Saturday, July 29, 2006

Much Ado about Nothing: Is America’s Skin to Thin?

When American’s claim to be offended by ridiculous, minuscule things like beer can’s on a poster, bad words, filthy bumper stickers, plain pettiness, and even crosses, life is too good. Mark Twain exclaimed, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." People have way too much time on their hands when they can waste time on bunk (empty talk; nonsense).

Here is a real world example: A few individuals found a new recycling poster offensive. Why? Because the poster has a few discernable beer cans in the recycled can pile. Give me a break! Someone warn the offended to never shop in a store with alcohol being sold or displayed. Are they offended by beer trucks? Any way, these individuals complained and the posters were removed. After thinking about the complaint logically, the posters were later placed back up as they are fine posters. People are taking offense by taking things way out of context.

Please pass this on: Being “offended” by something implies greater intensity of feeling than “just not liking” something. Not liking something often times, leads us quickly and blindly down the road of intolerance.

What is Dislike? Dislike is an inclination to withhold approval from some person, a group or a thing. Dislike is a feeling of aversion (deliberately avoiding) or antipathy (intense dislike). Dislike is to have or to feel distaste for something, maybe even repulsed by it.

What is Offended? Being offended is a feeling of uncontrollable anger, resentment,
or even indignation (righteous anger). One may even act with a disregard for laws, rules,
contracts, or promises. Some might strike out with disgust or revulsion. Ultimately
the offense causes hurt and leaves one horribly upset.

Are we are the laughing stock of the world? Why do we allow American’s to take things to the ultimate extreme, except of course those things which have real meaning and will make a positive difference to lives and to life?

Is America’s skin too thin? In my opinion, the thickness of America’s skin has a direct correlation to the “political correctness” movement, which is related to the bowel movement. In other words, they both appear to come from the same place. For text books, let’s call it the “Thinnist Movement!” For the record books; it is okay to dislike something, but you don’t have to make such ado about nothing. Save your energy for something substantial. Make a difference, not a nuisance. Stop wasting valuable resources on pathetic things (my opinion).

Here are ten of the many things for people to exert their energies in that will make a difference. Try loving others as yourself, if you don’t love yourself, what about feeding the poor (Angels of Hope), take care of the sick and save lives (St. Jude hospital). People need homes (Habitat for humanity). Kids need good role models (Big Brothers and Big Sisters). Correspond and send money to a child (Children International). Give your organs as a donor (see the Department of Motor Vehicles). Fight social injustice, not beer posters. Work toward world peace – be a peace maker. Tolerance is for all.

Put your energy into something which will make a difference, not bologna!

I am getting off my soap box!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ei Je or Hey You There! Another Cultural Faux Pas is Added to my Belt

In my futile attempt to share intercultural tips to an organization, I find my due diligence is lacking and once again I fall into the faux pas category.

Why? I trusted a random internet website which I searched, believing it as being factual and I did not verify correctly out of being pressed for time.

Important to remember: Many websites have erroneous information so be diligent and verify, verify, verify.

Cultural Tip: Making an effort to speak a little language internationally, even if it is only to greet with a “hello” and to respond with a “thank you,” will be greatly appreciated. Many Americans make no attempt to learn even the most simple of phrases when they go globally. Making an effort to learn and speak will build relationships and enhance your experience while traveling abroad.

By learning to say hello in the following eight languages, you can personally greet over half of the worlds people (3 billion people):

Chinese (Mandarin) ‘ni hao’, English ‘hello’, Hindi ‘namaste’, Spanish ‘hola’, Arabic ‘al salaam’, Bengali ei je’ (should be Namashkar), see below, Portuguese ‘bom dia’, Russian ‘Zdravstvuite’.

Here is an anonymous (I know who, but you do not) email received in response to my cultural tip.


Not sure where you got this, but its way of use, in American English, or the equivalent, would be "Hey! You - there!" This is hardly a way to make a good impression on somebody you do not know. I am not only a born Bengali, but also quite accomplished in its language. The appropriate and polite way to address a stranger in Bengali is "Namashkar", it is a Sanskrit word, which is more formal and more universally used to address.

Signed Anonymous

I am very thankful to my anonymous responder, as his email message has reinforced a great value, which I call, “Avoiding cultural faux pas.” I am learning from life’s lessons. Fun!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Oxford Ancestors: Exploring your Genetic Roots

A dear friend of mine just received his genetic roots exploration in the mail and I am fascinated by the results.

Some ethnic groups are opposed to DNA research for fear of losing their sovereign nation status or other ethnic rights, but this technology is super neat and my wife and I are going to do it for fun.

Who has not asked these questions? Who are we? And, where, do we come from? Check out Oxford Ancestors.

Genetics research is now about to end our long misadventure with the idea of race,” Steven Olson writes in his new book, “Mapping Human History,”

In an article published in The New York Times, Is Race Real, by Nicholas D Kristof, the author quotes, “Genetics will increasingly show that most humans are mongrels, and it will make a mockery of racism.”

Other articles related to Genetics.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Deeply Spiritual and Simply Cultural

I think we can all agree on this simple fact: Where there is life, we should observe some growth. Things that do not grow in some way are usually not alive or in other words, dead. Any issues so far?

If we observe some growth in ourselves or in others, typically we will run into some challenges in life (self, time, mistakes, people, perceptions, misunderstandings, progress, pettiness and so forth).

The most wonderful thing about challenges (problems) is there are always ways to solve issues. Even hitting rock bottom there must be a way out, if you fall in. Find the way.

If there is a challenge or problem in your life that requires a solution, then there is a great opportunity for growth. Are you growing? Hard experiences teach good lessons.

No matter what the challenge is in your life experience, use the challenge as a way to spring forward to greater growth. Don’t hide your experience, but share it with others. Turn a negative into a positive. Tell people how you overcame obstacles in your growth.

What’s the bottom line? Earnestly seek and you will find! Continually grow. There is a peace that passes all understanding.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

No Wave too Rough, No Shark too Tough: Are you Aware that Sharks Talk?

Sharks talk just like you and I. I have personally experienced a fascinating talking shark on many occasions. Growing up surfing I experienced a recurring shark dream which scared me senseless, but the fear is less than my desire to surf. If the surf is up, the surf is ridden.

In my dream, the water is always a deep blue and emerald green. The crystal clear water is amazing and the waves are glassy and pure. The sun sparkled off the water like many perfectly cut diamonds. My heart pounding with excitement, I always race from my car to the beach. I strap the leash to my ankle and charge the sea with a fury. Praying to God for safety and thanking Him for making the waves for my enjoyment. This is a ritual for me. As I paddle out to catch some waves, an electric surge of joy is racing through my body and exhilaration through my mind, what a perfect day. However, each time I stopped paddling to sit on my surfboard (with my feet dangling), I see a white shark swimming beneath me. Each time, the white shark swims to the surface, pokes its head out of the water, and says, “Good morning Mike, sometime today, I am going to eat you!” The shark would chuckle, alright, laugh at me and disappear into the water.

Still Scared of Sharks? Get back into the Surf!

What shark dreams have you been having? Make a comment on this Blog to let me know. If you are still scared of sharks, but your passion for surfing is still alive, I have found a perfect way for you to fulfill a remote controlled wave session where the waves are always overhead. This company called RC Surfer or Remote Controlled Surfer has a product you have to check out. If you are interested in the RC Surfer and other surfing links, click here to see an awesome list of hot surfing resources.

Get back into the surf, your odds of being attacked by a shark is only 1 in 11.5 million people and a shark attack fatality is 0 in 264.1 million. You have a greater chance of drowning than being attacked by a shark! Click here to calculate your odds.

There is 1 person in 2 million that will experience a drowning and a drowning fatality is 1 person in 3.5 million.

The RC Surfer loves to be attacked by sharks and will never drown.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cultural Gifts: Wine Bottle Dress-up

Where do your bottles go to get dressed up to have fun...Memorable occasions need to be celebrated and remembered. Let Barjonx provide your bottle with the proper attire to celebrate any occasion...

Global HR Leadership Conference Gift

Here is a hot new product with a cultural flair that is fun and unusual. My wife received the red Chinese wine bottle dress to the left, at the 2006 global HR leadership conference, from an international team member. What a great gift.

Then, a lady I work with provided me with a link to her children's website called Barjonx that market these types of gifts in the US. I thought I would share.

Pass out wine as gifts? No more wine bags, brown bags, or cartoon paper wrappings needed. Get something cool.

I have linked this site to my website too.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Michael Hedges - Silent Anticipations

This guy rocks! How is that for a blog entry.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bumped by a Black-Tip Reef Shark

It was a beautiful day in June and the surf was up in Virginia Beach. I was totally stoked, sitting on my board in a fairly crowded line-up, near second-street. There is something about being in the ocean, taking it all in, that I can not explain – you have to experience it first hand.

The nose of my surfboard was angled toward the beach and my right hand held on to it as I looked back at the incoming swell, trying to ensure I was aligned well for the next good set wave and my next ride. I was deep in my element. As all this activity is taking place, I notice out of my peripheral vision, a large, light object, driving up at me from out of the water. My full attention and focus was directed toward the moving object. Looking directly into the on coming terror’s eyes, I am thankful my first reaction was to yell loudly and to throw my right arm into the air, as I twisted my body back. I probably looked like a bull rider, holding on to the surfboard with one hand and letting the other one fly. The shark’s mouth was open and ready for a tasty bite, but for some reason the shark came out of the water and immediately turned, thrusting or bumping my stomach and ribs with the right side of its body. The shark went under. This time I yelled a recognizable word, “SHARK!” No one seemed to listen.

I paddled as fast as I could for shore. When I finally arrived on land, I sprinted to the lifeguard tower to tell him what I had experienced. The lifeguard looked down at me at said, “Ah yeah, go back out in the water and if you see it again, come tell me and I will get everyone out of the water.”

I sat fearfully in shock on the beach for about 45 minutes, wondering who would be attacked. Nothing happened. Although my nerves were a bit frazzled, I finally got up the courage to go back into the water, but I was definitely gun shy.

Why in the world would I go back into the water? If you are not a surfer you will never understand. The surf was pumping and surf is a commodity which is not to be taken for granted or wasted.

My heart took a beating that day as my feet and shadow’s reflecting off the ocean scared the crud out of me more than once. Every time I caught a wave I was thinking of the experience (incentive to stay on the board), and every time I went under I heard the deep Jaws movie theme notes, Da, Da, Da, Da!

Fortunately, I believe I scared the black-tip reef shark just as bad as it scared me. Sharks are intelligent creatures. I faced my fear of sharks on many more occasions and to this day I still have a healthy respect for sharks embedded within the inner most me.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Salam is Peace in Arabic

People everywhere deserve peace...

"There was never a good war or a bad peace."

Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 14, 2006

Eve Of Destruction?

Eve Of Destruction?

By Barry McGuire, 1965

The eastern world it is explodin',
violence flarin', bullets loadin',
you're old enough to kill but not for votin',
you don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin',
and even the Jordan river has bodies floatin',
but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
Don't you understand, what I'm trying to say?
Can't you see the fear that I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away,
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy,
and you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here, just contemplatin',
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
handful of Senators don't pass legislation,
and marches alone can't bring integration,
when human respect is disintegratin',
this whole crazy world is just too frustratin',
and you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
but when you return, it's the same old place,
the poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
you can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
hate your next-door-neighbour, but don't forget to say grace,
and tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
No, no , you don't believe we are on the eve of destruction

Surfing with a 10 foot Hammerhead, Navarre Pier, Florida

Growing up, my surf crew (group of surfing friends) and I loved dawn patrol (O'dark thirty, early morning) wave sessions growing up. We would arise before the sun and head to our favorite beach breaks. We would watch the sun rise over the horizon and the early morning ray’s glisten on the glassy waves. Of course, we all had chilly goose pimples from the brisk morning air, but we were charged by the adrenaline rush of an empty line-up (no one else in the water- except the sharks). Navarre Pier was one of our favorite dawn patrol locations. Navarre is an isolated place between Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach. Fishermen loved to pull the midnight shift, drinking strong Irish coffee and attracting sharks with chum to lure them into a feeding frenzy and ultimately capture them with their lines and imbedded hooks. Sharks were a common sighting on the sand, often times with their teeth removed, blood draining back into the water. Death was in the air.

The shark hunters thought we were all crazy, but one crazy surfer takes crazy to the next level, insanity. This guy used to run fishing pole lines out for the fishermen on the pier, for a few dollars. This guy would throw two bloody Bonita’s with hooks and tackle over his shoulder and paddle the lines out into the deep water. I get a shiver down my spine just thinking about the risks involved. Florida’s continental shelf is fairly close to shore and sharks smell really well, enough said.

Our nerves were a bit jumpy seeing all the dead sharks on the beach. However, we were destined to surf and surf is what we did. As we paddled out about thirty feet next to pier, my younger brother starts to yell shark and hyper-paddles back to shore. He screams, “Get out, there is a ten-foot Hammerhead by the pier.” Everyone else begins to panic or should I even go as far as to say, freak-out. I perceived this as a golden opportunity to add to the excitement and slip off of my surfboard and into the water to start slapping it hard with my flapping arms and screaming at the top of my lungs. Once I had everyone’s attention, including the fishermen, I disappeared under the pier, undoing my leash, to leave my board lifeless and afloat.

In the ocean, I always swim with my eyes wide open. Just as I reach the middle of the pier, I look over and see the infamous shark was in fact real and not at all a figment of my younger brother’s imagination. I thought to myself, oh crap, what a foolish boy I am. All ten feet of this beautiful shark swam by me as my life began to flash and I realized that I had only done foolish things with my life to this point. This foolishness is scary. Just as the tail past by me, I shot to the surface for a gasp of air and began to swim back to my board. I wondered where the shark would bite me first. After reaching my board, I climbed back on and began to paddle in. If there was an Indy 500 of surfing, I would have placed first. I paddled so fast that it seemed like I past waves on the way into the beach.

My friends and little brother were not happy campers at my little stint and I learned a great lesson in life. More sharks have seen us, than we have seen sharks. I still surf and I always will, as long as I have breath.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Stoned Beach Bum Places His Leg into a Shark’s Mouth:

Important to note: Sharks can no longer compensate the losses suffered in all of their habitats. Many shark species are endangered - some are even on the verge of EXTINCTION !

One of my first jobs ever was setting up and tearing down umbrellas and chairs at the beach. Some of the beach hotels I worked were next to a place called Wayside Park. Wayside Park is the beach area surrounding the Okaloosa Island Pier. Local government officials decided to clean up Wayside Park’s drug related history and image by creating the Emerald Coast and the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk.

One early morning, as I was setting up chairs and umbrellas on the beach I noticed a few bull sharks beached up on the sand. The waves would occasionally wash over them as they lay still and lifeless. Unfortunately, the fishermen on the pier would often hunt shark all night long. Usually, the only part removed or used from the shark would be the teeth. Fortunately, it is now illegal to shark fish from the pier and there are limits on the number of sharks caught commercially.

Being a surfer, I don’t enjoy thinking about sharks, let alone seeing them first hand parked on the beach break I surf regularly. In a way, surfers pretend that sharks don’t exist every time we get in the water. Although, sharks definitely get the adrenaline flowing. What other X-Game sport has a predator to contend with?

Anyway, back to the story. I see this stoned (intoxicated with something) individual walking down the beach toward the bull sharks. He stands wobbling in front of the sharks, pointing and laughing. I see this individual get down on the ground and begin touching one of the sharks. To my amazement, he opens the mouth of this six foot bull shark and inserts his left leg. With his leg in the sharks mouth, the man begins to shake violently and slab the sand screaming at the top of his lungs. I am watching in horror. The stoned individual stops and laughs, before doing this a few more times. When the man gets bored with the shark and drama, he removes his leg. Within seconds of removing his leg the six foot shark begins to shake back and forth as if trying to get back into the water. The stoned individual falls straight back into the sand and lays there for what seemed an eternity. The shark was beached and still, but alive. The giant fish looked as though it was trying to get back into the water to swim away.

Thinking about it, would you want a nasty, filthy, beach bums foot in your mouth? Yuck!

Hard to believe: It was once believed that all sharks had to swim constantly in order to breathe and could not sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. For example, oxygen-rich water flows through the gills during a shark’s movement allowing the shark to breathe. Some sharks have to swim all the time in order to breathe, but bull sharks can lie motionless on the bottom. Bull sharks have active and restful periods.

Check out all the recent shark activity on the Emerald Coast which includes a June 26, 2006 attack resulting in the regrettable death of a 14 year old girl.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why Isn’t Spielberg Creating a Movie Called Jaws VII: Because we now have Shark Shield!

Shark Warning: Sharks can be scary, dangerous, and often times unpredictable creatures lurking in the sea. From 1975 until now, many people haven’t been back in the water. 1975, is when the original Jaws movie was released. In fact, rumor has it that some of these people haven’t even bathed since Jaws came out 31 years ago. Why? For some reason people refuse to bathe, out of fear of a two ton shark swimming up their plumbing to eat them.

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is now safe to go back into the water and your bath tubs! The innovative Aussies have developed a fantastic new product called Shark Shield! This product is available mid 2006. What is Shark Shield?

Shark Shield™ is an electronic shark deterrent that allows both water sport professionals and recreational users to enjoy their chosen vocation with a new dimension - safety and peace of mind - for themselves, their families and employers/supervisors.

Shark Shield™ creates a unique protective electrical field around the user, which is detected through receptors located on the snouts of sharks. The field causes intense discomfort to the shark, resulting in them leaving the area.

For those engaged in commercial water activities it offers personal protective safety equipment that can contribute to a much safer working environment and assist both employers and employees in meeting Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare obligations.

As a surfer since 1976, I have had a few encounters with sharks. I plan to share these stories with you over the next couple of days. With Shark shield, we may loose our shark encounters and fear forever.

Bumped by a Black tip Reef Shark in Virginia Beach, 1984

Surfing with a 10 foot Hammerhead, Navarre Pier, Florida 1982

A drunk, beach bum places his leg into a live shark’s mouth, Ft. Walton Beach Pier, Florida 1981

Special Note: More sharks have seen us then we have seen them!

"And the day came, when the risk to remain a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" - Anais Nin

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Mexican Friend is Tired of Mexicans being Portrayed as Lazy!

One man’s negative portrayal is sometimes another man’s ambition. Most of us are familiar with the symbolic sleeping Mexican, sitting with knees bent into his chest, under a tree or in the shade, and a tilted sombrero pulled over his head. Is this symbolic Mexican figure a negative or positive cultural representation?

My friend, who is Mexican, is highly offended by this sleeping Mexican symbol, as he feels that it portrays Mexicans as lazy. However, a mid-day nap is an integral part of the daily routine of many global cultures around the world, particularly those nearest to the equator. Personally, I think that the sleeping Mexican symbol portrays not only Mexican’s as being brilliant (intelligent), but also, Italians, Spaniards, Latin Americans and other cultures that embrace a resting period during the heat of the day. This suggests that napping is a mechanism to get us out of the hot mid-day sun. These naps are generally 15-30 minutes in length. Unfortunately, for Western cultures with a “Time is money mentality; nap-time is prime-time to get work done.”

A Few Cultures Which Embrace a Form of Siesta

Latin America
North Africa

I am all for implementing siesta, but also fiesta! There is nothing wrong with napping and celebrating. Any comments welcome below.

Research Supports the Benefits of Napping!

Power Nap, Prevents Burnout; Morning Sleep Perfects a Skill!

Evidence is mounting that sleep—even a nap—appears to enhance information processing and learning. New experiments by NIMH grantee Alan Hobson, M.D., Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard University show that a midday snooze reverses information overload and that a 20 percent overnight improvement in learning a motor skill is largely traceable to a late stage of sleep that some early risers might be missing. Overall, their studies suggest that the brain uses a night's sleep to consolidate the memories of habits, actions and skills learned during the day.

Check out Justin Good’s Squidoo website called Power Sleep for more information. For example, Justin lists stats from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that:

The average adult sleeps under 7 hours a night during a work week.

33% of adults surveyed sleep only 61/2 hours nightly.

40% of adults admit that the quality of their work suffers when they're sleepy.

68% say their ability to concentrate is diminished by sleepiness.

19% report making mistakes and errors due to sleepiness.

Sleepy drivers cause approximately 100,000 car crashes annually.

33% of adults surveyed would nap at work, if allowed.

I invite you to market yourself with an easy to use, free Squidoo website, click here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quotable: Robert Burns

O would that God the gift might give us,
to see ourselves as others see us.
Robert Burns

Robert Burns is a Scottish poet. He is the National poet of Scotland who wrote about nature, vernacular and lowland life; Burns wrote famous songs like, Auld Lang Syne and Comin' thro' the Rye.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Working with Israel Course: Offered

Working with Israel Course: Shalom. In this course, delivered by Charis Intercultural Training Corporation, you will gain insight into the Israeli culture by developing better communication skills, identifying cultural values, and understanding Israel’s business practices by studying the history, politics, lifestyle, and diverse society. This course will provide excellent preparation for business interaction, trips, and hosting Israelis.

Working with
Israel is scheduled 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 13, 2006.

For more information, go to the Charis Intercultural Training website.

To receive a local schedule for all the Albuquerque intercultural course offerings with open enrollment contact Mike Kline at 1-505-284-8108.

Contact Marian Stetson-Rodriguez to find out how you can schedule this class and other fantastic intercultural courses at 1-925-931-0555 or visit her website at

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Vanity of all Vanity: Vanity Raises Its Ugly Head

The other night my wife and I took our children to see the movie Cars. I truly did enjoy the movie, until we were walking out of the theatre and my daughter started assigning family names to each of the characters. My daughter said in a loud voice “Daddy is the tow-truck!” I felt a stab in my back, my first thought (vanity), I looked at the outward appearance of the tow-truck named Mater. Even though I always instruct my children to look at the whole person, I immediately flashed back to appearance when it was directed at me. I thought, how could my daughter think that I am the tow-truck? Outwardly, Mater is a rust bucket with buck teeth, missing parts, backwoods country accent, and not overly intelligent (this part actually did fit).

Initially, I was struggling with the psychoanalysis of the rusty old truck. However, my daughter was looking at personality traits and not outward appearance at all. I asked my girl, “What makes Mater like daddy?” She said, he is happy, he is nice, and he is strong. My chest went out and my heart was filled with a wonderful feeling. The interesting part of it all is my little girl picked out each one of us in the movie and she picked us out well. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, but Mater. I sure appreciate the opportunity to put vanity back in its place.

Which CAR (movie clip link) are you?