December 30, 2012

The Best Books

The best book, at least for me, are those that really draw you into the story. They make you care about the

characters, after they've made you believe the characters could, or have, existed.

Even if they are wizards, time travelers, dragons, three-headed aliens, dogs, or even time traveling wizards,

who fly on dragons, battling three-headed, alien dogs, you believe that they are real. Somehow, and

somewhere, they are more than just words on a page.

Every reader out there has read a book, at least once, that made them laugh out loud, cry, close the book

in frustration(just before opening it again a few minutes later), and every reader has been changed, in some

way, by a book they've read.

I don't care if you read romance, fantasy, horror, "classic" literature, or you're still jiving to Dr. Seuss. There

has been at least one moment, during that reading, that you've felt some small spark of emotion.

Many of us can even come to love books. I know that my wife and I have a hard time

going into a thrift store without leaving with at least a half a dozen books.

And, it is that same love of books that makes us cringe when we even imagine burning books.

But, enough of that talk. It makes me cringe to put those two words together.

So, what is your favorite book? Can you name just one? I know I can't.

I'm willing to take a swing at giving you my top three. And, if there are any of the three you haven't read,

I urge you to find the time to do so. And, no cheating here. If you've seen the movie, I'm sure you know

the outline. But, once again, I urge you to read the book instead. Otherwise, you have no idea

what you're missing out on.

Alright, let's get this thing started...
Now, in no way is this list comprehensive. I would honestly need an entire separate blog to dedicate to my

love of books, another for the authors, and a few others for characters I've loved, places I would visit,

and villain's that make me truly cringe. 

You can find my book list on Shelfari HERE though, if you would like a glimpse inside my 

book obsession.

And, as I always try to leave you, my readers with a mission. I encourage you to make a list of your own, 

whether that be on Shelfari or in a notepad. It's a great way to look back at the books you've read, and 

find a book, or a hundred, that you'd love to read again or suggest to a friend.

December 27, 2012


What is normal person exactly?Let's turn to the Dictionary for a moment, and see how the word normal pertains to people...
A : of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development
B : free from mental disorder : sane

So, we've got a person who is sane (or free of any mental disorder), and/or a person who is of average intelligence or development.

I don't think I've ever met a person who doesn't suffer at least a minor mental disorder. And, because averages are constantly changing, I really have a hard time evaluating what "average" intelligence or development are.

Intelligence, to me, falls into a million different categories, and, having children of my own, I've seen that coming up with an "average" development is nearly impossible. Aren't we all a little different in our areas of intelligence and development?

So, we are forced to pick out who is "normal" based on what a group of "intelligent" people decide is normal intelligence and development?

I read somewhere once that Albert Einstein wasn't considered intelligent as a youth. But, look at what happened with him. He became the father of nuclear physics, and a historically renowned mathematician.

Now, does that mean that being normal isn't always better?

So why do we all strive, at some point in our lives, to be normal?

Look throughout history, and, in almost any area of expertise or achievement, you find someone who doesn't fall under the spectrum of this thing called normal.

You've got Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla, Winston Churchill, Leonardo Da' Vinci just to name a few.

They were all "masters" in their fields, but were not necessarily considered normal. In fact they were, more often than not, considered mad, crazy, loose a few screws. 

On the other end of that spectrum, you've got serial killers(who are often extremely intelligent people), and the recent string of shooters, who are described as often being of high intelligence.

Now wait a minute here. We've got this list of people who were often considered eccentric, or crazy, on the list of "masters", and, on the list of people we consider crazy after they commit an act of extreme cruelty, we find people that were initially thought of as intelligent.

What's that say about the definition of normal? Does it mean that "normal" people are more likely to commit crimes, and eccentric people are more likely to achieve great success?

Just a thought. Isn't that what you're here for?

*The above definition of normal is from the online Mirriam-Webster Dictionary

December 24, 2012

Your Thing is...

Well, what is it? Playing guitar, doodling, writing, singing 80's hair band music, designing your own clothing...

If you don't know, take a moment and try to think of that one thing you can zone into.

Have you got it?

If you do, examine your thing for a moment(yes, you may giggle).

If no, well, stop right here, don't read any further just yet, do not collect two-hundred dollars.

Your reading this either way aren't you?

Well, there's nothing I can do about it, but remember, I gave fair warning. There are spoilers ahead.

The most well kept secret in life is this:

Finding that one thing that you can really get into is the greatest stress reliever in the world. It's better than any drug on the market(or off, for that matter), it will help treat sadness, loneliness, feeling of inadequacy, and, as long as it's not a dangerous thing, contains no negative side effects.

So, how can you tell when you've really found your thing? Well, I've put together a few things I believe are the building block of what a thing consists of below.

  1. It does no real harm to you or anyone else. Of course, playing guitar causes some minor damage called calluses. But, hopefully those of you reading this have a fairly good grasp on what I mean by harm. I'm crossing my fingers here.
  2. It's something you think about doing even in the middle of the busiest day of your life.
  3. If it paid well enough, you'd do this thing for a living and be deliriously happy about it.
  4. Your thing makes you happy, even if your not smiling while doing it.
  5. You instantly feel the negative energy begin to flow out of you the instant your really zoned into your thing.
  6. And, finally, when you're into your thing, time has no real meaning. Hours may go by without you noticing.  

Okay, for those of you whom I left to examine their thing, does it fit into the above list? Or, is there more to it for you? I'd love to hear from you, hear what your thing is and what words come to mind when you think of it. Or, maybe your not a word person, maybe your more visual. Than send me a picture of what relaxes you and helps you escape. You can leave your words in the comments section of this post, or e-mail me a picture at

December 23, 2012

Social Therapy

Sometimes you just need someone, anyone, to talk to. But, what if you have nobody to in your life

willing to stop and listen. Maybe your family or friends are too busy, wouldn't understand, or, maybe,

you don't have any family or friends to talk to.

Then what?

That is where my theory in a phenomenon I've come to think of as "Social Therapy" comes into play.

Now, I don't have any college degree's in therapy or psychology, but I have the one thing that

all of us gain throughout our lives, experience.

The majority of my working life has been spent in customer service. And, it is through my experiences

in this field, that I came to notice "Social Therapy".

So, you ask, what is social therapy?

It's simple really. It is what happens when people experience what I described at the beginning of this post.

Social Therapy is when people begin to overflow with memories, thoughts, ideas, emotions, life stresses,

and they have no one to turn to in their personal lives to share it all with.

For the most part, this form of therapy seems to occur mostly in the fifty and over crowd.

Now we've all heard tales of people pouring their hearts out to bartenders, sharing secrets with their hair

dresser, etc. But, what if it's something that isn't nearly that limited?

I believe social therapy can, and often does, occur in any environment where there is any sort of public


I myself have heard many, many tales of childhood adventures, lost loved ones, divorces, marriages,

tales of hero's, and of villains. I've also received tons of advice on how to live life to your fullest.

Politics, religion, you name it. I've had debates, discussions, chats about just about everything with

my customers. And, surprisingly, I've never had any of it go south. It's always cordial and informative.

The people who talk to me just want to speak, to be heard, to share. They often aren't concerned

about agreeing or disagreeing, just about the interaction itself.

And, I've discovered, in a weird sort of way, social therapy ends up often not only helping them, but

making me open my eyes, re-think things I believe in, and open my eyes to things I'd never stopped

to think about on my own.

In sum, I don't believe "Social Therapy" is something that has ever been limited to one or two professions,

nor do I believe it's something unique to the time in which we live. It's most often in people we term "elderly",

I believe, because that's often the age when people are kind of forgotten about. And, I believe, social

therapy is healthy and enlightening to both parties, and carries with it the very building blocks of how

social of an animal  human beings really are.

*Image courtesy of "Ambro" /

December 22, 2012


I've got to be honest with you. I like to sing in public. In fact, I like to sing while I'm at work.

Right now I'm jamming along with the likes of Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews, and Elvis singing about

sleigh bells ring, ting, tinglin, Frost the zombie snowman melting and coming back to life, and, of course,

Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer being ridiculed by his community, until Santa gives him an important job,

then suddenly the community is all, "Hey, you're alright."

Now, I'm not going to be headlining for a big act in Vegas anytime soon, nor have I yet schedules my

world tour, but my voice isn't too bad.

The thing is, right now, I'm a sales associate for a "big box" hardware store. That means I'm pretty much

always surrounded by co-workers, customers, managers, and the occasional dog.

And, while in the midst of all of these people, singing at a pretty good volume, I always find my mind

wandering over to that great, Broadway hit, "Mr. Cellophane", from the musical "Chicago".


Because, simply put, no one pays any attention to me, or how accurate I've gotten with my lyrics.

I like to think sometimes it's because my voice is so in tune with the music coming in over the overhead

speakers, that they can't tell the difference between my voice and Elvis's.

Yet, I'm learning, the longer I work in the environment of customer service, they don't actually mind

because I have become, for the most part, "Mr.Cellophane".

I've tested this theory again and again, when, while asking if people need help finding something, or if they're

finding what they're looking for, I almost always get a response that doesn't correspond with either

of those questions. I'll say, "Can I help you find something?" and they'll respond with, "Yes", then proceed

to walk in the opposite direction.

So, again, for the most part, they're answering me according to what they thought I would ask, rather than

what I actually asked.

In other words, I'm pretty sure that the majority of us, here in the U.S. at least, are suffering from a pretty

severe case of ADD(attention deficit disorder).

Now, this was, at first, a pretty big EUREKA moment for me.

The realization of this meant that non of us has any reason to really be shy, and be who we really are inside.

Not so much.

Because, as soon as you attempt to open the doors to that clown car, people will do the complete opposite

of what you'd expect them to do. You'll suddenly go from cellophane to a fluorescent orange sign,

with flashing light attached.

You're probably wondering at this point, "Where is he going with this?"

Well, here's your "Joe's Thought" for today. Jeez...

This world, while appearing to make at least some sense, does not actually contain any. And, the people

in this world will often act in surprisingly conflicting manners, while thinking, to themselves, that everything

they're doing or saying makes perfect sense, occasionally.

So, if you're like me, and you like to sing at work. People aren't going to notice, unless of course

you want them to ignore you. When they do notice you they'll either praise you or ridicule you, then they

will forget you, unless you do something to upset them, have a cool British accent, or have some

resemblance to a pop singer who is now playing in the top forty countdown.

That is all for now. I hope out of my nonsense, you gained some sense of what I mean, and it makes

sense to you. Because in a real sense, nothing makes much sense...

December 9, 2012

Speak Up

Go ahead, you know you want to. Isn't that the desire that lurks inside each and every one of 


Nike, one of the largest sporting empires in the world, owns the tag line that we all

know so well, "Just Do It". They've been drilling into our brains through commercials,

ads, radio announcements, etc. for as long as I can remember.

One of the first things we're taught in school, and by parents the world over, is that

we should "be ourselves".

I mean, how many times have psychologists repeated to people how important it is to

communicate our feelings, our needs, and let our feelings out.

But, despite all of this poking and prodding to act like, well, ourselves, we continue

to act exactly as we think people expect us to act, parade around talking about

how original we are, whilst wearing the clothes that are "in", trying desperately to be

"original" while actually giving into the desire to have attention directed our way.

So, what's it gonna take? What is it that will draw us out of our shells, away from the 

comfort zone, and onto the path of a zen like path of "enlightenment".

All righty than, here you go, one more person telling you for the millionth time

that you are special for who you are.

Give up on that facade of "normalcy", let your hair down, pick at least one thing that

you've been holding onto like a security blanket, and let's get a move on.

Feel like singing that song playing over the speakers at the grocery store? Well, screw

whether or not you're going to be the next actor to appear on "Glee", sing it, even if you 

start out with a hum and need to work it up. Have you been secretly pining for that girl

who's been smiling at you since the beginning of the semester? Ask her out.

Let's say you've been meaning to share a secret, but waiting for that "right moment"?

That moment, yep, you know what I'm going to say, it's now. So speak up!

Go ahead, experience a bit of forgetting how nervous or shy you are for just a few minutes.

Be spontaneous!

Even if it doesn't turn out the way you expect it to, or you get a big, fat "no", you took a step.

And, you know what they say about how journey's begin.

This is not simply a bit of advice, it is exactly what the majority of us need.

Stop saying "um", "maybe", or "I'll do it later". Don't we really, honestly do enough


A quote by Buddha goes something like, "The problem with time is that we believe we have 


Chase the dream, believe in yourself, oh, and in just a moment, stop reading this.

You've got sh*t to do.

Oh, and one more thing...

Send me your comments, share with me your moment of clarity, tell me all about your

first step, let me know about your moment of glory. Big or small, life changing or not,

whatever step you take is going to be that, a step.

So, go, go, go. I mean it. 

December 8, 2012

I wanna be Judged by you...

What is it about us that makes us so judgmental of those around us?

Is it that old philosophy, "If we don't understand it, we must eradicate it?", or is something deeper, more a thing of science or psychology?

To be honest, this is a subject I understand up to a point, but have a hard time wrapping my

head around on the other hand.

I was raised to view differences with a grain of salt, and to only "judge" a person based on 

whether or not they were a danger to themselves, or those around them.

But, than again, I was raised around and grew up with circumstances that made me see 

people as how they behaved and to get to know them at a deeper level. You know, the old 

"Don't judge a book by it's cover".

You see, my sister was born without ears(a result of a little know, at the time, side effect of 

the seizure medication my Mom's doctors had her on, while pregnant with my sister), stories 

of my very artistic, talented, funny, and, oh yeah, gay Uncle David, had a mother who taught 

me to meditate when I was around four years of age, a father that was heavily into 

drugs(though don't worry, he chose drugs over family and didn't live with us anymore by the 

time I was three years old), another father who struggled with alcohol abuse, my 

grandmother on my birth fathers side was blind, and, well, to be completely honest, I could 

go on and on.

So, as you see, I was around "different" people from the get go. And the thing I learned first 

and foremost from the experience was that you should be who you are.

And, from these early experiences, I became, well, sort of obsessed actually, with trying to 

understand the people around me as best as I could.

So, I guess in a way this "thought" of mine as to why we're so judgmental of differences in 

those around us is an attempt to understand the people around me once again.

Therefore, my assignment for you, my dear readers, loyal and new, is to help me answer this 

question that is blinking like a road sign in the back of my skull.

What is it about others that you often find yourself judging them for? Maybe you have the 

tendency to be wary of black men(or women), those who sport piercing or tattoo's, people 

who are of a different creed than you, lesbians, gay men, cross dressers, circus performers, 

anything really.

Ask yourself what is it about them that pokes at you and pass it on to me. Because I truly 

want to understand it from your point of view. 

Even with the things I have experienced I still make judgement's of my own. So, please don't 

take this as a judgement on you or a chance to be picked on for your beliefs. Take this as an 

opportunity to look inside yourself, understand yourself, and engage another human being in 

a conversation.

No ones judging you here.