misplaced passive assertive aggression

On the road to equilibrium, a friend made me aware of something I’m already aware of, but not in the sense of self-analysis.

Let’s say there are four types of communication. They are:

  • Passive
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive Aggressive

Defining these terms is likely somewhat simple for you. They were for me. For some help, a simple google search is doable. Or try this one.

There are a few thoughts I have regarding this new awareness of something old.

But the way I understand it, assertiveness provides the best form of communication, and how it was described to me, almost utopian in nature.

On further analysis, assertiveness is the form of communication that is the most absent in our culture. Most people communicate either passively or aggressively. Or passive aggressive.

I know I’m very guilty of this, here on this blog and in “real life”. For the most part, I’ve been unaware of how passive aggressive I am.

For instance, the other day, I photographed a band and it took me longer to do than I anticipated. Tina wasn’t with me, and she didn’t understand why it took me so long. She also wasn’t understanding that some of my negativity about the shoot was not directly correlated with the happiness of shooting a band like this.

So she kept harping on the idea that it was negative and asking why would I want to do it then. I became frustrated, because my communication, while direct to me, wasn’t sinking in to Tina’s brain. We had picked up groceries during the discussion, and when we were getting out of the car, I picked everything out of the car, expecting Tina to say, “What can I take up? You’re clearly bogged down with two camera bags, a grocery bag and a 12-pack of bubbly water.”

But she didn’t. So I didn’t say anything. I huffed up the stairs in a sort of temper tantrum-y, “Why wouldn’t she ask to help?” fit.

When I got through the door and to the table to set down everything, the cardboard in the 12-pack of bubbly water cans ripped and they tumbled to the floor. “FUCK!” I shouted and kicked one of the cans as it hit the floor, which immediately burst and splattered everywhere.

“What is going on!?” Tina called out. “What happened? Why didn’t you ask for help?”

“I was hoping you would notice that I was weighted down to the hilt and ask me!”

The argument dissolved, but I had to ask myself, “Why didn’t I ask for help?” Why did my passiveness result in a loss of temper? It was clearly my fault. I didn’t assert what I wanted, and I paid the price for it.

Aggression ain’t just a river in Egypt. 

On this road of discovery, I learned more about the concept of aggression. People often don’t realize they are communicating aggressively. Yes, aggressiveness can pertain to belittling others, or personal attacks, to get what the aggressor wants.

But aggression is also not listening. Aggression is talking over someone. Aggression is an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude.

Assertiveness is allowing others to be right as well.

Where I grew up, religiosity was/is an aggressive stance in conversational activity. It’s aggressive in that it teaches not to listen to others points of view, not to be an active, empathetic listener. It doesn’t allow others to have a valid perspective.

And you know what, this aggression leads to developing enemies. It leads to developing a passive aggression from those who we love.

It’s an inadvertent yet direct way to say, “Fuck you.”

Be Assertive. Be be assertive. 

My misunderstanding about these types of communication types has certainly caused a dramatic withdrawal from my public persona, not only in my inner-personal relationships, but my business, my family and my social media.

Often, my communication slips from passive to aggressive in one fell swoop. I hate feeling like I’m being stepped on. I feel like I am not heard or listened to, and then someone posts something on Facebook gets the wrath of my passiveness.

The other day, I wreaked havoc on a friend’s wife. I mean, HAVOC.

Social Media is worsening the concepts of passive aggression.

When you post to a social media site that is controversial to one set of your “friends” and favorable to the other half, you’re basically saying to one group, “Fuck you” and to the other group, “See, we’re right and they’re wrong. Slap five.”

People think they’re being assertive, while they’re being aggressive in disguise. 

Being assertive is stating ones opinion, but not saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It’s a listening attitude, rather than a one-way directional, from-the-pulpit kind of communication.

That’s why comments are always open here. So comment. And I’ll be better about keeping my aggression in check. 🙂

So that’s what those things are used for … vaginal syringes.


No, that’s not a dildo.

Or a salt shaker.

It’s a vaginal syringe. A device that:

When it came to the taboo topic of feminine hygiene in the 1800s, the common policy was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Vaginal syringes, like those we found in our City Hall excavation, were used discreetly in order to maintain health, treat venereal disease and prevent pregnancy. Such feminine hygiene tactics were not discussed openly.

There are many other personal hygiene tidbits to be discovered in this article I found, including this one:

In 1935, a major advancement was made in toilet paper. By this time, the American population had already ditched corncobs, newspaper pages, leaves, and mussel shells for what we consider modern toilet paper. But it wasn’t until this year that Northern Tissue advertised the first “splinter-free” toilet paper. Paper production was still rather rudimentary and brands couldn’t always make this guarantee before.

Splinter free toilet paper. Could you imagine asking your spouse or loved one, “Uh, honey, I got another splinter I need you to get out.”

More great information about the history of hygiene here.



Get a bigger pizza, because it’s scientifically better … and because leftovers are almost always good

QUOCTRUNG BUI writes for NPR: Buy the bigger pie. Wanna know why?

The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.

So, for example, a 16-inch pizza is actually four times as big as an 8-inch pizza.

So order larger and bring it home, you frugal penny pinchers.

More here.

Via Kottke

Go see “See no evil”, unless you’re blind, then just listen.


Over the weekend, Tina and I watched the 1971 movie “See No Evil” with Mia Farrow. It was available in the free movies area of our OnDemand service.

I recommend watching this movie. It’s a suspense terrifying thriller with a twist, and I loved it.

The below is kind of — but not really — a spoiler, because it doesn’t give the whole movie away, as the movie’s description basically says the same thing.

The movie is about Sarah (Mia Farrow), a wealthy-acting Brit who recently went blind after an accident falling off a horse. She’s just out of the hospital, and she’s inexplicably gone to live with her wealthy aunt, uncle and cousin in the countryside.

Sarah’s an independent spirit, and quickly copes with her blindness and teaches herself to walk about without running into anything in their large home.

While gone one day, riding horses with her boyfriend (not kidding), her family is murdered, which Sarah doesn’t figure out for over 24 hours because she thought they were gone for the night and then slept one off the next morning.

The movie is TERRIFYING with a capital scream out loud with a bag of holy shit balls!

I screamed out loud twice.


And when I scream, the whole neighborhood hears it.

I want you to watch it so we can talk about it.


capturing interiors like a championship cheetah photog


This morning, we were driving into O’Hare airport when you were probably sleeping.

We went there to capture some interiors for a new architecture client. Our last interior, I was forced to shoot with my canon body, because my widest lens — a 16-35 mm –only works on that body. I’d rather shoot everything with our Hasselblad, but my widest lens is 35mm, which is tough to shoot in tight spaces.

Today I was able to shoot Hassleblad only, and that felt good. The quality/difference of image is astounding.

Since the last shoot, I bought an L-bracket that allows me to take two or three photos vertically and stitch them together easier to make it look like my lens is much wider.

We were there that early to attempt to get photos with less people intruding in the shots. But as it turned out, there were lots of people at the airport at that hour.

Long exposures helps make people look blurry, which helps a lot, because otherwise, we’re risking some kind of infringement of people’s rights.

I’m particularly happy with the way the below photo turned out.



Thank goodness for this article: “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience”

In the Daily Beast, Michael Schulson wrote an article called, “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience.” He basically reams it as worse, or as worse, as the Creation Museum (or the creationism in general).


From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.

My own local Whole Foods is just a block away from the campus of Duke University. Like almost everything else near downtown Durham, N.C., it’s visited by a predominantly liberal clientele that skews academic, with more science PhDs per capita than a Mensa convention.

Still, there’s a lot in your average Whole Foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section—yep, Whole Foods sells books—boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracle and Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.

Thank goodness for this article!

Go read the article here.

Weekend wrapped and into a new, somewhat stressful day. Yes!


This weekend flew by. Tina and I finally caught up on a lot of work that we’ve had over the first part of the new year.

So it was a weekend dedicated to not being as responsible as usual. On Friday, I made beer-based beef stew and we watched a movie. I crashed early-ish.

Then on Saturday, we worked out and took Talulah to a nearby park, because our backyard area is frozen in a way that hurts her paws. Saturday night, I made baked cod with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on a bed of tomatoes with sautéed green beans.

On Sunday, I photographed a corporate head shot and portrait session with Bill. Tina went out to the suburbs for a special one-

Last night, we ate at a new neighborhood restaurant called Q BBQ. It was really good.

Today, I’m shooting portraits of a band called Glasvegas in a studio we setup at JBTV. If you don’t know of JBTV, you should. It’s a 24 music television network that features live performances.

Wednesday, we’re shooting interiors at O’Hare Airport.

And there are a few other things on the docket this week. It’s going to be fun.


HBO Documentary: Questioning Darwin

Above are clips from a new HBO Documentary called “Questioning Darwin.”

You can watch it and make your own mind. Or you can let this person guide your flimsy thoughts:

That the conflict here is about curiosity vs. incuriosity is incredibly important, because I think a lot of rationalists tend to fall into thinking creationists are just dumbasses. What I really liked about the documentary was that it didn’t hesitate to show how creationists can be articulate and actually quite persuasive, if you accept their premises. Indeed, a lot of them talked at length about how their belief in a loving god who specifically created the universe for them is fundamentally incompatible with evolutionary theory (and other scientific theories based in astronomy, physics, and geology that demonstrate that the universe and our planet are very, very old—Ken Ham at one point tries to argue down the idea that light from stars is millions of years old when it gets to us), and you know what? I found that argument persuasive. Certainly more persuasive than the typical attempt to reconcile the obvious fact that evolution is true with the desire to believe in a loving god, which is usually some variation of, “Well, God created the universe through evolution.” To believe that, the creationists point out, you have to believe their god is a complete and utter moron, that he spent billions of years spinning out galaxies and stars and let the Earth lay dormant for billions of years before sparking a single-celled life into being and then spending the next billion years carefully guiding evolution until finally he got what he wanted: A human civilization that is literally only a few thousand years old. If you’ve ever been to a museum where they put a piece of paper on top of a rock formation to show how insignificant we are in terms of time—or if you’ve ever pondered how tiny our planet is in the great expanse of space—then this is beyond idiotic. It’s like taking multiple generations of people tending an oven to make a cupcake.

The problem creationists have is similar to the problem that troubled Darwin, in other words: On one hand, you have the evidence. On the other hand, you have this need to believe that a god created the universe just for us. These two things do not work together.

More here.

Seen at Pharyngula.