Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Life and Love, What Kids Need to Know

Kids, we were all one at one point, think that they know everything.   Well I have some news for you, kids know jack squat about life!

Only through experience can lessons truly be taught, and I'm here to share some that life has taught me.

Life and Work
  1. People make their own luck.  By being open to new ideas, new opportunities and the willingness to take a risk, those "lucky" people really earn that luck.   
  2. There are no failures.   Everyone will come up short on things in life, but if you learn from this then it isn't a failure.  
  3. Don't fear change.     I know that change can be very scare for many, but only through change can people truly grow.   Embrace the new things that change will bring you.
  4. Take risks.   I know that risks seem scary for many, but if you plan accordingly they are one of the ways to truly grow as a person.  This could be as simple as trying a new game, eating a new food, or as big as starting a new business.   See #2 if things don't work out.
  5. Be open to new things.  Be open to new ideas, new people, new experiences.  They will bring you things that you never knew existed.
  6. Be open about who you are. Be open about your feelings, your desires, your goals and you.   Don't hide who you are, don't play games with your feelings or other's feelings. 
  7. Be a doer.   Don't be someone who stands on the sidelines and talks about what they are going to do, or want to do.    Those people never do anything.  Be the one that goes and DOES what you want to do.
  8. Don't fear diversity.   People have a tendency to want to surround themselves with others just like us.  While this will make you feel safe, it's very restricting in life.   Don't be afraid to branch out and get to know people dissimilar to you.    They will bring to you things that you'll never get from your homogeneous group.
  9. You and only you are responsible for your life.   If you aren't living the life you want, then make the changes you need to live that life.   Don't blame others for things in your life.  They may have helped but you have the ability to change your life immediately if you want to.
  10. Stop stressing about things.  Life will work itself out one way or the other, regardless if you stress out about it or not.   Worrying about something does nothing good for you.  Instead think about the possible outcomes and prepare as best you can for them.   Worry will not change the future and only hurts the present.
  11. Second guessing is normal.   When you make a change, or take that risk to do something big, it's inevitable you'll ask yourself if you made the right choice.  This is normal.  Instead of stressing about it, evaluate your life, your goals and if this is still what you want.  And if not, then make the changes you need to make in your life to put you back on track.
  12. Forgive easily.  We are all humans, and all learning on this trip called life.  This means we all make mistakes.   Don't dwell on them, put them in the past, forgive and move on.
  13. Karma is real.  Ok, well not the karma that smites your friend for eating the last ice cream, but life definitely brings back to people the energy they put out into the world.  If you are a negative person then it's unlikely that the people around you will bring you opportunity or help you.   Be positive, thoughtful, upbeat etc. and people will want to help you, and will bring you good things in life.
  14. Don't waste your time on those who aren't willing to listen.   I don't mean that they have to accept your views, but if they aren't willing to listen to an opposing argument the you'll never have an actual discussion.    Dismiss them and move on in life.
  15. Be nice to everyone you meet.   Not only does #12 come into play you truly never know who you are talking to and when you'll cross paths with them again.  They could be your next employer, or someone who simply needed something good to make their day better.
  16. Always go above and beyond.   Those who get ahead or get "lucky" are usually those that earn it.   Always take on some extra tasks, or do more than needed and you'll create your own luck.   
  17. Be true to yourself.  Live your life for yourself, not for others or what society may tell you is right.   You are responsible for your happiness, and that can only happen if you are yourself.
  18. Find a mentor.   This is not only in work but in life.   Find people who have done what you want to do and let them teach you so that you don't have to learn the hard lessons yourself.  
  19. Surround yourself with people who want you happy.   Don't allow negative people into your life and if you have to, limit the amount of time and energy they get from you.
  20. Don't worry what other people think about you.  It's none of your business and should have no impact on your life.
  21. Never stop learning.    Every day brings us an opportunity to learn something new.  Be curious, inquisitive and open to this knowledge.
  22. Happiness comes from within.   No one else can make you happy.  Period.  Only you can choose to be happy or not.   
  23. Get help if you need it.   There is no shame in asking for help, and if you need help then ask for it and get the help you need. 
  24. You can't control your emotions but you can control how you react to them.   It's ok to get mad, but you can control how you react when angry.   Take ownership of your actions.
  25. Don't be afraid to love.   Love is an amazing and powerful emotion.  Don't be afraid to allow yourself to love and express this love.  This could be with family, friends, or lovers.


  1. Relationships are hard work and need continual care and feeding.  Don't ignore your relationship with your significant other.
  2. Learn who you are before you try to bring someone else into your life.  I truly think people live alone (without a spouse) for a year or 2 to truly figure out who you are.  Only then can you find someone who fits you.
  3. Be honest from the start.  We often want to whitewash things in our life, but it's far better to be open and honest from the start.  We all know what it's like to find out your mate lied to you about something.  Don't fall into this trap.
  4. Be happy with yourself.  Take the time to become comfortable with yourself and enjoy your own company.  Only when you can do this will you be ready for a relationship.  Another reason to live alone for a year or 2.
  5. There is no "other half".   You are a whole person, born and raised that way.  Your mate can bring you new experiences and help you, but they will not "complete you".
  6. You cannot change your mate.   I know that many of us think we'll just fix this or that, but the reality is that asking your mate to be someone other than who they are is a recipe for failure.  Like you, they need to be true to themselves.  You can however ask them to change some behaviors.
  7. Relationships don't need to be forever.  I know that society says you'll find "The One", marry them and live together for 70 years happily.   That's simply not realistic for the majority of people.    Enjoy whatever time you have with someone and if need be don't be afraid to make the changes needed.
  8. You define what relationship is right for you.  Don't allow your family, friends, or society tell you what your relationship should be.   There are many relationship types, monogamy, polyamory, polygamy, etc.   Only you know what's right for you.
  9. Every argument has 3 sides.   Stop and think about what you may have done, or what your mate may have perceived you to have done as it's seldom that one side is truly right.
  10. Tell your mate that you love them, that they are beautiful and that they still turn you on weekly.   Show your affection for them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Death of Democracy

Today Governor Walker signed into a law a bill that will make it significantly harder for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents to vote.

Republicans have been positioning this law as protecting the integrity of the vote.  However the reality is that voter fraud in Wisconsin is not, and has not, been a problem.

Let's take a minute to look at the facts around voter fraud. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal pointed out that President George W. Bush made voter fraud a priority for enforcement, so the U.S. Justice Department went to work on enforcing it.  From 2002 to 2005, the Journal reported, 55 people were convicted nationwide of voter fraud.  That's barely one per state.

In 2008 Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm formed the Election Fraud Task Force.  This task force investigated 12 counties in Wisconsin including Dane and Milwaukee CountiesAfter 2 years of investigations the task force identified 20 cases of voter fraud in the 2008 election.

The DOJ and Milwaukee County prosecutors charged 11 felons for voting, six people for voter registration misconduct and two people for voting twice, according to a DOJ statement.

A 2007 study released by Brennan Center for Justice revealed that potential voters are unlikely to be found committing voter fraud. “It’s more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” the study’s authors wrote.

The reality is that even Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's task force has shown that voter fraud is not a significant problem in Wisconsin.  This bill solves a problem that doesn't exist.  In the mean time it makes it significantly harder for certain groups of people to vote.

Who does this bill effect?

The UW Wisconsin system has 173,000 students in it, that will no longer be able to use their student ID to vote.  They will either have to travel back to their home town and vote there, or go get a Wisconsin Driver's License or State ID with their current address on it to vote.  For many students moving is an annual event, so every year they will have to go get a new ID with their current address on it so they can exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Is preventing less than 2 dozen fraudulent votes worth making it harder for 173,000 students to vote?

Who else will be affected by this bill?  Good question, let's see.

Only 25 percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Latinos in Milwaukee County have valid licenses, compared to 71 percent of young white adults elsewhere in the state, according to a 2005 report from the Employment and Training Institute at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  This group is also one of the most transient in the state, moving sometimes more than once per year.

Is preventing less than 2 dozen fraudulent votes worth making it harder for tens of thousands of minorities to vote?

When you peel back the covers it's clear to see that this bill is in fact not about protecting the vote, but about protecting the power base of the GOP by trying to limit the ability of those who historically voted democrat.

Even though the GOP in Wisconsin has said we are broke, they estimate this bill will cost tax payers $8-10 million to implement.

But the real cost of this bill is the loss of voice for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Great Guns - Why Does it Need to be All or Nothing?

The debate over concealed carry in Wisconsin has brought this issue to the forefront for me.  Guns have been a part of life in Wisconsin, and I suspect most of the United States since the inception of this great state.

Hunting is a significant part of our economy and I doubt that there is a person in the state who isn't friends with someone who owns a gun.

There is currently legislation proposed in Wisconsin that would make it easier for someone to carry a concealed weapon than it would be for them to vote.  To me this seems completely backwards.

I realize that the second amendment protects an individual's right to own a weapon, and I agree with that.  However I feel that with gun ownership comes certain responsibilities.  I also believe that there should be some reasonable limits in what type of guns people can own.

Let's face it, a gun at its core is built to kill something.  By its very nature it is a danger to others.  To limit this danger, people who want to own and carry a firearm should be required to take training on that weapon and how to safely us it.  We require training before you can drive a car, why is training before you can carry a gun so different?

Here are my thoughts on how to make things equitable in Wisconsin, balancing the right to own and carry a weapon with the safety of the public.

First there need to be some reasonable limits to what types of weapons can be purchased.  I believe it is reasonable to limit the ownership of fully automatic weapons, along with any handgun that has a magazine clip that holds more than 10 rounds.

Current semi automatic weapons allow you to fire as quickly as you can pull the trigger.  For me that is 6 times per second.  So I can fire six rounds per second manually pulling the trigger.  However when I let off the trigger the gun stops.  This should be adequate for anyone using their weapon for hunting or personal safety.   There is no need for fully automatic, or selectable fire weapons.

For handguns, there simply is no need for a weapon with more than 10 rounds in a clip.  Currently only our police and military are allowed guns of greater capacity.  This is because their line of work almost ensures that they will be put in a situation where gunfire is needed.  For the average citizen most often simply displaying the weapon is sufficient to prevent endangerment. 

But for me the real need is around training.  This is especially true for people who want to carry a weapon in their daily lives.  Police and military go through hundreds of hours of training to safely use their weapons.  This includes training on the weapon itself, the handling of the weapon and how to employ it.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, police have thousands of hours of real life experience with people.  They are able to identify when someone poses an actual threat, detect when a situation escalates and violence is a real risk, and possibly most importantly they know how to de-escalate a situation before the use of a weapon is needed.

Prospective concealed carry applicants should be required to attend training on when and where a weapon can be used.  For example it should never be used to protect material property.  Ever.  The weapon should only be used to protect the safety of humans, never someone's car or stereo as recent cases in Racine and Michigan have shown.

Additionally, to safely carry a weapon the owner should have to attend a minimum of 12 hours of training, including situational and live fire training, so that they can safely employ the weapon and make correct decisions when using it.

All of this should be completed prior to an applicant receiving a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  Permit holders would be required to attend additional training every 2 years to keep their skills up so they can safely use the weapon.

Finally let's talk about where people can carry guns.  Currently loaded guns are not allowed in vehicles.  I think it's fair to accept that if someone is going to carry a gun, they are likely going to drive a vehicle.  Police already approach any car as if the owner is carrying so let's allow people to carry their weapons in their cars.  I don't believe that guns should be allowed in any tavern.  Alcohol and guns simply should not mix, and I believe a little common sense should make it clear that we don't want people bringing guns into bars.

Gun owners would still be able to buy handguns, albeit only allowed to hold 10 rounds. They would still be able to buy rifles with 20-30 round capacities and go through all of those rounds in 3-4 seconds. They would still be allowed to carry their handgun for their safety.

This preserves the essence of the second amendment, while at the same time balancing the need to keep the public safe from under trained weapon owners.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why Should We Protect The Vote?

America has long led the world in democracy.  Our country was formed on the notion of no taxation without representation.  Revolution happened because the citizens of the colonies did not have a say in the laws enacted upon them by the English.  For 200 years we progressively fought and changed voting laws in this country to provide equality and a voice for all Americans in elections.

This is why I think it's imperative that we protect the vote.  And by this I don't mean enacting voter id laws, I mean we need to ensure that all eligible voters can vote, and make it as easy as possible for them to vote.

Like all freedoms, this voting freedom comes with some risk of abuse.   You've all heard stories of Chicago and the thousands of supposedly dead people that voted in elections in the 1980's.  Without a doubt these stories are partially true and voter fraud was real back then.

So how does voter fraud like that happen?  Well it was easy back then because everything was manual.  All lists were manual, registration was manual and there wasn't an easy way to ensure that someone wasn't voting in multiple districts. 

However with the advent of computers we can now easily ensure that people are not registering in multiple districts.  We can easily ensure that people in prison aren't voting, and we can easily ensure that the dead aren't voting.  This completely eliminates the primary methods that were used in Chicago to throw the vote to a particular politician.  In Wisconsin, from 2008 through 2010 there were less than a dozen cases of voter fraud identified in the state.  Virtually all of those were convicted felons voting before they were off supervision.  Something that voter ID laws wouldn't have caught anyway.

So if voter fraud is bad, why shouldn't we enact stricter laws about voting?  Well, I feel that voting is the backbone of America.  This is one of the few constitutional rights that every American has and should exercise regularly.  It's the duty of government to ensure that this right isn't infringed upon and that we do everything we can to encourage citizens to vote.

America is seeing a rash of voter ID laws, all of which claim to be protecting the integrity of the vote, when in fact they are simply making it harder for certain classes of people to vote.

These laws, while seemingly innocent, have the effect of stifling the vote of the poor, elderly and handicap citizens.  They do so by making citizens have to go to their DMV and get a state ID or drivers license.  They require citizens to purchase these licenses/IDs with money that they may not have available.  And most importantly they require them to travel and take time away from work to get these IDs.

If you've ever been to the DMV you know that it is a time consuming process on the best of days.  On the worst of days you may have to take a whole day to go get your ID.  In some parts of the country the closest DMV facility is an hour drive or more away.  For the wealthy that may not be a hardship.  But for someone who is working at, or near, minimum wage, and gets no paid vacation time this may be an unaffordable endeavor for them.

These laws will require that anyone who moves go get an updated ID so that they can vote.  For the poorest Americans, this could mean several trips to the DMV in a year if they have moved more than once.  This puts undue hardship on the poor, and elderly so that they can exercise their constitutionally given right to vote.

Yes it is critical that we protect the vote in America, but this means ensuring that all citizens are provided fair and easy access to voting.

Let's Abolish Marriage

Let's Abolish Marriage!

Yes, I said it, let's abolish marriage.   Now before you get all bent out of shape let me explain why I think we should do this.

I believe that the institution of marriage is an intensely personal thing and that the government has no place inserting itself in this personal act.

In America today the act of marriage bestows legal protections, rights and other ramifications.  And because of the religious movement in America these rights are limited to a man and a woman in most states.

So let's get rid of marriage as we know it from a legal perspective.

Instead the government should create a "civil union" which bestows all of the legal protections and rights that are currently given via marriage.  Each state would have the discretion to decide who can join a civil union.  Some states would decide that only a man and a woman could join a civil union, others would decide that same sex couples could join a civil union.  Regardless of the decision, all legal rights would be bestowed upon this union through the civil union.

Well what about marriage?  Aren't we hurting America by getting rid of it?  Absolutely not!  Marriage would still exist, but the act of marriage would belong to the church.  Each church could decide who it would marry.  Many would choose only a man and a woman, some would choose same sex couples and some would allow polygamist marriages.  The decision would be up to each church. 

Couples would receive no legal benefits from marriage, but would be married in the eye of their church and their god.  Which is after all, what the religious sect is concerned about.  Gay marriage to them, defies god and is an insult to the institution of marriage.  So let them keep marriage as their church sees it, and allow others with differing beliefs to get the same protections.

I believe this simple change resolves the whole issue of marriage in America.  It removes gay marriage as an issue for those whose religious beliefs are offended by it.  It allows couples of all sexes to get the same rights, good and bad, that come with today's marriage.

And best of all, it gets the government out of the marriage business, where it never belonged in the first place.

Do you think America is ready for this?