• Controversial
  • May3rd

    1 Comment

    I’m not known for my lack of opinions. I tend to have them, and I tend to share them.

    I think it’s fortunate that I am from and currently live in a place that allows me that luxury – a luxury denied to too many in this world.

    I also have the right to believe what I want, think what I want, harbor what feelings I may, and live my life in peace.

    I am not an advocate of gay rights, I am not an advocate of women’s rights, I am not an advocate of minority rights – I’m an advocate of HUMAN RIGHTS.

    I have a very global view of the world, at times I would say a universal view of the world. I look at the big picture and find it hard to believe that groups of men have the power to dictate basic freedoms in the lives of other humans. Our lives are so short in the grand scheme of things, no one should have to live it in fear or unhappiness.

    I believe in basic human rights such as privacy, the right to live without unreasonable fears, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to a family, education, safety, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right to vote, to marry, and to know happiness and success by our respective definitions. These are but a few basic rights, but alas for brevity, I shall leave the list as such.

    I do not get my morals from any single book or single person or single guru. My morals are a combined effort of my childhood, my parents, my family, my friends, everyone I’ve ever come into contact with, every action I’ve ever done, every word I’ve ever spoken, every word I’ve ever read, and every experience I’ve ever lived. From my past to my present, I’ve learned what I believe is right from the accords of many – and it will undoubtedly continue to evolve as I see more of the world, learn new cultures, meet new people, and live new experiences.

    Past experiences like being called names and being made fun of and having our “leaders” on the news act as if my rights as a gay man are of no substance to them have taught me many things. And although I do not appreciate the actions, words, and feelings which I’ve witnessed against me, I will never EVER deny one’s right to them.

    So why is it that others see fit to deny them from me?

    How bad, how good does it need to get?
    How many losses, how much regret?
    What chain reaction, what cause and effect,
    Makes you turn around,
    Makes you try to explain,
    Makes you forgive and forget,
    Makes you change?

     

     

    I don’t understand a heart devoid of compassion, and honestly…I hope I never do.

     

    – Ross

  • March10th

    No Comments

    complain about rich people being rich, I will blow a gasket.

    The Forbes recently released their list of richest people in the world (LINK) and naturally, the fact that their average wealth increased 13% and that many NEW Billionaires were added to the list has got many an average person in an uproar.

    So let me start off this rambling entry with a little background info. I am an economist, I realize and have been educated for many years to realize that there is a need for motivation in order to get someone to do anything. My parents provided me with small gifts that I got to unwrap every time I successfully went to bathroom in the toilet; I was “potty-trained” in a week.

    Tell me, would you go to work if you didn’t get paid? Would you go to work and work as hard as you do if you received a pay-cut? No, of course you wouldn’t…money has become the number 1 motivator in our modern economy. So if you’ve agreed with everything I stated above, then why on earth why might you stand there and complain that people are making millions or even BILLIONS of dollars?! What if YOU were the one making those millions?!

    I will ONCE AGAIN give you an example that I gave many moons ago on this blog of the rat trap inventor in 14th, 15th, or 16th century Europe. So keep in mind from the previous post that that time was not exactly the time of enlightenment and people were dropping from the black plague like flies in the presence of water-filled plastic bags. Times were tough. And certainly were very tough in this one town where crops were being decimated by rats! Families hardly had any of their crops left to put food on the dinner table, much less sale any at market to make a profit.

    So one man saw a demand for help and came up with the idea of a rat trap.

    This man produced these goods in-house at first selling only a few at a time, but as fast as he could make them. Farmers were more than willing to pay for them because they would allow their families to eat and even make a profit from their surpluses at market. Then the trap-maker began to outsource his work and called on the local blacksmiths and store owners to produce and sell his goods. This allowed the trap-maker to accumulate incredible wealth. He bought a small hill in the area and built a large house at the peak. He wore nice clothes and had a gorgeous horse. He was the millionaire of his day.

    So are the people of the town WORSE OFF because of his wealth? Because he now has money, do you think the people of the town are living less high-on-the-hog? Maybe they are IN COMPARISON to the trap-maker, but think back to their lives 5-10 years ago before said trap-maker. They were living in mud, eating any creature who was unfortunate enough to be too slow to outrun their knives just to make ends meet and seeing their crops eaten literally overnight by rodents.

    NOW, their crops are healthy, they eat well, their families are living longer because the rats are no longer spreading disease, the blacksmith has more business than he can handle, the stores are all getting profit beyond their wildest expectations (compared to 5-10 years ago), the tailors in town are getting business not only from the wealthy trap-maker and his family, but also others in town – the blacksmith and store owners as well as the prominent farmers have all seen their wealth increase. People without jobs are now farmhands because the crop yields have increased so much that the farmers’ families cannot harvest them all without help! The people shopping at the market are now provided with healthier food and larger quantities at better prices since supply has increased (simple supply and demand). The farmers will need better transportation to get such an increase in food to the markets, so the horse breeders and wagon and wheel makers will have more work, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Shall I keep going?

    All that to say, the ENTIRE town, or rather the ENTIRE AREA, is better off thanks to this one man who saw the need for a rat trap, developed a design, took the risk of producing it, marketing it, selling it, then went on to manage the use of his design to get the blacksmith to properly produce it, the stores to sell it and then customers relations and guarantees, and work 90 hours a week to meet demand etc. etc. etc. So do you think the people of the town are sitting in their refurbished cabins, in their new(er) clothes, listening to the fire pop thanks to the wood they can now afford, eating a warm dinner that would have previously been reserved for the kings they could only imagine – and do you think they’re sitting there COMPLAINING about how much the trap-maker has made?!?!?!?!

    I’d like to link you to this article HERE. Whenever we think of wealth, many people think of Bill Gates – the richest man in the world for many years and the co-founder of Microsoft.

    I quote the article:

    “The research predicts that in 2007 Microsoft-related activities are responsible for 14.7 million jobs from an IT industry total of 35.2 million people — 42 percent of total IT employment globally in 2007 — and more than $514 billion* in tax revenue worldwide.

    “The research found that for every $1 that Microsoft earns in 2007, companies working with Microsoft will earn $7.79. In addition, according to the research findings, in 2007 more than 640,000 vendors in the Microsoft ecosystem will make more than $425 billion in revenues, and invest $100 billion in research development, marketing, sales and support in local economies. … Microsoft’s business model creates average revenues of more than $7 for other companies for every $1 Microsoft takes in. Countries such as China, India and Russia see earnings in excess of $16 to $1.”

    So would you still like to sit there and complain that Bill Gates is rich? Bill Gates did not inherit his billions, he worked hard for them. They were his motivation to work long hours for DECADES to get to where he is. He took on risk unimaginable to most of us and I don’t think even he would disagree that a degree of luck was certainly on his side.

    But think of all the jobs that Microsoft alone has created…all the wealth for OTHER people that Microsoft has created…and how our lives in general have improved thanks to it.

    For another example, I was reading a historical list of wealthy people and on that list was Frederick Weyerhaeuser with a wealth of $76.5 billion. I, personally, am THANKFUL for his wealth! My father worked for the company Weyerhaeuser for many years and as well as thousands of other people. F. Weyerhaeuser’s ability and skill to grow his company into one of the largest timber sellers in the world created wealth and opportunity for my family and hundreds of thousands of other people over time – and continuing into the future!

    No one (other than royals, possibly) have created a personal wealth in the millions or billions without somehow helping other people. Even Cornelius Vanderbilt, known for his ruthless business practices and running other people out of business, still provided jobs for thousands of people and created wealth outside of his own bank account. He may have run competitors out of business, but did so by providing consumers with better prices and reasons to prefer him over his competitors. I will not pretend to know all of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s business dealings and whether they were all “kosher” – because I’m quite sure they were not – but you would have a hard time denying the effect of his wealth creation on the ECONOMY AT LARGE.

    So I’m sick of hearing people say “tax the rich,” “the rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer,” “the rich have too much while we have nothing!!!” But the truth is, you tax the rich too much and there will be a disincentive to work (See Laffer Curve) and we need the rich to work and continue to grow businesses because not only do they create wealth for themselves, but also for others! And stop saying “the rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poorer, because the truth is, the larger pictures shows that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting richer, too! I DO, however, hate that we have so many opportunities for the rich to “write-off” basically all of their taxes – even Warren Buffet has said this unfair (LINK). AND I AGREE, this needs to change. But the fact is that we all have to pull our own and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us. We may be a bit jealous of the millionaires and billionaires flying on their private jets and living in their mansions on the beach. But the truth is, they fly in those private jets to business meetings and the amount of time they actually enjoy spending in those “mansions” would be for little more than sleeping. You don’t make millions working 40 hours a week, I can promise you that. And being able to retire with millions at the end of their career is something for them to look forward to and even more incentive for them to work hard in the present.

    I think I’ve made my point…..again…I’m just rambling this off because I don’t know where else to put it. haha.

    So next time you say something negative about the rich, think about why you’re saying it? Is it because you truly think it is unfair, or are you just mad that you’re not one of them? Because the truth is, we all have the potential and opportunity to – not only create personal wealth, but MUCH more importantly the ability to help other people and create jobs for them as well.

    – Ross

     

    (SIDE NOTE – I was talking the other day with some people about celebrities and someone mentioned that they might not deserve all the money that they get. I disagree with that, because being a celebrity is essentially the end of your life as you know it. You now become an idol and something that is constantly watched and must be guarded by large men just FOR YOUR SAFETY. I think making millions for a celebrity is the trade-off, a deserved one, for the fact that they will no longer have a life. They will no longer be visiting regular restaurants or going shopping at the store without cameras following them. Plus, acting isn’t near as easy as you might think, otherwise there would be a lot more successful actors, no?

    But most of my experience, belief, and education on wealth creation comes from the business side of things, which requires a LOT of work and a LOT of time and often a LOT of risk.)

  • October6th

    3 Comments

    Did you know that 32,637 Americans took their own lives in 2005? [source] Did you know it is the 11th most common cause of death in the United States? [source]

    I’ve never understood suicide. I am thankful for that fact. I read of suicides and am always confounded and can only imagine the thoughts that the individuals must have had during the last moments of their life. Thinking that the world was against them; that this was their last option to end the pain; that it would never get better.

    Suicide in any event is an absolute tragedy, but did you know only 1/10th of the youth population is gay, but that 1/10th composes 1/3rd of all teenage suicides? That makes gay youth 300% more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. [source]

    In the past 3 weeks, 5 gay teens have killed themselves. Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, and Raymond Chase were the victims of bullying, cyber-bullying, invasion of privacy, taunting, and abuse. These 5 young men were just the ones that have received national media coverage – there are thousands more. Seth Walsh was only 13 and hanged himself in his back yard. Asher Brown was also 13 and shot himself. Billy Lucas was 15, Raymond Chase was 19 – both also hanged themselves. Tyler Clementi was a college freshman at Rutgers University – he walked to the middle of the George Washington Bridge and jumped. Instead of walking into school with fresh paper and sharpened pencils, excited for a new year, they are dead.

    I know I have mentioned the fact that I’m gay many times on this blog, and although I truly do hate to push it in people’s faces – I can’t help but  feel personally effected when I see news stories like this. The reason I want to write this post is to share my story and to let people know that it really does get better…

    I was reluctant to come out at first, as most people are. I felt I couldn’t do it in high school – after all, high school is one huge rumor mill anyway – it’s a pretty relentless atmosphere for anyone! I was well-liked in high school and never really had any true problems. I remember a few idiots in my PE class saying a few words a couple of times, but I never let it get to me. I was a LA state champion in debate, I was student of the year, I never made a B in high school, and I had amazing friends. Throughout my struggles to find myself, I knew that I had a lot to live for and that I was surrounded by people I loved and could trust. No matter how horrible you may think your life is, there is at least one person out there that loves you more than the world itself – and there is always something to live for and look forward to.

    Times will be hard. Youth is not easy. Adulthood isn’t easy! Life isn’t fair. But in times of trouble, one has to remember that it. WILL. Get. Better.

    The reason I waited till after high school to come out was also to make sure that I was 100% comfortable with it before telling anyone else. I wanted to be able to look the person in the eye and say “I am fine. I am happy. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

    So after high school graduation I made a promise to myself that I would tell someone before Christmas. So on Christmas Eve (I’m a procrastinator!), I told Hannah. I got super emotional since it was my first time to really say it out loud – and once you say it it’s hard to take it back! She leaned in and simply said, “Ross, I will always love you no matter what.”

    The first person I told within my family was my sister, Randi. That seemed appropriate since we’ve always been so close. We were preparing for a baby shower that I was throwing (with Rand’s incredible assistance and creativity) and I stopped her from our work and asked her to come to the living room.  I just said it…and it was fine. Same reaction as Hannah – unconditional love. I won’t go into details of the conversation, but I knew that I would always have Randi on my side – not that the thought ever truly wavered.

    I had to write a letter to my parents to come out to them, because I wanted to make sure I got it all out at once. It was about 3 pages long. I handed it to my mom first before dad got home, then I handed it to dad when he arrived. I don’t remember our entire conversation, but I do remember them saying that all that matters to them is that I am happy. and I am.

    Mom and Dad wrote me a letter in reply later that week. I read it every once in a while to remind me what an exceptionally lucky man I am. I remember not long before I moved here to Belgium, someone asked me what I would grab if my house was on my fire. I said, “I would first grab my dog, Merlot, and then the letter my parents wrote to me when I came out to them.” I always kept it on my desk and knew exactly where it was…It’s that amazing and it’s that important to me. It is actually one of the only personal articles, other than clothes and shoes, that I brought to Belgium with me:

    I know I haven’t gone into great detail here about my coming out story, and that was the point – after all, I could write a book. But this isn’t about me coming out, it’s about the people who haven’t come out yet. It’s about the people scared of the consequences of doing so. It’s about the young people going through life in fear of what their friends and family might think. It’s about the teenagers who are scared to attend school for fear of being abused and bullied. It’s about the people who take to heart all the interviews of extreme conservatives and the laws of a government that refuses to treat us as equals. It’s about the young people that believe their worth can actually be measured, and that their fate sits in the hands of those that judge them.

    We should never fear being ourselves.

    If I stand for one thing, it’s that. I stand for equality.

    If you’re afraid of your friends disowning you, then they aren’t your friends. If you’re afraid of what your parent’s might think, you may find yourself surprised how far unconditional love extends.

    I do recommend, however, that you wait until you can say with 100% certainty that you are happy being yourself. Because before you can expect anyone else to be accepting of you, you must be accepting of yourself.

    I know I only reach about 50-70 people on a good day with this blog, but if I can help one person or at least spread a little hope – then my mission is accomplished.

    If you suspect someone is being bullied, report it to the appropriate authorities and make sure there is some follow through.

    If you suspect someone is capable of killing themselves or are in the middle of a crisis that may lead to a rash decision on their part, please visit The Trevor Project to find out what you can do to help. If you have any suspicions at all, why not take action now? Don’t wait and kick yourself later about what you may have been able to do…because by then, it’s no longer the thought that counts.

    Just remember, whether you are gay or straight or young or old, there is never a reason to kill yourself. If times are tough now, they’ll soon improve…I promise. Tomorrow is another day – you should to be here to experience it.

    Life is a beautiful gift – enjoy it and cherish it to the fullest.

    – Ross

  • October1st

    No Comments

    Watch out Ladies & Gentleman, cause something is in the water in North Louisiana!!!!

    Not to raise alarm, but it may actually be in the entire Sparta Aquifer which is the source of H2O for much of that entire area! It’s creating an epidemic and it’s truly alarming!

    But it’s okay…I think it’s possible that if you are in the affected area, you may be able to survive!  I recommend drinking water only from local creeks, rivers, lakes or collected rain that has been triple filtered through carbon, purified  by UV light, and boiled on a regular stove top or hot plate then cooled back down for consumption. [Please note that I do not condone drinking boiling water.] For information on creating safe drinking water, please see HERE.

    You may be wondering when it will be safe to start drinking tap water again…and as soon as I stop receiving the weekly, if not daily, texts, emails, Facebook statuses, emails, and homing pigeons informing me of the pregnancies of people I graduated high school with or knew while I was in high school – – – then it will be safe.

    I will, of course, keep you updated on any news.

    Take luck, everyone!

    – Ross

  • September21st

    1 Comment

    Powerless.

    Helpless.

    Hopeless?

    Those words can’t even BEGIN to describe how I feel right now. Should I be crying? Should I be screaming? Should I just throw my hands up in submission?

    The truth is, reading articles on our government and their decisions lately just make me speechless. Literally, I think if someone were here in my room with me, I wouldn’t be able utter a word…which is why I’ve taken it upon myself to type the words and feelings I cannot say aloud.

    Actually, I really don’t know if I can even type them. So I’m not going to try till I’m a little more level-headed than I am at the moment.

    I will, however, share this with you:

    How much longer do you think we can continue inequality and injustice?! How much longer do you think we can keep THIS up?! How much longer can we continue to endorse the massive chasm that divides our party lines before our country implodes on itself?! How much longer can we have people like THIS and THIS gaining momentum and ranking in our country before we see things going to hell in a handbasket?!

    I’m not saying I have all the answers…actually, I’m not saying I have any at all!!!!! But SURELY you can’t watch the news in the morning and get a warm and fuzzy feeling about the direction our country is headed. And I’m talkin’ Fox OR CNN, I don’t give a f&#@ what station you watch – they may both report biases beyond belief, but surely there is NO way you can feed into it so much that you believe it’s a good thing.

    I’m a social liberal, fiscal conservative. So I’m personally pissed at both sides right now. So don’t think I’m sitting here saying “gah, the Republicans suck” or “the Democrats are gonna ruin our nation,” because I’m not. I’m saying both at the same time, which makes my emotions even harder to handle right now. Because not only do I not have a side – I’ve got two sides working against me.

    There. I’m done.

    It’s late here. I gotta sleep this off…slaapwel.

    – Ross