The Sorry State of Apologizing

Friends who are really fun to play Fantasy Football with + Rory,
On November 3rd, 2005 the Washington Post published an editorial penned by the former North Carolina senator, John Edwards, titled, “I was wrong.” Getting ready for another Presidential run, Mr. Edwards knew he would be sharply criticized for his vote and defense regarding the war on Iraq. In efforts to temper the push back, the former public official inked an article citing his misjudgment, lack of experience, flimsy information from the security community, horrible executive leadership, and poor temperament as reasons for drumming the beat towards another ground invasion in the Middle East.
Going forward, the Senator vowed to listen to his inner conscious, pray to God, and loop in his wife and close advisor with every major decision he would make as President. Yet, we should have all been wary of Senator Edward’s apology.
Mr. Edwards was known as being an ambulance chaser during his days as a North Carolina prosecutor (John-John once sued the company he defended 6 months prior), started attending Church once he started running for office, and later documents proved that his marriage was merely political. In the Ed Halperin’s book, “The Game Changer” the author reveals the Senator’s wife, Elizabeth Edwards, actually was okay with the return of her cancer, because in her words it, “Would give us a bump in fundraising against that cunt, Hillary.”
All along, those who knew this North Carolina native, knew he was a snake oil salesman and his apology was as flimsy as Teflon. Largely ignored by the mainstream media, Mr. Edward’s old law firm partners spoke up repeatedly about his bad behavior prior to his meteoric rise. As a bigger red flag, not one of his old colleagues voted for him in ANY of his elections.
Yet, it seems these days, everyone is trying to copy the Senator’s playbook for forgiveness.  Every time you turn on the TV you see a corporate press conference, a Hispanic Trump supporter, and Justin Bieber (Yes, I’m a Belieber) profusely apologizing. More often than not, they’re often apologizing for the sake of apologizing.
Elton John’s 1976 tune “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” has merit in today’s world. Regardless of race, religion, or gender, human beings have always struggled with apologizing. Human psychologists attribute this to the fact that we are naturally guarded and, regardless of how humble and secure we are, most people loathe being wrong and/or being chastised for their actions.
Efforts by human beings to acknowledge their mistakes and turn over a new leaf are usually a good thing. However, there are enormous negative implications to society quickly accepting apologies from celebrities, corporations, politicians, or anyone with enormous power. Excessive apologists make it tougher to decipher the noble public figures who made one off mistakes from those who are natural goons.
In June 2015 when Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, put forth his “Race Together” initiative urging baristas to discuss the issue of race and equality with their customers, his efforts were widely met with anger and skepticism. While this initiative may have been one of the worst corporate “socially responsible” plans ever, no one could reasonably accuse Mr. Schultz of being tone deaf to the important equality and social mobility issues of our time. As a Seattle native, Mr. Schultz was always an outspoken advocate of promoting diversity in the workplace, fought shareholders in order to provide part time worker’s access to healthcare, and recently put forth efforts to expand higher education opportunities for his employees.
African American civil right author Tanehasi Coates argues, in reality, it wasn’t anything Schultz did that triggered this enormous backlash. The Atlantic Magazine writer notes, “Howard actually had all the right ideas. African Americans have long felt highly uncomfortable in “white” places, because they feel they can’t have the conversations they want. Ultimately, the black population have become so skeptical of politicians and business owners, because they’ve offered them countless proposals of understanding their struggles, yet these proposals ended up being corporate empty gestures.”
Hollow gestures also cripple the progress in society in other ways. With the advent of greener and electrical cars, we will no doubt see auto companies make countless mistakes in an earnest effort to build a quality vehicle. Unfortunately, recent reports documenting Volkswagen’s two decade long effort to cover up EPA violations will make costumers sheepish of buying a new type of vehicle upon discovering even further scandalous behavior.
But as average dudes or dudettes, what should we do to make sure to pinpoint the actual crooks in society?
Long time consumer advocate and two term Presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, says it’s pretty simple.  Known as the man who forced automakers to install better seatbelts after uncovering the numerous safety hazards in American made cars Mr. Nader suggests a few things. He believes that when public figures put out an apology, we should scrutinize past deeds, assess their current character, and see what they do following their apology. This old-ass hippy proclaims, “You can easily tell if someone is full of it.  If they’ve always had a history of deceiving you and were never known as a person with good character. Secondly, you want to see if they are making consistent steps towards correcting their mistakes. If a corporation or politician continues to act in the same manner then you know they are still deceiving you.”
And he’s right. Long before last month’s scandal, Volkswagon had years of dodging EPA check-ups, consistently received poor consumer ratings, and regularly failed to adequately respond to customer feedback. A September 2015 Bloomberg article shows Volkswagon shareholders meetings became more secretive over time, because the usual complaints came up and the usual bullshit answers were given.
                As we head into the thick of 2016 Presidential campaign season, it’s hard not to look back at Mr. Edward’s fall. It’s incredibly easy to chastise the Southern Senator, but many of us ordinary citizens are also responsible for propelling this Juris Doctor to the national stage. I, in fact, was one of them.
                Yes, long before I was a Belieber, my 18 year young, Berkeley Birkenstock wearing, Bob Marley poster owning self, thought John Edwards would be a solid Commander-In-Chief. I was moved with his narrative centering on “Two Americas” where he argued that our nation would become a society with either very rich or very poor people (Note: this is kind of happening #justsaying #iapologizeido).
Nonetheless, it was my responsibility to look into his past and realize he never cared nor mentioned any anti-poverty measures before his second Presidential run. I should have read those interviews with people who knew John where they warned us about how heartless he was, and I also should have realized that President Barack Obama was always the best candidate in the 2008 election.
                Going forward, I promise to engage in the mind numbing process of watching all the Presidential debates, reading up on the candidates’ positions, analyzing their character profiles, and always admitting when I was wrong about my top choice for Commander in Chief.
                But folks, regardless of what I find out about my boy Bernie or dear friend Hillary, I still won’t vote for a Republican this year. I’m sorry.


30 More Glimpses Into My Stream of Consciousness

Stream of Consciousness Part 2

1.       I have recurring dreams.  Sometimes it’s just a dream, other times it’s a memory.  Every once in a while though, it won’t be a recurring dream per se, instead I’ll have a continuation of a dream, like a sequel to a story that I had previously dreamed.  Those are usually my favorite because they tend to be easy to remember and I like being able to see what comes next.

2.       There are also recurring characters in my dreams.  Obviously the people that I know from my real life are in there all the time.  But there are a few people that seemingly only exist in my dreams.  They’re not limited to specific dreams either; they’re in all different kinds of dreams and frequently in different ways or roles.  There is one person though that always seems to be in the same role no matter what dream she’s in.  I remember virtually everything about her except her name, and she always fills the role of partner/love interest.  (In a strange turn of events, a couple days after jotting this thought down, I met someone who I would swear was this person… it was kinda freaky.)

3.       Speaking of dreams, I still have nightmares on a fairly regular basis.  Some of them are intricate and more like Ridley Scott movies (I usually love these ones) taking place on alien worlds or during glorious action sequences.  I frequently die at the end of my nightmares, but during these adventuresome dreams my death is usually along the lines of Bruce Willis manually detonating a nuke on an asteroid in order to save the world. 

I actually hesitate to call those kind nightmares, seeing as I enjoy them so much.  But I can’t deny that they cause my heart to race and leave me awake and out of breath.  Meanwhile the other kind is mundane and takes place in my day to day life with people that I know and care about until something horrible and yet entirely believable happens.  Those ones suck, and I usually can’t get back to sleep afterward, which makes me tired, which causes me to have more nightmares, which makes me more tired, which sometimes leads me to confuse dream events for real life events… and that’s just no fun.

4.       Sorry to break it to you like this, but if I know you even remotely well, chances are that you’ve died dozens of times in my dreams.  If it’s any consolation, I’m always sad about it.

5.       One more on the subject of dreams… My absolute favorite are the very rare, lucid dreams that I have.  When I’m aware that I’m dreaming, I can control the dream, and guide it however I want.  If you’ve never been lucky enough to have those, then I’m sorry, because they are awesome!

6.       My friends joke about me being bad with technology because I still have a flip phone.  I join in the jokes, I even encourage them… Hell, I make half the jokes myself.  The truth though is that I’m actually not too shabby with tech.  I encourage the jokes because they’re funny, and the corresponding mindset because I like it when people (especially those that don’t know me too well) underestimate me.  I don’t know why that is.

7.       For a while I thought the same was true of my math skills and that I was just pretending to be terrible at arithmetic.  Then I realized that I haven’t been pretending, I really am terrible at anything involving numbers...

8.       For me (due to my old flip phone), being in a group text message is reminiscent of Raj from The Big Bang Theory being involved in a group conversation that involves a woman.  I can hear (read) all of the conversation happening around me, but if I want to chime in, then the most effective means to do so is to whisper (text) to a singular person and have them relay my message to the group as a whole.  In other words, it’s a pain in the ass.  Stop.

9.       There’s an apartment complex along my drive to work that has some tri-color banners on small flagpoles used to accentuate the advertising for the apartment complex.  Usually when a company does this, the banners are brightly colored and high-contrast, so as to really draw the eye.  However these ones are the color of bacon… Brownish red, reddish brown, and a vaguely reddish-brownish white… They don’t make me want to move there, but they sure do make me hungry.  It doesn’t help that this complex is only a couple blocks away from Red Robin, which always smells delicious in the afternoon.

10.   Every once in a while I realize that I am insanely oblivious to certain things.  Most of those things (I think its “most”… like I said, I’m oblivious) center on women and flirting.  When I look back at those types of interactions with women a day or two (or a couple years) after they happen, it dawns on me that I’ve been a total idiot the vast majority of the time.  

11.   I don’t have Tinder or any other similar app or account.  I don’t really date, haven’t done it in a while.  But I do read a lot of articles and blogs online, and I’ve been seeing the phrase “Watch Netflix and chill” in reference to dating and Tinder, etc.  From what I can tell, this phrase is apparently a euphemism for something other than just actually watching Netflix and hanging out.  Why?  I actually want to do THAT… I mean sex is great (I’m guessing that’s what the euphemism is for), there’s no denying that!  But so is sitting on the couch with some rum and cokes and a bowl of popcorn while watching Netflix.  I don’t know… I just think it’s a dumb way to tip-toe around the subject of sex, because both meanings of the phrase sound so great.

12.   I’ve been trying to write a blog about Jon Stewart and his departure from The Daily Show for over a month now.  After more than a month’s worth of work on it, I have one paragraph that I don’t hate, and a mostly blank page that I do hate.
A few times a week I open up the blog, stare at it… write a couple sentences… stare at them… delete them… stare at the blankness… start to write another sentence… delete it before I even finish it… rewrite the two sentences that I wrote before… immediately delete them while making a stupid face… stare at the blankness some more… check facebook… stare at the blankness… get some water… stare… stare… close my laptop and walk away. http://www.hulu.com/watch/824441#i1,p40,s20,d1

13.   I’m not sure why that particular blog is so difficult to write.  It’s not that I have nothing to say on the matter, I could talk about Jon Stewart and his contributions to media, society, and political and cultural dialogue for days!  But nothing I write on that hideously blank page seems to be good enough… Suffice it to say, he turned that show in to something so much bigger than anyone ever thought it could be.  He gave a voice to a generation and perspective to a society that was sorely lacking it. 

14.   Every time Mumford and Sons (all three times) comes out with a new album, I have low expectations.  I’m always under the impression that I’m not going to like the album.  Eventually, a friend convinces me to listen to it, and I end up loving it.  I suppose it’s nice that I’m always pleasantly surprised by the outcome, but I’m not sure why my expectations are low to begin with.  Mumford and his kids haven’t let me down yet.

15.   I think my favorite album of theirs may have been the second one, Babel.  But I don’t think that’s due to the music or lyrics being better on that album than on the others; I think it’s due to seeing them perform that album at Sasquatch.  It wasn’t necessarily the best show I ever saw there, but it was one of them, and the songs during that show still carry some of the most personal and even treasured memories that I have from any of my trips to the Gorge.

16.   I sometimes realize that I repeat the same stories over and over at different times.  I forget who I tell things to, so I just keep telling them again and again.  At the time I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself or if I’m just experiencing deja vu. 

17.   When I was little I wouldn’t use my left hand for anything.  My parents would have to remind me to do so at the dinner table when trying to cut my dinner with one hand, or when doing my homework with one hand, dragging the paper all over the desk.  When I say that I wouldn’t use it, I don’t want you to picture a young me with my left hand just resting on the dinner table or the school desk while I did everything with my right… I would literally let my left hand awkwardly dangle at my side, not even automatically moving it to a comfortable position.  I’m glad I eventually got over that.

119.   2014 was a year of first steps; recognizing that I was depressed, realizing that I needed to actually stick to a diet, finally looking in to what it means to be financially responsible… And I’m happy to say that ten months in to 2015, this year is all about actually following through on those steps and making progress.  Can’t wait to see what 2016 holds.

20.   I can’t eat a Baby Ruth without thinking of that scene in Caddyshack… You know which scene I mean…

21.   Every time I go past Donner Pass or Donner Lake I think of Robin Williams.  It’s because of that scene in Patch Adams… It used to make me laugh a bit every time, now I still laugh but there’s something else there too. 

22.   I sometimes realize that I repeat the same stories over and over at different times.  I forget who I tell things to, so I just keep telling them again and again.  At the time I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself or if I’m just experiencing deja vu. 

23.   This isn’t really a “stream of consciousness” writing in that I don’t sit down and write it all in one go.  Instead I sit down at night, after work, and write for a few minutes before realizing that it’s time for dinner and I’m hungry.  Then I typically stop writing mid sente

24.   I’ve been cooking more and more lately.  I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but lately I’ve been trying to get even more creative and fancy, even when I’m just cooking for myself.  On that note, I want some challenges in cooking… So I’m inviting all of you to suggest three, maybe four, random ingredients, and I will do my best to use them to make a good meal.  Like a competitive cooking show!

25.   One thing I miss, is cooking for a date/girlfriend.  There’s something different about cooking a meal with romantic intentions than when cooking for myself or friends.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook in general, but I do miss making a romantic dinner.

26.   There’s a house in my neighborhood with a front yard entirely covered in overgrown, potted plants.  Every square foot of ground is covered by the pots, and the plants have grown to a ridiculous height.  This makes it so that the only visible part of the house from the street is the garage, while the front door and everything else is hidden.  All I’ve ever seen of the occupant is a little, old lady, walking down the driveway to get her mail.  All of this leads to one very obvious conclusion about the house… It’s made of gingerbread, she’s a witch, and the garage is just camouflage.  Though I’m sure she’s also a delightful person.

27.   My roommate has a cat, Biscuit, who is adorable, and all-around delightful company.  But lately she’s been making it very difficult to write…

28.   I may occasionally be a jackass, but my heart is in the right place… or so the doctor’s tell me.

29.   I have a tiny spider that lives on my computer monitor at work.  I only see him once or twice a week, he mostly stays on the backside of the monitor.  Whenever he does come around to the front of it, he follows my mouse around on the screen.  He won’t get too close though, he’s afraid but curious.  I guess seeing that curiosity in him is what makes me not want to squish him like I have all the other spiders.

30.   Let’s say, theoretically, someone brings in a box of donuts to your office to share with everyone; it’s a variety box with all different kinds of tasty treats in it.  Then let’s say, theoretically, that you are trying to watch your figure so you only want to eat half or maybe a quarter of a donut, rather than eating the whole thing.  I have no problem with you cutting a section of a donut off for yourself, go for it! 
But if it’s a jelly or cream filled donut...  When you cut one of those into smaller pieces, you leave nothing but a sticky mess of disappointment for someone else… That’s messed up.  Stop.  Seriously, you know who you are, even if I don’t.  Stop.

31.   And finally, if you’re the only one that laughs at your “work” jokes… Stop repeating them… It’s for your own good.