Addiction, Schmadiction to Technology…

April 15, 2017 1:46pm
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Last night I stumbled across a relatively new invention that really struck a chord with me … anyone who’s lucky enough to follow me on Twitter might’ve seen my mini-rant about how I’d never let somebody lock my cell phone up on me as a condition for seeing their live performance, but now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on it … I still think that it’s a horrible idea, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts a bit more… 😉

I think the main reason why it seems like such an offensive idea to lock my cell phone up in a sock is simply because it’s quite undeniable how much in the last several years our phones have really transformed into an extension of ourselves.

For me, it started when I got my first iPhone back in 2011. Although I’m guessing that I probably got my first Nokia candy bar phone back in my early 20’s (circa 2000-2001 ish?), it wasn’t until Apple went and changed everything that carrying a cell phone really exploded for me from just being a device to call and text people from to really being a portable computer that put access to the Internet in my pocket wherever I went.

…because if we’re being honest here, being the introvert that I am, if I could have a cell phone that only allowed people to contact me via Twitter or email and not via call or text, I’d probably be all over that! 😛

Seriously, that was one of the points that I read in this Ars Technica article about Yondr’s cell phone locks from a few years ago that spooked me the most! Forced social interaction with no digital world to hide behind when my anxiety gets the best of me?! No thank you!

Anyways, I know that I rely on my phone a lot these days – most people, at least my age or younger do – but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a bad thing. Although admittedly Facebook and Twitter take up far more of my time than they probably should, I also regularly use my phone for…

  • taking notes for things I want to write later
  • writing things that can’t wait for later
  • checking up on website stats
  • posting pictures of my lunch
  • playing Angry Birds on the toilet
  • ordering last-minute things from Amazon that I just realized we need
  • streaming radio in the car on Pandora
  • taking and sharing pictures of my kids, or something weird that I just saw at the store
  • finding directions to the store
  • checking wait times for attractions at Walt Disney World
  • tweeting random nonsense to myself that’s likely only amusing to myself
  • reading the news
  • entertaining my kids with videos from Disney Junior and Sesame Street
  • ordering pizza
  • reviewing our family calendar
  • checking my bank account and investment balances
  • hell, even just checking what time it is!

And just to be clear, no – I don’t need to do all of those things while I’m in the middle of watching a concert, but that’s not the point. When you’ve got a device that has become so ingrained in your day to day life, the idea of giving it up voluntarily even for a couple of hours is even more terrifying than realizing your battery is at 2% and there isn’t a charger anywhere in sight!

I mean, I’ve had periods where I certainly need some time away from things as well, but when it comes to my phone it usually means just ignoring social media and other forms of contact for a while. I still very much want to use my phone to work on a new column or even just help me unwind a bit – it’s why the last time we went on a cruise, I still carried mine with me all day even though most of the time I couldn’t use the actual phone or data.

Sure, there are people who abuse being on their phones, and no doubt that’s at least part of what this silly lockable sock is meant to counter … though protecting IP rights for performers is also clearly a goal, too, even if they want to focus on “improving the live experience for the audience.” 

Thankfully, for the most part I’m kind of past the part of my life, as the last concert I saw was probably in 2003 and even with the handful of comedians I have watched since, it wouldn’t be much loss to just say that I’ll catch their latest special instead of they’re going to jump on the cell phone lock bandwagon because it’s just not worth it to me. I’ve never been a fan of punishing the entire group for the offenses of a small few, and if we really wanted to dig into the bigger issue, there’s a part of me that wonders if taking cell phones away with cause a bigger hit to these performers’ social currency in the long run.

A lot of the comments that I read arguing in its favor went along the lines of “we had emergencies back before cell phones and things worked out just fine,” but to me that just sounds like generational grumpiness escaped from reality. People were also just fine before regular telephones, and cars, and movable type, but life has definitely improved since their invention!

“Why don’t you just slow down and walk to the store – you kids, driving your cars everywhere you want to go…”

Technology is great, and it shouldn’t be penalized by the smaller percentage of people who can’t be responsible in its use. You can have my cell phone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands … or if the battery is completely dead … but if it means missing out on Chris Rock or Guns ‘n Roses the next time they come to town, so be it.

Regulations and Buying a New Home

March 16, 2017 10:23pm
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I just read a post on Facebook bitching about how much regulations add to the cost of a new home in America…

You know, like the ones that require builders to be licensed professionals who are going to craft the place where your family lives.

The ones that require your home to be built to best practices so that it’s less likely to catch fire or collapse due to shoddy craftsmanship.

The ones that ensure access to utilities are properly installed and accessible throughout the neighborhood.

The ones that check to make sure that the other guy is legally allowed to sell you your new house before you give him a huge amount of money.

And even the ones that help to protect the banks from risk so that they’ll be willing to loan you the money to pay for your new home.

Regulations aren’t all bad, and in a greedy, capitalist society like ours has become, government regulations are the common man’s last defense between the good and the bad. At least if you prefer your house with four walls and a roof over your head.

Not a Fan of Guns

March 10, 2017 11:49pm
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A lot of people have terrible judgment, at least when it comes to whether they think they have the right to take another person’s life.

That’s why I’ve always hated “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one we have here in Florida. They sound great on paper, but in practice it never seems to be the guy who’s about to rape your wife after breaking into your house or the guy threatening to kill you with a knife.

Instead, it’s I saw a guy walking down the street who looked pretty menacing, so I killed him.

Or, the guy in front of me in the movie theater wouldn’t put his cell phone away, so I shot him.

That second one is a hot news story locally because it literally happened a few miles away from my house. Two guys got into an altercation about one not turning off his cell phone – at the movie Lone Survivor, no less – and so the other guy, a retired captain from the Tampa PD, “felt threatened” enough to pull his gun and kill the guy.

A 73 year-old who should’ve had decades of experience didn’t know better.

Countless stories filled the news last year about unarmed black people killed by police officers … who should’ve known better.

Hell, we even hear stories about soldiers overseas who kill civilians and get away with it … and they should know better, too.

So no, if these “trained professionals” don’t have good enough judgment to determine who should live or die by their side arms, then maybe no one is qualified to be carrying them around “in self defense.”

Because the punishment for not putting your cell phone away in a movie theater isn’t death.

The Affordable Care Act has its flaws, there’s no denying it.

Healthcare costs are continuing to rise and with the individual mandate, it’s put a lot of people in a sticky situation where they can’t afford to carry insurance, yet they can’t afford to not carry insurance, either.

As President Trump apparently just realized what the rest of us have been saying for years, “It’s complicated…”

…BUT…

To say that the Affordable Care Act is “a disaster with nothing to love” is an insult to the millions of Americans who were able to get health insurance under the ACA, particularly those who have been able to get life-saving treatments thanks to their new coverage.

So the ACA has its problems … what do we say?

“We can’t afford to help sick people treat their cancer or their heart disease or their chronic diabetes because it’s just too expensive???”

Bullshit.

In 2015, Americans spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare – 17.9% of our GDP, and … like our defense budget … more than any other nation in the world.

And yet unlike defense, we don’t have the healthiest people in the world. The USA is 43rd in life expectancy and no surprise, we’re not the best at treating cancer, either. We’re really good at some types, like breast cancer, but we fall short in others and those where we do excel, we spend a lot of money to only be minimally better than those in our wake.

It was a historic step in the right direction when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009, and as long as the USA still dwindles embarrassingly low in these types of quality of life statistics, we’ve still got a ways to go. But it’s blasphemously ingenuous – when Americans have used its benefits to beat life threatening diseases – for anyone, much less the President of the United States, to claim that the ACA was a complete and utter failure.

Was saving the life of this award-winning tech journalist a failure to you, Mr. Trump???

I really hate all of that macho, bullish crap about dads “protecting” their daughters by threatening their dates with guns and whatnot. Isn’t like the first rule of owning a gun something about not waving it around in front of people like a complete lunatic???

Thankfully I never really had to go through anything like that growing up. Hell, I still get shivers thinking about the time when the father of a girl who I wasn’t even dating raised his voice at me for calling too late – I probably would’ve moved out of state a lot sooner had one ever actually pulled any of this white trash, overly protective nonsense…

I mean, sure – I get it. Teenagers are stupid. My friends and I did plenty of stupid things when we were growing up, like stealing an orange construction barrel from the school and drinking the cheapest vodka we could get our hands on until we spent the rest of the night puking sandpaper!

But with all sincerity, our stupidity was mostly pretty well contained in that nobody ever got hurt, or drank and drove, or got pregnant, etc…

And I get that not everyone’s stupidity was as harmless – for the opposite of those same things.

I just look at my three sons, and if I try to imagine them in that awkward situation where a father of one of their prom dates wants them to pose with a picture of their rifle, or even just tries to make a joke about how he’ll be cleaning his guns until 10:00pm that night … I don’t really know what I’d do.

Because I can’t very well say that I’d threaten another man for jokingly threatening one of my sons with a weapon … that goes against the whole point of this.

But I might have to sit down and ask him just how much he likes this girl because crazy can be dangerous, too, and I have to look out for my sons just as much as that guy claims to be looking out for his daughters.

a survey about me for 2017!

February 19, 2017 11:29am
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I’ve been wanting to do one of these for a while, but apparently the social media-dominated Internet doesn’t really do them anymore … so instead I decided to write some hard-pressing survey questions myself to answer … myself… 😉

What’d You Get for Valentine’s Day? – Love. Also, a root canal.

If You Never Had to Do One Thing Ever Again… – Shaving. Or getting hair cuts. Something to do with body hair maintenance, either way…

Last Eye-Rolling Thing President Trump Did – Ranted about a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened amidst his larger rant about fake news.

How’s Your Tooth Feeling From That Root Canal? – Meh – so-so.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor From Cold Stone – Oreo creme filling

Life’s Biggest Conundrum – creme vs. cream

Last Video Game You Played – Mario Run for iOS … simple, but fun

Project I Wish I Was Working On Right Now – Humor Collection #3 … because I’ve been putting it off forever

If You Could Drive Any Car – a Tesla, followed by a tow truck because I’m not sure that I could get to Disney World and back in a Tesla … at least not if traffic on I-4 sucks

Most Disappointing Meal – Red Lobster … biscuits were disappointingly salty and dinner was so bad it ended up getting comped

Least Disappointing Meal – Yamato … the hibachi place by our house that knows how to cook a steak properly

If You Could Have Unlimited FastPasses for One Attraction… – probably Toy Story Mania … because my wife can still beat my score more often than not and I need the practice

What’s That On Your Nose? – I’m not falling for that one.

No, Seriously… – Oh, gross. Sorry about that – thanks for the heads up!

Most Read News Source – New York Times, followed by the Orlando Sentinel

Most Obnoxious Kids Toy In Your Home – singing helicopter that goes off if I breathe in its direction

Do You Have Enough Pickles In Your Fridge? – I have too many pickles in my fridge.

I’d Really Like to… – start doing yoga again … because I’m old and sore and I could use the stretching

Interesting Article You Tried to Share On Facebook Recently That a Relative Crapped All Over – This video from Bill Gates about taxing robots for work that they replace from human workers.

Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Just Talking to Yourself When You Write Stuff Like This – Yeah, but that’s ok. The most important part of being creative is doing something that you enjoy, first and foremost.

Do you want to know when you’re wrong?

January 22, 2017 2:35pm
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Simple question – if you’ve based your opinion on a certain perspective or set of information and it turns out that the details as you understand them are invalid, would you sincerely want somebody to point that out to you???

Pondering after watching a Facebook thread unfold between family the other day in which arguments were made about the women’s marches taking place around the country and the world right now against President Trump. When confronted with corrections, the original poster got very defensive and eventually pulled her post down citing her opinion was always wrong and she should just keep it to herself or something of that nature…

But here’s the thing – all pleasantries aside, the original post was based on an incorrect characterization of said protest activities. It was presented in a personal light, albeit in an adversarial way meant to attack the protestors, but it really rang out to me the fact that when told that their understanding was flat-out wrong, all hope of discussion flew out the window. So what now?

Was it in the approach? Or was it just one of those posts where you’re welcome to comment if you agree with me, but I want to bitch about the other side because this is what I think of them and nothing is going to change my mind???

Nobody likes being told that they’re wrong – I get that. Yet in this day and age when many people get all of their information via Facebook and terms like “fake news” and – my new disgusted favorite that Kellyanne Conway just coined today – “alternative facts” are thrown around to defend against information that people don’t want to hear more so than for factual cause, a lot of people are going to be wrong about the perspectives that they have.

So how do you politely tell somebody that their basis of fact is complete and utter shit? 😕

Dream Journal : Fear Journal

January 18, 2017 2:34pm
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I found myself apparently stuck in a time traveling loop.

It almost played back kind of like the movie Memento, but way more exciting and creative because it was in an adventure-like setting with wizards and warriors. Eventually I realized that the storyline was some sort of puzzle to solve, and each time I was on the right track, the story would reset and I’d have to do everything over again, but now knowing an additional step of the way that I needed to complete.

Although I’m fuzzy on most of the details, there was a lot of running and hiding from whoever was chasing me until finally one time when I reset I found myself as a different person altogether, which was when I realized that I must be making some sort of progress because I’d reached the limit to where the first person … who I thought was me … could progress in the story. Now watching the entire story unfold from a different perspective, I needed to figure out what that character’s role was in it so that I could move her storyline forward.

All I wanted to do was go home, but first I had to figure out how to get there…

* * * * * * * * * *

Staring up at a wireframe tower that climbed hundreds of feet into the air, for whatever reason – possibly “to work on the lights” – me and two friends needed to scale this gigantic tower all of the way to the top.

It was reminiscent of the Empire State Building, but not nearly as sturdy looking. More like a radio tower, but even taller.

My friends tried to convince me that we’d all be on safety harnesses so the height wasn’t a big deal, and they even “fell” in front of me a few feet off the ground to prove it, but all I could picture was myself scaling this tower to hundreds of feet in the air, and then looking down at the city below before losing my grip and falling to my death.

We had no experience doing this, yet they were both gung-ho about the prospect and how cool it would be from the top, yet all I could think about was falling.

* * * * * * * * * *

My wife and I were renewing our vows, and I was running incredibly late.

She had booked a ballroom at the top of this hotel overlooking the water very similar to where we first got married, however I was several landmasses away and needed to cover a lot of ground in order to get there.

This dream segment was also loosely tied into the previous one, in that if I wasn’t willing to climb that gigantic tower which would somehow help me get closer to my destination, my other option was to take a series of bridges that were entirely too close to the water’s surface. And traffic was at a near stand-still, so I just sat there in my car staring at the waves lapping dangerously close to the side of the road.

Eventually the first bridge was behind us and we stopped to grab lunch at Arby’s, which was a particularly bizarre choice both because A) who stops for lunch when they’re late to get married?!, and B) this was one weird Arby’s, with a menu that featured some sort of crab dip sandwich that I actually got because it looked intriguing, though I never ended up sitting down to try it.

While we were waiting for our food, I wandered off into a room on the side that was apparently a child’s bedroom filled with GI Joe-sized action figures. I played with a couple for a while, and then I tried to eat one, upon which I remembered that we were there for lunch, so I went back out into the dining room as I found one of Sara’s sisters – who was escorting me to the vow renewal – waiting, having already finished her food.

Back outside, I was riding in a very small car with Ted Danson! And he wanted to drive, so of course I let him – it seemed only fair because he had been wanting to drive earlier and I was happy to not have to deal with the remaining bridge that we still had to cross.

By the time we made it to the venue, my groomsmen – the guys who wanted me to climb up the crazy tall tower – were already dressed and waiting, though they didn’t seem too shocked about my late arrival. I took a second to admire the view, which did look impressive even with the ominous concrete bridges criss-crossing the water that we had taken to get there. Then I took my suit and disappeared to get ready myself.

And that was it. 😕

On Chelsea Manning’s Commuted Sentence…

January 18, 2017 2:18am
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I don’t think that I ever actually watched the infamous horrific video that was leaked by Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning back in 2010 showing soldiers in Baghdad firing from the air on Iraqi civilians – including two journalists – but after stumbling across it this evening and sitting through almost twenty minutes of it … which apparently is only even half of it … all I can say is that this video is the quintessential example of why whistleblowers in our military deserve protection just as much as they do throughout the rest of our society…

I could never handle being in the military, however as one of 350 million Americans who ours represents to the rest of humanity, I don’t understand how anyone could watch a display like this and not argue that the United States has a grave need for more accountability in its armed forces. The justifications for shooting, the behaviors throughout the attack, and the blind defenses both in 2007 when the incident took place and even three years later when it resurfaced through the leak – they don’t speak of a noble cause fighting to defend freedom and democracy in a foreign land.

They speak of the iconic American cowboy – one who loves fucking and fighting – and whose bloodlust, while arguably necessary for such a job, question if this is really the kind of job that needs to exist in first place, at least in a country where we never should’ve gone to war in the first place.

Ongoing internal investigations that never seem to find themselves of guilt are the simple reason that we need people like Chelsea Manning because although I don’t want our solders’ safety to be compromised on the battlefield, I don’t want to see our country being rightfully accused of being the very terrorists that we claim to be hunting due to incidents like this where we won’t even accept fault after the cards laid on the table show that our motives in that helicopter were suspect at best. There are far more videos on YouTube than I’d care to listen to from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans themselves sharing gruesome tales of how this isn’t just an example, but an expectation in the American military today.

We all deserve better, much less those brave and selfless enough to risk their lives to reveal such aberrational behavior for us to take notice.

Christopher – 1, Buzz Lightyear – 0

January 17, 2017 1:19pm
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Today I was reminded of an old episode of the Gobots in which Leader-1 got captured by the Renegades and ran through this machine that effectively disassembled him into little more than a pile of nuts and bolts…

It seems those age ranges that Lego puts on the side of its boxes are there for just such an occasion like when your toddler wanders off with your Lego Buzz Lightyear and proceeds to disassemble him by banging him repeatedly against his high chair’s tray to signal that he’s done with his lunch.

Sorry, Buzz, but if it’s any consolation, the other Guardians did manage to put Leader-1 back together again by the end of their episode, so I’ll see what I can do just as soon as I get this little Renegade of my own put down for a nap! 😉

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