Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

I wrote this blog post a year ago before Christmas. I hope as the holiday season is upon us, along with all the fun and important time with family and friends, we also take the time to think about others with empathy. We all don’t have the same circumstances or advantages or disadvantages or backgrounds or means and that what may be good for you or I may not be good for your fellow men, women, and children. So with Christmas upon us once again, in addition to the normal festivities, I call for us all as best as we can to think beyond just ourselves or even beyond our own family and friends to a wider perspective. We really are ‘stronger together’ and the more we strive to make all lives better, the better off we all will be. I am reposting this blog article as just a reminder that there is more we have in common that not. Merry Christmas everyone!

https://gesvol.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/no-matter-who-you-are/

different

No matter who you are or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people.  Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind.  Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups).  Race?  Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American.  The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide.  The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50.  Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day.  At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.

All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners.  We all lose.

However, people have key similarities.  We all smile when we are joyful.  We all enjoy music.  We all have fears.  We all are playful.  We all have the same basic necessities for survival:  food, water, shelter, warmth, security.  We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect.  We all have feelings.  We all have family.  To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.

Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.”  As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.

The day after election day University of Alabama football head coach said, “To be honest with you, I didn’t even know yesterday was Election Day. It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening, we’re focused on other things here.” But hey, that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. His “problem” is football and we’ve decided that “problem” is worth a LOT of money to work on. Still, it’s hard to believe Nick Saban doesn’t have any concerns or opinions beyond football. Fortunately shortly after the playoff committee announced that Alabama was ranked number one, I scored an exclusive interview with Nick Saban:

Me: Thank you Mr. Saban for taking the time to sit with me to answer a few questions. Congratulations on your team making the playoffs by the way.

Saban: Thank you. I’m so happy for our team and fans.

Me: You don’t look happy.

Saban: I am happy.

Me: Um, are you sure?

Saban: This is my smile.

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: ??????

Me: Um……ok. Moving on. So I know you say you don’t pay attention to politics and all, but surely you have some thoughts beyond football. For instance, taxes, what are….

Saban: Taxes? The Crimson Tide Foundation pays my taxes. Everyone should just get a foundation to pay their taxes.

Me: Uh, that’s not how the world work….

Saban: They pay for my house too. Everyone should try it. Then you can just focus on the “process”…Alabama football.

Me: Er….ok. Maybe we should stick to football then. So what are your thoughts on your upcoming opponent Washington?

Saban: What’s a Washington?

Me: Well to start off with it’s a state….

Saban: States???? Oh…those are type of things those know-it-all professors want to fill my players’ heads with rather than football. Look, I don’t have time for geography, we are focused on other things here. Wished those pointy-heads in academics would get that through their thick skulls.

Me: Ok, ok, forget that….it’s a football team, the one you play next. Your thoughts?

Saban: My thoughts? When is the game?

Me: December 31st.

Saban: December 31st??!!! Grrr….for Christ sakes! You people in the media just don’t get it. It’s all about the “process”. One game at a time? Pfft. Probably what they do at Auburn. Or Tennessee….winning those…what did Butch call it….championships of life? Almost makes me laugh. Almost. Then it makes me puke. Here we focus on one second at a time! What can we do to be better football players this very next second??!!!! In fact I already forgot your question, because I’m focused on the next second.

Me: Oh I am SO sorry…uh, are you still smiling?

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: Nevermind. Ok, this is going nowhere. You have anything you want to say? Whatever.

Saban: Look, your world confuses me. Elections? Why elephants and donkeys? Will the super moon light the world on fire? When I get a text on my I-Phone 7, did magic trolls make that happen? I don’t know. I’m just a caveman football coach. I don’t have time for figure out such trivial matters. But there is one thing I do know. Pay me no less than $7 million a year and a free house and I’ll win you a shit-ton of National Championships that will make you forget that Bear loser!

Me: Bear Bryant?

Saban: How the hell should I know? I forgot him already.

Me: Alright then. Well, thank you for your time.

Saban: Who are you and what the f&%k are you doing in my office???!!!

Me: Leaving sir!!!!

target

Dear Valued Customer,

And by “valued”, we mean we value the money you give us. We could care less about anything else.

Speaking of caring less, it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about the primary services we provide. The reason we exist is to sell you merchandise at a price that exceeds the cost of goods and the costs of providing the logistics of selling you those goods. In that way, we turn a profit. Contrary to what seems to have become somewhat popular belief, restroom services is not a primary service we provide.

Restroom services do not make us any money. Heck, we probably wouldn’t even have restrooms if it wasn’t required by law (if we serve food) or if we didn’t fear that there’s a slight chance that nature’s call will force you to leave the store without spending money first. Therefore, while it may seem like we have the security of Fort Knox controlling who can and cannot go into the restroom, really we don’t monitor it at all. (In as such that we monitor restrooms, it’s just to make sure you haven’t ignore the “no merchandise beyond this point” sign.  See, stealing our merchandise does cost us money, so yes, we actually care about that.) We instead put our trust in the society to be able to figure out which restroom to use.

So while we may release a statement regarding our “inclusiveness” of restroom use, it’s actually that we just don’t care (we are very pro-inclusive as far as buying stuff from us….we want everyone’s money!). This is not new. We’ve never cared. The only reason we released that statement is because of a rash of recent silly state laws, and we have a public relations department that thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that we want everyone’s money….er….I mean that we welcome everyone!

As far as any fears of “pervs”, unfortunately “pervs” have always existed and certainly some of them are not very discouraged by the laws on the books banning such “perv” activity. As such, as you might imagine, they aren’t very discourage by store policies or stick figures on doors either (and that’s ignoring the fact that some “pervs” prefer the same-sex anyway). The good news is that there are very, very few people of this nature, and even fewer that choose big box department stores to participate in this activity. If you do fear for your kids privacy or protection, we do allow adult supervision in our restrooms. We also encourage you to report any suspicious activity to us and we’ll call the police. We believe the difference between using the restroom as it is intended and perving is generally really obvious, and we trust you will know the difference too.

We hope that clears everything up.  In summary, we care about making money. We don’t care which restroom you use. In the extremely unlikely event you run across a “perv” (whether in the restroom or not), please report it.

Thank you and have a nice day (of spending a lot of money in our store)!

 

Easter

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,
"Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter...deep, deep sacrifice!

“Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter…deep, deep sacrifice!

So it’s Easter today.  But so what?  What’s it about?  I mean, yes, for Christians, it’s the celebration of the day Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead after his crucifixion.  That’s cool and all, but what does that mean for us in the here and now, in 2016?

Bear with me, as I make no claims to be any sort of theologian.  I guess one takeaway is that if you believe this, you believe there is a path for us all to heaven.  And while there are different conceptions of what heaven exactly is, the general agreement is that heaven is pretty great and, better yet, forever.  So yay us!

But another takeaway, at least for me, is that as the story goes, the reason Jesus was in the position to arise from the dead in the first place was that he had died for all of our sins and so the rest of us may be forgiven.  In other words, he made a sacrifice for the greater good of society.  That’s a lesson that’s appealing to me, because that’s something we can apply to the here and now.  I think that’s a lesson we can take and apply, whether it’s toward public policy or toward our own actions just in daily life.  Doing good, doing the right thing, often does not benefit us directly and sometimes isn’t even free. (By not being “free”, I don’t even necessarily mean it costs money.  It can be things like time.  Or convenience.  Or security.  Or even just comfort.)  Some sacrifice for the greater good can be worth it.

I’m not here to suggest we can all be Jesus.  We aren’t perfect and never will be.  However I don’t see the harm of striving to be more like him (or the stories of him if you choose not to believe) though, even if the sacrifices and good are just small.  No reason why we can’t make the world we live on now the best world we can make it, even if our time here is temporary.

You know what else Easter is about?  Cadbury Eggs.  Lots and lots of Cadbury Eggs.  Mmmmm…..Cadbury Eggs……*droooooool*……….um, what was I writing about?  Oh….yeah…..Happy Easter everyone!

“No Matter Who You Are….

Posted: December 13, 2015 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,

different…or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people.  Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind.  Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups).  Race?  Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American.  The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide.  The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50.  Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day.  At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.

All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners.  We all lose.

However, people have key similarities.  We all smile when we are joyful.  We all enjoy music.  We all have fears.  We all are playful.  We all have the same basic necessities for survival:  food, water, shelter, warmth, security.  We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect.  We all have feelings.  We all have family.  To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.

Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.”  As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.

 

 

 

This is a repost of the blog article I wrote a couple of years ago regarding the awesomeness of Thanksgiving. Also, here’s a list of some of the stores that will NOT be open on Thanksgiving Day: Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJ’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Dillards, DSW Shoes, Gamestop, Home Depot, Home Goods, Jo Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Marshall’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, P.C. Rochard & Son, Pier One, Publix, Radio Shack, Staples, Sur La Table, and TJ Maxx. Special props to REI, which will be closed not only Thanksgiving Day but also on “Black Friday”.

World's (Not So) Funniest Blog

santaturkey

When I started to think about what I was going to write this weekend, I thought for sure this post would be titled “War On Thanksgiving”.  I thought it was a oh so clever twist on the so-called War On Christmas and the observation that it’s really Thanksgiving that is drawing the societal short straw.  Unfortunately, a Google search reveals that this is not clever at all and that many, many people have noticed the consumerism of Christmas encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday (K-Mart opening on 6 a.m., that’s right, a.m. as in morning, on Thanksgiving must have given it away!).

So instead of whining about Wal-Mart and Best Buy and people who for some reason think elbowing their way through crowds for “bargains” on electronics is good sport, I thought I would write a positive post about what makes Thanksgiving so great (right there with Christmas in my opinion):

View original post 425 more words

Simple_Solutions

I think often there’s a thought when we see a problem that if we would just do this one simple general thing, the problem would go away.  But are there really ever an easy answer?  For example:

Gambling/Lottery – This is a favorite magic bullet for solving budgetary problems (often in relation to education) that’s actually pretty popular across the political spectrum.  Alabama, which will never ever ever raise taxes ever, is looking at this now as a possible non-tax revenue source.  And it has appeal.  People can play or not play, it’s voluntary.  You can vote for this and still claim you didn’t vote for a tax.  A lot of money does flow through the lotteries.  But, John Oliver did a great job showing the shortcomings of a lottery:

Watch the video, as John Oliver will do better than I.  But the short version is this.  The people who play lotteries?  Low income (higher income folks will invest in something).  As such, state lotteries advertise themselves as a way for the poor to change their lives.  According to one study, the poor spend a whopping 9% of their annual income on lotteries.  It’s a de facto tax on the poor.

Meanwhile, instead of being a supplement to tax income, states often instead use it as an excuse to even further lower taxes and use the lottery money as simply a replacement.  Even though lotteries are often touted for education, in 21 out of 24 states in which that is the case, education funding is either flat or has actually DECREASED since the addition of the lottery.

My personal believe is that if something is necessary, we as society should be compelled to pay for it, not be able to opt out. There are a lot more equitable ways to do that than a lottery, even if the lottery seems like the easy answer.

Charter Schools – Charter schools is most popular in the conservative crowd, though you get an occasional progressive behind these too.  The idea is that private is always better than public, so let’s just give the funding to a private enterprise and they will do so much better educating kids.  Now it’s a heated debate which are better, charter schools or public schools.  But generally speaking, when you look at studies, you find that they perform about the same overall.  As in there are good charter schools and bad charter schools, just like there are good public schools and bad public schools.  I suspect that the while there are common characteristics for what makes for a successful school (adequate resources is a good start), what makes any given school work may be unique.  There’s probably not a one-size-fits-all solution, as every community is different.  But there’s nothing magic about being private that makes it any easier to figure it out.

Whether it’s a flat tax, prayer in schools, poor people are lazy, no big business is evil, guns kill people, no people kill people, blah, blah, blah, the real world is complicated and so is its problems.  The solutions will take hard work to find and a will to do so, that’s just the way it is (in my opinion).