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February 25, 2010

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June 8, 2009

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Buy Aricept Without Prescription

July 11, 2008

Buy Aricept Without Prescription, On our inaugural podcast, we wrestle with one of our generation's hottest topics: marriage.  We've had several comments and discussions on the site about this topic, and decided to bat it around on our first podcast.  We have a varied group of individuals ranging from the staunchly single, to the happily married.  Hope you enjoy, and tune in weekly for new podcasts.

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Zen Beer-ism

June 13, 2008

Sometimes inspiration comes when you least expect it. For example, last weekend I was at an Irish pub in upstate New York. The waitress had just brought an order of hot wings and another tall, frothy, cold beer. It was a dark amber ale with a good head and great body. Clear. Smooth. Rich. It was hypnotic, and I fell into its trance. The tiny bubbles floated to the top, each one like a little planet racing into outer space. Before long I was floating in the beer. I was swimming around the planets, giddy like a kid on Christmas morning. Okay, maybe I was a little drunk. But inspiration nonetheless struck, and my great realization came: beer is a metaphor for life. I know this may sound like a fraternity initiation speech or an ode to the alcoholic. But it's not. Beer lovers consider it both an art and a skilled craft. Beer has always been an essential part of our lives. Its roots are embedded throughout history. It's said that the Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock due to dwindling supplies, especially of their beer. Most of the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson and Washington, were brewers. And let's not forget "Billy Beers." But it wasn't the history of beer that made me come to my realization; it was the process of making it. A few days before my evening at the Irish pub, I attempted to brew my own beer, an India Pale Ale. The kit I used had more ingredients and steps than I expected. Gypsum powder, two different types of hops, a malt barley liquid, liquid malt extract (LME), and terms like "mash" and "wort" all made it seem very complicated. But after my intoxicating experience at the pub, I realized what it all meant. Like all life the process begins with water. You add the gypsum, then the malt barley, and bring the mixture to a boil, otherwise known as steeping. This is the basis for your beer, or what we'd consider to be adolescence. From here on out everything that is added will contribute to your flavor and appearance. Enzymes in the malt will break down the starches, or what some of us may refer to as high school, and produce a sugary liquid called wort. Once the wort has come to a boil, you can use cheese cloth to add various types of crushed grain. Though not required, this step adds to the overall flavor and color, or what we consider college. Now, here is where it gets interesting. Once you've removed the grain, you can add your first set of hops. This step represents our quarterlives. It's where the main flavor change occurs. The flavoring becomes dry, toasty, and bitter, but as a result adds longevity to the beer. Speaking for myself, I can say my quarterlife is having its fair share of difficulties. The flavors are definitely changing from the college years. Trouble with jobs and relationships, struggles with money, identity crises, and other unsavory factors will probably add to my bitterness. But, like beer, it's essential in making that final flavor. Once the first set of hops have been added, we'll need a continuous stir to prevent the wort from boiling over - this I'll refer to as a steady job. Then, we add the liquid malt extract (extra sugar). This step is important because it'll determine our alcohol content and increase our value. These are the sweeter things in life: marriage, children, home ownership, and job security. After our first set of hops and LME sugars have boiled for roughly fifteen minutes, we add the finishing hops, or midlife crisis. This, of course, finishes the flavoring, and extends the life of the beer to its fullest. Once the boiling is finished, you remove the wort, letting it cool. This stage, where nothing much happens, will be known as our fifties. Now comes the fun part. We add the yeast, or what I will consider retirement. The yeast acts as a catalyst for the fermentation process, breaking down the sugars, and thereby creating alcohol. The fermentation process may sound bad, but it's the best stage of all. At this point we can sit back and enjoy ourselves. No worries about adding any more ingredients, about boiling over, or about killing the yeast. We can just sit back, collect our retirement money, and ferment. Of course, the last step is the most important. Once fermentation is complete, it's time to bottle the product. And only when it's bottled can you tell what your final flavor will be. Only at the very end are you able to know what all those steps and ingredients have made your beer taste like. And that's life: only at the very end are you able to see who you've become and what your experiences have made of you. Other types of beers will have different steps and different ingredients - not everyone will follow the same process. Nonetheless, we tend to look for the same results: good ingredients, long shelf life, and great flavor. So, if you come across difficult times, finding yourself lost and looking for answers, just look to the beer (metaphorically speaking). Let the beer take you home (with a designated driver). Drown yourself in intoxicating thought (thought, not beer). And don't forget it's all about that final flavor.

Marriage: A Team To Play On When Ready

June 4, 2008

Similar to Quarterlives author David Morgan, I check the box for married on all tax and patient history forms. I have been married since September 2005, and recently have been blessed with the birth of my first child. To date, my marriage has been terrific. I have known my wife for over 6.5 years. When we first started dating in July 2001, I had no intent of tying the knot, nor did I suspect that she would "be the one." It was not until three years later that I gave marriage a thought. And my first thought about it was not positive. At the start of my second year of law school, it hit me that Caryn and I had been together for three years. My mind reached the conclusion, that it was make or break time. I decided to break for what I thought would be permanent. I heart-wrenchingly explained that I did not believe things were working out, and assured my wife that the problem between us was most definitely me. After all, she had not done anything to deserve a separation. My feet had found their way into an arctic glacier when the thought of marriage arose. The following two weeks provided necessary reflection. After time with my family, I traveled to Bemidji, Minnesota for a Hockey official's seminar. It was in my hotel room that I realized my illogical move. I was leaving a terrific relationship, because I was afraid of commitment and hard work. I begged Caryn to forgive me, and she was gracious enough to give me a second chance. Free accommodations were afforded to me at chateau-de-bow-wow for my irrational decision. After our relationship resumed, 4-5 months of mental tennis convinced me that Caryn was the one. Positives: a person that is supportive of everything I do; looks amazing; is very intelligent; hates rodents and snakes; knows how to keep my stomach full; and is o.k. with hockey. The negatives: goodbye bachelorhood; she dislikes baseball; and she was not good at cooking rice. (I once mistook a bowl of rice Caryn had made for mashed potatoes. But her rice cooking skills have perfected since that situation.) The positives won in a landslide. I popped the question to Caryn on Clearwater Beach on New Year's Eve 2004. To my surprise, she said "yes." We were ready to be married, and I was excited for it. It would be another great aspect of our lives. But some people are not keen on marriage. Quarterlives author Frank Bologna posed the question that asked whether "marriage is the kind of decision one can rationally make in this day and age?" Albeit his question may be rhetorical, the question should be answered in the affirmative. Marriage is just one option on the checklist of life that may or may not be pursued. It is for some and not for others. You can only cross this decisional bridge when you come to it. But how do my experiences counter the thoughts about marriage that Mr. Bologna expressed? Entrance into marriage does not mean you automatically surrender everything you had in single life in favor of your spouse, children, or pets. The notion that a spouse simply must stop aspiring to better him/herself because of marriage is to be rejected. Getting married is not necessarily equivalent to "settling down." True, when you get married you are no longer limited to decisions that merely implicate "me." There is "me" plus spouse and children. But is the consideration of others restricting when it comes to your own life within the marriage? No. Marriage, like all life experiences and relationships, is what you make it. It is the ultimate test of interpersonal communications, a course that I took and received a C+ in during college. If my wife took the course she probably earned an A. In terms of our country's statistics on divorce rates, our citizenry fails on the subject of marriage interpersonal communication when looked at in the traditional grading range of 90-80-70-60. What is the penalty for a failed marriage grade? It depends on your standpoint. Legally, there are court costs, attorney fees, child support, division of assets, spousal support, income tax implications and many other costs. Spiritually, Christian churches tag divorcees as damaged goods. No one signs up for a marriage with the intention to fail. People take pride in their relationships and their successes. Problems arise in marriages and relationships when partners shut down their communications, switch their attitudes to uncooperative, or elect to engage in adultery. Marriage, and other relationships, must fit somewhere into an individual's priority list. And it is generally found near the top of the list when it happens. If an individual wishes to throw himself/herself exclusively into his/her career, then marriage needs to wait. It is difficult to break free of Corporate America once a person has been promoted up the ladder, given more responsibility, cash, and benefits. But when on parole from the office, how will you spend your time? Some enjoy the singles scene while others hang out with friends, head to the beach, or work on a hobby. It is up to the person how time not working is spent, and there is no wrong answer to how it is spent. Marriage is another option. Marriage is not for everyone. Once you walk down the aisle you must remember that marriage is teamwork. Each player is responsible for communicating with everyone on the team and picking up the play signals. You pick up your teammates when slumping, and always celebrate the wins and losses together. If one is cool with all of this and has an interested partner, then marriage is definitely a rational decision you can make in this day and age.

Surfing For Love On The Net

February 23, 2008

Surfing For LoveIt all started shortly after college. I was working a soulless "Office Space" job creating 3D bombing trainers for the military. You know, the type of job that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside about your contribution to the world. I had lived in the same general 100 mile vicinity for my entire 23 years of existence. The days of playing Mario Kart all night long while sharing drinks with good friends were becoming few and far between. I was trying so hard not to let the college days slip out of my grasp, but they were already gone. The only responses I received from companies I sent my resume and demo reels to were rejection letters. My last serious girlfriend was nearly 5 years prior and any date since then had been a joke. Maybe it's because my idea of a good first date was taking them surfing in Florida hurricane swell, rock climbing or to a hard rock concert. The way I saw it, if they couldn't deal with a little extreme sport action, the outdoors and a good rock concert, we ultimately were not going to get along. What happened to all of my hopes and dreams? Was the past year an indication of what the rest of my life would become? A lonely one track path through the halls of corporate misery… I wanted adventure, excitement, love and happiness! I wanted to live on a tropical island, surf perfect waves every day and work at a job I truly enjoyed. That’s not too much to ask for is it? I just needed someone to share the experiences with. I know it's not the cool thing to do, but I turned to the internet for dating. American Singles to be exact. Bars and clubs aren’t my scene, so I could rule those options out for finding a quality girl. The workplace is a bad idea, but even if it was an option there’s not a great male to female ratio in the development of 3D military simulators industry. Anyway, that’s enough of my lame excuses for looking to the internet for love. At the time I was poor, so I didn't actually subscribe to the site. However, if you're internet savvy you can hide enough clues in your profile for someone to figure out how to contact you. A great thing about internet dating is the opportunity to learn about the person you're interested in before actually dating them. Assuming they're not lying, but you can usually tell who the fake people are. If she says she’s 18 and looks 16, chances are she’s 14. I mean, c’mon! She likes Ashley Simpson and her favorite movie is Hannah Montana in 3D! How much more evidence do you need? No longer will you have to go out for weeks before learning that your date’s idea of a perfect life is living with her Grandparents in the corn fields of Illinois with a collection of puppy magnets. The internet doesn't always work out. There are a lot of kooks out there, but after only a couple tries I got lucky. We hit it off right away on the phone and set up a date to go surfing the following weekend in February. There’s nothing hotter than a girl in a wetsuit! It turns out the waves were really up (a Florida rarity) and it was really choppy (not a Florida rarity). So, making the wise move I opted for a less extreme date of an evening together at Laundry’s Crab Shack right on Tampa Bay. Smooth, I know. She didn’t tell me until months later that she doesn’t like seafood. Anyway, the date was great. At the end of the night I gave her a peck on the cheek and headed home. I had to keep her guessing, but the truth was I already knew she was the one. Her name was Jana. She was so cute, exotic, intelligent and lived all over the world from France to Pakistan. She was a photography student at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Her favorite activities included surfing, camping, hiking and watching fantasy movies! How often do you meet a girl who loves to surf and digs The Lord of the Rings!? She was in to piercing, industrial music, Paganism and Buddhism! Basically, the perfect girl to bring home to my Christian conservative southern family! We commuted back and forth to see each other nearly every week for months. Jana and I spent so much time together that I lost my job. I guess in the grand scheme of things I found love to be a bit more important than building kill switches for stealth bombers. Every weekend together was a new adventure. We surfed multiple hurricanes, slept under the stars at Sebastian Inlet several times, backpacked through the Grand Canyon for 4 days, had several road trips to North Carolina and the Florida Keys and I even attended my first Renaissance Festival and taught the LARPers a lesson or two about throwing a tomahawk. I wouldn’t have cared that much about losing my job, but it forced me to move back home with my parents and get a job close by doing graphic design. I love my family, but after 5 years of college and 6 years away from home, opinions on almost everything tend to differ quite a bit from your parents. But like most things, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It gave me the opportunity to save some money and realize that graphic design was the career path for me. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life sharing adventures with Jana. An evening in August she spilled the beans about a surprise road trip for my birthday to our secret spot in North Carolina. A secluded location at the top of a beautiful waterfall that words can’t even describe and it was all ours. I decided that was going to be the spot to pop the big question. One evening before hiking down to the bottom of the waterfall I slipped the ring in to my pocket. At the bottom, wading through the water, I proposed the brilliant idea of searching for gold. I got down on my knee in the water, held up the ring and said, “Look what I found!” I’m pretty sure she thought I really found it in the water at first. The look on her face was shock and amazement. Then, I asked her to marry me. She said no. I went home heartbroken and have been writing poetry ever since. Okay, okay… she said yes. We were married a few months later. Jana was 21 and I was 24. It’s been over 2 years since our wedding and while I’m no expert on the matter, I can say marriage has been awesome so far. We didn’t marry for financial reasons or because we had a kid on the way, but because we loved each other and it was something we wanted to do. Has it been happily ever after? Hell no. We have our fair share of fights and arguments. I’ve made Jana cry on several occasions and she’s made me, uh… almost cry a few times. We’ve had financial difficulty and family problems. We were constantly criticized for being too young, crazy or stupid. There are several people that would love to see our marriage fail. We’ve learned who our real friends are and what people really think of us. There are many things that are "expected" of you when you get married. You're "supposed" to settle down, work a steady job, purchase a home together and start a family. Personally, I think that's all bullshit. The only thing that I ever felt pressured in to was purchasing a condo. I consider that decision a big mistake, but I don't regret it. I learned a valuable life lesson; other people never know what's best for you. Follow your heart and take everyone else's advice with a grain of salt. For us, owning a home was an anchor and the economy sure isn't helping the situation. Jana and I still have many years of adventures left in us. Eventually starting a family will be a great new adventure, but that's one we plan on waiting another 5 or 10 years before embarking on. We love each other now more than ever. Since we met over 3 years ago I have worked at 6 different jobs, started my own design company and moved to the tropical island of Oahu where I have the opportunity to surf perfect waves nearly every day. We left our condo behind in Orlando (it still hasn't sold) and moved to Hawaii with no place to live or job secured. Now we live in downtown Waikiki 2 blocks from the ocean. We have 2 dogs that drive me completely insane some days. I have great friends and a loving family. Most days I am genuinely happy. I got the change I was looking for. Nobody can say what the future will truly hold for us, but I can say with certainty that I don't regret any choices I've made in my life thus far. My dreams have come true and I can only hope most people can be as lucky as I am.

Marriage: Is It For You?

February 22, 2008

Is It For You?A couple of weeks ago, I attended my cousin’s wedding. Normally, I could care less about weddings, but it was my Italian cousin getting hitched. And every time I get invited to an Italian wedding, I check that “Will Attend” box faster than an overweight ninja on a buffet line. Why? Because at Italian weddings, you know the food is going to be nothing short of orgasmic. And let’s not forget the plentiful booze. I know, I know. I shouldn’t reduce such events to superficial elements. Weddings are about two people acknowledging their love and dedication to each other for the rest of their lives. It’s a ceremony of beauty and - Who the hell am I kidding? 50% of these marriages go down the toilet, so obviously these fools that decide to tie the knot aren’t really THAT committed. Just because they had a delusional fit and buy into this “sanctity” bullshit doesn’t mean I should as well. If you’re dumb enough to get married and pay thousands and thousands of dollars to celebrate it, then sign me up! Sitting through a gag-inducing ceremony is a worthy price to pay for the chance to eat a really good fucking steak dinner and suck back Long Island ice-teas like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, back to my cousin’s wedding. During the reception, I was sitting at a table next to my cousin Mike, with whom I used to live in Orlando when I was attending UCF. We had a lot in common: we were both the same age, both loved theatre and film, and both scoffed at the idea of marriage. A budding actor, he also starred in one of the first serious films I made. I truly enjoyed and treasured all the time I spent with him during my time in Orlando. Then as soon as we wrapped on the film, he decided to join the Army. Stricken with indecision about what he wanted to do with his life (apparently he wasn’t too keen about pursing an acting career, after all), he felt that the Army could shape him up and give him some direction. Before I knew it, he finished Basic Training, and then was off to North Korea. That was Fall of 2002. He has been stationed in Korea for five years. And when I finally saw him at the wedding after all of that time, my jaw dropped in shock at what I beheld before my very eyes: He had with him a wife and baby girl, only a few weeks old. “Damn it," I thought. "There goes another one." Now before you start calling me a cold-hearted bastard, let me give you some context. Nearly all of my cousins are married and have kids. Every time I go to a family reunion, I find it really difficult to relate to the rest of my family simply because I am without wife and child. I was Francis, the “weird” cousin in Florida who’s been in school forever and never had a serious girlfriend. Despite this self-imposed alienation, I could always rely on a single cousin or two to talk to without having to resort to the pleasures of food and booze to pass the time. My cousin Mike was one of those cousins. Now after five years of serving in the Army, he comes back with a family, which completely surprises me because I truly thought Mike was different. We would both make fun of other family members and friends who married too easily and early. We believed it was a cope-out; a strategy adopted by weak, desperate people who were indecisive about what they wanted to do with their life and so decided to marry and have kids because, to them, it was a sure-fire way to make their life consequential and meaningful. We would go on about how it was imperative for a man to enjoy his twenties by himself without having to be answerable to anyone, parents or spouses. Bride Drags GroomAnd here I see him, at our cousin’s wedding, falling into that pattern of life he once lambasted. What did the Army do to him? Is this the kind of “direction” he was looking for? I asked him if he was still writing, and he said he was, but now with the baby, it’s been harder and harder to devout time to it. I scolded him for not making more of an effort (those iced-teas were really hitting me at this point), telling him that he was a good writer, and as a good writer, it was his artistic responsibility to hone his craft by keeping at it, despite whatever obstacles might deter him. I further insisted that he email me his writings so that I can proof-read them. He finally relented and said, “Okay, I will,” perhaps as a way to finally shut my drunk ass up about it. It’s not like I’m not happy for my cousin. He seems comfortable with the decision he made, and so far, he hasn’t regretted it (as far as I can tell). If he truly feels that having a family at this point in his life is the best thing for him, then who am I to piss in his kool-aid and spoil it for him? I grapple with what my cousin Mike has done with his life because I wonder if he truly became one of those sad sacks who felt the need to have a family in order to combat an existential (or quarter-life) crisis. Did he have a family so that he can feel significant? Did he feel pressured by his parents (or society) because IT’S THE THING TO DO? It’s no secret that our society smiles on a family man. They are looked upon as men with values and principles. All politicians stress about how they are “husbands and fathers” first. Yet when you’re single, people look at you as if you’re the most selfish, hedonistic bastard on the planet. “What’s wrong with you?” they think to themselves. “Why haven’t you get your act together and ‘settled down?’” Interesting term, that is. Settled down. I think it’s an incredibly succinct and appropriate term is there ever was one because, essentially, to make such a decision is to narrow your options considerably. You “settle down” and stop shooting for the stars, destroying any possibility of acting out on whims, flights of fancy, or whatever true passions you have in life which may inform you of your life-long ambitions and aspirations. When you “settle down,” what YOU want and desire isn’t a priority anymore. It’s all about what’s best for the wife and kids, which is what it should be. But with the sheer amount of possibilities before us as modern twenty-somethings, is marriage the kind of decision one can rationally make in this day and age?

Holy Croatian Wedlock Batman!

February 20, 2008

Croatian GroomI think it’s going to be an April wedding– mostly because he needs an apartment after this semester. Wait, wait…let me back up. I started my official graduate classes this January after a long, boring onslaught of prerequisite undergrad catching up. Apparently, my school follows the grand grad student tradition of being a magnet for international students seeking a higher education. With the influx of euro-hotties, the possibilities for entrepreneurial advancement are immense. Enter Croatian boy– Tall, skinny, and disarmingly euro (or gay, but I’m going with Euro). His glasses aren’t available in the states and his shoes have seaming on them you can only find abroad. He also is experiencing the unfortunate disadvantages of not having a social security number. Try to get a cell phone, buy a car, or rent an apartment without a SSN and you have to do some major finagling. At least once a week he asks me how he applies for a social security number, to which I often reply, “You can’t, until we get married.” In my defense, I didn’t bring it up first. The idea was thrust upon us by a mutual friend and it has become a running joke ever since. “Valentine’s Day is coming up, how do you feel about going to get hitched” or “I can’t call you until I get a cell phone, are you busy after class” you know, the standard. But all this international conglomeration has been making me think. Not so much about selling myself into a wedded grave, but about the impact internationalization is making on our lives- specifically in a post collegiate “what in the world am I going to do with my life” sense. I’ve got friends who live in Europe and Africa, most of my friends have done their stint abroad, and still more have plans to become ex-pats in the next few decades. Previous generations didn’t necessarily have such exposure to other cultures unless they were drafted or wealthy. My dad went to Israel while he was in seminary but hasn’t seen the inside of an intercontinental airplane since. My mom’s first experience with the Euro trash was two years ago and my grandparents think that anything out of the Eastern Time zone isn’t worth seeing. With the world getting smaller, we are expected to be not only more cognizant of international occurrences but able to adapt our thinking to a mindset outside our own. While it’s very exciting to have so many opportunities, it’s also a tad overwhelming. When someone asks me where I plan on being in the next five years, my thoughts range from continent to continent trying to solidify where I want to be. Having the ability to be anything and go anywhere makes actually choosing somewhere to be a daunting reality. To some extent it makes me frozen, afraid of choosing the wrong thing. Conversely, it makes me hopeful that I will, one day, be able to call somewhere beyond these contiguous 48 states my home. Perhaps Croatia.