Left and Right of Centre

For most of my life I didn’t really care about politics. I just assumed, as many do, that none of it mattered since the people in power would do what they wanted regardless of how their constituents think or feel. I decided a few years ago that I would begin to follow what was happening mainly in American politics, as Canadian politics seemed boring and not as appealing or entertaining.

I would speak to different individuals and listen to their viewpoints. Sometimes we ran around in circles, sometimes we would agree, and many other times we would simply agree to disagree. Either way, it never changed anything to do with policy or politics itself, but these conversations did help me to understand the basics regarding the political spectrum and the positions of others.

About two years ago, I was swayed to the far left in my mindset, and began, or so I thought, to care about the so-called “little guy”, being the disenfranchised and/or “helpless”. I followed the entire campaign of Bernie Sanders, finding myself agreeing with much of what he had to say. While everyone within the political spectrum attacked him, I felt that he was the most genuine of the presidential candidates. I was inundated with the opinions of progressive shows like The Young Turks, and found myself falling victim to the exact reactionary thinking that guys like Ben Shapiro and any scholar of logic and reasoning are telling their followers to be cautious of. This far left school of thought governed my decisions and how I voted when it came to the last Canadian Federal election.

About a year ago I started working alongside a young, intelligent guy from Florida. He was a Trump voter, but not really a supporter, as he was more anti-Hillary Clinton than he was pro-Trump. He also made a strong argument for the true definition of libertarianism, and how it differs from the fringe beliefs of anarchism. We agreed on some policies, disagreed on others, but always managed to keep our conversations civil, and showed enough respect to one another to at least listen to the other side. While these interactions didn’t necessarily change my mind, it assisted in an evolution of my thinking. I began to blame crony capitalism, lobbyists, and the allowed manipulation of the system, rather than capitalists and the super rich themselves, for the current social state of the US, and how it both contrasts with and mirrors that of the Canadian government and system at large.

Recently, I have been absorbing more centrist and right leaning content, in which I have found some truths, but don’t fully agree with everything that they have to say. It has fed the analytical portion of my brain, the same way that the progressive-liberal side fed my feelings. I found myself agreeing with capitalists and their right to pursue financial success without having to give up most of it to taxes, which tied back to earlier discussions about the essence of libertarianism.

As I continue to learn and shape my thought process and what I, as an individual, deem as to be successful strategies for creating a functioning and inclusive society, I have become increasingly more confused with where my loyalties lie. What I can say is that being more fluid in my thinking creates opportunity to see the good and bad of all sides’ policies, as well as landing me in the position of being both left and right of centre.

All things considered, I don’t believe that mankind has seen a perfect government, nor will they ever. But I do believe that somewhere buried in the policies of all of the parties and perhaps parties still to come, there is a healthy balance of social progression and fiscal responsibility.

Advertisements

Anthony Bourdain: A Life That Ended Too Early

Far too often the personalities in the food entertainment industry are fake or just paid to promote products. Anthony (Tony) Bourdain was far too real for those celebrity trappings. As the author of Kitchen Confidential, he opened up to reveal the reality of the commercial kitchen and the life of a chef. The glitz and glamour was stripped away to allow the average person into the hot, sweaty, smelly back room that most movies or cooking shows at the time, would never dream of portraying realistically.

Over the years, Tony worked his ass off creating successful restaurants, and eventually as a travel/food show host with an edginess and fervour for the truth and love of food and the culinary industry. He never backed off when it came to what he wanted to say and how he felt about the topic of conversation, or the food itself. In the simplest terms, he was real.

tony b 2

Unfortunately, today we have learned of his untimely death by suicide. I don’t know, nor will I speculate as to his reasoning for taking his own life, but I do know one thing; suicide is almost never the answer. Life is tough, we all have to go through it, but bear in mind that just because you feel one way today, doesn’t mean you will feel that way forever. Once again, I can’t even begin to understand what Tony was going through, however, I am certain that there was someone he could have spoken to, and I know for a fact that his family will have to deal with his decision for a much longer time than he does.

tony b 3

I have been in depressed states in my past with an eye on ending things prematurely, but I credit my strength to my not wanting to let down my family or hurt them in unimaginable ways, and Gary Vaynerchuk, who motivated me to get off my ass and make my life worth living. I just wish that for Tony, he had had the same thought process, and found a reason to keep going.

For those out there that are contemplating suicide, please do yourself and your loved ones a favour; talk about what it is that you are going through. You are not alone, even though it may feel that way sometimes, there is always someone out there that will listen.

Take care of yourselves!

tony b

 

Tolerance is NOT the Word You’re Looking for!

Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures constantly speak of racial tolerance. They try to portray a world where we tolerate individuals that we perceive to be different. Whether it’s skin colour (which is just a difference in the amount of melanin in one’s own epidermis), language (a native tongue used to communicate just like any other language), or country of origin (which is a decision made by our parents and their parents before them), using the word or action of tolerance is a mask for disapproval or hatred that a bigot can hide behind.

Tolerance

Used to convey the action of putting up with something that you don’t care for, tolerance allows narrow-minded individuals to cloak themselves in the veil of acceptance while continuing to fear and prejudge others that are seemingly different. These individuals tolerate different races, religions, and sexual orientations, so that they do not seem like monsters to the people around them. When in fact, from the point-of-view of someone who is truly accepting of others, the only difference between the outspoken haters and the “tolerant” is the volume level at which they project their discomfort with the unknown.

Acceptance

To truly thrive in a multicultural society, we must not tolerate another person’s differences. We hear people speak of being colour blind, and they’ll say things like, “I don’t see skin colour, therefore I’m not racist”, or some bullshit to that effect. Of course you see skin colour. Of course you hear an accent, and it’s not a bad thing. These types of statements try to paint the picture that we are all the exact same, which we are not, and that again, is not a bad thing.

Instead, we should be striving to accept others for who they are, what their culture means to them, and how these things can have a positive effect on our society as a whole.  Ask questions about ideals and behaviours that you don’t understand. Don’t assume something because a biased media outlet said it, and now you think that’s the way it is. People are usually open to answering questions if they feel that you are willing enough to listen to the answer. It is not offensive to someone if you expose your own ignorance and genuinely ask for help in evolving as a person. With an evolution in mindset and personal view of others, an unimaginable number of doors can open, and the world will simultaneously become larger than you ever thought possible, and smaller when you realize that humans, regardless of origins, are all seeking the same thing.

Love

Far too often, love is reserved only for a spouse or family member. Sometimes we feel love or a connection to someone we find inspiring or possibly even idolize. But not often enough do we feel love for people around us in everyday situations. It is not expected that we all become best friends and want to be together every waking moment, however, showing kindness, empathy, and embracing acceptance of one another will be the true saviour of humankind.

Your Assignment for Every Day of Your Life

Make a new friend, strike up a conversation, or simply hold the door open for someone. A bit of effort goes a long way in making someone’s life a little better, and increasing the levels of acceptance and comfort within your community. As the Beatles once put it, and it will ring true for the rest of time, “Love is all you need.”

acceptance

Daily Prompt: Archaic

via Daily Prompt: Archaic

I currently work for an electronics retailer, which I will be leaving soon for another employment opportunity. Their style of doing business, advertising strategy, and even the internal computer system is extremely archaic. Unfortunately for the workers who have made a career of this type of work, the company will be completely out of business within the next five to seven years due to their lack of understanding of the market, the products that people are looking for, and the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. The result will drive those workers into a world that they will not understand if they haven’t kept their eyes open over the last five years.

Business Style

Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, when the entire lineup of electronics had anywhere from a 50-500 percent markup, salespeople were trained to be sharks that cared more about  their commission cheques than the customers. Back then, a sales associate could make a living wage, support their family, and didn’t mind their employer treating them like garbage because the financial upside was so great. Today, with the cost of living far exceeding what a retail employer is willing to dish out, company culture and being treated well has become more important than ever. “Treat your employees well and they will take care of your customers for you,” is a philosophy that has been adopted by some of the best companies in the world, and has allowed those companies to succeed in bad economies and tanked markets.

The Changing Landscape of Advertising

A successful marketing strategy these days differs from the strategies of old in a few ways. Today, social media and direct marketing through electronic media outperform radio and print advertising for a fraction of the cost. The ability to pinpoint the exact target demographic has become easy enough that a child could do it, and they are. Teenagers who understand how to properly utilize social media for business are moving more product than brick and mortar retailers, without the overhead of a fixed location and inventory. And when you consider that manufacturers are willing to drop ship products directly to the customer’s home, these businesses can save once again on their shipping costs. As the landscape continues to shift, we will see more online stores, as the people running these businesses have chosen to embrace technology, instead of hiding behind ignorance, doubt, and fear.

Out-of-Date Operating Systems

The company I work for uses an internal computer system from 1982. That was the year I was born. They are also using a dot matrix printer, and carbon copy invoices. There isn’t even the ability to email a receipt to a customer short of printing out a hard copy, scanning and emailing it, or even worse, the obsolete process of faxing. If a business is not willing to supply its employees with tools from within the last decade, how can one expect customers to take that business seriously?

“We’ve Always Done it This Way” are Words That Should Never be Spoken

Lack of evolution in business is a one-way ticket to bankruptcy. Carrying the same old products and believing the future to be a fad is the best possible way to see your business go belly up, if it hasn’t already. If you truly love your business and want to keep it running, do your research, understand how the world around you is changing, drop dead weight employees, and hire the best people to do the things that you are not good at.

Evolution, not change for the sake of changing, is the key to thriving in today’s business world. Know it, embrace it, and you will reap the rewards.

Writer’s Block: Is it Real?

Over the years, while I was constantly convincing myself that a career in writing was unfeasible, I would hear of successful writers complain of writer’s block. It has been hinted at, expounded upon, and driven plots throughout short stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. But, is it real? Do writers actually hit a wall, are they lazy, or is it just a crap day with no inspiration?

In my short time as a writer, I have certainly experienced days where I just couldn’t come up with something that advanced the story I was working on. However, I have noticed that those are good days to begin or continue another project, unless I am trying to meet a deadline.

If meeting a deadline is the issue and I must get it done in a timely fashion, I’ll take my dog for a walk, call someone and have a conversation, or better yet, I’ll ask someone that I trust to read it and give me an honest opinion. Sometimes, the opinion given sparks an idea or new path to take within the story. Other times, I try to put myself in the shoes of the reader so that I am able to experience it from their point of view. While the latter usually helps with copy editing and finding plot holes, everything that can be done to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen, eventually leads to getting back on track with my work.

So, back to the original question. Is writer’s block real? For myself, it doesn’t really exist. For other writers, it may in some form or another. Either way, it’s not forever, and keeping your eyes open for the next hint of inspiration should be your main priority.

writers block 2

 

Daily Prompt: Tide

via Daily Prompt: Tide

This would be an easy prompt to pick on foolish teenagers for eating Tide pods, because ingesting harmful chemicals is just plain stupid. However, while most people over 18 years of age can’t wrap their heads around this, many of those same people smoke cigarettes, drink excessive amounts of caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary beverages, and eat garbage food everyday.

Healthy living is about avoiding these excessive or unnecessary poisons as often as possible. For those who have trained themselves to require that caffeine jolt in the morning, one coffee per day is enough. You don’t need four. In fact, you could wean yourself off of coffee altogether and still be able to function normally.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Moderation is the key.” That statement applies to everything in life, not just food and drinks, but also excessive work schedules, exercise, and rest or lack thereof.

If you don’t require another, just put it down. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my six Big Mac meals are ready.

Daily Prompt: Song

via Daily Prompt: Song

What constitutes a good song? Is it a slammin’ beat, great melodies, lyrics that you can connect with, or no lyrics at all? Does it have real or synthesized instruments? Is it an epic tune at 8-13 minutes, or the standard radio length of about 3 1/2? Does it have to be by a band or performer that you like? Can it be from a genre that you despise?

Music like many other forms of art is completely subjective, and a song that one person might love, could sound like nails on a chalkboard to another. Sometimes a song that you once loved can be overplayed, leading to a level of disdain toward it; only to become a favourite again in ten years when you hear it at a party or bar.

Songs are as individual as the people listening, which is what makes music in general so unbelievably fantastic. The feelings or memories that a certain song can invoke are what connects us to the music on an emotional level. There really is no right or wrong answer to what constitutes a good song. Unless it’s country… then it’s just awful.

420

Legend has it that the origin of the term 420 comes from some high school students from California in the 70’s. After school they would meet up at 4:20pm to hang out and smoke some of that sweet sweet cheeba. It eventually spread across the US, into Canada, and then across the entire world.

This explanation is far more plausible than the rumours of there being 420 active chemicals in cannabis, or the police code for possession being 420, which it is not.

Today we honour this event on the 20th of April, by getting together with friends and continuing the tradition of indulging in some of the finest herb available. It is a time for peace, love, and positivity. And definitely a few laughs.

So find a friend, light up, and enjoy. And for those who are dead set against it, lighten up, it’s a plant!

Daily Prompt: Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

Exploration is one of the keys to self awareness and personal growth. Many different aspects of life can be explored, all leading to the same discovery: happiness.

Work

Regardless of age, you should be exploring every avenue available. Take different jobs, work for different companies, move laterally or up, and volunteer some time. Find out what you enjoy doing, then kick ass at it. For some, they figure it out early, and for others it takes years. Either way, don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.

Social Life

Meet new people everyday. Engage in a friendly conversation with a stranger. It could be in line at the grocery store, or while standing on a street corner waiting for your turn to cross the street.  You don’t have to make a new best friend, but a simple conversation can teach you a lot about yourself. You never know who you might meet, and it’s great practice for networking.

Travel

Even though the entire planet has been mapped out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t explore your city, country, or any other place. New destinations come with new experiences, new people, new architecture, and new food, which are some of the building blocks of personal growth.

Ultimately exploration is about finding yourself. You’ll never know what you might like, if you don’t try it.

Daily Prompt: Toxic

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

7 Signs That You Work In A Toxic Environment

A job I once had provided an unwanted look into what a toxic work environment can be. It frustrated me everyday, and quickly turned into something I loathed thinking about, even during my off time. The signs of a toxic environment are not always easily identifiable, but once you are made aware of what they look like, recognizing them is simple. What you do after that is up to you.

  1. You have a boss, not a leader.

A real leader is willing to put in work alongside their employees, not crack a whip from the safety of an office. They don’t point fingers and search for someone to blame if something goes wrong either. Instead, an effective leader will work with the team or individual to improve their understanding and hopefully their results.

2. Management is feared, not respected.

Ruling through fear only works for someone who doesn’t understand what respect is or how it works. However, most adults in the workforce fully understand that by showing respect, they get it in return. This creates a positive cycle of respect being shown to everyone else that they may encounter throughout the day. As a result of a positive and respectful work environment, there will inevitably be an increase in productivity and morale.

3. Only failures are recognized, not successes.

Every manager is different. The good ones will point out successes, either through email, a private conversation, or in front of colleagues and co-workers. They will also point out failures, but usually behind closed doors, and will be willing to spend time to help you correct the issue. A bad manager tends to only dwell on failures, call you out like a child in front of everyone, and can even stoop so low as to continually bring up old failures, even in unrelated situations. These bad managers will almost never give you recognition or praise for your success.

4. Absentee ownership.

This is more important to the health of the company than the individual employee. Absentee ownership is probably the worst offence an entrepreneur can can commit. If you’re 65 years old and have a well established team, perhaps you can take more time off, but if your company is struggling, it, as well as the employees, can benefit by having you spend more time there, not less.

5. Unhealthy competition.

Sales competitions can be a great motivator, helping to drive in some extra revenue, especially in the slow times when employees can tend to get complacent. But overlapping of territories or customers can result in animosity between employees, and a disdain for the manager who implemented the contest. Hopefully, any form of competition is well thought out ahead of time, and outlined in full detail with the employees before it begins.

6. Drugs and alcohol at work.

This is pretty straightforward. Drugs and alcohol consumed at work is dangerous to everyone, and a sign of a serious addiction. If anyone is at the point that they require drugs and/or alcohol to get through the day, serious psychological help should be acquired.

7. Nepotism.

In my experience, when I worked for family members, I was always expected to output more effort and productivity than other employees. It taught me that regardless of how I got my job, I had to work to keep it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, family members are hired, put in a few years of actual work, then coast for the rest of their career. Ultimately, they manufacture a sense of entitlement, which leads to an abuse of power, unprofessional actions, and a distrust between the employees and employer.