An Afternoon With Allen West

An Afternoon With Allen West

"If you are not willing to do what needs to be done, you must be committed to not being the first generation to pass along something greater."
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“Stand strong, with resolve and courage.”

With a perseverant gaze, a depth in his eyes, and a voice as soft as it was strong, Allen West spoke these words with silent confidence and manifest authenticity that is so very rare in the political realm today.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of not only hearing Colonel West give what is perhaps one of the greatest speeches I have heard, but I also had the honor of getting to interview and then spend part of the afternoon with him at the Kansas GOP Convention. Though I had known of him for a long time, I was not too familiar with him until just before the conference.

Early Saturday afternoon, I had been standing in one of the empty conference rooms as everyone was attending various county and sub-party meetings. I looked out of the doors, and I saw Colonel West standing nearby. Being that I was not overly familiar with his personality, it took more courage than I was expecting to walk over and strike up a conversation. After less than two minutes of talking, however, it became very obvious that I was talking to perhaps one of the only politically involved individuals today who was genuinely humble, generous, and caring. I will never forget the authentic gratitude in his eyes when I mentioned my various family members who have served their nation as soldiers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. Though I did not have a chance to conduct a formal interview at that time, I was grateful for the opportunity to make a connection with such a highly-esteemed man. Like an old friend, as I saw him throughout the day, our discussion carried on as he remembered who I was and continued to make an effort to allow a conversation to continue. My chance to interview him finally arrived as he was being escorted to the VIP room, just before his speech. As we walked and talked, I asked him questions about young conservatives facing backlash on college campuses and recommended courses of action, of general activism, and of advice he had for those who desired to chase their obligations of public service to their nation. When the topic of violent and hosilte counter-discussions and attacks – such as the riots that occurred at UC Berkely – he simply stated, “Well you have to stay strong and continue to show resolve and courage…I was recently able to come here and speak for the young Republicans here at Kansas State, and it’s just great seeing the young people and knowing you’re on the right side of the issues. You can’t be intimidated and you can’t be coarse, you just have to continue to fight on…what [the violence] is reflective of is that they realize that they cannot win on the merits of their argument or debate and they – as they did in Berkley – they resort to violence and they resort to being the true fascists and trying to shut down free speech.”

After our short but enlightening interview, Colonel West made his way to the stage and I to the tables, where I then witnessed a phenomenal speech. Keep in mind, I am the weird kid who listens to famous and great speeches while I'm cooking, traveling, or getting ready. I have sat through countless speeches from students, parents, various leaders, and elected officials of all levels. The power of words fascinates me, just as how several sentences woven together with the strands of passion can redirect the course of humanity. I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that this speech was one I had not seen the like of to this point.

Colonel West attended K-State, and he had an instant connection with the audience due to the simple fact that he could call the same open ranges, sunflower fields, and starry skies home. He consistently emphasized the importance of unity in the GOP and the United States in general, rather than an “us versus them” mentality. At one point in his speech, he stated, “This has to be the party that doesn’t just stand for the rich or the poor, this is the party that is for everybody. We have to make them know they have a voice with us.” He also spoke at length about the vitalness of the GOP recognizing the injustice of lumping Americans into stereotypes and numbers instead of seeing them as individuals with souls, stories, and successes. “We are the party of the individual, not the collective.” As he continued, he spoke of the future of the GOP and the potential it retains. “GOP should be known for standing for the Growth, Opportunity, and Potential of all Americans, and this is what the American Dream should be…generations pass son something better than what was before them. We must pass on something that was better than what was passed on to us.” He then addressed the importance of supporting and funding those who protect and defend the Constitution and the United States on the front lines of combat and behind the scenes in the military, so that “liberty may shine forevermore on the shores of these United States of America.” He then declared, “If we can’t understand that this is part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then we will no longer be making America the victors.”

“When tyranny stares down liberty, what do we say? ‘Molon labe’.” Colonel Allen West let no room for doubt as to where he stood in the quest for continued freedom and legacy while he spoke that day in front of his fellow Kansans. What struck me most while I listened to him speak was his humility and raw, real, honest passion for his country which he had served so fiercely. Far from the typical politicians’ speech, he rarely mentioned himself or his accomplishments, of which he has no shortage of. Rather, he repeatedly declared the importance of unity, the greatness of our nation, and the potential of the future.

To find an individual who serves their country with honest ambition and the driving force of love is rare enough. To talk with one who loves his fellow countrymen and women with fierce loyalty, patriotism, and humility is even rarer. To have a conversation with someone of Colonel West’s social standing and fame who makes the time to have intentional conversation with a college student at an event and then challenge an entire state party to strive for a new level of greatness, sacrifice, and patriotism is nearly impossible.

As we go, may we reflect humility and kindness, may we speak truth and hold our brothers and sisters in our nation accountable, and may we continue to stand strong, with resolve and courage. May we stare down tyranny, and may we forever fight to allow the light of liberty to continue to shine. Starting in the heartland of the United States of America – Kansas – may we reach to all corners of our great nation to promote authenticity and a love of country, and may we do so with honest intentions and fierce passion. Thank you, Colonel West, for speaking with me, and thank you for doing what you do to continue to preserve what Ronald Reagan once called the “last best hope on earth”, the United States of America.

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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Why it Sucks to ban plastic straws

We need a solution you can't find at the bottom of a Starbucks Cup

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I have never heard or read about straws more than I have this past month. This July, Starbucks and the entirety of Seattle announced plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws altogether. Plastic pollution accounts for the most dangerous threat to ocean life today, with research showing that by 2050, the plastic in the world's oceans will outnumber the fish if we continue consuming plastic at our current rate.

So this plastic straw ban seems like a good and welcomed change, right? As it turns out, wrong! The straw ban, while it should be a positive light at the end of the news tunnel, actually reveals the darker implications of the current social, economic, and environmental climate of today's society.

1. The straw ban provides no flexibility for disabled people

While many people were ecstatic about the plastic straw ban and took to social media lauding the companies and cities for their decision, disabled people spoke up against it. Plastic straws are extremely useful and a NECESSITY for many disabled people around the world.

As one Twitter user explained in a thread of tweets, that without straws, their lives would be much more difficult and many straw alternatives simply would not work.

By banning straws, we have ignored 56.7 million people. Even if not every disabled person relies on straws, by refusing to listen to those who do, we are silencing an entire community and making them feel as if their struggle and way of life is irrelevant.

2. Plastic straws: More Dangerous than Guns!, apparently

Guns violence kills 96 Americans a day (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). As of today, July 11, 2018, 7,613 people have been killed by guns.

The movement to reform gun laws has been around since the Gun Control Act was passed in 1968 with the purpose of "keeping firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them because of age, criminal background, or incompetence". Since then, people have been working tirelessly in the movement to reform, restrict, and recently, repeal the use of guns.

Compared to plastic straws which have only been widely used since the 1960s, the path to gun control has been far longer and exhausting. And which got banned first in America?

3. The real enemies

Multi-million dollar corporations are the biggest offenders of environmental protection and conservation in the world.

Nestle, the company behind a bottled water brand, is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the world. Silos containing 125 tons of plastic resin are used to bottle water. This water mostly comes from sources in California, a state that is being affected by an extreme drought. Another source is in Flint, Michigan, where its residents have been suffering from a lack of clean drinking water. The bottles of water being sold by Nestle take advantage of people who need the water they are packaging. And the packaging goes straight into the ocean.

Gas and oil companies have been long criticized for the part they play in environmental pollution. In January, the city of New York filed a lawsuit against big oil companies BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell on the claim that together, the companies produced 11% of all of global-warming inducing gases through the oil and gas products they have sold.

Why have plastic straws been targeted, but these companies haven't?


Banning straws is a step in the right direction, although it's more of a baby step. Will we as a country ever been able to take the jump to improvement we clearly need?

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/coffee-drink-starbucks-3597/

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