Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

So. It's been one week since the New Year began ... and one week since I decided to secretly recruit friends and family into participating in a little study I'm doing on New Year's resolutions. 

There have been a total of eight people who mentioned to me (or near me) a specific resolution they intended to keep. Six were related to dieting or at least easting more healthily, while two were commitments to exercise or go to the gym more regularly. (I'd say the ratio itself is a note about our culture, but that'll have to wait for another blog.)

Of the eight, four have already blatantly and publicly fallen off their wagons ("Oh I've GOT to have another one of those brownies! I can't believe you brought these, you KNOW I'm on a diet!"), and I'm almost 100% certain that two others have quietly slipped or given up altogether. Thus remains two who seem to be sticking to it. Now, the math doesn't sound too terribly bad, 2 out of 8, until you factor in that we still have 358 days left to go. Doh! 

To spare you from becoming one of these unfortunate statistics, I'm not going to tell you to just write off the whole "resolutions" thing as a bad idea. Instead, I'm going to tell you to MAKE those resolutions .... but encourage you to do it QUIETLY -- and I'll tell you why. The biggest reason resolutions fail is because we go around telling everyone what we're planning to do, and we get all kinds of positive feedback before we've done one iota of work towards our goal.

If you're serious about losing a few pounds, or cutting out those cigarettes, or making any other change, start the work NOW. Don't plan a start date. Not even "tomorrow" -- and don't you dare say you'll start next January 1st. No. Wipe your slate clean NOW and do something NOW. If you intend to exercise more, close this web page, get your sneakers on, and go to the gym right NOW even if it's only for half an hour. If you intend to eat better, grab a garbage bag and park yourself in front of the refrigerator to get rid of some temptations right NOW.

And don't tell a soul.

Let them notice you're looking trimmer or being more faithful about hitting the gym or making an effort to choose healthier food at lunch -- and when they give you those pats on the back, you will have earned it. Not only will the reward feel better, it will give you the motivation to keep going. And hey-- if it's been a few weeks and nobody has noticed your efforts yet, let that be motivation to work a little harder.

If you absolutely must tell someone before your "post January 1st" resolution will seem official, feel free to leave it in the comments here. Heck, come back and post updates too if you like. I promise not to blog one word about it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas for the Enfranchised?

Back in October, when I noticed the first Christmas-themed display going up at a local store, I knew what was coming in the weeks ahead -- and Bill O'Reilly certain did not surprise anyone when he launched his annual crusade to remind us all that there is a "War on Christmas."

Maybe it's in poor taste to compare our country's treatment of Christmas to its treatment of ... well... all the other holidays. Honestly. Is there another occasion that even comes close?! It'd be like comparing an +MLB playoff to a pickup game in the park. 

Exhibit A - how when celebrating the birthday of a friend or family member, gifts are given to the birthday boy or girl. When celebrating Christmas, however, everybody is expected to buy gifts for everybody else. Wouldn't it seem just a tad excessive if we expected such a practice for any other event of the year? And people can rationalize this tradition all they want, but shouldn't good and faithful Christians be demanding that it's Jesus's birthday and refusing to participate in gift exchanges altogether?  (By the way, I have known a few churches to practically demonize this practice, insisting that gifts should instead be given only to the Birthday Boy Jesus. Through the church, of course.)

Exhibit B - compare the blatant pre-celebration of this particular holiday. Stores and malls are naturally going to exploit anything they possibly can to separate customers from their money, but the Christmas "season" starts as the last Halloween trick-or-treater returns home and fairly well continues until the countdown begins to our yearly vocal assault on Auld Lang Syne. According to my calendar, that's two whole months -- for ONE holiday! 

Thanksgiving has turned into a rehearsal dinner. 

Exhibit C - While a few companies have found a niche by remaining open on Christmas, let's also remember that this is the only holiday on which it's accepted as fiscally and politically correct for the vast majority of stores and restaurants to shut down early on the 24th and stay closed until the 26th. (Okay I'll admit that most of those businesses probably wouldn't think twice about staying open on Christmas day if not for the insane rush to shop that's created by the threat of stores closing for a whole day.)

Finally, I present to you Exhibit D - perhaps the most notable distinction any holiday can earn. Most atheists and agnostics, despite the very idea of Christmas running contrary to their belief system, STILL celebrate this holiday one way or another. Doesn't really matter that they're reconciling this conflict by avoiding use of the holiday's name and treating it like a second Turkey day. And it's not like many of them are refusing to accept a gift.

So Happy Effin' Whatever, y'all. 

Oh yeah. Feel free to buy me something from my Wish List

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gadget of the Year

After seeing the new +Beats by Dre bluetooth headphones advertised on a home shopping channel for almost 300 bucks, I figured I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a MUCH lower-priced alternative.

Last month after scouring the interwebs (yeah okay, amazon and ebay) for anything similar for under a Benjamin, I took a shot and ordered Arctic Cooling's bluetooth headset from a private seller on ebay. Either I was going to learn a relatively inexpensive lesson on "cheap technology alternatives" or I was buying the possibility of listening to MP3s from my phone without being tangled up with a cord. After receiving the new headset, it took all of two minutes to skim the instructions and see how to pair the device with my (Android-based) phone, and a few hours leaving it connected to my PC's USB port to charge up.

Lo and behold, it worked -- and not just worked, but it worked beautifully! The sound was rich and deep, the controls easy to use, and I realized after using it for nearly 9 hours straight, a single full charge might actually outlast the charge on the phone itself. And when a new call is incoming, the music automatically pauses and the headset's built-in microphone allows me to answer the call with a simple tap.

Best of all I paid an incredible $27.

I just checked +eBay and you can get one right now for 25.99, with free expedited shipping for the holiday.

New Arctic Cooling P311 Bluetooth Stereo Headset

You're welcome. And Merry Xmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandy Hook Shootings: Conservatives Have This All Wrong

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims in Connecticut. It was a terrible tragedy that, like 9/11, will forever alter what we think when certain topics come up. 

A few things have really bothered me the past few days.
First, is how a few so-called "Christians" have attempted to use this as an excuse to rant about how we've brought this upon ourselves by kicking God out of public schools. Well excuse me, Mr. Huckabee, but the public school system was founded to teach kids how to read and write, and this country was founded upon the freedom to pursue one's own religious beliefs or none at all. Forcing kids to pray or worship is essentially forcing upon them a particular practice of religion, which may very well run contrary to the way they or their families exercise their religious beliefs.

Second, is how conservatives have tried to assert that discussing gun control at this time is somehow inappropriate, and doing so is politicizing the Sandy Hook shootings. Huh? We've lost 20 kids to a mentally unstable man who -- let's face it -- could NEVER have accomplished so much devastation in such a short amount of time with any other type of weapon. 

The 2nd Amendment says:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I think it's vitally important to keep in mind the scope and context in which this amendment was written. For instance, in 1791 there weren't semi-automatic weapons capable of firing a hundred shots in a minute. There also were not fully-instituted and fully-implemented local and national armed forces to protect citizens of this country. It WAS a time during which the average citizen or small community might realistically need to defend his/their own family and property. 

Fast forward a few hundred years, and we definitely ARE a society with official, well-regulated means of protection. 

And sorry hunters and "gun enthusiasts," but there is just no real NEED for any private citizen to keep automatic weapons in his home.

We need tighter gun control laws, and the ability to sell/distribute guns needs to be far more tightly regulated by the government. (It's true: there are more authorized gun dealers in the US than there are McDonald's restaurants. Think about that one.) 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Put Down The PBR

What is it with young gay guys trying to force themselves into the hetero hipster box? Maybe it's coincidence but half a dozen times this past week I've seen young guys in 'that' category (and no, not just the look, and certainly not saying hipsters are gay but you know right?) making reference to their girlfriend or wife or future wife and kids... I swear it drives me nuts! 

I might not always be the best judge of character and lord knows I'm not always the best judge of fashion but when it comes to spotting he 'mos my gaydar is a razor-tuned instrument worthy of Pentagon study. Can spot them from MILES away -- not despite their best efforts to hide, but often more quickly because of their efforts to hide it.

Latest case was stumbling upon +Michael Angelakos, lead singer for the group +Passion Pit  on a video recorded from their recent +Saturday Night Live appearance. Dude makes at least two references to his "wife" and I don't get the feeling he's just covering what somebody else wrote... but c'mon Mike, we're on the brink of 2013. It's OKAY to be yourself. As a side benefit, you might be able to scale back on the therapy or meds... just sayin'...