Thursday, November 3, 2011

Workplace Discrimination

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/power-your-future/visible-tattoos-other-corporate-no-nos-193828198.html

Really? In this economy, we're still worried about inconsequential bullshit like this? Having a tattoo doesn't prevent someone from performing their work, does it? Same goes for a lot of appearance-related issues, and all of it falls under discrimination. "But Redhead Metalhead," you may be asking. "What's wrong with discrimination? Why can't people believe what they want?"

Here's the problem:

Prejudice = the belief

Discrimination = the action

That right there is the problem: the action. Discrimination. You can believe someone with a tattoo is an asshole if you want, but that doesn't make it true. Just because you get rid of the tattoo doesn't mean you get rid of the asshole (from what I've heard, it's expensive and painful anyway). You still have the same person, just without a particular visual image associated with the individual. Boy, that accomplished a lot, didn't it?

But the biggest problem is obviously a person's rights being limited. Why should a person have to cater to what a business wants if they legally can't even have control in the first place? That's a big reason why people call it "wage slavery" nowadays, because employers deeply affect our personal lives in several ways, and there's apparently nothing a lot of us can do about it, despite the fact that they're not supposed to do it. Besides that point, it's apparently okay for them to ask someone to, say, cut their hair short simply because it looks better to them (seen this happen to a lot of men), but they won't ask a black man to change his skin color or a woman to change her sex (both of which are possible). All it boils down to is the employer being a stupid piece of shit for thinking looks actually mean something.

But seriously, with our economy and unemployment levels where they are at now, and with the way our society and culture has been progressing, why even worry about it any more? Don't we need to be hiring more people, or are we really not that bad off after all? Are you telling me that even if a really nice guy who's a hard worker had four kids and a wife to feed at home, and had absolutely nowhere else to go to get a job, you'd still deny him simply because he won't cut his hair or remove a tattoo? Fuck you.

Now, I know what some people are thinking. "Why can't he just cut his hair or remove his tattoo?" Because he shouldn't have to. Why? Because it shouldn't even be an issue in the first place. There should be nothing else on your mind if someone is nice and works well enough and is qualified for the job. This shit seriously needs to stop, not just if we want to help with the unemployment problem and such, but if we want to have freedom. Freedom, you know, that concept this country was founded on? Yeah, let's not be hypocrites and try to keep that, because it's nice to have.

Cheating/Playing Games

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/sex/why-i-cheated-on-my-husband-2596381/

You can say all you want about why you cheated, but it all ultimately boils down to one thing: lack of communication. "Instead of telling my partner what I'm thinking, I'm just going to go fuck somebody else," seems to be what's on anyone's mindset whenever they cheat, and it's bullshit like that (both the cheating and lack of communication) that tends to ruin marriages.

People, seriously, it doesn't matter what you're thinking. If it's a problem, you have to let your partner know, even if it does create a rift. Thing is, it normally shouldn't if you just want to have a discussion, and that's the approach you should take. To not do so creates a lack of mutual respect and brings you even further apart. Even if you end up fighting, you're still far better off than betraying who you love.

Now, despite me giving this advice, my wife and I have never cheated or even had the thought, but that is in big part because of what I've said here (and keep in mind, we've been together since Kindergarten and haven't been apart at all since). My cousin, on the other hand has been cheated on a few times in past relationships, and that was ultimately because of two things: 1. Lack of communication. 2. My cousin's significant other thinking my cousin wanting to discuss issues automatically meant she hated them. Please, don't think that's the case. If someone did truly did dislike you, I'm sure they wouldn't even want to be with you any more and wouldn't discuss anything.

But whether your discussions or arguments end up ending your relationship or further tear you apart or not, stop fucking cheating. All it does is complicate your lives even further by creating far more drama than a simple argument.

But when it comes to the discussions and arguments themselves, here's another lesson people need to learn: stop playing games. Stop giving hints. Just come the fuck out with it. Be straightforward with your intentions. Your partner is not a mind-reader, and what you do is not always clear-cut. In fact, most of the time it isn't. But even if you think it's obvious, just tell your partner anyway, because they may not happen to know. It doesn't make them less intelligent in any way if they can't read you even after a decade or more together, but it does make you look like a piece of shit for assuming they should know either way. Even after approximately twenty years with my wife, we still can't figure out what all is on each other's minds, so think about that before you assume such bullshit about your own partner.

Unfortunately, though I talk about my relationship longevity and how that helps when it comes to giving relationship advice, not everything I say really should be applicable to everyone. What I say here, however, is an exception. This shit is basic and should really be obvious to everyone, but naturally, since the world seems to be full of morons, it isn't. Even some clinical psychologists and psychiatrists seem to not realize what I'm saying here helps prevent breakups, and will give you advice that won't work. If they say something other than what I said here, seriously, don't listen to them just because they're an "authority" on the subject (because even they're not always right). In this case, I implore you, take my word for it. At least on this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random News Stuff

I have my home page set to Yahoo and I've never gotten around to changing it, so every now and then, I notice a couple of dumb or odd news stories. Over the past few months, I've been saving some up for possible new things to post, but I figured I might as well just make quick comments on a few of them, because I'd rather concentrate on other things in my life or other blog posts.

Which, BTW, when it comes to my blog, it's typically just me pouring thoughts out from my head and into Cyberspace, and I don't edit my blogs a lot (like errors and such), so naturally stupid shit comes from my fingers. I also don't type as eloquently as I usually do when I write something, but I assure you I can if I try. Here, though, I don't, because it's a way for me to relax (as if I don't do enough relaxing with my wife, if you know what I mean).

Anyway, on with the commentary.

Note to parents: Stop trying so hard

I agree that parents really shouldn't be so hard on their kids like he says, but I don't think he's saying it for the right reasons. I've said a lot ont he subject before, but. . . you know what, it's hard to say interests and talents are natural when they change and, at least in the case of talent, have to be built up with repetition for it to become better, no matter how good they are. I didn't always used to be amazing at guitar, and it took me several years to learn how to play almost every song on Joe Satriani's Surfing With the Alien. Also took me several years to become a competent writer, and I'm still learning. Even my wife, who has always been a great singer, I don't think that's quite the case because I think that's mostly because she has always loved doing it and grew up with a musical mother singing to her all of the time and such. Not that I don't doubt anything at all is natural, I just think this is bullshit. But still, the guy has his heart in the right place, it seems, so I won't harp on it too much.

Hot pink-toenailed boy in J. Crew ad sparks controversy

Young boy wishes to join Girl Scouts

For these two, I actually don't have a lot to say. Just that it's bullshit that people even worry about the rules set by society for gender being broken in the first place. Seriously, it's no big fucking deal if you let people live their lives the way they want. To not want that for them otherwise creates a mass of unhappiness one way or another. Trust me, I know. I'm a ginger lesbian liberal atheist metalhead nerd who was raised mostly by her own cousin and had a shitty father who now resides in prison, so it should be obvious my life has most certainly not been easy.

But I will say, for the Girl Scouts story in general, it's nice that they are willing to accept those who identify as girls regardless of their biological sex characteristics, but at the same time, the whole idea of having a Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, each with their own gender role-specific activities, is a highly sexist idea anyway, so I'm glad they're moving away from that bullshit.

The no-kids-allowed movement is spreading

But when you want to talk about bullshit, this is one of the biggest bullshit ideas I've heard in a long time. The no smoking idea at least had some form of merit, because it not only physically harms people, especially those who are highly allergic to smoke such as myself, it harms the environment. People say it's not a lot compared to emissions from cars and such, but it is still highly harmful considering so many people smoke cigarettes. This isn't to say I'm against marijuana legalization, but cigarette smoke in particular is highly toxic. Anyway, the point is having kids around isn't going to harm you unless they're hitting you or something, in which case the one child should be dealt with, not all of them. They're limiting natural rights by allowing this, not just of the kids, but of the parents of kids as well, since that limits their entry as well because sometimes parents just don't have a choice of where and when they can and can't take their kids. That's a lot of fucking people, and that might even be my wife and I included someday. But all in all, if all something is doing is simply annoying you, get the fuck over it. I know it sucks, but that's the only way you really can deal with it. Or leave, but that's, you know, your choice. Wouldn't want to force that, now would I?

And lastly:

ways-your-job-is-killing-you

This is being posted simply for interest. This is shit I've realized a long goddamn time ago, but I guess we need articles like this to present to dipshits out there who somehow don't realize some of these problems. Seriously, when it comes to businesses and jobs and such, this is just the icing on the cake, too. Imagine if they could take a few minutes out of their oh-so-busy schedules to sit the fuck down and relax and think for a while, and see just how much more bullshit they can realize. That's another problem is quite a few people in this country work too fucking much (even eight hours is a little much, because a lot of people don't realize the human mind wasn't built to handle that kind of pressure, hence stress and such), or at least have it in their minds that they do, so much that they don't have time to pick their own noses and can barely take a minute to soak in the big picture. Should say a lot, really, so I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seventh Generation of Video Game Consoles, and the State of Video Games Today

I said I would do this eons ago when I talked about the sixth generation, but I won't be talking about it in terms of which console is better like I initially planned, because, quite frankly, the 360 and PS3, both good systems, have similar game libraries, with about the same amount of deviation in terms of exclusives, and I can't really decide which is better. They are, however, both better than the Wii, which I might discuss a bit.

What I'm really going to do is talk about the seventh generation in general, and to get started, I'll post a video I found bitching about how incredibly bad this generation is.


Now, despite generally agreeing with him, I'd like to make a couple of counter-points.

First, his comment about the red ring of death. I agree that it sucks, and I'm sure the heat sink has something to do with it. However, I can't help but think that it's not just Microsoft's fault (not saying it isn't their fault, either, but bear with me). Most of the time I heard about my friend's systems getting that error, I investigated to figure out what was going on, and I figured out that my friends weren't cleaning their systems in any way, or were leaving them in some kind of enclosed space, or left them on for a really long time (one of them even left it on for days with a disc running inside). Naturally, they kept getting errors as they continued to either fix their systems or buy new ones. My family and I, on the other hand have had our 360s for five years, and we've not had a single problem, and we didn't suffer from the same aforementioned circumstances as our friends. Because of this, I can't help but think that lack of proper care from the owners of the systems had something to do with it. However, I still have heard cases of the system simply malfunctioning anyway, but that was something I didn't hear often, so it's not like it wasn't an issue, but I think it was a bit blown out of proportion due to a lack of knowledge on the customer's part.

Second, he recommended companies get some slight profit from the used games bought at Gamestop or other various other stores (but usually Gamestop). Problem is, any game that has been used is typically bought by the person wanting to sell it, and it's understandable they might want to make a bit of a profit off of their purchase if they decide to sell. It happens anywhere, not just Gamestop. We've been doing similar things at yard sales for a long time now. Of course, the company doesn't get a profit. That's how it has always been. However, I will also note that Gamestop still has fault in this issue, because, while they might sell used games at okay (sometimes even good) prices, they buy games to sell for jack shit. They will seriously sell a game for about thirty or forty dollars after buying it for under five. That's fucking pathetic.

And not really a counter point, but the region-locking issue has existed for a long time before this generation. Every generation, or at least most of them, had that issue.

Otherwise, I want to point out one particular point he made and emphasize it: Metroid, a legendary game series with a few of the best games ever made, jumped the shark this generation. That should say a lot. Granted, it had a couple of arguably bad or okay games, but they kept to the Metroid series and such, and weren't really that bad. But with Other M, they fucked up royally. Hopefully, if there's another game in the series, it won't be like that game.

But still, that didn't ruin this generation, it's just an example of how bad it generally is. A big thing that helped ruin it was companies catering to the casual audience. I'm fine with casual gaming to some extent, and I didn't used to think that it was really a big problem because it got more people into gaming (for a short period of time anyway). However, I eventually came to realize that it is a big problem considering not only does a lot of the crap that's released now not only caters to casuals, but also typically doesn't qualify as a "game." What you have instead is software that helps you exercise or dance or something similar, something you can do for free or cheap without buying this extra shit. Or, if it is a game, it's some tacky sports game or party game that, for the most part, sucks (Wii Sports and its sequel were the only two that could be considered fun in any way).

Which leads me to the Wii. The Wii's game library is quite lackluster, even if  it included several of the cool games not released in North America. Sure, the Virtual Console kind of makes up for it, but even that's missing quite a few grand titles, especially in terms of the Nintendo 64. But even discounting the all of the crap, I feel the need to say that even the few good games released here are lacking in terms of quality. Even that Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary package was a big fat disappointment, because it was simply a ROM of Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES with a crappy booklet and a disc with a few songs from several games throughout the series. I can tell it didn't even take much time for them to put together. Even Sonic got better treatment, and he's been sucking since Sonic R was released way back in the mid-nineties. Just makes me think they're not trying very hard any more. If not for the Virtual Console and a couple of pretty good games, and if not for our Gamecube's hardware issues (only the first two controller slots work anymore), I probably would've sold the Wii a while ago.

But otherwise, even their best franchises are getting worse. I already mentioned that Metroid jumped the shark, but Legend of Zelda is pretty boring anymore and is no longer interesting, Mario has been getting more linear and less fun (though I'll give that series credit for still being decent), as well as being put in crappy side games (even Mario Kart is losing steam), F-Zero games have been pushed to the side, possibly forever (I hope not, because that was one of the few really good Nintendo licenses left standing), Star Fox may soon be dead if Star Fox 64 3D doesn't perform well enough, and I doubt it will (Command wasn't good, and I doubt the series will improve beyond the original Star Fox 64 or the original Star Fox again even if it continued), the last Pilotwings was boring, and I don't know about Kirby because I haven't played the new game, Epic Yarn, but Kirby's games have typically been really good. I will, however, say that I do like the latest Donkey Kong game, but otherwise, his games have tended to suck in the past several years as well. Also, despite any complaints I have of the game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was still a pretty good game overall.

So overall, I'm getting sick of Nintendo, but honestly, it's not just them. Most of the game series I've been into in recent times, including Fallout and Mass Effect, have been getting worse, particularly Mass Effect, which I no longer anticipate much. I'm also sure that, by now, pretty much everybody is getting sick of Assassin's Creed. I at least hope so, because it overstayed its welcome and got stale fast.

Anyway, moving on from that boring discussion. Ultimately, when I first thought about how sick of video games I was becoming, I wondered if it was just because I was growing out of them. My wife expressed similar sentiment (getting sick of video games, I mean), so I figured that was the case because we're both really close in age and we're getting older and talking about having children to raise, and we have been playing for about as long as each other. However, I was reminded of my cousin, who still buys and plays games, and she's several years older than we are, and when I asked her, even she said she was getting sick of video games, too, but none of us could put our fingers on just what was wrong. Of course, we figured out we weren't the only ones, and that there are a legion of gamers getting sick of the various crap happening.

Nowadays, we know why, and it's mostly because of the reasons mentioned above, whether in the video embedded or here on my blog. Gamers generally seem to agree: this is probably one of the worst generations of game consoles yet. I don't know whether the next generation will be any better or not, but things are looking bleak, if anything.

Another interesting point to that, though, is the fact that Duke Nukem Forever received mainly negative reviews from critics, which is sad considering the game is actually pretty damn good. It's certainly not amazing, but it was a breath of fresh air after encountering so many bad or dull or uninteresting games released in recent times. However, what I thought was interesting was I remember one reviewer said it was too much like a game released over a decade ago (oh wow, a game in development since 1997 playing like a game released in 1997, what a coincidence). But that made me think, "If anything, that just makes it more awesome." And then I had a bit of a revelation.

Because of what I thought I started thinking about no longer buying video games released after this generation passes, and my wife agrees. She even suggested getting rid of a few things, which I might go along with as well, but certainly not everything. No more new game consoles, no more new games, no more online gaming (unless it's free and still available), no more of that. Not only because it's becoming expensive, and not only because my wife and I already have a shitload of games, but because we prefer retro gaming. We're not even really too into this generation any more, either, but there's still some cool stuff hanging around. From now on, if anything, we'll either buy something retro if we ever feel like it, or maybe buy a PC game once in a long while. But still, we won't be buying much of anything any more. Even my cousin and her wife are wanting to jump on that bandwagon with me. We've realized we just prefer playing old games, because a lot of the best stuff ever made was released before this generation, though I will say Fallout 3 definitely ranks way up high among them, and I'd maybe consider Borderlands for that honor as well.

But you know what's weird about that? Any time I mention my plan to another gamer, they react like It's a weird thing for me to do. Quite frankly, no matter how you look at it, it can be considered more of a smart decision than anything else. I encourage anyone who wants to keep buying games to do so, but at the same time, this shouldn't come as a surprise at all to anyone, least of all other pissed off gamers. I mean, it's not like I'm going to stop playing video games any time soon either way. I'm sure I'll still be playing as long as I can, and even if I don't, that's okay. I have more interesting things I can do, like fuck my wife. But still, I love playing all sorts of games, and so does my family, so I'll keep playing anyway.

Anyway, sucks to see this generation suck so much, but the signs seem to have been popping up within the previous generation (that was a pretty good generation overall, though). For me at least, this generation has been the death of video games, and I'm honestly fine with that. It's actually nice to move on from it after so many wonderful years. I encourage others to do the same, but if not, I wish you luck in your gaming endeavors, and hope it eventually works out for the best.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We're Married!

Yes, I'm still alive, and I couldn't be any happier than I am now. My girlfriend and I, after being together since Kindergarten, have finally married. Nobody predicted that we would have lasted together this long, not even the both of us, but I'm glad we're still together, because I don't think I could've found anybody better than my wife (and that's another exhilarating feeling is that I get to tell people that she's my wife now).

Obviously, since we've been with each other for so long, we've been through a lot together, and there's not a lot we don't already know about each other. Whenever I am having a hard time in my life or sick, she is always there for me, giving me hugs and kisses and taking care of me, and has always been willing to lend a sympathetic and empathetic ear, and I've always returned the favor. Whenever we're apart and doing separate things, we've always felt empty. Not that we aren't willing or able to go on or anything like that, but we've always preferred to be in each others' company, and we never get sick of being around each other. Even to this day, people tend to comment about how they rarely ever see us apart for more than a few minutes, and regardless, they don't typically see us apart. (unless one of us happens to be working at the time, but neither of us tends to go out if that's the case). I guess we both have some form of perpetual separation anxiety, heh.

Anyway, I just wanted to make that announcement real quick before I go back to bed with my wife. I might give more details about the wedding later, but I'll at least say for now that it was mesmerizing and fun, and now that the wedding stuff is over, I'll probably get back to writing blog posts more often. If not, oh well, but I will post again. If I don't ever post again before I announce that we've officially started a family (the time I anticipate I'll likely stop posting here), assume I'm dead or forgot my password or something. 'Til next time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Inception


I'll be blunt. This is one of the most disappointing films I've ever seen in my life. I expected something at least somewhat brilliant, not because of the praise, but because of the premise. I've always enjoyed reading The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my favorite novels of all time, and I figured this movie would be cool, too, because it deals with the metaphysical aspects involved with dreams.

What I got instead was pseudo-intellectualism. Why do I say that? Because this movie just says stuff like "This is the way it works," without explaining why. I know Soft Science Fiction does that, but even that stays within the boundaries of reality to some degree. This film doesn't. It's not even hard to create a story based around dreams while still being realistic. This shit isn't even hard to study, either. Just takes a bit of basic knowledge about sleep psychology and you're good to go. I'll explain a bit.

First off, simply put, there are four stages of sleep, each getting deeper, then a little higher again before going into a stage called R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is your dream state. It paralyzes your muscles, so you can't move during sleep. And there is only one state. One. There is no such thing as multiple levels of dreaming. It's just R.E.M. sleep. That's it.

But that's not all. The imagery in your dreams is brought out through this part of the brain in the limbic system near the center of the brain called the hippocampus, which helps control short and long-term memory. Since the images come from your memory, you can only bring up what you've experienced in the past, meaning you can only dream of what you know. And since you are unconscious during the R.E.M. state, you can't think of anything to create within your dreams. This also means dreams have no celestial meaning or anything like that.

And I'm just basing this one on logic here, but considering the fact that you obtain dream imagery from your mind, wouldn't it actually be easier to install a memory than to take one out? After all, I'd imagine all one would have to do is plant a chip on the hippocampus or inject something into it or something like that, and wallah! New dreams. Now extracting them. . . I've no idea how we could do that.

With just that knowledge, you can pick this movie the fuck apart. I usually enjoy it, but it irritates me here because it happens to often, and considering people praise this movie, I hope nobody follows its stupidity.

Besides all of that, this movie didn't even blow my mind, something else I was expecting. Maybe it's because I've read enough of Philip K. Dick's work to not be surprised by this kind of thing anymore, but I found this movie to be incredibly predictable either way. I saw almost every single twist and turn in the story coming from more than a mile away.

Anyway, I don't recommend it unless you want to turn your brain off, don't care about sleep psychology, and haven't read a Philip K. Dick novel or short story or The Lathe of Heaven yet (probably not necessary to follow that, but it's probably better to). In fact, yeah, fuck this movie and go read a more mind-bending and amazing book instead.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Girl becomes first to win state wrestling match

. . . Because the guy she was going to face forfeit.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/highschool/blog/prep_rally/post/For-first-time-Iowa-girl-wins-a-state-wrestling?urn=highschool-322846

*Sigh*

Honestly, if I were in her position, I wouldn't accept that. Not the guy forfeiting. I wouldn't force him to wrestle if he didn't want to. I mean, I wouldn't accept that victory. I'd feel like shit for not being able to prove myself, especially for an honor like this, being the first ever to win.

Thanks for the disappointment, dude.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Time My Girlfriend and I Fell In Love

I have explained how my girlfriend and I got together, and even our first kiss and all. However, I have not yet told the story of when we truly fell in love with each other.

After about a week or two together (we were still little girls, of course), my girlfriend's family took us to some place, and my cousin and her family heard about it and wanted to come along, my cousin bringing her then girlfriend along as well. I can't remember the place or anything, but there was music playing and people were dancing. Not long after arriving, my girlfriend's parents and my cousin and her family were encouraging us to dance together.

My girlfriend got excited about it, but I was nervous. My girlfriend grabbed my hand, and we both headed out to the dance floor. Everyone else followed with their respective partners. Soon after we got on the dance floor, "That's All," the version sung by Johnny Mathis (something I figured out later on) started playing. For those who have never heard it, here it is:



Best version of the song (besides when my girlfriend sings it, of course), and I don't just think that because of the reasons stated later. Only thing he screwed up on was when he said, "And a love time can only destroy." It's supposed to say something along the lines of, "And a love time can never destroy." Otherwise, it's an incredible rendition of a brilliant song.

Anyway, this is the song we had our first dance to. During this song, my girlfriend and I looked each other in the eyes, never looking away, except when we kissed a couple of times. This is when we both fell in love with each other. It's not just my sentiment; my girlfriend agrees. That was the definitive moment. From what we heard from everyone else, that's what it even looked like. So I'm not just glad that my girlfriend and I experienced that moment, but that the rest of the group did, too.

Of course, my girlfriend and I later learned that was the reason they brought us there. We also learned that it was my girlfriend's mom that requested that song be played before we all danced to it, because that is one of her favorite songs.

It is for this reason that we have chosen "That's All" as "our song." We don't know how we will have it played at our wedding, but it will be what plays while my girlfriend and I have our first dance. My cousin even raised the idea of singing it for us, which we may actually want, because she has a great voice, and generally knows how we like to hear the song.

Anyway, I thought that would be a cute and romantic story to share with anyone who happens to be reading this, and I felt like typing it up because my girlfriend and I are real excited about getting married this summer, so we started getting nostalgic, talking about stuff like this. We even just held and kissed each other for a while after hearing "That's All" the other day.

So I'll say this for the umpteenth, yet certainly not the last, time: Sweetie, I love you. So very much. For now and evermore.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas

I know we're past Christmas, but I just felt like talking a bit about random Christmas stuff. I guess I'll start off with my experiences.

Of course, my Christmas times were not as bad a lot of poor kids out there who are abused or really poor or anything like that. However, considering I grew up mostly middle class (really poor now, but happy), I was still not having good a good Christmas, at least where my parents are concerned. Since they are (or were, in my mother's case) Conservative, they thought I should be a typical girly girl, and mostly bought me clothing, make-up, dolls, and an easy-bake oven, just to name a few things. But I mostly got clothing. I remember crying the first Christmas that happened, which was during my First Grade year. They knew I didn't like those kinds of presents, but they didn't care. Everyone else was nice about gifts, though. I told my girlfriend's parents about it and got me at least one thing I wanted. Not something too expensive, just something to help make me feel better, which it did. They got me a toy dinosaur, which I played with often. My cousin and her family were the ones who got me my Nintendo 64 along with Super Mario 64, which I still have and play with fairly often today. It's also, to this day, my favorite game console ever.

Anyway, don't get me wrong about gifts. I realize that's not what Christmas is all about. I'd seriously be fine with not getting presents. I'm fine with just getting hugs and "Happy Holidays" and "I love you." Maybe sipping hot chocolate while eating popcorn while watching a movie with my girlfriend. Maybe just going to see my cousin and her girlfriend. Something like that. What I don't like is blatantly not soaking in what someone tells them. If I say I don't want a particular gift, don't get it for me. That shows to me you don't care far more than not getting me anything does. Besides, if I'm not going to use it or anything, why bother wasting money on it in the first place? Well, usually, if I do get a gift I don't use, I donate it to charity if I can. Otherwise, I have to wonder why they'd even try.

And, kind of off subject, but my dad was really bad with toys anyway. Not just buying them, but his attitude on them as well. He thought, once I reached the age of thirteen, that I didn't need the toys I had anymore. While I was hanging out with my girlfriend and my cousin, my dad threw a lot of my toys in a big garbage bag, including that dinosaur toy I described earlier. I didn't care for more than half of them, since they were those Barbies and stuff like that, but there were still a lot that I didn't want him to throw away. After my cousin dropped off my girlfriend at her house and took me back home, we noticed that garbage bag out front, which we thought was unusual, so we looked inside. Sure enough, there were my toys. Yet another time I bawled my ass off. My cousin lifted the bag, put it in the trunk of her car, and hugged me until my dad came outside and started bitching at my cousin. My cousin, after she realized the argument was getting too heated, quickly got both her and I into her car and left. Besides the toys she knew I didn't want, which she donated to charity, my cousin kept the toys with her from then on, and she still has them to this day. However, once my girlfriend and I get a decent place with enough room, I'll have them again.

Anyway, besides all of that, I really have to wonder why people even consider giving clothing for Christmas. That's among the worst gift ideas out there because it's probably the gift with the most hassle to it. A lot of people are picky about what kind of clothing they wear. Even if you get something similar in style to what they wear, they still may not like it. Not only that, but you also have to consider if the clothing will fit. Even if you ask what size clothing the gift receiver wears, the clothing still may not fit. For some odd reason, even if, say, a certain pair of pants claims to be a certain size, it may likely feel tighter on you than another pair that claims to be the same size. I've had that happen quite a few times. So considering all of this, clothing will likely need to be returned or exchanged. And to top it all off, clothing is certainly not typically cheap. It's not always the most expensive item on the list, but the bill can rack up pretty damn quick and often leave you with only a few items (unless you buy from a thrift store or something, but that's not what I'm talking about, obviously).

As for Christmas now, though, my family celebrates it usually by giving gag gifts for each other and playing a game while handing them out (a "Which Gift Will You Get" kind of game). We each buy joke gifts (a maximum of three and a minimum of one depending on the number of people playing) and pick a number. Whoever has the lowest number has to go first, and gets to pick any gift they want. As the game goes along, the next person can either trade the gift with another person before them, but cannot trade afterward until their turn comes again. The game is over, obviously, once all of the gifts have been opened and traded.

To demonstrate the kinds of gag gifts we get, we all typically get gifts from just about anywhere, but my cousin has an obvious trademark at this point: Spencer's, possibly some other dumb gift sources. Spencer's has always been one of her favorite stores to go to, which I think should say a lot about her personality. She doesn't normally get anything really bad there, but she tends to find something that's fun for a least a little while. This year, I ended up with something she bought: two rolls of Sarah Palin toilet paper, which I'm thinking she may not have actually found at Spencer's. That one made me laugh the hardest for sure. She also got a screaming slingshot frog, which my girlfriend ended up with, and the What the F*ck game, which my cousin herself ended up with due to a trade. The latter is supposed to be an alcoholic drinking game, but we just drink whatever we want whenever we play. Also, my cousin left an unexpected surprise in the bathroom next to her and her wife's bedroom. Her wife tried to use the toilet paper, but figured out it wouldn't rip. Turned out to be yet another gag item my cousin got from Spencer's. They both laughed about it, but my cousin's wife said she'd find a way to get her back somehow for that. I have to wonder what will happen. And I've got to admit, it was hilarious hearing the way my cousin's wife reacted to the gag toilet paper.

By the way, before anyone complains about the way my cousin treated her wife, her wife knows my cousin well enough to have somewhat known that something like this was going to happen. If anything, she likes that about my cousin.

As for non-gag gifts, we just go out and splurge a bit, if anything. Otherwise, we just spend the whole day together doing whatever we feel like doing.

But now, I feel like talking about one more little thing before ending this post. I feel like discussing this "War on Christmas" bull shit. I don't know the everything behind it, but I definitely find it ridiculous that people get upset over what to say to others. I don't care if you say "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," or even "Happy Kwanza." It's a nice gesture no matter what you say. I, however, personally prefer to say "Happy Holidays," not because I'm an Agnostic Atheist, but because it covers the whole spectrum of the holiday season. If you get upset over that, then fuck you. Anyone can say whatever they want, because it doesn't have to be one way.

Also, just an FYI, Secularists can indeed celebrate Christmas, not just because of the origins of Christmas dealing with the Winter Solstice, but because it's just fun to do something like my family does around this time of year (or any time for that matter, but we still like doing this on December 25th). So yeah, I like celebrating Christmas in that regard nowadays. I obviously didn't use to enjoy Christmas much in the past, but I'm over that now and am having a lot of fun. I hope you are, too.