Why Do You Love Hate?

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The Avett Brothers song “The Ballad of Love and Hate”, at first glance, is a traditional and predictable love song. So why does the song invoke such frisson? It doesn’t abruptly grab you, but rather guides you along, drawing you in like the first deep breath as you awake in the morning. A deeper meaning peels up from the bottom of your lungs and just as you would exhale that breath, you are caught in the comfort of the sounds, a confused mellow-toned song with a neutral raspy voice dancing over a finger-pick-style acoustic guitar.  Music to appeal to our inner critical thinker, these lyrics wash the listener in metaphors and dry them in tranquility. The song lectures on emotional challenges as a story of romance and as a metaphor for life. Effortlessly, the song relates to everyone with its lack of specificity, yet wraps itself in a particular story.

Line for line, the lyrics read more like a discussion, a conversation between two extremes unable to exist without one another. Love and hate are not only emotions but names, actions, and a description within the song – hate depicted as the male while love is the female descriptor, as is traditional. They are far from one another literally and figuratively. Love is on a beautiful vacation with images of serenity such as the blue sky and ocean. She is traveling back to Hate and during that time, the world around her becomes dreary while somehow maintaining positivity in her presence. Hate, being, emotionally unavailable, depressed, and pessimistic, walks city streets in a picture painted in shades of gray. Love wishes to do what her name implies and has that aura of beauty, not by physical characteristics but rather the possession of something alluring that can’t be seen or heard, just felt. She draws everyone to her while Hate pushes her away. He acts reckless and without regard to consequence. The lyrics highlight this in the lines, “Lazily killing the last of a jar, of the strongest stuff you can drink… Hate gets home lucky to still be alive, he screams o’er the sidewalk and into the drive.”  Drinking heavily and with abandon is often seen in those with inner struggles, referencing his need for love. Without her, Hate would surely cease to exist, which would shatter Love in the process, an indication of the complications in a genuine relationship, and the yin and yang of life.

The music isn’t exactly the embodiment of the lyrical story at first. The only accompaniment to the vocalist is a single acoustic guitar setting a mood as if you were sitting in an empty coffee shop in winter, and someone turned off the heat, a middle-of-the-road content yet not happy mood. There is a waltzing slow-dance-style rhythmic guitar with vocals trailing in relatively the same style. He has a raspy light voice contributing to the music’s sedative nature. The song settles into itself and the storytelling style just after the vocals start. The passion in his voice enriches the experience of the listener as well as the message’s impact. The simplistic music gives calm to the mind while the lyrics bear down heavy thought, a nod to the concept of balance.

A live version of the song, accessible on youtube.com via user tweetdriver, is more layered with emotion and hints to the song’s undertones. Although, the Avett Brothers is a two-man duo for vocals, only one of them, Scott, sings on stage, paralleling the original song on the album Emotionalism. The artist dressed in all black, long hair to match, soft tired eyes, and a mellow soulful voice personifies the songs theme well. Scott proves his sensitivity in an interview posted online by Entertainment Weekly, when the interviewer asked if they were love-sick. To which he responded, “We’re ridiculously sentimental… I remember meeting girls at church retreats at Lake Junaluska and meeting them once or twice in a weekend – and going home crying the whole way home that I would never see that person again.”

The two most influential parts of the performance on the audience come at two separate parts. First, he sings of Hate drinking strong alcohol, which resonates with the audience in the celebration of debauchery, but also relating to the low points we all experience in our lives. Second, his voice goes from soft and mellow to powerful, singing, “As soon as he sees her hope fills his eyes,” as Love meets the young man in the taxi. The crowd goes wild with praise over the raw emotion spilled across a, no doubt, dark popcorn-like ceiling of audience heads. Toward the end, he animates the lyrics when he says, “The clock in the kitchen says 2:55, and the clock in the kitchen is slow,” by slowing down the song abruptly when approaching the word slow. This deliberate declaration sets the audience into the culminating event where love and hate meet.

In that moment, the message comes full circle. A relationship will always have its ups and downs full of complications, and we all need to be picked up by one another. Throughout the song Hate constantly shakes off what should be considered good with, “whatever.” This seemingly negative statement takes on a new meaning when Love at the end says, “I’m yours and that’s it, whatever”, indicating that she will stand by him even in moments that may not be romantic or beautiful, a simplistic metaphor for love itself. Inside ourselves, we see a struggle in wanting to be angry, to hate, and when love asks to come in we resist. This mindset is a comfortable yet unpleasant place to be. To care for others or even ourselves takes work and leaves us vulnerable, something we would like to naturally avoid. Sadly, fear of vulnerability defines all relationships whether with ourselves or our significant other.

From another perspective, offered in interview with Patricia Hollis, the culmination when Love responds in a reciprocal manner to Hate, could be similar to how we teach people to treat us. Thus, it creates a manner in which one’s personality is expressed yet the behaviors are exactly the same toward one another. Whether this is healthy or not is a relative notion, but if two extremes are averaged out, we meet directly in the middle in a less than harmonious compromise. With all the multimodal metaphors running amuck, why wouldn’t it reside side by side with another message?

“The Ballad of Love and Hate”, is an anthem to the primal struggle of human interaction, a soulful story of life. The brothers skillfully crafted this idea into a mellow acoustic song worth a listen. Appropriate for an early fall afternoon, with your drink of choice, on the porch with a mind ready to contemplate. Let the song invoke your thoughts and soothe your own hate with the love in your heart. Appreciate the ones in your life that suffer even your worst outbursts, as these people are your love.

As always I love you guys and thanks for reading!

Works Cited

The Avett Brothers. “The Ballad of Love and Hate.” Emotionalis. Ramseur Records, 2007.

“The Avett Brothers on ‘The Carpenter,’ Gap Ads, Faith, and How Cancer Has Shaped Their Songs.” Interview by Grady Smith. EW.com. 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/09/29/the-avett-brothers/&gt;.

“Ballad of Love and Hate – The Avett Brothers Live.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c1WCd8Qefc&gt;.

Hollis, Patricia, and Parran Hollis. “Informal Family Discussion.” Personal interview. 23 Sept. 2014.

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Uncle Sam Needs an Eyepatch

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Today I started reading George Orwell’s book 1984. I have only reached chapter three and discovered disturbing comparisons with the oddly shaped America we live in today. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I will not deny any truth either. I fear the way America is compromising herself due to fear is sadly self-masochistic. When I stop and think about how my fear motivates my thoughts on how fear motivates our actions I acknowledge the conundrum present. So it is with caution that I proceed.

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In the book 1984, the most abundantly clear concern that parallels our current state of affairs is the ever-present surveillance. While the world we live in may not have screens monitoring our every movement, it is still safe to say we are under a watchful eye. That haunting eye bearing itself more openly with the relatively recent creation of the Patriot Act that many consider unconstitutional. While this act was born for counter-terrorism purposes, it has also been utilized in ways unrelated to terrorism for the apprehension of your average criminal. At face value this does not seem harmful to the honest hardworking American, but I must remind my readers that, as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This means that with any slight words or actions that COULD be interpreted as terrorist-like-behavior your personal life can be place under the proverbial microscope. I hear the argument that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. I find this to be very characteristic of the sheep mentality. If we are not able to retain our privacy at more open levels when, where, why, and who determines the line in the sand. The saying, “You give and inch, they take a mile.” comes to mind. This can of worms could produce a future similar to Orwell’s existence of “Thought Police.” That is more frightening to me than the threat of terrorists.

It is speculated that due to the terrible events that occurred on September 11, 2001, and the fear planted into the hearts of the average American, is what allowed the passing of the Patriot Act. In admittance, I am no sociologist, and therefore no authority to determine such thoughts with certainty, I only humbly offer my take on such events.

Having experienced but a minute fraction of Orwell’s book, I cannot discern where the origination of such blatant oppression is rooted. I am witnessing a rather unnerving trend though, similar to what can be seen in our current society. If we are to make decisions based upon fear, then future decisions will be made by those who do not fear the consequences. Knee jerk reactions to any events in life are very often motivated by fear and more so uneducated. Planting these decisions firmly on the rationale of comfort and absolute safety, not intelligible resolution. While this behavior works quite well in the primitive fight or flight response to immediate life or death situations, it has no place in the determination of long-term social policy decisions.

Terrorism is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” We have already allowed the terrorists responsible for the attack on 9/11 to achieve their main objective. Out of fear we have sacrificed freedoms that embody the American way, all in the name of safety. However, when I step outside my house, or reside within for that matter, I am at risk of death or dismemberment by my own.

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I do not believe the American government has any intention of controlling our minds or any ridiculous nonsense of that nature. I believe that those successful at their jobs are often in positions of power, and as such continue to look for avenues to excel. Just as an individual who works for the National Security Agency wishes to apprehend terrorists he will naturally exploit all possible options to achieve his goal. This is a healthy drive, but one we must remember to govern appropriately as a nation built upon democracy. We should constantly and objectively scrutinize all decisions made that affect the very freedoms the same organizations exist to protect.

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Thanks for reading, and as always I love you guys!

Motivation

So, at this current point in life I feel pretty overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed by life; My finances are tightening up. School is looking endless. Work and my other responsibilities aren’t aligning well. My lease is ending soon, and we are supposed to be moving into a house. I could give up and lay down right now. The hell with it! I don’t want to deal with it. We all know none of that is going to happen, because, like everyone else, I have an innate drive to keep going. Not excel at what I am doing, but just get by. Stumbling through the everyday monotonous junk until the day it all falls on me. I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. I’m here to tell you that someone has it worse than me, and someone has it worse than you. This petty crap doesn’t mean the end of your life. These stressful things are nothing but stress. If the military taught me anything it is this;

If you don’t want to sleep in the mud, don’t go to sleep. If you are doing this because you’re afraid to get dirty, too late. You can take a shower later, but you can’t get that experience back. You learn to dig in and embrace that your circumstances are less than perfect. You do the BEST you can to improve your situation and you keep on dragging your knuckles. Mother Nature or the person next to you will not magically make your circumstances better, nor should your expectation be to reach perfection. You can look for help from the people next to you and you can look toward perfection, but reality is an unrelenting bitch. So if you’re going to have any chance at success you’d better be the unrelenting bastard that tells her to get fucked.

 

I apologize for the explicit language, but this is the blatant truth. My standard of living and arrangements as I know them are in constant jeopardy of getting worse. There isn’t a single thing I can do about that. I take my situation and make it into the best possible circumstances I can.

I know I sound almost like a pretentious little shit so let me clarify. Your biggest enemy is yourself, and we are in a constant battle with ourselves. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in 2010, of course I worry about everything (just by being diagnosed I’m better off than other people). I battle myself daily on how much unnecessary stress I put on myself. I fight the concept that sometimes there isn’t a damn thing you can do about life events. I fight myself every second of every day. What I have come to understand is that, no matter the outcome, if I did my best, life will in fact work out for the better. It may not be a reality tomorrow or a week from now, but eventually that shitty moment in life will have been worth something.

 

If we are proactive about our lives in the worst of times then when life starts getting better there is no doubt in your mind as to who is responsible for it. You are not going to achieve those far off reaches of awesome curled up in the corner concerned with the “impending failure”. Hell, you may not achieve it when you try. The difference comes with knowing. If you don’t try then you don’t know. At the end of the day you fail, trust me, all you want to do is try again. That is success. That is motivation. It isn’t some magical creature, and it isn’t a flawless performance. It is the willingness to fail, but not the acceptance of failure.

Our Fleeting Sense of Everything

The world we live in today is absorbed in whatever the top media outlets put out. Watching the news I see negative after negative story varying from deep significance to absolutely useless information. The radio and music television channels play songs about a life of luxury and partying the day away (not that there isn’t meaningful music played). Movies are just as guilty of becoming more and more mindless, mainly seen among the comedy realm of film. All of these things in moderation are acceptable, but again we as a society are absorbed in it. This would be great if what media outlets had to offer wasn’t fleeting or superficial.

Right now we sit amongst a wave of protest against discrimination and prejudice, but, of course, the majority of people not impacted by this will shrug it off just as fast as their favorite news station does. I’m not bashing them, I can be just as guilty of this. What I am trying to point out is our state of mind. Look how quickly we trend from one thing to the next. We see issues globally or nationally, try them on, and then donate them to goodwill as soon as its out of fashion. With millions of serious issues in the world we can’t possible keep our attention on one. So we let the news determine where we will be outraged next. Are you really outraged though? Do the things you see or hear on CBS, MSNBC, or FOX really impact you or could it be equated to the argument you had with your girlfriend or boyfriend over what to eat for dinner?

Please realize it is not just our attention that is being manipulated, it is our emotions. Anyone remember a particular era in American history where an overwhelming amount of citizens preached peace and love for one another. What ever happened to that mentality? We are actually living in a world in which it is no longer cool to preach love. Instead of listening to songs talking about love and societal values we listen to songs about big screen TVs and “sexy women”. This doesn’t pretain specifically to hip-hop either. This pretains to its antithesis, country, as well. The majority of what I hear on the radio is about sex or sex appeal, materialism and wealth, as well as consumption of drugs and alcohol. This is not indicative of all music, but there is something to be said about the top songs found in each genre portraying one if not all of those.  Still don’t believe your thoughts emotions and choices aren’t being manipulated? I urge you to watch the video below.

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Even still, this isn’t my point. My point is that we have actually taken the idea of loving our neighbor or acting like a “hippie” and made it lame or uncool. We can no longer be tolerant of each other. That wouldn’t project a cool imagine. Instead we have to revolve around consumption of goods, objectification of each other (not just women), and use of ellicit substances. While those will be ever present based upon marketing and the fact that it “feels good”, our values as a society consequently becoming fleeting. We have been immersed so far into what the media tells us that we are pruning from superficiality.

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Preaching love doesn’t have a thing to do with your sexual orientation, men it doesn’t make you gay (another infuriating issue). It is about being one with each other. It is about tolerance. It is about avoiding wars. You’re not a coward for finding other ways than a fight to resolve a problem. You’re a coward if your answer to a problem always requires it. Life will never be as easy as throwing a punch.

In light of current events, don’t let this feeling of love excape you when the reporters stop reporting on it. Don’t throw yourselves into the streets and hurt others, because youre “expressing anger.” Intellegently unify each other and be about the love you are so adamantly protesting for.

I’ll stop my rant here. As you can see I had no outline to this, and just rambled on. I hope it was worth the time you spent!

Thanks for reading, and as always I love you guys!

Love is Sacrifice

At 16 years old I had a jumble of pearly whites all about my mouth like a picture of a mosh-pit. My mother was in the process of having all of that fixed. I had teeth removed, a palate splitter, and not to mention the irritating braces, but what I really dreaded was the surgery. My junior year in high school I was out of commission for a few weeks with a surgically broken and reset jaw. It was an absolutely miserable experience. I had no choice in the matter as I was only 16, and my mother made all the decisions. I lost a lot of weight and felt like crap when I took pain medication, and felt terrible pain if I didn’t take them. I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t. It was all around no fun. So now fast forward to present-day and I can appreciate what my mother did for me.

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You don’t get a picture of my pathetic face after that surgery, haha.

I’m sitting on my second story apartment balcony enjoying 70+ degree temperatures in early December, here in Texas. My big old Great Dane Dozer is resting beside me with a giant inflatable collar around his neck. He just went through surgery yesterday to be neutered, and by all means is not thrilled. While I sit here comfortable, he has a sore between his legs where, something human men value, no longer is. I feel absolutely terrible. I had him neutered for many reasons, but above all, I never want to be responsible for another set of pups entering this world to no home and the huge overpopulation crisis. This doesn’t even negate the fact that I caused him pain, and It tears me up. I spoke to my mother, who’s just over a thousand miles away, and she mentioned my jaw surgery. Within that moment, I actually related on a very emotional level with my mother. This is something that is a tad strange in our overly sarcastic family. We cause our loved ones pain to help them, and in that process we feel as much emotional hurt. We sacrifice comfort for the betterment of the ones we love.

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While settling into this so blatantly obvious fact, I felt an overwhelming feeling of being in step with what it means to be human. We do things every day that are uncomfortable for ourselves or others with all the best intentions. We give our best friend terrible news about his girlfriend of four years cheating on him. We ground our children for bad behavior. We force extremely intoxicated friends to stop drinking and take them home. Why? We do it because we love them. We don’t do this because either of us are going to enjoy the experience. We do it because we love each other and we do what is most responsible and best in that moment. We hold no regrets, because we did what we thought was best, in that moment. Even if that friend never speaks to you again, you can rest easy knowing they didn’t drive their drunk ass into the tree just up the road.

Sacrifice – That is real love…

Thanks for reading, and as always I love you guys!

Too far apart

A good read from Cristian Mihai. I urge you all to read it.

Cristian Mihai

many“There are too many of us and we are all too far apart.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

I’m writing these words knowing that people from all over the world are going to read them. People of all ages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of different religious beliefs. Most of them, I’ll never get a chance to meet. Most of them, I don’t know how they look like, what’s the thing they want most in this world, or what is it that they’re afraid of… most of them are perfect strangers to me.

Yet, simply by writing these words with these strangers in my mind, having the certainty that my words will reach them, they become a little bit more than strangers. They become human beings, just like myself, and that is one of life’s greatest achievements.

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Jumping the Gun(man)?

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I have no illusions about police brutality existing in America, and globally for that matter. My concern is with our approach to the problem. The first point I shouldn’t, and won’t, elaborate on – not all police officers are bad! Second, if you want to see murder you are damn well going to see murder. Third, protesting is good, when peaceful and has an objective. America has gone into a frenzy of bandwagon protest for a legitimate cause using a very structurally unsound vessel. We have divided each other, and we are getting nowhere!

As I have stated in the past, police brutality is a real issue in America, as is racial profiling. It is a novel cause to fight against such behavior. How we go about doing so will determine how we shape society for the future. As Americans, we realize that the individual civilian can do little, but as a mass can be explosively effective. Many famous leaders in history have proven that true, and to this day serve as role models. What I think we are forgetting is how we are highlighting this fight. We are taking an us versus them approach. Thus, creating a war, not positive social change. I do believe that police are becoming far too protected in their misbehavior. I also believe that we are not putting ourselves in their shoes before making claims. Such as stomping around saying Darren Wilson and the officers involved with Eric Garner are terrible officers. In both cases from my point of view the so-called “facts” indicate the officers did what they needed to in order to both protect themselves and do their job. That being said the facts about the case involving officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback  are a little sketchy and lean more toward an itchy trigger finger against a young black boy, rather than appropriate use of force. I will implore you all to remember that the media will do the best it can to sell a story – not the truth. All so-called “facts” should be taken with a grain of salt, which means use your inner critical thinker! Not just for one side either, but for both equally. My question to you is; If you are in search of truth, why do you act as if you already have the answer?

This leads me right into my second objective with this post. When so many others scream murder, our first instinct is to follow suit. We have already become unwittingly biased, and participating in a virtual mob mentality. You now see a murderous cop, because what appears to be the majority of people say so. This doesn’t make it right or wrong. This means people are not really paying attention, but have every intention of doing so. This goes for both sides. How many cops, and families of cops, do you think would immediately side with their fellow officer regardless of the facts? I’m sure quite a few would. What makes you, the protesting civilian, any different? There is a middle ground where we can start a dialogue, but I must reiterate that if all we wish to see is murder then by god we will see murder.

As worthy as this issue may be, using cases built weakly against officers (whether truly guilty or not) is not the best vehicle to start a movement with. As a society, we have to be particular and meticulous in our approach to this change. We need to have a solid foundation, friendships with the other side, and be as squeaky clean in our demonstrations as possible. Blocking interstates and putting lives at risk for this movement is wrong! You may not be looting and you have gotten some serious attention, but did you not realize the impact this could have on innocent people? Those people could be another supporter of your cause. Making peace not war means we need to peacefully attack the right people, not just throw a temper tantrum in the streets. This kind of protesting discredits us all by breaking the law, putting lives at risk, and losing potential supporters by agitation. Think bigger than the highway beside your home people!

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I am not a cop hater, yet I resent being nervous when around authorities. I acknowledge police brutality, discrimination, and my white privilege. I am for protesting, but not in the way we are currently conducting ourselves. I love my country and all her people, and hate to see her torn apart by lack of unity.

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

Feel free to start a conversation! As always I love you guys!

Falling Off the Academic Wagon

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As I sit here sipping on my delicious coffee stout beer in the warm glow of the dining room light, it’s 2:43 pm and I cannot get my focus together. Well, I guess I’ll have another beer. The fall semester is over and finals start for me in less than 2 days. I start out fine, first thing in the morning with actual coffee and books in hand. Then, two hours later my focus is slipping, the dog is whining and nudging me, and I’m all but about to give up. I love education, and I love my major but hard work means exactly that. Anyone who has spent any time studying knows the gnawing pain of repetitive errors in search of knowledge retention. Nowhere did anyone say,”Yeah it was easy getting my doctorate.” If I met that person I might go into a fist flying jealous rage. Until then, I will content myself to knowing this is but a part of life and a chapter in reaching my goals.

At twenty-four years old, I am aware I know everything and nothing depending on the given moment in which you ask. This would even apply to my study habits. Just a little background – I am currently pursuing my undergrad majoring in biology and minoring in writing. So, the last thing I need to be doing is writing about how I am not studying, but I need to take a break at some point, right? This wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t contemplating a nap following the post.

Procrastination is the evil gremlin crawling on my shoulder, and most everyone’s to some degree. I am usually good about not allowing this little bastard to get the better of me, but as the workload piles on his whisper becomes more and more entrancing. How do I make it stop?

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To each his own in this endeavor, as I’m not sure I know the proper technique for doing so, yet. I have found one relatively good technique for studying. Try torturing, I mean studying for, give or take, an hour and then break for fifteen to thirty minutes. The problem lies in what activity you take part in for that time. This could be anything, but some leave you unwilling to return to the leaning tower of papers. If you decide to eat, for the love of god, eat light! Drinking alcohol is always acceptable in my book, but be careful of the quantity (and your age). Avoid the television, it will suck you in, drain your soul, and leave you with 3 hours wasted in what felt like 3 seconds. Depending on who you are, naps are perfectly acceptable, don’t forget to set an alarm though. Taking the dog for a walk is great, because; it kills the dogs energy, gets you some fresh air, and checks off an item on the to-do list. No reading or writing, like I am doing. You need to give your brain a break. Allow some neuron recovery before bashing it with lewis structures, stoichiometry, or any other academic form of torture.

At the end of the day studying is studying, and motivation will come and go. Stay the course and we may all one day make it. If you have already made it, don’t talk to me. I will be in the corner envying your’ achievements. I will continue to plow through the papers like the Tasmanian Devil with a sense of purpose, all the while the purpose being completely lost on me. I must remind myself that while this is its own style of misery it still beats sleeping in the mud. The life college students, like myself, live is one of privilege and we should acknowledge it as such, and do as much good as we can with it.

Thanks for reading and as always I love you guys!

Fur-Babies

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I could talk for hours about man’s best friend and still not be satisfied. Dog owners really are just like parents, all they do is talk about them. I hate to say it, but I have become the annoying picture-posting proud dad on facebook. In my own defense, a dog is a hell of a lot easier to look at and more entertaining. Seriously, your baby is only cute to you, everyone else is just being nice or jealous they don’t have one of their own. I adopted a Great Dane approximately three months ago, and it has already been quite the journey. Today I am just going to list some things I learned and give myself an excuse to post pictures of Dozer. You can’t complain about these either because you are voluntarily here now!

1- Although I have been surrounded by dogs my entire life, this I know to be true now; The bigger they are the worse their farts smell.                                                 Gas! Gas! Gas!

2- We all love cuddling with our fur-child, but make sure you get some room on the bed too.                                                                                                          IMG_1166[1]

3- Meal time is always a staring contest…                                    begging-1

4- Don’t be in a hurry to give them all your trust…                                 IMG_1086[1]

5- Living in an apartment with a dog means you spend a lot more time outside… Bad-Weather                                                                                  Dozer: Whines…                                                                                                                                   Me: (looks at Emily) it’s your turn to take him out…                                                                          Emily: I WAS ASLEEP!

6- They are endless entertainment… even if you’re trying to study…IMG_1128[1]

7- Being a morning person, I have no need for an alarm clock, but I cannot say the same for the significant other (insert deviant smile here)…    o-DOG-ALARM-facebook

8- They are willing to go anywhere with you, and don’t appreciate businesses who discriminate against them…                                                                    IMG_1099[1]

9- Naps can happen anywhere, even if you spent $80.00+ on a bed…IMG_1125[1]

10- All dogs wish to be lap dogs…                                                           IMG_1079[1]

 

This list was all for the sake of sharing pictures, however, there is much joy in adopting a friend. My world revolves around the black and white Great Dane you see in the pictures. He constantly tests my patience, forces my responsible thinking, and comforts me through all of it. He has taught me much about myself and how to be a better person.

Owning a dog isn’t for everyone, but for those willing to make a long-term commitment it’s fantastic. I know we all want puppies, but adopt at your local shelter, not a breeder. The puppies created by breeders will most likely not be put down. The dogs at many shelters will, and they make just as good a companion. If you are thinking of adopting a dog here are some good links;

Petfinder, Petango, ASPCA, No Kill Network

Thanks for reading and as always I love you guys!

Beating the Bull?

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Recently I attended a concert at the venue Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas, an awesome venue I might add. While awaiting the main performer they have a thirty-minute rodeo show in the back of the venue. This was specifically bull riding, something I have been hesitantly against for as long as I can remember. My girlfriend had some intrigue about rodeos so we paid the three dollar ticket price per person for the show. While appearing to be a level playing field and otherwise healthy bull according to my untrained eye, I wonder still about how humane such an event could be. At the conclusion of the show, I decided I would throw myself into the world of ethical animal treatment and the debate on rodeos. I will try my best to maintain a neutral voice on the topic until the conclusion, at which time I will take a tentative for or against position on the continuance of rodeo events.

History and General Information on Rodeos:                                                                          According to About.com, the roots of rodeo started in the 1700s with spanish cattlemen. During this time, the spanish populated the majority of now western America. Most rodeo events were born of practical skills used to work on a ranch, such as wrangling and horse breaking. With the birth of the American cowboy was the presentation of these skills in competitions. At the start, these competitions would take place for nothing more than pride. Over time, the events became more formal and the number of spectators grew until it formed a structure similar to what we see in rodeos today. This is obviously a very brief overview of rodeo history, which will serve with some understanding on the attachment many have to it from historical and traditional standpoint.

 

Information For the Continuance of Rodeo Events:                                                               The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) league has a page specifically dedicated to information on the welfare of the animals involved in their events. The key takeaway from this group is how they have created and continue to develop ways of conducting these events with safety measures that limit injury to both rider and animals alike. They present themselves as individuals who are committed to their animals’ welfare above everything, including profit. This means these animals get prime veterinary care before, during, and after rodeo events. A group known as Friends of Rodeo offers some insights into how rodeos work to ensure the health and well-being of the animals involved. Mainly the group focuses on ways of rodeos defending themselves against animal rights groups. The writing seen by this group is very indicative of opinionated and blatant disdain for groups concerned about animals’ well-being at rodeos.

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Information For the Discontinuance of Rodeo Events:                                                          At the other pole of the debate is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group. PETA list multitudes of ways in which animals are abused in rodeos around the globe. To quote PETA’s page on the rodeo issue,”Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos. Before entering the ring, cows and horses are often prodded with an electrical “hotshot” so that the pain will rile them.” Many other groups against rodeos also list injuries and deaths of rodeo animals due to their treatment and consequences of using animals for entertainment events. Another such group very vocal on the rodeo issue is Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). They list much of the same information as PETA, and also offer videos on these dangers such as the one listed below. Please do not watch the video if you are sensitive to animals in pain. I will not claim whether these animals are being abused or not. I will say it was difficult for me to watch many of the videos offered by SHARK.

Neutral Information Regarding Rodeo Events:                                                                        The Animal Law Resource Center offers good information I think both sides of the debate can mutually agree on. I am not going to delve into the laws as I am not a lawyer, and laws do not mean anything as ethically right or wrong. If this were the case we wouldn’t constantly have laws being changed, manipulated, or completely thrown out. Another good article that highlights the debate on ethical animal treatment at rodeos can be found via the British Broadcasting Corporation.

My Concluding Thoughts:                                                                                                               Unfortunately, at the conclusion of my research I do not see an upside to rodeos from an animal standpoint. While groups like PBR appear to go out of their way to ensure the safety of the animals performing with the athletes, this does not negate the problem for me. I do not believe the large majority of these rodeo groups see themselves as maliciously causing harm to animals. I think that the deep-rooted culture of such practices can make it easy to see things in a light more conducive to the continuance of such events. I believe groups such as PETA utilize a large amount of propaganda, including unusual occurrences to push their agenda. While it is for a good cause, using the actions of a few individuals who happen to behave in a particularly disturbing fashion does not necessarily represent the whole of that community. I do not condone rodeo events, but I also do not condone the villainization of good people who have differing views.

The main issues I found are that the animals can be injured doing such events, and are in no way participating of their own free will. Rodeo groups insist that techniques such as cattle prods are necessary when animals are refusing to maneuver through shoots, but if these events were not taking place then it’s use would not be required. Techniques such as bucking straps are in no way justified to me. Whether this approach causes injury or not is irrelevant, causing an animal pain or discomfort for the sake of entertainment is wrong in my opinion. While the history of rodeo competitions may have developed out of necessary ranch hand skills, there is no such necessity for it in entertainment.

Overall, while the opposition distinctly over-exaggerates to what point rodeo groups mistreat animals, there is no doubt some level of abuse. While abuse at any level is unacceptable I think understanding the varying degrees will aid in understanding why we shouldn’t completely villainize those who participate in such events. The difference in opinion to me comes from what level of sympathy and empathy people have for animals. It is my personal view that enlightenment would mean an increase in empathy for animals and subsequent ceasing of participation or support in such events. I urge others to not be extremists on such a topic, but rather see the facts from an emotionless perspective. It appears both sides are for the ethical treatment of animals, and the issue is really about how we define ethical treatment of animals.

Your thoughts and opinions are encouraged, and as always I love you guys!