Category Archives: Advice and other tips

Sex Myths Debunked!

5 Biggest Myths about Sex After 50

No, vaginas don’t have teeth… that myth still holds true… I hope (BA50)

Aaron Granger of Cracked.com did such a wonderful job of debunking some “insane” sex myths that I dare not try to “one up” him. Take a read and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this as much as I did… and you might learn something, too!

6 Insane Sex Myths That Are Actually True | Cracked.com.

Nice work, Aaron!

When Black Friday Comes

Yes it is (Get Funny)

Yes it is (Get Funny)

Yesterday, people all over the nation celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with family, friends, football, food and—most important of all—fellowship. They expressed gratitude for their many blessings, broke bread together and commemorated the meal shared between pilgrims and “Indians” centuries ago—if you buy into the elementary school version of the holiday’s origins, that is. And I certainly do.

Yes, there was love among men and even the most bitter of rivals put their differences aside to give thanks for all they had. Believe me, I know since we had both Steelers and Ravens fans coexisting at my own Thanksgiving table—a phenomenon rarely seen among die-hard NFL fans.

Unfortunately, all the love and grace of Thanksgiving ended and we now find ourselves in the midst of something dark and infused with evil and despair: Black Friday.

And I, for one, do not plan on leaving the house unless it is absolutely necessary and otherwise unavoidable.

The only lines longer than this were at the unemployment office (AP)

The only lines longer than this were at the unemployment office (AP)

In simplest terms, “Black Friday” is the name given to the Friday after Thanksgiving, arguably the biggest shopping day of the year. It signals the official start of the Christmas shopping season and retailers cash in by offering all sorts of sales and so-called doorbusters to entice consumers to spend obscene amounts of money on crap they can probably get any time of the year. Nevertheless, people turn out in droves and—if you’ve ever experienced a Black Friday sale or waited in a line for hours for a store to open—they aren’t always the nicest or most considerate people in the world.

Sometimes they can get downright vicious, as evidenced by some of the latest Black Friday news from around our great nation. Take a look at how some people are getting into the “Christmas spirit” this year.

ILLINOIS: Two suspects outside a Kohl’s department store were chased by police after allegedly shoplifting some clothing. During the ensuing struggle, an officer was dragged by a car driven by one of the suspects, who was subsequently shot in the shoulder by the other officer. Both the suspect and cop have been hospitalized and, thankfully, their injuries were not life-threatening.

Great selection, low prices and plenty of asskicking to boot! (Walmart/Wikipedia)

Great selection, low prices and plenty of asskicking to boot! (Walmart/Wikipedia)

NEW JERSEY: Police were called to Walmart after a shopper got into a heated argument with a store manager over a television set. When the cops arrived, the man became more belligerent and even attacked one of the officers. Needless to say, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and for aggravated assault against a police officer. Merry Christmas, dumbass.

CALIFORNIA: Apparently, Walmart is a dangerous place to be on Black Friday because violence erupted at their Rialto location, too. At least two people were arrested after a brawl took place outside the store. It seems that people kept cutting in line, which angered other shoppers and led to the brouhaha. An officer broke his wrist during the struggle, which unfortunately didn’t end there. Several additional fights occurred within the store later. I guess that’s the price you pay for offering so many bargains, huh?

VIRGINIA: Go figure, but two men outside a Walmart store got into an argument over a parking space and, once again, the encounter ended violently. In an effort to secure a better spot, 61-year-old Ronnie Sharp pulled a gun on his nemesis, 35-year-old Christopher Jackson. When this didn’t work, Sharp brandished a knife and sliced Jackson’s arm “to the bone,” according to an eyewitness. Both men were arrested, but are now free on $5000 bond. So please watch your ass if you plan on visiting the Tazewell County Walmart anytime soon… especially if you see Ronnie Sharp!

Beware the Grinch: Ronnie Sharp (WVVA)

Beware the Grinch: Ronnie Sharp (WVVA)

NEVADA: A Las Vegas shopper was walking through his apartment complex—his arms filled with the big screen television he just purchased—when an unknown (and armed) suspect fired several warning shots at him. The man dropped the television and fled, but returned to find the thief loading it into a vehicle. He approached the suspect and tried to get the television back. Instead, all he got was a bullet in the leg. Fortunately he wasn’t seriously injured, but his television is long gone.

These are just a few of the Black Friday “incidents” being reported today, but others continue to pour in from the most unlikely places: Jordan Creek, Iowa; Johnson City, Tennessee; Beaumont, Texas; Elkin, NC; Garfield, New Jersey. You name it. And there will undoubtedly be more since Black Friday often drifts through the weekend.

Hurray.

If you do venture out today, though—choosing to risk violent confrontations in exchange for bargain basement prices—I suggest taking at least one of two things: a working knowledge of hand-to-hand, close-quarters combat techniques or—if nothing else—pepper spray.

Odds are you’re going to need them!

Man in the Can

An unforgettable scene from “Trainspotting” (property of Channel Four Films)

Go anywhere that different generations of people regularly interact—like the campus of the small, private college where I work—and you will inevitably hear the same grumbling from one of the older folks: “I don’t know what’s wrong with the youth today, but we never…”

I’m sure you can fill in the rest.

Although I still consider myself to be a young man, the sad fact is that at nearly 42 years of age, I am no spring chicken (to use an expression from my neck of the woods… damn it, the clichés just keep on coming). In my mind, I’m still that young, idealistic go-getter with his whole life in front of him. Reality, on the other hand, is quite different. And all the warning signs are there: a habitually sore back and aching bones; a goatee speckled with white hairs and covering a double chin; an inability to stay up past 11:00 at night or to sleep past 10:00 the next morning, even during a vacation or holiday; a staunch refusal to turn the speaker to 10 (or 11 for all you Spinal Tap fans) and a preference for quieter tunes; and all sorts of other interesting changes.

If you’re a little older, then I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. And if you know what I mean, then we probably share another fundamental belief: AGING SUCKS.

Sure, there are those who would have you believe “The Golden Years” are wonderful, but even they know deep down in their brittle, calcium-deprived bones that it blows to get old. It’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts says in one of my favorite films, The Princess Bride: “Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

But I digress.

Accepting the fact that I’m older isn’t a huge problem for me yet—it’s possible I could only be at the mid-point right now—but I also find myself wondering (and worrying) about young people. Since I work so closely with them and tend to be more of a realist, I don’t find it tough to relate because we’ve all been there. Nothing shocks or offends or surprises me any more. And though I am always straight with them and try to steer them in the right direction—even if it means leaving college to follow their dreams or achieve their goals elsewhere—the reality is that some will succeed and others will not.

Where I come from, we have a name for this phenomenon. It’s called life. And yes, the place I come from is Earth, just like you. I hope.

Without much effort, I could ramble on about all the differences between “my” generation and the youth of today: What’s up with texting pictures of your junk to total strangers? Or going thousands of dollars into debt only to sleep all day and fail all your classes? Or loading up your Facebook page with pictures of you flipping the bird or dropping your pants? You think you’re going to land that kick-ass job once your prospective employer sees photos of you at some party with a beer in one hand and a bong in the other? Think again!

Don’t get me started.

Instead of wasting time with all of that, I would prefer to focus on a specific set of skills that seem to be lacking in our young men today. It isn’t pretty—and can often be quite stinky—but I am of course referencing BATHROOM SKILLS. And for a guy like me, who prefers neatness but is willing to lower the bar a little for public restrooms, the situation is worse than you can imagine. Consider my own workplace, the aforementioned small, private college.

Relief can be hard to find (property of Channel Four Films)

At most—and I’m sure someone will tease me later for not remembering the exact number—we have around 400 students on campus, the majority of them male. And since my building holds many of our classes, a lot of these students pass through each day. It’s a busy, high-traffic area.

Our young women have nothing to fear because there is a restroom on each of the two floors to accommodate their needs. Unfortunately, men only have one and it’s right there as you walk through the front door. Everyone uses it, and here’s where things get nasty both figuratively and literally.

I apologize in advance if I start ranting and raving. And if I happen to offend, I am truly sorry.

Whenever I walk in to this particular bathroom—and believe me when I say that I visit it as infrequently as possible—it’s almost as if I teleported to the School for the Blind. I’ve never actually seen it happen, but I envision students entering the lavatory with their business hanging out of their flies, spraying wildly and then fleeing the scene of the crime. In those terms, I would have to be the forensic expert who arrives later and attempts to piece everything together. The veteran forensic expert, I mean, given all my unfortunate experience with this public health issue [attempting to sound serious given the topic is pee pee].

It’s gross, but sadly that’s only the beginning.

Earlier today—and given that I only had number one needs, if you catch my drift—I reluctantly walked into this nightmare lavatory and found another horrifying sight: a toilet backed up with the “bad stuff” and in danger of crossing the threshold. As much as I hate to say it, this kind of thing happens so often that I barely take notice any more. Only this time was different.

Lined neatly along the toilet seat were little strips of paper towels, all of them roughly the same size and overlapping perfectly to prevent any skin-to-seat contact. As usual, the bathroom was poorly stocked and this poor bastard had to go all MacGyver on it. You older folks… I mean, more mature readers… should catch that reference. But he did it with class, spent some time on the details and at least started his business the right way.

Based solely on the evidence—which I hope has not been tampered with since I would be the only suspect—only two scenarios seem likely at this point.

In the first scenario, the subject starts off strong, but soon things take a turn for the worse. He pushes so hard that he blows out his O-ring. The shock slams his head into the wall and in a semi-concussive, even dream-like state, he simply forgets to flush and wanders away.

One can only hope that he remembered to wipe first, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Actually, scratch that because I believe I did hold my breath for a short time there.

Scenario two adds a bit of normalcy because for the first few minutes—perhaps for most of the movement—everything is fine and runs smoothly. It’s even possible that successful wiping took place before disaster finally struck. With his ritual complete and his clothes in order, our subject attempts to flush five “gallons” down a two-gallon toilet and quickly realizes that “it ain’t happening.” Did that make me sound young?

He flees. I walk in. There’s poo-poo everywhere. You get the picture.

2011's winner was The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois

The Cream of the Crap: Chicago’s Field Museum restroom (courtesy of Business Insider)

I also feel impelled to mention the “put the seat up/put the seat down” thing despite the fact that only men use this particular restroom. We don’t like to admit it, but we have all used questionable facilities at one time or another. Sure, we seek cleaner, more private venues when they’re available. But on the rare occasion, a perfect storm converges at the most inopportune moment and despite our best efforts, there simply isn’t time to find a new toilet. You just have to make do, and that’s no easy task in most men’s rooms. All you can do is pray the guys before you lifted the seat before spraying—which often is not the case—or start cleaning.

Then you realize there aren’t any paper towels and the soap dispensers are dry. Confused, shocked and angry, you make the mistake of standing motionless for 15 seconds and the lights suddenly go out to conserve energy. Aaaahhhh!

I have some other examples that I could share—some of which are even more disturbing—but I think my message is clear. To eliminate all possible confusion, though, I now address the young men out there with deficiencies in the bathroom. And you know who you are.

I don’t care if you were poorly trained, have vision problems, suffer from vertigo or nervous urination—if there is such a thing—don’t pay enough attention or simply don’t care. When you use a public restroom, please try to be clean and considerate so the next guy will do the same (i.e. pee it forward). If you want to piss all over the place, sit in your own urine, flood your bathroom with sewage or even smear yourself down in unmentionable substances in your own home, please be my guest. Most of us will never use your facilities anyway. Just don’t impose your bad toilet habits on the rest of us. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Of course, we should all keep something else in mind: someday in each of our futures, we won’t be able to control any of these bodily functions. We may even hire people to clean up after us. Who knows? When that time comes, I say piss and shit all over the place if you like. You may not have a choice. But for now, while you’re here and we all have to live together, please do us all a “solid” and keep it neat in public.

After all, we don’t want the next health pandemic to come from our bathrooms, do we?

Stay Safe this Halloween

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat (Photo credit: therapycatguardian)

Later today, millions of children will put on their costumes and venture out into their neighborhoods to trick-or-treat for Halloween, the spookiest of all holidays. Ghouls and goblins of all shapes and sizes will walk the streets like candy-craving zombies, anxious to stockpile sweets that will inevitably lead to the real-life horror of stomach aches and cavities. None of that matters, though, because everyone knows how wonderful this experience can be.

They also know how dangerous Halloween can be. When I was a kid, the urban legend that caused the most fear involved razor blades being hidden in apples. Fortunately, my friends and I never ate the fruit we were given and always shunned the people who chose to substitute it for Snickers bars and Sweet Tarts. We would normally heave the fruit into people’s backyards for them to discover later, always hoping they would “take the hint” and spring for real sweets the following year. I now understand why they did it—fruit is much healthier and causes less tooth decay, in most cases—but Halloween is supposed to involve junk-eating. It’s an important part of the tradition, for goodness sake!

Of course, more serious Halloween horror stories about kids being abducted, attacked or even killed always seem to garner headlines. Safety is important and there are tons of useful tips to be found online. Here are a few of my own to add to the collection.

Safety in numbers

The most obvious tip is to travel in groups rather than individually because it makes you less of a target. Thankfully, most people I know trick-or-treat with their parents or friends because face it, going by yourself is just sad.

Beyond safety, trick-or-treating with a group provides a number of other benefits. For one, you and your friends can mix-and-match your costumes and hit the same houses multiple times. This can quadruple your candy intake and ensure Halloween lasts well into November. Groups can also perform more elaborate tricks, especially on those people handing out the apples and oranges. Someone needs to teach them a lesson, after all. And if another group of costumed hooligans step to you—perhaps to try to steal the candy you’ve worked so hard to collect—then your posse can back you up. I would never endorse violence or any kind of Halloween rumble, but it never hurts to be prepared.

The right costume

When you select a costume to wear, there are certain precautions you should take to further guarantee your safety. Huge, plastic masks are fine—even though they cause excessive face and head sweating—but only if they allow for clear vision, especially peripherally. You never know who or what will be hiding in those dark corners or behind bushes. And if you can’t see threats coming, you stand little to no chance of avoiding them. Wearing a mask that allows for a clear line of sight—or that can be quickly removed at the first sign of danger—is always your best bet.

You should also make sure your costume is flame-resistant (or at least flame-retardant) and by all means, leave the capes at home. If someone does try to mess with you and you flee, having a long cape drifting behind you will make you much easier to catch, and potentially choke. It may also get snagged on a fence or tree branch, which could result in you choking yourself!

Candy!

Candy! (Photo credit: jeffadair)

Candy Land

One of the most dangerous aspects of Halloween involves the candy, and not just because it will fatten you up or rot out your teeth. You never know when some lunatic will tamper with their treats or even try to poison revelers, so checking each individual piece you receive is always a good idea. Look for the obvious signs first, like damage to wrappers, small puncture marks (needle-sized marks especially) or evidence it has been opened and re-closed. Once everything is clear and you start eating, pay attention to the taste and immediately spit out anything with a weird or unusual flavor. You just never know whether it comes from a bad factory batch or some psycho who dipped each candy into drain cleaner or liquid laxative.

One more thing about candy: Have you ever gone trick-or-treating and come across a house where the residents are gone, but where a huge tub of candy was left outside for the children? Normally, there’s a sign that says something like “please take only two pieces” or “make sure you leave some for the other children.” My advice in these situations is simple: ignore the sign. Do you think people really expect children to exercise restraint? They may hope for it, but I guarantee they have a better chance of meeting an actual vampire than having kids follow the honor system in these instances. And remember this: if you don’t take it all, then someone else will. And we can’t have that, can we?

Props sometimes hurt

My final Halloween safety tip relates to costumes and can be very helpful in preventing danger. It is never a bad idea to carry a prop that could double as a weapon if the need arises. Of course, it should match your costume because honestly, a werewolf with a Samurai sword just wouldn’t fly. But if you decide to be Harry Potter, why not grab a stick, call it a wand and then poke anyone who tries to do you harm? Wizards like Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings” carry long wooden staffs, which can also do wonders in terms of self-defense. Whatever the case may be, a sturdy prop can add a lot to your costume, but it can also keep the demons at bay. Something to consider, I think.

So there you have it: some rather unconventional tips to keep your Halloween safe and enjoyable. There is a lot of darkness in this world and the freaks definitely come out, especially since this is the only holiday where it’s acceptable to hide your identity. Take the necessary precautions, however, and you need not worry… at least not until your next trip to the dentist!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Do Your Thing

As part of our extended orientation program for freshmen, the college brought in a speaker to talk to them about success in both higher education and life. It wasn’t until I entered the dark auditorium—a few minutes after the show started—that I realized the speaker was actually a comedian. A funny and sometimes vulgar comedian, but he was definitely the right person to connect with young students. Most of the ones I know seem to enjoy profanity and adult humor, perhaps a little too much.

The comedian, David-something, spent quite a bit of time doing material that didn’t seem to mention college success—or even college at all—and he drew some suspicion from our Dean of Students. Fortunately, he quickly moved past his “warm up” and jumped right into the tips and advice. David even made things interactive by asking questions of the young and sometimes unruly audience, but this was soon interrupted by an insulting student remark.

It was during a stint on “work” and David had just asked a young woman about her worst job ever. Before she could respond, some jackass chimed in with “she was a whore” or something to that effect. The auditorium immediately went silent—David included—and a swarm of student orientation leaders descended on the section of seats where the comment originated. Moments later, the offending student was escorted out by the dean and orientation leaders stationed themselves up and down the aisles. Finally, the show could resume.

David started things up again, but the mood in the place was much more restrained for a while. Students finally loosened up and I could tell David was hitting his stride. All of his “advice” was good—consider the future, get involved, go to class—and he punctuated it with hilarious personal experiences. My favorite involved his first-year advisor, who scared the crap out of him by yelling questions at him the first day they met in his office—“Whose education is this? Whose future is this? Whose life is this?”  Incidentally, the expected response to each question was “mine” or even “mine, damn it.”

The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in t...

His advisor sounded like quite a character. In fact, I believe his name was Dr. Yoder. David made a few jokes about him being Yoda, but the “Star Wars” reference went over most students’ heads, much to my chagrin (I love Star Wars). At any rate, Dr. Yoder must have made an impression on David, who used the same exchange of questions with our students several times, even at the end of his presentation.

Of course, David also told us what his advisor said moments later, once they both sat down to chat. He asked David about his dream career, his passion, and David told him it was to make people laugh. That’s when Dr. Yoder dropped three little words on him that changed his life: do your thing.

I know it sounds like some catch phrase or song lyric from the 1970s—“It’s your thang! Do what you wanna do!”—but this is great and powerful advice.

DO YOUR THING

David talked about the decisions he made that inevitably led to him standing on the stage before us. He used college to sharpen his skills, choosing to major in theater and English, and to get some experience, acting in plays and doing stand-up during open mike nights. He followed his dreams and now does something that he loves for a living.

To illustrate this last point, David shared a story about famed inventor Thomas Edison. In his later life, Edison was to be honored with a lifetime achievement award for his work. He attended the ceremony and when the appropriate time came, refused to accept the award. “I never did a day’s work in my life,” he said. “It was all fun.”

Personally, I thought this was some of the best advice college students—especially college freshmen—could receive: do your thing, follow your passion and work won’t even seem like work. It can be fun and also successful, even financially successful. A little earlier in his bit, David mentioned how Bill Gates’ one regret was never finishing college. And this is a guy who makes millions of dollars each minute!

I hope our students learned something valuable from David and take his advice to heart. I know he made me think about whether or not I truly followed my passion. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do, but am I really doing my thing? Better yet, are any of us?

It makes you wonder…

Bad man! Bad man!

Property of ABC News

Chicago Man Saves Daughter From Abduction Attempt – Yahoo! News.

Kelly Davis is a resident of Zion, Illinois and the father of two beautiful daughters. Occasionally, they visit Chicago at night to enjoy all the city has to offer. But things took a turn for the worst during their last trip to the Windy City.

As Davis’ daughters were playing on the slide outside the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza, a strange man named James Gates approached.

Davis noticed that Gates was paying no attention to him, but instead seemed focused on his two-year-old daughter, Myla. Davis immediately got between Gates and his brood, but that’s when Gates attacked.

He tried reaching around Davis to grab Myla and kept insisting she was his daughter, who he nicknamed Goldilocks. As Davis’ wife rushed the girls to safety, Davis took a shot to the nose moments before Gates strolled away. A bystander immediately contacted police.

Davis followed Gates for almost half an hour until police arrived and arrested him. He will be charged with kidnapping with the threat of force (a felony) and a misdemeanor battery.

I’m a fairly new parent, my son is only five years old, but this is one of my biggest fears. When he’s with me, I keep a very close eye on him, but I won’t always be there to help. And although we’ve talked about what to do when a stranger approaches, my boy is still very trusting of everyone he encounters. So I find myself in a constant state of worry.

I commend Mr. Davis for doing what needed to be done to protect his family. And given the same situation, I’m fairly certain that Gates would have received the ass kicking of a lifetime, too.

Parenting is tough and I wasn’t prepared for the constant fear it brings. My advice to all parents is to take the steps necessary to educate your kids about these types of threats. And please do what I do: commit yourself to protecting children regardless of whether or not they belong to you.

3 guaranteed stress relievers

Stress Relief

Stress Relief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress is a killer. Not only that, but it’s a killer that kills indiscriminately. We all face it at one time or another. Whether it results from work, family, traffic, hypertension or simply life in general, stress is something all humans share. And there is no escaping it.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to better manage stress. Some obvious choices might be breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, vitamins, physical activity or even hobbies. Sure, any of these could help, but I’m the last guy you’ll see doing the Farting Dog pose or popping St. John’s Wort pills like Tic-Tacs.

And while I’m no expert on stress relief, I am well-versed in the tension, depression and other side effects that accompany it. Over the years, I’ve developed my own, more realistic techniques for coping with stress. They aren’t scientific or flashy or complicated; they are simply time-tested, practical and blogger-approved… at least by this blogger!

The player driving towards the Grove Street cu...

Game time!

I know what you’re thinking. “Duh! We all know playing a game can get your mind off your problems!” This is true, of course, but I have something else in mind. Unfortunately, this might not appeal to all of you, especially the beautiful ladies in the crowd.

When I find myself at my breaking point, nothing relaxes me as much as cranking up my Playstation 3—I think I just identified myself as kind of a nerd—popping in a classic like “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”—or something equally destructive—and just going to town on the fictional world before me.

I carjack innocent “game people” who cross my path, destroy tanker trucks with rocket launchers and lead the cops on high-speed chases all over the fake city. Property damage in the millions is no concern for me as I terrorize everyone I encounter. Women, children, firemen, businesspeople… no one is safe.

I realize this may seem rather demented, psychotic or, at the very least, pathetic, but it really helps. The guy who screwed up my order at Taco Bell becomes a driver I drag from his Ford Escort and leave lying in the street. And the lady at the cable company who gives me the run-around transforms into some jaywalker I mow down with said Escort. It all evens out.

And I always feel better. You should give it a try sometime. And no, Sony isn’t paying me to say this.

Walk tall and carry a big stick

Deep inside each of us is a primal beast just waiting to be released. And during times of great stress, unleashing this beast could be pivotal in returning to stable mental health.

The next time you find yourself with the weight of the world on your shoulders, head to the nearest wooded area, grab a stick and start beating the shit out of a tree. Feel free to scream and curse if you’re far enough from other people. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing this in your neighborhood, unless you find scaring the crap out of your neighbors’ kids soothing.

And if you do find this soothing, I’m afraid stress might be the least of your worries.

Test_only.jpg

Wine is fine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pop the cork

Since stress relief is a health issue, I would feel terrible recommending alcohol as a way of combating the tensions of everyday life. As tempting as turning to a bottle of Jack Daniels or Ketel One might be, consumption of alcohol can eventually increase the amount of stress you experience.

On the other hand, wine has some beneficial health effects, which is a fancy way of saying it helps if you drink it. Granted, the recommended daily intake is something like one ounce of red wine, but it’s a start. If you don’t drink every day, then you could save up enough for a four-ounce glass later, or maybe a five ounce glass… whatever floats your boat. Sure, the health benefits might not be the same, but I guarantee one thing: your stress will just melt away.

So there you have it: three very easy ways to alleviate stress. “Easy” if you don’t have to buy a PS3, that is, but there are destructive games on all sorts of platforms you could substitute.  I hope at least one of these works for you and, by all means, feel free to share with your friends and loved ones. Stress is something we can only defeat by working together.

I’m willing to do my part.

Why Men Cheat

Before I tackle such a potentially incendiary issue, let me preface this article by saying that I am not a relationship expert, rarely—if ever—get involved in people’s personal lives and don’t even put much stock in Dr. Phil, who in my opinion gets paid big bucks to give common sense advice—fortunately, the general lack of common sense out there in the world makes the good doctor highly marketable. I cannot speak on behalf of all men—as if that would even interest me in the slightest—and everything I mention should be taken with a sizable grain of salt.

That being said, I should also mention that yes, I have cheated on a girlfriend before. And yes, I’ve had a girlfriend cheat on me. So I feel like I have at least some experience with the subject and thus, also have something to offer. Whether my points are truly valid or not, I leave to you to decide.

Anyone who has been in a committed relationship will tell you that it isn’t easy. Relationships are hard work and require persistence, compromise, tolerance, patience, humor and an endless array of other skills and traits. When times get tough, our natural inclination may be to flee, to let things fall apart or simply to move on. And men are no exception.

Whether we actively search for a new mate, randomly encounter people who might suit us better or fall ass-backwards into another woman’s bed, some men cannot resist temptation and do the unthinkable: they cheat on their current love. It’s as common as a cold in the wintertime. But what causes men to do such a horrible thing?

The answers might surprise you.

The Big T

Although it is no excuse—and even though I have mentioned this numerous times in previous posts—testosterone makes men do some crazy, unpredictable and downright stupid things. And if anything sexual is involved, this phenomenon only intensifies. As soon as the blood starts rushing from the head above our shoulders to the little bald fellow below, any function of critical thought, empathy and conscience disappears, albeit temporarily. Yes, we know what we’re doing, but we just can’t summon the energy to consider consequences, at least not until the blood flow returns to our starving minds. And by then, it’s likely too late. We return to normal just in time to feel something very familiar: regret.

Greener grass over there?

We all know that “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” but wouldn’t that also mean that it could be? It’s this question that sometimes impels men to cheat, often with a younger person who either doesn’t know better or doesn’t care. For men, any attention from a younger woman is cause for alarm because the odds simply aren’t with us.

We start to wonder if this might be our last chance to “hook up” with a sexy young thing, or if this new person might provide us with whatever might be missing in our current relationship. I can tell you from experience that neither of these seems to be the case. Unless you’re a complete asshole, you will likely draw some attention from a younger woman again. It could be later in life when you’re rich and the gold-diggers come out of the hills to take advantage of you, but it could definitely happen. As for filling the holes in your current relationship, it’s true that things could improve initially. But if you think you’ll ever find a relationship that doesn’t have its share of problems, you really are kidding yourself.

If I were giving advice, I would advise men to work hard on THIS RELATIONSHIP before pinning their hopes to some young flaky chick with little to no life experience. Thankfully, I’m not giving advice because honestly, this isn’t supposed to be a self-help blog.

Love those action flicks

I often hear women criticizing their men for being so interested in action movies and so annoyed by romantic comedies. Bear in mind this is simply an observation rather than some kind of comment on stereotypical gender roles. And I confess that I would rather watch an action movie, too. Nothing gets the adrenaline flowing like some edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckled adventure.

And sadly, this feeling may also lead men to cheat on their girlfriends.

When you’re in a “forbidden” relationship—and if you feel the slightest bit of guilt over what you’re doing—you go out of your way not to get caught. This might involve changing internet passwords, setting up hidden email accounts or even meeting a “secret lover” in another town. Even the nicest guys find ways to tap into their dark sides when they start to cover their tracks. It can be terrifying and nerve-wracking and extremely stressful, but you know what?

It can also be exciting and thrilling and entertaining. Sort of an action flick you can experience in real life. And that’s what makes it so bad.

Hungry, hungry egos

As men and women age, many of them—maybe all of them—worry about their fading beauty and deteriorating physical appearance. Unfortunately, couples who age together do this, but add another layer: they start comparing their partners to other people they see in the world. To make matters worse, many couples who have been together for a substantial period of time start to lose their attraction to one another. Again, it takes hard work to move past these kinds of feelings when they bubble to the surface.

When these things happen to men—when they either realize they are no longer attractive to their mates or that there could be someone out there who does find them attractive—they might be more compelled to cheat. After all, it’s nice to hear that a woman appreciates the size of your business, or likes the way you look when you get out of the shower, or just wants to sit and gaze upon you with a huge smile on her face. These things feed men’s egos, to be sure, but they also make them feel young. And for anyone out there who knows what a drag it is to get older, this can be a dangerous temptation. We can never go back again, but we can try to relive those days. It’s just sad when “reliving the good old days” equates to cheating, you know?

Why not?

As terrible as it is to say, perhaps the number one reason men cheat is simply because they can. Late nights at the office, out-of-town trips to conferences or even nights out with the guys can easily become secret liaisons with other women. What’s worse is that “getting away with it” isn’t all that difficult. Men have fewer private parts to wash, can cover up perfumes with layers of their own cologne and can pay cash at any motels they frequent. And unless their partners are suspicious and follow them—or pay someone else to follow them, which seems a little excessive for someone who’s only dating—men will likely never be caught. And eventually, the emotional distance growing between the couple will end the relationship anyway.

The picture I’ve painted of men is not a favorable one, so please remember these rules don’t apply to everyone. Granted, I will likely get some flak from men who think I’m either misrepresenting our gender or revealing too many of our “secrets,” but my intentions are good. I hope there are men out there who will curtail these types of behaviors—and stop giving us all such a bad name—but I also hope some women will find this enlightening. And with any luck, they will take the necessary steps to either save their relationships or to let these men go with fewer feelings of guilt, regret and heartbreak. Women aren’t perfect, either, but no one deserves to be miserable. Only through a deeper understanding of one another will men and women truly evolve into the people they each deserve to be with. And if I can play a part in this, all the better.

Be good to each other.

Reelin’ in the Blogs

In my early blog research, I ran across a number of tips about what kinds of posts to write. Several sources mentioned doing “round up” pieces that pull together related news stories or blog posts that represent some of your so-called “greatest hits.” Although I’ve only been blogging for a month, I have been a little overzealous and have published more than 125 articles of varying lengths. And by some miracle, I even managed to have one of my articles Freshly Pressed—I’m still trying to figure out how that happened. To be honest, getting some attention has made me even more paranoid about publishing posts people might actually want to read. While I try to determine my next step, however, I thought a quick round-up piece might be a good idea. So here are some of my favorite posts from my short life as a blogger.

10 things that suck about being a guy

When I wrote this post, I never thought it would garner so much attention, but it eventually made it to Freshly Pressed and continues to rack up views to this day. Reactions from readers have been largely positive, but some people accused me of perpetuating gender stereotypes even though, honestly, I find addressing serious issues through humor to be very liberating. A few guys even accused me of revealing too many male secrets. Apparently, they weren’t aware that most women likely know this stuff already, so hopefully they learned a little something in the process, too. I am glad that the attention this article brought me has resulted in lots of new followers and some great new friendships. And I truly feel like part of the blogosphere community now.

The Ups and Downs of Being Freshly Pressed

Obviously, this post was inspired by the whirlwind of my previous article reaching Freshly Pressed. Aside from the deluge of views—which hit roughly 8000 in three days (my previous high was 132)—I also got tons of comments and email notifications, all of which took me hours to respond to. And given that some strange and disturbing things were happening in my personal life at the time, the entire Pressed experience served as kind of a catharsis that I am still grateful for now.

Pet Peeves 101

To me, this seems like the most obvious of blog post topics. If you can’t think of something to write, why not post about the things that piss you off or drive you crazy? Odds are that someone out there in cyberspace is experiencing similar feelings and, as I later discovered, I was right. It’s also nice to get things off your chest so you can leave the aggravation behind and truly move on.

Dad before the symptoms began

Living through ALS

Of all the posts I’ve published, this one is the most personal to me because it addresses one of the darkest periods of my life: my father’s deterioration and eventual death from Lou Gehrig’s disease. This is another great example of how blogging can help heal deep, emotional wounds. The encouragement I have received from readers, friends and family has been wonderful and I feel like I’m starting to come to terms with my loss. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and to send me such positive and inspirational comments. I appreciate it more than you know.

Aliens: Time for the Truth

I love conspiracy theories and nothing interests me more than the alien/UFO phenomenon. This is my take on the whole “alleged” government cover-up and includes some of my own theories about it. I also discuss a trip to Sedona, Arizona where I crossed paths with a true UFO nut. Check it out and feel free to share your own alien conspiracy theories.

10 terrible ways to die

Like most people I know, I sometimes drift in the morbid, dark corners of my mind and start thinking about the one experience none of us can escape: death. When I finally “check out,” I hope that I’m lying in my bed at a very advanced age, fall asleep peacefully and never wake up again. Unfortunately, simple probability indicates my ultimate demise might not be as pleasant as I hope. As long as I don’t go in one of these ways, I think I’ll be fine with it.

9 things you should know about me

This is another great topic for the first-time, personal blogger. One of my primary goals for blogging—aside from simply starting to write on a regular basis again—is to connect with others. So it’s important that my readers find some way to relate to me or they likely won’t bother reading anything I post. Since humor is one of my favorite tools, I decided to poke some fun at myself while also using this article to relay some personal information to my fellow humans. And yes, I even included some embarrassing photos of myself, a few of which I kind of regret. I’m kidding!

In Defense of Mr. Johnson

I didn’t realize this until recently, but a number of my posts have focused on a certain dangling organ that men share: the penis. This wasn’t intentional but, since I have one myself, I didn’t feel it necessary to avoid the subject. This particular post comes from the perspective of the male penis and again employs quite a bit of humor. I’m considering a post about the vagina at some point but, to be perfectly honest, I still feel I have a lot to learn. And Lord knows I would hate to do anything that might alienate my female readers!

So there you have it: eight of my favorite posts. Since I’m considering tapering off my post frequency—perhaps limiting it to a few times each week rather than 4-8 posts per day—I’m hoping articles like these will be valuable to someone out there. Blogging isn’t easy, but I must say that I am having a lot of fun with it. And I hope my future posts appeal to more and more people because as I mentioned, connecting with others is one of my primary goals as a blogger. In the meantime, Gnostic Bent will go on because of people like you. Thanks for stopping by and please come back to visit again soon!

Tips for a great college application

Robert College Students in the Forum

College Students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I work at a small, private college in eastern North Carolina, where I direct a conditional-acceptance program for at-risk freshmen, many of whom are first-generation college students. One of my duties is to serve on a committee that reviews candidates for this selective program, so I see a lot of college applications. And after doing this for nearly ten years, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of college apps. A good application can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, but a bad application basically guarantees you won’t be accepted to your selected institution.

Here are some tips to ensure your application is the best it can possibly be.

Neatness and completeness count

The first impression you make on college officials reviewing your application is visual. And you can tell a lot about a candidate based solely on their penmanship and ability to follow instructions (i.e. completing the application properly). Students who print neatly, complete sections fully and avoid stray marks—like scratching out mistakes—have a much better chance of being taken seriously. And remember: you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Be honest and accurate

Another big “turn off” is when applications contain information that is embellished or completely inaccurate. Most students have trouble determining their final high school grade point averages (GPAs) and normally miss them by a few tenths of a point. And SAT scores are no better, even though the testing people always send detailed results to students. Minor miscalculations are fine, in most cases, but some students miss the mark so much—usually in an upward direction—that college officials immediately become suspicious. And since student files also include transcripts and SAT scores, discovering large discrepancies could be enough to secure a firm rejection.

Honesty also counts when you answer questions about your criminal background. On my campus, we perform background checks for every student who applies to the college. Students who check “no” with regard to previous criminal offenses are fine unless our check reveals something different. And in most cases, this ends the application review process and again warrants a rejection of admission.

Recommend me

Many colleges and universities—especially those with conditional-acceptance programs like mine—require applicants to submit one or more letters of recommendation along with their transcripts and other information. In every case, these letters should come from academic sources, like former teachers, mentors, principals or other school officials. Remember that college is, first and foremost, an academic institution. And admissions people are trying to determine whether you’re ready for college-level work and if you can contribute to their academic community. Personal references from friends, family members and even church pastors simply don’t illustrate this, so do your best to avoid them unless they accompany several academic references.

The personal essay and you

After a while, all college applications start to look the same. The good news is that you can set yourself apart from other candidates by writing a strong, well-organized personal essay. And there is some specific information you can include that will indicate to college officials just how serious you are about attending their institution. For one, you should do some preliminary research about your selected college and indicate the specific features that appeal to you. Things like class sizes, individualized attention from professors and degree programs always catch admissions people’s eye. You should also indicate exactly what you can gain from the institution, as well as what you have to offer the campus community. Selecting students to admit to college is like putting together a puzzle. Every single piece has to fit together perfectly in order to achieve success, and finding the right students to admit is a large part of it. Write a great essay and you could be the right student.

The College Interview

The College Interview (Photo credit: zeekslider)

Interviews

At many institutions—including the college where I work—personal interviews with candidate are becoming increasingly common. And given that students can come from any corner of the nation or even the world, most of these interviews are conducted via the web or the telephone. Preparing for an admissions interview can be difficult because in many ways, you have to express the same desires that normally come through in your essay: Why do you want to attend this particular college? What skills and experience do you bring to the table? What exactly do you have to offer that is different from every other applicant?

The good news is that before an interview can be conducted, it has to be scheduled. This means you will know exactly when to expect the call and can prepare accordingly. This is the time to conduct more research about the institution so when the time comes, it doesn’t seem as if you simply applied to any school that might accept you. Another pitfall to avoid is including your parents in the interview or worse, having them feed you answers while the interview is being conducted. Remember that this is your time to shine and that your interviewer isn’t necessarily interested in what your parents have to say, at least not in this forum. Their job is to get a better sense of who you are so they can make a more informed decision. Trust me on this and please, make sure that you and the interviewer are the only people in the conversation.

Meet your deadlines

The surest way to be denied admission to a college or university is to simply miss the posted admissions deadline. Regardless of your time management skills—whether they be very well-developed or sorely lacking—you should always keep track of when applications are due. Use a planner, a calendar, your cell phone… basically anything you can to keep these dates straight. Otherwise your application may be pushed back to the following semester or ignored completely.

Working closely with the admissions office for nearly ten years has taught me some things about college applications and, if you follow the advice mentioned here, I guarantee you will have a better chance of receiving that acceptance letter later. Good luck!

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