Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 End Year Cowbell List

Ok it's that time of year again. Who needed more cowbell, and who has become a permanent fixture on my list? Joined once again by my lovely and intelligent sidekick Regina Wright, here's the list for the second half of 2012, starting with the repeat offenders.

Repeat Offenders:

-2Chainz, (along with Chief Keef, Lil Wayne, and any other garbage rapper) What is the deal with this awful music? Bands Will Make Her Dance? Hip hop is becoming less about lyrics and more about club and booty anthems.

-Mitt Romney: Did you really expect America to believe all of those lies? I'm guessing you will return to your faith and continue with the whoppers.

-Facebook: more privacy changes, making Instagram more controlling, and just doing too much period. It's still addictive and the #1 social network. Some of these changes, however, weren't necessary. At times it's best to leave well enough alone.

-The LA Lakers. First you don't even give Phil Jackson a chance. Then you play lost until Steve Nash returned.  Looks like another short season for the Lakeshow.

-Charlotte Bobcats. Slightly better but still terrible to watch. Perhaps regaining the Hornets name will make you play better.

-Apple. It appears the iPhone 5 has been a disappoinment thus far. Google has once again one-upped you. How's that iPhone 6 coming?

-Overcommercialism. Hey we all have to eat and live. But we able to live and enjoy things and holidays without all the bs. 

-Tony Romo. You are just a choke artist. When will the Cowboys learn you are not Staubach or Aikman. You're not even Philip Rivers.

-VH-1. Still displaying coonery in the form of new seasons of Basketball Wives and washed up athletes and rappers with their own shows.

-World Star Hip Hop. Still exposing ignorance, from the Ramen noodle boy, to the infamous bus driver uppercut. Debra Lee must secretly own y'all.

New Additions:

-Mikalya. You may not be impressed, but guess what, neither is anyone else.
-The overall media. TV, print, and social media cannot stop overexposing a story and running it into the ground. That's when I find a good book and start reading.
-Christmas music and specials. How long can we endure the classics of yesteryear? We need fresh holiday tunes, movies and specials.
-12.21.12 (and anyone who believed it). When is the last time you ever saw a Mayan?
-Haters for no reasons, especially on Gabby Douglas, Notre Dame football, and President Obama.  No merit in your statements at all.
-Clint Eastwood. Looks like you had more than trouble with the curve during the RNC. The Republicans slipped you something strong.
-Modern radio. Still terrible, and still playing the same 20 songs/artists
-MTV. First your network has gone to Hell. Then you decide to put your highest rated program, the VMAs, on the same night as the final night of the DNC.
-Viacom. You should have known you couldn't bully DirecTV. You are truly greedy and vile.
-School security. It appears school children of every age are no longer safe.
-Big Lots. How do you accept debit cards, but no cashback option? That's like saying you can get into the club free , but the club closes at midnight.
-Brooklyn Nets. You didn't give Avery Johnson a fair shot. Now your inner city rival, my beloved Knicks, will dominate you.
-Texas Rangers. Welp you let Josh Hamiliton go. So much for getting that World Series title anytime soon.
-Spike Lee. You always have something to say. Now you're criticizing Django Unchained. Umm now weren't you an executive producer of the IFC mockumentary The CSA: The Confederate States of America? Need to borrow a broom to sweep around your front lawn?
-The 22 States that petitioned to secede from the USA. And the worst part: half of you are states that voted President Obama back into office.
-Rex Ryan. You talk too much, you don't give Tebow a fair chance, and now you may never be a head coach again. Good riddance.
-Nicki Minaj. Ok first you endorse Mitt Romney. Then you threaten Mariah Carey. Sit your fake self down somewhere.
-Kim and Kenya Moore from RHOA. Kim, why did you even return to the show, only to leave later?  Kenya, simmer down on the thirstiness. If you want to be married that bad, find someone that wants to be married right away.
-Phrases such as "flow", "real talk" , "gucci" and "swag". They all need to die in 2013.
-People going too crazy over the latest Jordans. Shoes above everything else huh?
-Chik Fil-A. Now everyone knows what you really stand for. Hope you're cool with that
-Honey Boo Boo and her mom. Need I say more?

Happy New Year to all of my readers and those stopping in for the first time. One of your resolutions should be to stay off of this list!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Waiting In Line, Really?

This is one of my pet peeves, and something I take every precaution to avoid. Waiting in long lines for something can be very irritating.

I consider myself a patient man. However, when it comes to standing in line for something, my patient is truly put to the test.

This is a season of giving, but also a season of lines. Beginning with Black Friday and even culiminating with the day after Christmas, the lines at the stores and the traffic on the road will be bananas. It cannot always be worthwhile.

Then during the year, people will camp out for sporting events, concerts, and other events with long lines.

I purposely shop early or late, and I leave events early or late to avoid lines. They simply irk me. It seems even adults have trouble forming a single file line. Then, lines seen to take forever, with not much in return.

Again I'm not against waiting and being patient. It all depends on the purpose and if I can avoid a crowd.  The faster and more convenient, the better.

During my research, I saw where many stores have a limit on how long they want their cashier's checkout lines to be. That is a good thing, because if you cannot efficiently handle a crowd of customers, you need another line of work. No pun intended of course.

It all boils down to using your head and taking all precautions to cut down on the waiting. Buy things online or in advance. Arrive early for functions. Those who know me know that I'm usually the first or extremely prompt for an event. It pays to be prepared in advance.

One must learn these practices to reduce the stress and anxiety of waiting for mundane things and purposes. Wait on things such as true love, the Lord, and results from hard work. A proper level of tolerance is necessary to balance your life.

2012 Christmas Letter

2012 is winding down and I must say it was a long one. It wasn't the best one, but thank God I survived.

The year started off rough for myself and my family. I lost my uncle Bill Jack on NYE 2011, and then on November 13th, my aunt Joyce lost her eight year battle to cancer. Uncle Bill Jack usually helped coordinate our Dover/Bradley family reunions. With him gone, I took the reins. It was quite a learning experience for me, but the tradition didn't die, and I don't want it to.

Several of my friends and relatives welcomed new life to their families. Two of my cousins got married:  Tamra in May, and G-Baby a couple of weeks ago. This was quite interesting. Tamra is 21 with no children. G, on the other hand, has three grown children and a grandchild, and he is 43. One relative did it early, another decided to wait. However, it's working well for both of them and I m happy for their respective marriages.

I was on short time at my job all year. Working diligently to find extra income and side hustles, I allowed my writing to gain more exposure. Not only do I write for Yahoo! voices, I have a column in the local Weekly Ledger. My hope for 2013 is that this writing will lead to some serious money.

I also continued my healthy lifestyle. I've gained and lost weight , and I've been told I'm keeping myself up well. I'm still a work in progress though, and hopefully I can continue to move forward in that effort.

Technology wise, I didn't get that laptop or tablet due to reduced wages and helping my mother with home improvement expenses. However I have the new Samsung Galaxy with lots of freebies and an extension with Alltel. I love the phone, but I wish the reception in certain areas were better.

Family wise, they are staying strong. My mom continues to endure several home improvement setbacks and raising a teenager with grace and strength. This teenager in question is in a long term relationship, which is tough in high school.

I'm equally proud of my friends at The Good Old Boys radio network. Four different shows, and scores of nationwide and worldwide affiliates.Big things continue to happen for us.

My romantic life has been up and down, up at the moment. I expect this upward spiral to continue in 2013.

I changed departments again in my company. I am now a Sample Support Associate. Basically, there never seemed to be enough work in my old department. Now I stay steady at worst and I like it. I only hope now for bigger, more steady paychecks.

Overall I feel blessed , learned, informed and optimistic. There are a lot of other good and bad things I can say about 2012. I will simply say I'm glad President Obama won a second term, and I have a renewed hunger for reading. I'm currently on the second book of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which I expect to finish soon.

So Happy Holidays everyone, God bless all of you. Look for bigger things and blessings in 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Body Pain: If And When Is It Actually Worth It?

It is sad but true that people will do just about anything for money, fame, or looks. This includes enduring physical and mental harm.
These sorts of pains and aches can be caused by stress, lack of sleep, overworking the brain and body at your job or in the gym, and simply worrying.
Now is it really worth it?
One must strike a balance.  Moderation is key. You want to keep yourself healthy first.  You can't enjoy happiness and wealth if your overall well being.
The human body is made to endure only so much pain and abuse. Some bodies can tolerate less than others, and the risk is heighted with other factors such as age. Give it your all and try your best, but remember you are human. Your body and mind can only take so much.
No one can take better care of you than you. Therefore, people may call you soft or weak because you don't want the extra pressure and stress that comes with a harder occupation, a stricter workout regimen, or simply a drastic lifestyle change.
Here are a couple of famous quotes of note "to whom much is given, much is required" and "know thy self" by Socrates .  Your mind and heart have to also be strong. When others see this, they have little reason to doubt or criticize why you may fall short in other areas. 
Basically, no goal in life is worth killing yourself over. Practice common sense, patience, and good judgment in what you strive to achieve. Keep your stress levels low and your head clear. See your doctor, and check your vitals regularly.
You want to live a productive life, but also an enjoyable one. It is yours, not anyone else's. Therefore, take care of yourself and don't be depressed if you don't fit society's definition of happiness. Love and peace should be held in higher esteem.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gas Wars: The Fuel Game Has Gotten Real

Gas prices have been a major financial discussion and hot button issue ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The BP oil spill then occurred in 2010, putting more emphasis on domestic and foreign oil. Basically, gas has gotten high, almost to a ridiculous level. Now that the economy is improving, I don't see gas going back to $2/gallon anytime soon, if ever.

However, QuickTrip (QT) has thrown a monkey wrench into the gas competition. They are not really based in the South. However, over the past two years, they have been opening everywhere. Their gas was so low that the government made them simmer down because it was causing danger since folks would line up and literally wreck turning into QT for the cheaper gas.

Gas giants such as BP and Exxon are not as relevant now. However, many gas stations have been lowering their prices whenever a QT opens up nearby. They must stay competitive.

Here are four notable gas companies and stations that are giving QuickTrip the best competition.

1. Pilot/Flying J's

These truck stop oriented stations and plazas have some of the lowest gas. Plus I've found when you use debit or credit, many of them will not charge you an extra fee. There is typically a restaurant within these plazas, so that gives them a slight edge. And even the ones that aren't "truck stops" cater heavily to truckers.

2. Wal-Mart/Murphy USA

Wal-Mart is a world empire, and a hallmark for low prices. They want to let QT and any other competitor know that they offer a plethora of services. One of the biggest is their gift cards. If you put at least $25 on one and use it at the pump, it knocks off up to 15¢ per gallon.

3. Kangaroo.

Kangaroo stations seem to be every where and are well established. They bought out Texaco not too long ago, and are usually at convenient locations. Many also have restaurants in their stores, most commonly Subways. Kangaroo is still in it to win it.

4. Marathon

Marathon also offers many of the conveniences listed previously, plus many stations accept Bi-Lo fuel perks. Their convenience and customer service also matches that of QT, and some of their stations are open 24 hours.

Who will win the so-called gas wars? One thing is for sure: it is hard to resist those 49¢ slushies at QT.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Lovers and New Years: Out With The Old, In With The New

We have less than one month left in the year 2012. As 2013 approaches, we reevaluate several different things and aspects of our lives. Often our love lives are one of the main things that need rejuvenation, after bodies and bank accounts.

It's very possible the very person you kiss on Christmas morning and New Year's night will not be in your life for Valentine's Day. They may not even make it into the new year with you.

There are a few scenarios to examine here. 

1. New relationship.

You have been together for six months or less. You're anxious to see what direction the relationship will take. Perhaps you two haven't been intimate yet, or you haven't met their families. Either way, there are some decisions to make to see if you make it long term with this individual.

2. Long term relationship

You have been together for a while, perhaps you live together. Maybe an engagement could be coming soon. Either way, both of you have been through a lot together and invested lots of time. If the relationship is stagnant and there is no projected growth, it may be time to reevaluate and possibly take a break or end it altogether.

3. Single and possibly lonely.

Let me also add over 30. You have been alone during the holidays for the umpeth year, perhaps by choice. You are evaluating your life and standards to ensure that in 2013 that you at least have more options. This thing shouldn't be rushed, but like a good sports coach, changes in your game plan may be necessary.

Irregardless of your situation or scenario, it is best to start now, rather than on 1-1-2013 to make adjustments, draw another game plan, and improve your romantic standing. Time waits for no one.

Doing this will ensure that you are much more prepared as you wrap up yet another year.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Interracial Dating: Who Better To Discuss It?

The holiday season is here and you see all sorts of happy couples as we're in the midst of boo season. Many of these couples may not have the pure love that others are accustomed to seeing. Now it's not all about black or brown love. It's simply love where race isn't a factor.

I am a product of an interracial relationship. My dad was black and my mother was white. Therefore, dating in the 90s wasn't always easy. I live in the South and many back then thought mixing races was taboo. By the 2000s, fortunes had changed some. Now its not uncommon to walk into Wal-Mart or see an interracial couple dining in Applebees. It seems black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and Italian women have been interested in me.  Believe me, this is not a man that discriminates. People are people to me.

Think of the famous persons that were results of interracial relationships. Halle Berry, Derek Jeter, Alicia Keys, Vin Diesel, The Rock, Shemar Moore, Tiger Woods, Rosario Dawson, and our president Barack Obama. Plus there are many mixed race marriages that have lasted for years. It is safe to say that many of these couples that are together for this long absolutely love each other. Scrutiny and dirty looks still linger, so you have to be strong and rise above that hate.

That being said, I don't condone anyone to date outside of their race for the novelty of it. Go out with them because you truly like them. Every relationship has problems and challenges. While its easier to date the same race, there are more challenges in crossing over, especially from the close minded and older generations. Bringing biracial babies into the mix (no pun intended) doesn't pave the way either. I can attest to this.

One can never stop the public from talking. Heck look at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Kim, who is Aremenian, clearly likes black men and is not ashamed of it. Therefore, if you are mentally and emotionally ready, go for it.

I've been told by women of various races as an adult that they would have liked to have gone out with me back then but they couldn't handle dealing with their parents. That's a fair answer, giving both the era and area I grew up in.

Therefore, don't go around saying there are no good men or women out there and then end up with someone that looks good to friends and family, but treats you like crap. Go for who you love, even if they aren't the same race. Love is love, and you shouldn't let others dictate who you want to be with.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Zombies: The Dead Has Risen Into The Mainstream

It appears we have another craze that is not just a trend or novelty. Zombies have been around since the 70s and have evolved through television, movies and video games.

Basically many folks cannot get enough of these dead,brain carnivores. The Walking Dead is currently one of the most popular dramas on TV in its third season. Resident Evil has become quite a franchise with four movies and several video games. Even Call of Duty:  Black Ops has a zombie killing option. The dead are metaphorically living.

I personally do not see the appeal as I do not like zombies in any form. I feel they are overexposed. It gets me how Walking Dead fans will justify and defend it, saying it's "different and deeper than zombies". I previewed an episode one night. The writing and storylines are strong, but I can't get past the zombie element.

I'm more into vampires and slasher type monsters. I actually like Twilight for the same reasons that zombie fans love Walking Dead and Resident Evil. I guess the hundreds of appearances of zombies and their bland appeal to me turns me off.

Nevertheless, they continue to be popular. My guess is they are realistic, graphic, and surrounded by strong graphics, sound effects, and storylines.

Television writers should actually take advantage before this craze saturates. Currently zombies are ironically alive and are ratings gold. No one worth their brains wants to be left behind.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seven Bars and Grills With Tasty Vittles

Yeah I realize we just came off of Thanksgiving and not eating healthy. That trend will not get easier with the Christmas season and holiday parties in full swing. 

Speaking of that, many of you know I don't drink or smoke. However, I go to lots of bars and grills. There are two main reasons: to watch sports and eat tasty food.  There are many good places to do this such as Hooters, Wild Wings, and even Applebees and Outback.  However, here are seven spots that you may have not heard of, or don't frequent regularly.

1.  Sticks

This dive is located in Gaffney and has a wide variety of tasty vittles. The locals tend to pack the place mostly on Wednesdays nights, as they serve 40¢ wings of various flavors, and have homemade handcut fries. It's also an awesome place to hang out, watch sports, and unwind from the work day since its Hump Day and gear up for the weekend. It is definitely an enjoyable place to go just to hang out and get a good snack or meal.

2. Patti-Os Grill

My cousin Heath put me onto this place and I love it. It is located in nearby Clover, SC and was voted Best Burger in York County a few years ago. Their burgers are some of the tastiest and unique you will find as they have stuffed burgers. Meaning they stuff the patty with pizza stuff, jalapenos, philly cheese steak, or other stuff. They also make their fries and even their potato chips homemade. The homemade ranch is to die for as well.  The prices are also reasonably low, often not exceeding $10-15. This is definitely a place to check out at least once.

3. Huckleberry's Cuisine and Spirits

This spot is owned and operated by my cousin Michael "Dawg" Dover and JR Johnson. Their specialities are burgers and ribeyes. JR will even fix you a giant double cheeseburger with chili upon request.  Their signature dish is a ribeye dinner with baked potato for $11. Now you can look around and you will see not many restaurants or steakhouses charge this low for a mouthwatering 10 oz steak. They have an awesome atmosphere also, with a live band twice/month, DJ three times per week, a pool table and even a mechanicial bull. It is located off of I-85 in Gaffney near the giant peach in the Homestead Lodge. Stop in sometime!

4. Rock Bottoms Brewery

This tasty spot is located in downtown Charlotte near Discovery Place on South Tryon. They offer free parking to their patrons.  The prices are steep, but you are guaranteed not to leave hungry. Get there early, as they are crowded often. They are an excellent jump off point on a night out in the Queen City.

5. Daddy Joes Beach House BBQ

Located in Gaffney and featured in Southern Living Magazine, this place has become a favorite of mine, especially on Thursday nights. There is either live music, cornhole, or trivia. Shag Stepp, the owner, and his staff have really went above and beyond to provide a great dining and fun experience.  Their BBQ pork gets the headlines but dishes such as the loaded Shack chips, the ribs, and those irresistable hushpuppies will keep you coming back. The bar is also separate from the rest of the restaurant, providing a nice crossover element for families and groups.

6. Jack Beagles

My friend Rashad loves to go here and I know why. Located in the North Davidson (NoDa) arts district of Charlotte, this is a best kept secret. The food is tasty and of a wide variety, and the crowds are not often very large. Therefore you can enjoy your food, drink, and the game in peace. 

7. Gaffney Entertainment

This spot alone encompasses what a party center should be. Not only do they have the bar and grill aptly named Gaffney Grill, they have a bowling alley, pool tables, an arcade, and even a full stadium seating movie theater. The food and bar scenery are both top notch. Near the Prime Factory Outlets (the Yellow Mall), one could conceivably spend an entire afternoon and evening in this area shopping, bowling, eating, and even watching a movie or two.

So what are some of the unknown/local spots that you like to hit up for a drink, good food, and to let loose?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Domestic Violence: Time To Stop The Bleeding

Regardless of how hot or cold it may be outdoors, tempers always seem to flare. That's when angry people feel the need to beat on someone physically, in a variety of ways.

Child abuse is not as common anymore thanks to a stricter Department of Social Services. However, you still have knucklehead parents who hand out the kind of corporal punishments that make Joe Jackson, Ike Turner, and Penny's mom from Good Times all look like choir saints.

When people cannot beat on their children, they beat on their significant others. Women in this day and age still take beatings and physical abuse from boyfriends, lovers and husbands. It seems that's what some women like. They are naive and believe that when they are beaten on, it is out of love and that is the type of person that will protect them. However, on the contrary, these types of people are usually the biggest cowards and bullies: only putting their hands on defenseless people. They are quickly exposed when someone strikes back, and hard.

The point is we have too much violence and hate in our country and world. Children feeling the need to hustle and gang bang in middle school. Handgun sales are at an all time high, and these aren't just for hunting or protection. Nowadays, people will quickly shoot or "murk" you before getting into a fight. They aren't trying to get their tail beat. Rather permanent damage is on their agenda.

One should never feel threatened by domestic violence. It is unlawful and immoral, except for self defense purposes. Contact your local law enforcement, CRIME stoppers, or a violence hotline so you can feel safe. Especially if you're a woman, there are battered women's shelters out there for you and your children. You are not alone in this battle.

The world is not safe, but that doesn't mean you have to live in fear. Stand up against violence with your strongest weapon and muscle: your head. Think logically and rationally before getting into an altercation, and try to avoid it by all means. 

This is something that can be stopped, but like bullying, drugs , and other serious issues I have written of, it takes numbers and and a strong force of people to be able to stop it. We may not currently be at war, but we have wars on the homelands.

History is a good indicator that we can win this battle of domestic violence. We have to raise our standards and lower our tolerance.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Seven Effective Decision Making Tips

Making life changing decisions is rarely easy. Often one needs to extensive thinking, research, and praying before coming to a sound and often difficult decision. Here are seven tips to help make this process easier.

1. Pray on it.

Prayer changes and enhances things. Even if you do not submit to a higher power such as God, it does not hurt to pray. We could all use spritual guidance at some point in our lives. Pray without ceasing, do not worry, and trust your Lord that your judgment will be good.

2. Poll people from your trusted circle and/or experts.

Anyone who knows me well and has my phone number knows I'm big on this. I will send a bevy of different people mass texts polling them on a  variety of topics: sports, music, careers, lifestyles, relationships, etc. You want to have the opinions of those that know, love you, and have your best interest at heart. Allow them to guide in your footsteps. It also wouldn't hurt to contact some of your mentor figures in your life. Remember you do not have to be in this thing alone.

3. Evaluate the strengths and benefits.

This is especially effective and important for a decision based on your career or financial future. This is one half of the classic pro/con analysis. See what all is good about what you're considering, how it can better you, and what you will gain from it in several aspects. There shouldn't be just one single reason or strength.

3. Weigh in the weaknesses

This would be the con part of things. You want to ensure the grass really is greener on the other side. One must see what all is involved in this life change. When LeBron James made the controversial decision to go to the Miami Heat and win his first NBA title, Bron had obvious weaknesses. He wouldn't be the star each and every night, he left behind loyal fans in Cleveland and his home state of Ohio. Often that is difficult: leaving loved ones or having to travel further. Also, you may have to work harder than you're used to doing. There's an old quote "to whom much is given, much is required." I believe in that wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, not everyone else does.

4. See the opportunities

Going back to LeBron's decision, he saw a better chance of winning an NBA title to add to his legacy. Also, when picking out a college, you must see which one will ultimately prepare you the best to use your degree and experiences. Skill plus opportunity= success.  You need to seize and answer when a proper opportunity is knocking at your door. It definitely must be one that will improve and enhance your all around well being.

6. Watch out for potential threats

I'm not talking about bomb threats of course. These are deeper than weaknesses; moreso like starting over in a smaller or larger town/company, harder workload (as previously mentioned) and even dating someone better looking. You may be proud at first, but you may cannot stand the fact that everyone is after your mate. Your jealously and insecurity may win over a good thing. Pressure can indeed build diamonds, but it also reveals character, for better or for worse.

7. Trust yourself

Moreover, trust your own judgment, instincts, and be mature enough with the results. You can only deliberate so much for so long. After that, you must decide what is best, short and long term. It won't be perfect for everyone involved, but it needs to be a good fit for you.

Hopefully these tips will keep you living a happy, healthy life and not have you stressed over decisions and choices.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More Money, More Problems,...

Perhaps Diddy was right in his song from years ago. The more money you have, the more problems arise.

Let's face it, we all need money, and strive to make and have more. It appears to make our lives easier. The bills are paid, and you tend to have more friends, especially if you're male. You get this sense of peace and pride. I've been there, its nice.

Greater earnings and a healthy bank account also tends to changes your spending habits. You wear nicer clothes, you go out to dinner, movies, and concerts more often. You vacation in Vegas and Hawaii rather than Myrtle Beach, the mountains or your uncle's cabin in Boone, NC.

However, one should be smart with their money, and never stop being thrifty. Regardless of how much you have, there are always pitfalls. You should always have a legal side hustle or two. You have to keep your financial self in shape as well as your physical and emotional.

Many musicians and profession al athletes from the NFL and NBA end up broke really fast. They aren't spending or managing their monies correctly, and are trusting the wrong people. Why are you giving so called experts you barely know the power of attorney, and letting them have all this access to your finances? One needs to learn how to handle your earnings yourself without the help of a third party.

The financially smart always have additional investments and are making their money work for them. Think Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah Winfrey. These billionaires are just that for a reason. They spend wisely, are economically sound, and are seeking to increase their dollar through sound transactions. I'm talking stocks, bonds, stuff that draws interest and has long term value. People get themselves into dire straits by spending on 100 inch flat screen televisions, fancy cars, suits and such. These things depreciate fast in value.

Now of course one should enjoy the fruits of their labor. However, you must be aware of pitfalls such as taxes, unexpected expenses, upkeep, maintenance, and people with their hands out. Saying no is a powerful word especially when it comes to your wallet. You can't help everybody and save the whole world so do not try. Have a 40 year plan with your money, and also have a good short term plan. Learn to budget, and spend within your means.

It is easy to manage your own finances, but its also easy to get caught up. More are spending, less are investing.

Money certainly isn't everything, but no one wants financial burdens. You can create more for yourself by not taking care of your bank account. This includes being a millionaire, or making minimum wage. The principles are the same.

Therefore, continue to save, invest, be thrifty, and appreciate the simple things in life. Spoiling yourself and others are fine as long as you do it in moderation.

Here's another thought: have you ever tried drinking a gallon of whole milk in one sitting? I wouldn't advise it, and I also wouldn't recommend blowing all your money in one place. Reduce the problems, and spend your earnings wisely and humbly, especially when it involves others.

You will thank yourself later when you're retired and have a lot to show for it, and you're not depending on simply social security to get by. Recent history indicates that will not be the way to go in the next few decades. You have been warned so prepare now.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seven Types Of Gossipers

Gossip is everywhere. The workplace, social media, school, amongst family and friends and even church. You always have those folks that know more than they should probably know. Also, what they do not know, they make up, embellish and fabricate.

I have decided to compare gossipers to different news and media outlets.

1. TMZ

This person always has something to say about everyone. Whether it is true, false or otherwise, they are going to spread it. Often their facts aren't in order, and the rumors are blown up huge. Similar to a secret spread around a high school, it changes and the more people that talk about it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

2. Local News/Seven On Your Side

The information from this person is more factual. However, they tend to stem towards the negative and even the gory details. A common phrase used in the media is "If It Bleeds, It Leads". That is definitely the mentality of a Local News type of gossiper. They're trying to find out who is cheating, beating, and committing unholy acts. They know information about virtually everything and everybody, but they focus on the negative and depressing stuff.

3. Social media

They are very interpersonal, and bring you news in the form of blurbs, repeat what others have said (he said/she said), have photo and text evidence, and overall try to cause drama. Social media is their source for everything, and they are thus like it. They may be the philosopher, the social butterfly, or even the local pervert. But they are well in tune with the latest information, including events and birthdays and such.

4. National Enquirer

These gossipers go to the extreme, even more so than the TMZ type. They are spreading stories that are totally untrue. Every blue moon, they may actually tell the truth. They love attention and exposing folks. They do both at every cost. The Enquirer loves to see people fall, especially those highly regarded. They ensure these folks are put on Front Street for everyone to see.

5. CNN

This is a person whose information is more reliable and typically truthful since they always confirm their sources. However, they spend all their time spreading news on people. To their families, at the gym, at their job, that's what they do is report on what's going on with people. It is hard to converse with a CNN person because they may report that convo to the next person. And it won't be off the record either.

6. FOX News

Not only is the information this person spreads is fabricated at best, it’s often aimed at a certain group of folks. FOX news loves to aim propaganda at liberals. Therefore, a gossiper of this caliber will slander folks they hate the most. It could be liberals, a race of folks, or even a group of people that enjoy zombies. Often these types of gossipers can be called haters. Their words are definitely intended for a specific set of folks, and rarely are pleasant.


These people simply keep their ear to the streets about all types of stuff going on, and usually spread mostly positive and harmless stuff. Their intent isn't to expose or tear down anyone, but inform and give others the heads up. I believe in some sense, most of these types strive to do just that. However, the BBCA person makes it their priority.

Gossiping is not good in any way and often we can know too much about someone. I have been guilty of this myself. I stay informed, do not forget easily, and therefore know stuff that is going on. I don't always spread it around like mayonnaise though. However, I have come to the conclusion that if we did more listening and less talking and stay within our own lives, we could minimize gossip. Also, recognize gossip and ridiculous facts and avoid them whenever possible.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Attractive Women Seem To Always Get A Free Pass

Halloween is about to pass us by, which means Halloween parties are going on. For adults, this means sexy costumes. I've written before about how women use this time of year to look as slutty as possible. Men love it too. Many make sure they go to a live party to see all the eye candy. Then they look for days and weeks at all the sexy pics women post from these parties.

The point here is being a good looking woman can get you far in life. It's unfair and sad, but true.  Many attractive females get year round passes, not just once/year passes. They tend to cheat life, climb up the corporate ladder, have more friends, get out of trouble easily, and when they go out, everything is free.

Most of the people allowing this to happen is men. I guarantee you its not other women, especially if said woman looks better than them. Males are easily tempted, very visual, and can be weak in the flesh. Therefore, a woman that's easy on the eyes will get by a lot easier by default.

Does this mean pretty women rule the world? Possibly. A case could also be made for the men that allowed them to get there.

Hollywood is the best example of this. Look at women like Paris Hilton, Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian. They tend to be wrapped up in scandals of all kinds. However, because of their seductive exterior, the public eventually forgives them. Brittany Spears was a laughingstock and a pitiful case for a while. Her looks and talent bailed her out. Lindsay Lohan may be one of the few who hasn't had that type of luck. However, she hasn't served any prison time as of current, and will be starring in "Liz and Dick" soon.

Reality television, ever since it became popular, has always ensured it had at least one or two bombshells on its shows, depending on the show. This automatically draws in the audiences. And usually even when the pretty gal is the villain, people do not stop tuning in.

This is also permeated early in schools. The most popular kids tend to be the most athletic, rich, and best looking. These types of students are the in-crowd and kinda run their respective schools if you will. It seems they are invincible, at least temporary.

Unfortunately, beauty does fade, and looks can take you a long way. However, you should have more on the inside: brains, a caring heart, and determination. That is what will stand the test of time.

For every sexy, hot woman, there is at least one man that does not see her that way, or is tired of her. Again, you can only go so far. You may reap perks for a few seasons, but then your shelf life ends when that's all you have to offer.

Therefore, take pride in your appearance and all. But be well rounded. Life is not a skating rink, and you cannot skate through it. The humble and meek are the ones that win the war, although the alluring ones win all the battles.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

How Locals Put The "Fun" in Fundraising

Recently, on Saturday, October 20,  I attended a party,or "shindig", among friends that ended up being a fundraiser. It was spearheaded by Blacksburg locals Clay Greer and April Bell. Clay's brother, Derrick, was also a huge help as he hosted the event at his home.

Clay is known around most of the county for his sidekick "Rita", his name for his giant grill/smoker with a bullhead on top. He has cooked for many events and fundraisers with "Rita". His specialty is pulled pork/BBQ, which is quite tasty. The vittles were plentiful that night, with BBQ, baked beans prepared by Nancy Greer, Clay and Derrick's mother, chips, drinks, and a wide variety of desserts. David "Butter" Elmore was even on hand cooking up a giant cauldron of mouthwatering hash like he is known for doing. Also, the college football games were being shown on the big screen, music was being played, cornhole boards were set up, and a bonfire was even started. A good time was definitely had by all 100+ people in attendance.

The best, and unexpected part (even to Clay and April) were the donations and money raised. Clay had talked of asking for donations for the "Christmas Is For Kids" program that the Gaffney Ledger sponsors every year. That night, over $1,500 was raised towards that effort.

I personally always have a good time when I get together with Clay, April and these people. I happen to know many of them personally and they always throw good parties. It was fulfilling and gracious to be able to raise money for a good cause, and have fun in the process.

A huge thanks goes to all those that helped out, donated money, and came out to enjoy food, folks, fun, and fundraising. Stay on the lookout for Clay, April, and "Rita". They may be at a party near you, serving up awesome food for a good cause.


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Monday, October 22, 2012

The D-List: Being Put On The Back Burner By Others

This is the season for parties and gatherings of a different kind. This week begins Halloween festivities, parties where women everywhere get that free pass to dress scantilly clad and not be judged for it. There are also Christmas parties of various types, college homecomings, mixers, even reunions and fall weddings.

My point I'm making here is that people that coordinate these functions compile a guest list. You have your V.I.P.s, your best friends, family, closest acquaintances and colleagues. Then you have those that may or may not be notified via invitation, or may not be welcome. They are often blacklisted, or even put on the D-list. Now no one wants to be on this list.

Here's a clarification of The D-List for anyone that may be lost. It is compared to actors and actresses. The A and even B list actors get all the major starring roles in television shows and movies, the highest salaries, and their lives are closely scrutinized. They are at the top of their game. D-list actors are often resorted to taking cameo roles, character actors, and even voiceovers. Their appeal and popularity has waned. Not many people care to see them anymore.

We have those individuals, or even groups, that are on our D-lists. Everyone has one, whether or not you realize it. Prime example: go through your list of Facebook friends, or better yet your contacts in your phone. Those that you barely talk to or haven't spoken with in months, let along hang out with, may be on your D-List.

Here's both sides of the coin with this topic. Some folks that treat you badly, are parasitic, and simply are not that important in your life, typically comprise your D-List. They need to often be there, and kept at a distance. However, you should not put someone on there that's been loyal to you, has had your back when others have turned theirs, and have simply treated you like royalty. I want you to think for a second. Being on the D-List of someone you care about is equal to being the child who eats alone everyday at school lunchtime, the child who is always picked last for gym class, the loner with virtually no friends that never parties or goes out because no one invites them. They never went to prom in high school due to being on the D-list of certain kids in high school. That can be a painful feeling, especially when you thought you had friends that cared about you.

Recently I heard a profound quote "I don't have enemies; I have friends and people I don't know.". When you're on someone's back burner, or out of their mind (and vice versa), its as if they are a stranger to you. Therefore, they shouldn't matter to you. Keep it moving because others do care and value your time.

You may be trash to one person, but.treasure to someone else. You can't win over everybody, but you should act the way you want to be treated. Be the friend and relative that you want to have. There is no guarantee you won't get shunned, but at least you're treating folks proper.

It's hurtful, plain and simple, to feel insignificant. No one deserves to feel this way, and often it can be unintentional. Therefore, when evaluating your close circle of friends, choose carefully. You definitely want friends, not people that you don't know because they have changed and are impossible to get to know. You want to know that you're valued in their lives, and the feeling is reciprocated.

Therefore, crashing parties isn't necessary. Find folks that enjoy your company and you click with. Forget those that cast you aside. Love them, forgive them, but put them on your personal D-list and leave it at that.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gwendolyn Galmon: A Story of Physical and Personal Transformation

Personal change and transition is rarely easy. Anything worth having in life requires hard work, time, and effort. Gaffney resident Gwendolyn Galmon definitely realizes this. She applied these and many other principles to achieve her weight loss goals.

Gwendolyn is the latest face of Your Best Body Fitness Center and Day Spa here in Gaffney, appearing in their ads in the Weekly Ledger and also in the Gaffney Ledger. I decided to profile Mrs. Galmon and do a feature on her since I also work out at Your Best Body, know her personally,  and have witnessed some of her weight loss firsthand.

The ads currently state she has lost 108 pounds. She is actually down 112 at press time as her metabolism continues to work at a rapid pace. Galmon began this mission about a year ago when she learned she was going to be a grandmother. It was a reality check for Gwendolyn. She realized she was getting older, and wanted to be healthier and younger in body and mind. According to her "she wanted to get and look younger."

She has been a full time working wife and mother for years. During this time, she found herself losing her personal identity and self. Being the woman of her home was taking so much time and energy, not to mention her job. There did not seem to be enough time for herself. Therefore, Gwendolyn realized it was time to take care of her and give what she deserved: a new outlook internally and externally.

Many people that lose weight nowadays rely heavily on pills, gimmicks, and quick fixes. Gwendolyn took the traditional approach: a strict diet and a rigorous exercise regimen. She eats more vegetables with her meals, will eat fruit alone as a snack, and consumes lots of lean protein. This protein includes chicken breast, turkey breast, and ground turkey, and tilapia. No red meat or pork has been a part of her diet.

Some of the things she does far as exercise include going to Your Best Body several times per week concentrating on lots of cardio routines. She works on the elliptical machines and does ZUMBA classes on occasion. 10-15 minutes on certain days are also spent working abs and biceps. Gwendolyn also does a lot of heavy cardio outside of the gym, doing plenty of jogging and bike riding. Her brother bought her a bicycle.  It has been put to good use, including participation in bike rides.  The results for Mrs. Galmon have been nothing short of amazing.   

Gwendolyn has also found assistance and guidance through reading the book "17 Day Diet" by Dr. Mike Moreno. She highly recommends this book for anyone. This book can be found at Wal-Mart and Amazon, and is also available to download to your preferred e-reader.

This is a lady that has definitely won the battle of the bulge and defeated her inner demons as well.  She has also more of an outer glow about herself. Gwendolyn says that now that she feels comfortable with herself physically and financially, she is going to work on improving herself spiritually through her faith and journey with the Lord. I'm confident that she will succeed there as well.

People like Gwendolyn show and remind us that goals and advancements are achievable and worth the hard work. The key of course is the work and the effort. Many aren't willing to go that extra mile, to keep pushing regardless of obstacles. Mrs. Gwendolyn Galmon has done just that. This woman now stands as an inspiration and living proof for success in fitness, family, and life, and continuously striving for personal growth and development.


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Crutches In Life

Co-dependency can be a huge problem. Don't get me wrong, we all need a helping hand sometimes. But at some point, no one is going to hold your hand all the time.

We like to use many people, things, and circumstances as crutches or excuses. We use our family, spouses, friends, even the Lord. There are folks that even use public figures, celebrities and the slowly recovering economy as a crutch. It's not always a pretty sight.

People often get criticized and ridiculed for being lazy and/or not being independent enough. However, when you take advantage of something and you can't stand on your own two feet mentally, it's really serious and crucial.

Heck cell phones are even a crutch, and probably the latest and biggest one. Before no one could simply go without one. Now everywhere you go: malls, social gatherings, sporting events and restaurants, people are overly dependent on their mobile devices. It's their alarm clock, camera, computer, music player, day planner, their whole lives basically. Google and Apple continue to manufacture phones that keep users hooked. Currently people feel they have to get the iPhone 5 at some point. To me, that's a crutch if you don't have any other alternatives, and it can become dangerous.

Once again, we all need aids and help sometime. But if you can't be your own person, stand for something, make important decisions and judgment calls, you have maturing to do.

Unfortunately, too many people never grow out of this funk of co-dependency. It all starts with the person's mentality. One must wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that life is real and they gotta get real also.

One should be grateful that they have the tools and gifts where they do not have to be completely reliant on some type of crutch. The Good Lord giveth and taketh. Consequently, he can take something precious from you if its in his plan. One must remember that not every is guaranteed or lasts forever. Cherish what you have, before it becomes what you had.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seven Vices other than drugs and alcohol

Many know I don't smoke, drink, or take recreational drugs. This prompted an ex-girlfriend a few years back to ask me what my vice was. A vice is like an addiction, except it is not always dangerous I have a couple actually, as many of us do.

Here are seven of these such vices that exist.

1. Unhealthy food and drinks

People are consuming more of these now that the weather is cooler. Tasty sweet foods, desserts, buffets, and sodas are just some of the things that many crave. They also cannot do without them. That sugar rush has said to be equivalent to the type of rush crack addicts get. That sounds a little scary to me.

2. Social media

This is personally one of my biggest vices. Heck I have blogged about it on occasion. Currently Facebook and Twitter are the ones that are hot that have been around for so long. Now you have the two newcomers Instagram and Pinterest keeping the social media craze alive. People love to take photos, and they want to capture every moment via Instagram. Pinterest is good for photos, showcasing your interests, and putting certain items in a scrapbook type format. Many folks spend countless hours on some sort of social networking site and apps. It's a self-expression for them.

3. Entertainment (television, music, movies).

These forms of entertainment are good ways to escape from your normal life and to unwind. Television keeps a person's attention, whether be a football game, a suspenseful drama, the political debates, or a reality show. Music is the universal language, and has really become enhanced thanks to iTunes and Pandora. You can listen to music of all times virtually anywhere. Movies are cheap to rent and stream thanks to Netflix and Redbox. Then you have film buffs such as I than enjoy catching a movie at least once per week.

4. Sex

Sex is one of the greatest ways to express your love and affection for someone else. You see sex everywhere now, including in some of the previously mentioned vices. There are those that love it that much. You even have sex addicts or "nymphos”. They can't get enough of it.

5. Gambling

Gambling is one of the more dangerous of the vices I'm listing. Yes even the education lottery is gambling. Vegas, Atlantic City, and numerous Native American casinos stay in business due to folks being addicted to gambling. It is so serious there is Gamblers Anonymous just like AA and NA. You can ruin your life and the others around you through gambling.

6. Working Out.

Yes as much as I love health and wellness, even working out is a vice. I mentioned a couple of years ago about "The Gym Rat" There is a reason this term is so popular, and that is because these people spent so much time in the gym seven days/week, for two and three hours at a time. Your body needs rest to properly recover and even if you're a professional athlete or bodybuilder, you must set a limit. It is awesome to get those stunning results and compliments from others. Nevertheless, you want to be able to enjoy those accolades.

7. Shopping

Women have been known for years for spending hours in the mall, spending hundreds of dollars. Present day, both genders are spending lots of money in various fashions and forms of shopping. Online shopping has become huge, especially with eBay and Amazon, and one can easily spend hours dishing out money. Convenience can make one more apt to do or try something. The explosion of coupons, Groupons, and LivingSocial deals has also made it easier just to shop the day and night away.

So what is your vice, if not drugs and alcohol?


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Educating Our Youth Too Soon, Or Not Soon Enough?

I was having a discussion with some mothers and some schoolteachers, some of which are also moms. We were discussing when is it too early to begin starting your child to school, or should there be an age limit. Many said around 2-3, and no later than 5. One said daycares and preschools are trying to force children to grow up too fast. She said the age should be 6 or 7 before they begin school. We're talking about at average to above average intelligence here.

Back in the 1950s-1970s, the earliest you could begin school was typically first grade. It was definitely a progression from the one room schoolhouses like you would see on Little House On The Prairie. Then in the early 80s, more children were beginning kindergarten at age five. By the 90s, daycare facilities were becoming more popular and children were beginning school as early as age three, and four year old kindergartens were the norm. 

Monterossi programs and good daycares now nurture and develop a toddler's mind. There is no more babysitting or sitting a child in the front of the tube with a Spongebob or Wiggles DVD. Age appropriate skills such as ABCs, counting and even handwriting are taught as soon as the child shows the intellect for it, sometimes under two years old.

Personally, I think it is all fine and good, so long as the child is not being forced to learn. Slowly bringing them along and proper development of their abilities is the best way in my opinion. Many parents want to give their children the best chance to succeed. It is often best for them to learn these proper habits early on in life.

The college landscape and then the workplace are all competitive now. Being the best and the brightest is often a leg up, especially when competing with countries such as China and Russia.

A child can still be a child while learning to read and write early, interact with others, and even learn a skill or talent such as art or music. It does not mean they cannot have fun and play. Playtime and outdoor activities are highly encouraged as many children do not play outside as they once did. Therefore, they are not growing up fast, they are progressing and growing their brains.

Children will be children, and all should be given the best chance to succeed. No Child Left Behind was started with this mindset. Let's not backtrack to the 1950s. Our children are the future, and we have to keep them up with the current trends.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Ok For Guys To Receive Gifts, Right?

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and Wal-Mart is once again doing layaway during the next couple of months. Women receive gifts all the time, especially around Christmas, Valentine's Day, their birthday, and other such holiday. Men, we also receive gifts as well. However, it is not always in the same grand gesture as with women. Not many of us get gifts delivered to our jobs. We rarely receive stuff like jewelry and candy. That being said, does it make us less than men when women give us such presents, or frequent gifts from the heart? I certainly say no it doesn't.

We all have a special woman in our life, even if we are single. It could be your mother. It might be your sister,daughter, or auntie. Could even be a close platonic female friend. Either way, if a woman wants to show their appreciation through cooking your favorite dish, buying your favorite video game, or even a new phone or DVD, allow her to. That doesn't necessarily make you soft or a golddigger. It makes you grateful.

There are many women that like to give as well as receive. Some go overboard and seem creepy. However, their hearts are in the right place. Let that woman appreciate and show her love towards you.

There's not always a catch. Often a simple thank you or being good to her will do. Don't always think females have an agenda when you receive something nice.

Fellas, trust me when I tell you this. When you have a good woman that does these things for you, you best appreciate her. Someone else will if you won't. Look at other's relationships and feel fortunate.

I'm grateful for all that my female relatives and friends, and ex girlfriends have did for me. Most of it I never asked or required of them. They did it and do it because they care. It's always best when its genuine and from the heart.

Men, let these women in your life show their affection towards you. The smallest gift can make the biggest impact. Appreciate the gift, and the thought she put towards it. She did give it to you, and by choice.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Be Thankful For What You Have Year Round

I heard on a radio show recently that the slogan at the unemployment office should be to be thankful for what you have before it becomes what you had. That got me to thinking, especially for those experiencing hardships and such.

Ok so you don't have the person of your dreams? You're not making six figures. You can't afford or get the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy III. Heck your phone can't even get Instagram and you're feeling deprived like an unpopular high school student. There are far greater tragedies.

Now think about this: someone died last night and it wasn't you. You are still breathing, you have money coming in, and you have warm food and a roof over your head. You have people that care about you. All of your bodily parts and joints are attached and functional. You have all your senses. There is still good in the world. Basically, there is a lot to be thankful for.

Someone out there may have it better than you, but there is always someone worse off.

Watching movies such as It's A Wonderful Life can put life into perspective. One must think how different things would be if they never existed at all. Each of our lives truly has an impact.

Therefore, be thankful for what you have accomplished and the treasures that are available. Just like cheap gas, 99 cent double cheeseburgers, and even job security, they could all be gone in an instant.

It seems to have become a common theme on Facebook this month for users to list things they are thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.  I personally believe this is awesome. This should be done year round, not just for one month. Thanksgiving is over now: so now as the December holidays and the year winds down, its time to remain thankful.  

Continue to practice this the next time you spend your evenings listening to sad music and sulking.Trust me; it isn't worth all of the self-pity.


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Personal Code Of Ethics

Ethics seem to go out the window, especially in a election year. This year seems no different as both camps from the Obama and Romney administrations are slinging shade and mud. Even during smear campaigns, I strive to maintain a code of ethics and conduct. Here is the code I have created for myself.

1. Act The Way You Want To Be Treated
2. Don't lie, cheat, steal, or commit murder intentionally.
3. Respect the sanctity of a marriage and/or committed relationship and don't go for a married woman's advances, even if she's separated..
4. Not only respect yourself, also protect yourself, and enjoy yourself in life.
5. Help others as much as possible.
6. Don't do or buy things to keep up with the Joneses.
7. Keep God #1 and honor and love his teachings.
8. Give 100% in all of my endeavors.
9. The body is a temple. Therefore, lead a healthy and consistent lifestyle through diet and exercise.
10. Be the best son, nephew, cousin, friend, writer, co-worker, employee (and eventually father and husband) possible.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Got Your Own Car, Crib, Clothes Courtesy Of Uncle Sam

You say you're independent because you have your own car, place and your bills are paid for. But rarely does anyone mention who pays the rent. It's typically Uncle Sam in the form of welfare, WIC, food stamps, and government housing. Or its your child's father in the form of child support. Also, you have five figure tax refunds every year. And you may even work at least a part time job, or have a good side hustle going. I'm guessing that's ghetto fabulous.
It seems for many women, and even some men, their children are sources of income to them. They don't have a financial care in the world. They receive hundreds of dollars in food stamps/month, the system pays for rent, and often relief is offered for clothes and other necessities. Meanwhile, these baby mamas can leave the kids with her mom and sister and stay up all hours of the night, every night, partying, drinking, and possibly making more babies.
Now I'm actually liberal towards welfare, child support and government relief (note I said relief, not handouts).  There are many folks that are out of work and are struggling hard. The unemployment rate is nearly 9%, and many of these folks get denied for even food stamps. While they have to swallow their pride and work fast food or bag groceries to feed their families, the ole ghetto fabulous and white trash get to collect giant checks and live and eat like royalty. They have found their ultimate hustle and they are milking it.
I saw a joke on Twitter that's nasty but true. Censored, it basically states you can tell when a woman is good at sex (can also be a man). They have lots of children by multiple partners, and nobody wants for anything thanks to Uncle Sam.
Again, I'm not slamming the good single parents and such. In a way, I can trash the system, but even they can police people but so much. My problem is with the single mother living in Section 8 housing with three kids, and she's wondering how she is going to pay her lights or feed her children for tomorrow. It appears some know how to work the system as well as a man's penis and well.
Therefore, before you go claiming your independence on this day where we celebrate the signing of the Constitution, tell me this. What type of work skills do you have? When was your last job or legitimate business venture? How far did you go in school? Are you a good parent to your children and how so? These shouldn't be difficult questions. However for some, they're multiple choices.
Renegades, as I refer to them as, are one of the huge reasons conservatives target them every election year. They want to limit and even eliminate public aid. I'm a hard working taxpayer so I do understand one side of the coin. However, you can't punish the innocent, and those that need this money.

Also, deadbeat parents need to pay their back child support. It's hard to get anyone of any class, race, or other origin to disagree with that logic.

I wish I had the solution or a magic wand to end this madness and make the system balanced. Unfortunately I do not. This is merely a sad observation on how some of the biggest hustlers aren't drug dealers, gamblers, or prostitutes. They are single, barely responsible parents.
A change in our country is definitely necessary, and it needs to be here. I'm hoping that whichever government we have after November focuses on this after unemployment, gas prices, and gay marriage.
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Courage: More Than Just A Red Badge

We have many challenges in our lives. Romantic, financial, social, health. Many turn to God, or another higher power for help. I personally prefer God. However, one receives must needed courage to face their demons and challenges head on each day.

It's not easy to speak your mind, to stand out in a crowd when you're by yourself, or to even go after what you want.  Gathering that proper nerve and ambition, and being cool under pressure is driven by your confidence, swagger, and courage.

Courage helps me in every facet of my life, even my writing. Many topics I choose to write about aren't easy. However, after careful thought, research, and prayer, I'm able to put together material that's real and from the heart. It may be random and left field, but it comes with my full conviction.

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, just as the Scarecrow and Tin Man discovered about what they were seeking, learned a lesson. He wanted courage. It was within him all the time, especially when he helped protect Dorothy and lead them to the Wizard. And it is in us, we may have to dig deeper to find it.

Courage resides in firefighters and policemen who continue to do their jobs in a post 9/11 world. It also resides in President Obama, running for a second term when many feel he hasn't done anything significant. It even resides in Obama's opponent, Mitt Romney, who tries to find ways to bring down his opponent while building his profile and keeping dirt from his name. The public eye requires a lot of courage anyways. If you don't have it, you should stay in hiding.

We're in a season of change. The leaves, cooler weather, and later on a new year. The challenges ahead always require a great deal of courage.

Therefore, don't be afraid to take a calculated risk. Don't be scared to ask when you need help. Know when to go the extra mile, and when to rest and fall back. Courage is the driving force in facing any challenge and besting any test.

Let's see how much courage you have the next time you decide to make a life changing decision, or when your beliefs and morals are on the line. That will test you, and you won't be able to hide then.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Event and Party Planning Part 2

This is the second part of my event planning and party series. I have been to several different functions since I wrote the last one. I have saw things I liked and things that repulsed me. Here are 10 more quick tips to help make your event a success.

1. Be sensitive of factors such as weather, time and season.

This especially applies during the summer months, when its really hot and humid. It's not ideal to have an event outside in the middle of the day or at noon. You should have it in the evening. And if possible, always have an indoor option, or be under a place with a giant tent. Also, pay attention to forecasts regarding other weather such as snow or ice. Be prepared to postpone or cancel your event if people cannot travel on the roads safely.

2. Utilize social media to the fullest when advertising, but don't abuse it.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and now Instagram are all awesome vehicles for promoting your event. However, there are downsides. One you can be too persistent. All of these networks have appropriate usage policies. Don't advertise so much that you appear to be spam. Reminders once or twice/week are adequate. No one sets out to be the annoying planner/promoter. Use alternate methods as well such as evites, mass texts, and old fashioned phone calls. Word of mouth also never goes out of style.

3. Be specific regarding refreshments, and try to offer at least a partial menu.

Please don't encourage people to RSVP for an event so you can get a headcount for food, then all you have is finger food, chips, fruit and meatballs. If that's all you're having, good. But indicate if you're having light refreshments or a meal. People want and need to be prepared going in, especially if they're bringing small children and they haven't eaten yet.

4. Indicate specifics about gifts.

Specifics like this usually applies to birthday parties, weddings, bridal and baby showers. We're in the age where having a registry is the best. It's hard to go wrong with Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target. Also, if you prefer no gifts, either ask for simply gift cards or no gifts at all. You do not want people spending their hard earned money on a gift you're not going to use or appreciate.

5. Offer directions and hotel info where applicable.

I touched on this in the first part, but it would be nice to copy and paste EXACT directions from the nearest interstate or major highway. And if its a weekend or night thing and you have guests traveling far, check with local hotels for group discounts. Let your guests know the prices of the various hotels, the code to use for the discount, and the deadline to reserve their rooms.

6. Give folks a deadline to RSVP.

When dealing with adults, you shouldn't have to nudge or badger them consistently to see if they are coming or not. Set a reasonable, flexible deadline for responding to the invite, and leave it at that.

7. Location, location, location!!!

This is a motto in real estate and applies to planning events. And I'm not just talking venue, I'm talking city. Don't have it so far away where its unreasonable for anyone to come, and have it in a good neighborhood with a relaxed environment. No one needs to be worried if their vehicle will be vandalized. Take into account where your guests will be traveling for and cater to the majority, but be reasonable for everyone.

8. Make the event profitable, but cost appropriate and effective.

You want your admission costs, drinks, parking, and other expenses to be reasonable. For example, don't charge $40 for a party that's in a small crowded restaurant and there's little to no food. Reach a medium far as your cost. Either charge a steep price and have food and drinks on the house, or have ticket options and VIP for the other perks. Also, take into account travel costs as mentioned previously. Consider even charging a flat rate for a party bus or van.

9. If your event is in a restaurant, call ahead for private reservations.

Go to restaurants that have private party rooms. Currently Golden Corral, Broncos Mexican Restaurant, Gatti Land Pizza, and Carrabbas are some restaurants with private rooms for groups. Trust me, you don't want folks all around and intruding on your party.

10. Treat your guests well after the party is over, and know who to invite back and who to leave alone.

The ones that are most loyal to you, always show support, and even bring others are the ones to continue to invite and associate with. Don't invite that person that's always causing trouble, can't hold their liquor, or is simply a nuisance to those in attendance. Again you want your guests happy, comfortable and at ease.

Hope this helps. Perhaps I should start planning certain events more. Heck I feel I'm decent at it. I may just do that. Stay tuned readers,...

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reading Is Fundamental, Fun, and More Common Again

It seemed for a while people were doing less reading and more watching of television, sports, movies, and other activities, including video games. Technology has been scrutinized so much over the years. One positive though, thanks in part to smartphones and tablets, has been the number of people that read more. I couldn't be more pleased as an avid reader, writer, and blogger.

The iPad first came out a couple of years ago, followed by other tablets such as the Samsung Nexus series. Then Barnes and Noble and Amazon started releasing a series of apps and e-readers. Currently the most popular seems to be the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire HD has now been released, to compete with the upcoming release of the iPad 3. Technology is being geared and driven by folk's desire to read again, but with the most convenience.

People are reading and downloading books now more than ever. Book club memberships are at an all-time high, and even children are taking a vested interest in reading again. The library system may be slowly going obsolete, but it seems that many are finding ways to obtain their favorite book.

Thus far it appears the racy book series Fifty Shades of Grey is the bestseller of the year. Women of all adult ages and walks of life had read this series, and even a few guys. A movie deal is already in the works. Many other book series, such as the Harry Potter, Twilight, and recently The Hunger Games, has been turned to movies due to the fan base. I expect more books to be part of this conversion now that reading has made a revival.

I can remember a time where you would see people reading everywhere: in parks, at doctors’ offices, and even at social events. These technology devices have definitely refueled this desire.

Perhaps now technology can work on helping our younger generation more sociable and less dependent on reality television and subpar entertainment. We now see that it has people of all ages reading again. Hopefully this will lead to more writers, higher book sales, and higher test scores and graduation rates. Reading is fundamental and knowledge is always power.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

10 Effective and Maximizing Time Management Tips

It is too often I hear folks speak of being super busy and not having enough time to do certain things that they like to do. They talk of having too much going. I feel time, like money, can be managed well and maximized. We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. Ultimately we do make time for the more important things. However, here are 10 tips that have helped me through the years that allow me to work a full time job, write and blog, workout four-five times/week, and still have time to go out, get proper rest, and do other recreational activities.

1.    Buy yourself a notepad.

Wal-Mart sells notepads extremely cheap. They could supplement a day planner or your organizer on your smartphone. You can write down things and reminders throughout the day, add things to various lists (to-do, grocery, honey-do). Notepads can be awesome even in our technology age. You can always use a sheet of paper for something, and these notepads can help you plan and organize more effectively.

2. Set a daily and weekly schedule.

Map out your schedule, day by day, hour by hour, for the entire week. Consider it like a time diary. After about a week, you will start knowing where your time is going and where to adjust. A consistent routine helps as you eventually condition your body and mind to do certain things on certain days at certain times.

3. Plan ahead for big dates and events.

If you know an important birthday, holiday, or occasion is on the way, plan ahead for that. See if you need to take time off from your job, make the time to buy anything necessary for that day. If you're traveling, plan your route carefully. Before I got a GPS, I would use MapQuest and plan my route down there and back, and have all my directions on one sheet.

4. Make time for family and friends, and even relaxation.

Being a busy working parent and adult can be taxing. Your family and friends deserve your time, and you should allot a certain period for them, preferably a couple of days, maybe even a week. They won't be around forever, so you want to see them while you can. Also, schedule and take personal time for yourself.  An hour per day can make a huge difference. This is important for refocusing, recharging and relaxation.

5. Sacrifice things that are insignificant and irrelevant.

Often you need rest and time to yourself, and to sacrifice other things to accomplish your tasks. You may not be able to go to that movie or that football game, but there is work to be done. It is a balancing and a prioritizing act. You must know what is most important to you in your life and what can be left on the back burner.

6. Check your daily schedule/routine daily and make adjustments as necessary.

Adjustments will often be needed. You may have to pencil in something or someone into a packed day, or you may be needed at some capacity (working late, taking on a different project). Or,  more time may have opened up, or you may get sick. Stay organized but also be flexible.

7. Account and prepare for emergencies and setbacks.

This is an extension of #6. There are many things that happen that are out of control, such as acts of God, or family problems. Become self-disciplined enough so when these situations arise, you aren't left all paranoid on how you will get things done. There is no room for procrastination.

8. Prepare and plan constantly and consistently.

There's an old saying "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Often you must forecast beyond unforeseen circumstances. Again, don't procrastinate and put off certain things. It could get worse, and end up being more time consuming. It's similar to maintaining your body, house and/or vehicle. Proper planning can help keep you on track.

9. Learn to say no when overwhelmed.

The word "no" can be your friend. Be flexible but if you cannot fit it in your schedule or budget, don't worry. Also, don't double book yourself. That can cause you not focusing your full attention and wearing you out.

10. Make sure your time and money are consistent and sync up.

Time is money so be mindful of how you spend both. Manage your vacation time at work so when you take off, you have enough days for other occasions. Also, don't plan for a week's vacation when you can only afford three days. Both time and money are valuable, and cannot be used loosely. You have to make you what you're doing with both is worthwhile.


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Monday, September 3, 2012

Seven Types of Critics

Criticism is an aspect that's necessary, but can be way overblown. Not only do TV shows, movies, music, and even food get criticized, so do people. Authors, coaches, athletes, politicians. If you're in the public eye in any fashion, you are subject to criticism. 
There are several right and wrong ways to criticize someone. Here are seven ways/types of critics.

1. The mean, negative cynic.

They seem to never have any good to say. They are steadily ready for you to screw up so they can tell you all about it. Then even when you're doing good, they revert back to that one bad effort, one mistake. They are only looking at the bad, and seeing the glass as completely empty.

2.  The Hater

We have seen this popularized during the days of Showtime At The Apollo, even with Waldorf and Statler (the two older men from the Muppets). They can also be called hecklers. They don't even offer any useful advice to help you improve, and are similar to the Cynic. They are only looking for flaws. The Haters are so jealous and bitter about who you are and what you're doing, they're trying to tear you down in any way, shape, or form. They may even point to things irrevelant to what you are doing. Perfect example here would be the Haters and Cynics talking trash about Gabby Douglas's hair during the Olympics, rather than focusing on her performance. That is pure hating when you have no motive and your main mission is to put down that person.

3. The Analyzer

This person is not always negative, or even nitpicking. Rather they are like an ESPN sports analyst, or a CNN political analyst. They are looking at every aspect of the person, place or thing they are criticizing. They can go overboard, as they get down to the nitty gritty with details on how that person chews their gum, their technique, how they move their hands, or how the special effects in a movie weren't special enough. Nothing is left to chance with an Analyzer.

4. The Non Researcher

This is another bad type of critic. You could even call them like a Rush Limbaugh or a Don Imus. They like to hurl insults, accusations, and assumptions, but have no real proof or evidence to support any of these claims. I'm the type of person where if you're going to say something about myself, my writings, my family, or what have you, back yourself up. Don't have yourself looking foolish. Tell the entire story, not just parts of it that make that person look worse. Give a full, truthful detail of what's going on.

5. The Kind and Gentle

This critic mostly has only has nice things to say. If they make a negative or disparaging comment, they look for something they like, something kind and positive. They want to keep you on the up and up. I call my mom my kindest critic because this is how she is. She doesn't like to put anyone down so when she has to critique something, she does it with love and kindness.

6. The Constructor

Constructive criticism is an awesome balance. It isn't always nice, but it's usually truthful and helpful. The Constructor sees the flaws, and may offer a solution to correct that flaw to make you better. The idea is improving upon what you're doing, helping you to grow.

7. The Mentor/Coach

Good mentors and coaches provide constructive criticism and offer a balance of things and suggestions designed to motivate and help you be your best. At times you may be mad or hurt at what they say. However, their main goal is helping you reach your potential. A Coach or Mentor like critique is working with you to improve that handicap or weakness. They note it, and want to assist you into fixing it, or making it a strength or a positive. Often we remember these critiques the best because these are the ones that are God-sent and meant to elevate us, rather than tear us down. They come from that loving, caring place that The Kind And Gentle are from, but it is more advanced and suited to assist you. It is designed to be a learning experience.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer movie review and wrap up

Overall this summer movie season has been down. There weren't but a handful of movies that were opening night or even matinee worthy in my eyes. Here's my overall analysis of the 2012 summer movie season


The two best movies this summer were without question comic book inspired: The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. The Avengers had the most action, and The Dark Knight Rises had the stronger storyline. The Amazing Spiderman was also good, but paled in comparison with the other two movies. Also, Men In Black III, and the rock musical Rock Of Ages were both awesome. It was good to see Will Smith back on the big screen for the first time since 2008's Seven Pounds. Rock of Ages was fun, especially for fans of the 80s and classic rock. That is one must have soundtrack.


This would be a longer list had I actually went to see more movies. But of the movies I've seen personally and seen reviews and such on, there are four bad movies that stand out. These are Dark Shadows, The Dicktator, Battleship, and Sparkle. Tim Burton really messed the bed trying to remake a classic drama from the 60s. The Dicktator was corny, and showed why Sacha Baron Cohen needs to stop making movies. Battleship tried too hard to be like Transformers.Peter Berg, a favorite director of mine, simply failed in his attempt at box office magic or a good storyline out of a movie based off a popular board game. Sparkle was actually the better of these four. However, the plot and storyline were predictable. Only the music, Whitney Houston's final appearance, and Mike Epps's superb acting made this movie watchable.


There were some watchable movies and some that didn't completely stink. Some of the watchable ones were That's My Boy, Expendables 2, The Campaign and Ted. The Campaign and Ted were the "filthy"comedies of the summer and both were laugh out loud funny. That's My Boy also was. Adam Sandler has been hit and miss lately in his movies, and this one brought back a glimpse at why he has been highly regarded for years.

I saw Snow White and The Huntsman and was not impressed, but it wasn't terrible. The animated movies Madagascar 3 and Ice Age Contininental Drift did pretty well, although I have yet to see either one. Disney's Pixar annual summer movie Brave is also one I haven't seen, but it suffered from poor reviews and low box office numbers.
I also saw Tyler Perry's Witness Protection and it was better than I expected. It is not his greatest work, but its far from his stereotypical, Madea movies. It's a nice crossover.

I also did not see Magic Mike, had no desire to. But the movie was obviously popular among women, and even former and current male strippers. Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaghey, and the other guys really captivated that aspect of nightlife that is typically ignored.

Here's hoping the Fall movie season offers more flare.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer TV review and wrap-up

No longer does one have to suffer the rerun blues during the summer months. Summer television programming has been going on for years, and really peaked this summer season.  Here's my review of the overall season: the best, worst, and the rest.


It goes without saying the 2012 Summer Olympics in London caught our collective eyes for two weeks. Veteran stars such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt continued to shine. Newcomers such as Gabby Douglas rose up. Plus both the men's and women's basketball teams captured the gold. America once again dominated the medal count.

You also had the ending of another successful season of Swamp People. One half of the Guist twins passed after the show filmed, and other drama happened. However, the show was still exciting, fresh, and full of unexpected twists. New shows Black Dynamite, Anger Management with Charlie Sheen and The American Bible Challenge have really been good and been a breath of fresh air. Anger Management will be back for a second season in January.

Without question, the mini series of the summer was The Hatfields and McCoys on the History channel. Kevin Costner returned to TV to recreate arguably the most epic and famous rivalry in American history.


Love and Hip Hop Atlanta was nothing but VH-1s latest coon picnic. It seemed, however, on Monday nights, many people couldn't get enough of the ignorant antics of Stevie "Steebie" J, Lil Scrappy, Rasheeda, and the rest. Soul Man on TV Land was also pretty bad. I could not even get past two episodes. It seems Cedric The Entertainer and Niecy Nash are getting too desperate to revive their careers. The new show Love Addiction on TV One wasn't necessarily bad on a coon level. It was bad because it was predictable and clique. It was mostly good women picking bad men, the women's family and friends getting angry about it all, and then staging a love intervention. By the end of the show, the couple had decided to break up. Different couples each episode but basically the same tired storyline and outcome.

Now before you all think, I'm only bashing the black shows, think again. The remake of Dallas was also a flop. Apparently it didn't matter that JR, Sue Ellen and the original cast still alive were on. The younger generation of Ewings simply failed to wow the audience long term. Some classics should simply be left alone.


My guilty pleasure this summer was Sullivan and Son. It's a lot like Cheers, except with worse storylines and less dynamic characters. Produced by Vince Vaughn, Steve Sullivan decides to give up his high profile job as a corporate attorney in New York to move home to Pittsburgh and buy his family's bar so they can retire (which they really don't). Classic actors such as Dan Lauria, Brian Doyle-Murray and up and comer Owen Benjamin keep you wanting more.

I tried to get into Breaking Bad. Good show, but I feel behind. I think I will watch the show from the beginning so I can fully understand the backstory.

It seems other popular shows in the past summers, such as So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, and Single Ladies, have started to fade. Single Ladies was already weak and stereotypical. When Stacey Dash didn't return for this season, that made the show even worse.

These are my views and thoughts. Now I look forward for the new Fall TV lineup and of course football.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Suicide: Giving Up On Life, But Why?

Life is tough, always has been, always will be. It seems that many more people, young and old, are ending their lives early. They are throwing in the towel too easily instead of toughing it out.

This is the type of stuff that inspires Facebook drama and Lifetime movies. It also puts gun control laws in question. Suicide is nothing to be taken lightly. One can reach an extreme state of depression and mental anguish and feel this is their only way out. Matter of fact 9/11 is also known as National Suicide Prevention Day.

Depression is definitely a leading cause and reason for suicide. It seems people now, especially the younger generation, are doing it more common. They cannot handle heartbreak, money problems, or even others picking on them or gossiping about them. They feel their way is only one way out. Of course, they are wrong.

The Columbine kids felt this way after shooting up their high school. The same occurred with the Virginia Tech gunman in 2007.

 However, it seems these folks cannot live with the guilt and terror of taking lives, so they end up ending theirs.

Many notable celebrities, such as Ray Combs, former Family Feud host, retired NFL linebacker Junior Seau, novie director Tony Scott , and most recently Robin Williams have taken the most valuable gift there is from themselves. They may have had money and fame, but they are still human inside.

Suicide hotlines and mental assistance are available. One popular one is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Too many have too much pride to seek professional help. What they don't realize is that failure to do this can make them even more insane. Regarding a suicidal scenario, these individuals need an added boost.

Therefore, do not ignore someone that's on the brink of ending their life. You have to at least get them to see why life is worth living. They at least need to see all those that love them and would miss them.

Life is really hard, but precious, and shouldn't be thrown away.  Ending your own life is the ultimate, and it’s unimaginable to me.  However, it does happen, and they need the proper help. They may thank you later when they come to their senses and realize how terrible and senseless suicide is.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seven Famously Inspired Hip Hop Mixed Drinks

Hip hop and alcohol seems to mesh well together. A rapper's drink of choice goes beyond Cristal, Vodka, or Petron. They love many mixed drinks, which are typically combined with different types of alcohol, candies, and even drugs. Lil Wayne has become very notorious for always having something potentially lethal in his red solo cup. Here are seven popular drinks amongst the hip hop community.
1. Gin And Juice
Like many of these drinks, this was popularized in a song by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Hip hop was in in its early stages, and it seemed cool to sip on gin and juice. It was cost effective, easy to make, and popular at parties, bars, and even cookouts. Gin and juice was deemed primitive by today's standards though.
2. Syrup
Three 6 Mafia and UGK made this drink popular in the late 90s. The mix is simple: E&J Brandy, Sprite and Jolly Ranchers, but it can give you an addicting buzz. Rapper Pimp C had some in his system when he passed. This is the drink that helped spawn the others on this list.
3. Purple Drank
This is another version of syrup, and supposedly much more potent. Lil Wayne and his camp love this drink. It seems to be one of the newer, popular ones out. Actual cough syrup and codeine is usually in purple drink, along with different sodas. Think of it as Syrup 2.0.
4. Crunk Juice.
This is a lot like Vodka and Red Bull, except its known not only to get you hype, but intoxicate you quicker. Instead of Vodka, you mix Hennessy cognac. Rapper and producer Lil Jon popularized this and even would carry a giant cup with Crunk Juice embroidered on the front. No wonder Lil Jon and his crew would get crunk and get crunk.
5. Thug Passion
This is another drink that came from the West Coast hip hop scene, most notably from Tupac Shakur. Thug Passion still seems to resurface from time to time.  It was also a song, and the main ingredient was Alize liquor. Like Gin and Juice, it lacked most of the extra ingredients, it was mostly alcohol. Very popular amongst the fellas.
6. Hurricane
Gotta admit, in my research, I didn't realize Hurricanes were inspired by hip hop. But they had their hey day right after Syrup hit the scene.  It is actually a combination of syrup, fruit juice, grenadine, gin, and many other concoctions. There are several different hurricanes.  E-40 is an artist that made this popular in his raps, and many Hurricanes are still made and consumed.
7. Colt 45 Blast
This drink has been under much fire and controversy in the past. Snoop Dogg has been the spokesperson for it. It is Colt 45, but mixed with soda and soda like ingredients, and even some fruit flavor.  It nearly got yanked from the counters as complaints were it resembled a soda too much, and was sold with and near the sodas in many stores.

I'm confident some mixologist is in the lab concocting a potent, exciting drink for rappers to profit from and get intoxiciated.