Saturday, January 31, 2009


Sky Blue

Life Lesson

Earlier today I had my match and we ended in a draw. It was three rounds of the most brutal fighting ever seen on Earth. Ok, maybe not, but it was good fun. I would say we were even in the first round, he won the second, and I won the third. He came out aggressive in the second and tried to stay close to me and even though I landed a few punches, he scored a few more good points in the second with his punches. His punches felt like bricks when they landed. Not sure what he thought about my punches. In the third I used my strength, which is my legs. When he tried to come in close again I caught him off guard with a well-timed kick, which kept him at a distance the rest of the round. That allowed me to score some well-placed kicks and gave me the advantage in the round.

Throughout the day, every match was declared a draw. Some of us started looking at each other and wondering how that could be when one was clearly better than the other? I quickly realized that as long as you met your competition, it didn't matter how good or bad you did, you would be rated a draw for your efforts. But I didn't realize the deeper meaning until the teachers began to speak after all the matches ended. As we found out today, from those wiser than us, today was not about determining winners or losers.

How many of us have watched others practice their techniques and thought "I can do that form better than he can" or "my running front kick is better than hers"? The problem is that this thinking is based on the idea that training is a competition between students to be the "best". It is not surprising that many people feel this way, because society places so much emphasis on "winning", as opposed to the personal self-enrichment of the activity. This idea that winning is the most important thing and that the winner takes all may have a place in professional sports, because a professional sport is not a game; it is a business.

The attitude of being the "best" or even "better" than others has no place. Other schools foster this attitude because they teach martial arts as a sport with competitions and tournaments. There is no philosophy behind this manner of teaching except "winning". In these schools, the ego of the "winner" grows and he or she becomes more aggressive with each win, while the "loser" becomes more discouraged and looses self-esteem. When a martial art is properly taught, the goal is to increase the skills and self-esteem of each student and to teach the student to be humble and calm. This can only happen in a school where a student is not ridiculed for his mistakes, but accepts them and learns from them, and ego is balanced by a humble attitude that comes from understanding that there is always infinite room for improvement in your skills.

It doesn't really matter whether one person is "better" than another. For one thing, that would imply that there is a definition we can all agree on for the term "better". For another, no matter how "good" a person is, sooner or later someone "better" will come along.

So, if we shouldn't strive to be the "best", what are we training for? What they are trying to teach us is that each of us should strive to be as good as he or she can be and that the more we train sincerely, the better we can be. We are not competing with anyone else; what others do is irrelevant. What really matters is that we train sincerely and never become completely satisfied with our level of achievement. Once that happens, sincere training will cease.

There is another aspect of this idea that they explored. People who feel good about themselves when they think they are "better" than someone else have a serious problem with their self-esteem. If a person must feel "better" than someone else in order to feel good about himself, that person is going to be unhappy most of his life; in other words, if you allow your self-esteem to depend on what others think of you, you will never be truly happy.

Only when your self-esteem comes from a strong inner belief that you are a valuable person can you have a chance to be truly happy. This type of self-esteem can't come from compliments from others; it can't come from anything you don't have to earn with your own hard effort. The only way you can get it is by doing something that is difficult for you to do and doing it until you do it well in your own mind. You may receive compliments from others for this achievement, but those compliments won't sustain you. What will sustain you is your own effort and achievement. There is no better place to invest your effort than in improving yourself.

Bad Boy

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Celtic Tattoo

Luck Of The Draw

On Saturday, my school practiced with another school and we had a ceremony to honor some students. Next week everyone in my school is being matched against a fighter from that other school. During the practice I noticed one of their students was really fast with his hands and when he landed a punch he drove even the biggest guy backwards a few feet. He really impressed me and the others of my school and even though none of us spoke it, I could tell by the body language everyone had that they were hoping they would not be matched up against him next week. I happened to be getting a drink of water when the list was posted. I opened the bottle, took a sip of water and just as I was about to swallow, practically everyone in my class turned around and looked at me with a look of horror on their face. I knew in an instant who I was matched up against and it suddenly became very hard to swallow that sip of water.

After walking in a circle a few times, hitting myself against the side of my head and whispering "Oh my God" I found myself surrounded by my fellow students who were still talking to me as though I was about to die and they were offering condolences. Just then I saw Gareth walk in and stand with other family members who had arrived to pick someone up. I went to the lockeroom and grabbed my bag and without even wanting to shower I went to find Gareth. I thought he will be my rock and he will have something calming to say and make everything seem alright. So I walk up to him and before I could tell him who I was matched against, he tells me he already heard. As I turn to point out who my opponent will be, I notice he is now doing one fingered pushups. All I heard behind me from Gareth, my rock, my calming influence was the words, "You're so dead!" Resigned to my fate I replied "Yep, lets get out of here." As we stepped outside, the cold air felt refreshing after being in that hot gym and it let me know I was alive. At least for one more week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jude Law Shirtless

Isn't that the caveman sign for food? Or is he trying to tease us with his deep-throating abilities?

Nationalizing Banks

"The Government was not nationalising Anglo Irish Bank in order to bail out developer friends." said Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. “It is in the national interest and has been taken to safeguard the economic future of the country”, he said, introducing the legislation in the Dáil. “It is not a question of saving a few developers from going to the wall — it is a matter of underpinning deposit and wholesale funding throughout the financial system.”

Anglo Irish had to be rescued because it was of “systemic importance” to the country, with a balance sheet in excess of €100 billion. Contrary to some impressions, the bank lent to a wide range of customers and not just developers, although the latter formed a very important part of Anglo’s balance sheet, said Mr Linehan. “Thousands of customers rely on Anglo for credit, while hundreds of thousands of depositors are involved. All my advice is that letting Anglo Irish Bank fail would lead to very serious disruption of our financial system.”

But Mr Lenihan stressed there would be a new regime at Anglo now that it was being nationalised. “The Government is determined to protect the taxpayer’s interests by putting clear blue water between the new Anglo Irish Bank and the unacceptable behaviour that has gone before.” He said the day-to-day running of Anglo would continue as normal, with all staff remaining employed by the bank. “Anglo will be managed on a commercial basis at arm’s length from the Government allowing the full potential of the bank’s business to be realised,” Mr Lenihan said. “The Government will be appointing a new board to oversee the running of the bank and to prepare a comprehensive business plan to enable Anglo to continue as a going concern.” There was “no question” of winding up the bank, he added.

Mr Lenihan also said Anglo had about €70bn outstanding in loans and advances to customers, but rejected suggestions this was all bad debt: “As with any bank, there is a mixture of mostly good loans and some that are distressed.” While it was clear there would be losses “on some of the loans”, Anglo had about €7bn of shareholder funds and other capital available to it to offset any losses on the loan book, he said. All borrowers from the bank “remain subject to the same terms and the new board of Anglo will place a particular focus on ensuring that all debts are fully pursued”, he said. “Depositors and other creditors of Anglo continue to be protected by the Government’s guarantee on all bank liabilities until September 2010.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Irish Layoffs

Grocery store chain Superquinn is cutting 400 jobs and closing one of its stores and transportation company Bus Éireann is to cut 320 jobs and its fleet is to be reduced by 150 vehicles.

In addition to the job cuts and reduction in its fleet, the plan includes a pay freeze up to the end of 2009 as well as the deferring of payment of the terms of Towards 2016.

The company says that the 'unprecedented economic downturn' led to a 4% decrease in Bus Éireann customer numbers in 2008.

It estimates that there will be a further 5% to 6% fall in passenger numbers in 2009.
Bus Éireann says it hopes that savings from the plan will restore the company to a strong financial position by the end of 2010.

Last week, Dublin Bus announced 290 jobs as part of a series of cost-cutting measures.
Dublin Bus is also withdrawing 120 buses, which is 10% of its fleet. It said no routes will be removed, but some services would be amalgamated and that the frequency of buses would be adjusted in some areas.

Morning Snack

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Moving From Past To Present

We got back to Ireland last Tuesday, but I had a message on my phone stating I needed to call work. I called and my boss wanted me to go to Galway for a business trip. I had no time spent at home and now that I'm home today I've done nothing but be lazy around the house.

The wedding was nice and we had a great time being with my old friends. Still, the trip back to my hometown just didn't have the same feelings to it as in the past. Everything was the same, but it all seemed different to me. I felt like a stranger in a place I once belonged. It took me awhile to figure out it wasn't the place that had changed, it was me who had changed. Being in places I grew up brought back many memories that replayed in my head from a time since past. But it was like remembering a movie that I had watched.

The life I had lived there seemed so far and distant it was hard to imagine it was my life. Even the house I grew up in had changed. The trees that my father and I planted in the front yard when I was a young boy and had grown up along with me, were torn down by the new owners. The house has had many subtle changes over the years and all those changes have made even visiting the house and remembering the way it used to be a distant memory. It was the one constant that I could hang on to and remember my family. Now I have lost that.

Even many of my friends that attended the wedding and whom I haven't seen since I moved away have moved on. This is to be expected and you know their lives change as much as your own. Yet, in your head they are still the same as you last saw them. Some have now bought a house, had children, or changed jobs. Some are dating new people that just didn't seem to fit since I still pictured them with their old love. The only constant that hadn't changed was my friendship with Mike, Kelly, and Jen. It was like old times with us and it was on their friendships that I chose to focus myself and not on the past that had changed so much. We laughed because there were actually six Mikes at the wedding and would have been seven had my cousin attended. That made us laugh that parents at that time were not very original when picking a name for their boys. We always laughed at stupid little things and it was in the laughter of my friends that I found the most comfort.

Visiting the hometown was bittersweet. It was great to see my friends and my niece and nephew. But I also have to deal with my past. I went to the graves of my parents and my brother and spent time standing there on cold night thinking of them and missing them. I've often said it before, but I definitely know now after this visit that I could never return to this place I grew up. I don't belong here anymore. I'm no longer the person I was while growing up here. I've seen so much and done so much and still I want to know more and do more and see more. So much of life I want to experience.

I miss all those that I have lost over the years and would love to spend one more day with each of them. I wish they could have met Gareth and I could tell them the stories of all the places I've been and the things I've seen and done. I would like them to know that I'm happy where I am in my life and to thank them for helping me become the man I am. I talk to them and tell them these things when I am standing at their graves, but I don't know if there is anything on the other side and they can hear me or if I'm just talking to the wind. But it feels good to be able to say the words out loud.

Looking at the dates on their headstones makes you realize how little time we have in this world. How quickly this life passes and how I let so much time slip away. Just when I started to feel alone and maybe a little sorry for myself, Gareth came and stood by me and took my hand in his. It was at this moment I realized my past is my past, I can't change it. It is what it is. Looking into his eyes, I realized here beside me is my present, my future. This is where I should focus myself. For I know with him by my side this life will have many more special memories to live.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Need More Rest

We still hadn't recovered from the airplane trip when we abused our bodies at the wedding yesterday. It was a very nice wedding and even though it snowed and iced and we had to repair some fences before the wedding and the snow came (yeah, life on a farm) it turned out to be a wonderful day and nice way for Mike and Kelly to share their love with their family and friends.
We're watching some football on television right now and then we're going to go out to dinner. While I'm hungry, my body really just wants more sleep. So on that note, I'm going to go back to the living room with everyone and rest and watch the second half of the football game.

Wes Welker - Got Milk

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Trip And A Wedding

I found out last night that there are openings for administrative personnel for the aid trip to Africa. Gareth had a listing of all the job openings that need filled. When I read about that job I thought this is something I could qualify for. I said that to Gareth and he said I should apply to do it. I don't think he really thought I would give it any serious consideration, but I kept thinking about it all night long. I kept asking him questions and when he realized I was actually seriously thinking of checking into it, we had a long conversation. He was all for it and helped me fill out the forms I need to submit. I can't commit for as long as he can, but I could do it for a few weeks since I get five weeks vacation from my job.

Now that morning has come and I've had a night to think about it, I'm having a few second thoughts. I figure I have to apply now to meet the deadline, but I can always turn it down later if offered and I have changed my mind. There is a process to go through so I would have plenty of opportunities to back out if I wanted. I'll just need to give it a lot more thought than one night.

We're on our way to the USA later today for my friends wedding this Saturday. We're going to have to pick my tux up tomorrow, hopefully it fits since I'm the best man. I don't need the pants to split in the back when I have to stand in front of everyone. lol. Then there is the rehearsal dinner and meeting all my friends I havn't seen in almost a year. It's going to be a tiring, but fun weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

John Hamm

We saw the movie "The Day The Earth Stood Still". It was an ok movie, kind of corny and not as good as the original from the 50's. John was nice eye candy though. Will Smith's son irritated me throughout the movie.

Well, I have to get a shower and get to work. If you're just waking up have a good day. If you're just going to bed have a good sleep. If you're just getting home from work enjoy your evening.

More Layoffs

The Government stepped in last night to try to find a way to minimise job losses from the failed Waterford Crystal plant. Talks took place with company representatives over several hours. A source said every avenue for rescue would be explored.

It is understood, however, that nationalisation has been ruled out because of the massive cash injection that would be needed.

About 800 jobs are in jeopardy here after parent company Waterford Wedgwood went into receivership yesterday. Workers are employed at the glass manufacturing plant in Waterford city, the on-site visitor centre and in sales and administration. Hundreds more are at risk in the Wedgwood operations in Britain.

The company failed to find new investors in recent months and its directors, chairman Tony O’Reilly, his wife Chryss Goulandris, Redmond O’Donoghue and Patrick Molloy all resigned last night. Dr O’Reilly thanked employees and customers for their support. “We are consoled only by the fact that everything that could have been done, by management and by the board, to preserve the group, was done.”

Opposition parties and trade union officials, however, said much more could be done. “No stone must be left unturned by the receiver, or by the various state agencies, to ensure that the company is sold as a going concern,” said local Labour TD Brian O’Shea.

Unite trade union’s regional secretary Jimmy Kelly called for every effort to be made to save jobs. “The company is too important to the workers and their families, to the city of Waterford and to the nation as a whole to let it disappear.”

Waterford-based Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen said the Government was intent on endeavouring to maintain the “essential Irishness” of the Waterford Crystal brand.

One option for the receiver is to split Waterford and Wedgwood in the hope of preserving either or both separately. Finding a buyer, however, who would retain an Irish presence is considered a gargantuan task.

The news came as the economy’s vital signs continued to weaken. The Department of Finance confirmed a deficit of €12.7bn in state finances for 2008 with predictions it could reach €17bn this year.

It is also expected Dell could make its long-feared announcement about the future of 2,000 jobs in Limerick as early as Thursday.

New Doctor Who

I'm not liking this choice, but Matt Smith was unveiled as the new Doctor by the BBC over the weekend. He becomes the 11th Time Lord since the programme first aired in 1963.

26-year-old Smith will replace David Tennant at the helm of the Tardis, and is due to appear on our screens in 'Doctor Who' in 2010.

Smith is the youngest ever Doctor and although relatively unknown, has appeared in Alan Bennett's play 'The History Boys' at the National Theatre in London, and alongside Christian Slater in 'Swimming with Sharks' in the West End.

AdvertisementHe said he was delighted to take on the role. He said: "I've got this wonderful journey in front of me. I've got six months to build this Time Lord and that's such an exciting prospect."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fireman Mike

A Dublin Road

Man Crush

I just got back from having lunch with Gareth at the hospital. Hospital food in Ireland is as bad as in the US. All hospitals have that wierd smell too. He took me on a little tour and I was able to watch him interact with some of his patients. I was fascinated watching him in his Doctor role which I havn't been able to see very often. I hear the stories he tells me each day, but I don't get the visuals. He ran into parents of one of the children who we're obviously nervous about their daughters condition. After a few minutes of reassuring them, they seemed more calm and we're even able to smile. But I was most impressed when he stepped into a few of the childrens rooms and within minutes had changed their frowns to laughter and even had them giving him high fives.
When we got back to his office, I shut the door behind us and grabbed him by his tie and pulled him to me and gave him a big kiss. He asked me what that was for and I told him it was for just being him. I told him I had a really good feeling he was going to get lucky when he came home tonight. He laughed and told me if this is how I react when I come to his work he was going to have me visit more often.
I stopped on my way home and picked up some steaks and I'll make some rice and Bruchetta bread to go with it. When he comes home tonight I'm going to take off his tie and shoes, sit him down for a nice dinner and then draw him a nice warm bath for two. I'm very much crushing on him right now and I can't wait to see him tonight.

A Kind Heart

Elaine, you have a great heart. Thank you for the kind words. It's people like you who give me faith to keep believing that there is good in humanity.

Weddings, Babies, and Long Trips Away From Home

Next week Gareth and I are going to be traveling back to my hometown in Pennsylvania for a wedding with my good friend Mike and his bride-to-be Kelly. I'm going to be his best man and I'm really honored that he chose me since he is the first friend I really came out too and he has stood by me all this time. It will be an honor to now stand by him at his wedding and share in their happy day.

This morning, Gareth and I had a talk while lying in bed. He asked me if I wanted to have children and I said sure sometime. But he said he was thinking more like now, in the near future. He said we could use a surrogate and both donate sperm so we wouldn't know who the father really is. I mentioned that I have a few long trips at sea this year and he is going to be going back to Africa for a few months in March so the timing right now just doesn't seem right. It doesn't leave us much time to find someone that would be willing to do this and its definitely not something you can just leap into. Since it caught me off guard, I kind of let that conversation hang without a clear answer. It's definitely something we're both interested in, but it will require much more thought than either of us have put into it up to now.

As mentioned above, yes Gareth is going back to Africa for several months. He's been mentioning it for months and even though he says he just recently decided to do it, I've known and planned for it for a few weeks now. I'll still miss him as much as I always do when is away, but I'm getting better at not whining about it as much as I used too. lol Plus, I have several weeks where I'll be at sea for two or three weeks on longer voyages this year for my work. So that will help occupy me while he is gone.

On a good note Gareth got a home video of his family on Christmas Day. His family still gets together and someone had a video recorder and was taping everyone. As we watched the tape his mother is caught on tape in the kitchen with some relatives and they are talking about Gareth and myself. His one cousin said that Gareth is looking really good and his mother who had her back to the camera and didn't realize the camera was on her agreed. She said "I couldn't be happier with his choice of companion, I just love him. And I've never seen Gareth as happy as he is. It's wonderful and he's such a helpful boy." At first I thought, companion? I'm not his dog. But then we rewound it and listened to it again and I realized she meant it not in a bad way, it was just a word she chose and that she was actually saying nice things about me when I wasn't in the room. His cousin who was cutting carrots or something just replied "Yeah, he does seem happy" and then the subject got changed to something else. We laughed because we weren't sure if his cousins was feeling our gay love. His mother though loves me and getting the mother-in-law to love you is always a good thing!

Detroit Red Wings Shirtless

I'm not a Red Wings fan, but that hairy guy on the right is hot. Anyone know his name?

Mid-Winter Break

Gareth and I are planning on taking a vacation in February to someplace tropical. While he is at work tonight, my friend Hamish and I have been online searching for places to go.
I was thinking of a Greek island. Gareth wants to go to someplace like Thailand. Hamish suggested we go someplace where gay people are accepted as the norm and recommended Key West in Florida. We found this site online and Hamish posted some pictures from that site for you.
Enjoy this as a midwinter break. Until I looked at these pictures I didn't realize how much I missed running around shirtless and feeling the sun on my skin. Where are you Springtime?