Dream Journal : Fragments

September 19, 2017 10:26pm
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It was a bizarre cross between a cub scout meeting and a D&D game, and we were trying to solve some sort of puzzle.

There were other groups “competing” at the same time as we were, but after a few steps of rolling dice we came to learn that the puzzle wasn’t solved by the results of each step, but simply by taking a step back to look at the steps themselves and how they related to each other. When we finally came to realize that “the answer” was Back to the Future, we ran upstairs to tell whoever was running the puzzle, only to find that it had all been a facade and we were lost in this strange, urban area once we left the basement behind…

* * * * *

For whatever reason, I was grocery shopping when the power went out at the store, and no one really knew what to do. All of the employees had randomly disappeared, leaving just a handful of us alone in the dark, empty store with things in our carts that hadn’t been purchased yet.

After much deliberation, I decided that the things I had would spoil either way, so I reluctantly walked out of the store without paying for them, only to be confronted with a very large, billboard-sized sign in the parking lot citing that food taken when the store had been abandoned was still stealing and considered to be a very bad crime.

By the time I had everything in my car, I was being chased by several police cars as I zipped through the darkened city, desperate for a place to hide. Eventually I came across a row of miniature compartments – not like houses, but akin to the mailboxes found at an apartment complex, only large enough to fit inside. So I did.

As I was stashing a few items away in the back of the locker and stuffing my pockets with anything that would fit, Lisa Simpson appeared and asked if I’d like some help carrying the rest of my items home.

* * * * *

We were canoeing in a tropical area and suddenly came upon many sharks in the water, all no more than probably 4 – 5 feet each. Though they were mostly harmless, our guide reminded everyone to keep their hands out of the water as we cautiously glided among them.

Eventually we came upon another boater whose boat was filling up with water, which made everyone nervous because he himself was in the water and dangerously close to the sharks.

Just then – a hundred or so feet away – a much, much larger shark took down the larger guide boat that had brought us all out to the area.

I paddled away as fast as I could, following the shoreline that soon became cluttered by all of the discarded boats that had come before us and too had fallen for their trap…

* * * * *

We were moving into a new home that was much smaller than the apartment where we previously lived. It was going to be tight quarters, but it seemed all for the best as we struggled to find places for our essentials and get rid of the excess that we didn’t need and frankly didn’t have room for.

We still had one load of larger things (which we didn’t have room for) left to bring before we handed back our keys, so I was trying to shuffle things around to make some space. As I was sorting through the small bedroom that was to be shared by the kids, I was interrupted by a large, older man who proved to be our new maintenance man. He was friendly enough and seemed to already be taking to the kids when our neighbors suddenly began playing their music very loudly.

Without a second thought, he walked over to the bedroom wall where there was actually a door dividing the two rooms and pounded on it to prompt them to quiet down. A moment later, someone opened the door and showed that it wasn’t another home on the other side, but a store of sorts. The maintenance man and the store owner chatted for a few minutes while I looked around and saw mostly displays filled with candies nearest to our door, with one of our other neighbors eventually walking by inside the store with an armful of candy telling me, “You’re really going to like it here!”

After the maintenance man left and closed the door, I noticed that it could only be locked from the store’s side and looked around for something I could put in front of it to help remedy the situation. There were pieces to one of the boys’ beds nearby, but all were too light, so instead I considered an old, ornate dresser that had been left behind.

Opening its top drawer, I found the inside scrolled with seemingly satanic rituals, and began to wonder why the last family had left it behind.

movie thoughts … Transformers: The Last Knight

September 18, 2017 2:43pm
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I remember a time when I actually liked the Transformers movies.

The first one (2007) wasn’t bad – a good, solid action flick with plenty of humor thrown into the mix.

And even the second one (2009) was alright, though I never really cared for the name.

From there, though, is where I feel like this franchise started to go downhill – first with Megan Fox’s replacement in #3, and then with Shia LaBeouf being randomly bumped for Mark Wahlberg in #4.

Just to be absolutely, 100% clear without equivocation – Transformers 5 is a raging dumpster fire that should make every last person who appeared in the credits ashamed, as well as everyone who went to see it in the theater, and oh hell, pretty much everyone who spent their 2 hrs 34 min to watch it EVER.

Spoiler #1 – Marky Mark is “The Last Knight.” Because why have some awesome, giant robot fill that roll when … Mark Wahlberg is around?

Spoiler #2 – He’s every bit as awful as he was in Transformers 4.

I don’t even know what to say about these movies anymore. Continuity is garbage, seeing Wahlberg written as a cooler star than Optimus Freaking Prime is just mind blowing, and the plot reads like somebody just throwing darts at a board, and then remembering that they promised a role to XYZ actor every 30 minutes or so and just penciling them in wherever.

Every time the name Cade Yeager is spoken out loud makes me want to punch an Autobot in the face.

The idea that apparently every historical event ever was won only because of the Transformers reads like a Hasbro wet dream.

Megatron negotiating with lawyers is … not what I want to see a 40-foot evil robot doing in a movie, ever.

Oh yeah, and P.S. This plot about bringing Cybertron to Earth already fucking happened once in Transformers 3!!! But I guess while they needed to teleport the planet back in 2011, now it’s cool for them to just drive it across the universe like a planet-sized taxi cab?!

Also also – drones??? 

You have 40-foot tall fighting robots – why do you also need drones?!

*sigh*

So yeah, the movie is garbage … even moreso than the last one was, and yet it will probably be less garbage than Transformers 6 whenever that comes out, because when it comes to Hollywood, dumpster fires are almost impossible to put out.

Coming Home to Walt Disney World

September 16, 2017 1:00am
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Even though admittedly I still tend to snicker at the Welcome Home!” slogan aligned with the Disney Vacation Club despite now being a member myself for several years, today I found myself feeling an unexpected sense of ease as we made our first trip to the parks in a couple of months not to mention our first visit since we evacuated for the hurricane last week…

We were riding Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom – I had Matthew in one clam shell, Sara had David behind us, and my Mom had Christopher in a third shell – and as we were tipping backwards to enter the first part of the ride, it was almost akin to that same feeling when we had pulled into our own driveway at 7:30am a day prior to find that everything (for the most part) was safe and sound, and that we could finally begin to start getting things back to normal again.

Sure, it was super hot out, and we were already pretty exhausted from our long car ride back from Memphis, but it was nice to be back someplace familiar where we knew that we could have a good time in our own special way between taking in a few snacks, going on some rides with the kids, and just enjoying the unique atmosphere that Disney World has to offer.

Our home survived Hurricane Irma just fine, and now that we’ve confirmed that our second home also did ok, it’s enough to put our minds and ease and get back to having fun living in the Sunshine State! 😉

The Art of the Brick … in pictures

September 5, 2017 12:45am
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Although I’m not really much of an art person – at least the kind to spend an afternoon trying to guess what mood an artist was in while he was painting something 100 years ago, anyways.

But I do love Legos, and so when I learned that The Art of the Brick was going to be making a stop in Tampa this summer, I knew that we had to check it out. I’ve been a fan of Nathan Sawaya for a while now, so there was the added bonus of getting to tour the work of a famed Lego artist in addition to simply checking out the unique art form that nobody else has ever really worked with before!

Now admittedly I noticed right away that the exhibit was a bit different than walking around all of the larger than life models found around Legoland Florida and Disney Springs – it did feel a bit more academic, even though some of the more familiar painting recreations like The Starry Night, Scream, the Mona Lisa, and even the American Gothic sculpture made me feel a bit more cultured. 😉

I think what was most impressive is just considering that throughout the entire exhibit, each and every last one of the pieces was created by one guy … compared to the giant models around Legoland that are very impressive, yet are the works of entire teams of builders between computer modelers and fabricators and builders actually putting the bricks into place. And I think that helped me to bridge that gap between art and model, in a way, because my own art (writing) has very much always been a singular exercise as opposed to writing with other people.

It’s neat to walk around this huge exhibit and see some of the ideas inside the head of another creative person brought to life.

Above all, I think by far my favorite piece in the exhibit, though, was the model of the exhibit itself … particularly once I realized just how meta it got when the model itself was found within the model of the exhibit! That delighted me to no end – to first track my way through the exhibit from the front door to where I was standing, only to realize that within that the entire exhibit had been replicated again. So cool! 😀

I also really appreciated the interactive section at the end where kids could finally touch the bricks and play on their own … because if the other kids in the exhibit were anything like my own, they were more than due for a reward by the time they got to the end! Plus, it was just a nice way to end the presentation by bringing the art down to a relatable level for children because that’s the age when the seeds for any good, lifelong passion find their roots.

As a final thought, before writing this post today I did a little digging to see where The Art of the Brick would be going next because this was its last weekend in Tampa, I was intrigued to find that there are actually multiple shows currently touring the globe, meaning that the show I saw this weekend may not be the same other people will see – which is kind of neat and makes me wonder what pieces the other shows feature, too!

This one, in particular, over in the UK looks especially neat because it’s focused primarily on DC Superheroes – and though I’ve always been more of a Marvel guy myself, some of these models even beyond the giant Batmobile look like they’d be very cool to check out.

All in all it was a great exhibit, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t end up venturing over to the Lego Store to buy some new sets for ourselves after we were done, too! 😉

Weekend Update, Labor Day ’17 Edition

September 4, 2017 9:08pm
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Going into this holiday weekend, I had kind of planned on catching up on a bunch of work, but instead I did all of this fun stuff! 😉

Wonder Woman
This was probably the movie I’ve been most looking forward to this year, and on account of not being able to go to the movies anymore (thanks, kids!), it took waiting until it came out on digital to finally be able to check it out. And for the most part, I really liked it!

Admittedly there were a couple of parts that were pretty predictable, though the big surprise still managed to catch me off guard. Gal Gadot was definitely awesome throughout her role, and it was interesting to actually see a new backstory for a DC character that we haven’t really heard about – basically other than Batman or Superman – up until now. It also kicked the pants off of Batman v. Superman, although that really isn’t much of an accomplishment. Overall I thought it was a good start, and I kind of hope that Justice League has more of Wonder Woman’s influence now than Sups or Bats… 😛

Zelda, Revisited
Lately I’ve been watching Zelda Randomizer videos on YouTube again and it’s kind of left me yearning to play a bit myself. Unfortunately, as much as I love my RetroPie setup, it lives in our living room and I don’t normally spend a lot of time there by myself … or if I do, I’m watching TV while I’m trying to work. So knowing that Wonder Woman was in the works for Saturday night, I threw a copy of Nestopia on my laptop and spent the bulk of our movie time also exploring Hyrule.

I’m always surprised how much I still manage to remember from that game, and though I certainly couldn’t clear the entire thing in less than 30 minutes, I did make it through the majority of the dungeons in about 3-4 hours!

The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya
Probably the highlight of my weekend … because it’s been here all summer and this is the last weekend … was getting to see this Lego art exhibit by legendary Lego artist Nathan Sawaya. I’ve followed his work for years now and was super amped about this show coming to Tampa, however kids and busy summer in general stood in the way of making it down to see this until now.

I’m very glad that we did, however! The show really isn’t particularly kid-themed, despite using Legos as a medium, but all three were surprisingly well behaved and Christopher in particular did a really good job of holding hands whenever he was out of his stroller so that he didn’t touch any of the models. I took a ton of pictures that I’ll post here a little bit later, but it was a whole lot of fun and very much worth the hour-plus wait outside in order to get in. 😉

Lego Ninjago Fun
After the art exhibit, we ended up heading over to Disney Springs because we’d wanted to go the previous weekend for my birthday and it ended up raining the entire time. But the weather this weekend was gorgeous – it had cooled down rather nicely after sunset, so we were able to spend a nice couple of hours just casually grabbing dinner and wandering around. As the sub-heading above suggests, we eventually made it to the Lego Store where I picked up another handful of the new Lego Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigs – that’s a mouthful! – and even though I technically just started this series a few weeks ago, I’m kind of happy to say that I’m almost done already!

Now it’s just a matter of re-configuring my wall display to add in some more baseplates – something that I’ll definitely write more about once I finally get everything that I need to get started! 😀

Best. Slushie. Ever.
And lastly, I didn’t get a chance to snap a proper picture of this myself because it was dark, but I was able to try one of Amorette’s Patisserie’s new wine slushies because this has quickly become Sara’s go-to place to grab dessert, and I’ve got to say that it was probably one of the best slushies that I’ve ever had. Mostly because of the wine – which was definitely present – but it also had a great flavor (I had the strawberry one) and it was admittedly kind of nice to have an alcoholic drink that I could get away with wandering through Disney Springs sipping inconspicuously! 😉

P.S. Writing Brainstorming
For what it’s worth, I did get a small amount of work done during this weekend’s fun – namely in figuring out the topic for a new editorial that I want to write for next week. It hits on a subject that’s really been bothering me a lot lately – generational differences – and in a way I’m looking forward to writing it to get some of the thoughts off my chest. Hoping to have it out tomorrow, but I’ve still got a long way to go from notes to column, so we’ll see…

Dream Journal : That Same Dream, Over and Over

August 29, 2017 8:27pm
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It’s no secret by now that one of my most recurring dreams typically involves my move to Florida, however this one was a little different in that apparently I had already moved and this time had simply returned to retrieve the rest of my bulkier possessions – something that I’d actually planned to, but was never able to do in real life and instead got them over time via UPS and visiting friends…

As is often the case, I started back at the warehouse where I used to work, however that didn’t seem to last long because after a quick calculation in my head of what they were paying me to work on the side, I decided that it wasn’t worth sticking around to make a few bucks and I was probably better off just packing up and hitting the road instead.

So I returned home to start loading up a rather large pickup truck – no idea who it belonged to – with a trailer attached, presumably to help haul the bigger stuff like the speakers to my PA system … which in fact have never made it down to Florida in real life. There were a lot of people around to help – extended family, friends of my parents – and the whole thing was much more of a group effort than just me carrying bags and boxes out to my car like it had been in real life! 😉

Also as a strange aside – throughout the entire packing, I found myself uncomfortably exchanging text messages with a girl back in Florida who I was presumably dating, though it wasn’t clear who she was or whether she’d for certain be waiting for me when I got there.

When it came time to go, I looked out to the truck and found that my sister had stowed away in the back seat of this truck, more or less buried up to her eyeballs in my belongings! After acknowledging that she could make the trip with me, I explained that 24 hours on the road would be a long time to be buried in stuff, and so we worked to reorganize a bit so that she’d actually have an empty seat to sit in for the ride down!

One item that got left behind – a red mattress like what you’d see on a cot at summer camp … in this dream, an aunt had bewilderingly gifted it to me, though we all agreed that I didn’t like to go outside any more than necessary and thus there was really no point in trying to bring it along. As it is, we had boxes of magazines, huge speakers and guitars, buckets of fish from my aquariums, Lego sets and video games – pretty much all of the random, non-essential stuff that I’d deemed unnecessary to cram into my car for the first trip down.

Leaving home, there was an unmistakable urge to get away as fast as possible – something that didn’t occur in real life, mind you – and after sending one last text message … a picture of my old home in Michigan … we hit the road in this gigantic rig of a pickup truck, eager to hit the highway and put as many miles behind us as possible.

On Nazis and Free Speech…

August 19, 2017 12:29am
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So today’s humor column ended up being about Nazis.

I’ve been really flaky with my writing lately for a number of reasons, and the insanity of white supremacist sympathizers across one of our political parties certainly hasn’t helped matters any.

I would’ve never believed that we as a country could become so divided that conservatives would actually side with people waving Nazi flags before they could agree with liberals about the intensity of racism still brewing in our society, and how something as simple as a statue commemorating one of the leaders of the rebellion would still be given a pass when white people carrying torches see it as a symbol worth marching around while calling out for racial purity.

…and how it isn’t painfully clear that this incident was exactly what we feared from electing Donald Trump president, as he felt inclined in his first comments to point out that there were other people doing bad things in the crowd, too, and that there were probably some fine people on both sides of the issue.

Fine people and Nazis are two terms that never belong in the same sentence together.

I’ve seen people arguing for the free speech rights of the Nazis – which doesn’t technically exist if they were inciting violence … something that semi-automatic weapons and torches tend to imply, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve seen people arguing that the girl who died got what she deserved, whether she shouldn’t have been in the way of the car or shouldn’t have been protesting in the first place … which is just asinine.

I’ve seen people crying that “they don’t know what to say anymore without getting judged” while they constantly and consistently judge and marginalize minorities every other second of their day.

It’s utter madness, and it’s had me thinking a lot about free speech and whether the way we practice it is really in our best interests. I mean, the idea behind not wanting the government to pick and choose who gets to speak seems to be rooted namely under the worry of, “What if I’m next?!” but what if by not citing that certain types of speech are unacceptable under the guise of “freedom,” we’re actually signing our own fate by cultivating the types of thoughts that would take advantage of that freedom for the worse.

For example, hate speech and truly vile thoughts are perfectly protected until one suggests any form of violence, and as a result it gives those ideas the opportunity to manifest until they build numbers strong enough to go out like they did last weekend, and between their own aggressions and those who stood up to them, somebody ended up dying from it…

…and if you watched the special report that VICE did from Charlottesville, at least one of the key players involved didn’t really feel much remorse that it happened.

My point is, by not taking a stronger stance against white supremacy – even just like Germany and some of the neighboring countries did by banning display of any Nazi propaganda in public – is that enough of an open door for them to get their foot wedged in???

And the reason this all scares me is that I know that comparisons to Hitler are very much abused online, but in this case when actual Nazis marched in the streets of an American city, I feel that it’s relevant to bring up – when we see resemblances to Adolf Hitler in Donald Trump and the Republican Party and in these Nazi thugs gathering last weekend, we’re not comparing them to Hitler in his glory days when he was executing his Final Solution and trying to conquer the world, but instead we’re seeing similarities to the years leading up to Hitler’s rise.

Remember that Hitler didn’t take over Germany by force, but very much politically – even running for president, though he didn’t win – by bringing together people with the most extreme views. In Hitler’s case, it was his fellow antisemites and those who believed German blood to be the superior race, whereas since his election we’ve seen Trump propose a ban on Muslims, hostility towards immigrants – both illegal and inadvertently not, declare war against pretty much anyone who disagrees with him – especially the media, and inherently lead his supporters to breed this hatred of other people walking among them who he’s convinced have one way or another marginalized them.

Call them what they are, though they wear it as a badge of honor – by bringing together these deplorables, Trump has groomed himself a small and fiercely loyal group of followers who see him as the last saving grace, aside from the return of Jesus Christ himself, for America. And hence we’re in this bizarre light where nothing he can do is wrong to them – racist and sexist remarks, treasonous behavior, warmongering … and that’s scary when you consider how they all fit into the bigger picture…

  • You have a group of loyal believers to do his bidding.
  • You have a much larger group of complacent followers who hope for change and are willing to look the other way.
  • And you have the rest of us, who he’s essentially cast as the enemy because we believe in facts and education and reason, all of which have no place in his agenda that is based primarily on filtering money and power up to a mighty few business elites at the top of the chain – all else be damned.

I’d have had a little more respect for Donald Trump if he had done what any sensical leader would do and fiercely condemn any mention of Nazi beliefs from the first moment that they hit the airwaves, but instead he hemmed and hawed and rubbed his toe in the earth because as much of an idiot as Trump is, he no doubt realizes that those people are also Trump voters … and he needs them.

Ultimately for what, it makes me afraid to imagine.

My Dream Office

August 3, 2017 2:15pm
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I had a dream last night that I’ve had in variations many times before involving a fancy office in a big, high-rise building with sweeping views of the surrounding area and surprisingly little actual work getting done! 😉

In a way, it’s reminiscent of the couple of years that I worked 31 stories up in one of the buildings in Downtown Tampa, where I was lucky enough to almost always have a desk by the windows – as tiny as that desk may have been – to the point where I still have a print of this gorgeous view of the sunset that I used to have sitting at my desk in the new office that I almost never go to because I currently work from home…

In my sleeping dream office, I had this great, private working area with plenty of room to spread out and make myself at home, including this incredible attached balcony where I could step outside to enjoy the view when simply looking at it all through glass wasn’t good enough. Coupled with a private elevator reserved for a select few with offices like my own, it seemed like a pretty sweet place to do … whatever it was that I did for work in that place.

Of course, back here in reality, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that such a working environment is impractical for so many reasons. For starters, the dreams that I’ve had never seem to include episodes of me writing the exorbitant rent checks for such a lavish office space or the 30-60 minutes of driving each way that it would take to commute back and forth to said dream office!

Mind you, my commutes when I worked downtown could be upwards of an hour in moderate traffic, offset from bad traffic only because I worked later hours, whereas now my office is maybe 15-20 minutes away at best and I still hate the commute, often times feeling it a gigantic waste of time if I don’t at least stop for lunch on the way… 😛

It’s certainly fair to say that my standards for a dream office have changed over the years, no doubt influenced greatly by being lucky enough to work out of my own home and thus reducing my daily commute to dodging toys in the hallway from sitting in traffic on the highway!

Realistically, my ideal office space would simply be an improved version of the home office that I have today.

  • Still at home because commutes and paying rent for office space suck, plus it offers much greater opportunity for flexibility and customization.
  • A space that’s probably double the room where my office resides today – basically enough to also add in a couch and a nice table, and more trinket space for all of my toys. 😉
  • A nice, watery garden view through big, glass floor to ceiling windows – ideally because attached to my dream house, the backyard would have lots of tropical plants and a waterfall feature by the pool, though granted this might conflict with…
  • isolation from household noise!!! Seriously probably my only real complaint about working from home, my dream office is still technically part of the house, yet also far enough away from the bedrooms and living areas so that the sounds created by three boys growing up don’t prevent me from getting any work done whatsoever!
  • And maybe I can have a ridiculously oversized TV on the wall that I can swap out images of incredible views from other offices on…

Did I mention that in my dream, apparently my office also had a concierge who would deliver food and snacks and diapers, of all things?! Not sure why the kids are hanging around Dad’s office long enough to require a change of diapers, but hey, dreams are weird sometimes.

Today I picked up a few donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts through the drive-thru, and they messed up my order.

Even after correcting it at the window, there was still a mistake but I had already driven off and it wasn’t worth turning around to go back, yet it reminded me of that classic argument against raising the minimum wage that goes something like – “If you can’t even get my fast food order right, why in the world should you get paid $15/hour?!”

I spent some time pondering this during my drive, and here’s what I came up with…

First and foremost is simply that everyone makes mistakes at their job, with many being a lot more serious than overlooking the occasional chocolate-frosted donut. I work with databases and statistics for my day job and there are plenty of instances where a number gets transposed or a query is missing a clause that produces inaccurate results, yet the immediate reaction isn’t typically that I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage for my work because I’m just so stupid.

Because that’s what the minimum wage is intended to be – a livable standard for what employers are required to pay their workers for an honest day’s work. And while you can argue that frying donuts and the like are minimally valued skills, tell that to the corporations that make billions of dollars each year off of those workers’ efforts.

Along those same lines, though, I got to thinking about what causes people to make mistakes at work and I would bet my missing chocolate donut that understaffing plays a significant factor because anytime that I go to a fast food restaurant, the employees seem to be running around like crazy between all of the various tasks that they need to cover. In fact, never having worked fast food myself, it consistently shocks me to see that the same person taking orders is the same person filling drinks, taking money, and rounding up your order from the various stations, too.

Think about it – most fast food restaurants have a separate window first to pay at, but instead more often than not there’s just a sign posted telling you to move to the next window.

Clearly it was the original intention to have two separate roles, yet at some point in fast food land they decided to consolidate the work onto a single person … but I’ll bet they didn’t also consolidate the pay between those two jobs in turn!

It’s really the same thing we see happening in almost every industry – workers being expected to do more work with less time and resources – and yet service industry workers seem to be given a harder time over slipping up when there’s literally too many things on their plate to get every order exactly right.

So ultimately I think that the two issues here are completely separate – if an employee doesn’t consistently perform, it could be that the person just isn’t paying attention OR it could be that the work is being mismanaged and the workers aren’t being setup to succeed in the first place. In a way, is it really fair to hold the worker responsible for a wrong order when they were also being barked at to get the restroom cleaned and take care of the people at the counter and don’t forget to take their 15-minute break while they’re at it because the boss ain’t paying no overtime?!

The minimum wage angle, on the other hand, to me is really simple – if your employees can’t make ends meet on what you’re paying them, you’re not paying them enough, and if you can’t afford to pay them any more, then your business model is flawed and you shouldn’t be in business.

Separate issues, and as an aside I also tend to think that if we were a bit nicer to fast food workers in general, they might be more likely to get our orders right than shouting for their termination because our iced coffee got made with skim milk instead of 2% like we’d shouted into the unintelligible speaker box 90 seconds ago. 😛

One Week Without Soda

July 3, 2017 2:34pm
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It’s hard to believe that six years ago I gave up drinking soda entirely, and yet over the last nine or ten months – basically since the twins were born – I’ve let that caffeinated addiction slowly creep back into my life again.

I blame a combination of stress and a lack of willpower.

Soda tastes good. It’s refreshing, and it puts a little spring in your step … to the point where you don’t even realize that you’re drinking a few hundred extra calories a day, which adds up over the course of almost a year.

I had originally started only grabbing the occasional soda when someplace had a Coke Freestyle machine because I think that Cherry Coke made with actual syrup tastes better. In fact, I was actually making them myself at home for a while until Publix stopped carrying the syrup that I liked and I couldn’t find anything to really match the flavor.

So that was bad enough – I wasn’t even drinking Coke Zero or anything, but regular Coke coupled with sugary syrup on top of that!

It was probably only a matter of time before I started settling for traditional fountain drinks and cans and bottles from the gas station, too. Most recently, I found myself going through a 2-liter bottle in a couple of days, and I knew that I really needed to cut back, but life was stressful and instead I told myself that I’d change when things calmed down a little…

Of course, it didn’t work like that!

Instead, the other day I started having mild chest pains. I actually think it was just a pulled muscle from running around at Disney World the day before, but it was enough to spook me into actual change because I know that my weight is getting out of control and all of those extra calories – as soothing as they are – weren’t helping the bigger picture.

The first couple of nights, I found myself with mild headaches – nothing terrible like the ones I got from caffeine years ago – so I took a Tylenol here and there and pushed forward, each day telling myself that it was my Nth day without a soda, so no sense in breaking the streak now!

Today it’s been a full week without one, and the aches are starting to go away, not to mention the cravings … at least to the point where I can turn soda down in favor of water again instead, which wasn’t exactly happening in the past because it had become the go to whenever I ate Chinese, and then pizza, and then just about anything that I was eating. 🙁

I know that there are still a lot of other changes that I need to make to benefit my health. I don’t like running out of breath carrying my sons around or having so many aches after a single day at a theme park. But this was an important first step and reducing my calorie intake by a few hundred each day should be a good start towards some of the more intensive efforts that eventually need to take place.

Going forward I think I’ll still let myself have the occasional drink as a mixer with alcohol because I tend to limit myself to just one or two and those are infrequent at best anyways, but aside from maybe the great soda fountain over at the Beach Club at Disney that not only makes Cherry Coke with the syrup but also includes real cherries in it, too, I think my soda days need to be over.

Again.

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