Category Archives: Food for Thought

Tyler’s Favorite Things

I cannot begin to tell you how sick I am of Oprah. I’m sorry, especially if you think she is the best thing to happen to humanity since Gandhi. This is not the first time you’ve heard this from me. But, it bears repeating. Surriously. I’m tired of her…retire already. I really should be honest, though. I’m fiercely jealous. I can only dream of having her influence on pop-culture. Hell, she has a god-like influence on culture in general. I’m screwed.

So, I’m just going to take an extremely pretentious approach to this situation. Listen up! I, too, have a list of favorite things. I won’t pretend that you’ll get excited about anything on my list. Frankly, that’s your problem. And, don’t expect to receive anything from me in the form of a gift. The only thing you are only going to receive from me is a link to Amazon or Wikipedia or wherever the fuck I decide. You can buy my favorite things yourself. So here they are in no particular order…Tyler’s Favorite Things:

**The Flip. Oprah also included this on her list. But let me be clear, I was first. I saw a review of it in the New York Times and bought one. She was way behind the curve on this one. Simply put, The Flip is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use video camera. It’s tiny and you can pull it out of your bag and start recording in seconds. There are only a few buttons on this very hip device. Don’t forget to also check out all of the very cool accessories.

**The iPhone 3G. Really, enough said. I absolutely love mine and wonder on a daily basis how I ever lived without it. I will admit that the 3G had a rough start. I can tell you from personal experience that the cell phone service and device’s bug issues have improved immensely over the last 6 months. It still may not be perfect and may not be for everyone, but I am in love. It’s cool and it’s got like 1,000 uses.

**Eva Cassidy. I am embarassed to say that I didn’t even know who Eva Cassidy was until I started to investigate David Archuleta (American Idol runner-up, Season 7). He performed a cover of “Imagine” that was very similar to Eva Cassidy’s version. I stumbled upon her and ended up buying every available recording. She is no longer alive, but left us some incredibly amazing music.

**Skagen watches. I accidently discovered these amazingly thin, yet sturdy, watches while I was looking for a new Fossil watch. They are made by a Danish company and are very sleek. I love my Skagen watch.

**Ketel One Dirty Martinis. mmmmmmmm. Do I really have to tell you why I love Ketel One Dirty Martinis?

**Twitter. If you don’t like it or don’t get it, this one is definitely not for you. Twitter is a social-media website in which you answer the question “What are you doing?” For those of you who have a Facebook page, Twitter’s function is similar to the status update feature. The uses of Twitter have broadened immensely over the last year, however. All kinds of businesses, websites, bloggers, etc. use it to share important updated information. The personal aspect is still there, but the site has grown beyond its initial “tell me what you’re up to” purpose. I actually use it to update my Facebook status as well as to keep current with numerous friends, blogs, and businesses that I follow.

You may not be rushing out to buy or sign up for my list of favorite things. But, I had fun thinking about the things I have discovered over the past year that really made me happy. Check them out.

I’m Baaaack! Were you expecting me?

For those of you who actually check my blog with any regularity, I apologize. For the rest of you who didn’t even realize I was gone, shame on you! I decided in November to take a “little” blogging break. It all stemmed from the old adage, if you have nothing good to say, then it’s better to say nothing at all. Or something like that.

I felt that my blog was slipping into a downward spiral: final destination, Rant City. It’s not my favorite place to be. In fact, personally, I don’t read blogs that tend to be negative and “ranty.” So I don’t want mine to be that way either. Don’t worry, I’m not going all Rainbow Brite and Care bears on you. I just needed to restart my mental computer because my screen was frozen on one item, Prop. 8. (hisssssss)

So, I’m back. I am actually sitting in “my office,” which I haven’t done for 2 months either. It feels good. And it’s just like I left it. The quiet hippie dude with dreads and his partner still insist on sitting at my table, even though there are at least 4 other empty tables. Hasam, my caffeine dealer, is still outside smoking and talking on his phone. The crossword puzzle guy is still firmly planted in his regular seat. The non-regulars continue to walk in and leave the door open behind them, even though it’s 49 degrees outside and the door was shut when they walked up to it. Burt, the over-sized electric-wheelchair man just made his grand entrance and knocked over a few chairs along the way.

I’m not sure why I take comfort in the predictability of this place, but I do. It’s consistent. I think it’s all about expectations. I like to know what to expect. Or maybe more appropriately, I like to expect the right thing. When your expectations are in line with what is likely to happen, then you are not disappointed by the outcome. Maybe this is about disappointment, that should be the theme of this post. Anyway, I try to have realistic expectations. That probably says a lot about me, but I am going to resist the temptation of self-diagnosing my own psychological issues today. I expect that will make me happier.

Ooo, I do love to self-diagnose. My doctor is not so thrilled about my gift of self-diagnosis, especially with the advent of Web-MD. I just find it interesting. I like to know why my doctor has made a certain diagnoses. So I over-ask. In all reality curiosity isn’t a horrible trait. It’s a hereditary disorder that I get from my mother. She was the queen of doctor interrogations. During her battle with cancer, I was able to go to one of her doctor appointments. I witnessed it first hand. She wanted to know what ever blood cell count meant, what every MRI was for, the purpose of every pill. She was ├╝bercurious. So, maybe this post is about curiosity.

Whatever the fuck this post is actually about, one thing is for certain. You can expect more mind-wandering, unfocused posts this year. Well, I might have a point to some of them. Either way, here’s to another so-so year (I’m just being realistic ­čśë ). Oh, what the hell, I’m gonna throw caution to the wind. Here’s to another great year! Maybe it’s time to raise my expectations.

which way Pictures, Images and Photos

A semi-final word…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. I am in a relationship. It’s something really special. No, we didn’t make a mad rush to the courthouse to get married before election day. But despite the devastating outcome of California’s Prop. 8 (same-sex marriage ban), my relationship is still valid. I guarantee it is real. I’m not just pretending. Jeff is a real, live person. He and I have been together for over three years. He is a man and I am a man. We are a couple. No amendment to the state constitution can change that.

I first came out about 10 years ago. I came out to friends and family about 8 years ago. Yet, after all this time, I am amazed at how many people still don’t take it seriously. Folks, I’m gay. Sure, I went to Bible College and even “dated” a few girls, but, let me be clear: I am gay.

In reflecting over the last 16 years since I went to college, I felt like many of my friends from that time deserved to know what happened with me. After all, I spent a lot of time in college lying to myself and to them. We all deserved some honesty. Why did I leave the Church? How could I be gay? Over the last several years, I have spent a lot of time explaining myself to my friends from Bible College. For the few that actually read this blog, let me say: I’m moving on. No more apologies for past lies. No more sugar-coating things to make you more comfortable. With the passing of Prop. 8, I’m officially done. I tried to do the right thing and apologize for any hurt I may have caused. I’ve realized that you cannot always trust people to do the right thing. Now, hopefully we can trust the court system to protect us.

I realize that very few of my college friends actually live in California and couldn’t even vote on the proposition. But, many have made their feelings clear anyway. They don’t want equality. They don’t even want to validate gay relationships. They do this every time they call Jeff my “friend,” every time they suggest that I “date Jesus.” Whenever someone whispers “gay” as if it’s an inappropriate or dirty word only to say it loud and clear when they are using it to mean “stupid” or “dumb,” that is offensive.

Please understand that we will eventually have the right to marry. One day it will be considered completely normal for some people to be gay and society will not force that same part of the population to make unrealistic and devastating decisions about their sexuality at such a young age. I hope that when it happens and you feel for the 1,000th time that this country is falling apart; I hope that you remember you contributed to those struggles. I hope that you look up and see your weapon of choice, the Bible, aimed aggressively at me. Maybe then you’ll realize that you can’t make everyone see the world as you do.

Actually, I’m not asking for your acceptance or support. You don’t even need to agree with my beliefs. I’m just asking for you to cease fire. Stop attacking in the name of God, country, and, family. I can’t think of anything that would be more productive to your cause.

I should mention that some of the most supportive and loving people that I know are friends from Bible College. I am so thankful for those few. You right the wrongs with your love and kindness toward the gay community. Thank you.

Please take 6 and 1/2 minutes and watch Keith Olbermann’s eloquent, passionate, and powerful commentary on the passing of Prop. 8.

Focus Folks, Focus.

texting Pictures, Images and Photos

I know, I know. Two posts ago I said we should all leave our electronics off now and then. Well, the article was more about properly using them. Know when to say when. I fully support texting. I do it often. I am just curious about the language people use when they text. So, I thought that I’d write a post in all text lingo. I had to use a translator (seriously) to accomplish this. I found out that it’s not as difficult as I originally thought; there are just a couple of rules you must follow.

1) Use all caps.

2) Overuse the exclamation mark, in fact, only use the exclamation mark for punctuating!

3) In general, mistype.

4) Overuse the abbreviations WTF, OMG, LOL.

5) LOL. Type phonetically–well, sort of.

Here is what the translator produced:

SO I D3CIEDD 2 WRIET A POST IN TEXT LNGO!!!!!! AFTER AL Y NOT!!!!! MAH 13 YAAR-OLD NEICA TYP3S THES WAY!1!!1!11 OMG Y SHUDNT I!!!! WTF LOL I CANT TAKE AL DA CR3D THOUGH!!11111 WTF I ACTUALY HAD 2 UES THE ANGLISH-2-12-OLD-AOLER TRANSLA2R 2 ACOMPLISH IT!1!111!! OMG WTF LOL I GU3S TEH KAY IS 2 NOT UES ANY PUNCTUATION 3XCEPT FOR LOTS OF AXCLMATION MARKS!1!11!!1! OMG WTF LOL ALSO ITS ESENTIAL 2 UES AS MANY WTFS AND LOLS AS POSIBLE!11!11!!! WTF LOL

My original idea was to actually write the entire post in text lingo. It became clear immediately that this was going to induce either rage or seizures, one of the two, so I had to stop. I think my point is rather clear in the one paragraph I was able to compose in text lingo. I mean, seriously, WTF!?!

The origins of text lingo can be found in phones that pre-date itapen or t9. I’ve read several articles written by linguists that suggest it dates even further back to the days of Morse Code. It took several key punches of varying lengths to get a single letter. You probably can remember having to hit the #7 button 4 times to get an “s.” So, you needed to find ways to abbreviate and choose your words wisely. Interestingly, now that most phones have this feature, or better yet, now that there are phones with full keyboards, people still use these same words. My 13 year-old niece types her emails in a similar, yet different, way–she uses no caps and no punctuation.

I realize that I am a self-diagnosed “over-punctuater.” I love the comma. And, the semi-colon. Oooo, and the tilde (~) that’s my favorite! It really doesn’t have much use in regular language, but I just think it’s pretty, so I use it. It’s a personal style choice. I mostly use it in place of a comma in the greeting of an email. Nonetheless, you can imagine that the lack of punctuation in texting sends me into a tizzy. That and the use of all-caps. IT’S LIKE I’M BEING YELLED AT!!!1!!11!

Argh.

I think my original point wasn’t even supposed to be about the actual texts. I got distracted. It’s about the act of texting. It’s dangerous. This past July in California it became illegal to talk on your cell phone and drive. You have to wear a headset. Initially, they didn’t add texting to the law, although as of this month, that has now been corrected. People were actually texting instead of talking on the phone while they drove, as if it was safer.

It’s insane, really–texting and driving, texting and walking, texting and (insert your activity of choice). It seems obvious to say, but, I’ll say it anyway. You can’t see what you’re doing when you are texting. I don’t care how proficient your thumbs are. I don’t know anyone that can type a complete text message without looking at their screen. Not to mention that you sort of need your hands for driving…both of them. It’s called 10 and 2, folks, remember?

I have certain friends, you know who you are, who refuse to use their voice. I will call them and leave a voice message only to receive a reply in the form of a text seconds later. Really? Use your voices, folks. I know that this all makes me sound like a curmudgeon. I am by no means against technology or texting. I just got the iPhone and one of my favorite features is the texting. But, I use sentences and punctuation. It’s just important to know when to use it.

Well, this is the conclusion of another rather unfocused post. I guess that sums up how I’m feeling this week–unfocused and a little scatter-brained, frankly. Which really does happen to be the point of this semi-rant. Focus. For all the advancements in electronics have brought us, it has made it more difficult to focus on the task at hand. And that’s because we usually have several tasks at hand at all times. Even our leisure has gotten complex. I almost always have my laptop running while I’m watching TV. But, that’s another subject and my brain hurts.

Disconnect to Reconnect

It’s been several weeks since I read a very interesting and thought provoking NY Times article by Ben Stein. The article really grabbed my attention and gave me an idea. This happens sometimes, I get an idea and need to let it simmer for several weeks until it is cooked to perfection. Sometimes I have so many ideas simmering that they start to blend together and form a disgusting murky stew of thought. This time around, however, I’ve been very focused on one thing. Like a series of kitchen timers going off at random moments, its bells have kept me focused on every call, every text, every email, every thing my iPhone keeps track of. It is constantly demanding my attention, and I have mixed feelings about it.

We, as collective group of technologically driven people, like to think that our portable electronic devices have minds of their own. We take great joy in using the adjective intuitive to describe them. A good software program knows what we want before we even know what we want. It can even give us choices if we want. These devices enhance our lives and help keep us organized, connected, and entertained. However, they also do a really good job of sequestering us from the world around us. They distract us from a distracting world.

Cell phones, in particular, are this way. If we aren’t talking on them, we are texting on them. I think that in our efforts to stay connected, we are actually being disconnected from our immediate environment. This is acutely evident when people drive, talk, and text; and it’s why there are so many cell phone related car accidents. Not to mention train accidents, in San Francisco alone this year I know of at least three train accidents that involved a conductor and a cell phone. We are the ones in control, though. We have to choose to turn those devices on, although in some cases our devices know to turn themselves on. We can most certainly, however, choose to turn them off. Or, even more simply, let the call go to voice mail.

I witness this struggle that occurs when one tries to “disconnect” from their world on a regular basis. At work, every time I make the announcement to “turn off and stow all electronic devices” there is a collective state of denial that permeates the entire airplane. I guess that before they can officially enter denial I must first get their attention. And that is no easy task. Sometimes I have to stand directly over them and speak to them personally, since they missed the numerous and repetitive PA’s. That’s really when the denial sets in. I can almost hear them thinking, “Oh, he’s not talking to me, I don’t need to turn it off,” or better yet, “maybe if I just ignore him, pretend not to hear him, I’ll be OK.” Even some of my co-workers have an extremely difficult time with this moment of disconnect. I see them struggling to get that one last test message out before we take off.

I witnessed the cashier at my grocery store attempt to text on her phone and scan groceries at the same time. It was a multi-tasking sight to see. It got me thinking that maybe I don’t want to be this kind of person. I don’t want to be kind of guy that walks down the street and texts at the same time. Maybe I don’t even want to be the kind of guy that is always wearing his iPod headphones. I want to be more present than that. I want to notice the changes in the world around me. I want to be open and engaging to people. Not off in some electronic world of distraction.

Granted, I’m obviously not opposed using to cell phones and iPods and laptops. But we need to take back the reins. We are the ones in control of our devices. We need to make them work for us. We need to know when to turn them off, or to ignore them. If we can’t grasp that, then we are being controlled by them. In many ways electronics are the modern drug of choice. We use them to medicate and detach. It’s easier to deal with the world if you are detached from it. And, as a society, we are addicted. Fortunately for us, unlike most drugs, we can quite literally just turn it off.