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You Are An Amazing Person. . .Yes, YOU

I saw a notice of news of the Coronavirus from exactly a year ago. It was the one where the president said there were only 15 cases and they’d all be cleared up soon. I’m not going to speculate on what he knew or didn’t know about the virus on that day in February a year ago. I don’t know. And frankly, I don’t care.

But, we’ve now been through a year of this pandemic. We started off not really understanding how it spread. Could you catch it by touching something? By breathing? We all went out and bought toilet paper and masks. When we could find them. And hand sanitizer, and gloves. And we stayed in our houses. And we worked from home. And we waited.

And then it didn’t get better. It got worse. We saw the numbers of dead grow. First it was only some famous people who were affected. And then we heard about a relative who got it. Or a friend of a friend. Then, it was closer family members and all the while the death toll continued to creep up. It tragically passed milestone after milestone, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000. Finally we passed 500,000 just last week. Then, it was our own family, or maybe ourselves that were infected.

We missed things; birthdays with grandkid, Thanksgiving, Christmas, parties, even dinner with friends. We changed administrations. The players changed, but the game was the same. And the score continued to go up and up with no end in sight.

But, here’s the thing. You’re still here. YOU, the person sitting behind a computer and reading this. Or the person looking at your phone between meetings. YOU have endured. You will endure.

“Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”

– Starman

We are being asked to endure something that no one has experienced in more than 100 years. Many of you lost your jobs. You had to cancel vacations. And yet, you still need to raise your kids. You need to explain to them how to wear a mask. Why to wear a mask. You have to explain why they can’t have a their friends come over to play. You have to explain (again and again) why they have to watch school on the computer instead of being able to attend it in person.

Just know that you are doing great. It doesn’t matter how you compare to the guy next to you, or the woman down the street. You’ve come this far and you will ultimately be successful.

We will tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren about these days. And they will listen with rapt attention at times having difficulty comprehending what you made it through.

“I couldn’t do that,” they’ll say.

But, you can. You did. And you are.

I’m proud of you.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Ignoring My Check Engine Light

I’m a good mechanic. I’m not a great mechanic. But, I’m pretty good. And I have a pretty well stocked tool chest. Multiple tool chests, there’s way too many tools for a single chest. Anyway, basically I’m saying I’m reasonable at fixing my car problems.

So, why is the check engine light on my car on? I didn’t check it. I know what it is. Well, I’m pretty sure I know what it is. And I’m not really interested in checking it.

Check engine lights are really stupid and really helpful. They are helpful because there are things that can go wrong inside your car that you don’t notice. You won’t notice until it becomes a serious problem. So, the car manufacturers setup the check engine light. If any one of multiple things go wrong the light comes on. Smart, huh?

Why’s it stupid? Because it’s just one little light. . . for everything. The light might mean your engine is about to blow up, or it might mean that the air to fuel ratio coming out of the catalytic converter is too high. . .or too low.

The check engine light has helped me on multiple occasions. In fact it’s useful enough that I went and bought a code reader. I actually have two code readers.

The red one is specifically for my Suburban. The blue one is generic for any car after 1994.

Code readers are useful because they can do two important things. First, they can read the codes and give you some idea of what’s wrong with your car. And second, more importantly, it can clear the Check engine light so that it doesn’t show on the dash anymore.

So, why am I not pulling out my code reader and checking the code on my Suburban?

Best way to describe it is your car has asthma.

This car had the check engine light on when I bought it from my brother several years ago. When his registration finally expired, I had a problem. You cannot get an emissions test done if your check engine light is on. I could clear the code, but it came back right away. The codes didn’t make a lot of sense to me, so my neighbor offered to get it inspected for me. He “knew a guy” that he thought could fix it.

He had my car for a couple weeks. He spent a lot of time and money with “his guy” working on it. Finally, the code stayed off long enough to get it inspected.

The issue was the air mixture coming out of the exhaust. At times it was too rich. At times it was too lean. It’s not like you can buy a piece to replace the entire air filter systems.

In the summer, the light stayed off for weeks or months at a time. It seemed to be worse in the winter. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. Different types of gas didn’t seem to make a difference. Replacing the air filter didn’t make a difference. I had no idea from one day to the next whether it would be on or off.

And that was the problem. The check engine light can tell you if lots of different things are wrong on your car, on my car. But, my check engine light is now broken. It still works, but because it showed up so many times for that too lean/too rich issue, I don’t check it anymore.

My check engine light has become the boy who cried wolf. It comes on and off multiple times throughout the year. In the meantime I just look at it and ignore it.

Knowing I wanted to write this I did look through and clear the codes. Just like I thought, plenty of too lean/too rich codes. And a few others.

Huh, I wonder what that code is for or how long it’s been on there? I wonder if it will come back?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Getting Paid To Listen To My Favorite Music

Scott Adams published this script in 2018. It came up a couple days ago on my desk calendar.

When Adams wrote this strip he had no way of knowing about COVID. We weren’t even contemplating a worldwide work from home plan. My office is small. It’s about 4 feet wide by 7 feet long. (Yes, it is THAT small.) But, it’s in the basement and it has a door. When I sit down and shut the door, I’m in my own little world.

On my desk is an iPad, a cell phone, a VoIP Internet phone, a laptop in a docking station, a 23″ monitor and two 25″ monitors. And I have two small, but powerful stereo speakers. They are connected to my iPad and it’s 1500 song music library via Bluetooth.

If I set the speakers at the correct volume, you cannot hear them bleed over into my Zoom calls through my headset. I typically turn on the music in the morning and let it play all day. Sometimes I’ll pick an artist, Elton John, or The Beatles, or Miranda Lambert, or any of a hundred others. Other times, I’ll let the iPad randomly pick music. I might hear Miles Davis followed by Toby Keith. Doesn’t matter, I like them both.

And that’s what I realized on Monday when I was reading this cartoon. Dilbert complains about his job and thinks it would be better if he had a job that paid him to listen to his favorite music.

It’s three years later. Dilbert? Welcome to the future.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What’s In A Name?

I have an unusual last name. And fortunately, it’s a name that inspires positive thoughts for people.

BLISS: perfect happiness; great joy

Sometimes people compelled to comment on it.

That’s a wonderful name.

Thanks, I picked it out myself.

And I did.

There is a Greek tradition of not naming children until sometime between the 7th and 10th day after their birth. In Kenya, it’s a tradition that a baby’s first name called the jina la utotoni, is given to them by an older relative. Up to 40 days after birth the child is given its adult name, called the jina la ukubwani by the parents or grandparents.

I had a relative named like this, or nearly so. When my niece was born, her parents couldn’t decide on a name. So, she had no name for the first part of her life including a family reunion where I met her for the first time. We took to calling her Baby No-name during the reunion.

Eventually, the name was decided because my brother-in-law performed a the religious rite of giving the baby a name and a blessing. The name he gave her in front of God and the church? Yeah, the one he’d picked.

Fortunately it suits her.

I have eight daughters. My lovely wife wouldn’t let me name a single one of the “Joy Ann.” I had them convinced each one of them that it was going to be their name, until they finally saw through my jokes at about 8 years old.

You might think that no one would consider naming their child “Joy An[d] Bliss.” But, I had a friend in school named Joseph. His last name was Kerr. He went by the name Joe. Yup. I went to school with Joe Kerr. He got kidded about it, but I’ wouldn’t be surprised if he named his first son Joseph. After all, his full name was Joseph Kerr III. The same joke didn’t get old for three generations.

One of my daughters married a man last named Swain. Their first born son was the first grandson for my lovely wife and me. My daughter called one day to tell me they had chosen a name.

We’ve decided to name him Bruce.

Bruce Swain. Have you thought about this?

Absolutely. We think it will be a fun and unique name.

It’s easy to imagine years of themed birthday parties for him.

Names are funny things. We spent hours considering the names for our 13 children. Even the adopted ones got new names.

And that’s what happened to me. I was adopted when I was 16. I wasn’t some foster care kid finally getting a forever home. My mother, my birth-mother, married a man when I was 11 year old. When I was 16 I asked him to adopt me. My older brother did as well.

Yes, I like the name Bliss. I picked it out myself.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Book Review: The Richest Man In Babylon

Any book that has been in print for 100 years probably has something interesting to say. “The Richest Man In Babylon” by George S. Clason was first published in 1926. It’s not quite 100 years old, but I’m going to assume it will still be in print five years from now, so we’ll call it close enough.

This book is a business book masquerading as a novel. It’s set in ancient Babylon. But, it’s really about a few simple business rules.

Cures to A Lean Purse
– Start thy purse to fattening
– Control thy expenditures
– Make thy gold multiply
– Guard they treasures from loss
– Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment
– Insure a future income
– Increase thy ability to earn

Men of action are favored by the Goddess of Good Luck

Five laws of Gold
– Save 10% of what you earn
– Invest your money and make it grow
– Get good advice on your investments
– Don’t invest in stuff you don’t understand
– Don’t chase “impossible” gains

These lessons are woven throughout the book and told at least twice, or more in slightly different scenes. You meet various characters, who’s names are not really important other than to hold the sotry together. The book really does introduce you to the richest man in Babylon. I have no idea if there is any historical reference or not.

The writing is clear and the stories move fairly well with the occasional lapse into monologuing.

What I Liked

This book was a gift from my son and I was predisposed to like it. And I wasn’t disappointed. But, I was also not overly impressed. The financial lessons are valid and transdential. At least in terms of time. Absolutely the lessons are valid today as much as they were 100 years ago, and I would expect 6,000 years ago in ancient Babylon.

Clason didn’t beat the reader over the head, even though he teaches the same lesson multiple times.

What I Didn’t

Clason worked hard to create an interesting story to go along with his financial advice. However, the story, as stories go was pretty flat. We don’t really care about these characters. The son who wastes his inheritance? Meh. He’s going to suffer. And then he does.

Also, there is a chapter that is set in 1934. We are introduced to a professor of archealogy at Nottingham University. The professor translates some Babylonian tablets with some of the above rules on them.

I spent way too long trying to figure out how Clason, writing in 1926 could include a scene from 1934. Did he speculate? Was it added in a later edition?

It’s not a good sign when the reader spends more time thinking about how you wrote the book than what’s in the book.

What It Means To You

If you follow the lessons in “The Richest Man In Babylon” you will improve your finances. If you really adopt it, the lessons will help you get out of debt and eventually build real wealth. And you will no doubt, be happier for the change.

Just don’t expect the accompanying story to do much more than provide a simple vehicle for delivering the message.

My Rating

2.5 out of 4 stars (3 for the financial lessons, 2 for the accompanying storytelling)

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Thank You, Derrick. . .A Star Trek Alliance Post

Is this Rodney?

Yes.

Hi, this is Derrick at Game Night Games. Looks like those games you ordered finally came in.

It’s not that unusual, right? Maybe, in our age of “The Amazon of Everything” it’s unusual for someone to actually pre-order a game from a physical game store. But, I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses. And I like talking to someone and having them find exactly what I need.

Game stores, like everyone else have had to adapt to COVID. But, Utah is a very popular location for board games. We have two or three times as many games stores per capita than somewhere like Sacramento does.

And none of those stores carry my preferred line of games, Star Trek Attack Wing. The game has a passionate but small niche following. It has been in decline for years. Finally, none of the local gamestores had it. The only way to get the game was ordering it.

A quick note about Star Trek Attack Wing, it’s a game format. It has dozens of ships, hundreds of characters and upgrades. It’s based on Star Trek, but it’s really a tabletop game played with tiny plastic ships.

The manufacture, WizKids, decided to attempt to reboot the game for solo play. They announced Star Trek Alliance a couple of years ago. Naturally, I went to my FLGS (friendly local game store) and pre-ordered two copies. I always order two copies of each new STAW product that comes out. Fortunately, I have kids who enjoy Attack Wing also.

And then, like the rest of the STAW players in the world, I waited.

At first I waited a a couple months. Then we had more months of waiting. And more. And more.

After a year, I wondered if I should just tell my flgs that I wanted my money back. I decided to let it ride. Hoping that WizKids would eventually release the game.

Eventually they did, of course. A year and a half later.

My flgs called to let me know when WizKids started getting serious about the dates.

Rodney, we’re calling to let you know that WizKids expects to be shipping Alliance next month.

Really?

Yeah, funny thing, we’ve updated our ordering system since you originally ordered this. We had to just write a note as a reminder you’d already paid.

So, this week I made the trip up to Salt Lake City from my home in Pleasant Grove. I had to dodge the snow storms. But, it was great to finally get to be walking back into a game store, Game Night Games of Salt Lake City.

Of course, we were all wearing masks. It’s the nature of the world we live in. As I came through the doors, Derrick looked up from behind the plexiglass that was shielding the desk.

Welcome to Game Night Games. How can I . . .Hey! Alliance, guy!

I hadn’t been in that store for over a year and a half. And I walked in wearing a mask. And Derrick picked me out before I even spoke a word. And Derrick was absolutely genuine.

I collected my long awaited game and told him I wanted to pre-order copies of the next STAW updates taht were scheduled to be released by WizKids. A Cardassian expansion pack and a Vulcan expansion pack. Of course, I wanted two copies of each.

Well, they’re $29.99. And we’ll give you the 15% discount since we don’t carry it in the store. We’ll call you when it comes in. . .Hopefully sooner than 18 months.

Tomorrow one of my sons and I will start playing the Star Trek Alliance campaign game.

But, I can say if you are in the Salt Lake City area and you need games, boardgames, Role Playing Games, dice games, you should absolutely give Derrick at Game Night Games a call. Oh, and they can even get you a copy of Star Trek Alliance with a 15% discount. . .But, they’ll have to order it for you.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

“You’re not special for reading The Great Gatsby. We all went to high school.

Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.

Okie dokie. Let’s tone it down. I was just making a joke.

So was I. That’s the first line of the book.

What? I didn’t read the book”
– Internet conversation

I’m pretty sure I read The Great Gatsby in high school. Ms Thomas was a really good English teacher. I had her for Freshman Honors English and later as a Junior for AP English. She probably introduced me to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. However, I don’t remember it.

Everyone has heard of The Great Gatsby. The book was written in 1924. It’s been made into countless movies. Okay, you could probably count them. IMDB lists 5 versions including the 2013 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

If you are like me, you probably don’t remember the story. I remembered there was something about lots of parties. That was my recollection prior to rereading it.

At 178 pages, it’s a short book, but a rich and complex story. Not remembering anything from the story, it made the reveals in the book more striking. I was at times disgusted, surprised and saddened. The Great Gatsby is a tragedy. It’s not quite Shakespearian in that not everyone dies in the end. But, enough die to put a somber ending on what to that point had been a morality tale. The book is 100 years old, but in case, like me, you don’t remember the story and decide to reread it, I’ll keep my review spoiler-free.

What I Liked

I loved the characters. Even Gatsby who honestly is not a particulary admirable character pulled me in. I wanted to be his friend. I wanted to stand by him with Nick when his so called friends all deserted him. I also like the reference to the 1919 White Sox scandal where a group of gamblers conspired with ball players to throw the 1919 World Series. At the time Fitzgerald was writing his story, the Black Sox scandal was only a few years old. He made one of the gamblers a key player. As a baseball geek, I enjoyed it.

I also liked the way Fitzgerald moved us easily between East and West Egg and the ash lands. And ultimately the people in each of the areas were not all that different.

What I Didn’t

At times I got lost. Fitzgerald’s transitions were at times abrupt. I found myself going back and rereading a previous paragragh. For example, when we find out Gatsby’s real name, it took me several paragraphs to figure out that Gatz and Gatsby were the same man.

The story didn’t go the way I wanted it to. The guy I thought should get the girl didn’t get the girl. Fitzgerald’s story was much stronger and better than mine. But, it was with real sadness that I read parts of the story.

One glaring incongruity concerned the character Meyer Wolfsheim, is a Jew and the gambler who threw the World Series. At one point we find out his company is named “The Swastika Holding Company.” That name, especially for a business owned by a Jew would not be noteworthy in 1925. Obviously today, the idea of a Jew naming his company after the symbol of the Nazi Reich is unthinkable.

What It Means To You

There’s a reason that The Great Gatsby is still being read 100 years after it was written. It’s an enjoyable book and one that won’t bog you down reading through it on a Sunday afternoon. It’s an absolutely brilliant book and a gripping story.

My Rating

4 out of 4 stars

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Book Review: Wired For Love

I would not have read this book on my own. In fact, if it wasn’t for my lovely wife’s suggestion, I wouldn’t have read it. Wired For Love, by Stan Tatkin has the subtitle,

“How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship”

And that’s where Tatkin spends most of his text. The book is designed as a workbook for couples to improve their relationship by better understanding how each other thinks.

Tatkin spends the first part of the book explaining the brain. The various parts and what each part is for. While reading the first part it was hard to get a grip on what point Tatkin was making. It becomes clear in the latter part of the book as he explains the central theme and how different types of people interact.

Tatkin divides people into three groups: anchors, islands and waves. Each has a different way of looking at the world, and more importantly a different way of interacting with it. He pretty much dismisses Anchors. The book isn’t really for Anchors. Anchors are those who are well grounded and a support to those around them.

His attention instead is focused on the Islands and the Waves. Islands are those who build up walls around their emotions. You know who they are. And if you are one, you probably know that too.

Waves on the other hand are like yo-yo’s. They are by turns close (sometimes too close) and distant.

Tatkin explores the relationship between the three types and offers practical advice on how Waves and Islands can become closer to Anchors. He pretty much admits that Anchors don’t really need any help. (I’m not an Anchor, but I married one.)

What I Liked

Tatkin’s prose is clear and easy to understand. He clearly spells out the challenges along with the background needed to have a successful relationship. And the text is aimed at both someone reading it on their own, as I did, or a couple reading it together. His examples, draw from the entire spectrum of relationships; young, old, married, gay, straight. Even if you are an Anchor, his explanations and especially his insight into how people think, is valuable.

What I Didn’t

I’m sure Tatkin understands much more about the brain than I ever will. I’m not sure I needed to understand the in depth functions of the brain to be a better partner to my lovely wife. At times I struggled to find relevance. I wasn’t doing the exercises as I went through. I was simply reading. The text at times felt like a fill-in-the-blank workbook.

What It Means To You

Anyone who is in a relationship will benefit from this book. It will be most beneficial if both you and your partner read it. But, even if you just want to be a better you, this book can help with that. Perhaps you will faili to see yourself as an Anchor, Island or Wave. But, I think most will resonate with at least one or a part of one.

My Recommendation

3 out of 4 stars

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Don’t Condemn Those Who Sin Differently Than You

I’m what you would probably call nerd, a square or a goody two shoes.

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Subltle innuendos follow
There must be something inside
– Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant

I don’t do drugs
I don’t smoke
I don’t drink
I don’t even drink coffee

Part of the reason is religious. My church has a health code. Another part of the reason is health related. Everyone knows that illegal drugs (or perscription drugs that aren’t perscribed for you) are bad for you. There’s no question.

Everyone also agrees that cigerettes are bad for you. Even people who smoke understand that it’s not healthy.

Plenty of people drink without any ill affects. Of course, some drink to excess. Or, they drink and get behind the wheel of a car. But, there are plenty that see nothing wrong with an occasional beer or glass of wine.

Even more people think coffee is acceptable. Most people who choose to not drink coffee find they don’t like the taste, or they don’t like the way it makes them feel. Caffeine affects people in different ways.

In my church, it’s considered a sin to partake of any of the above. Not everyone is as pious. People sin in different ways. Everyone has their own temptations. As you might imagine there’s also a strong social pressure to follow the rules.

Members of my congregation might have issues with me if they saw me coming out of a bar. Even if I didn’t drink.

I once had to buy beer. It was the first and only time I’d ever bought beer. To be clear, buying it is not a sin. Consuming it is. It still felt weird.

I asked a friend a question,

Suppose someone, who was not a member of our church asked you to buy them come coffee? Would you do it?

Yeah, I suppose.

What if they wanted you to buy them some beer?

I’m not sure I could do that.

How about cigerettes?

Definitely not.

Marijuana?

Not a chance.

All those things are legal where I live. And all those things are considered a sin by my church. And yet, I would be more comfortable helpting people with some of them than others.

I tried to think of why. If both coffee and cigerettes are considered sins, why would I be willing to buy my non-church member friend one but not the other?

I was working with a group of cabinetmakers in Olympia, Washington. I was a recent returned missionary for my church. I was also low man on the totem pole. My job at the shop was to sweep, and burn the scraps in our burn lot, and run errands.

It was Friday and we’d just finished a big job. We were going to head out to a local park after work.

Rodney, we’re finishing up here. Why don’t you go get the beer and we’ll meet you at the park.

Ah. . .

It’s fine, I’ll give you some money from petty cash. Just save your receipt.

What kind do you want me to buy?

And that’s how I ended up at a 7-11 buying a 24 pack of Budweiser. I definitely felt odd. I don’t even think I got carded. Would I have felt okay buying them coffee? Sure. Cigerettes? I’m honestly not sure.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

My Friends Call Me Rod. You Can Call Me Rodney

Ever notice that some people manage to discuss politics without getting angry? Even if they are talking to someone they disagree with. Even if it’s a contentious subject?

Some people seem to be able to remain calm even in the middle of high stakes emotionally charged conversations. I’m one of those people. I enjoy those types of discussions. I’ve always found it fascinating to try to figure out why people believe the things they do. I believe that people’s are smart and typically make rational decisions. I like to hear why people believe differently than I do. Because I think that I’m smart and make rational decisions.

I have opinions on most things. I have a political persuasion. And I’ve followed politics for a very long time. So, what’s the secret to have a nice polite political discussion?

One or both participants must speak the other person’s language.

I’m not talking about speaking English. But, speaking a language that is understood by those you are debating.

Suppose I said, “No one is coming for your guns”? What position do I have on the gun debate?

Suppose I said, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”? What position do I have on the gun debate?

“Boys shouldn’t compete in girls sports”

“Trans girls are girls”

“The imaginary man in the sky doesn’t exist”

“No matter the question, Jesus is the answer.”

“Libtards”

“ReTHUGlicans”

“The election was stolen”

“Trump is guilty of treason.”

You can tell instantly which side of an issue I come down on if I make sone of those statements. And if you want to hold a worthwhile discussion on those topics (LGBTQ+, Guns, Religion, Trump) you have to first decide that you don’t care about being right.

If you want to know why those who disagree with you think the way they do, you need to start off from their position, not yours. You have to speak their language. Now, the phrases I’ve used above are pretty pejorative, judging. You don’t have to adopt the pejorative language, but you do need to abandon it and adopt a neutral position.

I was involved in a facebook discussion about trans athletes in sports. You probably have an opinion on it. I certainly do. I also have close friends who are transsexual and who are gay. I respect them and certainly don’t want to see them discriminated against. I also understand that biological males and biological females have different physiology. And pound for pound biological males are stronger.

There were already people in the discussion and it was going about the way you would expect. One side insisting that boys shouldn’t compete in girls sports and the other side saying that trans girls are girls.

What about cases where cis girls have lost high profile events to trans girls?

I’m not sure if that was my exact question, but it was something like that. “Cis” just means that you present yourself as the same gender as your birth gender. It’s not at all an insult. It’s simply a description. A way to distinguish “normal” people from trans people. Except that if you decide that anyone not trans is normal, you are again using pejorative language.

Maybe it’s the years I spent working with the deaf community. Deaf people, are not hearing-impaired. That implies that they are someone inferior. One of my best friends said,

Do I look IMPAIRED to you?

No, he did not. He was deaf. Are the people who are not deaf normal? No, that would imply deaf people are someone abnormal. People who are not deaf are hearing.

I learned to use inclusive language, not because it was politically correct, but because I didn’t want to keep offending my friends.

When I adopt the language of those I disagree with, I’m not gaslighting. I’m not playing devil’s advocate. I’m not kowtowing to political correctness. I’m simply speaking in a way that doesn’t needlessly offend those with whom I want to speak.

Now, if both people in a discussion try to speak each other’s language, or at least speak a neutral language then, and only then can real change happen.

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. I once found myself on an anti-Mormon website. I think a friend had insisted that if I’d just read it, I’d agree with his point. Whatever the reason, the site was pretty typical. It described Joe Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, as a failed treasure hunter, who had searched for Captain Kid’s treasure. I reached out to the site’s creator.

BTW, the pirate’s name was spelled Captain Kidd with two “d’s.” I noticed you had spelled it with a single d. You might want to change that.

The site author responded.

Wow. This is the first time I have ever changed anything on my site because a Mormon asked me to correct it. Would you be interested in having a longer discussion?

Not really. We won’t change each other’s minds. You’ll quote the first few verses of the Gospel of John to me and I’ll quote Jesus’ baptism to you and we’ll both still believe what we believe about the nature of the Godhead.

It didn’t matter to me if he spelled the name of Captain Kidd correctly or not. But, because I was willing to “speak his language” (Referring to Joseph Smith as “Joe” is a typical anti-Mormon derision) we were able to have a conversation.

My given name is Rodney. But, I didn’t start using it regularly until I left college and started in business. My high school friends and my family call me Rod. People I’ve met since college call me Rodney.

Occasionally someone will attempt to create a feeling of familiarity by calling me Rod instead of Rodney. Note, I never give them permission to do this. Typically it’s someone trying to sell me something. What he doesn’t realize is that one way to ENSURE I don’t buy what he’s selling is to use a name I didn’t give him.

Do you prefer to go by Rod or Rodney?

My friends call me Rod. You can call me Rodney.

It always gets a laugh. But, it’s funny because it’s true. And yes, if I ask you to call me Rod, it means were friends.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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