Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Something Wrong Here?

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory.Image via WikipediaI was driving to work the other day, when I heard a story about the #1 most requested item on the "wish lists" of children aged 6-12.  It doesn't really hit me as a big surprise, but it is the Apple iPad.  While I am not surprised, I guess I am a little bit disappointed or disillusioned.  It makes me wonder if we are failing the youth of today by creating a generation of consumers with no regard for what things cost.

Now I must confess, that I have bowed at the altar of consumerism and been on the materialistic side.  For several years, I was an early adapter of technology.  I made the transition from vinyl records to CDs well before most of my contemporaries, however, I did so when I was working and using my own funds to indulge in my habits.  At least I had an idea of how much work and effort went into getting my things.

I no longer subscribe to the philosophy of life that he who dies with the most toys wins.  That is not to say that having material things is bad in and of itself.  It is just that it should not be the end all be all of our existence.  There are a lot of things that make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and comfortable.  There is nothing wrong with having those things as long as they can be acquired with minimal hardship.

To get back to the kids.  For the life of me, I can not imagine that I would ever have asked my parents to get me anything quite as extravagant as an iPad.  There were four kids in my family growing up.  Something like an iPad would have cost as much as all of our Christmas presents put together.  I don't think any of us would have been happy opening one present between the four of us.

As a parent, I love to get things for my son, but I know how he treats things. He can be pretty rough with things, and they tend not to last very long.  I imagine that something like an iPad would end up being an awfully expensive paperweight.  How many 6-12 year old kids would be able to take proper care of an iPad or similar device?

Maybe I am looking back through the fog of time and not seeing the past too clearly.  It could be that I did ask for comparably expensive gifts back in the day.  It could be that the realization was that if we asked for a lot of smaller, less expensive gifts, then the gift opening would last longer.  Or perhaps, back in those days, we didn't have the plethora of expensive gifts available to request.  Either way, I am not sure today is best for the children.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Music Monday-Shania Twain w/Billy Currington "Party for Two"

I was actually looking for a Billy Currington song to post for Music Monday when I came across this old Shania Twain song with Billy Currington.  There were two versions of this video shot, this one with Currington and another with Mark McGrath.  I prefer the Currington version.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Visit to Santa Claus

Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, "Merry...Image via WikipediaSanta Claus with a little girlImage via WikipediaBERLIN - NOVEMBER 27:  A woman dressed as ange...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThe Thanksgiving weekend is coming to an end which means it will be time for my wife to try to get our son back to school tomorrow.  It also means that Christmas is right around the corner, actually just four weeks from today.  With such a short break between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it also means my son will only be gone for about 3.5 weeks before he comes home for Christmas break.

I am happy to say that I am basically done with my Christmas shopping this year.  There may be a gift card or two that I have to pick up between now and Christmas.  Yesterday, I received an email informing me that the presents I bought for my son on BestBuy.com were on their way.  I am so glad that I was able to find the items I wanted online at the Black Friday prices rather than fighting those crowds.

I did not hear of any major incidents near me, but there were several prominent news stories about man's inhumanity to man during the Black Friday events.  Talk about the Spirit of Christmas.  NOT!  There was the woman who pepper sprayed fellow shoppers to gain an advantage in getting an Xbox she wanted.  There was somebody who was shot during an altercation during an attempted robbery when the victims left a store with their Black Friday booty.  Then there were other incidents as well.

Today, we were going to take our son to visit my parents before he goes back to school tomorrow.  Unfortunately, they were doing some work at their church this afternoon and were unavailable.  So, we made other plans and took our son out to Arundel Mills Mall to go play some skee-ball and other games at the Dave & Buster's.

After we left Dave & Buster's, we went into the FYE store to get him a new DVD to take back to school.  When we were leaving, we were looking at some of the games available for the Playstation 3 that I ordered on Thanksgiving for his Christmas present.  He confirmed that my decision to buy it and the Madden 12 game was the right one when he told us he wanted Madden 12, a hockey game, and a NASCAR game for Christmas.

We told him that he would have to tell Santa Claus what he wanted for Christmas.  Normally, my son does not want to visit with Santa, but there was no line to visit with ole St. Nick.  My son, who is too big to sit on Santa's lap, walked up to Santa and shook his hand.  He proceeded to tell Santa the list of games he wanted for Christmas.  It will be so much fun watching him open his presents in four weeks.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Surrender All

Usually, when I read a book I read a little at a time.  A chapter or two a day.  For most books, it usually takes about a week or so for me to finish.  The book I just finished yesterday, I Surrender All: Rebuilding a Marriage Broken by Pornography by Clay and Renee Crosse was finished over a two day time period.

There are a couple of reasons why this book was read so much more quickly than most books.  First, I have been off of work the last two days so I have had some more free time on my hands.  My son has also been home, so he has been playing some games on my laptop.  With him sitting next to me playing, I would read. Another big reason that I read the book so quickly is that I found myself relating to Clay Crosse's story.

Clay Crosse made his name in the Contemporary Christian Music field. He had several big hits, won Dove Awards (the Contemporary Christian Music version of the Grammy) and toured the country performing his music.  Crosse has been a professed Christian most of his life.  The book details his addiction to pornography and how it almost cost him everything he held dear.

Crosse was exposed to pornography at an early age when he was in the fourth grade.  He reveals that it started with some magazines and eventually moved on to movies.  As he delved more and more into the world of pornography, he needed it to become more graphic and more intense.  The more he watched, the more he wanted to live out those fantasies that played in his mind.

While he never physically committed adultery, he knew it was just a matter of time before he would give in to the temptation.  He came to the realization that he needed help.  He also confessed his double life to his wife.  Her part of the book talks about her feelings and how she came to forgive him and rebuild their marriage.  It was not easy.

The key for the couple in turning around their lives was in turning to faith.  While both of them had been professing Christians most of their lives, they were living a superficial form of Christianity.  Both were more concerned about how God could bless them and not in having a deep relationship with God.  They were both caught up in the material blessings of success, and Clay had the added burden of lust through pornography.

By discovering that their faith was lacking, they were able to build a deeper faith.  It allowed them to save a marriage that was on the brink of collapse.  Eventually, their story became a ministry to help others who were struggling with similar issues.  God was able to take the bad in their lives and turn it into something good and positive.

I think that everybody could benefit from their story, whether or not they are struggling with issues like lust and pornography.  The root of their problem were not these things, but rather the focus on themselves and not on God.  By refocusing on the right things, they were able to get back on the right track.  That is not to say that they don't still struggle, but that they now know better how to stay on track.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

TravelPro Sweepstakes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TravelPro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Race to the Moon

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cafe Well for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Inbox (16 messages, 1 unread)Do you remember the 2008 Olympics?  I do.  That was the year that Michael Phelps set a new record by winning 8 gold medals in a single Olympiad.  It was also the year that I started my current full time job.  In conjunction with the Olympic games, my office gave everybody pedometers to encourage walking, with prizes for the people walked the most steps in a week.  It was a lot of fun for everyone.

The reason I bring up this particular fun work event from the past is that the folks at Cafe Well  are having their Race to the Moon challenge. Cafe Well is a social network sponsored by Health America.  The concept is to have participants use the pedometer provided by Cafe Well to walk the distance to the moon during the promotional period.  There will be weekly drawings for great prizes, including the grand prize of a trip for two to Hawaii. 

Participation in the contest is only open to members of Health America members.  However, that is not to say that you can't benefit from the site.  You are still able to join the site and take advantage of the things that it has to offer.  You can participate in the various communities to get support and ideas for healthy cooking, exercise tips, and just about anything else to promote a healthy lifestyle.

My office has already done a couple of different group activities involving pedometers.  They were a lot of fun for everyone that was an active participant.  In addition to those types of contests, companies can also participate in other group challenges, like weight loss contests.  I personally would gravitate to a healthy food challenge where people can share their best healthy recipes and dishes.

If you are an eligible Health America member, you should check out the contest.  It is always beneficial to get up and move around, especially after that big Thanksgiving meal.  If you are not a member, you still should check out the site to see all that they to offer.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to take this time out to wish everybody here in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that everybody can take some time to reflect on all of the things in your life that you can be thankful for, no matter how small they may be.  No matter your situation, I hope you can find something that you can be thankful for.

For me personally, here are a few things that I am thankful for:

  • In this tough economy and high unemployment, I am thankful to have a good job.
  • I am thankful that we were able to pick our son up from school on Tuesday for the long weekend together
  • I am thankful for WilyGuy for tipping me to BestBuy.com for Black Friday deals so that I have already finished my Christmas shopping and don't have to fight the crowds tonight.
  • I am thankful for all of my family, friends, and those of you that take time out of your day to come here to read this blog
Now, everybody go ahead and party like it's 1621!

Pilgrim Song - Party Like it's 1621! by JibJab
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday

XboxImage via WikipediaI don't usually partake in Black Friday deals, but I might have to this year.  Those doorbuster specials usually start way too early in the morning, and I hate fighting the crowds.  Besides, they usually have a limited number of the hot deal items and there is no guarantee if you get up at 4am to get there for the early morning opening that you will get what you came for.

About the only year that I got up early to get to a Black Friday special was the year that the Furby toys came out.  For some reason, my wife really wanted one.  I got up to the Kay Bee Toy store about half an hour before they opened and the line was outrageous.  Fortunately, my sister in law was already in line waiting to get one for herself, so I got in line with her and got the Furby.

A little more than a week ago, I posted about how I was considering buying my son a new gaming system, either an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3.  Over the weekend, I went to a Game Stop store to ask a few questions about the different systems and the games.  While talking to the clerk in the store, he gave me a copy of their Black Friday sales flier.

Right there on the front page of the flier were the two systems that I had been thinking about getting for my son.  I had been leaning towards the Xbox, because it is the least expensive of the two systems.  It will be on sale for $50 off.  In addition, one of the games that my son would want to play, Madden 2012 will also be on sale for $20 off.  So, if I can get to the store in time, I could get him the system and a game he wants for less than the normal price of the system.

The good news, for me at least, is that Game Stop is won of those stores that are opening up at midnight Thanksgiving night.  While there are some complaining that these stores should open later so people can fully enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday, it actually works better for me.  It is much easier for me to stay up past midnight than to get up at 4am, especially on a scheduled day off.

I have pretty much decided that I will head out to try to partake of this particular Black Friday event.  Hopefully I will get there early enough to get the Xbox and the Madden game.  About the only hardship that I can foresee for me is that it means that I won't be able to partake of much wine on Thanksgiving.  A small price to pay if I am able to get this for my son that night.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lunch with The Donald

On Sunday, I had lunch with The Donald.  No, not that Donald.  My old friend Don Valyou.  I first met Don when we were both in junior high school.  He is one of the smartest guys I have ever known.  Even when we were in high school, he used to listen to talk and news radio.  He had one of the highest, if not the highest, SAT scores in our high school class.

We first became friends because we had a lot of the same classes together.  We soon discovered that we were born about 28 hours apart in the same hospital.  It was a long standing joke between us that we were twin sons of different sons after the Fogelberg and Weisberg album of the same name.

In high school, Donald and I remained close friends.  It was there that we met David Mills.  The three of us ended up on our high school It's Academic team in our senior years.  It's Academic was a high school quiz show that awarded the winning teams with scholarship money for appearing on the program.  The three of us were fast friends through high school and then college at the University of Maryland.

Like a lot of high school and college friends, we eventually drifted apart and went our separate ways.  David eventually moved to LA where he wrote for television and won an Emmy.  I was the only one of the three of us to get married and start a family.  We eventually reconnected through blogs and Facebook. We were able to get together a couple times the last time David was back in town.

David was getting ready to head to New Orleans to work on a new HBO series, Treme, with his friend David Simon.  In March of last year, while working on the set, David passed away suddenly from an aneurism.  It was Donald that alerted me to the bad news by sending me a message through Facebook.

Donald and I have gotten together a couple of times since the funeral, not nearly as much as we should.  Sunday was a special occasion.  It would have been David's 50th birthday, so it was a day to get together to catch up and to remember an old friend.  Hopefully we will be able to get together much more frequently in the future.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Monday- Eric Church "Drink In My Hand"

After a long work week, there is nothing like unwinding on the weekend with a nice beverage. This week, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a short week for me, so my weekend will start a bit early this week.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

LG Double Play

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LG DoublePlay™ for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love my Android phone.  There is so much that I do on it everyday.  I read and write emails. I search the web for news and information.  If I find anything interesting on the web, I can share them with my friends on Twitter and Facebook.  Over the course of the month I probably send over 100 text messages to family and friends.  Occasionally, I even have a conversation on the phone.

As much as I love my phone, it does have a few minor drawbacks.  Even though I can do all of these different things on my phone, I can only do them one at a time.  The LG DoublePlay™, available only through T-Mobile, allows you to multi-task with your phone.  It could be the answer to my prayers, all at 4G speeds.

The LG DoublePlay has two customizable touchscreens that can work independently or in conjunction with each other.  One screen can be used for searching the web or using other apps, while the second screen can be used for all of your social networking sites.  Now you don't have to close your web browser to respond to text messages or update your Facebook status.

It truly is a great device if you spend a lot of time on social networking sites from your phone like I do.  My wife would like the LG DoublePlay because in addition to the touch screens, it has a slide out QWERTY keyboard.  She has never been comfortable using virtual keyboards.  It is a device that would satisfy both of our needs.

How much time do you currently spend per month using your phone to surf the web or stay connected to your social media sites.  Check out the LG DoublePlay for yourself. It can help revolutionize the way you interact with your social media sites.  How would having a phone like the LG DoublePlay change the way interact through social sites?  You can do more, and share more every day.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

done.: what most religions don't tell you about the Bible

I am constantly on the lookout for books to read on my Kindle.  I have to confess, that I am extremely frugal, so on a regular basis I scour the Amazon Kindle store looking for free or inexpensive books to download.  I have found some very enjoyable books over the last 9 months since I bought my Kindle.

There are a couple genres of books that I look to download.  I have recently gotten back into reading fiction.  Brad Thor and his Scot Harvath series is my current favorite.  I have also enjoyed the Dan Brown books.  Occasionally, I read some conservative politics.  The one genre that I tend to gravitate towards is books about the Christian religion and spirituality.

Even though I am not active in a church these days, I still am on the lookout for good books on the Christian faith.  I gravitate towards books that really dig deep and make you think, and consequently grow.  That is why I was intrigued when I saw the book done.: what most religions don't tell you about the Bible by Cary Schmidt.

I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in the book overall.  I was hopeful that the author would delve deeper into the Bible and provide me with something deeper.  Instead, I felt like I was reading something more like an expanded Bible tract delivering a simple salvation message.  It really did not provide me with anything new or thought provoking.

The author says there are basically two religions with a lot of variations among the two.  There are those that fall in the "DO" category. These religions provide you with a list of activities that you need to do to "earn" your salvation before God.  Then there is the "DONE" religion, which emphasizes the finished work of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation to reconcile yourself to God.

Usually, I can find something about a book that I like.  The message itself was fine, as there is always something to like about the gospel message of salvation.  The delivery of the message left something to be desired.  The author constantly addressed the reader as "friend," as in "Friend, do you know where you will spend eternity?"  It got a bit annoying after a while.

To be honest, I actually considered putting the book aside and begin reading something else.  The good thing is it is a relatively short book.  Thankfully, it was one of those free books that I found on Amazon.  I would have been really disappointed had I spent money on it.  On a positive note, it would be a decent book for a new believer or seeker, but not for somebody looking for something a little deeper. 
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Writer's Block

It has been kind of a tough week for me this week, at least as far as the blogging is concerned.  It has been a real struggle to write this week.  Normally, I try to post something on a daily basis.  I probably miss one or two days in a typical month.

It isn't that I haven't had any ideas for things to write about.  There have been plenty of ideas.  It's just that every time that I break out the laptop to start writing, I struggle.  I sit there staring at the screen trying to decide how to approach the two or three ideas floating around in my head.

Part of it, I think is that I have been unusually tired this week.  We have been a little shorthanded at work lately.  I also have a new position that I have am really enjoying, but getting a new program started from the ground up is taking a lot of time and brain power.

In the past, I have tried to have at least a few posts written that I can use during those times when I have nothing in particular that I want to write about or when I have been busy.  At the very least, I try to have at least one post available to publish. 

Usually, these little bouts where I don't particularly feel like writing last a day at most.  This week, it has been nearly every day.  How do the rest of my blogging friends deal with the occasional bouts of writer's block?
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Buck Naked Faith

When I was a kid, my parents used to tell me that doing certain things would stunt my growth.  Usually, the purpose of telling me this was to keep me from performing some undesirable behavior.  Let's face it, nobody wants to be have their growth stunted. 

To have your growth stunted, is obviously a bad thing.  There is one instance, however, where the goal is to stunt the growth of the object.  That would be in the art of bonsai.  The goal of the bonsai artist is to inhibit the growth of the tree so that it appears to have weathered obstacles and grown strong, but in reality it is all just an illusion.

In Buck Naked Faith: A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity, Eric Sandras compares the life of faith as one that is either superficial and weak like the bonsai tree, or one that is real, strong, and growing. As somebody who has had issues staying solid within the Christian community and someone wanting to develop a real Christian world view, the book intrigued me.

One of the things that has occurred in my own spiritual life is to be surrounded by those with the appearance of having the Christian walk down pat.  Playing the church game was all about doing and saying the right things.  On those occasions when I would struggle or stumble, I felt like I could not share those who were supposed to be my cohorts in the walk.

I remember the first time I had one such incident that forced me to walk away from a group I had been a large part.  It was a Baptist group, so we did not drink alcohol.  I had just been laid off from one job and my car wouldn't start.  I felt like having a beer.  When I confessed this "sin" to one of my friends from the group, rather than support, I received a condescending, "Oh, Richard," like I had committed the worst of acts.

Sandras feels that in order to actually develop a vibrant, growing Christian faith, we need to shed the veneer of acting as if we have it all together.  We need to be able to ask questions and struggle.  We need to be transparent with one another and share those burdens, doubts, and struggles.  From the very first chapter, Sandras shares some of his own struggles and failures and how he had to struggle to get through those difficult times.

Throughout the book, Sandras looks at the various techniques the bonsai artist uses to create the bonsai tree.  He then compares that with the walk of faith and how to go counter to the bonsai artist that creates a real and growing faith rather than one that only appears to be real and strong.  It was a book that due to my past struggles was one that I really enjoyed reading.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Save Us Chuck Woolery: Foreign Oil

About 6 weeks ago, I discovered Chuck Woolery's new website, Save Us Chuck Woolery.  The game show legend is a political conservative and uses his wit and wisdom to address some of the issues of the day from his unique perspective. 

Woolery has a new video posted on the website addressing the subject of our addition to foreign oil.  While Woolery's suggestion that we invade Canada because they have abundant supplies of oil is obviously tongue in cheek and sarcastic, he does hit home on the subject of our addition to foreign oil.

Politicians constantly harp about our dependence on foreign oil, yet nobody is willing to do anything about it. We continue to buy oil and send our assets to countries who essentially are not friendly to us or our way of living.  They literally have us over a barrel.

Meanwhile, our friends to the north have an abundant supply of oil and shale oil.  They would like to build a pipeline from Canada to Texas to allow us to refine that oil.  That pipeline would do two things, create jobs and give us a reliable supply of oil.  Yet our leaders give in to the environmentalists and cost us jobs and higher energy costs.

Take a look at what is going on in North Dakota these days.  While the rest of the country is struggling with 9% or higher unemployment rates, North Dakota is sitting at an unemployment rate of 3.5%.  Why?  Because they are drilling for oil and hiring workers at good pay rates.

Not only do our friends to the north in Canada have plenty of oil, but so do we.  Yet we continue to leave those resources untapped due to environmental concerns.  Neighbors like Russia in the Arctic region, and Cuba and others in the Caribbean are drilling near our shores. 

So we still have the risks of a spill from them near our shores, without the benefits of having a domestic supply of oil and natural gas.  I would trust our ability of getting that oil out of the ground in a more environmentally friendly manner than any of the others drilling near our coastlines.

Tapping into our own natural resources will do two things.  One, it will provide good paying jobs to Americans at a time when we desperately need jobs.  Second, it will lower energy costs giving average working Americans more disposable income to spend on other things to get the economy moving again.  Both are things we desperately need in this country.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Music Monday-Luke Bryan "All My Friends Say"

Been there, done that.  What's that you ask?  Been the life of the party when an ex-girlfriend came into the party with a new guy just to show that I was doing just fine without her.  Besides, I really like Luke Bryan's music, and I realized that I had not posted any of his tunes on Music Monday.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by m...Image via WikipediaYesterday, my wife needed to go shopping for a denim jean skirt.  She had been having a difficult time finding anything she liked at the stores near our house, so we decided to head out to the Arundel Mills Outlet Center about a half hour drive away from our house. 

She had already told me that she had been in one store this week that was already playing Christmas music.  Earlier in the week, we had dinner at the Red Robin in the Bowie Town Center shopping center, and they had lights and decorations up.  Well, Arundel Mills went one better.  Santa Claus was already set up in the mall and visiting with the kids.  It isn't even Thanksgiving yet!

I had already started to think about what I wanted to get my son this year for Christmas. Now, I guess it won't be long before I have to start giving it some serious thought.  I am already done with shopping for my wife's gift.  Originally, I was going to get her a new Android phone on Christmas Eve, however, she recently had her phone stolen so she got it early.  It is still possible that Santa may have a small surprise for her Christmas morning.

Shopping for my wife is easy.  My son is another matter.  It is complicated by the fact that he is away at school the majority of the time.  I think if you add up all of his breaks through the year, he is home a little more than two months a year. Currently, my son has two old console game systems hooked to the television, a Playstation 2 and a Nintendo Game Cube.  Neither one of them works very well and they no longer make games for either system.

The father within me wants to get my son a new game system this Christmas.  Each game system that I would consider getting for him would end up costing me $200 or more.  The practical side of me thinks that is too much money to spend on something that would get such little use throughout the course of the year. 

There are a lot of things that I could get for him that he would be able to get a little more use from during the course of the year.  He loves music, so I could get him some CDs that he could take to school with him.  He also likes a lot of shows like iCarly and Spongebob Squarepants that are available on DVD.  He also breaks his portable CD players frequently, so that is another option.

Still, I get a bit sad when he is home and he can't play Madden football or hockey because his game system no longer works.  Help me out here.  Which father should win out; the practical or the indulgent?
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sad Week in Sports

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Philadelphia, PA...Image by cliff1066™ via FlickrThis week has been a sad week in sports.  There have been three major pieces of sports news that really bring home the reality of life in general as opposed to the relief from reality that sports usually provides for those of us that call ourselves "sports fans."

When I was much younger, I used to be a big boxing fan.  Back in the days when ABC's Wide World of Sports was a weekly Saturday afternoon fixture and they used to regularly show boxing.  This is way before ESPN hit the stage and before all major boxing events became expensive pay per view productions.

This week, the boxing world lost one of the all time great heavyweight boxers when Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away from liver cancer at the age of 67.  Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought in three of the greatest heavyweight matches of all time.  Ali beat Frazier two of the three bouts, but Frazier was the first man to defeat Ali in an epic 15 round decision to win the heavyweight title.

I guess I am a bit of an old school sports fan.  I tend to be a fan of athletes who display what I consider professionalism and a workman like attitude.  Nothing turns me off more that the "look at me" type behavior displayed by so many players who launch into elaborate celebration routines whenever they make a positive display.  That is why I liked Frazier so much more than the brashness of Ali. RIP Joe.

Another major news story broke this week in regards to the Penn State football program.  Former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted this week on charges that he molested and abused young boys through a charity he founded to help disadvantaged kids.  Talk about disgusting.  The allegations have led to the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials.

A graduate assistant told Paterno that he saw Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the showers in the Penn State facilities and that Paterno then reported the incident to his superiors.  At first, I felt he did what he should have by reporting it to his bosses, but the more I have thought about it, he should have reported it to the authorities.  I have no sympathy for him losing his job.

As far as Sandusky is concerned, if the allegations are true, there is no punishment to severe for the man.  There is nothing more disturbing that an adult taking advantage of and harming a child.  That is especially true if that child has been entrusted to the care of the adult that harms the child as in the case of these kids being entrusted to Sandusky's charity.

The last bit of news concerns a player for my Washington Nationals baseball team.  Wilson Ramos, the catcher for the Nationals, is an up and coming young star for the team.  Last season, he hit 15 home runs and had 52 RBIs and looks poised to be a building block of the team.

Ramos was born in Venezuela and was playing Winter League ball in his home country.  Earlier this week, he was kidnapped by 4 armed men.  Fortunately, the story ends well as Venezuelan authorities rescued Ramos and arrested suspects after a brief shootout.  Thankfully, Ramos was not injured during the exchange.

Sport should be a welcome respite from the cares and worries of our world.  Still, it is just sport.  Life itself is so much more important.  Sometimes the two get intertwined to remind us of that fact.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day.  Since it is a federal holiday, all of the government workers in my area will have the day off.  For me, that means a slightly better commute for me tomorrow thanks to there being fewer automobiles on road.  I love when the government workers are off.

In all seriousness, though, Veterans Day is a day where we should honor those who have served this country in the military to help us maintain our freedoms and our way of life.  To all of the men and women who have served our country through military service, especially those deployed overseas, thank you for all that you do for us.  I hold you in the highest regard.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brain Fart

So I sat down last night to watch the latest of the multitude of Republican debates.  It was the first debate since the accusations of sexual harassment by Herman Cain started making the headlines.  I was glad to see that the audience was firmly behind Cain.  During the introductions of the candidates, it seemed as if the Herminator received the loudest round of applause.

The debate was broadcast on CNBC, and was supposed to center around economic issues but it didn't take long for one of the moderators to bring up the subject.  In one of the early questions, Maria Bartiromo strayed from economic issues and questioned Cain on his integrity.  The crowd roundly booed her during the questioning.

Once again, Cain was cheered loudly for his response to her question.  That wasn't enough for Bartiromo though.  She then had to direct a follow up question to Mitt Romney to ask for his thoughts on the matter.  Once again, she was booed loudly.  Romney refused to answer the question and suggested they get back to the economic subject matter.

For the most part, I though Cain did a decent job of sticking to the message that has helped him gain so much momentum in the campaign thus far.  He kept discussing his 999 plan, and in some instances I thought he went back to the well just a little too often.  I don't think he hurt himself any in the debate, but he didn't stand out any either.

Of all the candidates, I liked Newt Gingrich's performance the most.  He has been a strong and steady debater in each of the debates.  I think he is going to continue to move up in the polls.  Romney was, well Romney.  He just doesn't make mistakes during the debates.  He also can't seem to gain any ground in the polls, especially from the conservative wing of the party.  Then there is Rick Perry.

I had such high hopes when Rick Perry entered the race.  His performances in the debates have been horrid, and his drop in the polls reflects his abysmal performance.  During the debate last night, he had undoubtedly the most memorable moment of the debate.  He has been making the rounds of all of the morning news programs to talk about it.

It was painful to watch Perry have his brain fart last night.  In some ways, I felt sorry for him.  I have had my own moments when in the midst of a conversation or speaking about something I have totally lost my train of thought or struggled to come up with the word I was looking for.   At least he has been showing a sense of humor about it.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One More GOP Debate

Newt GingrichImage via WikipediaAs I sit here getting ready to watch the latest Republican debate, I am actually torn between watching the debate and watching the CMA Awards.  On the one hand, I could use a little bit of mindless entertainment, and on the other I have a great deal of interest in learning more about each of the candidates in the debate.

I have mentioned here before that I have not made up my mind as to who I want to support in the primaries.  I have always liked Herman Cain, and I have been leaning in his direction.  The allegations that have been made in the past week have allowed a little bit of doubt to creep into my support for Cain.  Not that I believe any of the accusations against Cain, but my concern would be how the general public would react to Cain.

In addition to Herman Cain, I have been awfully impressed by the performances of Newt Gingrich in the debates.  He has been extremely solid in all of the debates thus far.  There is no doubt that of all of the candidates on the stage, Newt is the smartest guy in the room.  His strong performances in the debates has been reflected in the polls.  He is slowly rising to the point that he is 3rd of all candidates, and 2nd in some state polls.

I still am leaning towards Cain at this moment in time.  I hope that he can put the allegations behind him and get the campaign message back out in the forefront.  Still Newt is getting more traction in mind and could be a force.  I also have a little bit of personal interest in seeing Newt become president.

A few years ago, I was working part time at a Barnes & Noble store here in Maryland.  We had a few book signings, but mostly local authors.  We managed to get Newt Gingrich and William Fortschen at a signing for one of their alternative history Civil War novels.  Originally I wasn't going to buy one, but ended up buying two books and having them signed.  How cool would it be to own a book signed by a President of the United States?
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Music Monday-Toby Keith "Red Solo Cup"

Yeah, I know it's Tuesday, so my Music Monday is a little late this week.  Not really sure why I picked this particular song other than it is kind of a fun little video and I have been to my share of red solo cup parties in my younger days.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Untitled Jersey City Project

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Untitled Jersey City Project for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Who says there is nothing new on TV?

UNT_091311_Title_bmb_v01.ai (1 page)

The Untitled Jersey City Project on FX promises to be a different type of television program.  The as yet unnamed series is an experiment in television programming.  The series will consist of eight separate short episodes that are fragments of a much larger story.  Each episode leaves parts of the story unresolved leaving some conclusions up to the viewer.

The story takes place in waterfront area of Jersey City, across the river of Manhattan as the area is undergoing development to revitalize the waterfront.  While nice, shiny new buildings and business are making the area attractive, the series underscores the gritty underbelly of politics and shows that the old rules still reign supreme.

In Episode #2, the trailer of which is at the end of this post, Frank and Ray are two architects who are working on a Waterfront Stadium Project for developer Larry Tyerman.  They are meeting with reporter Jane Kaplan of the Ledger newspaper to discuss her critical story about the project.  From just the little bit we see of Tyerman in the clip, we can see he goes a little beyond a handshake in his dealings with people.

It looks to be an interesting storyline.  The folks at FX are allowing people to also give suggestions for the title of the project.  They will select five of those suggestions and allow fans to vote on those.  Take a look at this trailer for Episode 2 and let me know your thoughts about the show.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Snow Parking Zone

Ever driver knows, or should know, what a "no parking zone" is, but how about a "snow parking zone?"  I was out the other night delivering pizzas when I found this sign in a parking space at townhouse complex in Crofton MD.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of home owners associations.  They do little more than collect money and tell you what you can or cannot do with your personal property like how big a Christmas lights display you have or what color you are allowed to paint the shutters on your home.  This, however, is actually an idea that I like.

I live in a townhouse complex here in Bowie.  Each home has two assigned parking spaces.  We have a handful of unassigned visitors parking spaces.  This works out pretty well for all of us, unless somebody in the neighborhood has a large number of visitors.

One of the issues we have in our lot occurs whenever there is plowable snow.  There simply is no place for the plow drivers to pile up the snow.  The "snow parking zone" helps to alleviate the issue.  This particular complex has taken two visitors parking spaces and designated those spaces for the plow drivers to pile up the snow.   
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Medicare and Social Security

I tend to be a worrier.  It is one of the traits that I guess I inherited from my mother.  My folks are both retired and getting to the age where there are a lot of ailments that they are dealing with on an almost daily basis.

Like a lot of more mature Americans, my parents rely heavily on their Social Security and Medicare benefits.  They paid into the program their entire lives, and as such, should be able to use those benefits.  Unfortunately, Medicare just doesn't cover enough and they have to also rely on Medicare supplement insurance plan.

As a worrier, I always worry about things that will impact the benefits they need.  While both of those programs are in desperate need of reform, denying or reducing benefits to those that truly need them should be off the table.  I do think that some sort of means testing should be done so that those that need the benefits the most will be able to retain them.

I do not pretend to know the solutions for what needs to be done to preserve these benefits for current and future beneficiaries of these programs.  It is one of those things that the politicians will have to actually work on, rather than fight.  I expect in the coming months we will be hearing more on Medicare and Social Security as the politicians rev up their campaign rhetoric.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

I Can't Drive....15?

Two DC City Council members have proposed lowering the speed limit in the District from 25 mph to 15 mph in residential areas of the city. They say that it is necessary for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.  It should come as no surprise that both of them are Democrats.

Now, I try to a considerate and law abiding driver.  I have been driving for 34 years, and I think in that time I have a total of 3 or 4 tickets during that time.  Still, as much as I try to obey the speed limit signs, I do find it difficult to stay under 25 mph.  I have to really make an effort to obey a 25 mph limit.  I can't imagine trying to drive at 15 mph.

The radio station that I listen to was talking about the proposed law while I was heading into work this morning.  Needless to say, most of the callers into the program were against the proposed new law.  Most felt that it would be just another way for the district to increase their revenue streams.

I had a couple of thoughts while listening to the discussion.  First, I spend a good bit of my commute each morning on the beltway going about 15 mph, or less, especially between 95 and 270 thanks to the huge amount of congestion on the road.  It doesn't matter how early I leave the house to avoid traffic, there is always a backup.

The other thought that I had was if Sammy Hagar can't drive 55, how would he handle a 15 mph speed limit?  Not very well, I would guess.  Also, it gives me an excuse to post the Sammy Hagar video below.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Love Pumpkin

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the plethora of items that are available made with pumpkin.  There is a local bakery here in Bowie that makes Pumpkin danishes that I just absolutely love.  My wife picked up two of them for me last week.

This is also one of my favorite times of year when it comes to Starbucks.  I do not treat myself to Starbucks as much as I used to these days, but this time of year I have to treat myself to a Pumpkin Spiced Latte.  It also means that it will soon be time for them to come out with their Eggnog Lattes.

There are several locations where I can pick up other pumpkin goodies like pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin cheesecake.  Of course, for more adult treats I can always pick up one of several pumpkin brews available at the liquor store.

One of the reasons that I have been thinking about pumpkin today is that I received an email from Kraft.  In it, was a link to their website with literally hundreds of recipes for pumpkin dishes and desserts.  I saw one recipe for a pumpkin pie that I made one year that I got from a Philadelphia Cream Cheese cookbook that has a layer of cream cheese and a layer of pumpkin  

One of my coworkers might be an even bigger pumpkin fan than I am,  plus he does a lot of baking, so I forwarded the link to him.  Hopefully he will find a few of them to his liking and make a few of them and let me sample them.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Questionable Motives

Twitter logo initialImage via WikipediaI really have to wonder sometimes about what motivates some people.

Lately, I have been spending a lot more time on Twitter.  As of right now, I am up to just under 1350 followers.  Most of the people that I follow are individuals with similar interests as myself; conservative politics, blogging, family life, and autism.  I also follow a few news outlets, businesses, and the occasional celebrity or athlete.

Most of the interaction that I have with folks on Twitter is fairly good natured and friendly.  There is a lot of camaraderie in replying to other people's tweets and retweeting those things that you particularly like.  Occasionally you might get into a decent discussion or debate with people who have differing viewpoints from yourself. 

Every now and then though, you run across somebody whose soul purpose in being there is to harass and torment people.  A few weeks ago, I had somebody reply to one of my tweets about Herman Cain.  The person was somebody that I was not following, and they were not following me.  I replied back, and the person responded with some derogatory comments attacking me and resorted to name-calling.

I took a look at the person's other tweets and discovered that this person was following a handful of conservative pundits like Michele Malkin and conservative news outlets.  Every one of his tweets was attacking a tweet by a conservative, usually with name calling.  His soul purpose on being there was to harass and insult conservatives.  I decided at that time the individual was not worth my time or effort and block him.

Usually, I am not one to block people that I disagree with.  There are a few visitors to this blog who have a decidedly more liberal or progressive viewpoint who visit and occasionally comment here, like Len from the First Door on the Left blog and Aldon from the Orient Lodge blog.  Most of the time our viewpoints are diametrically opposed, but I welcome their comments and visits. 

The thing with my differences between Len and Aldon is that we just honestly disagree on issues.  They do not set out as their sole purpose to harass and ridicule others, but to legitimately respond with their point of view.  To have a reasonable debate is one thing, but if your only reason for responding is to harass or ridicule, you are nothing more than a loser and a troll.
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Random Japaneseness-Game Show Fun

Another extremely odd looking Japanese game show.  I am not sure what anybody is saying or what the goal of the game is, but it looks like a splendid time was had by all, well at least by one guy. I can't imagine a show like this ever airing here in the states.


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