All posts by blkbam

Expected Behavior

The very first time I saw Lean on Me, this scene stuck out to me because it was a very powerful message.

It wasn’t a stand out scene but it set the tone for the entire movie. You may have only processed it subconsciously but you instantly got it when you heard it. It is so powerful yet and so simple to understand yet most don’t recognize the impact of it.

Mr. Clark was simply describing how people are who we define them as and thus we can’t be surprised if/when they live up to those expectations. But what happens when people expect themselves to be treated like animals? That’s exactly what happened at East Side High; the "good kids" were so used to watching "bad kids" get treated as if there were failures that they began to become failures themselves and then the teachers treated all of the students the same.

In everyday life, we expect people to fail (admit it to yourself, it’s ok normal), we expect people to give up on others. Due to this we start to expect ourselves to fail and we start to expect people to give up on us when we are in the same situation but we want to be helped. Why does this happen? Because we expect people to treat us like we treat others or how we see them treat others. In psychology this is unofficially called Herd Mentality.

A good example of this is when we see cars disabled on the side of the road with the driver standing outside of it in need of help.  There are very few people if any that would stop to provide aid yet if we were in that situation we would hope that someone would stop but expect no one to do it. You want to be saved, you need to be saved but so many just pass you by.  The situation thus encourages you to not help someone when you see them in the same situation. Had someone stopped, chances are you would be more encouraged to help next time you saw someone in need. ABC created a whole show around it called What Would You Do?.  I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about it.

So what happens when there is a life on the line:

Before I use this unfortunate event as an example I must say that I in no way condemn anyone involved for their actions, abilities or lack there of. It was a tragedy to hear about and I’m sure it was far worse for them to experience first hand. I mention this story only to draw parallels on the forthcoming points.

What would you do in this situation where someone is drowning but you can’t swim? A co-worker and I discussed this when this story happened and he believes that you should go jump in and try to save the kids. I, actually not being able to swim, say that you should do what ever possible to help but jumping in could hurt rather than help. It is a tough question to answer to yourself: Do you do whatever you can or give up to let them struggle or do you fight for them and possibly go down with them?

For the people that are close to me that I care about, I often do everything I can to help when they need it. Often going above and beyond what others think I should. I believe you should support people as much as you would want them to support you, if not more than they would you. Think about the last time you were in a time of need or didn’t realize you were in need and someone was there for you.  Now image if that person wasn’t there or the last time someone wasn’t. Did you expect someone to help? Now I’m not talking about major life events. It could’ve been as simple as dropping something in a crowed room, having your hands full while approaching a door or moving your residence.  You get the idea.

When people come through for you, it feels good. When you don’t expect people to help and they do, it feels amazing! When you help people it feels amazing for yourself also. Try to notice when people want or need your help because they will want to return the favor to you one day or even to a stranger.

A few weeks ago I was walking into a market and there was a woman outside with a teenaged girl.  She had her ID and EBT card in her hand while asking for help to get food for her kids. As I walked up I saw many people walk by them and not saying a word. When I approached I told her I didn’t have cash but if she needed I could pay for whatever she needed.  She agreed and walked out with something to eat for the night. I don’t know if she was telling the truth but I couldn’t take that chance when I have the capability to help.

They say you should pay it forward but I think you should just pay it without expecting something in return or that it would benefit you in the future.

Pounding the Pavement

Broad Street Run

It’s that time of year! The time to sign up for a lottery in hopes of being able to do my favorite run.I don’t like that it now has a lottery system but now that running is the new fad it can’t be helped. The popularity of this run has grown so much over the years and why not, it is a fun course.

Now it’s time to start training even though the weather isn’t cooperating. For a few weeks I’ll be on the treadmill logging miles but then come mid to late February, I’ll be back outside.

I’ve had a few people ask for tips on how to train for a long run or even how many miles I log a week.  When I tell them they are often shocked at how much I run. Below is a link to the training schedule I used when coming back from my injury a few years ago. It’s formatted to be imported into Outlook and Google Calendar or viewing in Excel or any other spreadsheet program you may use. Sorry Apple users, no idea how to help you.

If you look at the miles you may notices it’s a bit short for where I am but I’m working on speed this year so I’m pulling back and increasing my effort. You should run at your own pace if you plan to follow my regimen. Also don’t be afraid to change up the mileage to fit your abilities but keep the ratios the same.

As Simple as Socks and Sandals

 

There’s this great scene (I think it’s the greatest scene in the movie which we will get to in a second) above from The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda (Meryl Streep) explains to Andrea (Anne Hathaway) why she is wearing a blue sweater. Actually it’s Cerulean if you were paying attention to what she said. Lapis is also a shade of blue. I know that because I am into photography, art and web design by the way.

Back to the point, Miranda’s explanation is to educate Andrea on why it is she is subconsciously choosing her clothes.  I think of this every time I see someone walking around in black socks or socks and sandals.  It also comes to mind with the baggy pants phenomenon in the 90’s and 00’s and tight jeans fad of late.

Before I get into this let me first say that I am not a fashion historian but I do pay attention to people’s behavior and fashion. First socks and sandals. It’s a very prevalent practice throughout history and throughout the world regardless of how we Americans think of it. For the record, I personally don’t like it and haven’t partaken in it.

So how did it become popular? Same place everything becomes popular, high school of course, particularly jocks. Jocks or athletes typically would dress in their uniforms prior to participating in their sport and often wear their uniforms afterwards. Sports such as baseball, soccer and football often require a specific type of sock to match the uniform.  Since taking sneakers on and off requires untying or unlacing, sandals became the easiest for of footwear that could function for quick removal and protect the feet while in full uniform.

Thanks to the competitive and conformist culture of high school, the jocks are typically at the top of the food chain and idolized by the masses and so adopt their fashion choices. This of course spreads to the younger siblings and then encouraged behavior by these same jocks and influencee’ when they become parents. It then becomes popularized by pop culture and other adults catch on then then a fad is born.

Now I haven’t forgotten about those we refer to as bohemian or hippies. They too dress like this but unfortunately their fashion style wasn’t strong enough to influence the masses.

Skinny jeans are a much simpler explanation. They are just a direct opposition to the baggy jeans phenomenon. Typically it’s called counterculture or rebellion. Tight pants lead to tight shirts and thus a new fashion tread was born.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me. If you think I’m wrong, write your own blog or complain in the comments. Either way is fine with me but one thing is for certain, you can’t say I’m completely wrong if you think about it now can you?

Names and Labels

 

The clip above says it all, we as humans are obsessed with naming things. We have the same passions about labels too. So much so that throughout our lives we assign many names and labels to people and things without realizing it. Sometimes in life, we don’t even remember when they first happened but I do.  I remember them all..

Before even knowing, I was assigned the labels child, son, brother and nephew. This happened after my parents became aware of my conception. Due to my family makeup these labels became automatically assigned to me. At the time, I of course had no concept of their meaning or existence. They were just assigned.

Soon after, my parents decided on a name, Jim. I was to be named after my own father. It was a first name which had been passed down from my grandfather. It was the name of which I would come to know, as all children do, referred to myself.

I also learned the labels mother and father for my parents as well as their own names. Both a gift and a burden due to my father and I sharing a first name. If it wasn’t for my mother calling my father Jimmy or the neighbors calling him Big Jim and me Little Jim it may have been a confusing childhood responding to calls meant for someone else.

At a later point in life, I became aware of the fact that my name was not unique to myself. Others could also have this name and thus I had to become reliant on the voices which used my name to become accustomed to responding to those trying to communicate with me.

As time went on, the nickname Jim Jim was coined but I’m not exactly sure by whom. Yet again I had to become accustomed to being referred to by a different name. One of my aunts still uses this name today.

Humans, we are told, are social creatures and thus seek others for interactions. As I write this I wonder if this is a natural instinct or a learned behavior. Why? Because at some point I gained the label friend. I’m pretty sure it was because my parents sought to have me interact with other children my age either at a playground or some organized gathering. More than likely their parents had done the same. So if we are taught to do this at an early age does that take away from the instinct or is it just the way of fulfilling it? That’s way too heavy of a topic for right now so we will move on.

By the time I had become school-age, I had only known myself officially as Jim. I can recall sitting on my mother’s lap while being signed up for kindergarten to become a student. When the registrar asked the name of the student, my mother prompted me to answer the question. Confidently I responded “Jim“, I do know my own name after all. My mother responded “No, tell them you’re real name.” Real name? What have you been calling me all these years? At that point she realized and admitted that she rarely if ever called me by my formal name. “His name is James” she responded for me. This was a big lesson to learn. I had two names! Who has two names? Does everyone? As it turns out, no they don’t. Only a few of us lucky ones get that privilege.

When people become close to you and know you for a while they tend to make up nicknames for you based on some attribute or action you’ve taken, I was no exception to this. For some reason, I started carrying around a red wiffle ball bat. This was followed by using it as a weapon in fights I would get into. Strangely enough if I didn’t have it on me I would tell my opponent to wait while I would go get it. People began to call me Bam Bam after the Flintstone character. Fighting with a plastic bat isn’t exactly practical and thus I outgrew it and the moniker Slim Jim briefly took over.

Before I could become a teenager I was bestowed two new titles, brother and uncle. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be either but I knew what it was to have one. Later on in life I would discover the importance of these roles but for the time being I continued on being a kid.

High school was a new adventure. Lots of people with the same name and no real way to distinguish them outside your general circle of friends. If you don’t already have a nickname then the common practice is to use your last name. A friend started calling me by a shortened version of my last name because he had a brother with the same first name and thus I became Nick. It was a little strange at first but it stuck.

Those 4 years lead to many other first time labels. For the first time I became a boyfriend, a common occurrence for people of that age. It was short lived but so are many things during high school. I also became a driver, another right of passage attained.

Soon after I started my first job and became an employee. My first job was short lived but I learned my lesson and bounced back quickly. My third job while still in high school lead me to a place where I would grow the most.  I attended the title of cook, manager and caterer. I also gained the nickname crucial because I liked a very unpopular rap group name Crucial Conflict. A co worker thus shortened it to crushy which stuck among some of the staff even to this day.

It’s not often in life that you get multiple nicknames or labels at once but one summer I did just that.  I became Jimifer before it was cool to be Brangelina and Transformer after an innocent teenage run from the police.

Growing up means the names and labels stop until you get one of the most important and expected labels, High School Graduate which was expectantly followed by College Student. From there the choice is either one of two options, I took the unfortunate options and became a College Dropout in favor of a technical school. I finished there and once again became a Graduate.

Becoming an adult slowed down the process of attaining names. I became a runner and an athlete for the last few years of my life.The process slowed until I met someone that would change my life. She named me Kozlik, a pet name she came up with for me. She made me a stepfather, the closest I had ever become to the real thing. Her daughter called me Jimmy John Jones, a special bond that will last forever. It was a very special relationship that I will cherish forever.

Adulthood afforded me a few more titles. I was a Groomsmen in a few of my friends weddings and the Best Man in my brothers wedding. I enjoyed watching others fulfill their desires. So much so that I wanted them for myself.

Still left for me are my most sought after titles; father, dad, husband, homeowner. Someday I will fulfill them. Someday soon possibly, or maybe someday in the future. Too bad that someday is not today.

My life with names and titles isn’t over. I will continue to attain them throughout my life and I will remember the first time each is assigned just like I have all this time.

Don’t let the desk keep you stationary

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Not everyone sits at a desk for work but I do. Sometimes I havre long meetings on the phone so rather than just sit there I whip out my balance board and work my legs.

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It’s a pretty simple workout, either work it in a semi-circle, full circle, back and forth or just hold your balance for as long as you can.

Just make sure you have something to hold onto in case you can’t keep yourself up. Many coworkers have tried and not many can keep from falling over.

Broad Street is on!!!

Broad Street Run

Before I get to far in, I will be running in this years Broad Street Run. Yay!

Due to popular demand, the race organizers have implemented a lottery system to determine entrants.  Last year, the race sold out in 5 hours! Within those 5 hours, there were problems accessing the website and I almost waited until after work to register.  If I did, I wouldn’t have got in.

Enough of last year, this year I will be training without a group so I will be self motivated. It will be a true test of will to set a PR. This year I will beat 1:45:40!

If you want to recap last years’ race check it out here.

Shit Happens

Two words that pretty much sum up every bad event in live.  At least it does if you are on the other side of the event or one of those glass half full people. Me, I know how to look at a glass.  Here’s a tip next time someone pulls that line on you.  What was the previous state of the glass when it reached the halfway point? Was it in the act of filling or empting? If filling then half full, if empting half empty.  Pretty simple right?

Now let’s get back to shit, because it does happen, a lot, as Forest just told us.  If you’ve followed my previous attempts at challenges you know that shit happened on more than one occasion. Broken toe, broken foot, shin splints and most recently pulmonary emboli.

I never disclosed via this blog but back in August I was diagnosed with pulmonary emboli.  If you are up on your Latin, you noticed that was plural meaning more than one. Specifically both lungs.  This meant a 5 day stay in the hospital and a cease and desist on most of my exercise related activities. In a nutshell, I was devastated. From what the doctor told me, if I wasn’t in such good shape (i.e. a runner) it would’ve been much much worse.

I noticed a decline shortly after I completed the Broad Street Run.  Suddenly it became more difficult to run. I thought it was just the summer air influencing my asthma so I thought I would just soldier through it. By mid July I went from running miles without stopping to running only a 1/8th of a mile and being short of breath and in pain which would quickly go away within a few minutes.

EKGCome August, I was literally bend over in pain 10 minutes into a run. My running partner had been telling me for weeks I should see a doctor and seeing how I was bent over I finally agreed. I went to the doctor the very next day and described my symptoms; sudden shortness of breath when climbing stairs, drastic reduction in my mileage and pain in my chest. An EKG later and I was ordered to go to the emergency room.

From there I had a few tests to determine what exactly was going on.  At this point I had no diagnosis but the fear was that it was a heart issue. At about 10:30 PM that evening I received my proper diagnosis and started treatment.

Now I’m nearing the end of my treatment and starting to put the pieces back together.  I’ve been running since September but not as much as I was before. Now it’s time to ramp up.  This year I’ve decided that I won’t create challenges like I’ve done in the past.  I’m going to rebuild, restructure and get rid of the impurities. I’m forging a new iron will.  As always it’s going to be an uphill battle and I’m up for it.

Yo! Where is Yo! MTV Raps

Yo! MTV Raps

Yo! MTV Raps was an iconic and pioneering show on MTV. Not since the debut of Soul Train had a TV show about music had such a profound impact on our culture.
It was the first show on Cable TV to feature Hip-Hop from the prospective of the artists and their music. It brought to our TV’s Hip-Hop on a daily basis in the form or interviews, behind the scenes, promos and freestyles from the artists of its time.

The show had two running series; Yo! MTV Raps (1988-1995) and Yo! (1996-1999). For those old enough to see the original, it still holds a special place in our memories.  Current shows just don’t hold a candle to it due to their focus on the audiences and shortened versions of videos.

MTV has release many of its shows to VHS, DVD and Blu-ray over the years including but not limited to: Beavis and Butt-head, Aeon Flux, Jackass, The Hills, Remote Control, Rob & Big, The Andy Milonakis Show, various MTV Unplugged, Laguna Beach, Pimp My Ride, Punk’d, Celebrity Deathmatch, Jersey Shore, Daria, etc. … they have not released Yo! MTV Raps to the general public.

While others have suggested that MTV simply re-air the show, I think it would be more beneficial to have it released in some form of media (preferably physical) for consumers to view. I request that the release of the show contain the following:

  • The entire catalog of shows (1,830 in total).
  • A "Best Of" will not suffice and would only do a disservice to the show, its fans and the Hip-Hop generation.
  • Full episodes including interviews and music videos should be included.
  • Commercial breaks are OK for plugging current MTV materials or artist content.
  • If DVD or Blu-ray releases are made, the episodes should be authored appropriately to allow for easy navigation to sections of the episode.
  • Behind the scenes, extras, commentary or bonuses while nice are not essential to be included.
  • An uncensored audio track should be the default if it is available.

Besides the entertainment value of this show, the historical aspect of the genre is most significant. It documented the birth and coming of age of a music genre. Many of the artists still around today were featured in their "humble" beginnings on this show. As Hip-Hop ages, it’s beginnings shouldn’t be more than the ramblings of the older folks to the youth especially when it was captured on film.

It should be noted that MTV is owned by Viacom and the music which was featured on the show is owned by many different record companies and artists.  While undertaking something of this sort wouldn’t be easy for MTV it is not impossible for them. MTV you just turned 31, it’s time to embrace you maturity and put the music back in your name. You can start by putting the music back in our lives.

By signing the petition I prepared, you can show MTV that this music is just as important to us as our past.

Sunday Versus – What Type of Woman Do You Want?

Most guy wants a lady by their side but the type of lady depends on the type of guy.


LL Cool J - Around The Way Girl


Cashmoney Millionaires - Project Bitch

 


 Apache  - Gangsta Bitch

(NOTE: The links above for this song do not link to the entire song but the ringtone. This is because neither iTunes or Amazon carry the whole song as a download. You may buy the whole CD below from Amazon for as long as the link is active.  If you find the whole since, please let me know and I will update the links.)

When Hip-Hop Crosses Religion

Meek Mill

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for current-day rappers, I happen to like Meek Mill. Being that he is local here in Philly I had the chance to hear him prior to his signing with Maybach Music Group. So far his sound is slightly different but that’s to be expected once an artist is signed by a label.  The grooming process tends to change some things.

So when his latest song Amen came out I gave it a listen. You can listen below and draw your own conclusions. For me it was a miss for one reason: I’m not a fan of overly religious references in a song. I’m not really a fan of religious music at all. When the local Hip-Hop station sneaks it into their line up, I change the station. I’m not against it, it’s just not for me.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m not an atheist or anything like that. I grew up a Baptist. I didn’t start going to church until I was a teenager and that was by my choice to do so on my own.

When I first heard the song, I was a bit turned off by the constant bellowing of "church", "preach" and "amen". I don’t even like it when people say those things in general conversation but to each his own. Then I got down to the lyrics in the hook:

Now there’s a lot of bad bitches in the building (Amen)
A couple real niggas in the building (Amen)
I’m finna kill niggas in the building (Amen)
I tell the waiter fifty bottles and she tell me say when
And I say church (Preach)
We make it light up like a church (Preach)
She wanna fuck and I say church (Preach)
Do Liv on Sunday like a church (Preach)

To me, there’s a few things you don’t make light of about a person and their religion is one of them. In that regard I think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one of the most in your face attempts at mocking someone’s religion. I also feel that people have the right to express themselves so I would never knock anyone for displaying one of these things. If you think I just double-talked myself then you don’ understand the difference between rights and freedoms.

So then I heard Meek discussing his song on the radio with a reverend with Meek not truly understanding the definition of the word meek:

Part 1

Part 2

In summary, the heated verbal exchange had all the characteristics of a worthless discussion about nothing

  • Scream loudly in an attempt to prove your point no matter how weak it may be until the other side backs down
  • Don’t listen to the counter point no matter how valid it may be
  • Attack your adversary personally with comments unrelated to the topic
  • Defend yourself by stating only God can judge you
  • And of course, when in doubt, lash out

Had this taken place not on the radio but in person on the street, I think there would’ve been some unneeded violence. Both sides of this argument were poorly constructed. Meek seemed to be seeking ooh’s and ah’s from the crowd while the reverend wanted Meek look like a bad person.

I’m at all surprise by this type of behavior from either of them. This type of exchange is why people tune in to watch Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, Real Wives of Wherever and the rest of the shows like them. Those shows are built on the expectation that someone will fight or argue which for some reason brings in viewers. It’s almost the same reason some people use as to why they watch hockey.

If you haven’t heard the song then listen for yourself. Maybe it’s about time I finally pick up a copy of The Great Debaters. Maybe they should also…

 

The BET Awards Experience

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I haven’t watched BET in almost 10 years. I don’t even know what channel it is. Seriously, I had to hunt for about 5 minutes to find it. Last time I saw BET I think Teen Summit was still a show. I don’t know if it still is one but it was back then. I didn’t even watch UPN, the channel that causes BET (hopefully you’ll get that reference).

Since it’s been so long I decided I’d give the BET Awards a chance. And boy it was a very torturous night. It’s no secret that many of the people that "should" like BET don’t. But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about the award show.

The event started off with a pre-show, a 2 hour pre-show. I didn’t know it was going to be 2 hours so I wasn’t ready for that. I had to miss part of it to go get dinner. Once I returned with food I started the night. There wasn’t anything too exciting there, a few performances and a lot of talking.

The show opened up strongly with Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz then knocked it down a few notches when Samuel Jackson and Spike Lee attempted to rap. From there a confusing award for Best Group which featured Kanye West and Jay-Z as The Throne. They were later nominated for best collaboration which also led to some confusion but what do I know.

From there it was the usual mix of performances, awards and tributes. The return/debut performance of D’Angelo was welcomed by all. And the tribute to Frankie Beverly was fantastic. The entire audience jammed to Maze and Frankie as he performed his classic Before I Let You Go. He shared the stage with Joe, Faith and Tyrese who sang his tributes.

It was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. I was expecting the usual buffoonery that I’ve come to expect of BET past. Maybe the channel has turned a new leaf. Maybe I’ve been too hard on them. I’ll have to watch some other shows before I can say that for certain but I’ll say that for another day and another article. All I can say is that once the show actually started and became a more adult affair than the outside was, I was able to enjoy myself.