Monkey Business

An experimenter puts 5 monkeys in a large cage. High up at the top of the cage, well beyond the reach of the monkeys, is a bunch of bananas. Underneath the bananas is a ladder.

The monkeys immediately spot the bananas and one begins to climb the ladder. As he does, however, the experimenter sprays him with a stream of cold water. Then, he proceeds to spray each of the other monkeys.

The monkey on the ladder scrambles off. And all 5 sit for a time on the floor, wet, cold, and bewildered. Soon, though, the temptation of the bananas is too great, and another monkey begins to climb the ladder. Again, the experimenter sprays the ambitious monkey with cold water and all the other monkeys as well. When a third monkey tries to climb the ladder, the other monkeys, wanting to avoid the cold spray, pull him off the ladder and beat him.

Now one monkey is removed and a new monkey is introduced to the cage. Spotting the bananas, he naively begins to climb the ladder. The other monkeys pull him off and beat him.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The experimenter removes a second one of the original monkeys from the cage and replaces him with a new monkey. Again, the new monkey begins to climb the ladder and, again, the other monkeys pull him off and beat him – including the monkey who had never been sprayed.

By the end of the experiment, none of the original monkeys were left and yet, despite none of them ever experiencing the cold, wet, spray, they had all learned never to try and go for the bananas.

This metaphor is used to discuss how upper management could control the atmosphere at work by shooting down any new ideas. Possibly this could cause your coworkers to join in to hinder your chances at trying something new to achieve a goal or bring new results.

Now I don’t have a way to relate to this at work. But, I think we all can relate to this experiment with the way things are in everyday life.

We’ve seen so many people get beat up about their choices to try something different. Have you ever seen someone try something new? Almost every time people can’t wait to jump onboard to gossip or talk bad about them. That’s nothing more than people showing they have insecurities. If you want someone else to fail whether it’s at work, or in their life, it’s 99.9% of the time because you feel so bad about your own performance or your own life, you don’t want anyone else to succeed.

When was it we stopped supporting people? I can’t think of a time someone else’s success made me look bad. Can you? Imagine how much we could do if we supported each other. How we could live with less stress, how things could become so much easier for everyone. How success could be taken to all new levels by having so much support behind it.

We’ve got to do something different. We’ve got to support each other.

The problem is, who’s going to try and climb the ladder first?

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Colin Kaepernick “Citizen of the Year”

Someone please explain to me how anyone is upset Colin Kaepernick was named “Citizen of the Year” by GQ magazine.

Between yesterday and today you’ve probably seen that GQ has Kaepernick on their cover and an article following talking about how he was named Citizen of the Year. A lot of people are unhappy about it. For the life of me I just can’t wrap my head around people’s emotions on this topic.

Yes, I’m aware of the comments Kaepernick has made. Yes, I’m aware of the kneeling he’s done, the clothes he’s worn and the trend he may have started. I’m also aware of the job he no longer has, the boycott of anything NFL and the struggling TV ratings. I’m also aware of the fact that he turned 18 in 2010 and has never registered to vote. He has never voted.

I’m aware of all of these things. Naturally, some people are going to agree with him and some people are going to disagree with him.

Here’s the way I look at it and it may not be the popular point of view. GQ magazine has named Kaepernick Citizen of the year over what could be hundreds of millions of candidates. Yes, we’ve seen the popular response which is “Why not JJ Watt? He raised 37 Million dollars for Hurricane Relief!” My answer is simply this. It’s GQ Magazine! This is not in any way, shape or form, going to have any effect on my life. I have never in my entire life read GQ Magazine. It’s like if the NRA decided to name Super Soaker 2000 water gun the “Gun of the Year”. Who cares? It’s a title awarded by a magazine company. GQ magazine sales are not what they once were. Add a little controversy, now everyone is talking about them. If you agree with the award then great! If you don’t, that’s also great! But what is not great, is the constant back and forth of who’s right and whose wrong.

We need to relax more. Our culture is too high strung. The media knows this and plays off of our feelings and emotions. Everyday, people around the world are going to have different views of different situations. People are DIFFERENT. That’s never going to change.

Sometimes in life, you’re going to get things your way and sometimes in life, things are not going to be the way you would want them. Accepting that fact will save you a lot of stress, pain and heartache.

One last thing. Be kind to one another.

Knees In The Breeze Part 1

Eight years ago this week I left my duty station of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for three weeks at Fort Benning to attend the US Army Airborne School. With Veterans Day around the corner, I thought now may be a good time to share this.

It was autumn in Georgia and I remember driving in seeing the sign saying “1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Infantry Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia”. I kept thinking, is this really happening? I’m going to have to jump from an airplane 5 times in the next three weeks. I was still relatively young, 24 at the time. I had just returned back to the states from my first 15 month deployment to Iraq.

I was there with another guy from my platoon. He was the only other person I knew out of about 200. Some people were just a few days out of basic training. They were enjoying their first few days of freedom. Not complete freedom, but they were allowed to have cellphones again and leave base at night and on the weekend. They had only been in the army just a few months. By this point, I had been in about 2.5 years. There were others who had been in longer who were hoping to graduate Airborne School to receive enough points for promotion or cross it off their career bucket list.

The first day of Airborne School started with a wake up at 0400 for everyone but me. I was randomly selected by one of the Black Hats for “fire watch” at 0300. Fire watch was really just guard duty. Black Hats are Airborne Instructors who wear a black hat with Airborne Wings on them. They are also addressed as Sergeant Airborne. So, I was tired and nervous but wasn’t given the opportunity to be cold because at 5am we started a PT test. Physical Training tests were administered before every school. They consisted of 2 minutes of push ups, 2 minutes of sit ups and a 2 mile run. If you didn’t do the required amount of push ups, sit ups, or run fast enough to pass the test, you were sent back to your unit. I promise you they were sent back to an unhappy platoon sergeant and squad leader who were expecting you to come back with wings, instead you came back a failure. The Airborne community, as it’s called, hold themselves to a higher standard than others. These are the people who have volunteered to train over and over again in hopes to jump behind enemy lines. They were better than everyone else and they let everyone else know it.

After the PT test we had 30 minutes to eat breakfast and get into our Army Combat Uniform. Don’t even think about eating the fruit loops that were available at breakfast. Toucan Sam had wings, we didn’t. That was said by the Black Hats every morning over and over again. Nothing was easy. Every time we entered the dinning area and our barracks area, and every time we left them, we had to do 10 pull ups and 10 push ups. This was said to work the “pull up muscles” that would be needed to pull on the parachute risers later in week 2. We did at least 100 pull ups and push ups a day easy and that’s not counting morning PT. There was also no walking. EVERYWHERE you went was at an Airborne shuffle. It’s not a run, but you’re not walking and don’t get caught walking.

The first few days consisted of physical training and practicing parachute landing falls or PLF for short. In the Army, literally everything has an acronym. PLFs were practiced first by jumping off small play forms to land on the balls of the feet, calf, thigh, butt and then that famous pull up muscle which was basically just your side and back. Each one of these places on the body was a point of contact to hit the ground. 5 points of contact. My favorite was when someone would screw up and a Black Hat would yell “Get your head out of your 4th point of contact!!” meaning get your head out of your ass. A PLF was nothing more than hitting the ground and rolling to distribute the blow to avoid injuries. That didn’t always work. There were plenty of injuries.

All day for the first week we practiced PLFs. We would practice in rock pits to help cushion the landings. We would start by practicing with no gear on. We were instructed to look up, pull down the imaginary parachute risers to our chest and then jump into the rock pit keeping our knees and feet together. Once that was mastered, we were put in a harness and would jump from a higher platform until that was mastered. It was made clear, jumping out of the airplane is easy. You’re just falling under a parachute. The hard part was the landing. When we weren’t doing PLFs we were being yelled at or doing PT.

Sergeant Airborne loves to run for PT. So we ran, a lot. We ran at an Airborne shuffle pace, all 200 of us together in formation. We would sing motivating cadence to take our mind off of running and to control breathing. Cadences that were said so many times I could never forget.

“C-130 rollin’ down the strip
64 Rangers on a one-way trip
Mission Top Secret, destination unknown
They don’t even know if they’re ever coming home
When my plane gets up so high
Paratroopers take to the skies

Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door
My knees got weak and I hit the floor
Jumpmaster picked me up with ease
Tossed my knees into the breeze”

I remember getting back from a run and being in a mass formation of 200 people when one of the Black Hats yells “Cardwell!” “Who the hell is Cardwell?” I answered up, “Here Sergeant Airborne!” I had no idea what was going on. Sergeant Airborne approached with a smile. “I know your Platoon Sergeant back at Bragg. He just called me. I was his squad leader 10 years ago. We are going to have a fun two weeks together.” I knew that meant it was only going to be fun for one of us. Just my luck.

There’s so much more and it only gets better. Week 2 and 3 of Airborne School will be posted as Part 2. I’ll have it posted before Veterans Day. Stay with me.

Single Mother or Not?

Because I’m new to this whole blog thing I’m not sure if this is a blog or a rant. I suppose it could be both. Now I’m writing this understanding that this isn’t going to be a popular topic with some people. Some won’t agree. Some may be angered. A few may just see where I’m going with this.

This is something that bothers me, but is not my current situation and has nothing to do with me. It’s more common in women than with men. Still, I let it bother me anyway. That’s something I need to work on.

Marriages don’t always work out. In fact, the divorce ratio is 50/50 really. I always say 50% of marriages end in divorce, 50% of marriages end in death. There’s no good ending.

When there are kids involved in the divorce, let’s face it, they end up with the mother as the primary care giver, most of the time. Another popular option is true joint custody where the children are with the mother a week and the father a week. Splitting it all down the middle. Some divorcing parents come up with their own schedule.

Having been through a divorce, I understand the custody schedule from the court is a minimum schedule. It’s basically like saying “at a minimum if no one can agree to something better, then follow this schedule”. If you can’t agree on what time to exchange or where to exchange the kids, just look and see what the paper work says. If the mother/father that receives custody wants to share the children more than the minimum guideline then go ahead. There’s nothing stopping you but maybe your own pride and spite.

But here’s my point. Here’s what it’s all coming down to. If you are awarded primary custody, wether you are male or female, and your ex-spouse is in the children’s lives, supports financially, is involved in extracurricular activities, always has the children when it’s their turn, and doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing then you are NOT a single parent.

Nothing grinds my gears worse than seeing a post on Facebook, or hearing someone say they are a single mother or single father when in fact, they are not.

Women:

Does your child spend time with the father? Does he pay child support? Is he a good father just like he was when you were married? Is he teaching the child to play sports, ride a bike, how to read, how to be a good person, etc? If so, you are NOT a single mother. You are a single woman. There is a difference.

Men:

The same goes for you!

We have taken the single mother/single father phrase that has so much meaning behind it and just started throwing it around.

BREAKING NEWS: There are single women out there who haven’t received a dime and the fathers are 1500 miles away with no plans to ever return. Mothers who are working 2 jobs or more to provide. Mothers who are dedicated to their children knowing that the future of their children is 100% weighing on their shoulders. Mothers who have zero help raising a child. That, is a single mother. That is a person who has found themselves in the worst situation, fighting an unfair fight.

The term single mother or single father isn’t a term to be thrown around for attention, to gain pity or to throw shade, as the kids would say, towards your ex.

Mothers and Fathers, if you are feeling overwhelmed, if you feel like the kids are with you more so you have to do more laundry, more homework, more cooking… find a better way to make things work for you. Share the kids more. That doesn’t make you a single mother or a single father. You may just be a single woman or a single man.

Dear 16 Year Old Self

Dear 16 Year Old Self,

Let me just start by saying you know nothing. You’re 16 years old, clueless and naïve, so listen to what I have to say.

High School will not be the hardest years of your life. High School will also not be the best years of your life.

Why do you care so much about what people think? Considering after high school you won’t keep in touch with many of the people you feel the need to impress. Being popular in high school will not matter the rest of your entire life. There’s no spot on a job application that asks how cool you were from 2001-2004.

Don’t give up so easy and don’t procrastinate. These are two bad habits, that if you start, you will continue to regret.

Quit acting like it’ll kill you to spend time with your family.

Take a chance. Don’t be so scared people aren’t going to like you for who you are. The world is bigger than Bay Minette.

When Nick asks you to see a no named band Kings of Leon in a small dump, go see them. They’ll be good one day.

Make sure Kindal closes her car door all the way after Homecoming. It’s a scary time when that door swings open taking a turn onto the highway. But, maybe, don’t close it all the way. It’ll give her something to make fun of you for, for the next 16 years.

You should really be more athletic. That’ll help you one day when you make an overnight decision to sign a 5 year enlistment contract with the Army. While you’re at it lose your fear of heights. You’re going to get paid to jump from airplanes one day.

Go find Garrett, Emily and Lindsay and give them a hug. They will be missed. They will also be some your biggest motivators in life.

For the love of all that is holy, do not trade in your grandfather’s truck! It doesn’t matter what you drive and you’ll always wish you would have kept that truck forever.

Don’t feel sorry for hitting a home run off of Joseph Palmer. He’ll grow up to be a veterinarian and have a beautiful wife and baby. He will be ok.

Fish more, you won’t do it as much as you’ll like when you’re an adult.

You and the Turpen family will have even better memories as you age.

Don’t buy that Mustang GT in 2004. It’ll cause nothing but problems. Working extra to pay for high insurance premiums after speeding tickets won’t be worth it.

Stay up every night and watch Jay Leno at 10:30. Once he’s gone, he’s gone. Except for that time he unretired and came back. But then he was gone for good.

Be careful who you choose as your idol. People aren’t always what they seem.

People come and go. Let them. When you’re old enough you’ll understand the qualities you need to look for in a friend.

Don’t think you have to know what you want to do with your life by graduation day. At 32 you still won’t know what you want to be when you grow up.

You’re at church every Sunday with your parents. Why don’t you try something new and pay attention.

Time will fly by, you’ll feel much older than you are but you’ll settle down one day and be happy. There will be kids involved. LOTS of kids.

Quit letting money burn a hole in your pocket. Learn to save early.

You’ll never do geometry again.

P.S. Relax

Roll Tide your life

This has been one of the rarest weekends of fall. Both Alabama and Auburn are on bye weeks. The lack of football related posts on social media among my friends was evident. If you are from Alabama, you know all about the history and the current events of Alabama Football. Now, I’m not the biggest Bama fan. I actually support another team more, but I watch every Alabama game and I’ve been to a few games. Most of us remember 10-14 years ago where winning records were 3-8, 4-9, and 6-6. Even though people want to forget, everyone remembers when newly hired coach Mike Price was fired before he ever coached a game. That story is worth a Google.

Since 2007, Alabama Football has turned around under the control of Nick Saban. We all know what Saban has done for the team, multiple SEC Championships, 4 National Championships and a complete change of culture in Tuscaloosa. There’s more Bama gear being worn and more Roll Tides being yelled than ever before. Alabama Football is known for their crushing run game, and their monster defense. It’s become our culture now to expect dominance from Alabama during every game. At the sign of the least bit of error we yell at the TV “run the ball!” or get on Facebook to express our displeasure on the offensive play calling or about how the #1 ranked defense isn’t performing up to standards. Most popular, how coach Saban will be yelling at the players at halftime because a 14 point lead over Colorado State is unacceptable.

We see the work ethic by the players and the excellence that is demanded by the coach staff. We’ve all jumped on board to even stay for all 4 quarters of the game because Coach Saban basically scolded fans and told them to. People have bought into the NEW Alabama Football 100%.

Except there’s a problem. We haven’t brought this Roll Tide culture into our own lives. We are sloppy, lazy, underprepared and underperforming people. We’re late for work continuing to do the minimum while we are there just holding on for 5pm and waiting for the weekend. When our bosses ask more of us we complain, get an attitude and contemplate quitting. I think it’s fair to say some haven’t seen a gym in years and have no want to continue education. But here we remain, critical of the 18-20 year olds who perform nationally in the spotlight after a full week of school and preparation.

At what point do we pursue the same greatness in our lives? When do we stop expecting so much from others in sports to give us joy and happiness and start progressing ourselves towards everything that will change our lives for the better?

As we start a new week, add some Roll Tide to your life.

-Pate

What in the Blog?

I’ve got to admit, I’m not a pro at this. Zac asked me recently would I be interested in joining in his blog page and possibly turn to podcasts down the road. There wasn’t a need to even think about it. I’m on board. I like to talk. I’m active on social media. I like to make videos. I have a YouTube page I just started loading videos to, a Reddit page I need to use more often and a Facebook page where I post daily. My dream job would be to have my own radio show and just talk about every topic imaginable. Currently, I’m a fireman in the city of Spanish Fort and that’s what I’ll be until the radio broadcast dream comes true. You’ll have to forgive me if this blog turns into a runaway train and then leaves the tracks. I’m watching game 3 of World Series. I’m a sports fan. Could watch anything. Don’t tell me watching baseball on TV is boring. I won’t agree. I’m highly interested in the direction this will lead. No matter what blog topic I may post about, I’d like to hear feedback from anyone who’s willing to join in. I’ll be back tomorrow to start this off right. Can’t wait!