Information Sources – He Said / She Said (ep. 2)

My second question for the He Said / She Said was a tad harder than I though it would be. With all the wonders I have in my head on a regular basis, I just naturally assumed presenting topics would be easier. Turns out, it isn’t.

Come to find out, my wonders can get a bit overwhleming when I try to put them in a neat package idea with one concise and clear question. Becasue I am really attempting to be respectful of everyone’s time, I consider it to be a duty of sorts to present topics in that manner – clear and concise.

It doesn’t always work out that way. So I set out to find new ideas in my typical fashion – podcasts. And that got me to thinking, “How do other people get new information, expose themselves to new ideas, or stay informed?” The light bulb went off. I probably should ask the panel. Knowing where they get their information from is probably pretty insightful. It also lends itself pretty readily to asking you all how you stay informed and what that means to you in the first place.

Here are a few of the responses, and we would love to hear your thoughts as well.

How do you consider yourself “informed” or “exposed”?


I generally stay informed and available to new ideas by way of social media and the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, are my Sunday paper everyday in real time. I don’t watch the news. It’s too negative. Someone is always getting kidnapped or shot. And I haven’t had cable in 5 years.

My general boredom and cruising of the different platforms (which I have tried to limit because it can be toxic, duh right?) side effect is reading different headlines as to what’s happening in the world. But unlike traditional news outlets like CNN, FOX news, and such that swing heavily to the right or left, and could allegedly be fake news, (HAHA), allow me to form my own opinion. You can find many different posts about any topic on all the platforms, and decide for yourself as to what you feel is going on.

That’s one of the things that makes net neutrality a very interesting and scary topic. Especially when you consider that the decision for 324 million people is decided by 5 unelected officials. Just regular ass people from the FCC who went against 83% of those 324 million people. But I digress.

The other way i get into new ideas is podcasts. I tend to be in my truck a lot on long drives. Nothing eats up time like listening to podcasts. I’d say conservatively I listen to 5-7 hours of podcasts per day. I’m constantly bombarded with different perspective, which I then take and formulate my own thoughts. Or at least I try too.

I’ll leave with this thought, I heard it from Denzel Washington. I’m not sure where he got it from and I didn’t do the time to research it further. “If you don’t listen to the mainstream news your uninformed, if you listen to the mainstream news, your misinformed” Quite the quandary we are in as Americans these days. And I thought propaganda was a NO NO!!

 

Andrew


Actually, the way I get information and the way I’m exposed to “new ideas,” hasn’t changed at all because the world, in particular the USA, hasn’t changed that much at all. There is a saying that goes, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” and the same holds true for information. If you stay informed, you don’t have to get informed.

I was blessed to have parents who always made sure we understood history..all of it. The problem is, too many people don’t seem to understand or even care about history, so many of the things that are happening now seem foreign to them. Couple this with the fact that too many people believe that the words “commentator” (opinion) and “journalist” (unbiased) are synonymous, and you end up with people who don’t know what to believe or worse, what THEY believe because they are ignorant to our history. So, they only seek out and listen to those commentators who regurgitate the same “truths” that they already believe.

People aren’t open to receiving new ideas because it’s more comfortable to hold onto their old ones, and that has nothing to do with social media, the internet or anything else. To anyone who knows and understands history, and who has been paying attention, nothing that is happening now should be surprising because we’re just repeating old patterns. Or, as my late grandmother used to say, “The years may change, but the days stay the same.”

GR


This has been difficult for me to find the words to address, simply because the question implies that being informed or exposed is a priority.

I have to admit that I made the conscious decision to disconnect from mainstream news outlets in order to practice intellectual self-defense for my own well-being some time ago. In doing so, I’ve drastically devalued the concept of being informed or exposed to high amounts of information.

Through the use of social media, where I like to interact with friends and family, I can see many topics that are on the forefront of discussion and debate from a sociological and political standpoint, so I am never too far from knowing what is in the latest headlines or what many popular topics are. However, I tend to seek information in areas of interest rather than open myself to whatever is chosen to be broadcast.

I am a firm believer in the importance of societies learning history in order to keep from repeating past mistakes (there’s a clever phrase for this that I can never remember with accuracy, but I’m sure you’re thinking of it), so I enjoy podcasts and documentaries that highlight historical events that are relevant to today’s political and sociological climate. I also like to connect with other people and families that I meet and discuss big, heavy, controversial topics in a personal, face-to-face setting when the time is appropriate. Through these discussions, I am opened up to different ways that people see the world, interpret what they see, and apply what they see and know to their own lives. I have found that personal relationships with others is a much more rewarding and fulfilling way to be “informed” with the outside world.

Barry


There was a time I was a news junkie. That coincided with my “eat politics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner” phase. That can to a screeching halt after I had the opportunity to be a state delegate at the Georgia State Republican Convention in 2008. There’s something about watching the process up close and personal that forces you to come to terms with the way things do and don’t work. But that is a topic for another day.

The important thing is that it was then I realized the way I gathered and processed information had to change if I was going to create a real life with real ideas and real impact. I stopped watching the news. I instead began to look for different ways to gather new ideas. The truth is I was so burnt out that I buried myself in novels for a while and absorbed the world of make believe that was fiction, but at least didn’t pretend to be real life.

Now, most of what I do is chase rabbits. I’ll find a particular meme or shared article on social media interesting, either for it’s content or lack thereof, and hunt it down to it’s origin. It is astounding how often the original post is so far off from the actual truth or intent. It emphasizes to me how lazy we have become in believing what other folks put in front of us as fact.

Podcasts have become invaluable. The wide variety of topics is seemingly endless. Moreover, the diversity of perspective is one I simply can’t get in everyday life. Different belief systems, background, socioeconomic demographics, cultures, ideologies, etc. are all represented and available with a touch of a button. In truth, these ideas vary in truth and reliability as the internet has become the wild west of information. However, Hearing the idea and listening to the dialogue has been invaluable at broadening the wonders I had and creating a forest of new ones.

 

April

Intro Via Cereal – He Said She Said ep.1

A few weeks ago I encountered an article on a topic that isn’t typically discussed openly or in mixed company. The article invited about two dozen men to share their views on the topic. I found the whole article fascinating. I was able to look into the candid thoughts of a variety of men on a topic I would never discuss directly.

That gave me the idea for He Said / She Said.

I sent an email out to 7 people – 3 women 4 men. I asked them if they would care to participate, at their own discretion and in their own way, in discussing different topics. The topics will be all over the place:

  • who pays on a date
  • when does the Christmas tree go up
  • how many sexual partners is too many
  • Which candy bar is superior
  • is football too dangerous
  • gun control
  • favorite cereal
  • current events
  • If the title of the He Said / She Said is sexist because “He” is first

What follows is the first question and the reply. We hope you enjoy it and participate.

I know this question sounds ridiculous. But I promise it isn’t. If you answer it thoughtfully, it will be a great, non traditional, introduction of a little bit about who you are as a person before we tackle something a bit heavier.

What was your favorite cereal as a child? Is it the same now? Why or why not?

I was a weird kid. My favorite cereal when I was growing up was Life with Cheerios running a close second. I never really cared much for the sugary cereals as a kid. Occasionally a bowl of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries maybe but, for the most part, I was a Life and Cheerios kid.

As an adult I’d have to say Lucky Charms, hands-down. Then again, as an adult, cereal isn’t a breakfast food anymore. It’s more of an evening snack kind of food. I can’t remember the last time I ate cereal for breakfast.

Thom


In the pitch blackness of the early morning hours, I’d wake to sounds of Daddy getting ready for haul. Laying in bed, tucked under flannel sheets and handmade quilts and grannie squared afghans, I’d muster up the courage to slip out onto the cold floor. The hiss of the cast iron radiator would let me know the heat had been turned up. Quickly donning my pink terry robe and slippers from the Sears Roebuck catalog, I cracked open the door and scurried down to the kitchen.

Momma would be flying around, making coffee, packing his lunchbox, filling his thermoses with hot cocoa and soup. Two leftover meatloaf sandwiches and a whoopie pie would be neatly wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into the steel gray hinge topped box.

Daddy, larger than life…layered for the long day on the water in waffle weave long johns, wool socks, flannel shirt, a hideous hand knit gold and seafoam green sweater vest, and a pair of corduroys, would be prepping his cereal.

“Susie Q…what you doing up?”

I’d shrug.

Taking down a bowl from the cupboard, I’d retrieve the lone biscuit from the white paper which previously held three. Daddy would be ripping and tearing his two into his bowl. Daintily, I’d break mine into neat little uniform pieces.

“Honey, it’s all going to the same place.”

Sugar bowl in hand, he’d sprinkle some on mine, and tip the hand a little too heavy on his.

The milk poured, we sat together at the kitchen table, waiting for it to get just the right amount of soggy. With each sip, steam from his coffee would repeatedly fog up his glasses.

“Think we’ve got time for a quick game of cribbage?”

Beaming…”yes Daddy.”

A. Lynn


Favorite cereal:  Cheerios at first, and then Cap’N Crunch, who’s not even a real Captain, or Cap’N cause he doesn’t have enough stripes.  I think I read somewhere that he’s actually a commander. Hmm, Commander Crunch? Nah, not feeling it.  The fact that someone took the time to research a character on a cereal box is both funny and disturbing, as is the fact that I not only remembered that fact, but also shared it..with no shame.  Anyway, I don’t eat cereal now, and I haven’t eaten Cheerios or Cap’N Crunch since I was about 13. #TheThrillisGone.

GR


My favorite cereal as a child was Fruity Pebbles. After pouring the milk, I would patiently wait a couple of minutes for the cereal to become a blissfully wonderful mix of crunchy and soggy pebbles as I proceeded to devour them one heaping spoonful at a time. I enjoyed both the texture and the taste as I ate each bite. Also, after I had chased every last stray pebble down with my spoon and consumed every one of them, I was left with a sweet, fruity flavored milk that I would drink from the bowl.

At age 41, Fruity Pebbles remains my favorite cereal for all the same reasons. I guess, when it comes to food anyway, I don’t grow tired of the same flavors and textures. I still indulge, on occasion, in a box of Fruity Pebbles that I will share with my two sons (9 and 6 yo). They have their own favorites, but they also enjoy my favorite when I go rogue and stray from the healthier choices that I typically try to consume on a more regular basis.

Barry


You can refer to me as “Cornflake Girl”. In addition to being my answer to your first question, it’s also a great Fiona Apple song, so instead of obsessing over what pseudonym I should use, I’m Just gonna go with Cornflake Girl.

Favorite cereal as a child was probably cornflakes. Or maybe Chex or Crispix, whatever my mom had bought at the time that was even relatively “normal”. My mom was older, and had fed into the whole organic gardening hippie health food movement of the ‘70s, so most of what she bought more resembled yard rakings than anything that would have a cartoon mascot trying to sell it to children. She refused to buy anything that had a sugar glaze, or frosting, or marshmallows, or toys, etc. “You don’t need all that sugar!”  Little did she know that we went to the sugar cannister on the countertop, the one she used when she was baking, and spooned no less than 1/4 cup of sugar directly onto her “healthy” cereal. So her strategy backfired in that respect. I only got to illicitly taste the other cereals, what I considered the GOOD stuff, when I was at friends’ houses on sleepovers. Hopefully none of *their* parents were having a crisis of health conscience and only eating Raisin Bran or something.

I really don’t eat cereal at all now. Trying to do low carb was the initial motivation with that. Whenever I do have a carb lapse it tends to be later in the day. I’m all about eggs for breakfast now. Maybe oatmeal was my favorite before I switched away from carbs. Or the Chex. Chex is and always will be pretty damn awesome.

Cornflake Girl


Fruity Pebbles, hands down, has always been my favorite cereal. Lucky Charms is great, but it’s just too much damn work separating out the marshmallows. I think I saw somewhere that they made a box of just the marshmallows, but that feels gluttonous somehow and I just don’t think I can get past that to actual enjoy it. So it’s Fruity Pebbles.

We never got them much as a kid. Mom always bought the economical cereals. Every once in a while, that beautiful box would show up. It never lasted long. But I appreciated it. And though my little girl brain couldn’t have articulated it, I know that cereal became equated with appreciation for the special things.

I moved out of my parents home the summer before my senior year of high school. I always had Fruity Pebbles, even if I didn’t have much else. It was walking distance from my parents’ house. One more than one occasion I woke up to find one of my sisters, usually the youngest, in front of my TV with a bowl of her very own. I did a lot of the things that most 17 year old kids would do if they lived on their own. My sisters always kept my secrets and I never complained about them eating my cereal. Back then, bribery is what I would have associated that box with. Now, I am able to recall how great it felt seeing my kid sisters enjoying something I was able to do for them all on my own – and the bribery.

Today, I could eat Fruity Pebbles any time I want. I don’t. In fact, I rarely do. I am always afraid I’ll mess up the nostalgia of the thing. It sounds bizarre to have such a crux of conscience over cereal, but I am a woman of many wonders and this is one of them. I wonder if keeping the nostalgia is better than enjoying the cereal. I wonder if I will still think it tastes as good as the last time I ate it. I wonder if I am over wondering all of it. So, unless the kids pick it (which they rarely do), neither do I. But the box still makes me smile.

April

Asking the Questions

“Asking the proper question is the
central action of transformation…

Questions are the keys that cause
the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
Women who Run with the Wolves

New Year’s Day is fast approaching. Weather notwithstanding, it is one of my favorite times of the year. While I do not think one particular square on the calendar is more conducive to setting the intention to do better than another, I do love the way January 1st kind of stands there, hands on hips, giving a great reason to try the hard things that shove us out of our comfort zone. In fact, it almost demands that we do so.

Over time, the dance on January 1st has had the tendency of being more cliche than the Electric Slide at a wedding reception. We all know it’s coming, we all know the steps (eat better, exercise more, quit a bad habit, pick up a good one, turn, and repeat). But most of us love it (at least until mid-January), get excited at the first beat, kick our shoes off, and jump on the dance floor. There are the others that refuse to participate. Their resolution on New Year’s Day is to make no resolutions. In a move that has become almost as banal as joining the fray, we sit in our chairs and side-eye the uninspired choreography.

I have been a proud member of both those groups. I am still super supportive of both approaches. I do love a line dance (even a really old one), and am one of the easiest people on the planet to get out on the dance floor. The need to do what makes us comfortable is not lost on me. When we do the best we can with what we have, we are living our best life.

But am I doing the best I can? And there it is. That was my one question that birthed a wealth of questions that, like January 1st, demanded attention. In truth, I have been asking that question my whole life. However, I was asking it from a place of fear. That place would only allow me to ask it in a shallow way and give the “well of course I am” answer. But of course I wasn’t. Once the question became, “Am I really doing the best I can?” things changed.

Today I want to encourage you to ask questions. Are you a “get up and dance”er or a “chill out and watch”er? Does that change? Why? Maybe your questions are completely different than mine. Maybe you need to create some new ones, revisit some old ones, phone a friend. But ask the questions. There may come a time when the answer makes us question the asking. The answer is hard and the work to process it is real. And, as in most things, the rewards for that kind of effort are great. We got this.

Thanks for the coffee,
~A

If You Don’t Believe in God

I am Catholic. There are some who would argue with me because there are a lot of things about me that are very unCatholic. Well, they wouldn’t argue with me, they would argue at me as this is not a debate I would entertain. You don’t get to tell me what I am and what I am not. Folks are entitled to their opinion. To that I will simply say: 1) I am Catholic & 2) I am not perfect.

I have amazing relationships with folks all over the “what is the space made of” spectrum. The diversity of belief is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It tells me that my faith is not programmed. It shows that the human brain is what I thought it was – special and unique. It shows that humans, at least as far as I can tell, are led by something more than biological programming.

This diversity also lends itself to interesting conversation concerning inclusivity, tolerance, connection, and the general Venn diagram of how non overlapping beliefs have overlapping consequences and are held by folks who require some kind of lap. (Yeah, I’m not even sure what I just did right there, but we are going with it.)

I had one such conversation today. We were discussing the idea held by some that love is nothing more than a biological reaction to hormonal stimulation. This coincided with a atheistic belief system.

I don’t believe that’s true. At least, I don’t believe the whole truth. I proposed a different idea.

I started with a fundamental belief that I have shared before – all emotions are rooted in and can be traced back to either love or fear. Additionally, I believe biology is real. I also believe that biology, while broad stroke standards exist, functions in the minutiae (which matters greatly) differently for each of us.

I also believe that there is an extraordinary characteristic to being human that is different from all other biology. I believe it cannot be tested explained, quantified, denied, or proved. I believe that is the soul. I believe that is God.

This conversation has been in my head the rest of this afternoon. There is a reconciliation that I have in my head that I am usually comfortable with. Occasionally however, I have to revisit. Conversations like these often require the reconsideration.

I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the Red Letters.

I do not feel any kind of way with others who do not believe those things. I do not believe it is my job to convert them. I do not believe those things are required to be a good person. Moreover, I know that believing those things do not make you a good person. Assholes are assholes regardless of their relationship to theology or biology.

I realize there are red letter believers that disagree with me on this point. That I am soft or uncommitted. That I am turning a blind eye to the salvation of souls. That I am okay with damning people to hell because an earthly checklist has not been followed. To them I say they should reconsider how comfortable they feel holding that kind of opinion so far outside of their paygrade. I’m not privy to the Trinitarian annual board meetings. I don’t pretend to begin to know how all that works. All I do know for certain is Jesus always loved and he was never afraid (no, I don’t think fear was the motivator in the garden of Gethsemane) and he let God’s business be God’s business. Oh, and he loved his momma and daddy. So I do those things and leave the rest up to who’s really in charge.

I realize there are those who find faith and belief in God to be a ready characteristic for ridicule, condescension, and judgement. To them I say welcome to the world of the asshole proselytizer that you claim to hate. The message is different. The behavior is exactly the same. And trust me, it sounds the same and is just as effective when you do it.

I am still noodling an slip of an idea that I have that suggests that hypersensitivity and shallow judgement are directly proportional to manufactured diversity, but I don’t have it all flushed out yet. What I am pretty confident in is that if we continue to scream diversity and conversation while beating alternative thoughts until lips are swollen shut, we lose connection.

The truth is, was a time in my life I wouldn’t have had that conversation or written this post due to fear of offending. This is not the only topic that sparks that type of reaction and most people I know have those things they are not comfortable talking about for that very reason. Consider the wealth of ideas and progress we have effectively burned down because our pearl clutch barometer is set to “everydamnthing.”

So this is me opening up a discussion about religion, ideology, belief structure. I used to talk politics all the time. Maybe sex will be next.

 

Picture from http://davidshrigley.com

Avoiding The Crack Up

[…] the test of a first-rate intelligence is
the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind
at the same time,
and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald,
The Crack-Up

This, one of my all time favorite quotes, read like the first time for me today and became new again. I love it when they do that.

When I first came across this Fitzgerald gem, it resonated quickly as I was engaging in a civil disagreement over matters of social and political opinion. I really enjoy those types of conversations with people who know how to have them; people who can hear and consider the idea of another yet still hold their own thought and give both their just due.

A few days ago I had a really rough time finding my center, my groove, my chill – whatever it is you call it when you are overall really fine, there is no major or even minor, crisis, but something about your day is just a tinky bit off kilter (I’d love to hear what you call that).

After some really involved, and frankly overly dramatic, self “what if” statements, I determined I was feeling over stimulated. And bored. And resentful. And thankful. And neglected. And cared for. And lonely. And loved. My hitch was that I had found myself unable to retain the ability to function while evaluating the truth hidden in the myriad of opposing feelings. I was unable to give myself permission to have conflicting feelings at all.

I do not believe all feelings are truth. I do believe all feelings are indicative of a truth. There’s a difference. I had gotten so caught up in defending the need to feel centered and “normal”, that I had became unable to process the alternative idea that there was a bit of internal information processing that really needed to happen. The harder I was on myself, the more I berated myself for being ridiculous or too much, the worse the situation became. The opposing idea was not just going to go away. It was there. It needed to be heard, understood, and moved through.

Today I want to encourage you appreciate your ability to consider opposing ideas – may they be yours or someone else’s. The act of doing so does not make us weak, wishy washy, soft, manipulable, too much, uncommitted, or any other manner of discreditable thing you may say to yourself. Being able to function while doing so creates space for relationship, connection, and growth – may that be yours or someone else’s.

Thinking Deeper

Dig a little deeper.
Think of something we have never thought of before.

~A. A. Milne (1882 – 1956)

It is no secret I am a huge fan of social media. I have engaged online since the very early offerings. It has been a lot of fun connecting with old friends, making new ones, learning about different places, and finding new ways to photograph food. I enjoy almost everything about it – almost.

With this ability for virtually anyone to say anything to anyone anywhere, there has also been a few setbacks in our growth as people. I blame the meme. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of them. But this trend toward the bumper sticker, shallow idea has begun to thwart our vision of our best selves and hindered real connection with others.

Those two things – vision of best self and connection to others – are, in my opinion, where nearly all the magic happens. It is where challenges are overcome, goals are realized, new adventures take shape. It is, essentially, where life happens. When we give in to less than in exchange for the easy, when we allow the fluff to take the place of substance, we zap all the amazing out of what it could have been. Kinda like window food. Sure, some of it is great, fast, and easy. But it can’t begin to compete with the smell that comes out of a kitchen when someone is wearing an apron and the anticipation of what is coming next.

Today I want to encourage you to think a little deeper. Pick any topic you want. Current events, social issues, a work project, a recipe, anything. Take a minute and consider all the things you think are a given about that idea – no white after labor day, salting the water before the potatoes, why democrats are considered liberal – you get the idea. Think about those things and consider them in a new light. What if we turned them around just a bit, maybe attempted to imagine our background was different, our worldview was altered, anything to adjust the thought and dig a little deeper. We may still think the the original thought, but the practice of thinking actual thoughts and having actual conversations will encourage our best self and greater connections. Promise.

Thanks for the coffee,

~A

Mitt Romney

On January 3rd, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney filed his paperwork to form his presidential campaign exploratory committee. This was not a surprise to many. It has long been speculated that Romney would attempt to win the ’08 Republican nomination. I must admit, I do not know much about the man, but I am attempting to learn about all the hopefuls in order to make an informed decision on who I can really get behind. I am very afraid of the major players on the Democratic side and find it unrealistic that a third party candidate can win. So, I began the investigation of Mitt Romney. So far I like what I see. But, I am not inspired yet to discuss his stand on the issues, but rather how people will view his reasons for his stands.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

This single fact has blanketed all others in every Mitt Romney discussion. I could hardly discern what his actual view was for all the discussion concerning his religion. And the question was asked, “Does a person’s religion affect the way they govern?”

Powerful question. Not a real easy answer. Personally, I think it depends on a number of factors. What religion are we talking about? What are the core beliefs of the religion and how rigid does the person hold to these beliefs? Then, like many things, I applied the question to myself. How do my views reflect my belief system?

I believe that right and wrong are not relative. There are certain things that are right for all people and wrong for all people, regardless of what you think, believe or feel. There are certain absolutes. There are certain ideas of behavior that can and should be legislated. Some of these ideas may coincide with religious ideas, but that fact alone does not negate the applicability in common society. Off on the rabbit trail I continued.

I think of the beliefs that I hold that are stereotypically tied to religious argument – abortion, stem cell research, alcohol sales on Sunday, marriage, child discipline, prayer in schools, and the like. As an aside, I didn’t say how I felt about these topics. Do you think you could peg how I feel about them all based on what you know about me?

At any rate, I think on these subjects and I have begun a quest for myself and a challenge to you all. On the issues, can you defend your position without the use of religious arguments and subjective moral platitudes? Should you be expected to? Should presidential hopefuls be expected to? Would you vote for someone of a different religious background than you? Where do you fall out where the issues are concerned? How is that going to affect the way you vote? Does any of this even matter to you?