My Thoughts On: Vermont

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The original version of this post was written in January 2014, and I’ve preserved that underneath my addition. A second post was written less than a month after I arrived to explain why I chose Vermont. That’s also preserved below.

Vermont has been very good to me so far. I’ve seen state parks, I’ve had two different jobs, learned about a whole new industry, and successfully made my way back into school. Vermont has been both exactly what I expected, and not at all like what I expected at the same time.

What I expected was the feeling of a fresh start. I’ve made an entirely different set of friends since I moved here, I’ve lived in both an apartment with a formal landlord and a house with landlords who have also been counted as friends. Vermont has given me the chance to live out my Waupaca dream, in a rural setting where I can go out walking at night and not have to worry about being mugged or killed.

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What I didn’t expect was to find a diverse group of people and experiences. People say that Vermont is “granola and liberal” but I’ve found much of the opposite. “Liberal” and “conservative” also have different implications here. I was used to “conservative” being associated with “anti-gay” whereas here, gay and straight people are very integrated. Gun culture is huge – most people own a gun and know how to use it. I feel like hunting is bigger here than it is in Wisconsin, and that’s saying something. There are more options for healthier food sources, but it’s not as pushed as it appears to be on the internet. Vermont still has an Olive Garden, several McDonald’s, and plenty of other junk food places, alongside the Healthy Living, Trader Joe’s, and organic sections in the grocery stores.

I used to think that “being stuck” where one grew up was a Wisconsin small town thing, but it’s everywhere. There’s plenty of people who were born and raised here that never left the town they grew up in. Some people are happy with that, others complain about it. It’s a fact of life. I got sick of being one of the complainers, which is why I made the decision to move.

I’m starting to see the world a little differently as I continue to spend time here. I hear stories of, and have met people who lived in rural trailer parks, people who knew heavy drug users, people who go back and forth from Canada to their homes on a regular basis, people who can guzzle hand-tapped maple syrup like it’s water. Most folks out here are county-oriented, and love the outdoors; skiing, hiking, camping and the like.

I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do after I get my bachelors. There are parts of Vermont that I love and there are parts that I’ve definitely had my fill of. At the end of the day, Vermont was the right choice for me in 2014, but who knows where life will bring me come (presumably) 2018.

Respectfully re-submitted,

Lukas Condie

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(Originally posted, May 2014)

Since so many people ask why I have come to Vermont, I’m making a post about it.

Reasons to be in Vermont:

  • Legal Equality.
    • If I do plant my roots here, I won’t even have to worry for a moment about getting married and having kids.
  • State natural beauty.
    • Vermont is one of the greenest and earth-friendly areas I know of.
  • To experience state culture.
    • Vermont has a uniqueness to it that really interests me, as someone who is proud of my own uniqueness.
  • The UU Church.
    • I have so much of my own spiritual journey in front of me.
      And in general it’s a place for me to start again. I lost my ambition and passion about 4 years ago, but have found it again here.

My goals to work towards while I am a Vermont resident:

Health

  • Achieve a goal weight of 165 pounds.
  • Create and maintain a balanced diet, including recognizing and utilizing proper portion sizes.
  • Expand my palette so that I can understand food in different cultures.
  • Walk/Jog 2 miles a day.

Finance

  • Pay off my Credit Card, and close that account.
  • Put money away to go back to college.
  • Put away six month’s worth of income in savings.
  • Know my credit score and continue to work to improve it.
  • Apply for a charge card to continue working with my credit rating, but not fall into a debt cycle again.

Education

  • Finish my bachelor’s degree, after re-starting with Community College.
  • Polish and continue to improve my online article database.
  • Manage and execute a proper reading list.
  • Continue to polish and improve my online skills, starting with blogging and continuing through all social networking.

Culture

  • Define a list of TV Shows and Movies that I have backlogged to view.
  • Define myself, my needs, and my ideas more completely.
  • More specifically, develop my identity and passions more fully.
  • Create and execute my own unique adult fashion style.
  • Refine what social networking means to me, which ones I use, and which ones I will grow with.
  • Learn how to shoot a gun.
  • Define Project #BeyondVT2018 and what the next step in my life will be.

 

(Original posting, January 2014):

It’s been over a year and a half since I last wrote an original post on here. That was 2012, and it’s now 2014.

My life has truly changed in a lot of ways. I’ve changed jobs, I’m single, and most importantly, I’ve developed a lot about who I am and what I stand for and believe in.

I feel like I’ve hit a wall here in Wisconsin. I’ve established a work history, a credit history, and have really felt the effects of letting myself fail out of college the first time around. At the same time, I’m thankful for how life has played out, since I wouldn’t be the person I am without the struggles I’ve gone through. I’ve taken the roots I started with about myself at Parkside and have a budding forest of trees worth of personality, beliefs, values, and interests now.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’m planning to move to Vermont this summer. I vacationed there last summer and absolutely fell in love with the place. Legally speaking, I can get married, have kids, and keep a job without anything interfering with any of those. That was the first thing that drew me there. During my trip, I learned plenty about the culture of the state, the charm of the people there, and the absolute beauty of the land. I can see why it’s considered to be the escape land for New Yorkers, just like how Wisconsin is the escape land for Chicago people. I’ve toured the Community College, and the public University, with plans to be on track to be back in school by Fall 2015.

I’ve come a long way since leaving Kenosha nearly 3 years ago, and I still have a long journey ahead of me. There’s plenty more to come.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Thoughts On: Pacifism

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Pacifism: opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds; an attitude or policy of nonresistance.

That’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of pacifism. There’s actually quite an extensive commentary on different specifics of the philosophy of pacifism as a whole. Urban Dictionary opens it’s definition with:

“A political or religious ideology that stresses peace over violence or war. A central tenet of many Eastern religions, and also surprisingly widespread in modern-day Europe.”

What bothers me about Urban Dictionary (since I’m almost always a huge fan) is that it closes the definition with:

“…those adhering to pacifist thought do not consider the alternatives to the war, and instead, as is typical, provide baseless or biased rhetoric as to why it is better to die like a dog than fighting on your feet.”

This particular phrasing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The Wikipedia entry is a little more hopeful, referencing that pacifism is a common belief in many world religions, including some denominations of Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and many others. Broadly speaking, some form of pacifism exists in many people’s faith system.

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What is a Pacifist?

In doing the research for this post, it’s come to my attention that the actual definition of the word pacifism and my interpretation of the word are two somewhat different things. “Mother Google” seems to be telling me that one who identifies as a pacifist is on the extreme end of non-violence and non-confrontation.

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I just want to put it out there that this is not me. It used to be a long time ago, but I have come to a different way of thinking since then. The key change in thought here is the gravity of extreme non-violence. Opposing violence and war purely for the sake of opposing it is on the extreme end of pacifism. Let’s take the Oxford Dictionary definition of a word commonly associated with pacifism, non-confrontational:

Tending to deal with situations calmly and diplomatically; not aggressive or hostile.”

This is something closer to what I can get behind and refer to myself as. This article (you’ll need to subscribe to view the full post) from Philosophy Now really starts to hit home for me. I believe that whenever it’s possible the best course of action is to diplomatically resolve any issues between two parties. That being said, there’s a quote from one of my favorite childhood games (Amazon Trail 3rd Edition) that says another belief of mine accurately: “There are evil people in this world. You did what had to be done.” This is spoken by the Jaguar guide after your character fights against a ruthless historical figure who left much bloodshed in his wake. Having seen evil people in the present time and space myself, I fully believe that it’s not justice to let these evil people rise to leadership in the world and rule.

The Stanford Encyclopedia has more wonderful reading on the discussion of what makes up the term, pacifist. It also goes far more in-depth than I can do here on this blog post.

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To quote from Bernie Sander’s book, Outsider In The White House (Page 140):

“I am not a pacifist. I believe that there are times when when war is legitimate, when the alternative is existence under a horrendous status quo. I think those instances, however, are much rarer than most government leaders admit.”

I really like and identify with this quote.

With all of the above being said/written/presented, I’d like to point out that my views, which are based in my Unitarian Universalist principles and morals, is that the first choice in any conflict should always be peaceful negotiations. If that should fail, one should not be afraid to stand up for what is right and bear arms to defend oneself, or whatever it is that one is fighting for. For example, if someone were to break into my house brandishing a gun, I think the right choice would be to have one of my own guns to defend myself with. Again, from Bernie Sanders: “You don’t need an AK-47 or an Assault Weapon to hunt deer or protect yourself.”

I do think that trying to reason with someone who is so far over the edge of sanity that they are using violence on innocent people is not a successful path to take. It is for that reason that I identify (at least a little bit) as a pacifist, but I also plan to learn how to use a gun and own at least a single one in those times of emergency.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Thoughts On: Breakthrough Moments

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One of the biggest things I enjoy about life is the moments we spend making ourselves better people. Sometimes these moments are small, other times they are massive. It’s the massive moments in our lives that we refer to as our “breakthroughs” and they can be very humanizing and humbling to experience.

I have gone through a series of these moments in my own life, and I look at life knowing that there are many more yet to come. On this blog, I have written about people and characters who I consider to be my inspirations, and two particular people who I’ve based much of myself on have had breakthrough moments that gave me real hope for life.

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Back when I was in high school, I modeled myself greatly after Kai Hiwatari. Kai had his (first) breakthrough moment in the first season of Beyblade in Episode 45: Breaking The Ice. It was there that Kai realized that his thirst for power had corrupted him to the point where he was isolated, and the people who called him friends proved their place in his life by defeating the source of his power-lust, a.k.a. Black Dranzer.

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Kai had an emotional breakdown on the middle of Lake Biakal in Russia, where he was defeated by his teammates-turned-friends, the Bladebreakers. Kai was so distraught by his loss of his old, power-hungry self, that he was willing to drown himself in the lake in shame. Thankfully, his friends reached out and pulled him out, saving his life. From then on, he knew to be grateful for their influence in his life.

Seeing this moment on TV lead to a moment I had in high school where I saw how important it is to have close friends who you can trust and lean on in good and bad times. Until I was 18, I considered myself a serious loner who didn’t want to have a circle of friends, but rather to be by myself – always growing and learning on my own. I had a select group of people who I considered myself to be close with, and didn’t want to expand on that. Seeing Kai open himself up to having people in his life inspired me to open my life up to having other people in it. To this day, as an introvert I still struggle with letting people in, but I have gotten much better at it.

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My next breakthrough came on June 17, 2006 – the day I officially came out of the closet. I had been fighting and struggling with myself about accepting who I am, and that was the day I got the courage to speak up about what was going on. Most people who knew me before that day and after could see the enormous difference it made. I was more outgoing, I was happier, I was free. For a good year or so, it felt like a birthday, since I’ve evolved so much as a person leading back from that beginning point.

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To quote from Jerry Renault, in the book, Beyond The Chocolate War:

“How many Archie Costellos are out there in the world? Out there. Everywhere. Waiting. A thought crept into his mind: it would be nice to avoid the world, to leave it and all it’s threats and unhappiness. Not to die or anything like that, but to find a place of solitude and solace. Nuns retreated to their convents. Priests lived in rectories, separate from other people or in monasteries. Was it possible for him to do the same?”

Breakthroughs aren’t always a happy experience, surrounded by love and friends and family. 2011 was the year of my most difficult breakthrough, and what I consider to this day to be the lowest point of my life. I had put all of my thoughts, attention, and effort into moving from UW – Parkside to the rustic city of Waupaca, Wisconsin. In particular, I fought as hard as I knew how to purchase the Red Mill of Waupaca, and live there. In the end, my efforts were in vain, and I allowed myself to fail out of college in my attempts to move to Waupaca. That dream began with the happy memories of childhood vacations, but for a long time that area (which was my very first “happy place”) was a reminder of how drastic of consequences failures can be.

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What made that breakthrough particularly painful is that I felt alone in my experience. I was dating someone who at the time was in the process of graduating college, nearly all of my friends were graduating, and here I was, failing out. I also had no person or character on TV to turn to to feel solace with, and go through the emotions with. While my boyfriend at the time was supportive, there was a sense of isolationism that I just couldn’t handle at the time.

Some time passed, and I found a television moment on a TV show I grew to love that I connected with on that moment. On the Third Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestant Yara Sofia had made it to the final four where they competed with three different looks for the “Make Dat Money” Ball. Overwhelmed with emotion after being placed in the bottom two, Yara had a total meltdown onstage, disappearing into tears and pain of defeat.

Watching that moment, my heart went out to her. I felt her emotions about losing a major dream and was able to finally process my own feelings about losing Waupaca. In the end, it goes to show that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” which is what I took to heart from the whole experience. Life moved on.

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2014 was a big positive for me. I was inspired by Bianca Del Rio (whose voice I still think in!) to pick up my life and go to a place where I could be a better person. I moved out of Wisconsin to Vermont, and began to journey to go back and finish college. I continue to aspire to be as strong of a person as I see Bianca to be in my mind.


With all of this being said, the bottom line is how important it is to have breakthroughs in one’s life. I got to thinking about how major of an impact these moments have as I was listening to early episodes of the podcast, What’s The Tee? The discussion arc of this concept began with Becoming The Observer of Your Mind, continued into the episode Personal Breakthroughs, and some final thoughts were discussed on It Gets Butter.

One of my views on life is how many things are cyclical. History has a reputation of repeating itself, and I know that I have more breakthroughs coming in the next few years of my life. Turns out, I didn’t end up becoming a student at UVM – tuition was too expensive and UVM wasn’t interested in granting me in-state tuition to make life easier. But the important thing is that I learned from that experience and continue to develop a new plan for the future.

The breakthroughs I’ve had now have shaped so much of who I am and what in life I can handle, and I can only imagine the kind of growing and elevating I’ll be doing as the next years of my life come to pass.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

How To Get Started On Twitter

My friend Bridget runs a blog that’s been going on for a few years now on building social media profiles, and Twitter is her bread and butter. I’m going to line up her posts in a logical way to show you how to build yourself up on it.

The one thing I can recommend doing while reading/watching videos – make a personal twitter for yourself to practice with! Bridget runs several accounts – a personal one, the business one, her social media advice one, her political one, so on and so on. I have two – my public and my secret one where the “non-professional” stuff goes.

First Step.

She gets way more energetic in future videos, I promise! In that post/video, she explains what makes Twitter different from other social networks. In short, it’s the conversations that take place there.

Second Step.

We all start somewhere. This is how Bridget got started.

Third Step.

This is the first thing to start working on as the manager for your account. You’ll use this as a baseline for keeping yourself organized.

Fourth Step.

This is the best definition of hashtag you will find on the internet. This will become one of your most used tools on Twitter.

Fifth Step.

Now that you have the account organized and are thinking about what hashtags you can use as tools to build conversations, here’s the next part of building your account.

Sixth Step.

As you build followers it’s time to start learning about how to Retweet. My personal favorite is the Old School RT. Comment tweet is my second choice, and Rewrite Tweet is what I’ll do when posting articles from my online news reader.

Side note – you will see Hootsuite and Tweetdeck mentioned a few times at this point. Using one of them is for the power users, and eventually you’ll work your way up to them.

Seventh Step.

By now you’ve been building your conversations, you’re RTing other accounts and following new people/places and building your twitter lists. Now it’s time to create your influence.

Final Step.

This is how to think of twitter in the long term, and I get a mention in this post!

When you reach this point, you can start moving over to Tweetdeck (my favorite, since it updates in real time) or Hootsuite (which I love using through Feedly desktop) to step up your game to the professional level. Bridget’s GuruMinute Video series and her advanced “Keys To Being Social” series compliment everything said above, and are the next steps to being a Twitter professional.

Respectfully Submitted,
Lukas Condie

Why We Go To Work

So this has been drilled into my head for the last month now, and the advice is so good I decided to put it up on here as both a reminder to myself and to see if anyone else can benefit from it.

We come to work for three reasons.

1. To Make Money.

This is the obvious answer. But we also are constantly trying to increase the amount of money that we want to earn when we go to work. More money means more options and opportunities for us in life. One of the reasons I enjoy being where I am now is that in the long run, I’m making more now than I was about 2 months ago. The one difficult part is that most places don’t have many opportunities to make more on a regular basis, aside from the once or twice a year performance reviews. That’s where the other two factors come in.

2. To Build One’s Reputation.

Very often we forget that every day is a new opportunity to show the world (or at least our co-workers) why we do what we do. Each day is a chance to prove our talents. Each day is a chance to do something new and expand ourselves. I have a few goals at my current job. One is to get as many people as possible to say “he works really hard, I’m glad he’s part of the team.” Another is to try to clean/fix one thing that almost no one else will remember to work on each time I go into work. These kinds of things have gotten me very well noticed and I’ve built my reputation very quickly.

3. To Expand One’s Network.

We live in a world where there’s so much online communication that this may seem like the simplest. But in fact, not many people take advantage of meeting the people they work with on a regular basis and keep those connections alive offline. I have been guilty of this myself, and perhaps it’s cost me an opportunity or two. The point is to always be expanding your circle. It’s about who you meet these days.

My final thoughts on the WI Recall Election

So for those who haven’t turned on a TV or been on twitter in a while, Wisconsin had an election to either recall the current Governor Scott Walker, or keep him. It looks as though Scott Walker beat history and won the recall to continue on as governor.

I’m not here to talk liberals vs. conservatism. I’m not here to talk about right vs. wrong.

What I want, more than anything else right now is to have this election behind us and get back to being a united Wisconsin again. The hardest part of this has been seeing friends in my FB and twitter feed declaring their support for the one I didn’t support, and me thinking “Oh shit, if they support the other guy, does that mean they support everything they have said? Do they secretly hate LGBT people and want to see me killed?”

And then my brain finally started to kick in. If my FRIENDS didn’t like gay people, would they be friends with me?

I make a big point of believing in everyone deserves the right to their own beliefs and opinion. I also make a point that no matter what – I am a friend first and a political person second (or farther down the list). The only people who I cannot stay friends with are people who believe that I don’t have the right to live because of who I love. Everyone else I can at least get along with, if not more. Friendship and love will conquer everything else in the world, including hate.

Walker talked tonight about re-uniting Wisconsin. I’d really like to see this happen. I dream of a Wisconsin where every business doesn’t display it’s politics over it’s front door. I dream of a Wisconsin where two people on different ends of the political spectrum can be friends, because they are human enough to set their politics aside. I’m going to put some faith in the idea of bringing Wisconsin back together, no matter what the future brings.

And if that reunification cannot come because people cannot get over tonight, and if people stay cut off from each other – let that show that we are a divided nation, and the divided house that Lincoln warned us about in the Civil War is in fact reality.

It’s no secret that I’m very liberal. It’s no secret that I’m gay. Fellow liberals – mourn the loss tonight, and tomorrow let’s go back to work at teamwork on the state level. Conservatives – you won tonight, and I congratulate you. Now let’s set aside our differences and work together for a better, a brighter, and a happier future.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas

September 11, 2011 – My Reflections & Shares

Ten years ago, I was just about a week an a half into 8th grade.

Ten years ago, I was just starting my school day, and Phy Ed was my first period class.

Ten years ago, school wasn’t canceled, but two classes dropped the day’s work so we could watch TV and see what was going on.

Ten years ago, I was a child that has no idea what any of this meant.

Ten years ago, I was big into Poke’mon.

These are just some thoughts about where I was 10 years ago today, when the attacks happened. I hadn’t really hit puberty, and wasn’t even close to having enough maturity to think like an adult about it. I didn’t even know I was gay at that point. But here I am, 10 years later and a far cry from who and where I was back then.

Looking back, September 11, 2001 was the last time I saw this nation united together. It was the last time I saw people forget their differences and work together for the greater good. Social Media was non-existent, so you couldn’t make a post on Facebook or tweet, or tumblog about it. So many things have changed and evolved since then. I certainly didn’t have a blog back then otherwise I’d give a link to it here.

I have seen that some of the far left want us to pass this day over – in respect for those who have lost a loved one on this day. I can respect that idea, but I also think this is the only day where liberal and conservatives can stop the war at home that I feel we’ve been having over the past few years. I’m still proud to honor those who sacrificed today.

I would like to take a moment to share some of the big news items that I’ve been seeing about today. Many of them are social media related, so hopefully at least one of them will give you some hope/redemption/enjoyment/solace whichever you find appropriate.

NBC’s Twitter Account Was Hacked in RE to 9/11.

3 Ways to Commemorate 9/11 By Giving Back Online.

How Digital Technology is Telling the Story of 9/11.

9/11 World Trade Center App.

Stumbleupon Remembers 9/11.

Personally the one that captured me the most was the NBC story, but I’m also a twitter nerd that way. How about you? What are your 9/11 stories?

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie