Random Thoughts….

I have a friend who’s family put up the Christmas Tree on November 8th.  I saw a yard decorated, fully decorated now , on November 11th.   Aside from rushing the Holiday season this also rushes our lives.  Constantly looking forward to something.  Counting the Saturdays until football season, counting the weeks till Christmas, the months till summer, always looking forward rather than being in the moment.  Then all of sudden at the end of the year everyone goes, “man time flys, where did the year go”?  You lived your year looking ahead.  Did you enjoy it?

Whatever happen to the days when we target practiced anything and the target was a paper with a series of colorful circles and a “bullseye” in the center.  Now it’s the outline of the top half of a human torso.  Not only that the vital areas or kill zones score higher points.  Not like the series of circles where the closer you got to the bull’s eye the higher the score.  Do you think this desensitizes us to shooting another human being just a little bit?  Your damn right it does!

If you’ve ever read the book “The Greatest Generation” you’ve read many many stories of entertainers and sports figures who chose to put aside their careers, many very strong careers, to join the ranks of the military and fight.  You would be surprised at how many well know individuals fought, won awards, were killed and did great things in time of war and all in the defense of the United States.  I mostly think of these indiviudals when I see the current day entertainers and sport figures who are so self absorbed they wouldn’t think of holding a door for a little old lady much less give of themselves in any way toward their country.

Outside a resturant the other night I noticed a antique stone tablet with the 10 Commandments inlayed into it.  Then I noticed on the backside it was chained down to the pole it was leaning against.  Makes you think.

I may be wrong and someone correct me if I am.  Every home football game when they play the National Anthem the ROTC tries to time the raising of the flag to the top of the pole with the end of the song.  If I’m not mistaken an American Flag should be hoisted “briskly” and lowered solemnly.  I’ve seen this done nowhere else.

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Is It Time….

Social media can be a great tool for keeping in touch with people, making new friends, and socializing effectively. Unfortunately not everyone uses it that way. For many, checking Facebook has become almost like a job. They post for likes, see what others are doing, and become almost obsessed with knowing exactly what’s going on everywhere all at once. They play all the games and participate in all of the fads (like quizzes). This may be you or someone you know. If it is then maybe it’s time to quit. I had a friend tell me one time, you could say to yourself “who gives rat’s ass” after reading 95% of the posts!  Here are 10 things that will happen once you stop checking Facebook all the time.

1. You’ll become less brain dead.

I use the phrase “brain dead” figuratively here. When you’re buried in a screen checking Facebook, you’re not paying attention to the world around you. Your animals may need to be fed or to be let out to use the restroom. You’ll do it but only after you’re done on Facebook. You may go places but still be on your phone all the time. If that happens, you’re not even experiencing what you left your house to experience. When you put Facebook down, you put your head up and start looking at what’s going on around you and you’ll be more cognizant of everything. For your hungry pets or your friends who wanted to hang out with you, that’s a good thing.

2. You’ll get more work done.

As a blogger, I’m on the internet fairly frequently (read: constantly). My greatest enemy is social media. It’s easy to minimize the tab with the blogging stuff in it and go check Facebook or Google+ for a few minutes. A few minutes turns into a quarter of an hour and before I know it, I’ve lost 30 minutes of productivity. Thanks to smartphones and improving mobile data speeds, you can check Facebook anywhere and that includes at work. When you put it down, you’ll have to do something else to keep from being bored and that usually means doing actual work. If you do put it down then expect your productivity to go up.

3. You can focus on other things.

Being on Facebook takes up a lot of time. You can waste insane amounts of time just scrolling through updates. This is especially true since Facebook doesn’t adhere to a chronological posting format anymore. Putting down Facebook means you’ll be freeing up a lot of time. That’s time that can be spent doing other things. You can spend more time with your significant other and make your relationship stronger. You can spend more time with friends and reconnect with them on a different level. You can get on a treadmill and lose a few pounds, get back into shape, and feel better about yourself. The possibilities are literally endless because you’ll be spending time doing what you want to do.

4. You can find out who your real friends are.

Having a good internet friendship is easy. Liking people’s posts and commenting on their photos takes mere moments. Someone who comments on all of your photos and likes all of your status updates spent 45 seconds doing it but they appear as though they really care and that they’re a real friend who is interested in you. Once you leave Facebook, a lot of that will disappear. The only people who want to actually hang out with you are people who care about you and who want you around. Leaving Facebook is going to help you find those people really quickly.

5. You will learn the word “like” has no meaning.

Audra Rundle made an amazing point regarding this. She states that liking things on Facebook is no longer a matter of actually liking the post. It’s an obligatory action to show that you have seen the post and acknowledge its existence. Many people are too close to the problem to see it directly. Taking a step away can show you just how useless the Like button is now and how few people actually care about the things they like.

6. You will feel more accomplished.

The defining characteristic of Facebook is that you’re never done with it. There is always more to do, more to see, and more to engage with. Dealing with that feeling of “never done” all day long can be emotionally and mentally draining. Doing things outside of Facebook can fix that problem. You can finish a book. You can finish planting a garden. You can finish washing the dishes. Pretty much any task in the real world is something that you can finish. We as humans feel almost high on the sense of accomplishment. Don’t rob yourself of that feeling. Get off of Facebook and finish something.

7. You will get rid of the stalkers.

Practically everyone who uses Facebook has a stalker. That is especially true if you happen to be a woman. People can look at your photos, your updates, and everything without your permission and some people actually do that. Creepy guys will frequently browse the photos of their crushes. Creepy women will do the same thing (albeit less frequently). People you’re not friends and people you don’t want to be friends with can see your information. Even if they can’t see you directly, they can see who you associate with. Your less privacy-minded friend may post that they’re going to the mall with you. Now your stalkers know where you are.If you leave Facebook, you’ll be totally immune to those kind of creepy people.

8. You will actually feel better about yourself.

Studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Facebook makes you feel bad about yourself. There are so many reasons for this. When you post a status and no one likes it, you feel like everyone thinks you’re stupid. When you post photos and members of the opposite sex don’t comment on how good you look, you feel ugly. You’re constantly exposed to people who are happier than you, more successful than you, and who have stronger relationships than you. How is that not supposed to make you feel inferior or utterly depressed all the time? Why would you want to put yourself through that? There’s an easy way to stop and that’s taking a break from Facebook.

9. You will feel better about the things you own.

Reporter Belinda Goldsmith published a piece regarding some research that had been conducted in Germany about how people feel on Facebook. The end result was that people actually become more jealous and envious of what others have on Facebook. It may be someone posting about their new phone, car, house, or other possession. There are some who get jealous when they see people in happy relationships be it friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, or family relationships. Facebook is a great place to brag about what you have and that means it’s also a great place to read about all the things that people have that you don’t. Like I asked earlier, why would you want to put yourself through that?

10. You will realize that all you ever were to Facebook was a piece of data that viewed advertisements.

We have no doubt that there are people on Facebook who legitimately care about you. However, we also have no doubt that Facebook itself couldn’t care less about you. To Mark Zuckerberg you are a piece of data in his giant database to be mined and exploited. Your job on Facebook is to view advertisements, spend money on Facebook games, and make the site rich. What happens to you aside from that doesn’t really matter to Facebook. You wouldn’t stay in a relationship with a person who treated you that way, so why stay in a relationship with Facebook?

I know this sounds like a Facebook bash post and it definitely is to an extent. However, social media sites were made for a reason and somewhere in the last 10 years, we’ve all forgotten what that reason is. That includes you, me, and even the social networks themselves. It’s not about finding people, or about connecting, and creating lifelong friends anymore. It’s about fads. It’s about chain-liking status updates like a smoker chain-smokes. It’s an addiction and it’s a job and you don’t really get anything out of it. I’m not saying you should leave Facebook for good. That’s a little drastic. However, you should definitely have less of it in your life. You’re not missing much by not going on Facebook 30 times a day.

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Which way did he go….

Recently I heard on the news that the car companies are coming out with a so called “black box” for your car.  It doesn’t record the conversation in the car I don’t believe but it does record the car’s vitals.  Vitals like speed, direction, turns, time of day, braking and etc.  It may, and I don’t remember, record where the car’s been much like a GPS would.  Seems as if it would though?!?  Regardless I can hear it now.  The American public going crazy that Uncle Sam is spying on them. I believe the only reason for this is to make it easier in the event of accidents.  Assisting in the investigation of and feeding data back to the car companies to improve the safety of the vehicles we drive.  But there are always going to be the paranoid few that swear the Feds want to know their movements.  That they’re activities are so interesting that they are cause for constant surveillance.  If the Feds want to know what your doing and where your going they can follow you, or simpler yet, they can track the GPS in your pocket.  Damn near every warm body in the US carries a cell phone and if they want to know what you’re doing and where your going it’s as easy tapping into your account.  Let the bragging begin from your buddies about how they “disconnected it”.  Whoo don’t tell anyone.  You know if we had GPS on our children we wouldn’t have so many missing.  But let’s not go into that.  Quite honestly I don’t care if they track me, hell they can ride along if they want.  I’d enjoy the company.  These boxes are still in the trial stage and will probably not be introduced for a model year or two.  People need not worry though, recently a 767 jetliner disappeared and it had four black boxes, and no one can find it.

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Monkey Officially Gone, Our Trip To “The Big House”….

100_0688Seven years ago I traveled to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a football game as a Birthday present from my wife and to myself.  The trip was great, not a flaw or minute’s problem with any of it, except for the ballgame.  Michigan was upset that day by a good Appalachian State team.  Now it’s the not the upset of the century that people think it was as AppState was a good football team at that time, three National titles in a row in their division and about seven future pro’s on the team.  But that’s subject for another debate.

Back in July I decided I had to go again and this time around was another story.  It was noon kickoff which I love.  Isn’t it tradition to kick at noon?  Michigan started early to leave little doubt that this day was going to be theirs.  They clicked on all cylinders both sides of the ball and had a 35-0 halftime lead that eventually ended at 52-14 even though they pulled most of their starters midway through the 3rd quarter.  My wife and I enjoyed the total game experience, shopped, tailgated, yelled, sang “The Victor’s” a thousand times, did the wave, enjoyed the band concert after the game, took pictures of everything and a hundred other things.  The weather that had been a concern all week turned out to be a non-factor, it was great, sunny, warm and NO humidity.  The wonderful thing was that with the game in hand most of the way you could sit, kind of relax and really enjoy the stadium experience.  Seemed we were one of the last one’s to leave.  We were wandering around Ann Arbor and the campus the day before and stumbled upon the band practicing and getting ready for the opening game the next day.  We stopped, got out and wandered around enjoying the sounds from Elbel Field where they practice, rightly named after Louis Elbel who wrote the fight song “The Victors”.  My wife said this was one of her favorite parts of the trip.

2013-09-14_10-48-00_771After the game when we were returning to the car and the tailgates going on, it seemed to me to be kind of subdued.  Not the usual yelling, singing, music blaring and such.  There was some for sure, but most everyone was just kind of kicked back chilling out.  My thought was that everyone was now relieved that the monkey was removed from our backs. The so called “Horror” from seven years ago was gone.  It just didn’t seem to be the time for cheering or smack talk.  I was as happy as they were, not so much from seeing a dominating game effort, but the fact that maybe the AppState back of your mind what if was finally over.  Technically speaking Michigan had to do exactly what they did this day, meaning they had to route AppState.  You see scheduling them again was a no win situation, but in hindsight I’m glad they did.  If they beat you again, OMG!  If you win close there would still be doubters.  So the only way to see the chimp gone was to beat them soundly, which was nothing to brag about, but you didn’t have to listen to any nay-sayers any longer.  Some say that the game seven years ago was the beginning of Michigan Football’s downslide that we have seen over these past 5-6 years, and maybe it was.  With this game and chapter behind us, hopefully this can be the start of the programs resurgence and get back to Michigan Football as it once was!!!

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What a Difference a Year Makes….

August 2013

August 2013

August 2014

August 2014

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Hang up on Technology….

Technology has taken huge leaps in upgrades and improvements in the last few years, and new gadgets and ideas continually flood the market. But with more people being ever dependent on smartphones, tablets and social networks, is the connectivity between individuals suffering?

Dr. Ted Stiger is a clinical psychologist who believes there is a fine line between having and using technology, and being addicted to it on an unhealthy level.

“People can easily get caught up in technology,” Stiger said. “If someone values a gadget more than a person, it then becomes a problem.”

All the reliance on gadgets and social networking has changed some perspecitve on the meaning of friendship and the importance of actual social interaction.

cell phone friends“It’s a sign of the times seeing how relationships and friendships are defined on social networks,” Stiger said. “The question that needs to be asked is if friends are designated for quality or quantity?”

Some people would merit that technology faciliates relationships, Stiger said, which can be true, and sometimes a relationship can form with the help of technology. Friendships in social networks can be a different area of needs altogether in a relationship aspect.

“What is the gratification in having hundreds of friends on a social network, but not knowing any of them personally or on a deeper level?” Stiger said. “With that many friends but no quality friendships, all you get is an artificial or superficial sense of self esteem. Is the connection through technology going to facilitate further deeper connections, or is it a matter of having more friends than someone else?”

Not only can technology be used to facilitate friendships, it also can be used to avoid actual human interaction.

“I can use technology to protect myself from the risk of close relationships,” Stiger said. “Those type of relationships can lead to feelings of loss or rejection, and can be avoided through technology.”

So why the need to be engaged in a device or gadget 24-7? Stiger said people have been trying to get ahead in the rat race, and leaps in technology have made the race even quicker.

“Technology has added to the race, therefore making a more competitive rat,” Stiger said. “The problem is if you’re just involved in technology and racing along with the other rats, that isn’t a very good or exciting existence.”

When it comes to the usefulness of gadgets, one device can often take the place of many, with Internet access, phone capabilities and even cameras built into a handheld connect-all.

“The key is to reach a balance with your devices and the other aspects of your life,” Stiger said. “Be self aware. Take notice of when you should be on your device, and when it shouldn’t be out. Understanding that technology is a given and needed for most occupations is common, but being able to see there are more important things then checking for email or sending messages or playing games all the time is very important.”

Dependency on gadgets can lead to health issues and have negative effects on relationships, Stiger said. The culture today is stressed, and in this fast-paced world it is important to keep up, but peopler need to realize life is more than trying to reach the next level on Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

“I challenge people to be able to put away the phone or computer and take a deep breath and look around,” Stiger said. “Disconnect yourself and look out a window, meet with friends and leave your phone at home, have human interactions.”

Stiger also warned of the negative effects overuse of technology and games can have on children.

“Make sure children aren’t more interested in games and technology than an actual person,” Stiger said. “There are distractions everywhere 24 hours a day. Set limits for your children. It’s great for them to keep up with technology and advancements, but communication without technology has to occur.”

Parents need to make sure they aren’t using technology as a “babysitter” for their kids, and Stiger explained why personal interaction without devices is so important for developing youngsters.

“Children need to learn how to read body language and how to engage with another person,” Stiger said. “They learn to read expressions through human interaction and playing games with friends and parents, not through phones or video games or even television.

“I think technology use is something that needs to be monitored closely by all parents. Another disconnect occurs when parents have their own technology, like cell phones, and children have their own such as video games, and each are disconnected from each other by not being involved in their own type of technology and not paying attention to one another.”

Stiger recommends setting limits to technology time and increasing personal interaction with children as much as possible.

“Technology keeps developing, and we try to keep up with it, but it’s important to notice the things in life that are all around you by turning off the cell phone and focusing on people,” Stiger said. “Notice how you feel when you leave your phone at home. If it’s effecting emotional responses, sleep, or relationships with others, it’s time to put the gadgets away and focus on what’s around you.”

These gadgets won’t be disappearing any time soon, so finding a happy balance between life and technology use will most likely continue to be a struggle as devices become faster and more connected every day. Remember to stop and enjoy what is actually happening in the moment, without having to check or update a Facebook or Twitter account.

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It’s Not Michelle’s Fault….

More often than I care too I have to stop to fuel up in the mornings.  I remember one time riding with my Dad way back in the early 70’s passing by the gas stations, there were no convenience stores at that time, that were having gas wars.  How many folks remember those?  Anyway there were signs in front of almost every one of them that stated “fill any tank $2.00”.  What I wouldn’t do to see a few of those posted now.  Anyway while I stand in the cold and wait while the tank fills I see car after car stopping up by the store, a child or two hopping out and into the store.  What are they getting?  Mountain Dews, Cokes, chips, candy, doughnuts, etc.  Did I mention these are school mornings?  Is this their breakfast or lunch or what?  I can’t believe a parent would do this.  Why?  What happened to cereal and a glass of orange juice to start the day?  Years back when you went to school, you went to school.  There was no stopping for snacks.  What the school had for lunch or what Mom packed in a brown bag was it.  Hell the thought of stopping for a snack would never cross your mind much less come out of your mouth.  Michelle Obama instituted a program to get healthier foods into the schools, I don’t know the outcome but I’m sure it met with resistance in more than a few places.  Programs like this rarely make any real impact, even under the best of circumstances, but you got to respect the effort.  The effort to get our young people healthier is not Michelle Obama’s responsibility, It’s the parents, and look at what their doing.  I’d bet these same young ones are in front of the TV or video game station immediately after school as well.  Snack close at hand.  I never see kids running through the neighborhood, I never see them riding bikes, I never see them playing pick up games of anything.  Even on Saturday’s.  Where are they?  All the things that keep you in somewhat good health regardless of what you ate are gone.  All gone because Mom and Dad are so afraid to take the kids off their hip and turn them loose for a few minutes and let them be kids.  Of course they would have to put their cell phones down for a few minutes.   And God forbid they should get out of sight,  goodness they may miss a tweet from some self centered idol.  Michelle I know you get bashed for a lot of things but the health and welfare of our nation’s youth is not your fault or responsibility.  But I appreciate the effort.

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Lawsuits in the news….

So a guy goes to a McDonald’s drive thru and gets whatever he gets.  Must have been messy meal because he asked for extra napkins, and the manager refused.  His order was a one napkin order and that’s what he got.  Well one thing led to another, it got ugly and now the man is suing McDonald’s for $50,000.00 for emotional distress.

 

Teenage girl can hang at home because of the folks unreasonable requests.  You know, dishes, cleaning and generally pulling her share of the weight around the house. Chores young folks should do when living under someone else’s roof.  So out she moves to a friend’s house.  Now she’s filed a lawsuit against the folks for college tuition and living expenses.

 

Parents buy junior a bike for whatever reason.  Dad assembles it and off junior goes, “into the night” to ride it.  He goes down a hill, I did mention “at night” didn’t I, loses control of it and crashes into a light pole at the bottom.  Now the boy’s parents are suing the bicycle manufacturer for damages because there was no warning on the carton or in the instructions warning against this.

 

Young lady get arrested for DUI after a night of whatever.  She’s booked and has a mug shot taken.  Apparently this young lady is a looker and some website reposted her mug shot picture stating she was ‘Hot”. Well she is suing this website for defamation of her character.

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Where’ve I been….

My God it’s been over a month since I last posted.  So much goes on in a persons life that every once in a while it catches up with them that all the usual things suddenly go to the back burner and the new take over.  I guess the newest thing is my Grandson Zander.  That boy is outstanding.  I see him enough but not enough if you know what I mean.  As much as you want to I’m not going to be that Grandparent who is an every weekend all weekend pest.  I’ll pick my moments and that suits me just fine. His folks got it handled, believe me they are all in.  Keep the pictures coming though.

As Alice Cooper used to say, “Schools out for summer”, or been out, and one thing that caught my attention over the graduation days was this one young man who was, get this, offered scholarships to all eight Ivy League schools, and a few outside big name University’s to boot.  Think about that Alice, a full ride of his choice to any one of those eight prestigious institutions.  Never did hear what one he chose.

Did I mention that I am no fan of graduations from any grade outside of leaving High School or College?  Like my son in law frequently says, “participation trophy”.  A kindergarten graduation?? Get real.

Our dog’s hearing is almost gone.  It’s sad that you can walk right behind him with ease and he has no idea your coming.  What I don’t like is him heading somewhere I don’t want him to go and having to yell his name over and over in ever increasing decibels until you have to actually go get him from whatever it is that he headed to.  At times he gets rather barky, and I mean Mr. Barky Schnauzer.  I wonder what that sounds like to him?  Mark!  Mark!  Sure doesn’t sound like that to me, sharp as ever.  That was cruel.

When summer was out way back during my formative teenage years all I wanted was to earn money and spend money.  I had paper routes two at a time, (early morning ones too), I washed mail trucks at the Post Office, cut grass, shoveled snow, pumped gas, you name it.  I use to cut my sister’s yard, which with that size yard was an all day event with a push mower, for $5.  Yes $5.  And I was happy to get it.  Really!  That was big money back then.  Two nights spending cash.  I didn’t even think of crying over that amount, I’d do most anything to make a buck.  You see I didn’t mind working all day if it meant having spending money for the night.  In 1978, one of my formative years, US Labor Bureau statistics showed that 3 in 4 teenagers had a summer job, now it’s 4 in 10.  It’s declined ever since, even in the boom years of the late 90’s.  How do the young folks get such nice cars, clothes, and cell phones if their not working?  Participation trophy.  Mom and Dad got them one for being born!!!

Formative years working story; Onetime during the winter we had a large snowfall, probably a couple of feet.  I usually cleared the neighbor lady’s porch, steps, walkway to the sidewalk, the sidewalk in front of the house and the walkway from the sidewalk to the street.  Anything near the street was tough after the street plows came through.  Anyway after this particular clearing which took some time I went to the door to collect whatever payment she chose to give me.  You see back then it wasn’t “how much ya going to give me” before you started, it was, do the job and take what they offered, no questions asked.  Well anyway she gave me a quarter.  I took it and normally I didn’t complain, but a quarter? Come on.  I told my Dad and he told she was old and didn’t really understand the work involved and the proper pay.  You know what, the next snowfall I was right back there shoveling.  I remember one time she paid me a dime for something.  Another neighbor paid me $3 an hour, I even had to shovel the patio for their dog, no matter $3 an hour was high cotton.

Read the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  It’s excellent.

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Sign of the times….

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Saw this near the beach.  Same Church, same day, same time, different sides of the same sign.  I especially like the little “Jesus Saves” sign next to it, nice touch.

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