I Was Walking In A Circle

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I realized that my feet felt as if they weighed a ton a piece, looking down I see that I’m wading through a foot of thick mud, going towards what appeared to be the direction I was drawn to head. The closer it seemed I would get to my destination I would notice the distance increase. I was carrying a bag which seemed to get heavier by the step, I wonder what I could be carrying that could weigh so much, I wanted to open the bag but in the darkness I don’t know how I would see inside. Hearing the loud crashes of thunder I wanted to move faster, I wanted to find shelter, as I watched the flashes of lightning in the distance I wanted to get away from the tall trees, but the flashes got brighter and the thickness of trees only increased, the more I pushed the more trees I can see. Hours seem to pass before my surroundings begin to seem familiar, I’ve been here before, and before that I was here also, but where is here, why do I keep coming back, I keep finding the same path, leading me to the same damn place, I’ve been here but this place is not familiar, it’s darkness reminds me of having my eyes closed, unable to see, only being able to hear, to feel, and smell the rot in the humid air. What is that familiar smell, why do I know the soothing scent, it is pleasing to me, it makes me feel secure in a place I should know but don’t recognize. As I rest I feel each drop of the rain touch my face, rolling down the skin like warm tears. In my mind I hear Freebird, it’s loud and I hear it echo in the trees, I need to start moving now, I need to get to a safer place, this place smells of death, it smells of rotting corpses, there are thousands of them. As the light of day breaks I can see the bodies I’m walking on, wading through like mud, the blood is over the top of my boots, it’s weight is increasing with every step, I look down and see the faces, faces that didn’t see what had killed them, I know what killed them, I know what the thunder is, I know the lightning flashes, I know what has happened.

As I sit in my recliner with my eyes closed shut, telling my wife for the first time ever what it was like to see the destruction as a result of what I did while in the Air Force. The reality of it is that it isn’t a forest, it is a desert, it is a place I never want to return to, and rarely, if never, talk about it. I’ve been married for 16 years, to a wife that came along after the Air Force, she just doesn’t want to understand, and I’m okay with that. The mere fact that I’m writing about it amazes me, it still hurts, it is still fresh when I close my eyes, and I fear there are not enough pleasant memories ahead to knock it the fuck out. I spent years detached from the reality that the weapons I helped build destroyed life and property, it wasn’t me pulling the trigger, it wasn’t me hitting the target, but a simple walk down a deserted street after a carpet bombing the night before let reality set in, no longer was I detached, no longer was I innocent, and I knew then changes needed to happen or I would lose my mind. Like a good soldier I pressed forward, putting behind me horrors that cannot be unseen or forgotten. What gets seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately it is very true. My wife wants me to talk to a headshrinker, I opted out. And now I see, once again, talking about it isn’t worth a fuck, I just leave more out each time. I hope that in time, preferably before my wife has me cremated, that I just forgot about the shit and everyone else forgets it as well.

When I talk about Desert Storm and later The Liberation of Kuwait it is to educate myself and others about how the real world is, beyond the news, beyond the media, beyond what the politicians think they know. There is zero reasons I should feel guilty for being a part of the machine which is called the military. I took responsibility for my personal contributions while in the Air Force, I do not blame others, there was no gun to my head, I served, fuck it, I’m a proud veteran, I can’t ever take it back. Some of y’all understand my pain, the rest of all will never have a fucking clue, y’all are the lucky ones, the innocent ones, the ones who close their eyes without fear. Anyway, to my wife who is reading this post, I hope this has helped you, at least a little. I never asked to be anyone’s hero, I never asked for people to thank me, I never asked for people to want to take a picture with me if they find out I’m a disabled veteran, I just joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country because I thought I could and would make a difference. But, I can’t fix stupid and stupid wanted a robot who didn’t care, that person is not me.

Before I go, let me tell you about the one and only time my ex-wife was able to pry out of me what I didn’t want open. Y’all see, she was studying to become a sociologist and well on her way to being a social worker, she thought we could talk about it, that I would be comfortable knowing that she, of all people, would not pass judgment. When I was done talking she was in tears, she was appalled that I was part of the organization which promotes peace through the use of violence, she told me she was ashamed to be in the same room with me, ashamed to share a last name with me in marriage, and that one day I will pay for my sins of being a baby killer in the deepest, darkest parts of hell, a place reserved for rapists and paedophiles. At first I believed she was right, it matches how I feel, but soon I realized that I am a simple person who was not looking for redemption or forgiveness, I wasn’t even looking for understanding, I just wanted to know if the words I would speak would or could sound like the thoughts in my head or the memories I have or how I feel deep down in that part of me nobody gets to witness, ever. Shit goes there to be buried and forgotten, it takes time to dig it up, nobody quite understands that, scratch that, some do understand, those are the people who don’t have physical scarring but are somewhat fucked in every other way, we know what each other are thinking, not even we understand so we don’t expect others to either. We don’t look for eyes or words if pity, we do appreciate it when others respect us enough as human beings just to let things be.

My wife hugged me, long and tight, not a word spoken, with tears down her face, she told me I’m home, I’m with people whom I love and that love me, support me, and care about me. That was the best hug I have had to this day in my life, a memory I will forever cherish. My message to my wife and to my son who will read this post later is that life happens every minute of every day, take time to see the scenery, smell the rain in the distance, we only have one shot at this life so we better live it to the fullest. My daughters give me their support as well, still I wonder if they really understand or if I just get the nod. This, unless something snaps again, will probably be the last time I discuss any of this on a personal level, this shit sucks to remember, to relive, and to talk about. Some call blogging “therapy”, and it is, but not today, today is more like anger management for me. Remember, no pictures please, ever, for any reason.

Why Toilet Paper Needs Advertisement

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I was looking at my Facebook feed last night, normally a great way for me to keep up with friends and it also provides a great sources of reading material I try to follow regularly, when I came across a picture that wanted to know why toilet paper needs to advertise. I know everyone reading today has seen it. My first reaction, like most of y’all I can only assume, was to smile and agree. Why indeed? After all, everyone is buying toilet paper because they need to buy toilet paper, right? Companies need to advertise things like Android phones, so people will buy them instead of iPhones, Galaxys, or nothing at all, but who, in a modern, in a developed country’s economy, will go without toilet paper? Is it you?

Let’s take a more in depth look at toilet paper advertising. Y’all understand that a company actually does need to advertise for toilet paper as do all the other products, its all about supply and demand sprinkled with a little business economics. Let’s start with the assumption that the marketing staff at Company X, who make Brand X, are properly compensated, and are not out there wasting money on television, radio, Facebook and Google ads like some kind of raging group of fucktards. Company X must have a good reason for spending all that money on advertising. What is it?

Advertising actually serve several distinct purposes. I’m sure the picture of the toilet paper with the overlay joke confused most of the marketing zombies, with everyone else just ignoring it or just not getting the fucking joke altogether. Perhaps there are more important reasons to advertise toilet paper than appears on the surface of this mystery. All companies who produce products need to sell those products to make profits. Companies are not still open today because they lose money now are they? The answer is a big fat fucking no, so they need to advertise to get their products in front of as many consumers they can, like you and I. Advertising serves many purposes, let’s look at them together now.

Product Awareness: This is critically important when you have a new product, either new to the industry or new to your company, and want to make customers aware of it. If we still lived in the days when people wiped their asses with stones or leaves, and you had this amazing new product called “toilet paper”, then the purpose of advertising for toilet paper would be to make consumers aware that a much better alternative exists for your sensitive little bottoms.

Market Share: This is important when the products are generally known, but alternatives exist in the market. To return to our Android phone example, just about everyone in the US knows about cell phones, but they can choose from many brands besides Android. So, the makers of the Android phone advertises its cell phones to drive potential customers to buying an Android over the alternatives.

Increase Consumption: Even if you know of the product, and you prefer a particular brand, you can be brainwashed into purchasing even more of it. If you already know about cell phones, you even have an cell phone, but now you’re considering one for your teenager who is in school. Commercials featuring cell phones in a setting filled with school aged children can again brainwash you to convince you to increase consumption.

In developed markets such as the United States, absolutely everyone knows about toilet paper. Company X doesn’t advertise Product X for product awareness, since everyone knows it exists and we are going to buy it (hence the joke picture). Similarly, no one will increase consumption beyond what they would otherwise. People from Company X use the shitter as often as you and I do, clean themselves with toilet paper, flush the soiled toilet paper, and are done. Unlike cell phones or oranges, no one will buy more than they normally would. Unless you are a prepper, then you have an 8 years supply of it that you guard like gold bars. Maybe, one day in the future, scratching paper will replace paper money like cigarettes did in prisons.

But there is fierce competition among the brands. Company X wants you to really believe in the benefits of their band of toilet paper; while Company Y wants you to prefer their brand. They battle for your market share in toilet paper via commercials and advertisements.

In the end, these competing companies always need to understand why they are advertising a particular product and for whom. The original joke image (not shown in this post) is almost correct. It just needs to end with: “Who is not buying toilet paper to wipe?”

Let’s let this post serve as my good deed for the day. This particular Public Service Announcement (PSA) has been brought to y’all by The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog (T.S.O.T.S.B.) and is in no way affiliated with Company X, Company Y, or the toilet paper industry. I’m merely a consumer of toilet paper as I can only assume many readers here are as well so I wanted to explain the joke, not that y’all needed it explained, but it just shows how money, even money we wipe our ass and flush with, still drives our market. Understanding the economics of toilet paper might get us to think about how and why we spend our hard earned money. The day may come when we need to ration toilet paper or even use it as currency. Enjoy your next trip to the toilet and remember that underpaid workers depend on you flushing as much toilet paper as possible so they have a job tomorrow.

Those Damn Teenage Years

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In a recent conversation with my soon to be fourteen year old son, I was reminded of my youth, the choices I was forced to make, and how rough it really is being that age. I like to think I’m taking a different approach to parenting than the approach my parents took with me, I was raised in a wrath of God house by two very devout Catholics with closet human tendencies. Of course, my wife and my style differs from many parents as I’m told. I also get told I’m doing it wrong, the parents are the boss. Before you assume way to much here, I’m not the “friend” parent type. I am the type of parent who has instilled justifiable fear into his children, after all they live in my house, sleep in my house, and scary shit happens when you least expect it. Anyway, I’ve tried very hard to not raise quitters in a society where quitting has become the norm. I believe in self esteem because without it you have little control of your inward or outward emotions. But, we all get to the point where we start asking when is enough going to be enough, when will the madness end, and why can’t this be easier.

We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels.The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.My son explained to me that he was thinking the other day, why does he actually give up? What are his most common reasons and are there any ways to get around those reasons for giving up?

He thinks discouragement is the biggest reason for quitting and failure. No matter what you have decided to do, as soon as you share it with people there will be at least few who will tell you that YOU Can’t Do it and come up with different reasons about why it can’t be done. At that point you may decide to give up the idea even before giving it a try.  Instead of thinking about giving up think about how are you going to prove all those people wrong.  In fact proving those who doubt me wrong has been pretty good motivation for me so far, I have spent a lifetime trying to stay on top of my game. As well, if you don’t believe in yourself you will always be tempted to give up because you won’t believe in your success. The self-doubt will be keeping you from pushing forward.

I somehow thought that I was not strong enough to make my dreams come true, but then there was a shift in mindset which sort of set me free. And it was one simple realization. The realization that none of the people who have succeeded are better than me. They worked harder, they were persistent and they believed in their dreams, but they were not actually better, just approached life differently, as most of us do. These days there are so many distractions… Social media, TV series, and different smart phone notifications not letting you focus on the important things. If you don’t keep focus on your goal you will end up with insufficient results and that will discourage you even further. But, as I discussed with my son, social media didn’t exist when I was growing up, none of this shit did. My social media was friends and family. My internet was called “the outdoors”, I earned my allowance by being a part of the family unit team. Unlike today, parents give their children money to just leave them alone. As it is, in our house we are pretty tight, we do allot together on a very regular basis. On top of it all we have dinner together, every night, without fail. Also, no television is on, no cell phones are allowed at the table, and we talk or play games while we eat, there is fun and laughter, and it is also a time to gather to discuss more serious matters, if any.

That reminds me of yet another reason we, as humans, give up, we give up when we don’t get the immediate results. We all want things to happen fast and it is hard to realize that there are things that actually takes time. One can not have instant on and instant off like the flick of a light switch each and every time. Some things, to include pets and people, are more challenging, they take more time, things like trust and value in a person have to be developed and earned, which takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success so we have to keep in mind that it takes time and to be prepared not to give up.

When I am starting something new I am on fire. I am full of enthusiasm and I am motivated. But with the time things may start cooling off and at some point the self-motivation may not be enough to keep me moving. That is when I may think about giving up, that is when I need to go back to beginning and try to recall the big why. Why did I start that project in first place and what was initially motivating me? That brings me back on track most of the time. But still we need motivation, we still need the allure that there is a prize waiting for us at the end. No matter what kind of life you had, you are used to your own personal comfort zone and that brings you great comfort. Now when you have initiated changes you entered the stage of uncertainty and struggle, which by no means is comfortable. What makes me not giving up in those cases is the thought that once I get where I wanna be my new comfort zone will be a much better one. But, what I’ve learned over the years cannot be taught, it has to be experienced. This is my son’s struggle know, the learning curve, stepping out of the comfort zone, finding new experiences doing new things or with new people. Plus, he is at the beautiful age where he has really realized he really likes boobs. One more thing we have in common.

Anything worth achieving is hard. Yes the easiest option is to just give up, but then, will it be easy living with the regret that you gave up midway? On the other hand I would not say that giving up is something terrible and wrong. Sometimes you may end up having too many things on your plate and that may make you overwhelmed. Sometimes you may need to give up certain things because they may not be a priority at that point. I find myself looking at the details in my own life on a regular basis, there is never room for bullshit, it is always the first into the fuckbucket. What is important that you don’t give up your dreams and the things you want really bad. Don’t give up your passion and never give up on life. I understand living with a person like me is challenging, being a sarcastic jackass is a fine art and we all don’t appreciate fine art. We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels. The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.

Where does all this leave the conversation I was having with my son? Well, he was never actually clear as to what he was thinking about quitting. And, I’m not altogether sure we were even talking about the same thing. Later, while talking with my wife I was informed that a girl he knew in school, friends but not inner circle friends, had committed suicide last week. There was no clear reason why, she left no note, gave the parents no inkling that she was distressed, same with her two sisters, teachers, and friends. Except for one person, who came forward to “confess” to her parents that he knew why. You see, they were boyfriend and girlfriend. She wanted an exclusive relationship (at 14) and he wanted to play the field. She took it had, it killed her self esteem and self worth, and according to him, as she told him, she didn’t feel she was worth the effort of having his love if he was not willing to commit to her. Granted, this is the opinion of a 14 year old boy, and this story was also posted up on Facebook, so I don’t really know if it actually ever happened. But, after going back to my son to talk, he said that I did answer his question of “why people quit” without even knowing that was what I was doing. We talked more, we talked about the cruelty of emotions, especially in a teenager. But suicide is not an easy subject, simply because there isn’t an actual answer to give. The only person who knows is dead.

I don’t know if this makes me angry or sad. I do know that I have been in my sons shoes before, knowing a person who has had her self esteem crushed on a daily basis for “fun” by others. But, that is another topic altogether, since bullying seems to have become so evermore popular these days, or its just more in the public eye these days. As a parent I try to teach my children to hope for the best and prepare for the worst because the two survive together hand in hand. One may think they are just words, but others take those words to heart. As uncomfortable as I was talking with my son about suicide and how I personally believe it should never be the answer for anyone, I was also proud of my son for wanting to sit and talk to me about life, emotions, feelings, relationships, and family with me. It takes courage to begin a conversation with your father when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Both of us feeling a little bummed, we invited the rest of the family to go out for ice cream. Ice cream? Yes, the one thing on the planet stronger than any drug, stronger than and alcohol, stronger than any words, stronger than any bond, it is a time of peace for a troubled mind or a troubled soul. Its a time to take a break from the crap life offers and just enjoy a bite of ice cream.

Yes, I know, ice cream doesn’t solve all problems, but it does give the opportunity to step away from them, not to quit them, but to take a break from them. Everyone needs a break, we all take breaks or celebrate in our own ways. In the end I learned from my son that I should keep my past close so it can be accessed and shared. I never knew my life, in general, would be an education tool for the youth in my family. But then again, we do learn most of what we know from our parents and family. Having children has been the best challenge I never quit. Try something new, get in your child’s head today, give them a nice tight hug, a big smile, and a peck on the cheek. When they ask why just tell them it is because you were thinking about them. It scares the crap out of them. I know from experience that life isn’t easy. It wasn’t designed to be easy. We don’t evolve within ourselves if we are not constantly challenged. Don’t let life discourage you, leave that to the people around you, you know, the people who don’t want you to succeed because they don’t care about succeeding. Until we “meet” again, remember to eat it everyday!

You’re Bitching Up The Wrong Tree

Okay, visitors here know in a past not so distant life ago I was a bartender in a full nude strip bar. Many of y’all still ask me why. Why? The money was great and the scenery wasn’t that bad either. As well, many (not all) have judged my morals or judgment in career options, mostly I was told how I glorified the world of stripping when strippers are really disgusting slut whore beasts and are the lowest form of human on the planet, right after the douchebags who go to strip bars and pay to see naked women dance in their face. Yes, I simplified it for y’all, forgive me, but I never understood how or why people judge strippers. Strippers strip for whatever reason, I’m not real sure how many of them want to shake what their momma gave them in front of strangers for money. But, I know for a fact that there are reasons women strip, every single one of them has a reason. Some of those reasons have been explored here in the past, and I always get told that I’m very biased because I “lived” in their world too long while working as a bartender. How can that even be true or make sense.

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I thought that since I received this great example from an angered reader who wanted to reach out with her own information that this would be the perfect opportunity to take another moment to discuss choices of employment, perhaps motivations, and of course to glitzy lure of stacks of cash. In a moment, y’all will read the email I got yesterday explaining to me that I needed to be more clear to people so others who do strip or want a career in stripping have information so they don’t get fucked, literally. As far as my past posts, they are my own personal experiences OR experiences that were shared with me by real life strippers while I was a bartender. And, look people, again knowing from personal experience, some of the choices for employment are harder than others. So, read the email below, catch back up with me afterwords. If you ask me, the writer/sender was/is a stripper and got burnt somehow, I would assume she sued or attempt to sue her place of employment because one of her patrons tipped her with information instead of dollar bills. Just my humble opinion.

Begin email———————————–

1. Strippers, exotic dancers, showgirls, lap dancers, peep show dancers, & erotic entertainers are EMPLOYEES of the club they work for.

Stripping is a J-O-B. Strippers will never be independent contractors. It doesn’t matter if the boss calls a stripper an independent contractor or if it’s a term she applies to herself.  The reality is that the way strip clubs operate, the strippers working in can only be employees. It’s because management must exercise a certain amount of control over working conditions or else there would be chaos. Some might argue that management creates more disorder with their policies than order. Management need to figure out which dancers are going to work on any given shift; how many shifts there are in a day; how many hours each shift runs; many decide what dancers may wear at work; how many dances she perform on stage, and so on. The reason why strip clubs misclassify strippers as “independent contractors” is to dodge their employer obligations. The irony is that clubs say you’re an independent contractor but actually treat you like an employee.

2. Strip club employers must pay all their workers minimum wage, at a bare minimum.

Strip club employers must also pay into social security, worker’s compensation, employer taxes, & a slew of others good things that workers in any other industry are guaranteed as employees.  Personally, I think that strippers should get paid far more than minimum wages.  After all, not every chick is willing to take her clothes off in front of random strangers & gyrate on their laps to arouse them!  The management like the money strippers make for their business, but they don’t want to pay these women for their labor.  THIS IS ILLEGAL.

3. State labor laws state that it is illegal for an employer (here, the strip club owner) to take any portion of his/her employee’s (here, the stripper) tips.

To add insult to injury, management charge strippers for the privilege to work!You know:  those stage fees, quotas, commissions, piece rate system, locker fees, booking fees, etc, etc…. It’s also illegal for employers to require strippers to tip other employees (DJ, House Mom, Manager, Bartender, etc).  Management minimally pay non-stripper staff and expect strippers to underwrite the remainder of their wages.  Why are these fees-to-work illegal?  Because strippers earn their money through tips that customers provide for them.  Strippers use their tips to pay management these illegal mandatory fees. THIS IS ILLEGAL. Lets review by answering the following questions for yourself.

Were you misclassified as an independent contractor while being employed as a stripper?

Did management fail to pay you minimum wages while you were a stripper?

Did you have to pay management to work while you were employed as a stripper?

If you said “yes” to one or more of these questions, your labor rights were violated. Take action to assert your labor rights!

End of email——————————————-

**** On a very special note. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog has not, will not, and cannot provide any legal advice. Visitors of this blog should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice. The information provided was for informational purposes ONLY. I claim no legal knowledge in regards to topics discussed here. Now, you’ve been warned and informed motherfuckers! ****

In reality I don’t care what people do with their lives, how they spend their money, or who they choose to see naked. I can, however, say that every single person who walks through the door of a strip club (employee or patron) has their own reason for being inside those walls. I mentioned before, my goal was to make money, as much as I could as fast as I could. Now, having a 8-5 job during the day and then working another 8+ hours afterwards as a “part time” sucked, I won’t lie, it made for long days/nights. As well, it was a 42 minute drive for me personally which racks miles up on the vehicle as well as adds just a few more hours each day. Yes, once at work the scenery, in general, was pleasant. The work environment was a bit weird because my involvement with the business of the club were pretty nil. I did, however, meet some very nice people along the way while I worked there, I’ll leave that part right there. Want to know more just read around this blog a little and you’ll see what I mean.

Getting back to how I or what I write about glorifies the occupation of stripping, because, lets face it together, I get accused of never writing about anything but strippers using their nakedness to separate men of all ages from their money in the shortest time possible. What y’all have got from me is the brutal honesty, not the fucking fairytale la la land some people seem to live in. I guess my point is simple, working as a stripper is what it is, it’s a choice someone makes, and often enough people get judged because in someone else’s opinion it was the wrong choice to make. Trust me, I’m 46 years old and still get grief from my mother because I bartended in more than one strip club over the years. “How can you do that to your wife and treat her without respect by working at a strip bar?” is my favorite question to date. My wife only had one dislike about me working there and that was the simple fact that I was getting in after 1 in the morning day after day and I was tired. I was tired and didn’t want to do anything except hang out around the house, I was a big fan of not going anywhere or not doing anything. In the end, it was my wife’s opinion that made me want to quit in the first place. She asked me to quit one time, and I made it happen that day. On the flip side, all joking aside here, she was the one that said I needed to get a part time job to fill some time, make a little money, and get out more. In fact, it was a friend of a friend of a friend of one of her co-workers that my wife gave me the number to call for the job. She was informed, the moment I went to the interview, that it was at a strip club. Her answer was it was decision either way, but told me I knew I could make some serious cash if I took it. Yes, she does not about my past life, not that it was talked about much.

Luckily, at the place I worked, everyone was an employee, we all had health coverage if we chose, we could participate in the 401k, they were workers comp compliant, the whole 9 yards. However, indeed, a portion of my paycheck was dependent on bar sales, door sales, and stripper tips. Yes, now I’m the bad guy. No, it wasn’t my rule, and nobody fought it, it was just the way it was I guess. But, they did not pay to dance, they did not have fees except for one, which was if you were scheduled to work and you were a no show/no call, you were given three days off without pay as a warning to be more courteous to your coworkers. It mentions minimum wage above, um no, how the average stripper was making from $18.00 to $23.00 an hour, plus tips, plus dances, plus whatever the hell else they were doing on the side, if anything. Again, I’m not defending the industry itself, merely where I worked.

Oddly enough, during the mere course of writing this post I have received 4 more emails “scolding” me for being a sinner, supporter of sinning, and indulging in the slavery which we collectively call the “sex trades” since stripping somehow falls into that category. Maybe I truly am blind, somewhat oblivious to the blythe which is that of the life of a stripper. But, wait….. for….. it….., I don’t care, I really don’t, I don’t care what people do which their lives. Well, that’s not altogether true, I do care that I contribute a large amount of my paycheck to pay for others to sit at home on the crack pipe, on the xBox, or on the porch, instead of them getting out and getting a fucking job. We’ll talk about that another time, I read a study recently that the average person on a combination of government service programs average about $19.20 an hour. Like I said, lets get back to that another day. My mere connection with the stripping industry is purely coincidental, meaning we would work in the same building, all of us dependent on the very steady stream of people entering the neon lit establishment we called a strip bar.

But, I understand, the easy thing to do is to judge those doing things we don’t agree with. We should just be happy people are out working instead of sucking on the welfare titty all day. Until we as human beings stop looking at the opposite sex with lust in our eyes there will always be a place where we can see the opposite sex naked. Have y’all been on the internet later, have y’all seen what y’all have been searching for, and y’all call me the pervert?  Again, another post for what people’s perversions are. Your choice, fucking hate me, if that gets you though the day, great, just fucking hate me. Meanwhile, I will give you something to think about, my final thought here today. All strippers have a story, a life, a family, and although you detest their industry or them as people, just remember it takes guts to strip in front of strangers, it takes courage to get out there to earn a living no matter what your craft may be. Before we get all biblical on me, remember, I don’t by into it, so in reality it’s a major waste of both of our times. But, as usual, I will get the emails, the comments, and so forth, and I will post here on this blog the ignorance that is spewed. There is no justice in the world, we all know it, sometimes we decide that instead of running away from life, we jump on that old hag, dig the spurs in deep, and ride her until that bitch throws us or we tame the beast. Your choice.

Why I Stepped Foot In Church

Normally I would not attempt the madness called church on my own, but this last time I went to church not to be preached at, but to enjoy the music of the church symphony orchestra which has a member who is like one of my own children. We go to all of her events, in school or in church. I enjoy the way she can make the cello talk to you, she’s finishing out her freshman year of high school, but listening to her play that cello one would never guess her young age. It may just be my opinion, but she is great. So, that’s what led me to church, I enjoy the way she plays, it makes everything in life, the problems and troubles, just fade into the background where they belong. But, that’s not why we are here today, today I’m going to discuss how my attire was not proper enough to be in a church. Clearly there is confusion, unless you are looking to be offended that I’m not in slacks, a nice shirt, a tie, a jacket, and shiny shoes with a belt to match, oh wait, you are. All I can ask is why? Especially since this wasn’t a “service”, it was a performance.

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I wore what I would wear pretty much anywhere, black Wrangler jeans (no holes, clean), black leather belt, 3 button shirt (black in color, no logo, clean), black gator skin cowboy boots (polished, clean), and a black Stetson with a simple silver band (Stetson is a name/brand/style of a cowboy hat). So, it wasn’t as if I showed up wearing surf shorts, tank top, flip flops, and a ball cap. This is my basic “dress up” clothes, also good for funerals, weddings, and graduations. In fact, after walking in, finding our seat in the main hall (we picked 5 out of the nearly 1300 chairs, its a big Baptist church), I removed my hat, placing it in the seat next to me on my right with my wife on the left. Clearly I’m not a member of this church, I’m here as a guest with invitation in hand, given to me by my other “daughter”. After the 2 hour performance which resulted in a standing ovation and constant applause for the 62 members of the symphony orchestra, it was time to stand in the walkways to hug, shake hands, and chat, all of which I did while standing there wearing my hat. Some would say I stand out above the crowd being I’m 6’8″ to begin with. But people focused on more, people focused on the fact that I was wearing jeans and I had a hat on in church.

The message I received loud and clear from mr. preacher man was that my attire was not proper and will not be welcome in the future, this was said in a snotty rude way, very derogatory and unappreciated by me. I was left with but one option, in my opinion, which was to lean in to him, getting my lips very close to his ear as I pulled him close by the shoulder to say “go fuck yourself”, then I kissed him on the cheek, shook his now trembling hand, and walked out. I never looked back, no need to look back. Shortly after I see my wife and kids following up in my footsteps, we get in the truck, and we left. My wife did not become aware that anything was even said until a few days later, when she spoke with the preachers wife, who she knows outside the church professionally. Of course she asked if it was true, of course I told her it was, and no more was said about it. That whole night does nothing but reinforce my dislike for organized religion, I did nothing wrong and his actions/words cannot be justified in my opinion. Since when do I need to be dressed a certain way to be inside a church, no matter what is going on? So, I got to thinking that I had some thoughts to discuss, and in a long drawn out way that is why everyone was invited here today. So lets begin.

The so-called worship wars of recent years may have produced a winner. Many congregations/denominations remain divided between traditional and contemporary styles of “church”, but in most places the contemporary appears to have gained the upper hand. Your worship services have become increasingly relaxed and informal affairs. You can see it in what people are wearing. Church for today’s worshipers is not a dress-up event. Whatever is clean and comfortable seems sufficient. When it comes to church, attire doesn’t much matter. Most people I have spoke with over the years understand there is nothing particularly spiritual about a dress or a coat and tie. I was even told by a Sunday school teacher of my son’s that God is scarcely impressed by such things as clothes. She quoted something to me that day, “People look at the outward appearance,” we are reminded, “but the Lord looks at the heart”.

I do not intend to wade into the broader debate over worship styles; that’s a different discussion. But I do wish to raise a question about this fucking outdated way of thinking that when it comes to public worship since my clothing matters so much. This common assumption, it seems to me, deserves more scrutiny than it typically receives. Over the last several generations, American attire in general has lurched dramatically toward the informal. A feature that quickly dates an old photograph, just look at a picture of your grandparents. The changes are part of a broad shift toward the convenient, comfortable, and individuality. It’s a shift we see on display everywhere we go each day. Ever been to Walmart?  It’s easy to imagine how one might look over-dressed there, but less easy, short of immodesty, to imagine being under-dressed. Jeans or shorts, tee shirts or tank tops, flip-flops or sandals: these draw scarcely any attention, while full dresses or a suit and tie appear strangely out of place. Relaxed, even rumpled informality is in; suiting up in your “Sunday best” is out.

Many seem convinced it’s a good thing, because, again, it’s the heart that counts. Yet precisely for this reason, because it’s the heart that counts, I want to suggest that what we wear in our public worship may matter more than we think. To grasp this connection, let us extract some helpful insights from daily communication we all see. Verbal behavior refers to all those ways we use language to communicate: speaking, writing, sign language, etc. Nonverbal behavior focuses on all those ways we communicate without words: facial expression, gesture, posture, eye behavior, vocal inflection, our use of space, or touch behavior. In our everyday relationships only a small percentage of what we communicate is conveyed via verbal channels. The rest is conveyed nonverbally.

The avenue of nonverbal communication I will call one’s physical appearance and dress shows more about a person than words, or does it?. Here are a handful of observations based on our human interactions.

The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. We share many attributes with other creatures, but the inclination to clothe ourselves is not one of them. Where, if any, is there a moral or even a spiritual dimension to human clothing? Why is so much emphasis put on clothing? Our clothes serve a variety of practical, social, and cultural functions. Protection and modesty spring first to mind, but our clothes do far more. We sometimes dress to conceal or deceive. More often our clothes serve to reveal. We use clothing for decoration, for sexual attraction, for self-expression and self-assertion. By our attire we display our gender, our religion, our occupation, our social position, or causes with which we identify. Many dress to impress, while others choose the reverse: they express their rejection by intentionally flouting accepted clothing norms.

Our clothing is one of our most elemental forms of communication. Long before our voice is heard, our clothes are transmitting multiple messages. From our attire, others immediately read not only such things as our sex, age, national identity, socio-economic status, and social position, but also our mood, our attitudes, our personality, our interests, and our values. We constantly make judgments about one another on the basis of clothing. Common wisdom has it that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But this is only partly true; we regularly read one another’s covering. What’s more, we’re better at it than we think.  We spend our lives making judgments based on appearance and then testing those judgments in our subsequent relationships. In this way, we become rather adept at the process. Judgments based on appearance are rarely fucking accurate, of course, and we are wise to hold them tentatively. But it’s almost impossible to avoid making them in the first place.

Because our clothing is one of the fundamental ways we communicate with others, what we wear is never a purely personal matter. Our attire exerts a social influence on those around us. What we wear can shape patterns of communication around us, depending on what messages people are picking up. Consider, for example, the varied cues we send by the way we dress: “I want people to notice me.” “I’m very confident.” “I want to hide.” “I care only about comfort.” “I want to look seductive.” “I repudiate you and your expectations.”

How we dress not only affects us individually; it also affects those around us. How we feel and who we are influences the clothes we put on or leave off, and the clothes we put on in turn shape how we feel. Changes of clothes can generate a change of mood. As an example, I felt different in my Air Force uniform than I did in street clothes. In some settings our choice of clothing can make or break us. If we like the way we look for a job interview, for instance, it will tend to strengthen our confidence. We feel better about our chances, as reflected in improved posture, more fluent speech, more dynamic gestures. On the other hand, inappropriate dress can suck the fucking life out of our confidence. We have all experienced the uncomfortable effects of feeling under-dressed or over-dressed in a particular social setting.

Much of the social meaning of our clothing is contextual. The appropriateness of our clothing is often dictated by the situation. Dress that would send a given message in one setting might send a very different message in another. Times change, values change, situations change; what was proper ten years ago may not be proper today, or vice versa. All of the above is why we should not conclude too quickly that because God looks on the heart, what we wear to church doesn’t matter. Our internal and external states cannot be so easily disentangled. The fact is, when it comes to how we clothe ourselves, our external appearance is often an expression of our internal state.

What is worship, after all? It’s the act of acknowledging and praising God as God. Is that not a personal choice? According to my wife, “when worshipping, we come before God with awe and reverence, focusing on him in loving contemplation, celebrating him for who he is and what he has done. We willingly bow before him in surrender, delighting in the privilege of extolling his worthiness. In worship we join our small voices with the celestial choirs in a grand chorus magnifying the Creator and declaring his excellences, his purity, his power, his beauty, his grace, his mercy, and his love.” No, I do not agree, but we smile and agree that will do not agree. In reference to what she said, I ask, can’t that be done naked or in a suit of medieval armor? I think the term “stink-eye” covers the expression on her face the best, she was giving it to me.

According to the bible (yes, I’ve read the bible a time or three in my life), God called his people to public worship. It’s everywhere in the Bible. Your corporate worship of organized religion is supposed to please God? Everyone who has ever built a fire knows how quickly lone embers cool and die. But gather those embers and they create a furnace effect that burns hot. Corporate worship of organized religion is no different, its designed to generate that furnace effect in people. Where there is collective thought there is collective action, do as the crowd or the crowd will be undone, the absolute fear of the sheeple culture.

So what sort of clothing might benefit such an exalted occasion? Observers in the gallery of the United States Supreme Court are forbidden to wear hats. Out of respect for the importance of what’s taking place there, the Court’s firm rule for visitors is, “Inappropriate clothing may not be worn.” If this is so for a merely human institution, what might be suitable attire for God-honoring worship? Must there be a rule, must we give a shit, must it cause such an uprising within the walls of the churches of organized religion? Readers will be relieved that I have no dress code to be here at The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog. Read at will, however you are dressed, you will not be judged here in the House of Scorpion. But why don’t I care how you are dressed? Why do I not feel the need to judge how you dress when you are doing what you are doing? I reserve the right to judge you only at Walmart and Starbucks, y’all know who you are and why.

That which is special, that which is our best, that which is sacrificial: We may be tempted to think such standards made sense in the context of Israel’s ancient worship but have little to do with us in the modern world. After all, none of us shows up at church on Sunday morning bearing sacrifices now do you. Everyone has their own reasons for going to church, some go to worship, some to ask for forgiveness of their sins, and one of us went to hear the incredible musical talents of a young girl whom he adores as his own. If you ask me, which your not going to, so I’ll just say it now, I don’t think any of us belong in a church. Salvation isn’t found in church in words translated 10,000 times over by MEN who aren’t concerned about me and you. Think about it. Want a “relationship” with God? You want something/someone to believe in for the comfort of your soul? How do men give that to you? How do you really know what are looking for in the first place?

The question for all of you is this: When you gather for worship, does this sacred event generate within you any similar sense of “awe and reverence”? A perceptive observer of the contemporary church scene might be forgiven for scratching her head over such a question, wondering whether you have grown oblivious to the significance of your own gathering. How often, she might ask you, do you prepare for Sunday as if it mattered, guarding, for example, Saturday nights so as to be fresh and focused the next morning? How come your pre-service gathering so often sounds more like a bowling alley than a people meeting to offer themselves fresh to their God? How is it you are so susceptible to the lure of personality and entertainment up front, obscuring the God-centered purpose for which you have met? How prevalent is the notion that you can worship just as well at home, or on the golf course, or before a TV screen, or perhaps forfeit worship altogether due to inconvenient weather, the priority of other things, or who may be preaching that week?

Not just anything will do when you come before God. He is still honored by what is holy, what is our best, what is sacrificial. The kingdom to which you have come, says the writer to the Hebrews, requires us to “offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe,” because “our ‘God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28–29). The casual attitude toward worship may indicate that you have failed to grasp this important point, a sign of your being more conformed to this world than so transformed in your minds that by testing you are able to discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Don’t you know you are not allowed to make your own decisions? What of your church attire? You deceive yourselves when you breezily claim that God does not care what you wear to church. God cares about your hearts, and what you wear is often an expression of your hearts. So what does your relaxed worship attire say about you? What internal disposition are we revealing when we dress no differently for church than we do for a trip to the mall or hanging out with friends around a barbeque grill? Could it be that our casual dress, chosen merely for our own comfort and convenience is a reflection of an equally casual, can’t-be-bothered attitude toward worship itself? What about those around you? What message is your choice of clothing sending them as you gather for worship?

Can Christians who gather for worship afford to ignore what their church attire may be saying to those around them? Does your choice of clothing communicate to others that this gathering is an important occasion, thereby encouraging them to see it as important as well? Or does it send them in the opposite direction? Why is it that the wrong clothes can distract your fellow worshipers.In this way and others your choice of clothing can be sinful. But this does not render your everyday (“common”), come-as-you-are attire “spiritual” or “honest.” If you care for your fellow worshipers as you ought to, you will take them into consideration as you dress for worship. We will clothe ourselves in ways that edify them and strengthen their own worship. We will attempt to avoid the nonchalant attitude that says this event is entirely routine; that it merits nothing special from me; that my only consideration in what I choose to wear is what is easiest and most convenient. Such a self-centered attitude is corrosive to a true spirit of worship. Instead, the goal in our choice of clothing should be to express to the Lord and those around us that this event matters, that I view it as a holy occasion, one which deserves our highest regard. If the first audience for our nonverbal messages is God himself, and secondarily, our fellow worshipers, dress that best suits these first two audiences may also serve a third: outsiders who join your public worship.

Evangelistic gatherings can in many ways be designed to fit the unbelievers you are trying to reach. But this is harder to do with your corporate worship. The church must first shape its worship to honor God, a goal to which all else must be subordinate. But thankfully, watching believers do what they do can have its own evangelistic effect. Attire that genuinely reflects a God-honoring attitude toward worship may well contribute to a similar result. Can you take a wild guess at what that is? You can guess until you are blue in the gills but you will never truly have your own answer unless it is spoon fed to you, just my personal opinion of course.

None of anything I have said above leaves us with a dress code for being in church, no matter the reason. It certainly does not translate automatically into coats and ties for men and fancy dresses for women. Idealizing bygone eras won’t work here; the meaning of human clothing is too contextual for that. It varies too widely from place to place and time to time, and there are too many other variables to consider. We are left having to judge for ourselves what is appropriate for worship and what is not. Every denomination has their own dress code and rules, whether you want to admit it or not, they do. Want to know my rule? Fuck your dress code!

However, all of the above should at least warn you away from the glib assumption that God actually cares about what we wear to church; or that what I choose to wear in church matters. How I dress is a purely personal affair and that my own convenience and comfort are all that need concern me. The truth is, one of the ways we express ourselves as human beings is by the way we dress. Wittingly or unwittingly, our clothing gives us away. God certainly does not need this expression to know your hearts. But as for the rest of us, we do indeed look on the outward appearance, even when peering into our own mirrors. In this way the clothes we choose for church may have things to tell us about our hearts that God already knows, but that you need to hear from other people because you thrive on judgment of yourself as well as others.

You express this embodiment totality in the corporate worship of organized religion through your shared symbols, rites, and rituals; through your posture and gestures as you bow, kneel, or lift your hands; through your actions when you stand or sit in unison or pour out your hearts musically in congregational song. Just remember, your clothing belongs on this list. By it we express to God and those around us what the occasion of being in church means to you. This is why we are taught, brainwashed, when we come to church, our clothing matters.

Wow, that turned into something sermon like. Wait, all of you reading this will burn in hell unless you……. Unless what? I mentioned before, in the House of Scorpion you are free to do as you see fit how you see fit doing it. I have mentioned once, a long time ago, my own convictions and why I have them, so I will not repeat them now. I also mentioned, some of you may find it very fucking hard to believe tho, that in my youth it was my desire to become a Catholic priest. I wanted to be the one bringing the message to the people, I had many years of education for this purpose, many years I allowed myself to be brainwashed, many years of dismissing my own questions and answers, and ending in disappointment because I started to choke on the bullshit being fed me. Who is at fault for my misguidance? Why, me, of course. Something I corrected and haven’t looked back upon. Or have I? As years have passed, I continue in my reading about the commercialization of corporate organized religion, a term many Christians do not like hearing because they don’t like hearing that they are but a cog in a wheel that is just spinning in circles. But, as are most things written here, they are just my opinions on the world around me. I am not wishing to do battle with the “church” or religion or Christians, but I will not be treated as if my mere appearance is so non conformant that it tarnishes the grace of the church I stand in, to watch a symphony concert no less. Next time, yes there will be a next time, I will go in my slacks (dress pants), but I will be wearing flip-flops bitches!

What have we learned today? Not that I was teaching anything, but I’m curious if you have made the choice to look at what is actually important. What is more important, the message or the dress code? This is on my rather lengthy list of why I don’t attend church services. How can Christianity dismiss everything around us, science, evolution, dreams, and individual thought? I don’t want to be part of the “collective”, I prefer not to be in the herd of sheeple looking for salvation. Salvation from what? Damnation from what? One day we need to discuss corruption, greed, and our sinister needs to be one step ahead of our neighbor. I’m pretty sure we all want the same thing, just to live a happy life, a life we see fit, a life we are comfortable living. Until then, we struggle with our own happiness because that is what we are fucking taught to do after generations of brainwashing we don’t want it any other way. Why do we need to be led? Why do you desire being led? Why? Sorry, I can’t answer why, you must first look into the mirror and decide if you are comfortable in your our skin, then you can start asking fucking questions you might not like the answers to. We must all live with who we are individually to be happy, we can’t do that as sheeple, we can’t do that as a part of the collective thought. Who knew, right?

Until we speak again, I leave y’all with a final thought. I do care about my fellow humans, probably to a degree that few of y’all could ever understand. But, it’s hard to sit by idle and watch us destroy ourselves over stupid shit that doesn’t matter in the first place. Here’s an idea, find the person you cherish and live a happy life. The end my friends, the end. For fun, before y’all leave, get a better understanding of the sheeple by reading The Parable Of The Sheep found in the tabs above as well.

The Thank You Letter From My Son

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This morning I awoke to find an envelope tucked under my hat and keys on the kitchen table. On the front of the envelope was written the words, “My Hero, My Dad”. Curiosity got me and I immediately opened the envelope, finding a short letter which really made me sit back and think about how my 13 old son sees his dad. I wanted to share his letter with y’all because, as a veteran, as a person who has served, I feel that others will feel the warmth and sincerity that he has been written to me early on this Veterans Day.

” Dad,

The older I get, the more I talk to family, the more that I read, and the more we talk, I have learned that I have a respect for you that runs very deep in my own heart for you and every person who has ever been brave enough to put on a uniform to serve our great country. I’m lucky, I have my dad with me every day. I feel grateful that you are alive, well, and in my daily life, because many sons and daughters are not as lucky. I just want you to know that I love you, I’m grateful for your service, and know I will always honor and appreciate all of your sacrifices, big and small. Thank you dad.

Your son, Jack “

Yes, this letter from my son brought tears to my eyes, he has a big heart, and I think he knows what this letter means to me.