1. That is amazing.. I never would have guessed. It's funny how you have these preconceptions about people you meet online and yet know nothing about them until they tell you.
    So is your family sunni muslim? Anyway, glad to always know more about my fellow TAL members!

    I have ties to Somalia in a roundabout way. My first cousin who was like a brother to me was killed there but that whole thing was just a big cluster fuck. Still I hope for the best for the people there because they have been through so so much.
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  2. Yes on the question, and damn thats crazy about your cousin, sorry to hear that.

    And yea like I told San, I usually shied away from acknowledging where I am from and just say American since I have grown up here. Mainly because of the rep the country has had for along time as a failed state and more recently land of pirates lol.

    Vicious likes this.
  3. The beauty of the internet... you have people out there who have some fucked up dislike of others from various countries or faiths but it's amazing how you can get to know the 'person' without some ill preconceived notion.

    I am not saying I am one of those people with those notions but it's why I keep an open mind and try to get to know the person. I'm glad you shared man. As far as I am concerned you are a fellow American and a friend who digs anime/manga like myself. You can't condemn one man for a nations past or present.
    Kickz likes this.
  4. So a month ago I randomly decided to quit my office job of 5 years, I thought it'd be fun to trying living abroad for awhile because I've never done that.

    So I became an Au Pair / English Tutor in Paris, I said I'd do it for 9 months, even though ideally 3-6 was what I was looking to do initially.

    Been here 1 month so far.
    Vicious and San Goku like this.
  5. That's awesome! Part of me is looking to do something like that (more for just traveling and exploring) but bills have to be paid.
  6. Most, wonderful time of the year!! 364 days until Christmas 2018 baby!

    Let me start with this: I hate Christmas. At least I hate the Christmas celebrations that I participate in every year now. I’m sure it wasn’t always this way…but thinking back to my childhood…we were always so poor. I didn’t get the coolest, latest toy. Christmas was almost always some socks, some underwear, and maybe 2-3 new outfits. All the cool stuff that I cherished as a kid (my bicycles, my roller blades, my bb gun, my TVs and video game systems) – I had to work for, save up, and buy on my own (also: I still have my bicycle & bb gun – grew out of the roller blades, the TVs eventually broke, the game systems were sold at yard sale type deal – because I was never going back when the new systems came out…BECAUSE I had to work for them…those things had value in my eyes, so I took excellent care of them).

    With my older brother and his 3 children…I generally call them, ask “What would you like?” and usually get “Nothing” [16 yo], “Nothing -or- some money for clothes” [14 yo], & “[insert new toy here]” [8 yo]…so I usually send them some money (~$250 x2) and buy 2-3 toys and a $50 gift card ($100 in toys so = $600 total)…I don’t get my brother or his wife anything. I don’t get my parents anything either. Also, they don’t get me anything. We just don’t want stuff.

    My wife is one of 5 children -- 2 brothers and 2 sisters. It’s a weird dynamic on that side of my family.

    A - Father
    B – Mother
    C – Family (Brother and wife w/ 3+ kids [1 otw])
    D – Family (Sister and husband w/ 2 kids)
    E – Family (sister and husband)
    F – Family (my wife and me )
    G – Brother

    The way Christmas works:
    A gets gift for: B, C (x5), D (x4), E (x2), F (x2), G
    B gets gift for: A, C (x5), D (x4), E (x2), F (x2), G
    C gets gift for: A, B, C (x4), D (x4), E (x2), F (x2), G
    …and that’s at a minimum…there are also special gifts…and joint gifts…and gifts from the kids to the parents and grandparents…and so on…

    What really drives me crazy is that family D’s children are so fucking spoiled. …and because they have the children and live relatively center point, Christmas is at their house almost every year. Family C is pretty hit-or-miss for the holidays. In family D, those kids run that household. They have 2 of everything, but really wanted 3. The other thing is that basically my wife and her other sister, subsidize this sister’s poor financial decisions so that they can splurge on her kids “because it’s Christmas”. So looking at some of the shit these kids have gotten over the years…just WOW. How many of you adults, working full time own an iPhone X? Well after last night, I know an 11 yo that owns one…and I know an 8 yo that owns a Galaxy S8 (with a cracked screen because a 10 yo got that for Christmas last year and said he would give it to her if he got the iphone. She said she’ll keep it for now, but someone better get her an iphone for her birthday (in July)). This year, he got an iphone X and a laptop. His mom said that this was his Christmas and birthday present (his birthday is Jan 2nd). I got to watch him pout and throw a tantrum because he didn’t get ____ (didn’t know what he was talking about…don’t care either). The daughter wanted a $400 reborn baby doll. She was upset because they only got the $325 one. And they didn’t get her enough outfits! Last year…they were VERY upset at my wife and me for not paying for them to go to Nicaragua with us (the sister/their mother went for a few days 1. because we paid for her ticket and 2. she couldn’t get more time off work - FYI - we actually offered to pay for 1 child if someone else would pay for the other [though truth be told, we would have paid for all 3]).
    In the past, a few weeks/months after christmas, that sister would ask my wife for a little money to help pay the power bill this month or whatever. And we gotta do it “because it’s family”. Now the arrangement has changed so that after all is said and done…the families compare receipts and kinda settle up – as in …we spent $200 on your gifts and you spent $400 on ours…we give you the difference (except mysteriously, when we have spent more one way…we have NEVER been reimbursed (we bought them a $1000 refrigerator one year, and a washer/dryer another) – I don’t particularly care because that part is petty…but IF YOU SAY YOU WILL PAY US BACK…FUCKING PAY US BACK!). But again, back to these kids…one year, he asked for a 55” flat panel and an Xbox One. He was furious that they only got a 40” and didn’t get GTA V with it. She wanted some crazy expensive drone (like someone is REALLY gonna spend $700 on a 6 yo – don’t worry, they got her a $200 one that was broken within the week). One year he wanted a power wheels jeep. She wanted this crazy expensive doll house. All of these very expensive gifts (in the $500+ range). I don’t fault the kids for wanting expensive things (especially when they are raised by screens and by extension constant commercials)…I fault the parents and their bullshit guilt trip nonsense of repeating what that kid said and expecting people to chip in to make it happen for them. I think of those kids in grade/middle school who tried to make you feel like shit because their parents bought them all the cool shit over Christmas break…The best part was when you find out that even though they had all those “nice things”…they lived in a trailer park. Her kids ARE those kids. Expensive ass tastes…but she was working 2 minimum wage jobs part time…now she’s working 1 2xmin wage full time. Her husband has worked kinda hit and miss for the last decade.

    The other issue is that with every person buying for every person…my wife and I usually have these bullshit arguments where I say…”I don’t want them to buy me anything”…truth be told..I make 4x what the next person makes…and my wife makes 3.5x what they make. The things that I want are outside of the family’s price range. So what to do when you have to buy 50+ gifts so that no one feels left out AND you don’t have that much money?? Buy JUNK. This go-round I got car air fresheners, flip flops, a watch, and some cologne (dollar store stuff). They occasionally buy me clothes…but it is never shit that I would actually wear. I have NEVER once worn skinny jeans in my life. Why they fuck do they keep buying me fitted shirts (and size small or medium…when I wear 2XL)? All of my shoes and tennis shoes are black/black, black/gray, black/white. Why the fuck did they buy me some neon green and pink bullshits? Why the fuck did they buy me sandals? So the fight comes with my wife saying “just pretend that you like it so you don’t hurt feelings”. I said “sure” one year and then immediately donated all of it to a charity drop off bin before we got home. That pissed her off for a few days because it was “ungrateful” and “hateful”. I said “Hell, since I paid for it…why can’t I donate it to a charity”? And it was because “it’s the thought counts”. Every year it’s like clockwork because I don’t want anything…but she doesn’t want to tell them no…and doesn’t want me to tell them no either because “It’ll ruin the spirit of the holiday” (which I always laugh and ask her where does Jesus fit into all of this?) – which usually starts fight #2 -- haha.

    TL;DR: I hate Christmas because my in-laws spoiled kids are unappreciative assholes and I don’t interpret THINGS as LOVE.

    Vicious and San Goku like this.
  7. Wow.... Paragraphs, dude!

    Also, the fact you spend on like 1K on your own family's children, and then all that crazy money on your wife's family is fucking insane to me. We never spend more than 60-120 USD (so 40-100 EUR) on gifts for each other. My parents literally give me 50 USD and that's it lol. I buy them some nice candle stuff or whatever from the Christmas market, doesn't even cost 20 USD and they're happy with it.

    Honestly, I'd just fucking bail with a family like that. I'd refuse to my all those relatives presents. Maybe my parents in law but that's it.
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  8. we budget $2k for christmas...I spend exactly $600 total on my brother's children ($250 + $250 + $100 for 3 people)..."We" spend the remaining $1400 on my wife's parents and siblings and nephews/nieces (for 13ish people) - which after saying out loud and putting actual numbers to it is too damn much...cutting back next year

    ...we rarely get each other Christmas gifts because we both get the things we want throughout the year (I DO buy her an anniversary gift...and some flowers on valentines...shes a 30+ yo grown ass adult woman - so fuck a birthday)

    my wife swears that she hates it as much as me...but when Dec 23rd rolls around...she's singing Christmas songs...wearing a Santa hat...whining that she wants us to at least buy a little tree to decorate...and now (after we've bought a house)...maybe just one year have Christmas at our place
    the BEST Christmas I had was the year I got soooo fucking sick...I slept for 2 days straight...and was over the sickness when it was time to leave...icing on the cake? I got EVERYONE else sick a week later:harhar:
  9. IMO, christmas should be for the kids but not crazy outrageous gifts. I make middle class money, but there's no way in hell I could afford all the shit that I see kids receive as gifts now. Hell, I just bought a new phone after 4 years and went with an LG X Venture because it's "rugged" and runs a little slower. I can't imagine going out and buying a fucking ipone x for myself, let alone a kid.

    This year for christmas I bought myself new snowboard boots and a new phone, I spent total $650, which was more than covered by my christmas bonus.

    The older I get the less I like christmas as the gift giving holiday it's become and I enjoy it more as the family get together and eat food delicious food
  10. My parents always set a budget. That budget grew a little as we did, but an iPhone X would already be almost an order of magnitude over what the budget for us was at that age. Granted that was long enough ago that if you assume a 3.22% inflation rate (average, per a quick google search that has statistics from 2014) it would still... be a slightly larger fraction of an iPhone X. Now, if I wanted to forego Christmas and birthday for a few years in a row maybe I could have talked them into getting me one. Of course it sounds like at least one of these kids is going to want an iPhone 11 or whatever comes out next year and chuck this year's model.
    I was going to give the kid props for taking the hand-me-down until I saw the next line.

    I wonder if you could incentivize them directly - something to the effect of telling them they can get shiny toy X or they can get less shiny toy Y that they can polish up and also get a certain amount of money/more toys. After a couple Christmas of getting 1 "expensive" item (I'd consider it expensive, but apparently they wouldn't) and just about nothing else I figured out asking for small, cheap items was more fun because that meant more things I got to open. At where I am in life, my stance is closer to Killa's - there's nothing I really want, and if I did I'd probably just get it for myself. I guess that's the nice thing about not being 8, I don't have to wait for Santa.

    I'm with Bob on cellphones, I had my S3 for a few years and only upgraded to an S4 because I got it for free. Only now replaced it with a refurbished Pixel. Given all of the security flaws in iOS and Android that have been discovered in the past 4 years though, I couldn't justify something that was too old to get security updates. Pixels are also nice because they don't have the AT&T/Samsung/whatever bloatware on them, and I don't have to wait on AT&T or Samsung to release their own shells of the OS for me to get any updates. I think the newest version of Android fixes that by isolating the core OS though.
    killacross likes this.
  11. I upgraded from a S4 to a S5 last week...mostly because I wanted wifi calling for work. I bought a refurbished model on ebay for $150. I wouldn't spend more than $200 on a cellphone unless I "had" to. I had an S2 (damaged 50% of the screen in a motorcycle crash)...then a S4 for the past 4.5 years (got it free or $1 or whatever the promotion was at the time - it was just before the BS shift in 90% of cell carriers where you couldn't get free phones w/ the contract anymore)...and then won an S3 in a raffle (that I sold on ebay for like $25)

    plan to keep this S5 until whenever I decide I want something different...but really nothing interests me like that anymore

    it's a mindset...when I was poor, I wanted EVERYTHING and I wanted it RIGHT NOW...now, I have developed the mindset to not be poor. I CAN buy anything right now...but I don't really want much

    there are 2 expensive things that I want in the future...a boat...and more power tools (specifically a thickness planer, a benchtop sander, a sawsall)...and since I want to actually build the boat...I figure the tools will come w/ it in time

    ...as far as the kids go...we don't participate in what the kids get...it's a point of contention on my wife's side...and i understand and appreciate that I make her step out of her comfort zone to tell them no...they get the garbage gifts from every individual..then they usually get the nice gifts from mom and dad (even tho mom and dad contribute 5%, uncle contributes 65%, aunt contributes 30%...and other uncle (w/ 3+ kids gives $0 and my wife gives $0)

    usually after Christmas when they immediately ask for more the aunt says "I'm broke"...the uncle says "We'll see"...and the parents say ask your other aunt and uncle...not too sure about the other uncle, but they definitely don't ask us anymore

    It was funny one year...I was complaining about their asshole-ish, snobbish, attitudes one day and my wife kept saying "I didn't hear them say that"...and then the kids came and asked for ___ and ___ and literally said "It's OK you didn't get us what we wanted Auntie, you can just buy it the next time you come visit. I know you got it like that...Right uncle Killa?"...My wife's jaw dropped...I chuckled and did a shit eating grin (because I love being right in public), told them to kick rocks....ANNNNND that's when my wife was like..."Oh hell no! I'm not adding to the crazy gift pot anymore". Her sister was furious and wouldn't talk to her for a few days/weeks. I told my wife that I'm on her side and if we want...we can go pick up the refrigerator right now

    it's cultural...in American culture..If I have it/I have it...in latin culture...If I have it/WE have it...and that is literally how they think (and then they get furious behind the scenes because they feel taken advantage of)

    my family always took it a little further...the way I was raised, my responsibility as a member of my family of origin is to make sure
    1. my immediate family (my wife and future children) have the 4 pillars covered (food, utilities, clothing, shelter)
    2. my mother has the 4 pillars covered for 6 months, my dad gets 90 days to figure it out.
    3. my sister in law and their children get 4 pillars covered for 6 months, my brother has 90 days to figure it out
    and vice versa

    ...the christmas nonsense sounds so horrible if I list it out 1 by 1, but it really isn't that bad at all- haha. My marriage is awesome!! This is dumb shit that has happened a time or two over the course of our relationship...we've been together since 2006.
    XandorXerxes likes this.
  12. Agree with Bob and some other sentiments on here about Xmas. I usually have everything I need anyway. Buy me a good book or two..yes paper not digital.

    I have a great book collection. Some family members buy me cool collector movie posters like vintage star wars stuff I put in frames in the home theater.

    Shit like that is good for me. Doesn't have to be expensive either. More $$ for my brother's kids and I am a momma's boy so I go all out for her with one gift.. I found a picture of her as a child with her parents and brother who all passed away cept for her mom. She loved that. Took a lot of phone calls to relatives.

    Anyway. Xmas was great. Noone has cancer this Xmas so that's awesome obviously. Star wars movie sucked ass so that ruined that experience lol.
  13. @Vicious: I was with my ladyfriend at her family's place, her dad paid for all of us to see the movie in a swanky dine-in theater. I didn't have the heart to tell them I thought it was terrible (I still told my ladyfriend of course). Food was good though.
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  14. I rock and roll through my life with the motto of when I see something I want, I put it off for a week. If I still really want it in a week/even remember it in a week, i'll decide based on price and such. I don't really like buying material items because I would rather save up and go on a vacation.

    The reason I went with the lg was because it had the best reviews for a not $500 rugged phone and is much more durable IP68, vs the IP67 rating the samsung galaxy actives receive. $300 for a phone that will last me for several years isn't the end of the world.
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  15. @Bob - Sadly the only distinction between 67 and 68 is the depth in water they can go. Is there a three digit IP number or an IK number? Those represent the impact resistance. I'm sure a "rugged" designated phone has better impact resistance anyways, even if not provided.

    Regardless, I'd trust LG over Samsung for quality anyways, but that's some partiality on my part - had an LG flip phone for years, always worked great.
  16. Late reply even though I read the day that you posted it, but that is absolutely ridiculous. From a religious aspect it's the celebration of the birth of Christ. Why is that important because Christians believe that humans or born with sin, it seeps in at birth and sin corrodes the soul. With the birth and sacrifice of God allows flawed mortals into a path of eternal light. If you are religious and look at it that way giving would seem better. If you look at it as this being the time of year to give and it makes you feel good, you can look at it that way as well. Also, you used to be poor and probably could never imagine being able to spend like you do, your wife's family members don't understand that. Maybe set up something with them that they should get rid of their old stuff in good condition that they don't need be sent to charity and or the homeless. You've done volunteering, maybe bring their asses down to the shelter to give for an hour?

    I like I spent $300-500 and I'm mid level salary

    I felt really good spreading the wealth out more and giving more family members nice little things. I bought my

    -bro, sis, mom and her boyfriend a gift
    - bought my bros kids clothes
    - my cousin/best friend kids clothes
    - my cousins daughter clothes
    - friend
    -candle for a co-worker who got me a gift last year and I was surprised
    -candle for extended family member (this candle is really nice as it comes with jewelry and can get appraised and be worth up to 5K) it was pretty popular
    - got my gf a gift and we agreed on a budget
    - barber a gift

    I got the essential things from my mom which is what I like and appreciate even more at this age, my sis got me a gift card and my bro got me something that is still waiting on delivery lol. The only high end gift I got from my gf was a Michael Khors smart watch.

    I just realized I don't think you mentioned what you got?

    I probably won't even be spending that every year, but I find it makes the holiday season more enjoyable when I FEEL in the mood to make effort and get a gifts
  17. I did

    ...also, my wife and I are officially homeowners
    San Goku likes this.
  18. - losing weight and getting back into powerlifting. This sport is my passion and I will never leave it again. It's been 8 years since I last competed. In the next 1-1.5 years I want a 315lb paused bench and a 500lb deadlift weighing under 200lbs. Really makes me happy that I'm back doing what I love after so long of being on hiatus.

    - getting my GED so I can go to college and major in photography or physical therapy.

    - about to start seeing a doctor that can help me with my issues. I know if I let this person get inside my head bit by bit as time goes on I will gain some clarity from someone on the outside looking in over the physical abuse that I went through when I was growing up and how it effected me long term. Overall, I should've seeked out help a long time ago.

    - started meditating again. This keeps me grounded and makes me feel good and takes my worries away like theirs nothing to even think about or get upset over. Feelsgoodman.jpg
    San Goku likes this.
  19. Glad you are getting back on the right track!
    Battery_ likes this.
  20. So I'm still in France, things are going okay!

    Are people still here or is this forum dead yet?
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