Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving (literally)

I thought it might be appropriate to express some thanks today since I didn't do so yesterday. Years ago at a certain low point of my life, I was feeling depressed and picked on. I was about to have a George Baily breakdown when I felt prompted to make a list of things I was grateful for. I started with major obvious things like:

I didn't have criminal record and had not appeared as a surprise guest star on Dateline.
I wasn't paralyzed and didn't have any serious physical challenges.
I was able to read and write.
I was not born during the dark ages.
I lived in a country where I had the freedom to do and say what I want.
I had a beautiful wife and family.

I then moved on to some less obvious things and the longer I worked on the list, the more grateful I became and the smaller my problems seemed. As I focused on all the good things in my life, (many which I had taken for granted), it put the other problems and the have nots in their proper place. I would suggest this exercise for anyone when ever they feel like life has taken a dump on them. It is easy to get discouraged, but when we look around and see how many others are really struggling with more serious challenges, then it helps keep things in perspective.

As you know from a prior post, I have had phone problems for several months now. Both of the hand held units from our new piece of junk phone recently died. Luckily, my son produced a phone for us that I forgot he had. It is a Sports Illustrated shoe phone from the early 80's and I'm not sure where he got it, but for the time being we are answering the phone in style and I'm even grateful for that. Now I feel like Maxwell Smart when I talk on our home phone.

Remember thanksgiving isn't just for Thanksgiving Day. Life doesn't suck nearly as much when you have gratitude. Have a happy Black Friday and try to avoid being trampled if you are one of those competitive shoppers. Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long Puffy Sleeves

Years ago I heard that Billy Bob Thornton had a phobia of antique furniture. I can just imagine him walking through the woods alone at night freaking out as he is imagining a 17th century chest of drawers following him. Although I wouldn't call mine a phobia, I have to admit I am not a fan of big long puffy sleeves on shirts. When I think about puffy sleeves, several occupations come to mind. Here are the major culprits:

Pirates-Jerry Seinfeld addressed this occupation with his pirate shirt episode. I'd also like to thank the recent Somalian pirates for breaking this trend. They may be idiots, but I like to look on the bright side of their contributions. Pirates may be the most popular, but there are other places where they pop up. At least that is what I thought, but I haven't been able find any good examples or pictures online for the other categories below.
Card dealers-Some times the dealers at poker tables in casinos start to stray towards this look.
Bartenders-Maybe not the hip bartenders of today, but sometimes you'd see them in the old westerns with bands around the sleeves.
Barbershop quartets-Their traditional outfits also remind me of this.
Circus Entertainers- Guys named Mishka who throw knives. I suppose it adds to the mysterious aura of a circus performer.
Cuban Dancers- Although I couldn't find any pictures online, I can still see in my mind a happy guy dancing around shaking maracas with his big colorful poofed up sleeves.

After careful examination, it appears that it's probably just my imagination or bias. Seeing puffy sleeves is not so bad after all. Especially after coming across this picture of Larry the Cable Guy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The 4612 Code

Some people who have typed in my blog address may have wondered what is up with the 4612. For someone trying to create a blog conducive to simple access with an easy to remember address I admit this was not the best move, but it's too late to change it now.

The other day a friend gave me grief over this and wanted to know why I'd throw in random numbers for my blog address. I was thinking of making my explanation into an exciting suspense movie starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard called the 4612 Code, but I don't think there is enough substance behind it to bring it to the big screen. Maybe a movie trailer would work better.

4612 was the magic number prescription my basketball coach promoted back when I was in High School. He said if you practiced 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 12 months each year you could excel at anything. When we wanted to really accomplish something we'd say you need to 4-6-12. I have since learned that 4-6-12 is a bit Gung Ho and extreme and you can even become good at something by decreasing the numbers down to 1-3-12 or even lower.

This recipe worked for basketball as a teenger, but I'm afraid I don't have that kind of time for blogging. I still have a long ways to go until the mail man brings me bags of money each day from all the money my blog generates. I don't want to disclose just how much money I've made blogging, but it rhymes with the name of a famous Roman Emperor who fiddled while Rome burnt and it starts with the last letter of the alphabet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blitzkriegs and Nostradamus

Sometimes words are high jacked by people and they assign a completely different meaning to them. That is the case with a few words I have adopted and given new meaning to. It is almost like an inside joke, but when I use the word "blitzkrieg" my kids shudder and when I mention Nostradamus they are elated and they begin to salivate.

As you know, Blitzkrieg means lightning war and was the name given to the Nazi's relentless pounding attacks when they'd focus all their efforts on one area. I have adopted this concept to a cleaning process which I occasionally do. When I say it's time for a blitzkrieg, my kids immediately try to escape out a window or hide since they know they will be cleaning furiously as we go from room to room for a 10 minute concentrated cleaning effort. I always say 10 minutes, but it usually ends up being much longer than that.

Nostradamus aka "Mr. Know At All" is famous for predicting all kinds of historical events. I have named a pasta casserole after him. Why? Because he is so smart, I'm sure he envisioned that we would be eating it some day. Maybe some day I will include the recipe.
I'd be interested to know if anyone else is guilty of corrupting words by assigning a different meaning to them?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Food In Bulk

I love food, but every once in a while I will see food in such large quantities that it messes with my mind. I am all for buying stuff in bulk and larger sizes since it often means you get a better deal, but sometimes if the quantity is too great, it can ruin the happy association I have with a particular food.

If someone were to give me a cold glass of milk with some cookies I would be happy, but when I am driving on the freeway and see a semi tanker truck hauling milk it loses some of the special feelings I once had for it. Seeing a 50 gallon drum of mayonnaise would make me sick. I had some delicious yogurt for lunch yesterday, but then I imagined what the facility that produced it must look like and it wasn't so great. I could envision a two ton vat of yogurt with machinery that would squirt out a predetermined amount into my individual sized serving cup as it ran along a conveyor belt at high speed.

I once briefly worked for a large food manufacturer. Upon entering the production floor you had to wear ear protection because it was so loud from all the machinery. There were gigantic containers hooked up to hydraulic equipment, fork lifts carrying tons of food (literally), conveyor belts, and an army of workers in white jumpsuits and hairnets that were managed by a few people walking around in lab coats and clipboards. It was more of an amazing industrial accomplishment than a fine culinary experience. When you think of a kitchen, the picture below is not what most people imagine, but it's very likely that the frozen dinner you threw in the oven last night was produced in a place similar to this.
I am grateful that companies can produce so much food and I understand the economics behind mass production but it just felt so impersonal. I understand that it is necessary to have cargo ships, semi trucks, and other huge containers of mass produced food, but the food just loses something when you think about it that way.
So how am I going to deal with this problem? I'm going to pretend that all the food I eat was hand made by a sweet little grandma from scratch. She pours her heart and soul into preparing small individual portions just for me. It may not be true, but it will be much more appetizing that way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Are Your Heroes?

When I was a little boy my hero was Major Steve Austin, aka the 6 Million Dollar Man. He was a cool dude. What's not to like? He had super powers, cool sound effects, and even had a bionic girlfriend. It was a rude awakening when I realized the 6 Million Dollar Man was not a real person. That was a sad day, like the day in grade school when I found out there was no such thing as professional kickball and it would end after 6th grade. I have since looked for new role models.

When I saw Ben Hur as a kid I later went through a Charleton Heston phase. I wished I could be as dramatic and cool as him. It's easy to idolize fictitious role models like Steve Austin, Indiana Jones, and Michael Jordan.... I guess Jordan was technically human, but you know what I mean. I think it's great to have heroes, mentors, and role models, but it always kills me when someone I look up to screws up and ends up with a tarnished reputation or in jail. Thanks a lot OJ!

I'd like to do another one of my surveys. I'd really like to hear your comments on this topic. Let me know who you idolized when you were younger. Who has inspired you in the past or who do you still wish you could be like now? Did any of you accomplish your goal? It doesn't have to be a famous person either.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Picture of the Month Nov. 09

I'm going to start a new regular feature on Chaka's World. Once a month I'd like to simplify things and just post a picture with maybe a sentence or two. Sometimes less is more. I think it would give a little variety to my usual ramblings. Besides, many of my followers can't read and have told me they really appreciate pictures. Here is November's picture.

You've probably seen this before, but you have to love the look of pride on this kid's face for being such a good helper. I'm pretty sure it was the mom that took this picture. Most men would have gone ballistic if they came upon this scenario. This picture has also helped me keep things in perspective when my kids spill their milk at the table.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hot or Not- I don't get it

I'm going to apologize up front. This is going to be a shallow post. I'd like to discuss celebrities who most people think are "hot", but I just don't see it. I have been thinking about this topic for a while but was finally reminded about it after reading one of Dr. Zibb's similar posts last week.

I find it interesting that women can say things like "Brad Pitt is so hot, yet if their husband were to say something along those lines about Angelina Jolie they would be labeled an unfaithful, insensitive, jerk. Women can also say "she is so beautiful" when talking about another woman, but if a guy said something about how handsome another man was it would not go over as well. There seems to be a double standard.

I also want to make a disclaimer and say I don't think of myself as Lorezo Lamas judging if someone is hot or not. I know I am never going to grace the cover of People magazine as the sexiest man alive. I hope to share my comments in a nice way as to not even offend the celebrities who made my list. (there is a good chance they may be reading since most everyone in Hollywood reads my blog)

The only reason I am even addressing this is because I always hear people going crazy over certain people. I'll admit they may be decent looking or even attractive but not coo coo for cocoa puffs good looking like many people think. I'm not saying these people are unattractive, I just feel they are overrated by the public. Here is my list. The ones I really don't get are listed last.

Scarlet Johansen
Eva Longoria
Jessica Alba
Julia Roberts
Hillary Swank
Cameron Diaz
Rachel Weisz
Kristen Dunst
Paris Hilton
Katie Holmes
Sarah Jessica Parker
Uma Thurman

I am anticipating some disagreements, but that is expected. I understand beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily for most of us, there is much more to being an attractive person than looks alone.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Don't Trust Anyone

I thought I'd forgo a long post today and just give you some good advice to start your month with. If someone ever tells you not to trust anyone, then don't trust anyone! I have seen way too many movies where someone is told not to trust anyone, but somehow along their journey (usually the end of the movie) they end up trusting someone they shouldn't and it gets them in big trouble. I'm getting tired of seeing this scenario. You need to remember that you can not even trust the person who gives you this advice.

Consider this your warning. If I ever tell you not to trust anyone and you end up trusting me and I betray you, just remember that I warned you. I might even say "I told you not to trust anyone" and then belt out a sinister laugh as you are tied to railroad tracks or hanging above a shark tank. I hope it never comes to that, but who knows? Have a nice day.