The Compartmentalist

boxes in the warehouse of my mind...I open them, and write what I find.

Steps.

As I get ready for the next big step, I find myself stopping to be thankful for the steps in between. It’s not always easy for me to put my thoughts into clear words, and it’s not easy to accept that they may not have the impact I envision. I thank the people that have come into my life — a LOT. And the reason is simple: the feeling you get when someone changes your life is pretty good, but there’s something about finding out that you’ve changed someone else’s life for the better.

But, in the line of lacking impact, the people you feel have been a crucial part of your personal development may not feel that they have done anything special, or anything at all. They may not have gotten a great version of you when they played a more prominent role in your life, or may have just said or done something in passing conversation that didn’t seem like a big deal to them, but really hit home for you.

Over the last few years, I made a point to be more mindful of the things that people have noticed about me, positive and negative and everything in between. A few of my favorites:

  • Not exciting enough for one person is more than enough for someone else.
  • Some people just aren’t built to care from afar.
  • If people think they can take you for a ride, they’re going to try. Hard.
  • Sharing your heart is incredibly personal. Be sure that those you do so with understand where you’re coming from, and take care when someone chooses to do so with you. (I admit, I was not good with this one, for a few reasons.)
  • On the heels of the last one, most people will only share as much as you share with them. That doesn’t mean spill your soul, but if you take too long to open your door, you’ll find a closed one on the other side.
  • Words can heal the worst wounds, cut deeper than the sharpest knife, and hide the strongest feelings. Sometimes. I didn’t realize this as recently as five years ago, not understanding why I wasn’t making the connections I wanted. This is one I could apologize to *so* many people for.
  • You may never find out what truly lies in another person’s mind, body, heart, and soul for you. Yes, it matters, but the pursuit of knowledge may not outweigh the effect of what said knowledge may have on someone.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that in coming times, I have to be more diligent in reaching out to others, something I haven’t always felt comfortable with. I don’t want the steps that I’m taking to separate myself from anyone. Sure, it’s bound to happen in some cases, but it won’t be for lack of effort.

Here’s to taking steps towards being a better person. Not just for me, but for all of you.

- The Compartmentalist

The B-Word.

Everyone’s used it. How many of us have meant it? I’ve heard it, and knew it wasn’t true (in context). I’ve used it, and could have found a much better word to use. So, what can we do about it? If you’re lost as to what I’m getting that, the pictures might make it clearer.

Courtesy of someecards:

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…sometimes, someone beats you to the punch. Remember, use the B-Word responsibly, friends. That is, if that’s what you want.

- The Compartmentalist

What a trip… Click me to continue!

What a trip… Click me to continue!

Flashback Friday: Magic Mushrooms

After a particularly spicy pasta dinner, two New York Italian blue-collar stereotypes laid down for a rather fitful night of sleep. The elder tossed and turned, fraught with visions of being attacked by giant turtles, and what looked like evil McNuggets. The younger found himself running across rickety bridges, threatening to send him into lava that aptly described his post-meal heartburn.

The elder heard a voice in the distance, crying for help. The rays of daylight eventually jarred him out of his sleep. He knew he wasn’t at home, but had no idea where he had awakened. His brother lay asleep nearby, unaware of the apparent journey the two had taken.

The voice he’d heard before was louder…”Help me!” It was his on-again, off-again girlfriend, who floated in and out of his life depending on how prosperous the repair business he shared with his brother was.

The realization of the closeness of the danger was quickly interrupted by a loud, booming voice: “Yo! I got yo’ girl…you want her back? You gotta come see ME!”

The elder knew the voice from somewhere, but couldn’t quite place it. He looked to the sky to make sense of his surroundings — a few clouds in the sky, some shrubs in the distance, calypso music blaring, the entire place covered in red brick. The younger comes to, just in time to see a massive, thorny, salmon-colored boulder falling from the sky. He grabs his brother and pulls him away at the last second, watching the boulder roll to a stop, turn into something resembling a generic splicing of an armadillo and beetle, and crawl away.

The elder, now angry that this unknown enemy had tried to kill he and his brother, yelled to the heavens in the general direction of the voices he’d heard:

"Hey! WHAT’S-A THE BIG DEAL?"

"Muahahaha! What are you gonna do about it, Fatass?"

"Oh, mamma mia…"

The younger had seen that look before. Anyone who made fun of his older brother’s weight usually had hell to pay. This time was no different.

"It’s not Fatass…it’s-a-me…Mario."

And so began the journey of Mario and Luigi Mario across worlds of grass, ice, sand, and honey to save the now on-again love of Mario’s life, Peach.

From the moment we heard those now all-too-familiar opening notes, the story of the portly plumber has shaped the entire scope of video gaming as we know it. Plenty have tried to be like him: Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex Kidd, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, just to name a few. But none could stay in the game, with Sonic suffering the worst fate: being sucked into the Nintendo bubble, and being paired up with his one time nemesis.

The question is, how far can Mario go? Just when we think Nintendo is starting to run dry, they find a new way to keep the kids interested. The sky is the limit, and Mario has soared through the Galaxy. What’s next?

Oh, and for the old heads reading this, here’s a fun fact: depending on the timing, our good friend Mario Mario is 28 this year. Just chew on that for a little bit.

Now, then…this b*tch better not be in another castle…dude can have her…

- The Compartmentalist

"Catfish" and the Virtual Gap in Society

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In the time following the story of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o, people have found themselves going back to the same question: how can someone be involved with another person for so long, and not see them in person? Not make a physical connection with them? Hell, not even Skype sex?

You guys might have seen the State Farm commercial with the agent and the far-too-trusting blonde talking about the merits of the Internet:

It’s a personal favorite, mostly due to the “forreal, tho?” factor. But, this is also why I’m both happy and sad that the “Catfish” series exists. Young ladies like that blonde do exist, and situations like Te’o’s happen much more often than we believe (or want to admit).

For those unfamiliar with the idea of “Catfishing,” it’s what happens when you meet someone online, start and maintain a relationship, only to discover later on that the other person is misrepresenting themselves. The creator of the series, Nev Schulman, was inspired after experiencing the drama of thinking he’d met a lovely young lady, only to find out that it was a persona of a middle-aged housewife with a personality disorder who needed help, and a friend.

Dealing with various areas of technology and online interactions over the last decade has desensitized me to most of the “OMG Internet, you scary!” stories that have amassed. And I have no trouble admitting that I’ve done the online dating thing; I’ve been fortunate enough to have every person I’ve made some type of connection with turn out to be a real girl, and their life story was indeed theirs. The longest stretch between meeting someone and seeing them in person? A year and a half. The big difference was that our communication was on and off — I was realistic about the perils of online dating, and she was extremely jaded about dating (and anything to do with the internet) in general.

Looking back, the one thing that was consistent was the “Ahh!” moment. You know, that instant when you realize, “hey, this person is pretty special, and they think I’m pretty special too.” Once someone is able to remove the virtual fourth wall, the “realness” of other people is established, and the chase is on. It also confirms the key to making a meaningful connection with anyone in this world: mutual interests and (perceived) honest communication.

The roadblock that many of us are still working on climbing over is the stigma of the internet being a dangerous place to tread into, especially when we hear of stories involving stolen identities, stalking, and generally false information. But, something to consider: those things happened long before Al Gore’s greatest creation. People assumed the lives of others, peeped into windows late at night, and trumped up events to make them sound better. Now that I think of it, this pretty much covers the Lifetime network in a nutshell, only now with a sprinkle of internets on top.

But…the only way those things are created is because by nature, we want to trust in others, in the realness of life. When you’re looking to make a bond with someone, and your everyday adventures just aren’t cutting it, the ability to search for things that you enjoy, and people that enjoy those things as well, has become easier than ever. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of the “virtual friend bubble”: continuously gravitating towards people with similar life interests, and an increased intolerance and impatience towards different viewpoints.

And when someone agrees with us, it makes us happy! Really gets the oxytocin flowing. And if they happen to be attractive, and some chemistry gets kicked up, all the better! So what if their Facebook pictures are a little old? Maybe they just don’t have a camera, or don’t like taking pictures. And they won’t *insert choice video chat service here* with you? Maybe they’re just shy. And plenty of people don’t do those things, anyway! (This is accurate — its role in the problem at hand shouldn’t be understated, though.) But…they make us happy! And no one else we know makes us feel as good about ourselves, or as excited to live our lives. Which means, in some way, shape, or form, this other person HAS to be real. And we hold out hope. And pray that the reality is as sweet as the dream.

Love, and its many variations, have made people do some downright ridiculous things, and not just in the movies. What would you think if the person you’ve invested your time, thoughts, and emotions into turned out to be not who they’ve claimed to be? Would you be able to deal with the embarrassment, the heartache? And God forbid you have to deal with it on a public stage. If you can get through that with a straight face, and not try to cover your ass even just a little bit, I’ve got multiple awards for you. The guys and girls that have volunteered to have their stories told on television have mortgaged their hearts for the sake of reality, and they’re not alone.

What then, my friends, is the takeaway? Should we not trust the internets? Are people really naive or dumb for getting emotionally invested in someone or something they’ve never physically seen or touched?

Or…should we be more consistently aware that through all of the technology, it’s still one person attempting to reach out to another person? That the majority of us are equally as worried about being accepted for the person that we are, flaws and all? And that are seven billion people on this rock to choose from, and make a meaningful bond with?

…nah. It’s easier to create the life you’ve always wanted to live, get back at all the people who hurt you, or just dick around for your own amusement. Don’t worry, no one will figure you out. It’s just the internet, right?

Bone-joor, indeed.

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- The Compartmentalist

They Say It’s The Same, But It Isn’t The Same: Shifts in Life and Friendships.

Bonus points if you can ID the reference in the title! Oh, and no real names were used. Can’t put all the business out there! And apparently, I got hacked while I was away. NOT cool!

I was inspired to think a good bit about personal change after reading a couple articles in the past couple of weeks that followed changes in personalities over time. 30 year olds were asked if they felt they would be any different in ten years. The majority replied that they didn’t feel that they would. Later, 40 year olds were asked how life has changed over the past ten years, and all of them acknowledged that they were noticeably different people now.

For most of us, there’s nothing more exciting than the idea of something new. And nothing more terrifying than the change from the old to the new, usually when it’s sudden. Every now and then, we slip, stumble, and slide into different life situations, not realizing what the hell happened until we stop to take in the new surroundings. We’re then faced with a decision: do we try and make sense of what just happened? Or do we shrug it off and keep moving?

2012 forced me to think about this more times than I’d like to, but the first few days of the new year have provided quite a bit of perspective on the changes I’d experienced.

Story One: When In Doubt, Ask Questions. Or Don’t. Wait, What?

For those who know me a little bit, I’m truly inquisitive. If there’s something to learn, something to know, I want to know about it. Not for point of being nosy, but because I thoroughly enjoy any chance I get to learn something new about anything or anyone. I also like to know where I stand with other folks, how we see each other — I make a point to share where they stand with me, and keep it as a “that’s the way it is until I say differently” kinda thing. And then life drops something off that pretty much craps on everything you were doing before a certain point.

I’ve been friends with Shelli* for the past few years or so, give or take some time. We didn’t start out being just friendly with one another — but as with many things in life, stuff happens, life changes, and you do things differently. We made a point to try and be friends, and make the most of it. It got bumpy rather quickly; if I remember correctly, each of us ended the friendship at least once. Eventually, one of us says they’re sorry (usually me), and life goes on.

Relationships have sort of been the break time in our friendship. Shelli starts seeing a guy, and we’re virtual strangers. I find a nice girl, and the phone line goes dead. But then, something out of the norm happened. We hadn’t spoken for months, and out of nowhere, Shelli calls me. She apologized (in her own way), and bygones were bygones.

Let me explain why this was such a big deal. Shelli is a generally warm person, and pours her heart into everything she does. In the time we’ve known each other, I’ve seen her change physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. At the same time, it takes a masterful level of patience to learn about her, and understand what makes her tick. Somewhere along the line, I concluded that it was just the way she chose to interact with me — cool in small doses, probably a bad idea to get too close.

I’ve kept the same level of friendliness, in hopes of proving a core ideal I embrace: if you’re a good person, and you want to be friends with me, you’re my friend. I cherish each of them dearly. Why? You only get one shot at life, and there will be tons of people who will choose to have absolutely nothing to do with you. When someone decides to not only speak, but involve you in their lives (in a positive way), it’s good for both sides to make the most of it.

That being said, her reaching out to me was surprisingly refreshing. It was a crack in her shell (pun intended), so to speak. Life changed again, and it was back to business as usual. It’s been almost three and a half years since then…in the past few months or so, after catching up on our lives once again, we’ve settled into an almost comfortable connection. The “almost” is certainly my doing, but barring major unforseen circumstances, it’s all about finding the balance now. Chances are good that there’s only so much I’ll ever learn about Shelli. Inquiries about our friendship are met with a giggle and a change of the subject. My favorite theory on why is that she secretly thinks I’m crazy, and it’s safer to be friends than enemies (better than sleeping with one eye open, I suppose).

One fun thing, though: I’ve learned more about her in the last 6 months than in the entire time before. Maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions before? *shrug* But, it’s been much less what and why, and more like, “… cool.”

At any rate, here’s hoping things stay on the up and up. And who knows? Maybe Shelli will surprise me one of these days, and I’ll learn something new.

Story Two: Yes, It’s My Fault. A Lot.

The funny thing about change is that I’ve found myself re-examining everything. For someone who puts a healthy amount of thought into life as a general rule, this can be pretty dangerous.

In recent times, however, my extended reflection time has been much more beneficial. Some of the things that have turned up:

- Old beef is just that. Old. Toss it. If someone can’t do that, toss them.
- If you find that other people just can’t seem to do anything right, you’re doing it wrong. Do it again.
- Every once in a while, it’s okay to let someone’s time in your life run out. Better that than a “zombie.”
- My food palate is much wider than I expected. There are still a few solid no-gos (Broccoli? Not in this lifetime), but I’ve seen many more foods slide over to the “try it once” list. I even had my first “simulated meat” experience the other day, trying a wrap from Chicago Diner. Seitan isn’t too bad —doesn’t pick up the same flavor as good ol’ chicken, but it’s respectable.
- It’s okay to change your mind. It’s also okay to not care if someone else cares that you’ve done so. Chances are, it’s because what you were doing before worked better for them.

I’ve done more than my fair share of introspective thinking, overthinking, toe tapping, and wait-and-seeing as an adult, enough to cover me till retirement. The thought of some things are really nice, but eventually, they have to get done. There’s really no telling what may come from it all, or who will be left when it’s all over. But, as they say, those who want the best for you will be there.

There are more stories beside those two, and more stories inside of those stories. But, the takeaway has been the same. You never know who or what might be a catalyst for individual change, and what you choose to do with the opportunity is what our lives are made of.

I guess change *is* good, huh?

- The Compartmentalist

On Time.

As the sayings tend to go, we can gauge our importance to others by the amount of time they allow for us in their lives. A simple thing like time is something that many of us take for granted until much later in our lives, after we’ve settled into our adulthood. We might be married, with kids, maybe a grandkid or two or twelve. Something big happens — the loss of a relative or friend, the last kid leaves home — and the light turns on. We ask ourselves: what happened to all the time that went by?

Sometimes, it’s not about the amount of time, but the quality of said time. A minute to one person can mean everything, and a year (or two, or three, or five, or 15, or 25) may never be enough to someone else. At any rate, what’s the real-life value of the time that we make for other people, and the time that they make for us?

Something simple to consider: the time that you give others can never be returned. Whether it seems like it or not on occasion, the time that you give to others is invaluable. A second, a minute, an hour, a day. Also, take care when someone chooses to share their time with you. It may not always be constructive, and it may be downright strange, inappropriate, or hurtful, but those times can’t be weeded out. Primarily, it’s about the times that someone shoots a quick text just to say hey, brings you a trinket from their latest trip, moves a small mountain or two to keep a promise they made, or walks with you when you need to vent about the douche of the week. Time that we could very well keep for ourselves, but we know someone else would be much better off having it.

Take a second after you finish this, and think about who you’ve given a second, a minute, or a day to. Think about who’s given those things to you, especially when you needed it most. Hopefully, you see the same people. Often, we don’t, and we give to those who aren’t inclined to give back. In the end, their time holds just as much weight as yours. Give generously, give thoughtfully, give carefully. You only get to do it once.

- The Compartmentalist

One Month Till E-Day: Big Bird’s Last Stand?

We’ve got one month until one of the most volatile election seasons of my personal lifetime comes to a head. Although, the headlines have been pretty sweet, like this:

                          Obama vs Romney in a boxing match, who would win?

Or this:

                  

But, all caricatures aside, the fight to unseat President Barack Obama has been nothing short of entertaining. The initial group of GOP candidates vying for the right to go one-on-one with Barack included Romney, Texans Rick Perry and third-party favorite Ron Paul, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Minnesota Senator and Tea Party founder Michelle Bachmann, and career businessman Herman Cain. The ensuing primaries and debates seemed to be a hodge-podge of who’s-worse-than-whom and who could put their foot further in their mouth. Mitt eventually separated himself just far enough away from the rest to gain the GOP nomination, but it wasn’t a clear cut victory as with past presidential candidates.

In the days following, the agenda became clear for the GOP: prove that President Obama had not only held to his campaign promises, but that he has left the country in such a bad shape that *anyone* would be better than four more years of his administration in the White House. Mitt Romney seemed to embody everything that corporate and political America looked like for a good while: an older, Caucasian male from a privileged background. After President Obama broke through the biggest political ceiling, what better guy to bring to the fight than this?

I’m pretty sure that’s the same guy that fired your dad a couple years ago.

Before anyone gets their Vickie’s in a bunch talking about racism, please note that this is simply an observation of my personal experience as an American. I’ve been alive for what will be eight presidential elections, and for as long as I’ve been aware of the process, both the right and the left have cranked out guys that look like Mitt — the older, Caucasian male. Modern Democrats have managed to be far more inclusive over time than Republicans, who have a few melatonin-filled faces here and there, but have mostly stuck to the default setting.

Should outward appearances and general personality quirks make a huge difference in how we feel someone will handle the job as leader of our country? It shouldn’t, but it’s going to happen, especially for those who are undecided or simply don’t have an extended interest in the political field. We all have that one friend who fills out their March Madness brackets with no real knowledge of college basketball, but simply rolling with the teams with tougher-looking mascots. Looks matter, and looks can change the field of vision for many of us.

With one debate in the books, let’s see what we’ve learned:

- The President definitely seemed a bit out of it. I’m not sure it was general fatigue, illness, lack of interest, or frustration at the lack of order of the night, but he wasn’t at 100 percent, and it showed.

- Mitt Romney plans to cut government subsidies to PBS. Seems like a much more weighted issue than it really is, considering that what the government gives is a very (very) small chunk of the current budget. PBS also benefits from private donors, as well as “viewers like you.” It can very well make a way without government assistance, but it seemed like a questionable point to make with the moderator being a mainstay of the network for over 40 years.

- The social faux pas (plural) by Mitt. I mentioned this to friends the night of the debates, but while it may be true that there are “disabled kids” and “poor kids” in the United States, one has to be a little more tactful in their descriptions when on the public stage. Oh, and backtracking and going with “low-income kids” wasn’t a whole lot better.

- The big winner? Big Bird. When you think about PBS, chances are, Sesame Street  is the first thing that comes to your mind. It played a major part in my childhood, and now my niece and nephew’s. Big Bird is a positive memory in the minds of most, and Mitt Romney put him on the metaphorical chopping block. Realistically, it will take much more than a lack of government funding to kill Big Bird and Co., but the virtual death will come in the form of PBS affiliates no longer being able to stay on the air, and the subsequent shifting of PBS shows in that market to cable networks. The idea? You like the bird so much, you pay for him. The government has more important things to do.

- Neither candidate took a definitive stance on their course of action of continuing the economic recovery, as was expected. One, you don’t want to put all your cards on the table early. That, and the truth is more than likely hard for the public to swallow, and might kill either candidate’s chances for a win.

Okay, we get it — the majority of us are stressing for money, and would love to have more working hours, and the income to live a reasonably comfortable life. For some, the solution is to cut spending and lower taxes, so the guys with the money get more, and then they’ll be more inclined to give us more. Unfortunately, it’s not in our nature to share with others, especially when it seems like the cookie jar is getting empty. We go into “squirrel mode”: stock up for the winter, and everyone can fend for themselves. The majority of those in high-ranking positions got to where they are by either saving their cookies, for taking other folks’ cookies. The “trickle down” that people keep talking about is the crumbs from the cookie the guys on top get to snack on every day.

The rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than money, but it’s more than so many of us take the time to care about. The direction of our country is very much in the balance here, and your vote can make a huge difference. Your vote MATTERS. It’s been hard listening to people say that they’re choosing not to vote, stating their dislike for either candidate. Stop for just a second, and remember that there were multiple groups of people in our country who had zero voting rights, and had to live under the decisions of people they had no influence over. Think about that, and go vote for SOMEBODY. Vote for Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Roseanne. Hell, write yourself in. But, don’t waste something that is an absolute privilege in this country.

This message is brought to you by the letter G…

Grover out here mad as hell! And when does Grover *EVER* get mad at anybody?! It’s hard out here…(props to tauntr.com for the pic.)

- The Compartmentalist

"Don’t Worry About My Business, Let Me Take Care Of Yours…Wait, What?" The Curious Case of Mitt Romney

The “Hell, I Can’t Believe This Is Working!” Look. Also note the Nixon-esque facial expression here.

*Okay, there’s no TL;DR today. This one’s worth the read, I promise!*

Now, I’m usually not one to beat the proverbial dead show horse (ha), but the media, the current administration, and a healthy portion of the voter base seems to have a common question: why is current Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney so reluctant to release his tax history to the public? What could be in the paperwork of the past that the former Governor is committed to keeping in the past?

Why is it important? As the leader of a country, the people want some type of assurance that the person they chose to lead is honorable enough to have led his own life in a decent enough manner. If you stake your claim on being successful in business, that means all of your business should be in order. And in the event that it’s not, at least have the courage to own up to it, admit to what you’ve done wrong, and what you’re going to differently as President. That is, unless, you feel as though you’ve done nothing wrong.

Quite frankly, I don’t care how much money he has, or what he’s made, or even how much he was taxed on it. All three are probably equally mind-boggling and frustrating. The questions at hand are, is all of Romney’s money accounted for when tax time came around? And if not, where is the unaccounted portions? It’s one thing to work your way into a lower tax rate, but quite another to get to a lower tax rate with some-but-not-all of the money. The politicos have long questioned the location of parts of Mitt’s money — some in Switzerland, some in the Cayman Islands, some in random foreign shell companies with myriad tax loopholes. I don’t know for certain, and far be it for me to speculate. But, it doesn’t bode well for a potential President.

Oh, and in my perpetual add-to-the-story-but-more-like-general-procrastination-to-finish attitude, this lovely piece dropped today. With a little digging (more like sifting the dirt), I found that the Mormon church hasn’t disclosed how much they receive in member tithings since 1959. The money got too big, it seems. So, it’s a nice little out for Mitt, considering the Church won’t dime him out. That is, unless they found out that he was shorting them. But who knows.

The current response from Romney’s supporters to the tax request is, “Well, let’s see (President) Obama’s college transcripts first, and then maybe Mitt will give the people more.” I don’t really see the correlation between the President’s academic record and Romney’s tax record. I don’t care what someone did during their college days (save for extreme incidents), as long as they have the means and the capacity to be a competent leader once they decide that they would like to be the leader of a country. So, why does it really matter so much to some folks? I don’t think it’s cause of the grades, but rather a re-hash of the “birther” issue that people just can’t seem to let go.

For anyone who chooses to not care about politics, “birthers” are folks who believe that President Obama is not a born-in-America U.S. citizen. There have been several pieces of information used to support said claim, including, but not limited to: his birth certificate being fake, using a fake Social Security number, his parents not having a marriage license, and his school records being sealed.

Let’s go down the list. First — the birth certificate issue. The President put his out there, it got verified, end of story, right? Yeah…somehow, this form isn’t official enough for some, including resident celebrity rich-douche Donald Trump. What type of officiality are we expecting from 1960’s Hawai’i? Considering some parts of our country seem to have a tough time keeping up with records right now, with technology to pitch in, what we got was pretty damn good.

Second — the fake Social Security number. According to a private citizen, they were able to acquire the President’s Social Security number, run it through an E-Verify system, and determine that the number being used isn’t matching up with other federal records. Supposedly, it belongs to a French immigrant who lived in Connecticut, but conveniently happened to spent the last few months of his life in Hawai’i. When he passed, his death wasn’t reported as it should have been, and someone in the President’s family had access to various records, and “gave” him this French guy’s Social to use. In the same thread, the President has been accused of using several Social Security numbers over the course of his lifetime. Okay, let’s just nip this in the bud now: if this REALLY were the case, and Barack’s team managed to slip this one past every intelligence agency this country has, we might want to be more concerned about the lack of thoroughness by the powers that be than anything else.

Third — I’m not gonna even touch the marriage thing. Does it really matter is someone’s parents were married, and whatever circumstances behind their relationship? There are too many unconventional households to try and rain on this one.

Which brings us back to the college records. According to those clamoring about them, it isn’t because they want to see how he did in school (well, most people don’t), but it’s to see if he’s “an Indonesian foreign exchange student.” Oh, boy. Well, as it stands, all of our educational records are “me-only” access, and can’t (and shouldn’t) be released without our expressed consent. It’s true that former President George W. Bush’s school records were released, but not by him. I really don’t care about what someone did in their educational lives some 30 years ago, if they managed to clean themselves up enough to be able to potentially hold the highest office in their country. It’s more than a little unsettling that there are people that are determined to discredit a man’s life simply because they don’t care for his performance in the job he was chosen to do.

Now I bet you’re wondering, “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be about Mitt Romney. This got sidetracked real quick!” Yeah, that’s true, but it’s also a pretty good idea of how I see him, as a politician. Here we are, just over two months from the vote, and it still doesn’t seem like Mitt has a concrete plan to help continue to stabilize our economy. Yes, the economy is stabilizing. The lot of us may be broke still, but this is happening, slowly. Is he hitching his wagon to his potential Number Two, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan? Ryan has created a plan, but most reports suggest that it would cause massive damage to the elderly, the needy, and women in general, while giving the reasonably (and unreasonably) wealthy the tax relief they so desperately need at this point.

"Now wait just a minute! I’m a senior citizen, and I’m still working! Come on, Gramps, show these whippersnappers what-for! And bring your Depends!"

Speaking of women, their place in the conservative household has been a bit of a hot button in recent times, most recently by Missouri Representative and Senate candidate Todd Akin, whose “legitimate rape” commentary has become one for the ages.

"Through the grace of God, these young ladies have been blessed with rape-proof reproductive systems, armed with the latest in anti-pregnancy thingy-bobbys —" "Uh, sir, that’s not a real thing…" "What? Sure it is! It’s in all that science evolution mumbo-jumbo folks keep clamoring about!"

Now, if he were talking “legitimate” in the sense of “someone really suffered and didn’t just cry wolf” (which Akin attempted to clean himself up to later on), that would be a mere misuse of vernacular. But, the stuff that came after that was just, well…I suppose the best analogy I can come up with is a roundhouse kick to the collective reproductive systems of American women. Having Akin’s sentiments aligned with the GOP’s name is a pretty tough deal for Romney, even if he does distance himself from them. Unfortunately, there are many people in the United States that believe in those very same ideals, the idea that women somehow are responsible for not just the prevention of rape, but the prevention of pregnancy as the result of said rape. And to some, the idea that maybe if some women weren’t out being whores, they wouldn’t have to worry about it. Did we just not put enough sunlight on some parts of the country, or what?

"Guys, I know what this looks like…but what about all that unemployment, huh?"

I won’t go too far on Mitt Romney as a person, mostly because he appears to be a bit more guarded than your average guy. Granted, President Obama is fairly outgoing, but it’s expected from a Leo (for those of you into astrology). Mitt does seem to be fairly forthcoming when he does speak; only problem is, what seems to be honest points of view from him are deadly in terms of his chances at winning the presidency. The overseas tour was especially fun — trashing the host city of the 2012 Olympics on their readiness, kissing a little too much ass in Israel to make up for it, apparently forgetting to remind his staff that foreign soil should probably be a no-profanity zone in Poland. His team saw it as a successful turn, which should worry Team Romney more than a little bit.

What concerns me most is that Romney is the guy the GOP is hanging their hats on to take down President Obama come November. The only thing about him that seems to be likeable is his money, and even in a nation of citizens who could stand to make a little more, that’s only likeable to the folks that have the same kind of money. I realize that I haven’t talked in a lot of specifics here, but I don’t believe Mitt has done it a whole lot, either. Only difference is, I’m not running for public office. Yet.

Another big one: The GOP’s convention is coming up soon, and they’re going to skip the formalities and nominate Mitt early. Now this is the part of the story that gets me — it’s not primarily because of the soon-to-be-hurricane that may or may not blow away any Republican of importance. It’s because they’re trying to C-Block Texas Representative Ron Paul from possibly sliding in the backdoor to the party nomination. Granted, Paul isn’t all that great either, but he doesn’t play favorites with anyone. Unfortunately, the political system isn’t going for that. This is strictly a “we do what we want” move.

"Wait, who?…you guys *still* haven’t gotten rid of this guy yet? He’s got two first names, for crying out loud!"

We’re heading into the home stretch, and it’s gotten pretty ugly, without a single debate in the books. Maybe in the time that’s left, Mitt Romney can show us (or he can hire somebody to show him how to show us) that he has some understanding of someone who wasn’t born into money, doesn’t have an exorbitant amount of it (and might not ever want to), and wants nothing more than to work, be paid well, for said work, and make sure his family is happy and healthy. But, from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem likely. The version of Mitt Romney that we’re getting is the head of a company that touts success, yet doesn’t understand why everyone not in management doesn’t care for him. Is the dream of getting into the management worth the cost to get there? I suppose we’ll find out pretty soon.

Or we could all get troll-faced.

- The Compartmentalist

Friends (And Why The Ones I Have…Aren’t)

If only I had known…

*Skip here for the TL;DR version of this post.*

Over time, I’ve made no real secret of the fact that I tend to have issues with making, cultivating, and maintaining connections with other people. My tolerance for others isn’t very high, and first impressions are extremely important to me. Where I place someone in the world isn’t just based on how the two of us interact, but how the other person interacts with other people. If you’re cool with me, but then I see you being a general douche to your other friends, to the waitress at the place we’re eating at, to random people in general, it makes me wary of who you really are.

So, what’s ol’ Zuck up there have to do with this? In relation to my own life, if I had known the effect that Facebook would have on the few relationships I had at the time it made its way to Concordia University Wisconsin (hey, remember when Facebook was just for college kids?), I would have left it alone. Granted, they weren’t great at that point, either — I was on the outs with the girl I was with at the time, and I was still iffy about making friends after really crapping the bed early on in an attempt to carve a niche for myself. But, it’s definitely a little tough to have spent three and a half years in a place, and realize that the odds of seeing anyone that I’ve gotten to know are slim to nil. Not because I don’t want to, but life keeps going, and schedules get more and more hectic. Just the idea of being in a different state is enough to deter most folks. Some have moved to my hometown, and I see it as an opportunity to at least be sociable with someone who knows some of what I experienced for a good chunk of my life. And I’ve gotten little to nothing, for whatever reason. It could be that they still see the same person they went to school with, or are preoccupied with their own lives, or simply aren’t interested in being friends, and weren’t back then, either.

Oddly enough, as someone who is studying technology, and enjoys the things that come along with it, I still take a healthy bit of pride in spending time with people in physical space. As it stands, the people I consider to be my closest friends, I see maybe once every three or four months, usually around birthdays. There was a point in time where the people I talked to most didn’t live closer than Oklahoma. After I left school, I spent months of time trying to reconnect with folks in different places, trying to get to know them and making a point to show that I wanted to be friends with them. The result? A lot of shallow responses, a lot of “oh, I’m busy,” a lot of nothing. I’d pretty much cemented my place in their minds, and it wasn’t worth their time. But, there was a bit of good that came out of it: I managed to trim off 80% of my Facebook “friends” list. A few re-requested me right off, and some came back after some re-interaction. Most have disappeared into the Face-void, never to be seen or heard from again.

Now, I do have to be really fair in all of this, and mention that there have been plenty of people that have invited me to various events, and I’ve passed on the opportunity to be a part of them. Usually, it’s either because my work schedule would cause me to cut evening gatherings VERY short, or I’m low on funds. Both are reasonable, yes, but it still makes me feel like a bad friend. I see a lot of various events, and the majority of them do seem pretty interesting. I have to make a point of doing more of those things going forward, just to show that I can give what I’d like to get.

To be clear, I don’t expect any miracles from other people. See how I’m doing, offer to hang out every now and then, come over and chill and be bums, even if it’s a bit of a trek to do so. I’m willing to go and do pretty much whatever for my friends if they really want to see me. Trains, planes, automobiles…I love to travel, and traveling to see someone, or traveling with someone to a new place, is always my idea of fun. But, I can’t keep that up when people think you’re too far away to travel to, or don’t seem to have the time or the energy to hang out or show their face at various events.

And, it’s a lot deeper than, “Oh, well, maybe those aren’t the type of people you should be friends with.” If that were the case, there would be no one I’d considered a friend at all, which is pretty sad. I wonder if it’s just a matter of not taking advantage of the opportunities that have appeared, or maybe it’s because I don’t really ask enough of others. Does it make people less inclined to offer their friendship? All those things come to mind. Or maybe, the people I’ve chosen to extend my friendship to has little or no interest in accepting it? All very possible scenarios, and plenty of mental fodder for my sleepless nights.

So, have any of you ever tossed thoughts like these back and forth? Have you wondered about the state of your connections with other people, especially with the sometimes-overpowering effects of Facebook? And if so, what have you done to change things so that they work better for you? Share your stories here, on the Facebook, on the Twitter, *anywhere*.

Oh, and as always, the TL;DR Summary:

Facebook time isn’t face time. Spend time with your friends, if you aren’t. Friends: let’s try to spend more time in person, mmmkay? If I need to be a better friend, feel free to let me know how to do so. Or, if you’re okay with the way things are, feel free to tell me that, too. But, to the collective, I will say this: our friendship sucks. We gotta do better.

- The Compartmentalist