Five words from madeofmeat:
1. Beard - I always knew that I wanted a beard and mustache. Still, when I headed out to college and my early years on my own, I continued to shave out of habit. Once I let it grow out, though, I knew it was me. Why? Just felt right. Without it, I lose about ten years, and I don't like it. I've only shaved it off three times since I've had it. Once was for a job, which sucked. Once was for a Vampire Elvis costume (needed the sideburns). Once was a wild hair a couple years ago, shaved down to mutton chops, and immediately grew it back in.
I've tried a few different styles over the years. The standard short box beard, of course. I've tried to grow it out long a couple of times, but there is a patch right at the side of my mouth on both sides that chooses to not grow, meaning it's always thin right where my mustache connects, and with the bushy beard, it doesn't look right. I did a gunslinger style for a year, but the same issue was just made more obvious. My present style (and the one I like the most, hence probably staying with it) was based on Paul Naschy's beard in Horror Rises From The Tomb.
2. Blades - I used to collect knives. I'd have continued longer but it got expensive, and I had other things that needed paying. I doubt I'd have stuck with it, though, as it was getting so I had no real place to put them and no point to having them. Long ago, when I was still doing martial arts, I learned several weapon skills (mostly on the side, as I practiced Tae Kwon Do, and it's not weapon based). That continued to make me appreciate the skills of hand-to-hand combat and continue to have little to no desire for guns. I've fired guns and had some fun with it, but I'm just not a gun guy.
I always said that I didn't want any knife that I didn't think I could use; this narrowed down my collection considerably. There are plenty of pretty blades out there, but most of them are not meant for any semblance of actual use. The ones I've kept (with, well, one exception) are all ones that I feel I could wield with some degree of ability. True, I also have a set of "saber claws" (if you've seen Chronicles of Riddick, you know them), but I think I could use them well, and I love those movies.
3. Marriage - Hmm, I have no idea why he gave me this one. Is it because I'm married? Is it because I've been married longer than most of the people I know? I'm not sure. So, let's just go extemporaneous on this one!
I say we fix the whole marriage debates...all of them...by doing one of two things:
- 1 - Remove marriage from the legal system. Let the union of two people be connected in their religion or what have ya. Take out governmental incentives to be married. When the legal system doesn't care anymore, people can shut the Hell up. At that point, there's no real reason to stop gay marriage, poly marriage or any other form that makes uptight people squick out because it's no different than anyone living together.
- 2 - OK, we want to keep it in the legal system for some reason? Remove the religion. Hey, we call it a "marriage license", let's treat it like a license. Make it renew every 5 years. 5 years comes around, and you don't like this person much anymore? Just don't renew. How many marriages do you think would disappear then? (I think we'd have even more ammo to show that the "sacred institution" is crazy.) If you want a provision that allows you to apply for permanency after, say, 25 years, that might be OK.
In the end, it seems to me that marriage is the most egregious example of where church and state need to be separated. The First Amendment doesn't allow the US to make laws that "respect an establishment of religion", yet we use it for a law like marriage (a religious institution). Get your deities out of my legal system, let all love and be with who they choose, equally. Evolve, dammit.
4. Gaming - This was given to me with a disclaimer that said it was, admittedly, a bit of a 'gimme'. Now, I've talked before about my start in gaming, and most of you have heard stories from me. I need/want to say something else here. Now, what would that be? Hmm...OK, got it.
Teach your children gaming. Seriously, get them into it before they are completely lost to the console game world. Show them the depth and creativity of tabletop gaming. Help them to enjoy using their brain for storytelling, critical thought, camaraderie. I like video games, too, that's no secret, but it's nothing like a good dice-and-pencil game. I realize this is difficult, especially in the modern world. Even a kid that DOES get into gaming has to find his own group that wants to do more than "pwn n00bs", and that can be a chose for a kid with only the modicum of social ability that the modern world wants you to learn. Still, you might be giving your child the keys to learn how to work through problems and interact with people, instead of just hanging his head and twittering about how bored he is before playing 8 more hours of Halo.
5. Culture Shock - I've lived in vastly different areas of the US, across my life. It's taught me to deal with changes, but that doesn't mean that it was always easy to change.
I started out in Florida. It's kind of a "no man's land" for the US. Yes, it's American, but there's a heavy Hispanic influence that gets mixed and muddled with a large senior citizen population. It makes the area very bizarre at times, especially when you add in the tourist factor (I grew up in Orlando, and yes, I dislike Disney). Regardless of it being physically in the South, I wasn't really subjected to a lot of Southern attitude until I moved to Tennessee.
Tennessee was new ground. I was 12. What was cool where I came from was not cool there, and I was an outcast for a bit. It took time to get into the swing of things, but you sink or you swim. By that time, I was becoming a teen, and took in my surroundings more. Tennessee is also proud of it's Southern heritage, so I was subjected to it in a way I was not in Florida. It's where I made my own conscious decision to take on my personal ethos of gentility. Of course, being in a smaller town area just outside of Nashville was a lot different from being in a larger, more metropolitan area like Memphis, where I went for college. It was my adult life's first real experience with a 'big city'. Still, it was similar enough not to be an issue, just a different perspective. that was fine for a good long time until I moved to the West Coast.
Seattle...christ. I'd now been from one corner to the opposite corner, and I felt it. The city was different. The attitude was different, the social make-up was different. It took some getting used to, but by this point, this was old hat. Still, it was funny how it was the small things that made me think "wait, weird!" I wasn't there long enough or free enough to get into the groove of the place before I came down to the Portland area. The change was palpable in a very good way. I finally found a place that feels like it can be home to both my Southern Gentleman attitude and my progressive views at the same time, and where I can be appreciated for both.
At this point, I'm more shocked that this culture isn't more widespread.
And that's that. I've seen this "ten days" thing going around, and I think I might give that a write-up, too. Maybe next week.