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Changes

It was my birthday this past week. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I recently began seeing a new woman, after being dumped in early December by the last one. The new woman’s name is Jennifer, and she lives in a town about 70 miles from here. She decided to surprise me by taking a vacation day from work without telling me, drove to my area, and then called me to tell me to meet her at 3 o’clock.

She then took me on a date and paid for everything. We didn’t do anything fancy: we played mini golf, got some dinner, and then went to a movie. We were out for eight hours. It was one of the best times that anyone has ever shown me for my birthday. Let me explain:

In 2013, my girlfriend at the time and I went to a steak restaurant and got dinner, then we went bowling. Total cost for the night? $124. I paid for it all.
In 2012, I got nothing. I was in Grad school, and we had a party for all of the people in the class who had a February birthday, but that was it.
In 2011, I was informed by my wife at the time, just five days before my birthday, that I was getting a divorce, because I wouldn’t give her money to get another college degree, when she wasn’t doing anything with the one that she had just gotten the year before.

That’s as far back as I can remember. Birthdays (and women) have never been that good for me. This year was a major improvement.

She gave me a card, and told me that she had spent hours looking for one that said exactly what she wanted it to say. The card talked about my qualities as a man, and said that the world needs more men like me. She then texted me when I got home, and explained that while she isn’t good at expressing her feelings, she wanted me to know that she is happy to be on life’s journey with me.

While in the movie, Jennifer flipped up the armrest, placed her head on my
shoulder, and stayed there cuddled up against me for the entire movie. I
spent the entire movie intoxicated by the smell of her. Her perfume,
the smell of her shampoo. I didn’t watch most of the movie, because I
was busy looking at the curve of her neck and enjoying the feel of her
against me. It was one of the most intensely erotic and enchanting experiences that I have ever had.

All of this, and we have only been dating for four weeks. I don’t know if this woman has read “The Art of Seduction” or some other similar book, but she could not be doing a better job of enthralling me.

I feel like I am chasing her and earning her affection, but at the same time, it seems like she is orchestrating the entire thing. I’m thinking that if this is what it is like to date an intelligent, stable, independent woman who knows what she wants, I am going to be a happy, happy man.

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Biochemistry of attraction and substance abuse

This post will contain a bit of science geekery. I want to get into a bit of neurochemistry as it relates to drug use and romantic relationships. First, a small lesson in neurochemistry:

The pleasure center of our brain is a small area known as the amygdala. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is associated with pleasure. It is the hedonistic influence of our brain, and it rewards us with the secretion of neurotransmitters that cause us to feel euphoric and stimulated by stimulating the cells of the VTA section of the brain, which causes those cells to secrete the neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are chiefly dopamine, seratonin, and norepinephrine. These substances are responsible for every pleasurable feeling that we have. This reward system is crucial for individual and support elementary processes such as drinking,
eating and reproduction. It also plays a key role in behavior and memory.

The counterbalance to this is the inhibitory center of the brain, the frontal lobe. This area of the brain inhibits the release of the aforementioned neurotransmitters. This area is the part of your brain that tells you, “I know that this sounds like a good idea, but I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” This area of the brain is not fully developed in most people until they are in their mid 20’s, and is less developed in men than it is in women, which is why young men tend to do the stupid things you see in the Jackass movies.The cortex does this by causing the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin, instead of controlling behavior with that “rush” of excitement and euphoria, regulates behavior with a long term feeling of contentment and happiness.

What does this have to do with relationships and with drugs? When we take certain drugs, opiates for example, the opiate bypasses the amygdala, and directly causes the cells of the VTA to release their dopamine. (other drugs have different mechanisms, but they all have the same end result: increased levels of one or more of those three neurotransmitters) This has several profound effects on the body: the rush, the feelings of pleasure, flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and other effects. In other words, couples in this stage of love focus intently on the relationship and often on little else, very much similar to drug addicts.

When we are attracted to a person, the brain responds by rewarding us with all three neurotransmitters at the same time, just in smaller doses than drugs do. Now what this does is that it causes the same feelings that the drugs do, just with less intensity. The advantage to this, is that the effect lasts much longer, which is why the “honeymoon phase” of relationships lasts about 6 to 8 months.

The effect of meeting a woman is more pronounced and occurs faster in men than it women, both because of the less developed male frontal cortex, and because of the visually oriented nature of men. This is why men tend to fall faster and then spend their time trying to impress the woman that is the subject of their desire: They are being compelled by the chemicals in their blood to please their intended mate, and will do nearly anything to maintain that dopamine induced high.

 As is well known, falling in love often leads to emotional and
physiological instability. You bounce between exhilaration, euphoria,
increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing
heart and accelerated breathing, as well as anxiety, panic and feelings
of despair when your relationship suffers even the smallest setback.
These mood swings parallel the behavior of drug addicts, and are caused by the frontal cortex and amygdala doing their thing. And indeed,
when in-love people are shown pictures of their loved ones, it fires up
the same regions of the brain that activate when a drug addict takes a
hit. Being in love, researchers say, is a form of addiction.

When we are not with the object of our desire, the frontal cortex is suppressed, serotonin levels drop, and we find ourselves obsessing  over them. People who are in love report that they spend, on average, more than 85
percent of their waking hours musing over their “love object.” Intrusive
thinking, as this form of obsessive behavior is called, is a sign of reduced serotonin levels. This reduced serotonin level causes emotional dependency, resulting in feelings of possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety.

Unfortunately, the feelings of being in love usually don’t last forever. It’s an
impermanent state that either evolves into a long-term, codependent
relationship that psychologists call “attachment,” or it dissipates, and
the relationship dissolves. This is the result of neurotransmitter levels returning to normal.

Now you know.

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Data Breach, Part Deux

I had a couple of data breaches last month.Of course, I just went through a nasty breakup, where my supposedly Christian girlfriend was sleeping around and, according to at least one of her friends, was only with me because she found out that I am worth a pile of money. Now the data breaches may have been pure coincidence, and I cannot prove who was responsible, but I have had more data loss issues in the three months since she left than I have had since 2000, when my identity was stolen by the employee of a car dealership.

Annie Mouse advised me to change all of my bank accounts, and I did not. Instead, I simply got all new credit cards. That turns out to be a bad move on my part. It turns out that someone went on an online shopping spree after they gave the routing and account numbers from the MICR on the bottom of my checks to a Nevada credit card processing company. I lost well over a thousand dollars.

So I will spend the day tomorrow ordering checks, changing all of my direct deposit information, and other steps to secure the rest of my finances and data.

In other news, the woman that I met earlier this month is looking to be everything that the last one wasn’t. She is well educated, smart, and well established in her career. She has a Master’s Degree, and is in a professional occupation. She tries to insist on paying for half of everything, even though I have far more money than she does. Most of the time I win that battle, because I think that men should pay on dates, at least until you are a solidly exclusive couple. We have only been dating for three weeks, so who can say where this is going, but she certainly shows promise. The one thing that I enjoy the most is that this woman has it all together, and there is not a speck of drama in her life. She doesn’t need me in her life, she wants me in her life. There is a difference, and that is all the difference there needs to be.

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Relationships

So because I am single and looking for the first time in about a decade, I have been wondering how we are supposed to act. This is normal, because technology like texting has greatly influenced how we interact with our potential mates.
I stumbled upon a study of US relationship norms, and I wanted to share with all of you some interesting factoids:

There are 86 eligible males for every 100 single females.
This one sort of surprised me. I actually thought that the numbers would be the other way around.

48% of all breakups are done over the telephone or by email. 7% are done by text, and only 35% are done face to face.
So me being dumped a few months ago by telephone was not abnormal. I still feel that there are certain things that should be done face to face: The first time you tell someone “I love you” and breaking up with someone come to mind. I guess I am just old fashioned that way.

For every $5000 that a woman earns more than her husband, their chance of divorce increases by 4%.

This one surprised me as well. I wonder if this is because the men feel threatened, or the women feel more independent.

On average, men know if they are falling for a woman by the 3rd date, but women do not know until the 14th date.
Yet women think that men are either moving too fast or are heartless. I think men are just better at knowing what they want and making up their minds. For example: Have you ever watched a woman shop for shoes?

40% of men report being scared of their potential mate during the early stages of a relationship.

This is because men have fragile egos, and we fear rejection.

52% of all breakups occur on a Monday. 

Mine did. Don’t answer the phone on Monday.

84% of all breakups are either initiated by the woman, or the woman purposely makes life so difficult on the man that he breaks up with her.
 So, contrary to popular culture, men are not the heartless unfaithful ones.
 
57% of women say that their sexual fantasy is having sex outside. Only
14% say it is having a threesome. 35% have fantasized about having an
affair, but only half of those have actually done so.

So men, if you want to live your woman’s fantasy, find a place to do the deed that is outside, but out of sight. It will have just enough of an element of danger to excite her.

48% of
women claim to have faked an orgasm with their current partner. 25% of
women are incapable of having an orgasm through sexual intercourse
alone.
Wow, a quarter. Men need to polish up on their “other” skills.

54% of women report that they are more attracted to men who wear blue on the first date.

48% of women and 38% of men research a person or perform a background check on the internet before dating them.
I usually do. 

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The other guy was supposed to pay for that

Some of the Gator’s Dockside locations, a chain of restaurants in Florida, have announced that they will be passing the cost of the ACA (Obamacare) on to customers in the form of a surcharge added to every bill. The howls of indignation were immediate. Commenters on the article had things to say like this:

Did not know that was legal

Go ahead and put that on my bill. I would deduct that straight from any tip I was going to give.

I will never eat there again.

So what did you morons think was going to happen? You vote for giving government the power to force your employer to give you an added benefit at his expense. Did you think he was going to just chalk it up as a loss? He has to find a way to pay for this, just as anyone must. This leaves him with one of two choices: Cut costs by cutting hours or staff, or pass that cost on to the consumer.

At least Gator’s is being transparent about it, instead of just raising prices without telling you why.

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You don’t need a gun

You do not need a gun. If you get attacked, all you have to do is call the cops. If your attacker will allow it, that is:

Tomlin tried to call for help, but Perkins knocked her desk phone onto
the floor and later slapped her cellphone out of her hand, officials
said.

 Now there are people who will claim that a gun would be taken away just as easily as a phone, but remember that it takes much longer to complete a call for help than it does to shoot someone in self defense. It’s pretty difficult to wrestle my gun away from me while you are struggling with that sucking chest wound that I just gave you.

Just ask Trayvon Martin.

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I Repeat

This is a post that I put up three years ago, and I repeat it now:

What if the shoe were on the other foot?

Let’s imagine that the government signs a contract with Boeing, where
the company will provide 500 military aircraft over a ten year period.
The contract is structured so that Boeing gets $10 million for each
unit, payable on delivery, and another $5 billion at the end of the 10
year contract, as a bonus for completing all aircraft on time, bringing
the total of the contract to $10 billion.

Nine years into the project, 450 aircraft have been delivered, and the
company is well positioned to deliver the remaining aircraft before the
expiration of the contract and collect the bonus. The Air Force decides
that they cannot afford to pay the bonus, and unilaterally alters the
contract to eliminate the bonus, and decides that the original price of
$10 million per copy is sufficient. The military also announces that
while other contracts with defense contractors are unaffected by this
contract change, budgetary constraints may cause them to alter other
contracts in the future.

Boeing protests, saying that each aircraft costs the company more than
$10 million to build, and the company stands to lose money on this
contract if the previously promised bonus is not paid. Boeing further
states that had the bonus not been a part of the contract, they would
have signed other, more lucrative deals with other parties, and that the
bonus was the reason the deal was agreed to in the first place. Boeing
petitions their congressman to reinstate the original conditions of the
contract. Instead, the Democrat-controlled congress threatens to pass a
law preventing corporations who receive money from military contracts
from negotiating the terms of those contracts.

QUESTIONS

1. At this point, is Boeing justified in refusing to deliver any more aircraft?
2. Should the government be able to force them to deliver them anyway?
3. Is the law preventing defense contractors from contacting their representatives constitutional or fair?

Most would say that the Air Force and Congress are out of line. Sure,
$20 million per aircraft seems steep, but the Air Force still made the
deal, and should have considered that prior to having the work done.

How is this any different from what is being done to those who provide
labor as their product? The employees have delivered the product (their
labor), and now that the work is done 25 years later, there are attempts to alter the
agreement by eliminating the pension that they were promised. The very pension that caused them to stay when there were more lucrative jobs available.

If the state thinks that the pension is unaffordable, they should cut other projects, instead of screwing over the people that already performed their part of the bargain. For example, in the state of Florida, the entire public pension system costs about 3% of the state’s budget. Medicaid represents nearly 30% of the state budget. The people who are on Medicaid did nothing to earn that money, besides have children that they cannot afford. Why not cut that?

The answer is simple: Vote pandering.

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Fallen hero

Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, the last Medal of Honor recipient from the D-Day invasion in 1944, has died at the age of 92. Our nation is that much less, now that we have lost a man of his caliber.

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Update on me

I know that posting here has been sporadic at best, and the quality of my posts has been down. All of the regular readers of this blog know the reason. I have spent the past two weeks putting my life back in perspective, and getting myself back to the person that I used to be.

I have made quite a bit of progress. My friends tell me that I am back to the old me, the person that I was two years ago: confident, fun, and active. I met someone, and she is wonderful. I have not told her anything about what happened, and I doubt that I ever will. We have had some spectacular dates, and all I have to do is take this one day, one date, at a time.

That is hard to do, because you have to remember that you were hurt not to long ago, meaning that you are vulnerable. At the same time, you have to forget what happened so you can let it go, to prevent what happened from causing your baggage to poison the next relationship.

I have been so busy with that, pressure washing the house, updating my SCUBA equipment, and dating this new woman, that blogging has been taking back seat.

Still, I am happier than I have been in months, and she is certainly fun to hang out with.

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Bank Douchebaggery

From Capital One:
Their new credit card contract grants the bank to send people over to your home or workplace to convince you to pay, and they also reserve the right to spoof you into answering the door or phone through the use of deceptive means.

When banks pull stuff like this, they eventually get the public angry enough that they spur Congress to act. This is pure doucebaggery. There is a legal process for a creditor to get paid, and using mafia style harassment is not a part of that.