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Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time

Back tomorrow as we cruise toward 2014! (Lincoln County Library System)

Back tomorrow as we cruise toward 2014! (Lincoln County Library System)

Christmas 2013 is in full swing and children everywhere are enjoying toys, games, electronics and all sorts of amazing gifts. Family and friends are spending time together and finally slowing down after another busy shopping season. And though there is always some darkness to be had—like the bombings in Baghdad that claimed 34 lives earlier today—the overwhelming feeling that I get is one of peace and joy.

I certainly hope it lasts.

Since my son will become a “child of divorce” next year—and is currently a “child of separation,” which should also be a category—my Christmas with him won’t begin for another few hours. Santa has already visited and done his thing, but there are still some last-minute, loose ends to tie up.

Happy Holidays from The Bent! (Harilo)

Happy Holidays from The Bent! (Harilo)

Combine these preparations with the unavoidable afternoon flurry of Lego building to come and blogging, I’m sorry to say, must take a back seat. After all, Christmas comes only once a year and when you’re the father of a 6-year-old boy, you have to treasure these moments because they will not come again.

So on this wonderful and amazing Christmas Day, I wish you and yours—wherever you are in this big, old world of ours—the best Christmas ever. Peace and love to you all, my brothers and sisters.

Happy Holidays!

Before you ask, the answer is yes. This is really me. Or is it? (Face Tinks)

Before you ask, the answer is yes. This is really me. Or is it? (Face Tinks)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Gnostic Bent!

On the eve of another magical Christmas—and with a New Year quickly approaching—I want to thank you all for a fun and productive year of blogging on Gnostic Bent.

Thanks for taking the time to read the insane rantings of “yours truly” and for inspiring me to continue in 2014.

May your holiday season be filled with the warmth, love and peace you need to sustain you and to prepare you for the year ahead.

I can hardly wait!

Even agnostics can be jolly this time of year! (Face Tinks)

Even agnostics can be jolly this time of year! (Face Tinks)

Ho, ho, ho!

Get off my island!

View of the town of San Juan Bautista from sea

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Australian Government Votes Man Off Island – Yahoo!.

More than twenty years ago, businessman David Glasheen leased a third of Restoration Island, Australia, with the intention of building a resort there. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out.

The stock market crash of the late 1980s robbed him of millions and alas, there would be no resort. But that didn’t stop Glasheen.

He’s spent the last twenty years living on the island with only his dog and a freaky mannequin. A modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Not for long, though.

The Australian government wants its land back. And since building a resort was part of Glasheen’s lease agreement, he will likely be sent packing soon.

I can certainly understand where the Australian government is coming from, but I have a solution that might suit both parties. The land, of course, should be returned to Australia and thus available for development. However, a small tract of land in a remote area should be given to Glasheen so he can continue living there.

Once a resort has been constructed and guests start visiting, stories of the island’s wild resident could be intentionally circulated as a marketing ploy. Trips to his “native habitat” could also be arranged at two-hour intervals, with reservations available year-round. Furthermore, Glasheen could even be employed and provided with some basic acting training so he can really “sell it” when tourists are near.

Sounds like a money-maker to me…

The face of “legitimate” rape

Shauna Prewitt (CNN.com)

Raped, pregnant and ordeal not over – CNN.com.

I have to get serious for a moment and share this truly upsetting yet poignant story about Shauna Prewitt, a Chicago lawyer who was raped, impregnated, conceived, birthed a beautiful daughter and then got sued by her rapist for parental rights!

It is shocking and in many ways, beyond words. I must press on.

We all know that raped women who testify against their attackers in court almost always become the true objects of scrutiny. The American justice system treats them as if they are the guilty ones, and similar opinions pervade in our society.

“If she didn’t want it to happen, then why was she wearing that skimpy outfit?” people sometimes say. “She was drunk and brought it on herself.”

Just typing that made me cringe, but I’ve heard it before. Ignorance in all its glory.

What I find equally shocking is that in 31 of our 50 states, rapists who father children with their victims “are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to the children that other fathers enjoy.”

It is truly sickening, And I encourage all of you to “pay this forward”: we must affect change so the rights shift back to women who suffer through rape and all its psychological consequences.

And to the courts who allow these rapists to walk in and claim rights away from the women they raped, shame on you.

I commend Shauna for being so brave. And I know she will be a great mother to her sweet, innocent girl.

Blasphemous 11-year-old girl in Pakistan may face death

The coat of arms of Pakistan displays the nati...

The coat of arms of Pakistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Girl, 11, Could Face Death in Pakistan for Blasphemy – ABC News.

I can hardly express how disturbing I find this story to be.

In Pakistan today, an 11-year-old Christian girl named Ramsha was arrested for allegedly burning pages of the holy Koran. Any actions or statements deemed blasphemous of the Prophet Muhammad or the Koran are punishable by death. And now that’s what Ramsha might be facing.

As if executing an 11-year-old isn’t bad enough, though, it’s also possible that she suffers from Down’s syndrome.

I honestly don’t know what else to say except that I hope someone can save Ramsha. It doesn’t look like her government gives a shit.

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.

What I Want

filedesc http://www.epa.gov/win/winnews/images...

I want to write a blog entry about the things I want in life and, if I successfully complete this, I will accomplish my goal.

I want to make a lot of money not so I can buy more bling, but because I am tired of stressing about it so much.

I want people to get along since we are all in this together.

I want my son to grow into the man I never became.

I want to be in love unconditionally, yet still have that love returned.

I want to travel the world without having to worry about terrorists kidnapping and beheading me.

I want racism to end since skin color is nothing more than a geographical consequence.

I want to be Freshly Pressed again, even though I’m still not sure how I made it there the first time.

I want more blog followers so I can convert more readers into friends.

Old Gas Pump

I want to buy a car that doesn’t take a small fortune to fill with gasoline.

I want to settle my debts so I can start to enjoy life a little bit more.

I want to connect with people through my writing and make them laugh, smile or think.

I want to retire while I’m still young enough to take full advantage of it.

I want to secure an entertainment agent and option one of my screenplays.

I want to monetize a blog so I can sit back and let the revenue stream in.

I want researchers to cure major diseases, but to allow enough of them to remain so we don’t run out of open parking spaces.

I want people to know and appreciate me for all my quirks and idiosyncrasies.

I want politicians to start serving the people rather than themselves and their bank accounts.

I want violence to end since all it does is traumatize my fellow humans.

I want peace in the Middle East even though it seems like it will never come.

I want religion to be based on love and faith rather than hate and judgment.

I want to serve as a script consultant on a film I wrote and developed.

I want to build my dream house, complete with an in-house screening room and a secret underground nerve center (think Bat Cave).

Steeler Polamalu Fan

I want the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl this year due in large part to their Steel Curtain defense.

I want to find another television show to follow that will excite me as much as “Lost” did.

I want to be happy and want everyone around me to feel the same.

I want to end this entry with sincere thanks and gratitude for anyone who took the time to read it.

Thank you!

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!

The Mad Pollster: Is James Holmes faking?

Palin for Flake – POLITICO.com

Sarah Palin!

Sarah Palin! (Photo credit: charkesw)

Palin for Flake – POLITICO.com.

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has decided to support Jeff Flake of Arizona in his GOP Senate bid.

No offense to all the Palin fans out there, but does it strike anyone as odd that a flake is supporting another Flake?

Oh how I love those plays on words!

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