, in addition to the information I found on GradeReports web site and on OnlineDegreeReview web site.  I had the information I needed and felt OK making the move, now it was time to talk to the people that really mattered, My Family.

It should come as no surprise that my wife and even my son were happy about the idea of my returning to school.  Most everyone else has been supportive, with a couple people that have been mostly apathetic about it.

So now… I am done with my first term and am scheduled for graduation in the spring of 2021.  This may change if I can work an additional class or two into each term, which it appears that I should be able to do with little or no issues.

But my goals are the important thing, here.  They are not completely about just me, they are not solely about self improvement.  They are to be a better person for my son.  To be someone that he can look up to and be proud of that I have done.  To show him that there is no age limit to education.  To show him that we should never stop learning.

So… here’s to the next term.  Here’s to my success.

 

Thank you for your readership.

Watching kids play

There is something both tiring and exciting about watching children play together.  Whether on a playground or inside, it seems to be a combination of chaos, energy, terror and thrill that is hard to describe.

As I am writing this, I am watching my son play at a place here in town called Hide and Seek.  If you want a great place to let your kids off the leash and just have fun, this is the place to do it.  I bring him here frequently enough that the owner knows me and will make it a point to come over and say hello.

When I say I am watching him, it is more like I occasionally see a streak run past that I have a suspicion is my son, then he is gone.  Occasionally I will hear his voice, barking out commands or orders to the gang that he has organized in the ball pit or up in the various places that he can hide.

Occasionally he will grant me a short visit to announce that he has to pee, or that he needs a drink of water or tea.  Then, like magic, or like some mysterious wraith, he is gone again.

The funny thing about Gideon is that you always know where he is, or that he is nearby.  His voice is pretty powerful for a six-year-old.  He is also not shy about making himself known.

I can sit here, watching him play, and know that he is not going to let too much happen to him. That he will stay mostly safe and not hurt other children either.  More importantly I know that he is having a great time.  Making friends, even if they are only kids that he will know for this short visit.

Finally, there is the comfort in knowing that when we are done with this visit, which usually lasts about two to three hours, he will be thoroughly  exhausted and that he will probably sleep well tonight when he lies down to sleep.

So this is a win-win for us all and a little entertainment for me.  Getting to watch him be a crazy kid for a while.

Moving on and letting go

I am sure I have at least one other piece I have written along these lines, but I thought I would put one more up.  Mostly because talking about this kind of thing allows me a certain level of catharsis that I do not normally have.

It is easy to let go of things.  I mean, there may be an emotional attachment to a thing, like a comb. mirror or a book.  But that attachment is not reciprocated.  There is no returned need or want from that particular thing.

It cannot defend it’s perceived need for you since it is, as far as we know, not sentient or conscious in any way.  Other than any invented emotions that we might assign it through our human need to anthropomorphize things, it has no self awareness.

People, on the other hand, are different.  In many cases, we come to points in our lives where we sit back and have to think about some of the people in our lives and have to think about what role they play in who we are and where we are going.  Then we have to decide if, on our sea of life, they are anchors, sails or rudders.  I know that may sound like a strange analogy, but I heard it once and it applies well to the people in our lives.   Let me explain.

Sails –

On a sailing ship, the sails were the key to movement.  They were, and are still, crucial to the forward movement of the vessel.  They capture he energy of the wind and propel the vessel forward.  The more sails, within reason, the more force and propulsion the vessel has.

People in our lives that act as sails for us are people from whom we draw inspiration and drive.  People who, through their actions or will of personality, give us the drive to succeed.  People that have that unique ability to guide us without us knowing that we are being guided.  People that provide momentum in our lives to move forward, not letting us let ourselves down.

They are important because they are the educators, the mentors and the family that believe in us when we have problems believing in ourselves, and we all have those moments.

 

Rudders –

Rudders, like sails, can guide your vessel, but are not used for the forward propulsion of it.  They are there for the purpose of steering and pointing your ship in the direction that it needs to move.

If you know anything about sailing ships, you may be saying, “But sails can guide the ship too, they also provide steering!”   And that is true, they do.  But think about the people in your lives.  While there are many people you can probably think of that guide and propel you there are also those that are good at steering you in the right direction, but really not doing much beyond that.

This is not to criticize them, pushing you to succeed may not be what they are good at, but offering advice or showing you that you are heading down the wrong path may be something that they are good at, which makes those people no less important than the people that we see as the sails in our lives.

These are people that can act as the occasional voice of reason when we are about to make a bad decision or set out on an unsafe path.  Someone that might say, “Are you sure you want to invest everything you have in Pickle futures?”

 

Anchors –

Anchors are obvious.  They are the part of the ship that keeps it where it is, but while and anchor is import as a literal part of a ship, as a vessel.  For a person or people, whose nature needs them to keep moving emotionally, spiritually or socially, an anchor is rarely a good thing.

These anchors are the unfortunate people, and things, in our lives and many times the people that are the hardest to let go.  Often they are people we care about the most, like family or friends. People that, for one reason or another, keep pulling you back.

Unreliable people that make promises that they continuously break, that say they will be there for you, but then when you look for them, they are nowhere to be found.  People that show up when things are good, but disappear with things are rough.

Needy people, people that cannot crawl out of their own issues or darkness, who live for their own pain or failing.  These people are our anchors and will keep us from our own personal successes.

When you run into these people or identify them in your lives, you should address them, understand them and then, if they are unable to move on and allow you to weigh them in, you need to let them go.  Cast them off.

The nautical term for this is “Cut and Run”.  But if you do this, understand that the person may have their own personal woes or issues.  Do not abandon them, but make sure that you do not let their weight, weigh you down and prevent your momentum.

It is a hard thing to do, it can be emotionally wrenching.  Something about the idea of releasing them feels like abandoning them, and to some degree, it is.  But the choice is to hang on and let them pull you down, or let them go so that you can thrive and, in doing so, hope that they too will succeed.

But remember that, using the same analogy above, maybe you are THEIR Sail or Rudder… so do not turn from them completely.  Be there for them, when they are ready, they will let you know and then you can be there for them.

 

As always.  Thanks for reading.

 

30 Years and aging…

Next month, on the 10th of September, I will attend my 30th high school reunion.

Is this important?   No, in the long term scheme of things, it is no more important than if you remembered to floss or flush the toilet.  But to me and to the people that will be there, it is important.

To me, it is important because it will serve as a reminder of who I was in school and who I have become.   It also marks a point where I can look at what I had to say about my last reunion, which I also wrote about here. in a post called “A stirring of Memories” and see what, if any, changes appear between the two experiences.

I am not sure what I expect… I know there are going to be people there that I still do not care for, and some that I may still have some feelings for.  I know that I am going to be forced to do something that I am not ready for… and that is to dance.

I dance in a manner similar to a disabled zebra running from a pack of rabid hyenas.  It is not well done, is not pretty and will probably go badly and poorly for all involved.  So I expect to see Meme’s on Facebook for years to come shortly after the event.

There are so many reasons that people go to these things, I would have to say that my main reason for wanting to go is that I am making an effort to open up.  Having lived a good portion of my life hiding from others, this is something I am hoping to use as a catalyst to start building friendships again.

In looking at it, I can see that it has already started working out for me, as I am now talking with some people that I have not seen in years and we have become very close.  I in one case, there is a person I am talking to that I have known since third grade, or thereabouts.

So… While I am not holding out any undue hope, I am anxious to see if this is going to be me turning a new chapter in my life and bettering who I am.

We shall see…

 

And as with the last time… I will be posting pictures here of the event.  Even the potentially embarrassing dance fiasco, if it happens.

A turn away from the darker me…

I was told recently that some of my posts here have been a little on the darker side.  That while my messages may be positive, that the lead up to the good side of the message was a little dark.

I went through and looked at it and I do have to agree.  But in my defense, I have been going through a pretty dark time.  Anyone that reads this blog and either knows me from work or know about what happened, will know that I have been through a pretty fucked up period as a result of something that happened there.

I cannot and will not go into the details, so do not ask me, but suffice it to say that my trust in people has been damaged irreparably.

So that being said, I am going to start going back to some of the good thing I used to post here.

 

Chasing that which we cannot have…

Why does it seem that we seem prone to look for what we know we can never have or that which has no chance of being ours?

This is more than a rhetorical question, but something that I have been thinking about for some time, especially the last year or so.  Which may also be part of the reason that I have been remiss in my duties as your host with this site.

This last year has been filled with major trials in my life.  Betrayals, hurts, heartbreaks and heartaches.  Some of the problems I have been dealing with are still not gone and may plague me for years to come, but the fact that I have made it through the last year without major complications stands as a testament to my being a little stronger than I thought I was.

There is a lot I wish I could undo about the last eighteen months.  So many things that I wish that I had had a little more hindsight on and practiced a little more wisdom on.  Things that, looking at them now, should have been so obvious to me at the time, however I failed to see the potential for problems because I was not looking at them from a point of logic, just of emotional gratification.

I was chasing something that was unattainable or unreachable… uncatchable, you might say.  I was chasing a part of my youth that I had let go and was trying desperately to live it out anew by surrounding myself with younger people with whom I thought I had created friendships.

I would like to think that I am not alone in these things… that somewhere out there there are others that have been as foolhardy as I was, fellow fools that let their emotional attachments to others and to a time that they missed out on, lead them down a path that would, might and could very possibly create more problems than they had realized.

I would like to say that I have learned my lessons, that I am going out of this last period of time wiser and smarter… but who knows?  Do we ever truly learn our lessons?

One might never know…

Holding on to the happiness

One of the hardest things for me to deal with in life is that so much in life is transitory.  It like often misunderstood or misinterpreted First Nobel Truth says, “Life is Suffering.”  Some people read this and assume that it means that we are supposed to feel pain, sorrow and suffering in order to live.   But it really means that we have to understand and accept that as part of our lives we will experience pain, loss, suffering and other things which will cause us to hurt.

This is especially true of people and occasions.  We have become a people that live from moment to moment, looking for the beauty of the moment and not of the entire picture that is presented to us.   We go to a party, have a great time, then feel sad when it is over and spend our time trying to find ways to relive the fun of that moment in our time.  While we are doing this we are missing out on all the other moments and experienced that fill the gaps between.

In the end, we find ourselves at the end of our lives with nothing but regrets and lost moments, while the rest of the world has kept moving around us, kept growing, kept living.  We find that others have created new stories and experiences, while the others are left to wallow in the mire of the past.  Even if the experiences that they are reliving were fun or inspirational, they are still in the past and the events static, immovable in time.   They are wonderful for reference, but to dwell on them is a waste of life and energy.

So what can we do or what should we do?

This IS the question, isn’t it?  On one hand we want those memories to be a part of our lives and to occasionally walk down memory lane to revisit them, but it is another thing entirely to live there.   So we need to remember that those memories are part of what made us who we are.   The bad and the good, each is a catalyst that is instrumental in guiding our lives through this turbulent stream of time that is life.

We hold onto the memories that make us happy and keep that for the days when you need them, but do not try to remake them or relive them.  You will almost always be disappointed by what you find when you try, because you may no longer be the same person you were at that time.   So often we find that we never are, time and experiences change us, reassign priorities, correct some of the wrongs in our lives and make us different people.   Rarely are we the same people now that we were ten or twenty years prior.

So we take those memories and hold onto them… make them part of who we are and move on.  Every tear, every smile, laugh, hurt, loss… they all are part of the larger equation that makes up who we are and, inevitably, where we are going.

Thank you for your readership.

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