As a professor of Critical Thinking at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, CA, my entire academic life I have been constantly receiving similar feedback on my observations and opinions, something along the line of, “I have not really thought of it that way before.” Jimmy’s intention is to develop critical thinking skills, look at things a different way and to question everything. I speak and write of all aspects of life, from Buddhism to twerking, from the spiritual to the profane, from meditation to pornography. It all makes for great conversation and analysis.

So sit back, read and/or listen, and question me as we learn in the tensions of life.

Profanity And Language, WTF? A Closer Look At The 6 Different Types of Cursers. Warning: Explicit Language Ahead

Recently in one of my online communication courses, the subject of profanity and cursing was discussed.  Many do not realize there  is a difference between the two, as profanity, or the “profane” can be a conceptual idea while cursing is utilizing specific “bad” words. As one who essentially never cursed the lion’s share of my adult life and now curses liberally, I find the subject of great interest and, actually, pretty important.

Thus, the conversation was started with a 25 year-old female stating the following on our discussion board:Let me start by saying that I spent a lot of time as a child with my stubborn grandma who smoked like a chimney.  She also cursed like a sailor.  With that said, I didn’t curse so much when I was a child, but as I’ve grown, I have picked up this sailor cursing habit; and yes, I blame it on my grandmother.  So, as many of my peers and siblings do not mind the cursing (I also believe cursing is embedded in my generations’ language) I do realize that my elders and the older generation do not find this language attractive.  Some men that I have dated have also commented on my cursing in a negative way, and I just say “Fuck you.”  I’m kidding… I have realized that I can come off “unladylike” and childish to certain people, so I have learned to refrain from cursing in front of certain people.  I do this to respect that particular person I’m with; I don’t mind cursing and it is simply the way I was raised and a part of my language and expresses my laidback personality.  I never intend to insult people with this type of language and I’ve learned it can do just that.  So I now am very cautious of who I curse in front of.  It’s amazing how something as little as cursing or slang can have a big impact on how one perceives you or your culture as a whole.”

A female, approximately the same age, responded with this:“I completely agree about cursing being a staple in today’s generation! I also find it comical that people say it is “unladylike”. What is “ladylike” anyway? Crossing legs? Being a man’s beck and call? Then count me in as “unladylike”!

You go girl. I’m down with the feminist stuff. Totes.

So, what is it? Cursing good? Cursing bad? Should we? Shouldn’t we? So many different ways to go with this blog. I could write of the philosophical outlooks on using profanity and its cultural effects. Or perhaps even the psychological dimensions of the interplay of profane language with human thoughts processes and behavior. Naaaah. Instead I realized that there are essentially 6 different types of people and their relationship to swearing and it might be fun to recognize each type. Which one are you? Be honest.

1. The Never, Ever Curser. This is essentially what I was for many years. Cursing to me was a sign of weakness and expressed a lack of self-control. I mean, if one cannot control their tongue how could they control anything else in their life? There is no hint of the profane in this person’s vocabulary. Even in times of extreme anger, silence is the preferred choice over any hint of profanity. This is “Father Know Best” language meets Ward Cleaver for a good delicious dialogue over milk and cookies. In my opinion, when one has young children this is not a bad route to take. Therefore it was quite a compliment when my 20 year-old daughter recently told me “good job” as she explained she never even knew the “F-word” existed until she was 11.

2. The Replacer Curser. This is the goshdarnit crowd. For gosh sakes, you know the ones, they replace what would be a nicely placed swear word with a freaking PG version. This is the world where crap becomes crud and the ass is transformed to a butt. All the intent of a swear word is present without actually committing the swear crime, for Pete’s sake. Some might think this person is just full of bullroar, as I do. Think of the person who violates the spirit of the law yet cleverly remains true to the freaking letter of it. They like to think people do not give a fudge about their picking replacement vocabulary or else they can just go to heck.

3. The Cleaned Up Curser. In the cleaned up curser world, they like to dangerously push the language limits yet will only dabble in the swear words that are deemed only moderately profane.  Typically the word ass can be used because it can also refer to a donkey, hence acceptable. Even dick and pussy can be used due to their relationship to a person’s name or pet feline. In this world, shit is still far too much yet crap is just fine. Of course I never really understood the difference between shit and crap; I guess the former is just a shittier version of the latter. In addition, damn is ok because water can be collected behind it and god can still declare you to hell in its name. Oh, and speaking of damnation, hell is ok as well. And if it’s good enough for god? It’s good enough for the cleaned up curser, godddammit. Generally these people are very poor cussers and do not use even their cleaned up versions effectively, perhaps due to the fact they are not privy to the full arsenal of profanity. For example, they may confuse the hard-headed man to be a pussy while the soft coward to be a dick. Whoops. This could lead to real fustercluck.

4. The Regrettable Curser. This is the person who will liberally use swear words yet still feel a sense of shame in the process. These people will often try not to cuss, yet fail quite miserably. My suspicion is that these people probably got their mouth washed out with soap or their ass backhanded at some point in their childhood, due to cussing, and never really got over this traumatic experience. Typically this is the final phase for many before transforming into the next possible phase of cursing, the Discerning Curser.

5. The Discerning Curser. I would probably place myself in this category. Why? I do use curse words yet not flippantly so. I think about it. I gauge my audience. I assess. As the conversation above will attest, I communicate with a generation -by and large and with many exceptions- of those who liberally curse. You know, the 18-28 year old motherfuckers who do not give a shit about profanity in language and actually respond quite well to it. However, the discerning curser can still reign it in when necessary and not drop F-bombs while visiting grandma at Beverly Manor or to their little brother at Mountainview Elementary. The Discerning Curser will occasionally drop a profane bomb at the wrong time yet will instantly recognize and address the transgression.

6. The Out of Control Curser. This curser is the completely out of control asshole who has no idea when fucking too much is just too fucking much.  Whether a fucking ball game, bar, nursing home, or goddamm kindergarten playground, for fuck’s sake, it’s all fucking good shit and the right time to drop profane fucking words to any dick or cunt within earshot. I think you assholes get the goddamm idea.

So which one are you and why? I really do believe a nicely placed profane word, given the right context to the right audience is not only acceptable, it is the preferred nomenclature. It is a bit like watching a film and the characters are drinking a made up brand of soda, like Cole instead of Coke, or Pipsi instead of Pepsi. I feel cheated. I want the real thing. So it is with my language  -I want the real thing dammit. Don’t cheat me and the rest of the world out of profane sugar with your aspartame language.

And so the discussion will continue. As a former “never, ever curser” just realize I have a lot of damn time to make up for.

The Urbanovich Family Tattoo And Other Bad Ideas: Lessons From The Urbanovich Family Text Zone (UFTZ)

Sunday night we were sitting at dinner-if you call Jalapeno fries and Lagunitas IPA at Schooners “dinner”- when Rene’ came up with a very traditional and maternal idea (not); an idea that would build family unity and solidarity (not) while creating even stronger bonds among all our family members (not). You’ve probably guessed it by now – she requested that all of us get an Urbanovich family tattoo, a simple “U” inked on any body part of our choice.
For those who know me or read my blogs, it is no surprise when I tell you that I am not a tattoo guy –I have never even been remotely tempted to do so.  Why? There are quite a few reasons that you can read here, yet I can summarize most fittingly with the word, “change,” as in I change too much and too often to like anything I would ink on my body after, say, about 3 months, tops.
But this tattoo idea intrigued me. Turning 51 has softened my outlook on tats. Hell, I am in the early fourth quarter in the game of life and this skin ain’t going with me to the locker room. Yet, still, there is no symbol, art, picture, or concept I would want permanently on my body. However, a simple U inked on any body part of my choice? I could potentially live with that.
So I immediately went to the Urbanovich Family Text Zone –the UFTZ (that is a different blog for a different day) where the Urbs communicate on a somewhat daily basis about all kinds of bullshit, share funny pictures, whatever…and I sent the following:
I forewarned Rene’ precisely what would happen. In short, there is no way in hell we would all agree to do this.
“I disagree with you, Jimmy,“ responded Rene’, “I am their mother and it is a special request from me. Besides, they can put it anywhere on their body…it can be hidden.”
I further explained that the reason they would not agree would be because we did an excellent job parenting (if I do say so myself). One of our family values we wanted to impart to our once young children growing up was that of individuality; the idea to be individually strong, develop powerful personal identities and to cultivate a very personal and unique voice in the world.
And we accomplished that. Almost too well.
Whether you are their mother or anyone else, my children will simply not do what they do not want to do and if they want to do something? Best just move aside and not get injured.
The UFTZ responses started pouring in.
The first response was entirely expected:
That was easy. Yet it also comes from a family member in which “risk, adventure, challenge, and change” are some of his many middle names.
The second response was not quite so agreeable, to say the least:
“Absolutely not.  Sorry.”
What did I tell you? This family member has friends who are tatted up one side and down the other. As one who eventually wants to be a successful businessman, he realizes the downside of permanent markings. I must say I agree with him.
The third response was somewhere in the middle, yet perhaps the most “collectivist” minded of all:
“I’LL DO IT BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. And because external manifestations of the internal are powerful! I love it and I hope you change your mind ‘other family member.’”
Hmmmm. That is sweet and what I would expect from this artistic and expressive child.
Now on to the fourth response.
And this was just the short introduction to her well thought, wonderfully crafted and quite reasonable dissertation on Society and Tattoos via UFTZ. We get it. Again, like the other disagreeing sibling, I tend to agree with her.
So what is the Urb clan to do?
It does not look like the fam will get unifying tattoos anytime soon yet it does teach an excellent lesson about life and choices:
For every honorable trait there lurks a potential not-so-favorable consequence.
For the one who is courageous, there is the danger of trying something courageously stupid and getting courageously hurt. For the person who perseveres through good times and bad, there is the chance of not getting out of something while one still can and cut the losses. For those who take full responsibility for their actions, there is chance of becoming a compulsive control freak and not roll with the ebbs and flows of the universe. All wonderful traits, all with unintended consequences.
So it goes with our family value of individuality. It has a wonderful upside that I believe in strongly. Yet, often we individuals (and yes I am TOTALLY an individual) do not always make great team players and often value our own identity over the sake of the collective.
And I would have it no other way.
I love my family dearly…I embrace each one of my children’s strengths and flaws and I respect when their “yes” means “yes” and their “no” means “no.”
So as mom and dad converse over their Jalapeno fries and Pale Ale while attempting to soothe their own personal transitions to an empty nest with some different ideas, we celebrate this disagreement concerning the Urb family tattoo -as it speaks volumes more about the character of the clan than any skin deep ink possibly could.


Happiness Is The Truth: A 5-Step Guide For Seeking Happiness According To The Village Elder Shaman

“It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way”
A few nights ago, after a long night of partying with some friends we were sitting in a circle when I was posed the question, “Jimmy, what is the secret to life? I mean you have lived a lot longer than the rest of us.” As I appreciated the former question, the latter comment felt entirely unnecessary, thank you very much.
Granted I was not in the finest mental condition to wax philosophical on their asses, still I needed to come up with something really wise, really fast. I felt like the Village Elder Shaman pressured to evoke wisdom upon the younger and impressionable warriors.
I proceeded to explain that the secret to life is happiness and in order to be happy, you have got to be doing in life what you WANT to be doing in life…or else you really do not stand much of a chance in the quest for happiness. The conversation did not proceed much further from that point, yet the question really got me to thinking.
I think, therefore I blog.
“Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”
I have touched on happiness and contentment in life in other blogs, particularly those concerning my thoughts on Buddhism; yet I have never really thought of happiness in the context of the way it was posed to me on this evening. So I explain…and hopefully my young warrior “grasshoppas” will read like good young warriors at the feet of their elder.
If we ever find ourselves in the dreaded state of mind that says, “I will finally be happy once I am (fill in the blank)”—we are missing out on true happiness in the moment.  Happiness is never found in the future. It is only found in the moment.
If your goal is to one day be a firefighter yet are not happy as a fire sciences student or as an Emergency Medical Technician, the chances of finding happiness once achieving firefighter status are rare indeed.
“Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time”
It is vital that we need to find happiness in whatever we are doing NOW. Happiness is a state of mind, not a physical destination, and is the child of contentedness; you might say happiness is housed in the base camp of contentment.Hence I provide you my simple 5-step plan for life happiness. 
Create a path toward your ultimate destination in life. What is the old adage? I remember, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” How can you reach your goals if you have not properly identified them? The hindrance with most people is that they never stop to consider what it is they believe will provide them happiness in the long term -as so many simply settle for so much less than what they really want. Setting an objective and goal for your life is paramount in eventually reaching it. You cannot reach for something that does not exist.
Never sell out to the almighty dollar in the quest for the ultimate destination. This is such a common theme. Trust me young warriors, what is “good money” at 20 is nowhere near “good money” at 40.  The problem is that you can get addicted to 20 year-old good money and eventually those who sacrificed and practiced some delayed gratification begin passing you up. Money is awesome and brings a lot of nice wonderful things in life…it is just that happiness is not one of them.
Be prepared for the path and ultimate destination to change at any moment. Speaking of old adages, one of my former favorites was, “Want to make God laugh? Make a Plan.” Why should we plan when we frequently do not end up where we originally wanted to land? Here is the thing about planning—so many of us end up nowhere near where we intended, yet with a plan at least we have something from which to deviate. I never set out to be a Professor of Communication Studies…yet I then recognized when I needed to deviate from my path and life led me to a differing opportunity.
Be ready for the unsought and unforeseen opportunities to arise and snag them. As I mentioned above, when our path deviates—and it will—be ready and flexible to twist with the turns, rock with the rolls, and shake with the bakes. This roller coaster is what makes life fresh and exciting. I am currently performing a task in my job that is very uncomfortable and finds me well out of my skill zone…writing a 300 page technical report for the College, very grueling. Yet this was a great opportunity for me. True, it is difficult and sucky, yet my need for a fresh challenge, desire to learn new skills, and find out more about the running of the entire institution make this opportunity second to none.
Find whatever contentment and happiness you possibly can in whatever you are doing at the moment. This is central and arguably most important.  When someone asks me what is the best exercise you can do, I typically respond with whatever exercise you love doing most…cause then you will stick to it. For those who detest all forms of exercise, I suggest making a game out of it. If you despise running, attempt to create some happiness out of it by setting little goals for yourself, i.e. try to make it from your driveway to the fire hydrant in under 5 minutes or run in a beautiful park -in other words, whatever possible happiness can be extracted from any given situation, extract the hell out of it. Squeeze that happiness juice box until not a single drop is left.
“Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
I said (let me tell you now)
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down”
Thus the wise Village Elder Shaman has spoken.  And one can only hope all your asses feel properly philosophically waxed. You may now rise and go about your day young warriors and I shall go about mine.
Cause I’m happy. And happiness is the truth.

I Recently Realized I Am A “P” Man: Musings on Affirmative Action

Recently a friend, Shelle, requested that I write a blog concerning my thoughts on Affirmative Action.  My first thought was how 80′s of her. Then did a bit of research and found it is still a very prevalent issue. It is probably not a subject matter I would ever selected from my own strange head filled with floating weird ideas; yet it is important and since extremely white dudes like myself are often the ones most adversely affected by it, I might want to be armed with an opinion and give this one a shot.
 For those uninformed, Affirmative Action is an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, particularly in relation to employment or education.  In other words, it is giving favor to those who have suffered from discrimination in the past while affording them preferential treatment. It is the interviewing white firefighter who scores a 90% on the exam yet is passed over in favor of the Hispanic interviewing firefighter who scores an 85%.
As I think about this issue, I realize that what drives my various opinions and political leanings are my attitudes toward people in general. I generally really love people (not all, trust me, though most) particularly the underdog and those really in need of help and assistance. I place people far above what I call general principle or policy. In other words, if there is a law or a policy that wrongs a group of innocent people, to hell with that law or policy.
I am the guy who would steal a loaf of bread (break principle) for a starving family (people).
My blog readers may have already surmised that I am far from a black and white, letter-of-the-law type individual. Duh. Yet why? I do not respect the law.  I somewhat respect the spirit of the law. I do respect people. And if a law hurts people, to hell with that law.
Laws are boundaries we set up, essentially, to make our lives better and more functional in a civil society. We need some of them yet I do not respect them as in and of themselves they are nothing but constructs created to work in a specific cultural context. Life is far too ambiguous to respect a law as we all need to break them every now and then. Be it breaking traffic laws to take your asthmatic child who could not breathe to the emergency room (it has happened) or simply parking in a no parking zone because you see the street sweeper already made its pass, (by the way, those policy-first asses will still give you a ticket even though you clearly did not violate the intent of the law) laws prove to be suspect and susceptible if enforced with a “policy” mentality rather than a “people” one.
I do not respect that which can readily change and mean absolutely nothing if not applied contextually.
When I see a sign that says, “Buckle Up, It’s The Law” -I shudder…stop threatening me assholes! It wasn’t a law 20 years ago though was still a good idea to buckle up. How about, “Buckle Up, It’s a Good Idea.” Be nice. It’s a tough life.
And I was not always this way. I used to be a “p&p” guy, a principle and policy follower. Now I am just a “p” guy, people. And much happier.
Take my position on Undocumented Students (read: illegal alien students). If I were driven by principle or policy, I would take the position that anyone undocumented should be deported from this country.  There really would not be much to discuss. Yet, alas, I am not driven by “p&p”, I am driven by my love for “p.”
To think we would take a group of people who were brought up and have always lived in this country since a very young age and deny them certain civil rights is just mean.  Our current immigration laws are fundamentally flawed…am I supposed to respect them?
I don’t think law first, policy first, or even America first…I think people first. All people. All people all over the globe. I am not sure what that makes me politically. I do know it makes me sympathetic toward the issue of Affirmative Action as it gives back to those groups who have historically suffered…and that is good thing.
 “But, Jimmy, is that policy not hurting a group of other people, namely white people?”
Thanks for asking white man.
The question assumes fairness is a fundamental right afforded every human being. It is not. We live in a screwed up world with a lot of very flawed people and flawed system. If whitey now has to take a back seat to people of color as pay back for centuries of hurtful behavior toward minorities, do not blame Affirmative Action, blame your forefathers who now screwed it up for you. Those who might call Affirmative Action “reverse discrimination” would be akin to calling your dentist a masochist because of the pain she inflicted while extracting a long rotting tooth.
Life is not fair. Just ask any older southern African American who was not even allowed to drink out of the same water fountain as whites, let alone get a decent job; no, life is not fair…never has been and perhaps never will be.
Yet I do see Affirmative Action more as a temporary corrective measure to remedy a solvable problem. And once that social ill has been cured? I would opine that it makes no sense to provide medicine for a healthy patient.
Are we there yet? Have we solved the problems of prejudice and discrimination? That is a different blog for a different day… I do think we are closer than ever.  If more people would be “p” people we perhaps would already be there.
And if you would like to make blog suggestions and add to a head filled with floating weird ideas, you know where to find me.

Howdy Partner: Six Reasons We Prefer The Term “Life Partners” Over “Husband And Wife”

One of the most frequent questions I receive from people pertains to why Rene and I prefer to be regarded as “Life Partners” as opposed to husband and wife.  If you want a quick correction from me, just call Rene’ my “wife.” I’ll show you. The label makes me cringe.
Whenever I tell people about my “Life Partner,” Rene’, they automatically assume I am hooking up with a gay Spanish dude.
I do find it ironic that as gay people are fighting for their right to call their same sex partner husband or wife, I prefer we all call our significant other a “Life Partner” as it rings more genuine, authentic, and is an accurate description of what most of us really are, or perhaps, should be.
However, I am not out to change anyone or to convince one that “Life Partner” is the superior term, cause who am I? I believe two people should call themselves whatever they would like to call themselves according to their belief system. Do you like the terms husband and wife? Awesome. Have at it.
So why do Rene’ and I prefer the term Life Partners?
This is a very reasonable question.
I have done some light research (read: a google first page search with shitty key words) into the origins of the terms husband and wife and the findings were ambiguous.  No matter, I hold a fairly strong opinion that finding out the origin of terms (which is nearly an impossible task, by the way) is essentially irrelevant as words are constantly evolving and changing. Does it really matter how it once was used? I suppose at some level it could be interesting, but for no other reason than for brain candy, and for some bullshit perceived credibility.
What follows are the six basic reasons we prefer the term “Life Partner.”
The terms “husband” and “wife” reek of unevolved, centuries-old notions of people ownership.  Just as they used to pronounce a couple “man and wife,” giving the man his identity and leaving the woman to be known only in terms of her relation to the man, justifies that language must constantly evolve as humans constantly evolve.  We no longer have bondservants, spinsters, or bastards, in the same sense we used to have them. Let’s move forward and evolve our language choices in step with our social changes. I am unsure why the gay community fights for the “right” to be referred to in such an archaic term. I like their term much better.
The term “Life Partner” identifies us first and foremost in terms of our individual self and not the other. Please do not get me wrong—to share your life with somebody and to share it lovingly and honestly is a joy unparalleled in life. Yet we enter the world alone and we leave the world alone. It is our individual self that we must deal with first and foremost; we are “selfs” that come into a sort of union with another—which part should we identify as? That is a personal decision. We would rather see ourselves as Jimmy first and Rene’ first versus what we have together first. She is Rene’, she is not MY wife. When one says “my husband” or “my wife,” they are suggesting, in essence, that the other is a possession. At least when one uses the term, “my Life Partner” it carries a connotation of complete egalitarianism. Think about it, if someone called the other “my life husband” or “my life wife” it would seem rather odd; because most of the time it is not for life. “Life Partner” dares to proclaim that you are in this for the long haul. A lot of “life husbands” or “life wives” are now referred to in a different term, “my ex.”
If we are to create labels that are going to define us, that label should reflect the nature of the arrangement.  Rene’ and I have a partnership…that is precisely what it is. Just as in any partnership, business or otherwise, you have an agreement and each accepts certain roles in said partnership. Since our arrangement does not include many of the conventional roles of husband and wife, we use a term that more accurately defines who and what we are. I am off to teach in London for the Fall of 2014. Is Rene’ going with me? No. She intends to visit, yet our partnership allows for extended periods away from one another. Like, if you love someone set them free man. Peace. Dude.
Marriage is a failing institution as most end up in divorce. Why label two people coming together in a committed relationship something after failure? If we labeled other thinge after failure, we would call our cars “Edsels,”movies can now be known as “Ishtars,” and our presidents can be labeled, “Jimmy Carters.”
We both question all cultural conventions and do not want to carry on traditions for the sake, of, uhm, well, tradition. Culture is a man-created (and I do mean primarily people with penises, yes) construct that is as viable to error, prejudice and bullshit as any existing ideology.  In fact, culture is one vast ideology that constantly needs to be reexamined and questioned. We were both very young in the 1960’s and barely of elementary school age, yet we both possess very strong “hippie like” sensibilities. We question everything and do not accept cultural convention because that is what “the man” says to accept. So, in a sense, we use the term to convey our overall disposition towards life in general.  So, yeah, part of us does it just to be rebellious assholes.
“Life Partner” does not recognize the gender of the individuals. In a show of solidarity with the gay community, why use a term that identifies the gender of the individuals choosing to do life together? I love it when I call Rene’ my Life Partner and people assume I am gay. To break century old traditions, changing language is a good start. It will be a beautiful day when one says they have a Life Partner and one will not know the gender of the other…or even care. We are all humans in need of each other. One planet, one people, bitches.
The term “Life Partner” implies a tacit understanding that partnerships are flexible and negotiable whereas husbands and wives have to live up to rigid expectations.  I have heard it said that the country of Mexico was considering enacting “marriage contracts” in which participants agreed to specific terms. After a period of time, they could contractually sign an extension or opt out. I like this idea…though I am not sure the Catholic Church in Mexico is too hot on it. If we see ourselves as partners first and foremost, it relieves one of the traditional burdens of husband and wife. When one says, “I need to go home to the wife,” versus, “I need to go home to my Life Partner,” I hear something very different.  The former implies this is a burden placed upon him by a demanding bitch, while the latter carries a connotation of mutual respect.
At least that is how I hear it.
Hey, call yourselves what you want to call yourselves.  I am just relieved because from now on when I get the question, I can answer with, “read all about it at”

Let’s Face It, We Are All Pretty Jacked Up: #Unafraid To Speak Out

I must make a confession and come clean.
Several years ago I could not understand why so many of my friends and acquaintances were on some form of medication for some type of emotional/mental health disorders -in most cases for depression.
I would wonder, often aloud, why nearly everyone is so damn depressed.  We live in an age in which everyone one is well fed, possess some form of shelter and is safely out of harms way for the most part. There is no black plague or killer virus wiping out the masses.  We have our 42 inch plasmas, smart phones and tempurpedics. What is there to be so depressed about?
The worst part is I proceeded to judge these people as a type of weak and frail human being, perhaps just a little too brittle to deal with all the wonderful entitlements afforded coddled 21st century North Americans.
Bad move.  I did not follow my own frequent advice to not criticize that which you do not understand. Not that you should criticize what you do understand, well, you get the point.
It was approximately 2 years ago when it happened. After some incredibly emotional and soul-searching conversations over a period of days with Rene’, I experienced my first bout with anxiety.  I was in a Coco’s eating lunch on July 13, 2012 when my mind completely lost control.  Thank goodness I was with Rene’ who completely recognized what was happening -having experienced a few of these herself- and successfully guided and coached me through the painful process of this attack.
A couple hours later I was fine…but oh so scared. I did not know what happened. As one who always had complete control over my mental faculties, controlling my emotions like a skilled master pilot maneuvering a 747, this turbulence seemed to come out of nowhere and left me helpless to its tossing and turning powers.
I just knew this could never happen again. Yet it did, not with same vengeance and force of the initial one, but happened nonetheless.  Thankfully with some additional education and lifestyle changes, namely completely eliminating all forms of caffeine and decreasing my alcohol intake, the anxiety has all but disappeared.
As a result, I judge no more. I get it.
I realize it is precisely because we live in an age of our basic needs being met -and often exceeded- that our minds have the time and space to land in the mental swamps of emotional illness. Of course, emotional illness has been around since the beginning, in times of both feast and famine, yet with our contemporary society more worried about our body fat percentage over having potable clean drinking water, our cerebral activity far exceeds our physical activity -resulting in more people landing in the dark waters of emotional disorders.
My suspicion is that if we did have to wake up each morning designing strategies how to feed our self and our loved ones, the only anxiety we would experience would come in the form of how to successfully chase down our food supply.  Today, with the world at our fingertips and our food delivered directly to our door and nearly directly into our mouths, we are completely out of touch with the basics of life and have time to think and ponder while spending copious amounts of time within our own heads.
In athletics, we tend to injure the parts of the body we overuse. As a former marathon runner, I know first hand the results of overuse injury and how these will sideline you for quite some time.
Why should the human mind be any different?
I am not referring to the overuse of the human mind in the intellectual sense, as in figuring out problems or writing blogs, rather I refer to the overuse of the human mind in the emotional and spiritual sense, as in spending large amounts of time pondering our own identity and meaningful relationships, our personal meaning and relationship to the world, our self-worth and self-esteem, the reason for our existence and how we measure up to the standards society has created for us. These are quality and necessary mental endeavors, yet too much time spent in earnest dissecting these things can potentially land us in some pretty dark places.
When we have time to deconstruct the illusions that keep us sane from day to day, watch out -anxiety and depression ahead.
I am not suggesting this abundance of cerebral brain activity is the sole cause of an increase in mental health disorders, of course not. The frenetic pace of a technologized world and the constant multi-tasking of activities must have something to do with our mind’s ability to juggle and competently keep it all together; not to mention simple brain chemistry gone awry – of which we have absolutely no control.
So, Jimmy, what’s your point? In the same sense we are not afraid to discuss our broken legs or sprained ankles, we must be unafraid to discuss our mental illness, our “sprained brain” if you will.
If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, check out #unafraid. Show your support by liking or subscribing to this great cause. #Unafraid is a movement to change the negative stigma surrounding issues of mental health today–in society, on TV, on the internet, and in conversation.
And, of course, in our digital age of comfort and control, it is only a mouse click away.

The Gay: A Progressive Approach To Instructing The Conservative Mind

I must say that I am getting both simultaneously softer and harder, accepting and rejecting, in my old age.  Softer and accepting in the sense I really love people of all different varieties yet harder in the sense of catching a serious case of the TOFTS (must read that blog if you have not) as in, “Too Old For This Shit.”


This soft/hard dichotomy was never more evident than just a few days ago while teaching an online course for a private University. Each year I teach this persuasion course (which I have done for many years), within the first five online minutes, many conservative students will voice his or her strong aversion to homosexuality. Did I ask for their opinion on this matter? No. Did I bring up the subject at all? No. Do I ever talk about any sexual issues of any kind in the course? Believe it or not, no.


I strongly suspect it may be a case of “thou protesteth too much.” But what do I know? I do know anti-gayness seems to be, no, IS, the rallying crowd favorite issue in many conservative religious circles.


I have seen this trend for many years yet for some reason this year I have had enough of this crazed, obsessive, homophobic slander.  At first, I just wanted to log-off, send in my resignation and say “sayonara” to some mean-spirited, gay haters–-yet that was the TOFTS side of me thinking as I do not have any more time in my life for narrow minded ignorance.


However, that softer and sensitive side of me realized that ignorance does not necessarily imply mean-spirited nor that those who might disagree with my take come from a place of meanness, even if it does result in oppressing a large group of people. So I guess I did what any decent educator should try to do: Educate. Share some ideas and understanding.


Today I want to share with you my attempt to educate conservative religious students on the issue of homosexuality in America. Look, I know some think it is sinful behavior and all, yet this is America and we all retain the right to engage in legally protected sins, thank God; outlawing all sin would have a devastating effect on the economy, not to mention my personal life.


So this is a letter I included in my lecture last week. Keep in mind these are are extremely intelligent students, most of whom are professionals and older than the Community College crowd. They have good hearts and intentions…I think.


Hello All…
I must say that each year I teach this course the issue of homosexuality gets brought up within the first few strokes of the keyboard, like clockwork, and I ask myself why? I never bring up the subject. It is not provoked. Why it is always homosexuality first and foremost served up as the primary example of corruption in American Society?  It would seem like we are quite selective in the “sins” we want to rail against and the “sins” we do not. Why do we not first and foremost rail against the corrupt Wall Street investors who steal billions of dollars of people’s hard earned retirement money? Or the sleazes that engage in underage sex trafficking? Or even the bully politician who shuts down a bridge for corrupt political payback while making stressed thousands late for work? What about the pimps who mistreat women?  The murderers and thieves? Why are not some these groups first and foremost? No, it is the gay.
I am so pleased to hear a few of you bring up the idea of love. I am a person who believes in love first and foremost. As one who has family members who are gay and have seen the discrimination up close and personal, the last thing I would want to do is hurt or marginalize any minority community, whether I personally agree with them or not. If one is against homosexuality then do not practice homosexuality; it is that simple. I am far more interested in railing against those who would steal from me, hurt me or exploit the weak than those with a different sexual orientation than my own.
It is important to keep in mind that we live in a pluralistic, democratic society that is built on free speech and tolerance of diverse groups and opinions. It sounds to me like some of you are claiming—and dreading—that we are evolving into a closed, intolerant society as you simultaneously speak out against the rights of the homosexual community. Can we see the irony here? If we fight for the rights of some and not the rights of others, are we not part of the democratic problem instead of the solution? Again, we live in a democracy (of sorts) not a theocracy. When do we realize that homosexuals have as much right to their lives (democratically) as anyone else? It sounds to me like it is THIS thinking that is promoting a closed and intolerant society. So society should/can discriminate against the homosexual but absolutely cannot discriminate against the Christian? What is the logic behind this?
It was written in a response, “As  a result the bakers were placed in a very precarious position since to agree to bake a cake for this homosexual couple would be to support and facilitate the mockery of true of true biblical marriage.” We must remember that many in our country are not interested in “true biblical marriage” and they have every right not to be interested in true biblical marriage. As a US citizen, this is their constitutional right.  In addition, I fail to see how baking a cake for anyone supports anything except the flour and sugar industry, and eventually Jenny Craig, even perhaps the insulin makers–but the gay community? The baker’s job is to bake a cake, not take a moral stand for or against anything. One could even argue the baker and his cake is far morally worse for society as it serves to fatten us and clog our arteries leading to obesity and heart disease. The gay is, well, just gay.
As this is a course in persuasion, we must get to the heart of the persuasive process in American society. Persuasion is all about enacting change in others towards our purpose and objective. As a critical thinker, one has to look at the strategies engaged thus far concerning homosexual rights and have an honest self-reflective dialogue on the results. As more and more states legalize gay marriage, we must consider if these anti-gay strategies –such as California’s Prop 8 in 2008, the overall vehement anti-gay dialogue, and situations like the baker refusing to bake a gay couple a cake, have been effective.
I think most us would agree they have not.  Homosexual rights are only the rise.  
Gays do not flock to Christ because they are refused a baked good.
Therefore, what is a good persuader to do? It seems to me we have several options: First, reexamine the strategies we have been using and seek more effective ones; secondly, keep doing what we have been doing yet likely only to yield the same results; or finally, reexamine the overall nature of the objective in the first place. What is the great threat of gay community? If the objective is to “win” all people to Christ, how does denying a group their rights assist in that process?  It would seem intuitively to me to have the opposite effect.
I certainly do not expect everyone in this course to agree with me; in fact, I would hope not. Disagreement and having different understandings of people, concepts, ideas and issues are what make this country great. Engaging and being open-minded to different ideas are the foundation of critical thinking skills.  The important thing is that we stand up for the rights of these concepts, ideas and issues to be expressed and heard. If we want the right, we must fight for the right for all.

Club Rush at Crafton Hills: The Podcast!


Please join Jimmy at the February 12, 2014 student club rush in which he is able to interview faculty members, student club presidents, and directors as they discuss their very exciting clubs from dance and art to health and science.  Enjoy the centerpiece interview with new CHC Philosophy professor Jeff Cervantez , who discusses some of the most pressing questions life has to offer. Enjoy!

The Power of Positive Hiking: Tales of The Smug, Phony, Bullshitters

I used to hate positive minded people. You know, the smug “power of positive thinking” types who would smile, pat you on the back and ask how you’re doing all the while acting like they really cared.

So full of shit. So phony. So unrealistic. Vomit.

I never considered myself a pessimist or a cynic; in my own self-estimation, I was a “realist”—as everyone can clearly see that life ends up in death and there is ample suffering and misery in the world. Hell, even my religion told me I was a sinner deserving of hell and there was nothing good about me while most of those on the planet were going to burn in an everlasting fiery pit.

And that message was entitled, “The Good News.” Huh? What was there to be positive about if THIS was the good news? And what is the bad news again?

Then life did what it always tends to do when lived properly and we give in to the power of the universe: It slowly changes and evolves you in the same slow and tedious manner the Colorado River carved and created the Grand Canyon. I tell people all the time never to mock anyone’s beliefs as one day you might just be believing the same thing. Life has a way of slapping us in the face in the most ironic ways, and, like the Grand Canyon, this change is never overnight.

It was Saturday, February 8, 2014 on a hike for “positive minded people” when it struck me that I was no longer the “realist” pessimist, cynic…I realized that I have evolved into a genuinely positive person. I guess you could say it was a type of coming out party for my life as a closeted positive optimist.

And how did I end up on such a hike?

I teach a course entitled “Communication in a Diverse World.”  This class travels to local Southern California locations to experience diversity and make us a bit uncomfortable as we explore new and strange digs.  As a person who loves novelty, I seek new and culturally “weird” events that myself, and my classes, had not done before.

After a furious google search, I found a Los Angeles “Meet Up” group, aptly named “Positive Minded People” that caught my attention. It seemed very different, very strange, and would likely be a totally trippy experience for “normal” people like me. I mean, hiking up to Mt. Hollywood with a bunch of people absolutely committed to positive energy, thoughts and behavior? How weird is that?

Apparently, not that weird.

I found my people.


How do I know I found my people? I knew the experience would be different from anything I had ever done, yet, something deep inside me suspected I might meet up with the aforementioned smug, phony, bullshitters. As I hiked up the canyons, stopping only to wait for others and dance the wobble (not to worry, it was videotaped and I am sure it will social media surface somewhere soon), I felt completely comfortable and resonated with these people without a hint of awkwardness.  We laughed, danced, encouraged and assisted each other… it was beautiful. I did find the vat of Kool-Aid at the top of the hill a bit sour, though other than that….

Now I am faced with a couple of possibilities—either I have become a smug, phony, bullshitter and am with my smug, phony, bullshit tribe, or there are just some people who consciously commit to positivity in their lives. On this hike, I realized I have become one of those people who decide that we have a choice of attitude in life and positivity is a great way to go.

For those of us who choose to see the glass half full, we still remain fully aware the other half is quite empty. Yet embracing empty is equally important as embracing full. After all, the true beauty of the Grand Canyon is not found in what is full, it is found in the empty space.

As I smiled, patted people on the back and asked how they were doing, there was not a disingenuous bone in my body. I cared.  These people were very genuine, normal people just trying to get through life in the most optimistic way possible—to live a rich and satisfying life through whatever means necessary.  Isn’t that what we are all trying to do anyway?

In the meantime, keep allowing that mighty Colorado current to continue shaping your attitudes, thoughts, perceptions…your very essence -and what is the unthinkable today may become your reality tomorrow.