Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Facebook Newsfeed Is Not News

Sometimes it feels just like this
For that matter, most news stations, either. They’re a skewed commentary on a situation with distorted facts to keep you thinking a certain direction, which is more than likely far from the truth. That’s probably why it’s now called news and no longer known as journalism. However, it’s sad how much junk fills my Facebook status stream. It simply boggles the mind that someone shared it to begin with, but it does make it believable that the Salem witch trials could happen even today. Most of the time I don’t even think people read what they are sharing or watch the videos they are passing along. They just quickly share it because on the surface it falls in line with their prejudiced way of thinking. For some, Facebook is the only source of news they receive and, to be honest, that’s truly sad.

It’s not new, however. Since the World Wide Web infiltrated our homes, gullible people have believed everything that came across the computer screen, no matter how ludicrous. People don’t check the validity of a story before passing it on. Furthermore, they don’t realize that all they are really doing is hindering the truth from getting out and that’s exactly the point behind the slanted story. It’s a diversion tactic to keep you focused in one direction so that you don’t notice what’s really happening elsewhere.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Florida Heat Comes Inside

Last week was the week for gremlins, not that car of the sixties or seventies, but those tiny little creatures that like to sneak in and tear up perfectly fine machines. Friday morning, while taking Char to work, the electrical system of the new van decided to shut our van down. I couldn’t switch gears. I couldn’t steer. I couldn’t even get the key out of the ignition. We called the warranty people and had it towed for repairs. They don’t work weekends like the rest of the universe, so we’re still waiting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone

But I'm comfortable
The Comfort Zone ~ a safe place where we have fun, feel confident and safe, and can pretend we’re really accomplishing our dreams. The truth of the matter is that dreams are accomplished outside of our comfort zone, where we are nervous about taking the risk and exposing ourselves–and our fears– to the world. We don’t always feel confident. Most of the time we’re too nervous to know we’re having fun and we leave the world of pretend for the reality of do or die. The time for talking is over. It’s now time to muster up the guts and jump. However, you don’t need to drop blindly into those deep waters.

During your stay in the comfort zone, you should use that security to build the skills and strengths you’re going to need to finally break past those barriers. The more knowledge you acquire and abilities you develop, the more confident you will feel stepping out. You won’t know everything, because there is quite a bit we learn as we move forward. That’s growth. However, we can gain a solid foundation upon which to build. This way, you may wobble, but you won’t fall down; you won’t be overwhelmed. That is one of the main feelings that keeps us in our comfort zones, the feeling of being overwhelmed as we try something new.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Everything Is Bullying

Stop bullying
If you’ve followed the Mess for any length of time, then you know that I’m pretty vocal about bullying. It has always been a crime with lasting scars that really needs to be stopped. A friend shared on their Facebook that instead of crying about bullies, we need to teach our children to stand up for themselves. It’s not always that simple. Many kids do stand up for themselves, but many times it doesn’t change anything and sometimes even makes it worse. My response was that they should teach their kid not to be a dick or when that bullied child goes to the school with a gun to stand up for himself you will wish you had spent more time teaching the  bully how to be a decent human being.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It’s All about Mindset

Recently, we took our annual family vacation. This is different than a trip the girls and I take or one of our getaways with friends. This vacation involves all of us–the girls and I, all of the children and their significant others and an “adopted” child or two. A destination is picked, a house rented and then the planning begins. This year, we visited historic Savannah. This has actually become one of my favorite locales–outside of Disney, of course–and I’m even considering it as a backdrop for some of my stories.

Now, part of the reason I love the historic district so much is that you park your car and walk everywhere. For a man who hates traffic, it’s the perfect area. Everything we need is right there, including a grocery store. And the crazy part is I look forward to walking each day. We’d wake up, have breakfast and then go exploring. We averaged ten miles a day just in that little area that takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to cross. We also had the added hurdle of avoiding tour groups and trolleys. By the end of the day, our legs were sore and we were exhausted, but it felt great.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Extortion of Gratuity

For most of my thirty years in the work force I have worked for tips and for the most part I made a great living doing it. Of course, there were always those times I received a tip that just left me shaking my head at the inconsiderate nature of people. I mean, a fifteen cent tip is more of an insult than not leaving a tip at all. It’s rude and offensive and the server will remember you in the future. Why piss off the person who handles your food?

However, as much as I have grumbled in the past about lousy tippers, the act of tipping is based upon the person actually doing it. It is a reward for great service. Since I have worked for tips before and know that feeling, I tend to tip more than I should, even if the service wasn’t exactly worth it. It has been an extreme case when I have left a poor tip or not tip at all and in those cases the server had completely pissed me off. At that point, however, they’re lucky I haven’t tried to have them fired.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Look Down Generation

The Look Down Generation. It’s what people are calling the young people today, but really it spans several generations as more and more people grab hold of technology and all of its gadgets. You see, it has nothing to do with low self-esteem or a bad case of shyness. It has everything to do with the smart phone or iPad that seems to be glued to everyone’s fingers. Their neck is bent at a 45 degree angle as they stare at the screen catching up on Facebook or crushing candy. They rarely look up.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter where they are or even what they are doing. They could be riding in a car full of people or even driving, sitting at a dinner table whether at home or in a restaurant, or just walking along the sidewalk, destination in mind, but the journey ignored. The contraption is in their hands and their fingers are pressing keys frantically.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Full Room to Empty Echo

We had just set this up
We’re in the process of moving as you may have heard, but we’ve been able to take it nice and slow, which my back appreciates. That was the idea when we started. Move one room or area at a time and avoid the chaos of a stacked box maze in the new house. It’s hard enough to rearrange furniture without the room being full of stuff you have to maneuver around. So, we created a plan of attack to optimize our efforts and create a semblance of organization. First area to be moved over was the garage, which just so happened to be the most discombobulated space in the old house outside of my desk area. We figured if we could move the garage first, organizing it as we did, then if we had to store other boxes in there temporarily, then nothing would get lost in the shuffle.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Four Stars for The Between World by Stephanie Ingram

Author Stephanie Ingram has always had a passion for language and people, which, lucky for us, has translated into storytelling. At the age of nine, she began writing and, after years of studying languages such as Portuguese, German and French, found her path back to creating vivid stories. The between World is one of those tales.

Nina Strident is almost killed in a car accident. She is rescued by Yalen, a mysterious man from another world who breaks all the rules to protect her when others want her dead. From there, we are thrown in to a battling world of humans, guardian angels, and those Between World. There is something about Nina’s survival that threatens t toss the worlds out of balance. Or is there? The reader is kept guessing with every turn of the page. You are also left wondering who the real bad guy is that they’re fighting–human or something else. The story has romance, mystery, magic, and a little bit of intrigue. Stephanie does a great job with her descriptions and story-telling, although I would have preferred more from the Between World to get a better grasp of what was going on within it and how it functioned.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Learn Something New Every Day

The hat helps the learning process
I want to learn how to play the guitar. I also want to learn how to play the saxophone, how to speak French, and how to finally use my Excel spreadsheets. I know I’ve joked in the past about not doing research for a blog post, but one of the things I enjoy most about writing is the research that has to go along with it. I’ve heard where some writers have become so obsessed with their research that they’ve forgotten to write their books. Some have found new interests or hobbies. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading biographies and history books, to learn something new, which I probably should have read about in high school if I wasn’t so busy doodling.

Learning something new helps stretch our mental capacity and sharpens our mind. It also helps us push past our comfort zones. Sometimes, we even discover that our comfort zones aren’t as narrow as we originally thought–except for roller coasters. Those are way outside of my comfort zone. It’s our fear of the unknown that quite often terrifies us, but learning can push us past those frightening barriers. The more we expand ourselves, the less of a foothold fear will have in our life.