Thursday, September 27, 2007

Taser THIS! Freedom of speech

Last night, I arrived at CSU's campus to visit a friend. As I did, the public hearing regarding the editor of the CSU Collegian was breaking for the night. I was amazed at how many people are in direct support of this kid. He is J. David McSwane, an award-winning writer from Arvada.

As you can see below, the editor was very blunt. He broke campus bylaws. The advertisers of the Collegian have pulled $30,000 of business so far and that may not be all. The staff of the student-run newspaper have already taken a pay cut. McSwane is facing consequences from the Board of Student Communication, which may include some big political ideas. Petitions for and against his firing reached into the hundreds on Wednesday.

I think that several simple things have happened and need to happen that people seem to be confused about. First off, he exercised his freedom of speech. This great country gives each citizen that right in our constitution. Second, that exercising upset many of the alumni and support for the paper and the university. This, in turn, caused money to be pulled from the paper. I believe that the Collegian is currently being published in black and white now, because of the funding cut. Normally, it is published in full color.

I think that McSwane was completely irresponsible in publishing that in the paper that he did. I realize that I am a lowly blogger, but I cannot ever see using that word in that kind of a paper. If I EVER see a word like that in a syndicated publication, I would expect that it would take an act of the editor, the publisher and several petitions by tens of thousands of it's readers to make it happen.

What needs to happen is McSwane should step down. I think CSU should ask him to step down based on the fact that he has offended so many people. The publisher should ask him to step down on the same grounds. The publisher, given that he doesn't resign, should fire him on the grounds that they have lost so much money in advertising. I say that because, as I understand it, the paper is financially independent from the university and therefore has the authority to hire and fire who it pleases as a business. Whether the students see it as free speech or not is irrelevant.

The "editorial"

The newspaper

The kid

The money it cost the paper/students

Offering no apology.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

funny mental picture

Mike, one of my regulars, was chatting with me about a guy that was lost and found yesterday in Rocky Mountain National Park. I thought, wow, I can see it now! He calls me up and has me over. Sitting on his couch with my photo albums splayed out in his lap, he's off in another world. He studies intently at the photos. In the air, he reaches up as if to hold onto the rocks. He turns to me in the most serious tone and asks me how the hold is. "Is it pretty good or is it more of a sloper?" Then he disappears back into his own mind for a minute. Then, out of nowhere, he asks, "Could you hand me my wine?" with no intention at all of even getting up to see the sunlight!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Where are all of the real women and why are they hiding?

I was observing an older lady the other day. She's pretty heavy. When she comes into the gym, she always stops at the top of the stairs to catch her breath from the stairs. Then something occurred to me. She is hiding. She is hiding under all of the layers of fat. She is using her weight as a protective wall. I had a conversation with her quite a while ago and she seemed nice. Why would she do that? How many women today hide behind weight?

Monday, September 10, 2007

making people feel comfortable (long)

This is something of a continuation of my last post. Here, I tried to go into more detail on my ideas.

SERIOUS "heart to hearts"
I remember a while back. I went to a basketball game at my high school. I was 16 at the time. A girl I knew came up to me after the game was over and asked for a ride. I had zero social life (I didn't go to parties), so of course I said yes. After all of thirty seconds, she started spewing about her life and pouring out her heart. She was all but destroyed. So, I listened. When the last turn to her house came, I kept driving. I drove and listened. After another hour of her sobbing, she stopped talking and I dropped her off. This pivotal event was the defining moment when I realized that I wanted to understand conversations and body language.

When I sit down with anyone now, I focus on that person. When I listen, I listen with my heart. I try to speak objectively and only after they have finished their point. I try to be as relaxed as I can and look as far into their eyes as I can. I also try to have "soft" eyes. Someone once told me that when I "fix" my gaze on them, they feel that I am only looking at them. In response, they feel important in the conversation.

I think one of the biggest things in making people feel like sharing is that they feel safe. I could go on for a while about this, but body language has a lot to do with it. Generally, if you are ready to give a person your full attention, I think that you should be calm and relaxed. If a person is going to share, they are opening themselves up to you and could very well become emotional about it. If you are calm, they will feel better about launching out. If I'm going to open up one of my wounds, I need to know that the person (or people) are grounded and are going to be relatively sane. Now, I'm going to define sane as a consistently slow and objective voice, calm and relaxed posture, and a presence that is at rest. They may have drastically differing ideas than I, but I still need them in that moment to help my climb back into reality when I'm done.

When I look at a listener who I would confide in, they have a presence. They are confident. They are very slow in their actions. They think a LOT. They differentiate between emotion and fact. They look at risk-reward analysis. They take in as much as they can. They ask me questions. Their questions are slow and thoughtful. They look at finding a solution if one is needed. They encourage me. I think this last one is key to bringing me back to Earth. They make me think about things from their perspective while taking into consideration my own.

Eyes are a big part of non-verbal communication. Most of the time, people don't like being stared at. However, it is to everyone's benefit for you to give casual glances and friendly eye contact. I remember writing several times on the power of eyes. I think the fastest way to relax people with your eyes is to have the same look as when you are getting ready to laugh. Pop your eyebrows for a second. This is what many people do when they see something they like. If I just raise them a little bit or briefly pop them, I've found that more people talk to me than if I just left my eyes as though I were reading something. I just try to relax my face and have something of a grin all of the time.

Body position can play a role as well. When I see someone lean forward as I begin conversing with them, it makes me feel important. They want to be closer to pick up more input. I've noticed that I'll do the same if I feel like I'm not getting enough (enough being volume, pronunciation, etc). However, some people are not confident enough to take this as a compliment and become a little gun shy in the spotlight. If they react with a deer-in-the-headlights look, we have to adjust. In this case, I'll usually try to reposition myself so that I am closer without having an aggressive body position.

Does making people laugh make you more approachable?
Does a commonly held sense of humor attract people?
Is the converse true? (if you are tense/apprehensive, will that rappel people?)

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard or read that a girl thinks that one of the most important features of a guy is a sense of humor. Thousands maybe? This is another reason for my sarcasm. I find so many times that people are down or too serious about something. I just don't know how they get by without making fun of the situations they come into. I'll give you an example. A friend of mine, I'll call her Maddie, seems pretty stressed as of late. I was over at her house the other day and she was all up in arms about her living situation probably changing soon. Well, she just moved into her current pad. On top of that, she has to learn some music BY EAR for a recital in less than a week! That would have me freaking out for sure, mainly because I don't play the flute. I know she's a good musician, but it came down on her so far that she was whining about what she was going to wear to work the next day. I said, "Well, I'm not as educated on women as I would like to be. However, I'm willing to take this challenge on! Some people wear latex, some wear plastic wrap, and some wear nothing at all! But I'm going to suggest that you wear clothes. I think that they might really fit well on you! Shot in the dark!" That was just enough to break the tension and get her to relax.

I love how easily humor loosens people up. I've learned that, generally, people don't like being tense. It's not how we live life to the fullest. Wow, I'm thinking back to May when I spent $50 on a ticket to go see Ron White. Why on EARTH did I do that?!??? Why did ALL of those people do that??? The Buell Theater was crammed for that show. All he did was stand up and talk about his life. That sounds rather boring in and of itself, but he made fun of it in the precess. Some of his jokes are crude, but I rather enjoyed his main joke. I think everyone else did too.

Alright, here's his statement. Don't go after looks; go after someone you can enjoy life with. This is something that I totally agree with. Here is basically how he said that statement. "I just got married again last summer. She's a beautiful woman, just younger than I am. I'm really lucky too because she is smart as hell. Who knows why she married me, but whatever. If there's one thing that I could pass on to the young people here tonight, it would be don't marry for looks. That's so stupid." He gets fairly crude here and if you'd like to hear it, ask me in person or email or something. "You can fix anything on a person. If she gets a belly, you can have a tummy tuck. Liposuction will fix that butt. Breast implants and plastic surgery continue on down the list. But you can't fix stupid!"

It was simply his ability to say something that believed in his life in a way that made people laugh that made him the millions that night. I'd bet you anything that all he had to do was ask anyone in that whole place and they would have bought him a drink.

Does making people laugh make you more approachable? I would give that a resounding YES!!!!
Does a commonly held sense of humor attract people? I'm gonna take a shot in the dark here and say yes.
Is the converse true? (if you are tense/apprehensive, will that rappel people?) Again with the whole yes idea.

I'm going to finish up with the approach that I've been using for the past couple of years. What I do is explain an idea and openly offer my opinion and thoughts. Then I'll ask, "What do you think?" Once in a while, you'll get the arrogant bastard who sincerely doesn't care about the topic. They will say something like, "Well, that would make sense if this person had any value to them." Other than those people, generally the people who offer their opinion will be genuine in their answers and feel validated even if you disagree on one thing or another. This is where I learn the most. (i.e. I hope that someone disagrees with something in this post.)

making friends

"I want to inspire trust and confidence in others."
This is a quote from a friend who is struggling with the idea that they are not approachable. I had a hard time making friends in high school. I fought with this idea most of my life until the past couple of years. Here's what worked for me....

The first thing I did was find something that many people want and have trouble attaining. I chose to focus on understanding women. VERY few people attempt it and fewer still find even the remotest of success. With my topic in hand, I found a place to start sharing my ideas with whoever would read - myspace. Then! I read. I read everything I could find.

I wrote a few blogs and invited people to read and share their opinions. I gave my opinion openly and asked what people thought. I did this over the net, the phone, and chai. I really tried to see things from as non-subjective opinion as I could. In doing so, I tried to take people's opinions and meld and sculpt what I knew of the topic into the most definitive answer that I could. I tried to be as respectful as I could and learn as much as I could while still being objective.

I tried to get my focus off of myself and onto other's, their opinions, and the topic. "If there is one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as your own." -- Dale Carnegie

Using this approach, I've gained a lot of respect from women and, in turn, men. Now, respect isn't necessarily friendship, but with respect, trust is gained much easier. With trust, friendships are born.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Das Mittel aufheben

I have to chuckle with Jacob making that comment. I wrote a blog some time ago about how to raise the average IQ. What we would do is institute a system where, at the age of 18, every person on the planet would be required to take an IQ placement exam. In this exam, there would be many different tests. One would only have to prove an IQ of theoretically 101 or any higher. If they could do it, they would go "free" and live their lives as we do. If they could not, they would have to be "cut" or "tied" and would not be able to procreate. The idea was that the intelligent would continue and the world would become more efficient/advanced/etc. Now, obviously, A I'm not that arrogant and B we would never be able to enact something so desciminating. It was a big joke. If you understood that, then you understand my sense of humor! :-D

Anyway, back on topic. Rori put a rather long comment on my last blog containing any real thought and I'd like to reply to that.
"How do you know if someone is "average" without taking the time to find out? I think some of the most powerful and talented people are probably trying not to stand out. In my experience, everyone has something unique and amazing to offer if I'll just take the time to discover what it is. I don't want to be average either, but I don't want a bunch of people trying to be like me. I wish more people would be who they've been created to be and accept and appreciate each other."

"How do you know if someone is "average" without taking the time to find out?"
Of all of the things I do socially, I think that giving people a chance is at the top of the list of things on which I focus. I try pretty hard to understand people most of the time. I try to see how they are feeling, where they are coming from, if they are scared, if they are happy, if they are sad, and the questions they may have. When I meet someone new, I really focus on this as well as the first few minutes of each time I see them. Now, I'm not nearly as good at this as I'd like to be, but I'm always trying to get better. So, that said, I'm gonna be a little cocky and say that generally speaking, I give people that chance to show that they are not total d-bags and that they ARE worth people's time.

"I think some of the most powerful and talented people are probably trying not to stand out."
I'm not sure why someone who is talented would not want to stand out, but okay, let us say that some of them try not to break the mold. I would think that, given a person is fostering their talent, they will have a lot of trouble in their attempt. I also think that regardless of how hard they try to keep their fostered talent in line, it will still show through eventually.

"In my experience, everyone has something unique and amazing to offer if I'll just take the time to discover what it is."
I TOTALLY agree that everyone has some sort of talent or gifted area. However, I've noticed that all too many of them don't try to foster that gift. All too many of them have walls put up to keep them from being open and sharing. (think politics and/or presumptions that build into grudges)

"I think that if you are secure and grounded in who you are, you're more likely to be the influencing person rather than the one influenced"
I think that even in the most secure and confident people, real friendships will still influence both parties. Everyone has their moments, but I like to think that I am fairly confident. I try not to be arrogant, but I am definitely confident.

"If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary."
I also would not want everyone trying to be me. But I know that will not happen. There's this thing that I learned about in economics called tastes and preferences. Rori, you are SO amazing with words and I can only be jealous of it. But I am not. I keep working on my presence in person and in writing. However, I have no desire at all to write poetry. I love reading it, but I'd feel so limited if I had to make this whole blog rhyme! :-) I wouldn't be able to write all that you've just read. Alright, tag - YOU'RE IT!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

You are anti-social!

I was told recently that I am anti-social. Then I was told to prove otherwise. Well, the truth is... I am! And I'd rather not prove otherwise. Why?

Generally, people are just average. I don't want to be average. I want power. When I run across someone who is way above average in some area that I value, I hang out with them. After a while, they will influence me and I become more like them. If you hang out with scholars, you will become one. If you hang out with dancers, you will become more like a dancer. *shrug* I don't want to be average. When in a social setting, I'll be nice and polite to those I consider less than above average. But to those I see in my little pea-brain as people to aspire to, I'll do my best to imitate.