Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life's Not Fair

I try to stay away from political commentary since that's a great way to alienate readers, but I've recently heard some comments from some of the "occupy everywhere" protesters around the country that bothered me. A common theme I keep hearing is that we need to redistribute the wealth in order to make things fair. I believe society has an obligation to watch out for and help those who are less fortunate or struggling, but I don't think it is the government's job to try and make everything fair. Guess what? Life's not fair.

I can respect demonstrating for civil rights, women's suffrage, or trying to obtain freedom from an oppressive government, but when your cause is a potpourri of random objectives like "I shouldn't have to pay back my student loans" or vague statements like "corporate greed is destroying our country", then I have a hard time empathizing with them.

If you are serious about making things fair, then it's going to take much more than just taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Many people are fine with the redistribution of wealth philosophy, but if we really want to make things fair we should extend it to the following areas too.

Education- It's not fair that some students pull down straight A's while others struggle and fail in school. Why not just give all the students a C+ to make it fair? Also, some schools have way more prestige associated with them than others. I think changes need to be made to education institutions until community and technical colleges are respected and accepted on a resume just as much as Harvard or Yale.

Success- Professional sports teams like the Celtics, Steelers, and Yankees have had way more than their fair share of championships. Maybe we should ban them from future playoffs or only let them play their second string players in games to make it more fair. We need to even the playing field.

Good looks- Why should people like George Clooney, Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Anniston, and Kate Beckinsale get all the breaks? I demand that ugly people get free plastic surgery and spa treatments from now on. If someone is really good looking they should also be required to get a scar or some kind of blemish to compensate.

Fame- Why is it that so many of the Hollywood actors who claim to support and promote "equality" take an unfair share of work in the movie industry. I think everyone should have a chance to be in the movies. Emma Watson has been in 8 Harry Potter Movies, but most of us haven't even been in one! Why can't I be James Bond for a change? It would be more fair if after you've been in one movie, your Hollywood career is over so we can make room for others who would like to be in a movie but don't have a chance because of all the usual actors hogging the fame.

World Wide Equality- Rich is a relative term. The poorest of the poor in this country are still wealthier than most people in other countries. Are you comparing your plight to someone who owns a vacation home at Martha's vineyard or people living in the slums of Calcutta? Maybe starving people in Africa and India should protest that it is not fair that the poorest of the protesters in America have a much higher standard of living than them.

I know this sounds extreme and you might think I'm a jerk for posing such ridiculous scenarios, but that is what we need to do if we are really going to make everything fair. By the way, I admit there is corporate greed and extreme inequality but I think we have more power to change things if we focus on improving the 99% as opposed to complaining about the 1%. I don't have all the answers, but I believe allowing people the freedom to create their own destiny is a better option than trying to make life equal and only mediocre at best for everyone. We should have equal opportunities, not equal results.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Evolution of Halloween

As Halloween nears, I am frequently reminded how much my wife hates this holiday. I find that ironic coming from a girl who had the coolest Princess Leia costume for Halloween (complete with sweet roll hair and blaster) when she was in first grade. She loves Autumn and harvest time but can't stand Halloween. She refers to it as Satan's birthday and doesn't care for celebrating the themes of darkness, death, and fear.

I'm not as much of a party pooper as my good wife, but I can see where she's coming from. At the risk of sounding like the grumpy old man and stepping on the toes of those who really love the holiday, I have decided to share some insights about Halloween.

First of all, there was a time when Halloween used to be like the Norman Rockwell painting above. Over the years, the holiday has evolved into an excuse for girls to dress like skanks. Unfortunately many of those who decide to dress so provocatively don't look like the models below. I've also noticed that it's kind of a one-sided thing. You don't see guys looking for an excuse to dress like Chippendale's dancers for Halloween.

Here are some things I like and don't like about Halloween.


-Carving pumpkins with my kids.

-Cider, donuts, and good candy.

-Seeing people in public or at work who dress up in creative costumes since I never do.

-How excited my kids get to dress up no matter how lame their costume may be.

-Scary, suspenseful movies like Psycho, Lady in White, The Sixth Sense, and The Ring.

-Exacting my trick-or-treat tax from my little kids after I take them around the block.

-Watching my wife get worked up over innocent things like evil pastries.


-Kids who trick or treat after they are teenagers. Once you start shaving, it's time to move on to costume parties or spook alleys with your friends but leave the begging for candy routine to the little kids.

-Kids who start ringing my doorbell at 2:00 PM to trick or treat a good three hours before it even starts to get dark!

-Bobbing for apples. Are you serious? What genius came up with this unsanitary game? Probably some dude who licks his fingers after he uses the bathroom.

-Pointless slasher movies where some crazed person goes around killing stupid teenagers in the woods.

-Lonely old people who make you come in and visit and do actual tricks before they will give you a treat.

-People who give out popcorn balls to trick-or-treaters. This is even worse than razor blades.

I hope I don't sound too judgemental. I have many friends who have a blast every Halloween and I'm kind of jealous of them. Anyway, if you are are a goth enthusiast, a 16-year-old boy who still likes to trick or treat, a girl that wants to dress up like a prostitute, or a lonely old person, I hope you enjoy doing your thing this year and wish you a Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Hierarchy of M & M's

For today's post, I'd like to rank my favorite M & M colors, but before we continue, I'd like to make it clear that Peanut M & M s are superior to plain. I'm pretty sure all the different colors taste the same, but some colors definitely produce a more positive emotional response and make me feel better than others.

I know it sounds kind of racist to judge candy by it's color. I am not that way when it comes to judging people. I want to make it clear that I am not so shallow and judgemental to judge a human being by the color of their skin. I judge them by how attractive they are.

But seriously folks, after years of analyzing and eating M & Ms, I have found the hierarchy to go as follows: green, yellow, brown, orange, red, and finally blue.

Green- these are far superior to all other colors.
Yellow- a close second for this exciting color.
Brown- It's kind of boring looking but is probably the most natural color.
Orange- Remind me of Reece's Pieces, but I guess they're okay for October.
Red- These are just too intense and stress me out. They look like Boston Baked Beans.
Blue- Completely unnatural color for a chocolate candy. I don't mind the artificial colors for the other ones, but I have my limits when it comes to blue food. Even though these are uncalled for, I still eat them.

There is actually another one I forgot to mention which I would rank below blue. My least favorite is actually Eminem the rapper. He always seems angry and has so much attitude. If he could just chill out and relax I might move him up a notch below the red. Somebody needs to give that guy a hug.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Picture of the Month- Oct 2011

Now that's what I call carving a pumpkin!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Man Purse

In an effort to be more involved with recycling, I have decided to re-share a post from 2008. The good news is that I finally broke my man purse habit and have since moved on to using a back pack instead.

For the past ten years I have been carrying around a big black computer bag with me when I go to work each day and whenever I travel out of town. It looks like your standard laptop case with handles and a shoulder strap. The average observer might not think anything of this, but they don't know the whole story.

My secret is that there is no computer in the bag. It is full of color coded folders sorted by topic for things like goals, bills, fitness information, time lines, home repairs, study topics, movie data, business ideas, etc. My bag is really a mobile office. The side pockets contain things like an MP3 player, fingernail clippers, checkbooks, coins, a jump drive, a phone charger, batteries, cell phone, coupons, etc.

So basically I'm admitting that I carry a man purse with me. I'm not proud of this but I can guarantee I carry more stuff with me than most women do in their purses. Last week I even found a small flashlight in my bag. Maybe my need to haul around so much junk stems from seeing too many episodes of Let's Make a Deal when I was younger.

People will occasionally notice my bag and ask why I brought my laptop with me to social settings where they might not expect to see one. Once I explain that there is no computer inside then additional questioning inevitably starts and it goes down hill from there. I feel awkward as I attempt to justify why I would need to haul around all that paperwork with me. I watch the other person's face as they try hard to pretend that this is normal and I'm sure most roll their eyes as they walk off.

Confessing my obsessive bag addiction to others can be awkward, but the greater problem is that I'm so paranoid about protecting it. When I leave home with it I can never just set it down somewhere and come back for it later. I don't dare let it out of my sight since it contains checkbooks, bills, debt charts, blog ideas, and other personal information that I wouldn't want falling into the wrong hands (any hands but mine). Maybe I should transfer it's contents into a brief case and attach it to my wrist with handcuffs since that would be more telling of my relationship with my man purse.

I've seen little kids with their security blankets and my bag kind of acts the same way. I've recently tried finding a mentor who has overcome this addiction but apparently the only other people who suffer from this malady are pushing shopping carts full of garbage around bus stops and freeway underpasses. I have even tried to wean myself from it's constant companionship by downsizing to a smaller attache, but then I realized admitting that I carry a purse is bad enough but calling it an "attache" would only compound my problems. So for now I will feel awkward for carrying excess baggage around with me, but someday when I'm at a party and the power goes out and someone wants to see a timeline I will be prepared and I will be the hero.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Misquoted Lyrics

Have you ever sung a song only to later learn that you were singing the wrong words?  Around Christmas time I sometimes hear little kids singing about "Round John Virgin" while singing Silent Night. Manfred Man has a song called Blinded by the Light. Part of the lyrics are as follows: "revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night". I'm not going to tell you all the different versions of this song I have heard people sing over the years.

Speaking of misquoted lyrics, despite being a great patriotic song, the Star Spangled Banner has also put hundreds of performers to shame. It probably wouldn't be so hard to sing if the lyrics were written by Rebecca Black instead of Francis Scott Key. I imagine it might sound more like this: "Is the flag still there? Oh yah, we so excited..."

Here are some lyrics from songs that can be a little unclear at times. I don't know if it is the fault of the performer or just inattentive listeners, but I've heard the parts of the following songs sung as follows.

"...On a corn dog's winter night"- REO Speedwagon- I can't stop this feeling

"...The Dukes of Hazzard in the classroom"- Pink Floyd- The Wall

"...Don't put the blame on the diet seven up"- Cory Hart-Sunglasses at night

"...Dirty deeds and the dunder chief"- AC/DC- Dirty Deeds

Luckily I don't have much of a singing voice so I don't have to worry about getting caught singing the wrong words to songs unless someone happens to plant a bug in my car. If you can think of any other frequently mis-sung or just misunderstood lyrics, let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tribute to Sales and Marketing

I suck at sales. I've had several sales related jobs over the years, but I always end up getting "promoted" to a behind the scenes  position to deal with details and paperwork and as a result, I make less than the slick salesmen. Maybe it's a case of bitter grapes, but I am sometimes annoyed by salesmen. I'm not trying to bash the entire industry. I know many talented and hard working people who do well in sales.

It just bothers me when they are too aggressive or are selling worthless stuff or things you don't need. I also don't care for many of the over used sales techniques. When I hear a phrase like "what would it take for me to put you in this car today" it just drives me crazy.  Below I have listed some of the over used sales tactics I'm sure you've seen on TV or the Internet:

The shocking headline ploy- "How I earned $35,000 in just one week starting with only a bag of paperclips" or "Denver mom makes medical doctors angry with her new discovery"

If they change the font color, maybe that will get our attention. I've noticed this is a favorite tactic of e-book offers.

Maybe font size will catch your attention if the color doesn't.

Wait there's more...- I think Ginsu knives invented this add on technique. Offering two or three widgets for the price of one sometimes backfires and makes me realize how cheap the merchandise really is.

The most insulting is the assumptive close. "Would you like two sets of encyclopedias or just one?" (Gee, when you put it that way, buying one isn't as expensive after all.... I'll guess I'll take one at half the price)

"Act fast, operators are standing by." Some ads feature a count down timer indicating valuable time slipping away. Note: this exact same commercial has been playing for years yet the twenty minute timer has never run out. This technique is a close cousin to the bogus "If you're one of the first 50 callers...."

"Previously only available in Europe." I love this one. It insinuates how slow Americans are to finally catch onto new trends and technology from overseas. Aren't Members Only jackets still in style in Europe?

I'm not advocating that everything should be sold in brown paper bags. I actually find the psychology of marketing to be very fascinating, I just tire of seeing so many of the same old techniques. I know there are some sales associates who have mastered their art and don't have to rely on the above mentioned techniques to close a sale. Instead they use Jedi mind tricks. You are screwed if you come up against one of them.

In case you weren't aware, Chaka's World has a Pay Pal donation button on the side bar. Operators are standing by...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lady Elaine Fairchilde

As a little kid I watched shows like Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Zoom, and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. My parents must have owned stock in PBS. Anyway, I recently had a suppressed memory surface about one of the characters from Mr. Rogers. I know Fred Rogers is a good guy, but where on earth did he come up with such a freaky puppet as Lady Elaine Fairchilde? Seriously, What on earth?

There were some weird characters on that show. The live actors were almost as strange as the puppets. Mr. McFeely, Handyman Joe Negri, Chef Brocket, and Robert Troll are some names that come to mind from the past. If you are too young to remember those names, then consider yourself blessed. Anyway, back to lady Elaine. She dressed like a Canadian Mountie, was always rude, had an alcoholic nose and looked like she used a hot curling iron to apply blush to her cheeks. She also gave off some vibes that made me unsure of her gender (probably because she was being voiced by a man)

What's my point? I don't know, but I am sure that I am not alone and there are thousands others like me who watched TV in the 70's as kids who are still creeped out to this day by a little puppet lady who was the brain child of Fred Rogers. He may has well have used a little Freddy Kruger puppet instead of her.