Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Depth of a Youtuber
June 23, 2017

As some of you who read my posts regularly know, I have a channel on Youtube that is titled “theartbook35”. This is an old internet handle that I’ve used since I was 13, which means I’ve been using this handle for 17 years. If you really need to know, I borrowed a book from a library back then that was titled “The Art Book”, and I just liked the sound of it. When we got CompuServe (the shitty AOL alternative and a testament to my age), I made “theartbook” my username. A short time later, I added the number 35, purely because that’s my favorite number. It’s my go-to username on every site I join (at least when I want people to know it’s me), because it’s never unavailable about 99% of the time. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with my channel’s content, which is primarily Minecraft survival series (modded and vanilla), building and the occasional retro game.

Since March of 2015 I’ve been uploading regularly to my channel. I get a lot of enjoyment out of making videos, because I can make whatever I want and know that the handful of people who watch my videos, actually like what I do. Of course my aim is to have more than 250 subscribers, and I’d like for my channel to become a source of income for me. But I’m also old in spirit, so I’m not banking on ad revenue being my only source of money. That’s why I have a somewhat standard job at a retail store. Working in retail is not always glamorous, but my work environment is a huge step up in comparison to Walmart and Target, as well as other retail chains, and the only thing less glamorous than retail is being unemployed. I’m happy where I am, devoted to the work I do and I have no plans to ever become unemployed again, even if my Youtube channel gains millions of subscribers in the future.

One thing I can say about myself is that even though I have fun with life, because of my old-fashioned brain, I take things seriously. Even my videos can be serious business. I swear up a storm sometimes in my commentary, say silly things and temporarily return to my childhood, but I have standards at the same time. If my commentary is shit quality, or the video footage is shit quality, it will not go on my channel. And believe me, I know when something is bad quality, especially if I know it’s something I wouldn’t watch. I’m gentle about how I advertise my videos within my videos. I keep my intros short and to the point. I tell people at the end of each video that if they enjoyed the content, they have the option to leave a like or a comment or possibly subscribe. I have an end screen and that’s it. I’m not going to beg people to stay, because if they’re going to stay, then they have the sense to make that choice, and I’m not desperate to be popular. Do I want to be popular? Technically, yes. I somewhat define popularity as a lot of people liking me. There’s nothing wrong with me wanting to be liked by a bunch of people. Who doesn’t want people to like them? But my entire idea of being popular is more along the lines of people enjoying my videos, and responding to my commentary so we can create interesting discussions in the comment section. Why should the enjoyment of a video stop when the video itself stops? I’m not trying to make my channel educational (even though I have worked as a teacher for many years), I just don’t have the heart to throw videos at people and pretend to care about my subscribers. I need to speak to people, which I see many content creators on Youtube fail to do.

When it comes to Youtubers who conduct themselves in a way that I disagree with, I am not going to name names, no matter how badly I want to. I have a very different idea of expressing my opinion than how people younger than me like to express themselves nowadays. It’s very hard for me to not call out someone directly and hold them to task or make them responsible for their actions/behavior. I don’t get offended by the little shit, especially when it’s not even shit, and only the big shit can make me speak up. But I have observed a trend on Youtube for a long time, where gamers beg for subscribers and to “smash that like button”, and they don’t give a flying fuck about the people who watch their videos. Those subscribers they’ve accumulated don’t even register on their humanity scales. I may not have millions of subscribers, but the 250 that I have I definitely earned, and if I earn millions, I sure as hell won’t objectify them the way these kids like to. And don’t you dare even think of telling me I’m doing one of those holier than thou things, or being snooty, because I’m not better than other people. I just had the unfortunate experience of being objectified for most of my life, and that experience has taught me to never do that to someone else.

There are a select few Youtubers who I feel like have some real depth to who they are. My all time favorite channel is “ochikeron”, whose videos are about Japanese home-cooked meals, traditional Japanese recipes and the artistry of cooking. Another favorite of mine is “Grant Thompson”, who refers to himself as the King of Random because his channel’s content doesn’t fit into a particular mold. Science experiments, projects, decorations, tools, it just goes on and on and on. And it’s funny because unlike ochikeron, who makes videos about recipes that I actually use in my day to day life, Grant Thompson’s projects and experiments are things that I would never try. I love science like you wouldn’t believe, and I enjoy watching him try these things, but they serve absolutely no purpose to my every day life. I think my fascination with his channel is that beyond the videos, he’s a husband with four children and has responsibilities outside of Youtube.

One of the best experiences I have ever had with my channel, is being able to tell my subscribers that I have important things going on in my life outside of Youtube, and those things will impact my ability to record and/or edit my videos. And I make it a point to remind people that I care about my channel, but I also care about my family, friends and my retail job a lot more. My subscribers respect this, and it’s probably because I’m honest with them. The best thing I learned from working as a salesperson, is that if you make people feel like they are obligated to buy what you are selling, you are lying to their faces and that is hurtful. I understand, and my subscribers understand that Youtube is not everything; it is not the end all and be all and it never will be. Youtube will not last forever, no matter how popular it may be right now. Just like how Facebook replaced Myspace, Twitch can replace Youtube. And it honestly scares the hell out of me how many young people devote themselves to their “Youtube careers”, quit their jobs and in some cases sell their souls for internet fame. The class, dignity and professionalism are thrown out the window, because they are so desperate for those likes and subscribers. I call bullshit on anyone in their early to mid 20’s who dares to say that they dreamed of being a Youtuber when they were younger. You’re on average only five years younger than me, and when you were a kid, Youtube wasn’t even a thing. I can’t say what you should be dreaming about, because your life is not mine to live, but I can say it shouldn’t be Youtube.

If anything, view Youtube has a stepping stone to greater possibilities. It’s a good way to build connections to other content creators, who often times know people that will be able to give you a recommendation or even get your feet in the door. For people who dream big, like visual art, publishing their books, acting, music, and other forms of entertainment, Youtube is a good avenue for these projects. This is where the depth of a Youtuber comes in. When Youtube eventually disappears, what will you go on to do? Migrate to another website and keep producing videos where you sell your soul, or will you pursue something that you actually love doing?

One Youtuber I want to discuss is Markiplier. He’s been a popular topic of discussion for a long time, for a lot of reasons. Most of the time it’s because people question how real he is, which is hilarious to me, given that people en mass don’t seem to question the legitimacy of the fakest Youtubers on the map. Is it really so hard to believe that someone on Youtube can be real and honest with his audience? The thing is, Mark is followed by millions of very young people, and he speaks to them and doesn’t subscribe to the bullshit that his fellow content creators subscribe to. And these young people couldn’t be bothered to listen to his suggestions of how to treat others; they’d rather tear fellow fans apart and harass each other just to prove they are the best fans ever. In the beginning, Mark drew in a good sized crowd of people who engaged in what he said, respected him as a person and appreciated the respect he gave them. This is basically what I have done with my channel thus-far. Not inspired by Mark of course because it comes naturally for me to act this way. But I do wonder from time to time, if my channel were to reach the level that Mark’s has reached, if I’d end up with a fanbase who is predominantly mean and nasty like his.

The one good thing I can say is that outside of Youtube, Markiplier has the power to walk away and go on to other things. His recent comedy/improv tour proved that. While I do think the tour was poorly organized, sloppy in places, and certainly not something that some of the people involved were ready for, I also appreciate his willingness to aim for something he’s passionate about. Mark was not required to give a fuck about his future. He was fully capable of sitting at home making gameplay videos and sucking off his fandom, but he chose a different avenue. He exercised this basic human quality called DEPTH. Again, while I don’t think the tour is the best thing ever created, I do think it’s a great example of who he is as a person and what creative endeavors he cares about. I hope other people can respect that, and have the insight to see his pathway choices as a form of wisdom and/or inspiration.

I can say for myself that if I ever get to a point where my Youtube channel serves no purpose in my life, I will be able to walk away and feel good about it. At the end of the day I am not a Youtuber, but instead an artist, writer and an educator. I have a future ahead of me. I hope that if you are a young content creator who is banking on Youtube being your career path, that you take what I have written here to heart and find something within yourself far more magical than begging people to smash like buttons and subscribe to your videos.

Thinking of Getting a Turtle? Read this first :)
May 31, 2017

I began my journey into reptile-land back in late 2008. It all began when my mother’s boyfriend at the time suggested getting a couple of aquatic turtles from a flea-market. I told him very firmly that I liked the idea of having turtles, but I wanted to do some research about a proper setup, diet, and other things that turtles may need since they obviously are nothing like cats and dogs. He told me he understood. And a week later he came home with two tiny aquatic turtles.

They were so tiny they fit in the center of my palm. My mom liked how active the smaller of the two was, so she started calling her Hurricane. I wanted their names to match somewhat, so I named the other Typhoon. We’ve had them ever since.

After a few years of experience in turtle care, we heard from a friend that someone she knew had a turtle he wanted to “get rid of”. He’d had this turtle for a few years and was sick of taking care of her. We asked them to bring her to our apartment so we could see what condition she was in. Aside from a bad case of conjunctivitis, she was in really good shape. We said yes almost immediately. We got her in a proper setup over the next few days, treated her eyes with medicated eye drops, and after a couples of weeks she was fine. We named her Sadie.

Hurricane is a standard red eared slider. Her shell is about 7 inches long now. She doesn’t like being held, pet, or any contact with us unless it involves being fed in the early morning. If we pick her up, she starts scratching and snapping and even hisses. Hurricane cannot be handled like a typical pet at all. When I have to move her to and from her tank, I have to be quick to avoid being bitten or scratched.

Typhoon is special. She is half red eared slider, and half common map turtle. She shell is 8 inches long. Map turtles are VERY different from sliders. Maps are spunky, assertive and very sensitive to their environments and how they are treated. I think of them as the most “emotional” of all aquatic species. Typhoon is pretty chill with just about anyone, adult or child. I’ve introduced her to kids, and plan to keep training her so that she can actually work with kids in an educational setting in the future. I can pick her up and hold her, rock her side to side, give her chin rubs and she’s totally cool with it.

Typhoon and Hurricane share a 55 gallon tank. A while back, Hurricane used to be very aggressive toward Typhoon, and seriously injured her chin. I knew well before that incident that aquatic turtles DO NOT like to live in groups. By some miracle these two since then have managed to sort out their differences. I do not condone putting aquatic turtles together, even hybrids, because the likelihood of aggression is too high to risk it. Aquatic turtles can seriously hurt each other, and captives have been known to kill each other. I assure you, I am moving into my own apartment later on this year, and these two will be separated.

Our theory is that the guy who had Sadie before us, took her from the wild. We live in CT, and taking a red eared slider from the wild is actually okay, because they are invasive here, and do a huge amount of damage to native wildlife and foliage. However, I also caution you who reads this – don’t take a red eared slider from the CT wilderness if you aren’t prepared to care for it. Sadie likes my mom and sits in her lap, but is very aggressive toward everyone else. Part of this is due to her size and age. Her shell is almost 11 inches long, and she is approximately 20 years old. In 2012, Sadie became gravid, which means she was carrying unfertilized eggs. All of my attempts at nesting boxes, attempts at getting her to lay those eggs outside, failed. We brought her to the vet to be induced. She bit the vet when he tried to give her the shot. My mom held Sadie by the rear-end of her shell, I put a popsicle stick in her mouth, and the vet quickly stuck the needle in her before she could get away. She laid one egg. We brought her back the next day for a second shot. The vet techs told us not to come in with them, despite us insisting that we should. 15 minutes later, one vet tech emerged with Sadie wrapped in a towel and she was as pale as a ghost. And Sadie is looking at us like nothing had happened. That vet tech practically shoved Sadie at us, and told us about what a nightmare it was to give ONE SHOT to our turtle. We were told that if she didn’t lay any eggs after this, not to bring her back and just let her do it in her aquarium. That’s what Sadie ended up doing. She laid the 11 remaining eggs underneath her basking dock. After that experience, we CANNOT put our hands in Sadie’s tank, because she will attack us. That tank is her nest, her territory, and she will defend it ferociously. In the morning when we feed her, she launches herself out of the water and bites the first thing she can get her mouth around. I am not exaggerating, turtles can launch themselves out of water similar to what alligators and crocodiles do. On a side note, every since the day we got Sadie, she’s been extremely close with our Egyptian mau mix, Spike. We let Sadie walk around the apartment and Spike follows her everywhere. Spike is the only living thing that Sadie has never acted aggressive toward.

Not all turtles are like this. Most people end up with sliders like Hurricane, that are very active, and don’t like to be handled. There are a few rare ones like Typhoon that genuinely enjoy contact with people. None of the people I know who have turtles have ever been shocked at Sadie’s aggression.

I genuinely enjoy caring for turtles, because they are fascinating animals. People tend to think reptiles in general are lazy, unintelligent and slow-moving. Watch my turtles dash across my living room floor, take apart their filters and plot their escape routes from their aquariums, and you’ll stop thinking they are dumb and lazy. Aquatics have full color vision, they can see a good distance and they even have personal likes and dislikes of various colors. Typhoon is attracted to yellow and acts aggressive toward anything pink. Hurricane like red and green, and doesn’t care either way about any other colors. Sadie likes dull, neutral colors, and tends to act aggressive toward anything vibrant. There’s no pattern to this, because I’ve heard stories about turtles that were obsessed, genuinely obsessed with colors like blue and orange. After all my years with turtles, I attribute this to personal taste, and I see nothing that indicates it’s an evolutionary advantage to have color preferences.

In short, I’ve learned so much about them that I could write a book about aquatic turtle care. I won’t spend my time doing it, but I could do it if I wanted to. I won’t go as far as to recommend turtles, or say they are “good” pets. I will say that they work for some people, and don’t work for others. Do your research about the species you want, take the time to spend a few extra dollars on a good, appropriate setup and don’t forget to ask questions. A good place to start is http://www.redearslider.com, which is where I started. They gave me a good boost into turtle care, and then I took off on my own. My advice however, is that if you feel for even a second that you don’t want to take the time to spend the money on the right aquarium setup, and take the time to learn about aquatic turtles, then you should not get one.

Hypnotic Eyes
May 9, 2017

Chris and I didn’t get along perfectly. It would have been nice if things turned out differently, but one thing I’ve learned in my 30 years of life, is that the world throws a lot of things at us that we cannot change after they happen. All we can do is accept our mistakes, decide to do better, and then move on.

In 2010, I attended an event at Silver Sands Beach called “Hands Across the Sand.” I was introduced to Chris there. Right off the bat, he made me nervous. Everything he asked me about myself was normal – what art I liked, what my education was, what I did for a living… all the usual things you ask people when you first meet them. All of his body language, his tone of voice, it was all as normal as normal could be. But you see, he had this intense gaze that was like a knife just jabbing right into my chest and refusing to budge. And I have this problem where I can’t hold eye contact with people because it’s too uncomfortable and at times painful for me. No matter how much I wanted to, I could not look away from Chris and I was frozen in place. This scared the hell out of me, but at the same time, I was fine with it.

Suddenly my mother needed help with something, so I had to end our conversation. I did not speak to Chris again for the rest of that event. I look back on that now and wonder to myself, what if I had spoken to him again? Would we have become acquaintances, or even friends? Would the dynamic between him and I, have been totally different, or was it doomed to fail all along?

Fast forward to 2012, when my mom and I opened our own thrift store. While we were cleaning around the store’s front entrance, this guy came strolling up to us with a mild limp. He had a big smile and bright eyes, but more importantly, he was confident. He inquired about our store, and I admit we both immediately noticed his thick, deep voice. I didn’t care to ask why, because I had known this guy for all of 30 seconds and it wasn’t my business. Not to mention one of my uncles had the same kind of voice, and every time I saw him when I was a kid, he was in a bed or in a wheelchair. Eventually, my mom asked this guy why he had his voice and his limp, and he explained he had recently been diagnosed with ALS, or what some people refer to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”. Sooner or later while the three of us were talking, he looked over at me and our eyes locked. A nervous feeling swept over me and I asked him, “Haven’t I met you before?” He had no recollection of who I was, and I didn’t immediately remember ever meeting him in the past. Our conversation pretty much ended there with him introducing himself as Chris, telling us his apartment was right above our store, and that if we needed anything we could ask him. Like I said before, confident.

I never told him this but right then and there he left me with not only a feeling of nervousness but also feeling happy to have met him.

So I ask myself again, if I had become friends with Chris back in 2010, how devastated would I have been in 2012 when he was diagnosed? There’s a part of me that believes for my own sake, it was better for me not to have had any sort of bond with him before then. But another part of wishes I had had that bond, because then maybe I could have understood better and been more comforting toward him than I was.

I think about two moments in particular that are so memorable for me, for many reasons. The first is when Chris needed help reattaching the door to his medicine cabinet. Of course I’m dexterously challenged in my own way, but I was glad to help. When I walked into his apartment with him, one of his cats was there staring at me. He warned me that she didn’t like people but I called her over to me, and she let me pet her. Chris gave me a big speech about how strange this was because this cat only liked him, and as soon as he finished talking, she turned around and swatted me. He smiled for a moment and I think he might have been jealous. That’s okay, because we cat lovers are like that. In any case, Chris showed me to the bathroom, and after swearing up a storm in there for a good 15 minutes, I was able to get the door reattached. I remember Chris wanting to assist, but knowing that he wasn’t able to, even though he was standing there and would seem “able-bodied” to anyone who didn’t know him. That’s the crushing reality of ALS – it takes your body but leaves your mind intact. After that ordeal, we went outside and chatted for a while. What was interesting was he asked almost the exact same questions he had the first time we had met, and I probably gave him the exact same answers. I recall him smiling at me when I talked about my art and my education, and even though in that moment I still didn’t remember meeting him the first time, I think he may have remembered me. Now, I mentioned before that making eye contact is difficult for me. But having any kind of physical contact with people, even shaking hands, is difficult for me too. Chris thanked me for helping him and reached out to give me a hug. I didn’t feel like going into my speech about why I don’t hug people, so I let the hug happen. That was the first time in my life that I had hugged someone, and it felt normal. Here’s a man who had a terminal illness, and yet he had the power to hug me and make me feel normal. I challenge you to find another soul who can do the same thing.

My mom has a condition called multiple sclerosis, so she had an extra walking cane lying around, and asked me to bring it to Chris because he had mentioned having more difficulty with walking. Chris was in a frantic, agitated mood. He had been working on a huge drawing, but when it came to the finer details, he didn’t have the fine motor function to draw them. After trying to find his glue-gun to no avail so we could rig together a tool for him to use to make things easier, we got on the subject of the drawing itself. The drawing was morbid, but my perception of death is not the same as the average population, so my reaction to it was positive. Chris just smiled and put up with me. We had known each other for a couple of months up to this point, so I think he was getting a sense of the sort of person I am. He then mentioned that he had to get ready for a doctor appointment, and mentioned he was nervous. I asked why, and he said it was because he had to have blood drawn. I told him I understood because of my issue with my arms, and how I don’t like it when people touch my arms because I’m afraid I’ll lose them. He told me that one thing about having ALS that frightened him was losing the use of his arms. I had a similar conversation with my mom after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I told Chris something like what I told her, but speaking to him and what he was going through: “I want you to know that no matter what people say to you, that there are many people who have lived with ALS for a long time and have lived real lives. This does not define you. No matter what happens, you will always be Chris.” He cried and so did I.

I don’t want to talk about the negative things. Maybe far off in the future I will write about why Chris and I didn’t always get along and why we had to stop being friends. But right now, I just cannot do that. His friends and family are grieving, I am grieving. Yes, I stopped talking to him over 3 years ago, and still, I grieve. I grieve because despite all that happened, I think of his art and how alive it is. He was more than talented, he had a way of drawing and painting that could suck us in and never let us go. Just like his eyes, he could hypnotize us with his art. He had a profound effect on me during the time I was friends with him, and I will always cherish that. Not because of anything he did for me, but because of what made him who he was. One important lesson I have learned from life, is that the body can die, but what a person does for you will remain forever.

Windows 10 Updates Broke my Operating System
March 18, 2016

I am writing this as a serious warning to anyone who upgrades from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10. DO NOT DO IT.

Here’s the story: I saw that the upgrade was available and free, so I figured, hey, why not? I wasn’t totally happy with how 8.1 was running on my computer, so I thought this would be an improvement. When Windows 10 decided to install without giving me an option to back out of it, I knew there was no going back. That’s really what I thought, that there was NO GOING BACK. Microsoft will not straight-up tell you that Windows 10 has a “Go Back” feature within 30-something days of your upgrade. So I continued on with Windows 10. It ran pretty smoothly. I updated a lot of my drivers for sound and processor and was quite happy.

Then things got slow, really slow. I got to a point several weeks ago, where uploading my videos to Youtube would slow down my internet so significantly that I had to upload while I was sleeping, so both myself and my mother could use the internet during the day. My computer was also taking a long time to start up. I mean, I had a lot of stuff on my hard drive, and certain programs like Skype, AIM and a few others that would load on start-up, but they are small programs. They loaded up just fine when I was using 8.1, and honestly, 8.1 started up real quick before the upgrade. Before the upgrade, my computer was well beyond the minimum upgrade requirements.

I also have a very powerful antivirus – Panda Antivirus Pro 2015/2016. And when I say it is powerful, I mean it is POWERFUL. So don’t even suggest that malware was on my computer, because it wasn’t. That’s how much faith I have in my antivirus.

Last week, Windows 10 updates were downloaded. There is a way on Windows 10 to disable updates, but I have no idea how to do it, and I won’t say no to security updates. I like my computer to be secure. But I did enjoy having the option not to receive them, you know, because of the freedom to choose. This past Sunday morning, they were scheduled to install. So, they installed.

I go onto my computer, to discover that I cannot open ANY of my web browsers. Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer. NONE OF THEM. Most of my files won’t open either. My start menu won’t open. Basically, my computer was a useless fold-up rectangle.

The only thing that would open, strangely enough, was GIMP 2, a photo manipulation program I use. It would take a good five minutes to open (versus the 30-45 seconds it normally took).

I did what most people would do in a situation like this: A system restore. Well, it got to a certain point and it just sat there with a black screen for an hour. AN HOUR. Seeing as that wasn’t working, I shut my computer off an turned it back on. Before everyone freaks out on me and tells me you should never do that, what other option did I have?

So, I tried to get back into my computer but got an error message saying Windows couldn’t start up correctly. So I called Microsoft support (greatest oxymoron in existence). I was told that my operating system was corrupted because I did not complete the system restore, and had to do a clean installation. They actually wanted to blame the whole problem on me, even though I had explained that this started after the updates installed, and I had done a system restore to try and fix it. I got sick of arguing with this guy, so I hung up, and called back. I got a woman who could not formulate a sentence. And I don’t mean someone who speaks English as a second language, I mean someone who talks like this: “So tell me, after Windows updates and after system restore, what happen what you, did what to change.” You try and decode that. I have a language impairment, but I can formulate a sentence better than that.

So in my frustration, and after repeated attempts to get this woman to speak clearly, I started shouting for a supervisor. Her immediate response was that all supervisors were with other customers. I call bullshit on that one, because nobody can figure that out in 10 seconds or less! I hung up.

I tried two more system restores. The first one failed. So I undid the very first system restore, and that got me back into my screwed up desktop. I called Microsoft support again, and got a really nice person this time, who helped me to get to system restore through a “backdoor” method. Sadly, it didn’t work. So I reset my PC.

Finally, I had a desktop and I could go on the internet and also back up my files. During this process, all I kept thinking about was the hours upon hours of video footage I had made for my Youtube channel, and how I didn’t want to lose any of it. My videos are a part of my daily routine, and are also language therapy. This is important to me, because it helps me with my speech and it helps me with my self confidence. I was on the verge of tears at the idea of losing all of that work.

However, I could not reinstall my antivirus. Panda support wanted to charge me a fee to install it for me, and I said no to that. Something was still wrong with my computer, and I had decided that I would not leave Microsoft alone until it was fixed. People had the audacity to suggest I just buy a new computer. NO. This is NOT my fault, and Microsoft will be held accountable. PERIOD.

So I called back, and got a guy who tried to reinstall Windows 10. During the installation, he stopped it, and would not respond to the support chat. He basically abandoned me. I called back the next day and made a complaint about that. I also asked that the re-installation of Windows 10 be continued. This technician would not do it, and kept trying to get me to buy Windows 10 and do a clean installation. That will WIPE OUT all of my files, and I had no way to properly back them up. So I started shouting for a supervisor. And I wouldn’t let up until he transferred me to the supervisor.

There is a part of me that thinks that Microsoft intentionally corrupted my operating system to try to get me to buy it. Mainly because, during this process, the first thing out of these technicians’ mouths have been about buying an antivirus or Windows 10, rather than trying to fix the problem.

So when I got my hands on that supervisor, I kept explaining that I wanted to reinstall windows 10 and keep my files. He kept arguing that that wasn’t possible. And finally, I let loose, and told him that Microsoft will reinstall Windows 10 for free, and if they don’t, I will not only contact the Better Business Bureau, but also demand reimbursement for my laptop which I still could not use properly, and even file a lawsuit if necessary. Is that a bit much? Yeah. Do I care? Obviously not. He transferred me to a technician who listened to me retell the story, then transferred me again to a very sweet woman who thankfully knew what she was doing.

And by sweet, I mean sweet. Like, when we were going through the re-installation process, she would say to me, “This will take a while so you can go get a coffee or a snack and relax while you wait”.

Sadly, the re-installation didn’t work. So we agreed to try again tomorrow (It was 1:30 am at this point). The next day, I was called by support and they scheduled a level 2 technician for me to try the re-installation. Windows 10 still wouldn’t reinstall correctly. We decided the last, and best option, would be to go back to Windows 8.1, and you can imagine how happy I was to hear that. They are also doing it for free.

So yes, they are taking steps to fix the issue. And to get them to do that, it took 5 and a half days, screaming matches and me going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning. I have a pretty nasty head cold right now, maybe because of the stress related to this, and lack of sleep it not a good thing for me while I am sick. I had to take time off of work, and could not go to my classes at my university because of being sick.

We live in an age where computers are necessary. Sure, the fun side of the internet and Youtube are not necessary, but to be able to write papers for my classes, submit papers and quizzes online for my classes and communicate with my professors, it is VERY NECESSARY.

I will never upgrade to Windows 10 again. And if, someday, I may need to replace my laptop, and Windows 8.1 is no longer available, I will not buy a computer with Windows 10. Even if all of these bugs and serious problems are fixed. Instead, I will get an Apple computer, something which I never thought I would say within my lifetime.

Note: If the installation of Windows 8.1 is successful, I will let you know. If any other issues occur, I will keep you posted.

Youtube – I Went There
April 6, 2015

For the last five years or so, I have been interested in the gaming community on Youtube. My interest increased with Halo Reach’s “Forge” world, where people could create all kinds of mini-games and unique structures. I enjoyed people’s creativity, especially the videos on TheHaloForgeEpidemic, which showcased some very intelligent and never-before-seen builds. You can probably imagine what I was like when I got ahold of Minecraft!

So I came across Minecraft for the first time when I discovered the Starship Enterprise creative build. It is to scale, it has all of the decks. It is, without a doubt, incredible. I don’t even need to provide a link, you can go right on Youtube and search “minecraft enterprise”, and you’ll see it. It might be one of the most well-known community builds to date.

I had to get Minecraft after I saw that build. I didn’t have any desire to build the Enterprise, despite being the Star Trek fan that I am. I just wanted to build… something.

I got into other channels, like Jamziboy, who does some brilliant Nordic and gothic style houses. I experimented with his building tutorials for quite a while, until I found my own style, and posted it on Youtube.

Having very little idea of what makes a channel popular, or just likable, I posted a 39 minute tutorial about how I built these ancient Egyptian style houses. Some people liked my ideas, others complained about the length of the video. It was not a good recording, it was laggy and almost too in-depth. So, for a short while, I was turned off to do more videos, and went on hiatus.

I later started a second channel, for strictly Minecraft creative builds. I went through a lot of work to promote it, I noted other channels for inspiration, and asked for feedback. The reception was very negative. Some folks even wanted to start a fan war between myself and Jamziboy, and since he has no idea who I am (as far as I know), their logic behind that was bizarre. I stopped uploading however, when my screen recorder became obsolete.

Recently, during Spring break, I decided to return to my first channel, www.youtube.com/users/theartbook35. I got a new screen recorder, D3DGear, and began recording a Minecraft survival let’s play. After three episodes, it was officially titled “Let’s Play with Clay” (LPWC). It is set in a mesa biome. We don’t just do vanilla Minecraft, there are some creative mode aspects, cheat codes for doing funny or strange things, and my love of ‘punting’ mobs. To top it off, I have this odd catch phrase, “happy universe”. My best friend watches this series regularly and I am keeping it going for her, and anyone else who wants to watch it.

I felt like I channel was missing people. My best friend cannot to a multiplayer series with me, due us using different platforms. After many failed attempts to collaborate with other Youtubers, I decided to start playing on the Mineplex public server. Mineplex is a giant pool of people from all ages, and they are quite interesting. So far my favorite mini-games are Survival Games, Draw My Thing, and most of all, Super Paintball. I tell people I am recording also, which usually gets me painted by the opposition in Super Paintball. It certainly makes for a hilarious recording! (It also limits bad sportsmanship and foul language).

But I have a huge plan for the channel, since lately I have been experimenting with command blocks. I want to recreate the Invasion mini-game from Halo Reach, but add in some Minecraft components to set it apart from Halo. I won’t give anymore details than that 😉

My channel is getting a lot of views, but lacks feedback. My channel will thrive on comments, likes, and subscriptions, and I think we can build quite the community if we work hard at it. I invite to come be a part of the action. Let’s make it happen!

www.youtube.com/users/theartbook35

The Delightful Horror of Aquatic Turtle Care
September 29, 2014

Six years ago, two aquatic turtle hatchlings were given to myself and my mother as a birthday present. A couple of weeks prior to being given this gift, I had warned the person who was considering giving them to us, to let me do research on how to take care of aquatic turtles. This person agreed, then promptly went back on that agreement and bought them anyway.

Needless to say, while I thought my new red eared sliders were adorable, I was horrified and stressed out about how much care they needed. They require almost as much care as tropical fish, and if you know anything about tropical fish, you should be automatically turned off to aquatic turtles. No matter how much research, time and money I spent on my turtles I never felt like I was doing a good enough job. I still don’t have the ideal aquariums I’d like to have, though my turtles are healthy and comfortable.

Red eared sliders, and all other types of sliders, do not stay small. Females in particular grow larger than males, but males still max out at a shell length of 9 inches. Relative to other aquatic turtle species, sliders are among the biggest. Females can reach a shell length of 12 inches, and at that size they cannot have a tank smaller than 100 gallons. It should be understood that all animals get bigger as they grow up, but reptiles in general get very big and are not compact like a cat. Honestly, cats seem to be the only pets I’ve ever encountered that do not require an enormous amount of roaming space. Even dogs require more space than cats. Do yourself a favor and get a cat…

Anyway, red eared sliders grow between 4 to 6 inches in their first year. After that, they annually grow about one inch. Tank upgrades are inevitable, due to their growth rate, but putting a hatchling (smaller than 4 inches) in a 75+ gallon tank is out of the question, since that much open space is stressful for them (Stress kills reptiles). The general rule is 10 gallons per inch of turtle. In other words, a turtle that is six inches long, should have a 60 gallon tank. Over time, you should be able to calculate your turtle’s unique growth rate. For example, one of my turtles grows based on how much food she is given each day, and another one of my turtles sheds at the beginning of every season, but doesn’t always get bigger when she sheds. My third turtle, who is the oldest, grows during the midsummer. Turtles do not grow to fit the size of their tank. They outgrow their tanks quite often. After a turtle reaches four inches, it can be in any size tank larger than 50 gallons. So, if your turtle is a calm one and confident, plus 4 inches long, it can be in a 75 to 90 gallon tank.

Turtles eat daily, and need a diet as complex as humans. They are omnivorous and in the wild will eat aquatic plants, insects, frogs and small fish. In captivity, they can be fed these things. You can also feed Wardley or Reptomin pellets, as a vitamin staple. I feed mine a variety of earth worms, blueberries and strawberries, romaine lettuce, carrots (the peels, not chunks), occasional bananas and rarely cooked chicken. Portions should NEVER be larger than the turtle’s head. Turtles don’t feel hungry or have growling stomachs like humans, so they never feel satiated. They literally eat every time food is offered to them. Turtles will vomit up their food if they’ve eaten more than they can handle. In uncommon circumstances, a turtle’s stomach can tear or burst from eating too much food. (How to turtles survive in the wild if they don’t stop eating? Food in the wild is scarce in comparison to captivity).

Turtles are aggressive as they get older. Many people think males are more aggressive than females, but my oldest turtle, Sadie, defies that rule, and my other two are beginning to defy it also. Turtles are solitary by nature and do not want to live with other turtles, or other aquatic animals. They will attack and/or eat just about any living thing that crosses their path. I’ve encountered people who have put musk turtles with their red eared sliders, and their sliders tried to eat the musk turtles. Male sliders kill and eat baby sliders. Yes, two of my turtles share a tank, yes they have shown aggression toward each other, yes they will be separated soon.

Females, like chickens, lay unfertilized eggs. And they lay quite a few of them, too. A few years ago, Sadie became gravid for likely the first time in her life. I tried getting her to lay her eggs outside, and she would dig holes and abandon them. I made her multiple nesting boxes, which she always escaped from. Finally, we took her to the vet to be induced. The first shot was an interesting process… My mom held her back end, I let her chomp down on a popsicle stick and the vet quickly gave her the shot in her shoulder. At some point during this she also bit the vet. We brought her home, and she laid one egg. So, the next day, we brought her back to be induced again. We didn’t go in the room with her, but after about 10 minutes, the vet tech returned with Sadie and a look on her face of complete horror. Over the course of the next week, Sadie laid 11 more eggs behind her basking dock. Since this experience we cannot put our hands in her tank, otherwise she will bite us and she doesn’t like to let go. Sadie also launches herself out of the water like a crocodile whenever she sees that we are about to feed her.

So that being said… there’s no such thing as holding your turtle. Sadie will stay in my mom’s lap, but if I pick her up, her hisses and scratches me. Hurricane, the smallest of the pair we received as gifts, will kick and scratch and is impossible to hold. Typhoon, the second of the pair, is tolerant of being held for a little while, but will eventually start kicking, scratching and snapping, too.

So this is the delightful horror of taking car of turtles. While I am fascinated by them, and their habits and personalities, I am also exhausted by them, and I do not recommend them as pets. I actually don’t recommend any animals as pets, but especially not turtles. Unless you want to put yourself through this, and that’s on you.

You Don’t Have My Permission.
September 20, 2014

I think this is something many black folk can relate to and agree with: I’m tired of white people who think they need my permission to say or do “black things”. As Whoopi Goldberg once proudly said, if you have to ask permission to say something, then you know it’s something you’re not supposed to be saying.

The most common permission seeking issue seems to be white people wanting to refer to their black friends as “nigga”. I don’t like it when anyone says any variant of ‘nigger’, but especially not some white guy who probably thinks that makes him “street” (whatever ‘street’ is supposed to be). I am not, never have been and never will be your nigga, period. Gain some class and call your friends for what they are: your friends.

But the worst in my eyes, seems to be women who think that being with a black man, and/or raising a black child means that they have automatic permission to “act black”, and act as those they have been through as many struggles as we have. A prime example is a woman I had an argument with today on the city bus. As we were in line to get on the bus, a black woman in front of me got on, and this white woman standing next to me got mad because the black woman got on before her. So as I start walking to get on the bus, the white woman sticks her hand in the face, says “Don’t even” and cuts in front of me. So my response was as follows: “Uh, excuse me, what the hell are you yelling at me for? All I’m doing is standing here, and you wanna get up in my face?” So her boyfriend tried to tell me to be quiet because his girlfriend’s been having a bad day, and I told him I didn’t care what kind of day she having. So she said to me, “Don’t start with me cause your not the right shade.”

There’s a massive hypocrisy in that statement that is so obvious, I don’t need to point out to you. But what I do need to point out is that I don’t give a shit what shade you think I am, having a black boyfriend does not give you permission to run your mouth, get up in my face, and not expect me to get back in your’s. You wanna be in an interracial relationship, have at it, but have some fucking dignity, or shut the fuck up.

So no, you do not have my permission to behave like a trashy white person who is pretending to be black because they think it makes them appear street.

Father’s Day Reflection
June 16, 2014

My dad is not the worst of the terrible dads in the world, but he hurt me enough times to push me to cut off all contact with him, and refuse him entry back into my life. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have cut ties with many people, and only once have I given it a second thought. What I do not understand, is fathers who have done things which are vile and abusive, yet their sons or daughters, even in adulthood, “make amends”. How can you just let someone back into your life after they have harmed you so much?

There is no such thing as unintentionally hurting someone, even if it is a small offense. When you cast aside the well-being of another person, that is a choice you consciously make. Whether what you said or did was misinterpreted, or was done with the best intentions, it doesn’t matter, because you still hurt that person. You ought to be held accountable for that. Afterward, if the person you hurt wants nothing to do with you, or wants to make amends with you, that is up to them. They have the right to protect themselves from being hurt by you again, or give you a second chance. Simply put, your overall well being trumps anyone’s “right” to be in your life.

Why am I bothering to explain this? Well, some things are worth moving on from and worth talking about and amending. People are not perfect, and we sometimes make the wrong choices.

Then there are people, specifically fathers, who choose to hit, rape, or bully their children. In my case, I was bullied, and sometimes hit. Several people on my dad’s side of family had the audacity to tell me that I should talk to him anyways because he’s my father. The fact that he is biologically related to me, in their eyes means I have no right to protect myself from him. The only thing worse than an abuser, are people who do not advocate for the abused.

I made a disturbing discovery today, that my dad has photos of me from my childhood on his facebook page, and he talks about me as if nothing terrible ever happened between us. I did not have to look at his page, and I knew I’d most likely dislike what I’d come to find. At the same time, I’m glad I did. I am not his daughter, and he is not my father based on principle. He is pretending that we have a relationship. Over the years he has made several attempts to contact me, which I promptly ignore. This borders on behavior similar to that of erotomaniacs, as well as people suffering from psychosis.

The sad thing about this isn’t so much him, it’s the fact that I almost turned into him. We live what we learn, and a year ago I got so close to someone that I made him very uncomfortable. His unwillingness to voice his discomfort didn’t help matters. In general, there were many factors in why we had a falling out, and it was not a one-sided issue. Even though our friendship started off slow, it did not stay that way, and the negativity became unbearable. So unbearable, that without asking him if he wanted to discuss anything or move on, I told him I couldn’t be his friend, and I said goodbye. I second guessed that a couple of times, once by still supporting his art which he didn’t need from me, and several months later asking if he wanted to make amends, to which he never responded. I’ve since come to terms with the fact that he does not need me around him, and I don’t want to be around him. My father can’t do that. He still thinks he “needs” me to be his daughter, and that I need him to be my daddy. We shouldn’t push people to fix something that they don’t want to fix, or just can’t be repaired. This is not how the real world works.

Congratulations, you helped create a bully.
May 14, 2014

At some point in all of our lives, we have encountered a bully. Whether we were directly targeted, or saw someone else being targeted, it happened to us at least once. Think about how you’ve reacted to bullying in the past. Did you pretend like it was a game or humorous, did you get upset, or did you choose not to react at all? If you answered yes to at least one of those questions, then answer this one: Did your reaction to bullying make it stop, either temporarily or permanently?

I was expecting you to say no to that. You can’t stop bullying once it starts. Once someone has it in their mind that they hate you, that’s how it will be. Bullies feel justified in their judgments and hatred toward others because we have taught them how to do it. We give our children simple orders such as “behave yourself” with no indication of how or why. We tell our children to just ignore it. We tell our kids to suck it up, because it’s just how things are. We tell our children to shut up, compare them to other kids and hit them when they don’t do what we want them to. And above all, we tell our children to express themselves and their feelings without making it clear which feelings and expressions can hurt other people. We have created bullies.

I’m sure you are a great parent. Your kids have clothes, food, a shelter, apartment or home, and an education. I’m sure in your heart of hearts you feel like you are doing the right thing. But you don’t know everything there is to know about being a parent. No one does. The phrase “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids” won’t cut it anymore, because you always have room to learn new things. The diffusion of responsibility by saying “All parents make mistakes” is unfair to you because you are the parent, and your child does not know better than you. You don’t have room for mistakes, and you need to own up to your own behavior before you expect your child to own up to their’s. Making a stubborn mistake because you didn’t want to listen to the warning signs is exactly why your kid grew up to be mad at you. And please don’t tell me that “what was good for you is good for them”, because most of your parents’ fuck-ups are why you are socially awkward or anxious, think you are too fat, too bald or badly dressed, repeatedly compare yourself to other people your age, hate that you are getting old, regret nearly 90% of your actions or choices up to this point, and work ten hour days and come home feeling dead. It’s time to stop the legacy here.

In your head, the definition of “behave yourself” is likely long, empathetic and deeply involved in societal norms. How many six year old kids do you know of that actually think about their place in society and how they relate to other people? Children don’t develop common sense and a stronger sense of empathy until approximately age ten, but some will understand things earlier or later than that, and that’s okay. Kids don’t know the full meaning behind “behave yourself”, so when you say it to them, they either have their own definition or they are confused. A child might not ask you to clarify, rely on what they know or don’t know, and end up getting in trouble because they don’t know better. Or, they will ask you to clarify, and they get slapped in the face with “You know what I mean!” Aside from the fact that if your child knew what you meant they wouldn’t have to ask, they grow angry because you won’t be honest with them. Kids have a bad habit of turning inward, and they assume the worst: Maybe my mom/dad won’t tell me because I’m too young or too stupid to understand. You have successfully trained your child to think low of themselves. Now they can take that feeling of shame, and apply it to other kids. You’ll have to explain why, and how, your child can behave the right way several times before they understand it.

I have often felt that telling children to ignore bullying is a parent’s way of creating a simple solution, to a very big problem, so they don’t have to deal with it again. Telling a child to suck it up is even worse. While the intentions are good, making the point that a kid is picked on because they are different or an individual/unique, is blasphemous. Your child told you they were being bullied because they need your help. Saying they should ignore it means you are ignoring it too. Saying they should suck it up is like saying they, as human beings, don’t have the right to feel hurt when someone hurts them. But the most evil kind of justification of bullying, is by giving a logically sound reason for it. Your child is their own person, sure, but now they know that being themselves means they have a target on their back. Kids don’t understand things the same way as adults, so whatever you say to them has terrible implications.

There is nothing wrong with telling your child that they shouldn’t be bullied. Yes, you are accepting it’s a problem, and responsibility for helping to fix it. Yes, you are stressed out with your job, bills, groceries, housework, education for them and you, but you signed up to be a parent, and the only person who needs to suck up anything is you, the parent. There’s a reason why you have family, advice blogs/articles (like this one), child/parent advocacy groups and school administration. There are masses of people around the block lining up to help you raise your kids, and most of it is free, or required assistance by your state. There is nothing weak about asking for help. If anything you’re a hero because you’re a responsible parent. Bottom line, you can feed, shelter and clothe your kids for 18 years, and they can still grow up to be an asshole if they haven’t been taught how to treat other people.

I have had far too many arguments on the city bus with moms who yell at or hit their babies out of impatience or frustration. An example is a woman talking on her cell phone, who’s 1 year old son was babbling as babies do. She didn’t want to give up her unnecessary and vulgar phone conversation to talk to her son, so she kept telling him to shut up. If he turned and looked out the window, or moved in anyway for that matter, she would strike his leg with her hand. Lets just say my argument with her became very loud when I told her that she couldn’t do that to her son. When we don’t speak up, we let parents bully their children, which in turn trains their children to become bullies. Confronting a bully puts them on the spot, and shows them that what they are doing will not be tolerated. If you want to make someone feel bad for something they did, it should be bullying. If ten people witness bullying, and all ten people think “someone else will tell that bully to stop it”, then nothing happens. And don’t tell me it’s hard to speak up, because there is nothing difficult about caring about the state of another human being. You don’t have to model your actions off of other people; you think with your own brain and you stand up for people.

The biggest mistake we make, is comparing our kids to other kids. And we start when they are babies. If another parent’s baby starts walking before our’s, we start thinking “time to ask the doctor why my kid isn’t walking yet.” Did you know on average, girls start walking before boys? Did you know that even that is only an approximation, because no two kids develop the same way. Kids are their own people, physically and mentally. Yes, there are things to be concerned about regarding your child’s development. But, if your kid is talking (this includes ALL vocal sounds), making eye contact with you, listening to what you say, desiring appropriate affection, curious about their environment, trying to use tools, and assemble/disassemble toys (properly), then they’re doing all right. This comparison behavior is also present in television shows, like characters who want to be exactly like another character. Or on a magazine cover, with a photoshopped celebrity talking about weight loss. And my personal favorite is the 40+ year old women, who make it their personal mission to guilt me because I’m a healthy body weight. I understand that you are unhappy with your appearance, and I understand why, but attacking me won’t make you thinner, or make you feel better about yourself.

Emotions and self-expression are just as bad as they are good. Yoda may be a muppet but he was right, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Everyone becomes afraid of something, but when we don’t understand how someone else feels, that lack of empathy creates an unknown. The unknown is a scary place because we have nothing to work with when we’re there. That inability to understand the unknown becomes frustrating and then angry. That anger keeps building, so intensely that it leads to resentment and eventual hate for what we don’t understand. We take that hate, and we lash out with it to protect ourselves from the unknown, but all we really do is cause the suffering of another person. Another person who didn’t deserve it.

Unfortunately, an addict may stop taking drugs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still an addict. Addicts relapse quite often. Bullies are exactly the same. You can teach a bully how not to bully, but they’ve learned how to judge, how to express hate, and they’ll probably relapse. Even if they don’t say their judgments aloud, they will think them, or give people a “look” that that shows that hate. If they hate a certain race, they’ll avoid that race. In essence, retraining a bully doesn’t make a good person, it just makes a quieter bully.

What we can do, is stop bullying before it starts. How do we do it? We show empathy to our children, by treating them with the utmost respect and humanity, and expecting that same respect and humanity in return. If someone falls, you help them get up. If someone is crying, you offer to listen to why. You tell your children that you love them for who they are. You talk to your children about their day, their likes and dislikes, and you show a general interest in the things they do. You care about the human condition of your children, so they will enter the world and care about the human condition of other people. This isn’t just your job, this is everyone’s job. It takes a village to raise a child. We can’t stop the bullies that already exist, not completely anyway, but we can stop making new bullies, and bullying will eventually become extinct.

The Constitution Does Not Protect Hate Speech
April 26, 2014

Today on the New Haven green, a group of men and one woman were standing on the corner of Chapel St. and Temple St., preaching into a headset microphone and passing out fliers. Anyone who was standing at the bus stop was forced to listen to them because they were so loud. We could not shut them out unless we went to the other side of the green. They were basically taking advantage of our necessity to take the city bus, to force their religion on us. Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion. Under no circumstances can you force me to hear, practice, preach or worship any part of a religion.

This morning I arrived at the green, at about 11:45. One of the men was trying to get my attention with asking if “God” is in my life and I shook my head no. He responded with “That’s very sad that you don’t have God in your life”. So I fired back, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

I carried on with my day. Upon calling my mother to see if we could meet up downtown, she told me that these people were still on the green, and had approached her in a threatening manner. In addition to the fact that upsetting my mother makes me upset, there are at least 30 people standing on that corner at any given time. None of these individuals did anything when this incident occurred.

When I got to the green, this group had moved to the fountain. The man who was preaching this time, started saying things like “Interracial marriage shouldn’t be allowed”, and “Gay people are disgusting”. So they evolved from prostituting their religion to hate speech. I called the police. Here is the conversation I had with dispatch:

Me: (I described where I was and what I had heard)
Dispatch: M’am we’ll send an officer out there but if they have a permit they are allowed to exercise free speech.
Me: Sir, I understand what you are saying but I don’t agree. The Constitution doesn’t protect hate speech. This behavior is just so hurtful.
Dispatch: Okay, we’ll send someone out as soon as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with what the officer said. He was very polite during my conversation with him. But I think hate speech often gets miss-categorized as free speech. Please see the following article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_the_United_States#Exclusions
Hate speech falls under the categories of “fighting words”, and obscenities. Fighting words are emotionally abusive, and can evoke rage in the victim which may make that person act aggressively. Some fighting words are more obvious than others, but I promise you it took everything in my being not to walk up to that man and start screaming in his face.

I’m sure you are familiar with the Ku Klux Klan to an extent, so I’d rather touch on a hate group that you may not have heard about. “Westboro Baptist Church” are notorious for arriving at funerals where the deceased identified as LGBT, and protesting homosexuality with signs saying “God hates fags”. They even attempted to picket the funerals of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Aside from the fact that they are tormenting the loved ones of the deceased, they are exercising hate speech, and many people have repeatedly called for them to be named as a hate group. (I am not entirely sure if that has in fact happened yet).

This may be a moot point, but I feel like religious speech can, in certain situations, be considered hate speech, or at least fighting words/obscene. My thinking behind this is that if a Christian goes up to a Muslim and says “you need God in your life”, that’s obscene. Obscenity is usually defined as a sexual act which is considered offensive or disgusting by moral and societal standards. Obscenity is also derogatory terms, like fag, nigger, etc. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote the following:

“The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Read that again, but this time replace “work” with “word”. Suddenly it applies to that statement, “you need God in your life”. Even when taken out of context, this statement is aggressive, and clearly implies that the receiver does not worship God altogether, or does not worship God based on the user’s standards of proper worship. This statement lacks value in regard to science, politics, art and literature because it’s intent is to cause harm to the receiver, or at the very least, make them feel bad because of their choice of religion and/or atheism.

Now, some people would say that no words should be censored, and we should be able to say whatever we want when we want. This makes some sense to me, because people who read too much into things and become offended by things which are not offensive, are really annoying. This includes people who read blogs with warnings about swear words, and complain about the swear words. But, without limitations on what we say, we end up with limitations on our protection as individuals and as a nation. Threatening to harm civilians and government officials, including the President, would be legal without exclusions. Westboro Baptist Church would be able to picket a six year old’s funeral with a sign that says “God hates fags”. An employer could go up to his or her employee and ask for a blowjob, and it would not be considered obscene/sexual harassment. Never-mind the reality that a society without limits on speech would lead to an extreme lack of a moral compass, and chaotic behavior.

I want to leave you with a question: Should a person or group with the appropriate permit be allowed to solicit at a bus stop? Why or why not?