Wednesday, October 2, 2019

September 27, 2019

Dear Topaz,

Today was a very good day. It was seasonable, but a little warm for this late in September. The sun was out, and some clouds rolled in. It felt like a pretty normal day. Work went well. Of course, being Friday, people are in better spirits and with some of the senior leadership out of the office, a few extra laughs were had with my associates.

The ride to work and home was fairly typical. There's still entirely too many people who would prefer to focus on other things rather than driving. It's also nice to see some people heading out of town. I always imagine they're going a happy occasion to see family or celebrate a birthday or a wedding over the weekend.

The boys are doing well. Their grades are holding up. Of course, they're both grounded, for various things. Their room's still a mess. The youngest is getting used to middle school and the oldest decided he likes Green Day. Janine and I are very disappointed in this development, and we hope that he grows out of this terrible phase of his life soon.

Janine is holding up well. She continues on with her education and her work. The past few years, she became accustomed to you curling up with us in bed. I know she loved those extended mornings where you would sleep in with her and help her eat her breakfast. She really enjoyed the warm cuddly times. She thought for years that you would never accept her, and in your last few years, you gave her the best gift of all...your love. Just know she loves you very much too. Thank you for that. I am eternally grateful.

Even though I was often annoyed by your fascination with my feet when it was time to put my shoes on, I found it very endearing. We both will always remember your excitement anytime we got close to the refrigerator and you loudly declaring your interest in a bowl of milk. Our floors will never be cleaner without the constant pick up of vomit, urine, or poop. I always understood your anxiety though, with all of the sudden moves. The bug and bird population, while relieved a fierce predator is no longer among us, will miss you too.

The world continues to move on, but now it moves on without you. At 5:30 PM yesterday, we said goodbye to you and watched the light leave your eyes. For the first time in over 19 years, I continue on with the world. Janine and the boys continue on living their lives day by day as well. The other cats realize the new void in their lives as well. We move on with fond memories and while time will relieve our grief, the next few days will be hard. I know the boys will miss you. They'll always consider you the mean old cat that had nothing to do with them, but they knew you watched them from a distance like a good mamma would. I know Janine loved you very much and she will probably miss you more than all of us.

We go on with the comfort knowing that you no longer feel pain. My hope , as we lay you in your forever spot, is that you rest forever in that sweet, perfect peace. As much as we miss you, this first day without you was a good one, and I know you would have been pleased.



Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Problem (Really) in Modern Discourse

I always walk this fence where I don't like how politics has injected itself into all of our conversations, but I still occasionally enjoy having them. I think by and large, we all have sensible conversations, but thanks to the internet and social media, we've kind of let the old rules slip away.

I get aggravated by people that I agree with and with people I disagree with online because there's been a huge lack of intellectual honesty the past few years. Someone will find great offense to something one politician does while letting a favored pol pull the same stunt. We've lacked a lot of consistency and this lack of intellectual honesty turns a lot of people off leading them to silence their friends by muting or unfriending them.

The next huge hurdle we face now is that no one really knows about fallacies and basic debate devices that used to lead to productive conversations have been replaced by screaming and mob mentality. A good example is reacting to en errant politician by pointing to another politician that got away with the same mistake.

So all we're left with are non sequitur, straw men, bandwagons, and it's all loud, messy, and I am convinced it's on purpose. People are mostly left to just turn it off and run away, not debating, but surrendering to the noise. It's a shame that these tactics are used because in this day and age. There's a lot of conversations that really need to be both started and completed.

My take away: Learn the fallacies and avoid them. I know there's a lot of them, but if people don't know they're riddled with fallacies, it's going to be hard to be taken seriously. So more important than my blabbing, read them   ---->  HERE 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's 2017 (a little late)

Yeah, it's been a while. I am sure that most people were quite alright with the prospect of putting 2016 in their rear view mirrors. It wasn't the greatest of years for me, but overall I had a good year.

I began finally after 42 years my forever career. I was hired on by the Commonwealth as a compliance regulator in the life and health insurance industry. I work with a phenomenal group of smart people that are dedicated to ensuring state residents have equitable, reasonable insurance.

My household over the past couple years has grown in ways that I don't care to disclose in a public forum. It has come with its share of challenges and blessings. The passing of time has taught me that while I thought I was fairly wise about the world in my youth, I really had no idea.

As far as my posts here, I fully plan on a mix of cultural and personal blabbing into the next year when I find spare time, which is going to come at a premium more and more as time passes. I have not forgotten my old blog though. I will persevere.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Drowning Death Spiral of Modern Political Debates

There's nothing like a tragic loss of life for people to tout their political beliefs. And it's so much easier in this social media age. As I've noted many times before though, there's a lot less discourse now and a lot more shouting and yelling.

The weekend tragedy in Orlando is a sad and depressing example of this showboating. In the midst of evil and intolerance, sides have geared up to discuss the merits of gun control again. Yet I don't really hear a coherent debate. What I hear are two sides screaming about two narratives that don't mesh together at all. Picture two children arguing. One wants a video game and the other one wants to eat. The focus is in two different arenas, food and fun.

On one side of the gun debate are people who are strong advocates of constitutional jurisprudence. Passing increased measures to limit a law abiding citizen access to weapons, they believe, will not solve the problem of evil that exists when a bad person obtains one of these weapons. Armed self protection is the best defense against evil, according to them.

On the other side of the debate are those who are justifiably exhausted to see useless lives wasted and want to only see certain types of weapons limited, certain ammo clips, or even ammunition itself restricted. They call for bans on what they call assault weapons including semi automatic rifles. Many do not feel a full ban on every gun is warranted, just the ones that do a lot of damage in a small space in a short period of time.

So what sounds like on the surface a logical debate actually isn't. Both sides are arguing two different points. The anti gun division is not addressing the point made by the pro group division and the pro group division is not properly addressing the concerns of the anti gun division.

Because of this misunderstanding on the proper points for argument, there is no resolution. We either ban these types of weapons or we just arm everybody, but neither reality is going to happen, at least not in any foreseeable future. The abortion argument in the US is similar but that's a completely different animal that I dare not tackle today.

So what would be the proper response to both sides. Here are my humble, novice thoughts:

To the pro gun lobby, the weapons being threatened are standard rifles. You cannot ban a rifle because it's scary looking. The AR 15 is a single shot semi automatic rifle. That means you have to pull a trigger for each shot. Automatic rifles are already banned. One cannot go to the local gun shop and buy by definition an assault weapon in most countries at a gun store.

So banning this weapon means that one would have to ban a wide array of weapons that are used for hunting home defense or are just collector items for thousands of rustic rural Americans. We're talking everything from militaria to squirrel rifles. It would spell the beginning of the end of constitutionally protected rights to bear arms, per their fears.

The anti gun lobby just wants to see an end to mass shootings. It would be preferable for the only guns to exist be the ones that can only fire a round or two before reloading. Carrying or the ability to buy semi automatic rifles should just cease to exist. There is no need to carry large clips, there is no threat from our government. It would just be good common sense if anyone wants self protection, to buy a common non semi automatic handgun.

While this sounds like a valid argument on each side, both arguments belong in two separate debates. And unless someone has a firm grasp on what both sides believe, there will never be a logical agreement. The anti gun lobby does not answer to the concern that they don't know what exactly they are trying to ban while the pro gun lobby really isn't expressing the concern for loss of life at the hands of these tools.

Where can we find the resolution? Understanding how guns work may help the anti gun lobby and understanding the need to limit the ease of purchasing those guns should be the focus of the debate. What laws are in place now? How would future laws prevent future occurrences? What's the best deterrent to someone bent to preform evil? Where are the statistics of gun bans working? Is there less violence or more violence in states that have stricter gun restrictions in place? These points are not truly being discussed and those that think they are merely kid themselves. I know I don't have all of those answers.

It seems that rational debate based on full knowledge of both sides of a coin have been replaced by political grandstanding. It is an election year and I guess I should expect as much.

Where have all the rational voices resolved on finding a solution gone? In the meantime, nothing will get resolved and we will continue to slide into a dark age that I fear we may already be well engaged. An age of either rampant violence and ignorance or fascism where dissenting opinions are squashed in favor of the more popular slant.

Or perhaps an unworkable mixture of both. Scary.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Where is Mike?

I know I publish so rarely nowadays on my personal blog. People just don't post in traditional means anymore. Most people throw out interesting information and tidbits to their social networks and I'm certainly no exception. But I wanted to post where I could be found if people wanted to interact with me even to this very day.

  • My Twitter is here
  • My Facebook is private to my family (sorry, not sorry). 
  • I write for iTechTriad, a great tech driven publication here
  • I write historical articles on Medium here. I'm doing a series on Washington's rules now.
I always look forward to interacting with friends. Please feel free to check me out, follow me, and let me know so I may do the same!

Think Different or I'll Boycott You!

I know I often say I shy away from and avoid political posts. I don't even tolerate it in my social media timelines and in an election year that is a hard task to accomplish. There is something that is bugging me though about the political process and since I have a platform, here I go!

I just wanted to provide two quick reasons why I believe that the boycott is completely asinine in nature and in delivery:

  • Boycotts are lazy - In this political climate it seems to be easy for some to speak their minds via the retweet, repost, regram, or boycott than to actually bring about any activism. I am not advocating rioting and protesting, but a boycott is incredibly slothful and usually doesn't influence or impress your friends. Often times nowadays lazy activists on the other side will then call in a buycott and the effect is completely null 
  • Boycotts hurt regular people - Someone dear to me works for a company that is a target for a recent boycott because of a policy that they adopted. Avoiding that establishment on principle would be the best way to resolve this issue or communicating said dislike normally sufficies. But by calling for a boycott, that shot caller can then hide behind this slacktivism to declare they made some in-rows with that retailer. This dear person in my life relies on an income to keep her house going, to pay her bills, and to feed her nephews. So when you want to boycott an establishment, think about who's really going to suffer. I'll provide a hint, it's not the executives or CEO that made that unpopular decision.
So what do we do Mike? Honestly, I can't answer that question, but I just wanted to kind of express that I fully intend on buycotting just about any boycott and if I have a problem with the political leanings of an establishment or a state, I'll let my buying power affect change quietly without blaring a big obnoxious bullhorn. 

The best service and product is likely not going to be sold by someone who has your exact political leanings and beliefs. If we fully followed boycott logic, many of us would never eat out, go to a movie, watch television, or listen to music ever again. We can stand on our principles in the voting booth and at the register without the fanfare. 

What I still hold closest to my heart is that no one on earth has to agree with me, thank you for hearing my side.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Three Years and a Lifetime of Fortune

Our first Easter brunch in 2007

In 2005, I had to start over. I was 31, I was in a run down apartment in a terrible part of town. I was alone and I had no car. I relied on the kindness of strangers to get me to the grocery store and to work. I could never fully thank them for going out of their way to help me too. One day I will. 

In the middle of all of this chaos and rebirth I found someone who literally saved me. I found someone who restored my emotionally and in every way. I found a way to thrive again. She found me on MySpace of all places; she liked my style in music. She was intrigued to find a local tall male available in her area. She asked if we could meet. 

So we did.

We had several dates after several conversations and in May 2006, we were a couple. Everything was new again. I was sure my lot in life had been cast to be this wandering bachelor. I was apartment shopping in Texas and Florida. I found completeness in a way I never knew existed. I finally found my partner, my soulmate, my deepest best friend and keeper of my heart. 

We moved in together and eventually found a house in the north side of Richmond. We found a great neighborhood. We started to explore and enjoy everything that Richmond had to offer. We had fun. We were enjoying life. We grew closer every day. I wanted to keep her forever. 

So I did. 

In a dark tiny hotel room in Philadelphia is 2010, I proposed. She said yes. We began a new adventure. Life continued happening to us. We planned an eventual wedding, we worked, and a lot of time passed. Life was comfortable and happy.

We finally decided in 2012 to go ahead and get married. We found a local church, joined it, became familiar with locals in Lakeside and in October, we became husband and wife. In front of friends and family I vowed to devote the rest of my life loving honoring and protecting my bride. She promised the same for me. In front of God and man we began a new adventure as Mr and Ms Lewis. 

Life continues to happen. We have custody of our nephews, our lives center around theirs. The trials of life continue to show but we continue to bind together through the bad times and celebrate the good times. We try as hard as we can to slow down time so we can enjoy our lifetime together. 

This post is a celebration of me truly finding my way and my happiness through my beautiful wife Janine. My wish is that everyone finds their happiness and their life mate to enjoy it together.

So you must.