My Distracktions: "Snow Is Gone" by Josh Ritter

So, yes I have written about Mr. Ritter before, but he is coming to the 9:30 club on December 1st and I feel the need to get as many of you to go as possible. Tickets are $20 plus the misc. fees. And, the show is very well worth it. So, if you like the music and live in the area, come on out for a Tuesday night of fun.

My Dysfunctions: Writing Papers

I am having one of those days where writing for class is not taking shape. I have a report due in the morning on a lecture that I attended this past Thursday and my mid-term for another class due by midnight tomorrow. I don't know what is wrong with me and why I can not focus, but somehow in the next 3 or 4 hours I have got to make that happen. I am giving blogging a go of it in hopes that if I start typing something, the mind will start flowing better and I can get down to business. For now, I am lost and distracted.

My Distracktions: "Yr Mangled Heart" by The Gossip

I find a lot of band's through NPR's All Songs Considered, my favorite of my podcast subscriptions. The Gossip has easily become my latest music obsession. This band from Olympia, Washington, kicked off its first U.S. tour in three years at the 9:30 Club here in Washington, D.C. this past Thursday. I, unfortunately failed to catch the show, but thankfully NPR recorded it. (The link is posted after the youtube clip.).

The Gossip's Beth Ditto owns the stage when she performs, pulling you through her emotional peaks and flows. I have been trying to come up with an appropriate description for the music, but instead have decided to just let the clip speak for itself. I am curious about what you think about them, so please comment away. As always, I hope you enjoy:

And as promised: 9:30 Club NPR Concert

"Details in the Fabric" by Jason Mraz

Of course, most of you (unless you live in a cave & somehow get my blog) know of Mr. A-Z. This great song is from his most current album: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. The man is a lyrical genius and his wordplay has been ever increasing with each album. This song features 2 answering machine messages, that I feel factor well into the song itself. Take a listen.

I hope you enjoy.


Details In The Fabric - Jason Mraz Feat. James Morrison

I'll Come Running (To Tie Your Shoes) by Brian Eno

What a ridiculously cute title for a love song. I don't have a super-long (yes, I know, I have an issue) post for this one. I discovered this song through NPR & Bob Boilen. If you haven't listened to All Songs Consided, for what are you waiting?

I hope you enjoy.

Anyone who knows me knows a few central facts:

I believe that happiness is a choice we make.
I believe that love is something to give freely.
I believe that trust is huge.
And I believe that a good cup of coffee can cure many of life's issues.

But, in this segment I am hoping to tackle one of those points and maybe touch on the others.

Happiness: A Matter of Choice

One of my least favorite phrases that I hear people say is: "[This] makes me unhappy," closely followed by "[This] makes me happy." I think of these people as the same people who believe that luck plays a central role in their life. I don't know about you but, I don't flip a coin or role a die EVERY time that I need to make a decision. Nor do I wait for things to unfold to start my actions (granted this some times get me in to unanticipated trouble, but that is another post entirely).

If something truly made you happy, wouldn't you always be happy? You would find the stimulus that caused your involuntary happiness and harness it. No need for puppies, flowers, a song, a smile, a hug, a kiss, a laugh, or affection. All you would need is bottled "Happy" & I don't mean: Happy. The Clinique people would love if that was the case & honestly, I think that may be easier.

Happiness is so hard for some because it is a choice. Well, partly. Research has shown that happiness is 50% genetic, About 10% to 15% is a result of various measurable variables, such as socioeconomic status, marital status, health, income, and others. The remaining 40% results from actions that individuals deliberately engage in for the purpose of becoming happier. However, these actions may vary between persons ( So, some people are predisposed to being less happy than others. But, at that same time, they also have a choice in increasing their happiness based on the control they have from actions in which they "deliberately engage."

Leo Tolstoy said: "If you want to be happy. Be." This has been a main component of my life and my life choices for the last decade or so. I stumbled across this quote on a day back then that I just needed to see that and as I am prone to do, I thought about it. I said, "Lonnie (because that is what I call myself), why are you unhappy?" And I put together a list of things that were "making" me unhappy and realized that all them came down to choice. Examples:

Your boyfriend cheats on you. Do you choose to be unhappy & stay with said boyfriend? Or do you choose to cut your loses, realize that this person is toxic to your life and move on to better happiness?

You are greatly in debt. Do you choose to be unhappy, cry about the unfairness of Capitalism & hope that something will miraculously change to make this situation better. Or do you choose to change your spending habits, take on an additional job, and set goals to eliminate the debt and be more happy.

Notice that the subject of both examples are derived from choices that have already been made. You decided what person to date & you decided on what to spend your money and how much. You make tons of decisions everyday and to say that something that happened effects you in anyway without taking ownership of those feelings is not fair. Not fair to you and not fair to who or what you assign the blame.

Is being happy easy? No, it takes work. It takes recognition of how your react to situations. It takes courage to get rid of things that are causing you to react unhappily. It takes trust in your friends to not bring you situations that are not ones that you want. But, overall, it takes a decision making and analysis of your emotions.

Think about it sometime when you are unhappy. Think about what is at the root of your unhappiness. Is it something that you can: 1) Eliminate, 2) Get over, 3) Unnecessary or 4) None of the above. Yes, there are circumstances that are not pleasant that happen to us all that we cannot eliminate or get over and are quite necessary. These are the times that we must focus on the necessity and there you will find something to be happy about. If you are suffering for a purpose, typically that pursuit will be for something that ultimately yields something that is positive.

Okay, now I am starting to get distracted, damn coffee shops. :-p But, remember, your life is under your control and happiness is a choice.

Some Arguments Are Not Worth the Time.

An economical approach to arguments, has made me better at recognizing times when it is best to either end an existing argument or when not to argue at all. There are some people that are so head strong that they stop listening to what you are presenting and claim it as invalid. They turn the argument to a fight and the healthy medium that you may have been aiming for is thrown entirely out the window. Fighting is futile, winning accomplishes very little if anything. Compromising on an idea, yields the best results for all parties.

But regardless, when presented with a wall, pushing against it is futile. It is not going to budge by being pushed. You need a wrecking ball and that is not a constructive thing to use if the owner of the wall is not willing to have it torn down. So, the correct approach at that moment is to cut the line and move on.

There are some arguments that are just not worth the cost. And in fact having them sometimes creates more cost: friendships, relationships, etc. But, of course, if that is all it takes to deteriorate a relationship that you have created; how stable was that relationship at the start.

Okay, now I am rambling. The point: I will not be trapped into fighting when I sought to argue & I will not argue when I am certain that it will lead to a fight or an impasse.

Forceful at Best

Sometimes I just have to sit down and force myself to write about things. To write about the its, the yous and the thous in my life. To write about the places to which my mind has escaped for a time. To write something, anything that seems to resonate with something that sounds of feeling and doesn't feel contrived.

But, there are those days that nothing wants to come out. The days when everything wants to stay hidden away from the world. The days when I feel like everything that I am writing is meaningless and tiresome. The days that I think that you may read this post and say: "He's lost his mind", "He needs to not talk about me so much", "He has no clue what is going on around him."

That was were I was. I couldn't make sense of a lot of things. Typically this causes great strife within me. Surprisingly, this time, it was not like that. This time I was in good spirits, just with nothing of great importance to contribute. Then came today...or rather yesterday.

I realized that I had learned something in the last few weeks...well, 2 things to be precise:

1) To not take anything personally.
2) To not make assumptions.

I have my aunt to thank for this...because, she gave me the book from which I learned these things for my 30th birthday. Yes, and I just got around to reading it. But, she never hounded me to do so. Like most things, she realized that I would get to it in my own time and that it would most likely be when I needed it most.

I used to take EVERYTHING personally. It made me really receptive to other people's images of who I was. Then, I realized (and actually thought about it recently) that I am the one who's opinion matters on all things that concern me directly. The gossip doesn't matter. The compliments do not matter. The criticism does not matter. It all only effects me to the level that I can feel these words.

This is not to say that compliments are not good or that criticism is not needed. It is to say that these are things to not take personally. This means that you should not take these words as a reason to change. If I am paid a compliment, it does not mean that the compliment is not valid on other days and that I should only look or act the way that I was looking or acting at that very moment. Criticism should not be taken as a personal attack because it is like a compliment and is a reflection of the other person's feelings about a situation and not about you...entirely. This is not to say that it is alright to do poorly unto others and not feel badly about it. It simply stated means that if it is something you know is an issue with yourself...fix it. Otherwise, realize that it was one situation and it is another person's feelings not yours.

Assumptions. There is a reason for the statement that "To assume is to make an ass out of you and me." We as people assume a lot and this is something with which I will struggle. I am a poker player, so a portion of that is building assumptions based around pattern recognition. But, in life, if we start to assume that we know the situation, we need to stop where we are going with it and have the courage to ask questions. Conversation is the greatest way to squash the assumptions. Most problems in this world are based around assumptions. People get married assuming that their principle of marriage is the same as their chosen partner's views on marriage. Only later to find that they do not have the same values assigned to that agreement.

I can look back at most of my blogs about "problems" and realize that a majority of them are based around my assumptions. Either, because I thought to much into a situation without seeking outside guidance or because I had no idea where things were at that given moment for someone else involved. So, don't be surprised, if I start asking more detailed questions of you.

But these are just my thoughts on the matter & it feels good to be back.


Bad Knowledgemonger!

I have been slacking so much this week on the blog writing and on school work as well. My mind has already checked in for Spring Break, which doesn't start until Monday. I need someone to slap me in the face and say: "Pull it together." I need to stop cruising along and get some of this stuff done already.

Anyhow, a brief synopsis of the week goes as follows:

Monday: Nothing happened, it remained dark, oh and there was the snow. Yeah, so I stayed in and stayed warm in my PJs.

Tuesday: I went to the bar meeting and got pulled into the office by 2 of the owners...dun dun dun. Who then asked me to take on a project for them and that we would talk further on the matter once it was ready to be worked on. Yay! So, apparently I am doing some things right. Went to dinner and out afterward. It is tough to go out to a place where you really need to have a drink to make some of the people tolerable when you are not drinking.

Wednesday: Got my hair did at 2:30 PM. Decided to eat before leaving the D.C., so I went to Logan Tavern. Boarded my train at 5 PM and came back to Manassas, where I showered again and shaved, etc. Went out with the roommate to karaoke. I had a good time, she and Portland girl had a great time. "Stop apologizing" :-)

So, here I am on Thursday, not much has changed and I don't know where I am on a lot of things. Sorting can be so tedious.

An hour and a half behind

So, yes, I am a little behind in posting today...I mean yesterday. But, here I am anyway. My mind is swimming a bit. I am trying to sort a few things out in my life. Nothing too major, just trying to gain always. Wanting more knowledge is like a disease, I never seem to have enough, especially when it comes to people. People are so unique in the combination of ideas, experiences, etc. I am always intrigued. This sometimes gets me into trouble as I take interest into the wrong characters. I am finding it hard to write tonight, as my sinuses are wrecking havoc with my head. So, I will start earlier tomorrow...errr, today and hope for the best.


"We should do CRACK every week!" -Tony W.

Last night at work we had instead of our normal drag show, we had Crack: Journey to Uranus! This approximately annual show that is hosted by Summer Camp was quite the crowd grabber. It was a great night to be at TOWN from both sides of the bar. After the show, DJ Wayne G from Heaven in London spun upstairs. Great Crowd! Great Show! Great DJs!

If you missed it, check for some of the YouTube videos that are bound to show up. Or make it the next time :-)

Not much

Yeah, this post is almost out of formality. I don't got much to say. All I did yesterday was right that damn paper that I mentioned previously and went to work. Got home at 6:30 am and went to bed. So, yeah...I will try to find something invigorating to write about tonight. So, tomorrow will be much better. Until then, perhaps this will hold you over:

This is the cast of "Spring Awakening" singing outside of the theatre during the strike in November 2007. Pretty cool!

Bye Bye Bye - Plants and Animals

So, I think I am going to go see this band on Sunday at DC9. Anyone, wanting to go, yes I know they are a bit folksy, but I quite enjoy them. The show is $10, just let me know. I am also planning on seeing Blitzen Trapper at the Black Cat on Monday($15), I have previously posted the song, Furr from them. Anyway, anyone wanting to go with, please let me know or I will just roll solo.

"Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon

I discovered Kings of Leon many moons ago with their First EP: Holy Roller Novacaine. I liked them enough back then that I went to the Black Cat and saw them perform. Strangely, that day I discovered another band that I became a tiny bit obsessed with called The Features. But this is not about them, this is about Kings of Leon. This group from Nashville, Tennessee is comprised of 3 brothers & a cousin, who together have a fantastic performance synergy. As much as I liked the original EP and the follow-up album: Youth & Young Manhood, their latest effort: Only by the Night shows maturity that they did not possess in 2003. This song is from this new album and is the first single released. It quickly hit #1 in the U.K., after its August 2008 release. It only reached #56 on some U.S. publications chart, which is insane. (Come on, get it together! *cough*Billboard*cough*) Anyway, without further ado, here is "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon:

Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon

The Cost of Love

"Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none."-William Shakespeare, "All's Well That Ends Well", Act 1 Scene 1

What could be easier than this concept? It is almost written in process. It seems to me that people are starting to put a price tag on love. The cost of their love is that you must do whatever it is that they believe that their love is worth. It also seems to me that they have forgotten a very central concept that as price goes up, demand goes down, all other things remaining the same. So, as they put a higher price tag on their love, the demand for that love starts to dwindle until no one wants their love and instead people will seek an alternative.

Now, I know from a practicality standpoint that demand will never reach zero, but it will grow so slim that they start becoming very self-defeating. So, the price of your love is growing, can I offer to buy some of it. No? Your love is not for sale. Interesting. Well, perhaps than your love should be free. Perhaps, all love should be free.

Expressing love as a default is very simple. All it takes is loving yourself and then loving those with which you interact. Be kind to people. Offer someone something that they need if you have the means to do so. Smile at someone when you talk to them. Hug those who you think need it. Being kind is 20 times easier than being mean and at least 10 times easier than being apathetic.

Now, that you are loving people, let's get down to trust. Trust few. This is hard to do sometimes when you are loving everyone and you may and probably will get burned for trusting the wrong people. But, don't stop loving that person because you can not trust them, just know where you must hold them. Those people that you do trust, start small and work your way into trusting them as time goes by. As they trust you more, you will trust them more, etc. Just be sure that you continue to love them enough to maintain that trust.

Lastly, I get to the concept of doing wrong to none. Very simple in theory, much harder in practice. Most people that have accomplished the first two, do well on most aspects of this. but, the hardest part is "Being loyal to the absent." This concept is the idea that people gossiping about someone who is not there to defend themselves is not fair. Think about it the next time you are with a group and they start talking about the missing member. Should not someone defend that person? The answer I would say is yes, if at all possible. Being silent, sometimes, can be just as bad as being the gossip.


Really, Bud?!?

Bud Selig says that A-Rod has shamed the game of baseball. Really? How is it possible that someone as an individual has shamed the game more than it already has been by admitting that he used "performance enhancers?" That makes no sense to me what-so-ever, with the shear number of players that took drugs during the 2001-2003 period, how could you possibly not expect A-Rod to do the same to remain competitive? That's just ridiculous! Who has shamed baseball? Mr. Selig shouldn't have to look far.

Bud, the mirror is calling and he thinks it is gut check time. The greed of the owners mirrors the greed of the players, perfectly. And you, sir, may be the worst of them. So, don't start pointing your fingers. Start questioning: Why there needed to be a problem before regular testing was done? Why did the league get so out of control before the issue was even addressed? Did you know that the "Honor System" only works so well?

Sir, put your finger away and start actually working to better the game. Maybe, start capping some salaries to start to gain league parody. I don't know do something other than getting your mug out there just to point your finger. SHAME ON YOU!

Why is it so necessary to spare a person's feelings?

It seems that most lies that I have encountered in my life were told by people who claimed that they didn't want to hurt someone's feelings. This situation I have never understood. I have found that the opposite ends up being quite true.

Take for instance a situation where someone is supposed to have a birthday dinner and has invited you to attend. The day of you text with them and they are giving you the run around about it saying that his friends aren't getting it together properly and that his mother has decided to cook for him and that is what he is going to do instead. Okay fine his friends must suck...but, wait you have met his friends and you know that they do not suck, quite opposite to that they seem to get things together pretty well. So, you start to not believe this situation and already formulate that you have been dis invited, because said person's ex is there and he doesn't want it to be uncomfortable, etc. But, you forgive that and just deal with it as it is. But, then a few weeks later you get conformation of this lie, because his friends being the great people they are put up pics of the event on facebook and you are now friends with them on this lie-catching network. (yes, this does happen)

Do you confront these situations? Do they make you question other times that this person has canceled on you? the answer to both questions for me is a resounding YES. If you do not confront the situation you fail to allow the relationship of any sort with this person from growing. a) Did they lie just because they were trying to make something more comfortable? b) Are they playing you? c) They need to know that you are rather good at detecting lies and that doing so is pointless d) Lying about anything to make someone feel better does not work with all people. e) Do you even want to progress further with this person?

I am in touch with my emotions and regardless of someone's intentions I am going to feel the way I feel do to my reactions on a situation. Further I have come to notice that the times that I have the hardest time dealing with my emotions is when I suspect the truth is not being told to me. So, stop trying to spare my feelings! Tell me the truth, I'm a big boy I can handle it.

Curve Balls!

I love that life throws them at you from time to time. It keeps things from getting mundane and makes you continually think. Without them, I don't think life would be any fun at all.

Take my recent battles with financial aid, I could:

a) not deal with it & drop out of school.
b) get pissed off & go on a rampage at the financial aid headquarters.
c) get mad, organize my thoughts, laugh a little bit & then take them on.
d) drink heavily and do a) or b) anyway.

So, I have chosen path c). Less messy and overall, more effective. So, hopefully everything will work out for the better in a month or so and that they as well as myself will learn valuable lessons going forward.

Lots of changes going on around me and also within me. I am directing what I can in directions that I want them to go. How manipulative of me! Well, trust me when I say that I have very little control over the things that do not directly involve me, but that is something that I am okay with at this time. People come and people go, just make the most of the time that they are around.

Spring semester has resumed. Wish me luck. With any skill, I will finish up the year with a very high 3.XX GPA, w00t!


Dealing with Financial Aid Offices

I think that subject tops my list of things that are not fun, beating out: "having a root canal" & "waiting at the DMV." This is the 2nd time in my life that I have had to deal with complete stupidity from a financial aid office and guess what, I have yet to have real interaction with them. I have called every office at every campus and left a message. I have sent an e-mail to Financial Aid Help 3 times. No responses. So, tomorrow my unhappy self will most likely be chewing out some unsuspecting financial aid "adviser," because of the overall office's incompetence.

And what may be the issue, you ask? Well, the financial aid department has a SAP policy that uses a 67% completion rate as making significant progress through coursework. Which it should; however, they should also have the responsibility to make sure that it is being correctly utilized. Because, I have 3 classes that conclude on February 12th and have 3 that have been completed their system views the 3 as not being complete and as not making significant progress. Huh? Really? Seems like a simple fix overall, right? Well, add in the complications of reaching ANYONE it becomes not so simple.

How a campus can offer classes with varying start and end dates in a semester and also have a financial aid department that does not know how to appropriately handle the situation is beyond me. I am beginning to think that these are:

Top 5 Things Taught To a New Financial Aid Employee

1. NEVER, under any circumstance, answer your office phone.
2. If you listen to voicemail, please take at least 3 days before considering your response.
3. If it is important enough the student will come to your office.
4. Make sure you take sedatives before dealing with angry student mobs.
5. Don't worry about e-mails, let the auto-response pacify their concerns.

So, now I am going to have myself a good laugh about this situation, because I love that someone or something out there cares enough to mess with me. Thank you, omnipotent being!

Halfway Home by TV on the Radio

From the Album Dear Sciene, which this Magazine chose as its Album of the Year, and in my opinion for very good reason.

"Halfway Home" is an amazing song from this album and as a fan of TV on the Radio for a number of years, it is good to hear that they have stuck with their musical experimentation. I hope you enjoy :-)

Halfway Home - TV On The Radio

The Beginning of a New Dawn

A great start to the year 2009. I went shopping with the roomie at Tysons. Bought enough shirts to complete the winter wardrobe (w00t). After the shopping extravaganza, the roomie dropped me off at the metro and I headed into the city to meet up with The Diarist, Tuffie & a friend to watch the Caps take on the the Lightning. What an awesome game! A lot of violence (with the unfortunate side effect of a Tampa Bay player having to be taken off the ice on a stretcher), a lot of goal scoring and the Capitals increased the Eastern Conference Best Home Record to 16-1-1 with a 7-4 victory!

Thanks again guys for the invite, love you much. After the game I called the roomie, who still was not feeling well, so I stayed in the city with a friend and headed over to Cobalt, where I got to see another pack of friends.

So, I started the New Year with most of my friends, w00t and I hope that trend can continue throughout this coming year. :-)

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