Cereal Crimes

I’ve taken some time to considering a few issues conditions and circumstances, I feel could meld into a problem greater than they would otherwise be individually. The connected concerns relate to health, nutrition, family finance, a change in kitchen skills, menu planning, meal preparation,  the advertisement, chemist created, and processed foods.

My first concern was the health of family, friends, and frankly all my human fellows. I see the trends our culture spreads. As we’ve become less healthy in our living style, other counties have taken up the same dangerous path, our changing work and life habits have traveled.

Our change in Nutrition, or what would become known of as nutrition, came with advancements in industries technology and transportation. These sectors required, an ever-increasing work force to support and grow these businesses sectors. First this growth removed time from those already working, as they worked ever-increasing hours. Then the advancement required and took a new workforce. These new workers, drawn from what were at the time traditional family homes. A workforce last employed in war production. When these laborers last worked, they were not just wanted but desperately needed, to make up for those sent to fight overseas.

Family finance had begun to change too, and one income was no longer enough, as public and private debt grew and slow inflation decreased the buying power of the dollar. However, we continued to strive for the instilled ideal, we called the American Dream. The choice was in general, lost for men and women right then. Whether to stay home and raise a family or work, was no longer a question. This new and close to life requirement occurred, just as real calls for women’s rights gained their highest acknowledgment in the public’s eye, for the growing movement. Which for some sharpen beliefs in conservative or traditional values, as it simultaneously changed how the future would define it.

With the change to the family structure, whether it be two parents working, dual parental guardianship between two homes, post divorce , or the fast advance of single parent families over the next two decades, habits further changed in how we fed ourselves, and most particularly our children.

The skills of a new generation changed, as practices from the previous were not longer passed on. The understanding of how to manage a kitchen was lost, as counter space became a pile of plastic and wires, with generations of supposed labor-saving devices. Each of these seemingly to prepare quick, refined, and packaged food stuffs.

Shopping for the weekly groceries had changed. People now had less time. and available stocks of chemically altered, preserved, long shelf-life, long traveled edible products had increased. The shopping of the past, where people purchased fresh ingredients to created meals from, had turned to something mostly seen in Sunday meals and family holidays. Everyday eating had and has turned into something on the run in a bag and a box, to something quick at home from a bag or a box. The term “Convenience Foods” was accepted by the public, and became the pillar of our diets.

Taking the changes over time, and a silent American philosophy, our changing diet’s damage would continue. What is this philosophy? “Bigger is Better”. So we super-sized our diets, wastes, closets, food budgets, cars, health issues, costs and debts.

In all, these problems aren’t only from within, or made strictly based on the time constraints of what we see as the modern world. No. We’ve had more help than we realize, in changing our habits. Our growth into this modern age came with the technology of mass visual media, mass marketing and advertising. All of these capture the mind after you work long hours. All of these manipulations have confronted, and will continue to affect, entire generations of latchkey kids. Visual media becoming a time filling device, as much as entertainment or an electronic baby sitter. But the resulting effect of visual media, even in small children, is readily observed.

There aren’t many of us who haven’t seen the conflict between parents and their children on the cereal aisle or with impulse items at check out. These conflicts often happen over brand named products, and include children younger than reading age. I’m sure many have noted this phenomenon, whether with your own children, or by simple observation on your own shopping journey. But, have you ever asked why? Have you ever asked, are these impulses instilled in me?

With out a doubt, they are in all of use who experience the subtle manipulations of marketing and advertising. Our actions, like over eating, brand name recognition, wanting of a new updated upgraded and improved everything has come over the ether and into our homes each day. We’ve been trained over generations of change and supposed advancement. We’re manipulated by commercials made with the best and brightest in psychology and psychiatry, participating in their creation. Our entertainments reinforce the Clockwork Orange programing. With convenience foods like chips, pizza, and soda taking center stage, but in subtle placements.

Dissatisfaction and boycott, complaint and notification to a complicit press, don’t often bring change. Reason awareness and dissemination of education, as to these bumps weighed options and mind manipulations is a start. The path behind us destroyed. and the other we influence are destroying their paths back, never looking behind.

Our true revelation of the path we’ve tread is still ahead. What caused our turns on this path, who set up the signs, and who changed them, like a table-cloth, is still to unfold. But for now, as you sit down for your next 16 oz steak, pint of Ben and Jerry’s, or giant tub of movie theater popcorn with extra butter, maybe some of what I’ve mentioned here, could be food for thought.

 

Relationships Money and Violence

I’m not a fighter, in my relationships. I don’t yell rage or menace my partner, when there is friction. I would never raise my hand or strike my companion. Unfortunately my ways aren’t the ways of all men. I would even say the problem of abuse, and issues that can be the catalyst for abuse, are on the rise. I certainly don’t have any statistical proof of my supposition. It’s more a visceral response, based on what I see.

There is very little that will stress a relationship more, than difficulties with finances. With conditions as they are, I imagine there are more stressed relationships than there were 4 or 5 years ago. The true assessment of this hypothesis, I’ve done with my eyes and ears, when out in public and at home. I take what I observe today, then compare to memories of similar experiences in my past.

I’m not one to get out much, but like everyone else I must shop. This is a great time to observe the interactions of couples shopping together, and they are a dime a dozen. Also, shopping requires money, so the stress dynamic is in play.

The main arguments on the isles seem to come from impulse and convenience items or goods that are intoxicating. I’d put 1/3 of the shopping couples conflicts, in the intoxicant category. And yes, here it’s usually the female of the couple appealing for temperance. So with this observation, I can look at other situations and see if the same dynamic applies.

I can’t say I’m blessed, as a man in his mid-forties, with teenage as neighbors. I am though, blessed with much activity to draw in and draw on, with my living arrangements. I also think looking at the interactions of young couples, just learning about what real relationship require, is an excellent time to see the reality of monetary stresses at their base level. Young people having less money than established adults, generally speaking, creates a volatile environment to monitor.

I think it might be tradition, or even an inbred sense of responsibility, but this type of stress taints the mans behavior, more so than the female. Although this is merely my personal observation. I believe this is where the behaviors come into play, that shame men on the whole. This too is only my observation however, in the area of yelling I believe the woman have the men beat on this action. It’s easily though, the most socially acceptable of the behaviors. As for rage, that goes to the men, from the sound that comes through my living room wall. Finally we have menace in the mix. This is an action that leads to the domestic violence that sickens me, and that I deplore.

I know the monetary stress is taking its toll. I know this because, the issue has seeped through my walls. I know it’s gone too far for a couple, when there financial issues wake me in the night. I see the relationship is at a tragic point, or should be, when I’m reaching for the phone, wondering if I should make a call. And, it’s completely beyond repair, when I’ve dial the police, because the slam against my wall had me thinking, I was going to have a house guest.

It’s amazing though, that a males ego and pride can lead to such anger, as well as violence. To me a difficult challenge should be met by a coming together. Obstacles should bring to a couple, unity of purpose. The roll of help-mate not hurt-mate, should be the practice of both parties. That though, was not the experience of last night.

Are these abusive practices on the rise? Yes, I believe they are in the younger generations. Whether it’s a lack of two parent families, because of divorce, or a step back from two parent families traditional roles, there seems to be an unwanted result. Possibly it’s a product of media influence. Whatever it is, I don’t like the trend I see, or the future it represents. I also feel, outcomes like last night, give men on the whole a bad name. And frankly I don’t think the penalties for such behavior go far enough. I’m not arguing for harsher sentences. I am though asking other men who aren’t abusers to shun those who are. To look at your group of buddies, and remove from your circle those who are giving you a bad name. Don’t make excuses. Don’t listen to their justifications, as there aren’t any. In the words of Isaac Asimov “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”.

 

Seasonal Insanity

Once again I am confused. It happens to me every Holiday season. In my life I can say, I’m not exactly what most would consider normal, as it deals with Material Culture. You see, I don’t worry about things like grease spots on a shirt, or water spots on silverware. In my life, situations like an overflowing toilet, are not what I consider a crisis. It won’t ruin my day, or cause some kind of Drama trauma. I also, in my reasoning, don’t hunger for the latest, in vogue, electronic gadget. These things have little importance to me on the grand scale.

Having these beliefs and ways, I come into conflict with the programmed consumerism, that’s exaggerated this time of year. It’s a sad spectacle for me, not understanding the drive. Black Friday participation, seems more like a programmed Borderline personality disorder of the consuming public, to me. In this manifestation, the retail businesses are simply the enablers. Businesses who put a small number of crazy low-priced goods, know what they are stimulating. They desire the feeding frenzy, of consumers driven temporarily insane. They need those who are  willing to stand in line, and wrestle around for overpriced plastic or electronic goods, to pump their bottom line for stock holders. Goods manufactured abroad. Products that have possible directly or indirectly taken the job of a friend neighbor or family member who’s struggling to find work or stay in their home.

The once a year manufactured buying frenzy, not only has caused a portion of  the previously mentioned jobs housing issue, but it has also caused a loss in perspective as to the true nature of such holidays. Here I’m not talking about the religious connections, but the connection of people, as they gather together in warmth and friendship, peace and love.

I hate to say this during the holidays, and considering difficult economic times with large unemployment figures and massive private debt, although that’s seems to be slowly being whittled away, but this massive  frenzied consumerism of foreign-made goods, with built-in planned obsolescence, is only taking the unemployed, under employed, and blue-collar union workers, whose jobs are being shipped overseas, is only serving to shoot those groups in the foot. Hobbling their own futures.

In this annual, traditional, manufactured insanity,  I believe the consumer forgets they have a vote here, within this insanity. Forgotten or unknown to shopper, is the ability to vote with their dollars. They forget this power, or simply ignore it to their detriment. You see in this craze, there are moral and ethical choices to be made. The chance to not buy from companies who utilize slave or child labor, is only one. To say with a purchase of one manufacture goods over another, that you approve of the higher standard of business ethics they keep over, above, and beyond their competitors, is another. I also don’t think basic workers rights, or the opportunity to buy goods manufactured in your own country, can be ignored either. And these are only a few ways to vote with money.

There is nothing wrong with being a consumer, we all are. There is an issue with being an ignorant consumer, that cuts their own future fiscal throat. The rights or wrongs are not mine to judge, I merely opine here on the present condition. I do think however ,that during the Seasonal Shopping Wars, that an ignorant consumer is tantamount to cannon balls, shot at our nations economy.  Economic traitor, who needs consumer re-education. So they too may realize their own folly,  in causing themselves economic damage.  I’ll add to that also, so they quit shooting those who are already educated, thinking shopper, in the damn foot. Hobbling to an extent, our own economies growth and job production.

My wish only wish for the consumer portion of the holiday, is that there are more of us doing the right thing when it comes to Voting with our seasonal shopping dollar.

His Name Was Scott

There are moments when life changes in a split second. I hate to say it, but most of the time these aren’t “Lottery Winning Moments” . I know, everyone has been given their own burdens to bear, in this life we led. If you don’t have any burdens of your own please write. I want to know the person, and this Utopian life they lead. Or simply see how well the lie of a burden free life is told. As that’s all I can see the claim as being.

Long ago as an outsider I slipped into a group of wonderfully flawed social misfits. Which hey, go figure, worked for me. These guy had all gone to school together, when they went to school. Honestly not in the greatest of areas back then. It was just past Seattle city line, out of “Rat City”.

I fit well with crew of guys. Hell, shared homes meals bottles booze work and life in general with these guys. The times weren’t always the best, but we all made it through. Strengthening our friendship. We even got a nickname, “The Ton of Fun, Crew”. Our boss came up with that, and referred to us by it. The job was like being an under paid over work bouncers, wrestlers, and amateur kick boxers. I never even in the beginning felt my back wasn’t 100% covered. You may not know these kind of work situations, where the “customers”, are a blaze, flying their gang colors. Where the insult at the end of the night is one of those gang members tries to put $50 in your pocket, from the roll of ill-gotten gains. Telling you to buy something nice, while almost laughing in your face flaunting their rolls of cash.

There came a time for us, even with unity, our group was broke up. Things do change in life. It is the way of things. The youngest of our group broke away first, and move to a new position in the same company. An advancement, with a nice increase in pay. We were all pleased for him.

Our youngest group member had been working so hard to change his life. We all saw it as wonderful, and definitely for the better. He had trimmed down to a healthy weight, just before he had taken the new position. Shortly after that, he purchased a new car. Also because of the life changes and time, his skin cleared up from his youthful acne. But I think best of all at the time, it was nice to see our friend and fellow misfit was now, after never having been even noticed before, popular and even looked up to. He, we felt, was doing very well, and all of us were pleased. Our friend, even started dating, and soon found his first female companion. We all had spoken together as the relationship went forward. Some of us having more experience with relationships, and as this was his first, he was Cautioned, and it was Highly recommended that he simply be watchful considering the newness of it all. We were all friends, and friends do these things

It was only a short time later, when he said he was moving. He was taking up residence with his new girlfriend. He was challenged about this decision at the time. There was concern that time didn’t allow him the knowledge he needed, to properly evaluate the repercussions of the choice he was making. It was mentioned that returning to the former living situation wasn’t going to be a possibility. This because of a move being made stimulated by his move out. This was presented to him not because of perceived rashness of his choice, but financial needs. A last attempt was still made to snap him out of the spell he was under. The spell cast by a mans first love.

His choice made, he fell into the rhythm of work and his new relationship easily. The female attention he had, new and fresh though it was to him, had its own agenda. In this case, I have felt it was financial security. He was a saver not a spender. There were no bad habits, for him. His life was frugal, never excessive. It just wasn’t him. Kind as he was, I think the stress of this new financial burden got to him over time. She was confronted by him, over the increasing financial burden, her having quit her job. Nothing unusual for her. She had him though and tried to used his inexperience against him. She told him it was over and to get out. I’m sure she was thinking he would apologize and bend to her demands. He did none of that. He took her at her word, which ended his first relationship.

A tough dream lost by a fine man. A man frankly never noticed, but by a few. With women, he for all but a few months of life, was 100% relegated to the friends list, without a thought. Not a crime, but a fact. I feel a weight he felt he couldn’t face. He had changed all he had been, but tried to be what he wasn’t, to be with someone who didn’t want the amazing man he was, or even the amazing man he was trying to become.

Don’t get me wrong, I know these situations go both ways but this is a part of my life I’m trying to share.

Caught, confused embarrassed and hurt by the loss of first love. He made a rash decision. My friend ended his life, with a $79.00 K-mart shotgun. Purchased the same day of the break up. He had taken a drive in his new car to the waterfront, looking across at the Seattle city skyline. He was found by a morning jogger. They brought in the police what they found on his person for ID was the paycheck stub for the check given to him when he finished work the night of his death.

I have always been a private guy I don’t go out much even now let alone then. We because of what we did we weren’t people’s favorite. You see five guys, all over six-foot, barreling out a Monte Carlo with a combined weight of 1500 lbs. (and armed) you pay attention. I had pulled a swing shift and was just getting to sleep, when a knock came on our door. I was my boss and the police. Nobody was coming in till I found out what the hell was going on. Informed, I seated them in the living room. I sharing a home now with my now dead friends brother. I went to his room, no one else was breaking this news.

I want you to know, some people are born hard, and some grow hard from life experience. Diamond hard is the only way I can break such news.

I cracked the door and stepped into his room. I closed the door, and woke his mother’s now only son. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was taking this man to the living room, to allow a total stranger, a police officer to boot, drop this suicide bomb on him. He woke slow, but I let the house guest sit. When I told him of his brother, I also told him of our guests. I also was left to tell him of the police’s request. A request for him to relinquish for a time his licensed sidearm.

Although I have done it before, that was the last time in my life, that I had to take a gun from someone. It’s just a shame it was this man. A person who had saved my ass time and again. This complex person, who had lost his own brother to a gunshot. A man who would have taken a bullet for me. A man who was now his parents only child. A man sadly short his brother, whose name was Scott.

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