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communication
Posts

  • Waiting For Your Turn To Talk

    Sometimes I find myself in conversations wondering, “when are we going to get back to my favorite topic? Me.” I love talking about Toni. Talking about Toni is the most interesting thing I do. I can’t get enough of it. If you want to talk about me, I will never tire of it. If you’re interested in what Toni thinks about this or that, then I will pull up a chair. But you know what gets exhausting? Talking about you.

    As humans we are obsessed with ourselves. We find ourselves infinitely fascinating, and tend to favor our own opinions over others. Most of the time when we are relating to others, we are just waiting for our turn to talk.

    But guess what? NOBODY LIKES THAT!

    Even though we all want to compulsively talk about ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, and our complaints – it is seriously irritating when you notice other people being that way. You can feel the energy of them not listening. Their eyes are distracted, and its painfully obvious how they’re desperately trying to remember what it is they want to say. Their impatience is palpable. So you just trail off, knowing they will jump in to perform a 15-minute monologue. It is one of the most off-putting behaviors when someone talks at you endlessly, giving you the feeling that you substitute yourself with a cardboard cutout, and take off for an hour to go through Instagram filters.

    It doesn’t matter how interesting, compelling, or charismatic they are. It’s draining to have a conversation with someone that’s actually performing a one-way soliloquy. It leaves me feeling like an insignificant audience member drowned by the shadows, merely the facilitator for the proper reaction. Insert laugh here, tears there, and an “awwwwwww” at the end to wrap it up.

    Genuinely listening to others is a very attractive quality. Asking questions about their lives, remembering things they say, keeping their cast of characters fresh in your mind… this will endear you to people. If you can make someone feel heard, you will also make them feel seen, which in turn will make them feel important to you.

    So why is this so hard?

    There is an art to dialogue that is simply no longer taught or prioritized. Back in the times of ancient Greece, dialogue was the ultimate conveyer of knowledge. Socrates feared the influence of the written word because he believed that medium would destroy dialogue. He felt books are too easily misinterpreted because you can’t openly discuss your reactions with the author of the ideas you just plowed into your head. Socrates rejected writing because his worldview was predicated on the idea that best way into a genuine inquiry of philosophy was through live conversation.

    Yet how ironic is it that the only reason we know the dialogues of Socrates is because Plato wrote them down!

    Oral traditions were more exclusive with knowledge because you had to have heard the information from someone’s mouth. Where the written word can be massed produced and mass marketed. Yet does distributing information on a wide scale dilute it? On the one hand it’s fantastic anyone can have access to the vast library of human knowledge, but the criteria for who is talking has been democratized to the point where there are no longer any standards. You don’t need a PHD to create a website, you just need an IP address.

    If you think about the current manifestation of this, the Internet is so flush with information and words that you can prove anything you want. You can look up sites that say GMO’s are bad, and you can look up sites that tell you GMO’s are great. You can prove anything you want to yourself, because everyone’s goddamn opinion is posted on line to justify your thinking.

    On a personal level, this loss of dialogue has affected us even deeper. Although I enjoy reading and writing, it can be said that the modern manifestation of texting our feelings through emoji hints to the prophetic nature of Socrates’ thoughts. We would rather email someone to tell them off, then have the actual human interaction of working through conflict. How many of you have received an email from a friend/family member/lover that is just a diatribe of all they things they don’t like about you? And how have you received that? Have you ever been like, “wow, this scathing email attacking my personality really makes me think?”

    No! You usually write a contemptuous message back, and a strange cycle begins where your egos battle through this platform of screens. It is really hard to come back from these things, and usually the only way to find peace is through initiating personal contact. It is easy to hide behind screens and words rather then the complexity of face-to-face contact. That is why trolling has become such a social phenomenon. Yet we don’t only troll strangers in the dark web, we also often troll each other with the refusal of committing to direct communication.

    I think it’s crucial in these times where we are constantly being seduced by our slutty phones to work on the craft of conversation. To not text while talking, or hurry someone along so we can make our point. The best thing we can do for each other and our own psyches is learn how to be totally engaged. You know that feeling when you are talking to someone, and they are really interested in what you are saying? They are giving you their energy of paying attention. Then you pass the baton and are just as excited to hear the words that come out of their mouth. Isn’t that such a life affirming experience?

    Let’s do more of that!

    So next time you are talking to someone, a friend, someone serving you at a store, where ever you are… act like you sincerely give a shit. And I bet once you start genuinely listening, you may actually start genuinely giving a shit, which will inspire them to give a shit, and then maybe the robots won’t take over after all.

    March 23, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Relationships, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 846

  • A Culture of Consequences

    How do you motivate people to get them to do what you want? Do you give them an incentive? “Hey, come help me move and I will give you pizza, beer, and make your genitals orgasm.” Do you threaten them? “If you don’t help me move then I am going to shit in your mouth while you are sleeping.” Or do you expect them to do things because it is the “right” thing to do? “Come help me move because you are my friend and I need your assistance.”

    Philosophically we should be kind, thoughtful, and selfless all the time. We shouldn’t do things because we are seduced or emotionally manipulated – but rather out of righteousness and nobility. I want to do good things for goodness sake. Being good should be all the provocation we need to do good.

    Yeah… but people don’t always operate that way. We are all busy, or at least feel busy, and sometimes need prodding.  There is nothing like a jab in the ass to get your attention am I right?

    Theoretically I want to raise my child where she is completely driven by rationality and kindness.  I don’t want to always rely on, yelling, bribing, or arguing to get Munch to do things.  I want there to be some reasonable conversations that lead to making a collective decision about what is best.  I try to plant seeds to remind The Munch that there are consequences she should be aware of – and I am often looking out for her best interests. If you eat too much sugar, your tummy will hurt. If you don’t go to bed, you will be tired and cranky. If you don’t wash your hands after the bathroom, you will get fecal matter on them that will eventually get in your mouth. Although The Munch has an understanding that there are costs to certain actions, that doesn’t mean she always gives a shit.

    Not every request you make with your child can be a 30-minute debate. Sometimes you just want them to do something – like say brush their fucking teeth – and you don’t want to dispute why holes in your teeth is not desirable for the 400th time. There are days when I have the energy to appeal to her rational side, and there are days where I take a short cut and create a consequence if she doesn’t listen.

    Kids are not stupid and they pick up on your strategies. Even though The Munch will comply if I say “If you don’t turn off The Little Mermaid and come take a bath then I won’t let you watch the Little Mermaid anymore” that doesn’t mean she isn’t taking notes.

    Now she is starting to throw this culture of consequences back in my face. When she wants to do something and I say “no” she then creates a consequence to motivate me. Although I have to say, her threats are way more twisted and demented than mine have ever been.

    “Mom, if you don’t let me have a treat then I will rip your face off.”
    “Mom, if you don’t let me watch a movie then I will take your computer and throw it outside in the rain.”
    “Mom, if you don’t let me stay up I will stomp on your toes with my high heel shoes.”
    “Mom, if you don’t bring my baby upstairs then I will take all your clothes, put them in the toilet, and flush it.”
    culture-of-consequence-blog

  • Shitty Messages

    One of the biggest problems in relationships is communication. When you aren’t communicating in a functional way, everything goes to shit, down shit creek, without a shitty paddle. Once there is a breakdown everything gets misconstrued and assumptions are made – which as we know makes ass out of just about everyone – except for that donkey because he really is a good guy.

    One of the most dysfunctional ways to deal with emotional problems is to write a shitty email/text/facebook message to express your discontent. I don’t think I have ever gotten an email telling me how I suck, read it, and then thought, “Wow, they really have a good point. I in fact do blow!” Every time I get one of those I instead get defensive, angry, annoyed, and usually respond with venom.

    One of the main problems with the instant connectivity of devices is that they tether you to your community like a ball on string waiting to be beaten by a child. There are too many ways to get a hold of people – and too many impersonal platforms to complain. In the olden days when you would have to cross the prairie to tell your friend Eliza-Jane that she is a cunt for not thanking you for the corn biscuits, or ride 2-weeks to the next town to bitch out Jebediah for his horse shitting on your lawn…. You would have to be REALLY mad to make that effort. Where now you can just sit back on the couch and flap your thumbs around to nitpick about every minor annoyance.

    The reality is that we don’t actually have to tell people everything that is irritating about them because guess what, there is a shit ton that is super bothersome about you too. Rather than presuming the worst out of the people we love, we should be supposing the best.

    Most of the times when people inconvenience you it is not because they are doing so maliciously, or have some agenda to ruin your life. If you take five minutes to put yourself in their shoes, usually you can figure out that the intention wasn’t to piss you off. The majority of the time people are exasperating because they are dealing with their own lives and the horror of existence.

    I feel like there should be a rule that you can only discuss a petty problem with someone if you are willing to hike a mountain, travel in a horse and buggy risking dysentery, and French kiss a carrier pigeon to ensure your message is received.  But don’t write shitty messages just because you can…

    shitty-messages-blog-(i)

    July 10, 2014 • Musings, Relationships • Views: 13498

  • So Much Forgiveness

    People suck. They can be selfish, entitled, thoughtless, rude and the more you are around them, the greater the chance they will piss you off. In adult relationships there are many options on how to deal with asshole behavior. You can avoid the person, write a snarly text message, confront them after a few drinks when feeling belligerent, pee on their lawn, or simply resentment the person and never talk to them again. When dealing with a young child, you don’t have these options because they don’t have a yard, can’t read, and it’s frowned upon to get wasted with them. You actually have to be the mature one and lead by example.

    Children are moody daughters of dicks. (Why does that not have the same ring to it as sons of bitches?) Their emotions fluctuate like climate change induced storms and it’s hard to anticipate when they are going to fly into a fit of fury. And as quickly as kids shit in your mouth with their emotional bile, they turn around and are as sweet as cancer-causing aspartame.

    This afternoon started out with The Munch acting like a gentle creature, similar to a friendly giant on pot brownies. She was considerate, wanted to help making a sandwich, and was generally in a dreamy state of lovingness. Until she wasn’t.

    I sat down on the couch to tell Munch a story, but she wanted to be where I was sitting, and for me to sit across from her on this wooden chair.

    Munch: Mamma, move over so I and sit here and you can sit there.
    Toni: Dude, I don’t want to move over. I am already sitting here.
    Munch: But I want to sit there!! I want you to sit across from me so I can look at you!
    Toni: Well then you sit on the wooden chair. I am comfy on the couch.
    Munch: No Mamma… you sit on that chair and I want to sit on the couch!
    Toni: No way.
    Munch: Okay fine. I will put these pillows on the chair and now you can sit on it.
    Toni: I want to sit here… you can sit there.
    Munch: NO MAMMA NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAHHHHAHHHAHHHAAAAAAHHHAAA!!! You sit there!

    Munch then cried like she was going for the Oscar, while I wondered why my kid was such a little twerp. Her whole logic was so egocentric. Did she really want me to be uncomfortable so she could live her OCD moment and frame the perfect shot for story time?

    Then I sat on the stupid wooden chair because I am a weak.

    Munch of course immediately stopped weeping and happily wanted me to tell her a story – but I was bitter at that point. Even though I could have stood my ground, I acquiesced and then begrudged her for it. Despite the fact that I wanted to pout, I couldn’t sulk because it was my own damn fault for catering to her demands. I put my big girl pants on, let it go, and moved on.

    Then later we got into an argument over treats because as you may know, I am living with a sugar addict.

    Munch: Mamma, can I have a treat. I had healthy stuff for lunch remember?
    Toni: Sure, what do you want?
    Munch: A chocolate popsicle.
    Toni: Ummmm we don’t have that. So you want a mango popsicle?
    Munch: No. A chocolate popsicle.
    Toni: I just told you we don’t have that. But I can give you some pieces of a special chocolate bar?
    Munch: Okay.
    Toni: Here you go. Four pieces because you are four years old.
    Munch: I actually want a big bar of chocolate.
    Toni: But you are already eating the pieces I gave you.
    Munch: Yeah, but I want just one big piece of chocolate bar. Not little pieces.
    Toni: Dude, you just ate all the pieces I gave you. You stuffed them in your mouth the whole time you were demanding more?
    Munch: I want a mango popsicle now.
    Toni: No way. I just gave you a delicious special treat because you didn’t want the mango popsicle.
    Munch: Waahhhhaaaa!!!!!!!!!! I WANT A MANGO POPSICLE!!

    She cried for ten minutes, threw her headband across the room, and stomped her feet while staring me in the face. This time I didn’t comply to her desires because that would be insane. The Munch had to play out her rebellion, while I managed her snarky comments.

    Munch: Mamma, if you don’t give me a treat I am going to throw you outside.
    Toni: I would like to see you try.
    Munch: Fine, then I will just spit in your face.
    Toni: Go ahead and see what happens.
    Munch: Fine. Just give me a treat then and I won’t do any of those things.
    Toni: Dude, there is no way.

    She continued to cry until she finally accepted she had lost the battle.

    Munch: Mamma, I love you so much. I’m so lucky.

    There is no way you can stay angry with someone after a proposition like that.

    Parents have these dynamics with their kids everyday, and forgiveness is an hourly affair. You both have to forgive each other constantly because there is so much tension and conflict when raising children. They want what they want because they are tyrants and parents have to keep them in check so they don’t stay that way.

    Most relationships and our larger society could benefit from this level of fluidity. If we admit we are basically are all just big babies trying to make it in this cruel world, we’ll remember that we are all always growing and evolving.

    so-much-forgiveness-blog-(i)

  • Do You Really Listen?

    It is really hard to listen to people. We hear the words that come out of face holes, but to truly listen to what someone needs is difficult. Even when we think we are paying attention to what someone is saying, it doesn’t inherently mean that we understand where they are coming from.

    Communication is the most common theme of relationship problems. We are all clouded by subjectivity, so during conversations we tend to focus on our own opinions more than the other person’s. Yet when you exist under this lens of “how do your wants affect me and my wants?” it is impossible to actually connect to the desires of the other person.

    It is challenging to clear your mind of yourself because the self is so persistently chatting in your head. The ego is as relentless as virgin at a porn convention – it just can’t get enough stimulation. The challenge then becomes how to have meaningful conversations with people where you are actually listening to each other and honoring the varying perspectives.

    As a parent it is really easy to bulldoze over your child’s wishes and ignore the substance of what they are trying to ask for. For one, the way they ask is sometimes annoying as fuck. Kids will whine/stomp/yell/cry/hit if you don’t agree with them, and their compromising skills are still being developed. Their discontent can feel tyrannical because they have no patience to explain their perspective. They also often want things that are fucking outrageous. The Munch will feel totally justified to scream and kick the floor because I won’t build her a candy house. Since kids so often approach you in this irrational hyper-emotional way, it is easy to forget that sometimes their requests are totally reasonable.

    The Munch had her birthday the other day, and she wanted to watch Cinderella while I made her breakfast. I never let her watch things in the morning, but figured it was her birthday, so why not make a special occasion. Yet while she was watching Cinderella she was thirsty and wanted some water.

    Munch: Mamma, can you get me some water?
    Toni: Sure.
    Munch: With a straw?
    Toni: Oaky fine. Here you go. But you have to drink it here in the kitchen.
    Munch: But I am watching Cinderella…
    Toni: Yeah but I don’t want you to have a cup of water next to my computer because it could spill.
    Munch: But I will be really careful. I don’t spill it.
    Toni: I know you will be careful, but accidents happen. If you spilled water on my computer you would ruin my computer and Apple care wouldn’t fix it. I can’t let take that risk. My computer is my life, as pathetic as that is.
    Munch: But Mom I am really thirsty! It is so hot outside!!!
    Toni: Well just pause Cinderella and come get water when you want it!
    Munch: But then I will just have to keep coming into the kitchen.
    Toni: Okay, I have an idea. Come. Let’s bring the water into my office, and I will pur the water here. On the table over here.
    Munch: But I still have to keep getting up!
    Toni: Dude… you have to get up, but you are in the same room?
    Munch: Mom I just want to have the water next to me!! Wahhhaaaahhhhaaaa
    Toni: Okay, you are not listening. No more Cinderella.

    I took the computer away, and of course The Munch started to cry. I felt bad because it was her birthday and hot as balls. I could understand being thirsty and not wanting to get up, but I also really didn’t want a cup of water next to my reason for living…. Uh, I mean just a meaningless piece of technology.

    Munch: Wahhhaaaahhaaaa!!
    Toni: Munch, come here. Lets have a cuddle and talk.
    Munch: Mamma, I really want to watch Cinderella.
    Toni: I hear you. But I really don’t want water that could be spilled next to my computer. It is expensive and important to me.
    Munch: But I wasn’t going to spill it and I really didn’t want to get up that many times because then I would miss Cinderella and I would get even more sweaty!
    Toni: Wait a minute…. I have a solution. We could get one of your water bottles with a straw, and then you could have the water bottle next to you, drink from a straw, but I wouldn’t have to be nervous about my computer!
    Munch: Yayyyyyy!

    The solution was obvious, but I wasn’t thinking of one because I was being narrow-minded in my own logic. I knew what I didn’t want, and that felt more important than what Munch wanted. Yet when I took a minute to really listen to her, we came up with a resolution that fit both of our needs.

    listening-blog-(i)

  • Women Be Communicating and Shit

    It is a common cliché that women are always wanting to talk about their emotions, but I feel like that is really unfair because that assumption makes me feel condescended towards and that makes me feel angry which makes me feel vulnerable because I am feeling like my feelings are not taken seriously, so then I feel like the whole stereotype is not only exaggerated but I also feel like it is not making me feel good.

    So… this weekend I went to a Kundalini woman’s circle to explore the idea of communication and talk about our feelings about it!

    The yoga teacher starting off by describing how 80% of communication is nonverbal – your body language, tone of voice, and even the way you present yourself all vastly contribute to the way you are perceived.  She went on to explain why it is really important to dress in a way that represents your true essence and soul – with grace and beauty to reflect your true self.  I thought about this point deeply, and then looked down at my shirt that read “don’t be a douche.”  Yup.  Looks like I am on the right path.

    She then starting talking about the importance of diplomacy, how that is a natural skill of women, but we have to be careful not to fall into the propensity of manipulation.  This really made me think.  What exactly is the difference between manipulation and diplomacy?

    On a micro level, they are both using tactics to persuade another to do what you want.  Is it the intention behind the coaxing that makes one more benign than another?  There are so many little ways women are taught to be manipulative, but it is a mostly innocent.  Flirting with a cop to get out of a speeding ticket, or coyly asking for help for someone to carry your suitcases.  Women use their sexuality as a means of manipulation but sometimes that is because it feels like a convenient weapon to use against those who have power over you.

    But on the macro level, comparing diplomacy and manipulation has much greater ramifications.  It isn’t like world leaders are harmlessly batting their eyes in the hopes for peace in Kashmir.  Most political discourse is manipulative rather than diplomatic, yet that has become a societal standard.  It’s hard to commit to the authenticity of diplomacy when the tactic of manipulation is not only effective, but also a cultural norm.  I think men and women often rely on their powers of manipulation because it is the easiest way to get what you want.

    Although women often fall back on the strategy of using sex appeal to manipulate men, in truth, it is only a superficial tactic.  You aren’t really being respected in those moments, but distracting them momentarily by the butt on your back or front.  In order to truly get long-term admiration you have to conduct yourself through the nobility of your soul.

    We then went on to do this meditation where we had to look at the tip of our nose and say a mantra 10,000 bagillion times.  And you know what came up for me? That I hated that stupid mantra, and I hated communicating, and hated a whole bunch of other shit too.  The entire time I was supposed to be one with all things sacred and holy while unlocking the secrets of communicating through my highest-self all I could think was “I fucking hate this shit.”

    So I think I am well on my way, what about you!! Check out my shirt! Don’t be a douche!!!!

    women-be-communicating-blog-(i)