Saturday, June 20, 2009

Letter to my Unborn Child

With a new iPhone came the ability to put my entire library on it. Earlier today, I was rediscovering my music while in bed, and came across Tupac's "Letter to my Unborn Child." I don't need to remind you how profound a song that is. It got me thinking.

Many of us are at points in our lives where children are not far off, or are here and still young. With the many changes that have happened in our world over the past two years, what lessons and values do you hope to instill in your children? What tools do you want to give them to help them on their paths to greatness?

My father always said. "Justin, no one ever wrote a book on how to be a parent." Not quite true, BUT I get his point. Everyone is going to parent differently. What lessons do you have in mind? If you have any opinions on this, or thoughts for your child, please share.

I'll start...

Many ask what the purpose of life is. From what I have learned in my time here, our purpose is to provide a better life for our kin, and do what is necessary to make the world better. When it comes to what we do in life, true happiness comes from finding something that motivates you besides the want or need of money. A close relationship with God helps as the discovery of your purpose, or what motivates you, is a path that you must walk with Him.. not something that happens overnight. We are a product of our experiences. As such, you should never turn down opportunities, regardless of their ease or difficulty. You never know how it will affect you, the ideas it will help you generate, the paths they may set you on.

Music is a universal language. Feeling and culture are gleamed through music. Most importantly, music connects experiences. No matter what you go through in life, someone else has been there before. Life problems are unique to your situation, but unique to you. For me, music serves as a constant reminder that someone else has been there before. While it does not offer solutions, you should push forward knowing that difficult feelings, or situations, are a part of life, and can be overcome.

Remember your family. They will always be in your corner. Make sure you raise a family that does the same. Ensure that you and your children are always true to your family, because if everyone else is against you, they have to have the trust and confidence in you to take your side. It shouldn't even be a question. It is a blessed feeling to know that there are people behind you in all that you do. You have to make sure you are behind people in the same way. The day I moved out of the house, and left for college, my father embraced me and said, "You are leaving us today, but you will never walk alone." Neither will you.

Identity - what is right
Always stand up for what is right. Be steady. Know what you believe and don't compromise. You can always listen to the views of others, and incorporate new perspectives into your own beliefs, however, when it comes to making decisions, your core values must guide you. It takes time to know who you are and what you believe. You will know when you know yourself. You will begin aligning yourself with what you stand for. It will be apparent to others in your words and your actions.

Friends and Relationships
As you grow and learn who you are, the people you associate yourself with will have an impact on who you become, just as you will have an impact on who they become. Be sure to associate with people who have similar values. Be considerate of those who have beliefs that differ from yours. You do not have to agree in order to understand. Everyone is different. Some tend to bring people down while others tend to lift up. Understand this as you meet and interact with people. Put the right people in your corner, and move forward.

Anything is Possible
I have lived to see days that I never thought would come in my lifetime. I grew up hearing people say that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I heard the words, but do not think I truly believed them. I am here to tell you that anything IS possible. I have seen what I thought to be impossible happen. It leads me to believe that we define what is impossible. History will show that all we ever do is prove ourselves wrong. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something that drives you. If they do, prove them wrong.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sly Fox

At work today, it was brought up that Girl Scout Cookies seem to be taking a turn for the worst. Prices are up, boxes are smaller, and overall people aren't buying many (any) this year. I'm a loyal customer, and even I have stayed clear (peanut butter sandwiches are my favorite).

A co-worker said, "Looks like they're going to have to layoff some girl scouts..."

I'm not too into politics, but I have become increasingly attentive over the past year, as I'm sure most of us have. I find it interesting how the news channels today aren't about objectivity at all. They report the same stories, either from a left or right perspective. Understandably, people watch what they identify with the most. I can figure out the views of an establishment (restaurant, bowling alley, etc), based on the news channel being watched.

I find Fox News interesting. I only watch it for entertainment purposes. During a conversation last week, some interesting points were brought up, that seem to explain why Fox News is the way that it is. This is business.

Fox traditionally is not the conservative network or organization that the commentary and beliefs portray on Fox News. Fox is the network of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and yes Martin Lawrence. Fox saw that there was an un-served demographic and tailored a news channel to serve it.

There is a side-effect however. It does not, to me, come off as being natural. It seems that in order to serve the demographic, they take a far right, border-line extreme view on certain topics. It does not seem to balance with the competitors CNN and MSNBC. It just seems to be overboard. But overall, as far as business goes, very sly... very Fox.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Matter of Acceptance

Yesterday was a very interesting day. It was full of mixed feelings, as I learned I was allowed to stay, but had to watch some friends go. The corporate world is an interesting one. Just remember that a job is not guaranteed. Always work to have a cushion or backup plan. If you are fortunate to be working right now, keep that in mind. It is best to be prepared. Hope for the best while preparing for the worst, and remember that He will guide your steps regardless.

After work, I went to a lounge with a few friends. We had a pretty good conversation, and there is one topic I would like to discuss here. We were discussing what progress has been made as it relates to relationships between people. The question was, "How long will it be until people are truly colorblind?"

I responded 25-50 years while my friend believes it will never happen. My response is rooted in the fact that images are extremely powerful. I believe that a Black president, while not being the end of the struggle, is a major step in the right direction. I believe people in general will continue to impress with the amount of progress we are able to make in a 25-50 year time frame. I am an optimist.

My friend believes that it is human nature to find differences and make them meaningful. Such as behaviors in the lunch room, or class distinctions. There will always be differences between people that cause humans to act the way they do today. I don't completely disagree with him, but I do believe that as it relates to race, we will make significant progress, as opposed to never.

I see cascading struggles that we are in the midst of, each with their own time lines. Women equality, Racial equality, and Gay & Lesbian Rights in that order. The difference between rights and equality is whether the law sees them as equal. When the law recognizes all as equal, it is no longer a question of rights, but instead a question of whether people in society treat that group equally. The youngest struggle has a long way to go, and similarly the most resistance at this point in time. I do not fully agree with it, and it is difficult for me to understand. I've been ingrained with what I know to be right, and it is hard for me to come to terms with such a lifestyle. But I do not believe that will be the same for my grandchildren. Acceptance takes time. There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. I can tolerate all people from all walks of life, as long as they are not actively impacting the life or quality of life of others. However, from society's POV, a group is truly accepted once there is no difference between them and others as it relates to the letter of the law.

With regard to race in America, acceptance is already happening. I am reminded of a little girl on CNN, who did not understand the importance of the moment, the importance of a Black president. She questioned and could not believe that this was the first one. To her, the difference between the color of her skin and his are apparent, but they do not mean anything. A major point I made in the conversation was that I believe these behaviors are learned. Racism is passed down. It often isn't purposeful, but young ones pick up on comments or attitudes toward people. I believe as the generations progress, so will acceptance.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Truly Blessed

Excerpt from a few years ago...

"These blogs allow me to order and translate our beliefs into a common language, which ultimately allows me to relate my learnings and beliefs to others. If that is not a definition of who you are, then I don't know what is. So in essence, this blog since its start is the most accurate definition of who I am, and every entry I continue to learn more about myself, because lets face it, any individual cannot be defined in a sentence or even a paragraph. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how many a lifetime is worth."

Somewhere along the line, I lost my voice. This evening, I was reviewing some of my older posts, because there was a particular blog about interest, passion and motivation that I recalled writing. When I signed in, I was surprised to find that I had over 130 posts to this blog, yet it has been almost a year since my last entry.

I was struck by the statement I found, and it casued me to wonder whether I lost sight of who I am. I remember vividly that I had a clear understanding of my thoughts and beliefs. I still do, but I have not been continuing to learn about myself as I did a few years ago. This exercise is important. I feel my absence was due to a form of writer's block, but after some thought, I realized that I kept trying to top myself developing entries that I could look at and be proud of in some way. That is the completely wrong motivation. Truth is that after looking back, I am proud of all my entries, and I know that some of my best entries were ones where I just typed and kept going. I'm going to get my voice back.

Much has happened over the past year. Some of my earlier entries were written before I started my job. At that time, I could write about experiences I had throughout the day. They were personal, and not business sensitive. Now that my time belongs to someone else during the day, to an extent, I feel it limits what I have to talk about. I think that is a major change that led to a decline in posts, BUT I've learned so much about life in general over the time that I have been here, that I have ample to think and write about.

I am truly blessed. I write this at a time when there is uncertainty throughout America and the rest of the world. There are hundreds of thousands of people out of work and more to follow. I am humbled and live life thinking that everything happens for a reason. With every experience, figure out how you will grow stronger because of it.

I told a story today to some coworkers themed around a defining moment in my lifetime. I had a week to think about it, and I came up with one that I believed was fitting.

In 1997, I was in 8th grade and preparing to enter high school. I had a pretty good idea of which school I was going to attend. My mom was browsing the newspaper one morning, and heard of a new school being developed in our county. We decided to go to the information session. That day, we started out with the intent of arriving on time. We were on the NJ Parkway in the middle of inclement weather (snow and ice). The windshield wipers on the car stopped working. We had to stop and clear the windshield periodically. We had the choice to turn around, but decided to keep on going.

We got to Raritan Road as it said in the address, and drove up and down looking for the school. We went the full length of Raritan Road twice and could not find the school anywhere. We stopped at a gas station for directions. We learned that we were on the wrong Raritan Road! There was another Raritan Road only 3 miles from where we were. Who in their right mind gives two roads so near to each other the same name?

We got to the other Raritan Road, and arrived at the information session before it was over. I will never forget that experience because it truly is a defining moment for me. I believe attending that school made me who I am today. I believe I was supposed to attend that school. I know I am here and doing well because of going there. All because my mom was browsing the newspaper, and did what mothers do - keeping my best interests and future in mind.

Everything happens for a reason. The good and bad experiences define us. I once told a friend that hindsight is 20/20 vision for a reason. That is God's point of view.

I can't thank my mom enough for all that she has done for me. I remember her saying once, in her humorous way, "One day you will wish to find a wife like your mother." I'll keep my fingers crossed.

~JL (getting the voice back)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Like a Star

"Like A Star"

I believe that song is the best love song ever made. It beautifully relays the good and bad that comes with love.

The past week has been a difficult one. The song has new and poignant meaning. It is a song about the love of a wife to a husband, a person that meant everything. Instead of the song being a constant reminder, it now serves as a testament to what once was. While the love remains, we now deal with what can only be described as completely unfair and heartbreaking.

I encourage you to listen to the lyrics.

Thank you to all who have reached out during this time.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

3/18/08 - A More Perfect Union

"The relationship may never be perfect, but it can always be perfected..."

- Barack Obama

I believe the speech given today was profound. Unfortunately, I was at home sick this morning, but I was able to watch the speech in its ntirity. I believe it was exceptionally crafted and delivered. I believe it is doing exactly what it was meant to do. People are talking.

People are talking about the obvious - the response to the comments made by his pastor. Responsible coverage is spending time with influential Black minds and talking about the issue at large. The issue that race is still an issue. Watching CNN tonight, I saw that it is being talked about. That, at the very least, is a step in the right direction. At this juncture, it is not taboo to bring it up, not today - 3/18/08. Today, we can discuss it, and let people know that things are not perfect yet. There is still work that needs to be done. Several individuals I heard today said they are amazed that even with the progress we have made, that this very same issue still needs to be discussed. It should not be surprising, but it shows Obama's point that it isn't being talked about. I truly believe that a united country is one that can make significant progress on all fronts. This includes race, health care, education and all other major issues that must be worked through. However, how can we do this if race still divides? How can we do this if politics still divides? The word politics itself implies divisions, or poles. Not to say that there won't be differences, but we do not need to move forward under the direction of division. Why not move forward as one people and work out the differences as we move along?

As Obama said, the United States is greater than the sum of its parts. As one people, we can move forward toward progress on all fronts.

The speech was exceptional. If you have not seen it in its entirety, I suggest you take some time to view it.
View it Here


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Whois Hulu???

I just discovered a site called Hulu, and it is one of the most impressive things I have seen this year. It is a site that offers video content for free. It is a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp. (owner of FOX). The assumption is that the business itself is currently worth $1 billion. However, at first I could not understand how it intends to make money.

Getting site traffic is always a precursor in being able to generate funds from a site. This site will have no problem generating traffic. Some sort of advertising would need to be introduced. I then learned that the TV shows have commercials, thus implying that this is the main source of revenue. Is this the beginning of a new age television? On Demand programming... anywhere?

It seems a little too good to be true. I began to think of the business implications of this. Recently, Apple and NBC could not come to terms on content pricing (as I understand it). NBC withdrew all its content from the iTunes store. This now looks to be NBC's way of delivering content, and capitalizing on its content - through traditional advertising, instead of charging for the content. Very interesting concept. I honestly did not expect it from them. GE (NBC's parent company) had this in the works a long time ago, as I recall an interview with Jeff Immelt (GE CEO) on Charlie Rose about how he believes content delivery needs to change for today's world. I think this was a step in the right direction.

On to more important matters.... I am the owner of an iPhone. I think this is a defensive play against Apple's road to media dominance. Apple was capitalizing on media that it doesn't produce. The media producers should capitalize on their media... and I think this is where Hulu comes from, and why NBC pulled from the iTunes store. What worries me is that this is going to end up being incompatible with Apple products - when this is exactly what the iPhone needs to have. I believe Hulu was developed to have Apple need them (GE and FOX), instead of the other way around. Very interesting, but still, the iPhone needs to be able to use Hulu.

These need to come together...