Group Of Young Children Running Towards Camera In Park

A History of Love

It’s Valentines soon. The last time I wrote a post on this topic was quite a while ago. Still, it seems that I drift back to it every once and a while. I thought I would take a diversion and try a slightly exciting and vulnerable experiment.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a romantic. Most depictions of kids in movies showed them afraid of girls or thought they had “cooties.” For that remedy, I needed two circles and two dots, then I got my cootie shot. That sort of thing. Haha. It’s funny to think back to my life when I was a child, but on a holiday like this, I thought it was particularly appropriate.

My first crush was when I was very young. I was 6 years old and I was in the 1st grade. I didn’t waste time. I had my future to look to after all. Her name was Julie Mattic. I sat next to her in class. She lived fairly close to my house, in my neighborhood, and she was also on the same bus I was riding. I had a crush on her for what seemed like years. I have a very strong memory of Michael Danaher making fun of me because I chose to sit next to Julie in class. He said I liked Julie. This was true, but I was still embarrassed. I didn’t want everyone else knowing about it! Being a ginger isn’t easy when you get embarrassed because your face turns red fairly quickly. Genetics didn’t help me hide many emotions.

The next crush I remember having was in the 2nd grade to Caitlin Leisen. She was the kind of girl that all the guys wanted to get the attention of. I remember one day, we were passing our end-of-the-year yearbooks around so that your friends could sign them. This was a big deal. The more you got, the cooler you were. Caitlin’s turn was next. he wrote her name in my book and circled it with a heart. In the heart, in very small writing, as if she was trying to make sure no one saw what she wrote, she scribbled, “I like you.” I felt on top of the world. You have to remember, as a child, crushes and who likes who was a very common thing to be happening on the school yard. Gossip and talk ran the town. I felt very special.

I remember a game being played on the blacktop that was played from 1st grade to pretty much to the 4th grade. The rules: Chase the girls. That’s it. The girls would understand the game and play along. They would run and the boys would try to catch them. There would sometimes be a massive flock of boys following 3 girls. Sometimes there would only be 1 girl running, dodging, and escaping the horde. Caitlin was sometimes one of these girls. Every once and a while the girl would stop to catch her breath and the boys would just circle or stand there while she rested…because it wasn’t, “catch the girl” it was, “chase the girl.” Then without warning, she would race off and the boys would pursue her like birds.

I remember playing “chase” one or twice, but eventually stopped and just played kickball, basketball, or the occasional soccer game that was underway. I guess I never really understood the point of “chase” from an early age, haha.

Nothing really ended up happening with Caitlin, after all, I was only 7. What was the next possible step? haha. Then there was Taylor Brown. For pretty much 3rd grade till the 8th grade, I liked Taylor. In the 5th grade, we were in the same class and became really good friends. Taylor had a boyfriend at that time. His name was Kyle. Kyle became fairly jealous of how well I was getting along with Taylor. I found that pretty darn hilarious. Still, the reality was that I was friend zoned pretty hard. I thought about telling Taylor how I felt in the 6th or 7th grade, but I was petrified and let the moment slip past. Also as a red-haired child, my self-confidence was brought down more than a few pegs by those who thought it would be fun to point out a very obvious trait about myself…over and over again.

At this point, we start drifting away from young, careless, hilarious love, and into the teenage, awkward, avalanches of…awkwardness. Yeah. I think the snowball metaphor does justice to this stage of life.

I just think it is funny to think back on the very young, very average Eric, getting by, and crushing on girls at such a young age. I can’t help but laugh.

I ran into Caitlin again when I was a teenager. I was shadowing my mom for a school project, and my mom was working as a substitute teacher at my old elementary school. I don’t know why she was there, but I can assume it was for the same project at her own high school. I hadn’t seen Caitlin since Elementary school and it was weird. As soon as I saw her, butterflies jumped into my stomach and I was immediately self-conscious. I was 7 years old again. I’m not sure if she recognized me, but I remembered that encounter so vividly. I was immediately brought back to the second grade when she signed my yearbook and handed it back to me smiling. Funny.

Was it Love? No. Not even close. It was infatuation. It was a crush. It was a rush of feelings, for which I’ve never been in short supply of. It was an obsession cocktail of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, one that I would later learn the true pitfalls of. We like these feelings. We LOVE these feelings. When they say that it’s not far off from taking cocaine, there’s a reason. We LOVE the feelings associated with liking someone. They feel great!

So this St. Valentines Day, reflect on your days of youth and just thank God that you’ve grown oh-so-much since then, haha. Not without lessons and hard falls, but growth is something to celebrate. Happy Day today and show some love.

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Shia LaBeouf: Artistic Narcissist or Viral Genius?

If you haven’t heard already, Shia LaBeouf has minutes ago wrapped up his 72 hour marathon watching his movies. The thing is, he set up a live stream of himself…watching his movies. yeah. In New York City’s Angelika Film Centre, he sat through, in reverse chronological order–I can only assume so that people would see his better works first, for three days. AND, you could watch him watch his movies for the entire time that he was watching his movies…wherever you were in the world. HERE is a link to some of the feed that was recorded.

I can only assume that millions have tuned in to see what the big deal was about. He made news headlines, the story hit viral on multiple sites, twitter exploded with people who were watching or were in the theater with Shia watching, facebook tossed around his live stream site, etc, etc. Some were tasked to watch as much as they could to take snapshots of all the best moments of Shia watching his films. At roughly 7pm East Coast time, the marathon ended with Shia getting up and walking out of the theater to everyone applauding. He shook three hands on the way out, but then it was over. As quickly as it began, it ended.

I would say that I watched about 30-40 min of his live stream. Some yesterday, and some today after work. I made sure to catch the end of it. I have to say, I had some thoughts about the whole thing during and after it was all over. It’s not news to me that in the past five years or so, Shia has been branching out artistically. He will do things to make people think, or to seemingly shock and awe people. People would think him weird and odd. Some would say that he has mental issues or that he’s “not all there.” I wouldn’t be so quick to label Shia in this way.

Continue reading “Shia LaBeouf: Artistic Narcissist or Viral Genius?”

Ukraine: What is Happening Over There.


For the betterment of those who have not been made aware of the events unfolding overseas in Ukraine, or who have just been too busy to keep up-to-date on world events, or for those who haven’t looked at a TV, computer, smartphone, or newspaper a long while….it’s your lucky day! Read on for your quick read on what is happening over there.

very brief summary of why there is tension with Ukraine and Russia: Ukraine and Russia have a very close history together coated in tension, claims over land, identity issues, and ukraine-protests-map-by-language-kcultural hijacking. Ukrainian President Yanukovych rejected an expected deal for greater economic integration with the European Union. This deal was pretty popular with the Ukrainians in the Kiev part of the country, but Ukraine is fairly split between Ukrainian speaking Ukrainians and Russian speaking Ukrainians. The rejection of the deal symbolically tips its hat to Russia, as Russia has it’s own counter offer for Ukraine. This is where the History comes into play. Russia has a LONG history of subjugating and ruling Ukraine that spans many generations. So, you can see why some would not be too happy with the idea of this deal.

Additionally, Ukrainians just have a fundamental problem with President Yanukovych. The hatred stems back to 2004 when they protested him right out of office, but he came back in 2010. Since then, his government has been saturated with corruption and Pro-European integration protesters gather at the site of clashes with riot police in Kievmismanagement of the economy. We all know what that’s like, am I right Chicago! The reason the protests had surged so dramatically against this deal since January 16th, is because Yanukovych mucked it up by signing an anti-protest bill. So, what happens when Ukrainians who don’t like the rule of Yanukovych, are told by Yanukovych that they can no longer protest under threat of arrest? Riots, violence, organisation, and…….more protests of course. This is the reason behind the increased media frenzy around the issue of the deal.

When I said that Ukraine was split on the issue, it’s not hard to imagine. Ukraine has a deep history of division in language, culture, and politics. 1/3 of the country speaks chi-graphc-language-and-politics-in-the-ukraine-20140219Russian, associate themselves more with Russia than Ukraine, and live in one half of the country. This division gives Ukraine a disconnect over the vision for where the country should go. Ukraine only gained its independence from the USSR in 1991, after refusing to put up with their rules anymore. Here is another really good graphic displaying how incredibly fractured the country is culturally. As with all things, this cultural confusion began very long ago. The first Russian influence came 250 years ago with Catherine the Great. Then of course there was Joseph Stalin in 1930, who “collected” Ukranians to run state farms where millions died of starvation. It was a genocide.

Heavy stuff, I know. we’re almost through.

So underlying all of this, Russian President Vladimir Putin desperately wants Ukraine to join Ukraine Proteststhe Moscow-led Eurasian Customs Union INSTEAD of the European Union. To insure this, Putin is offering Ukraine literally billions plus 33% off Russian gas to reject the EU. This got Ukrainian President Yanukovych interested, thus the outrage when Yanukovych went in Russias direction. It was just another example of Ukraine bowing down to wise, all knowing, powerful Mother Russia….And Ukrainians were not going have it. Not at all. This was the last straw, and they went to the streets.

It’s at this point that we get radicals vandalising, tipping cars, starting fires, and revolting Anti-government protests in Ukraineagainst the police. Protesters even started branching beyond Kiev and breaking into other government buildings, essentially taking them over. Ukraine starts looking less like a city, and more of an apocalyptic war zone.

Obviously with any conflict, there are Ukrainians on both sides of the fence who think that this kind of action is not the right path for Ukraine. If any country was going to be split on how they should act as a response, it’s Ukraine. Still, this seems to be something that makes sense to the protesters. THIS is what we can unify under, and they have gotten our attention.

Once I was made embarrassed by how little I actually knew about what was going on in Ukraine, I did my research for this article and became swept up in the story behind it all. A pro-European integration protester looks on through a visor reflecting burning tyres at the site of clashes with riot police in KievUkraine has such a rich and yet disheartening past. The Ukrainian people have endured being ruled by oppressive governments, war, slavery, genocide, corruption, and not to forget, massive nuclear fallout in 1986. These people are tough, hardened, and incredibly resilient. They persevered, they held on, and they are saying: “Enough is enough”…just like they did in 1991.

I am encouraged by their resolve, and yet I can’t help but side with the those standing back and saying, “This is hellish. Can there be no other way? Why has it come to this?” I encourage you to make yourself likewise aware of what is going on over there. It’s always a good idea to pop the bubble you’re living in and actually realize what is happening when life around you continues on in normal fashion. If you like the photos I have used in this post, click on the link labeled, “Pictures” below to find more truly incredible and raw footage of the events unfolding.

ALSO, check out Jeremy Vargo’s excellent post, from the Maxim Institute on the same topic: What I Didn’t Know About Ukraine

Pro-European integration protesters gather in front of burning tyres during clashes with riot police in Kiev



Waitangi Day/Treaty Explained


On the other side of the world, today, February 6th, is Waitangi Day….and Bob Marley’s Birthday.

Since nearly all of you probably know who Bob Marley is, here is a brief lesson on what Waitangi Day is to New Zealanders; you basically need to only know a few things. In 1840, starting February 6th and going through till May 21st, Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson trekked from the North Island all the way through the South Island getting around 550 chiefs to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty was a set of instructions Hobson received from London in 1839. Being the founding document of New Zealand’s history, politics, and culture of society. There are three articles:

Article 1: The Chiefs, and other signatories gave all their sovereign powers to the British Crown. Article 1 according to Maori: The Chiefs conferred on the Crown the right for the British to govern the colony, in a mainly administrative capacity. So you can see how the treaty has caused controversy with the different interpretations of the treaty. This can happen when trying to translate words into Maori that don’t exist. It is still to this day discussed in length.

Article 2: The Chiefs were granted, in return for their cession of sovereignty, full rights of ownership of their land and other assets. The second part of this article deals with the idea of preemption. This involved the Crown having the first option to purchase Maori land at a mutually agreeable price. Article 2 according to Maori: The Chiefs were guaranteed their rights of chieftainship (tinorangatiratanga) – effectively a sovereign right. Moreover the chiefs were promised their physical possessions and also, all those things that they held precious. The second part of this article closely resembles the English version in the guarantee of preemption. 

Article 3: Maori were granted the same rights as British subjects, but were not actually made British subjects. Article 3 according to Maori: Maori were offered the protection of the Crown, and the same rights as the English people.

The Treaty of Waitangi is a HEAVILY debated topic in NZ politics, as our U.S. Constitution would be. Still, I have to say that the defining difference between how we treated the First World people of North America and how the British treated the Native people of NZ, is this treaty. I don’t really remember America caring too much about the rights of the First World people or how much land they had. Manifest Destiny all up in this. Trail of Tears much? “You can have Oklahoma. Yeah, you can have that state…or part of it at least. Okay, actually, you can have a camp on it. Oh, and most of you will die walking all the way there.” I also see a culture ingrained in this country that is dripping with history, traditions, and custom. It’s a beautiful thing when the language, food, and dance are preserved out of an importance and recognition of respect. It’s about preserving a people’s inheritance and way of life, and it is incredibly humbling to see how well they do it compared to U.S.A.

I am proud to be living in a country that, to certain extents, has lived with intention regarding the people that first lived here. I know that I am speaking in broad generalizations and am not covering all the injustices done to the Maori people. I am sorry if this offended you.

If you want to know more about Waitangi Day and the Treaty, go to these links below.

Treaty Explained—-History of the Treaty—-Treaty Explained by Maori Leader—-Short Brief of the Treaty