Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Joys of Minimum Wage

As a rule, I never insult or give a hard time to anyone doing something for me, especially if that person is working a minimum wage job. It’s pretty safe to assume that most folks working minimum wage don’t care much about their job. And why should they? Most of these jobs force people to work their tails off and pay next to nothing. And if this hard working person happens to get fired over, say spitting in your food after you yelled at him/her, it’s no biggie. There’s always another minimum wage job somewhere around the corner with the same crap work and insulting pay.

Having at least one of these jobs is, in my opinion, essential. It gives you a little perspective every time you have to wait an extra thirty seconds because a McDonald’s employee accidentally gave you a cheeseburger instead of a Big Mac. It’s certainly understandable to think, “C’mon. This ain’t rocket science. Would you step on it!” Particularly when you have hundred other things going on in your life and dealing with someone messing up is yet another headache you don’t need. But please, cut these people a break. These are undoubtedly horrible jobs and, if you’re not currently working one yourself, be thankful you’re not.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fabulous Funerals

I enjoy funerals. Many people, in fact probably most people, hate them so much they go out of their way to avoid them. But before you decide that I must be some kind of heartless sick-o who seeks pleasure at the expense of the bereaved, allow me to explain.

Nobody ever gets up during a funeral to say a few words and belts out, “Wow. What a bastard!” Speeches always focus on how wonderful the person was, what he/she accomplished, and his/her influences and legacies. It’s hard to listen to these kind of stories and memories without thinking, “Wow. What an amazing life.” They give you perspective of your own life and may even inspire you to achieve your goals and dreams that you’ve been ignoring.

I most certainly appreciate the grief that people feel at these events. Loss is one of my greatest fears, especially the loss of someone I love. But it’s at these most painful low points in our lives where greatness begins. The most prominent life-changing moments in my life have been when I’ve come face to face with a loss.

So there you are at a funeral, possibly at the one of the most pivot moment in your life, and you hear speech after speech of how wonderful the recently deceased was. How can you not think this is wonderful moment? Painful? Yes. Difficult? Definitely. But the best things in life are never easy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kids in the Crosshairs

I already know I worry too much. But I’m certain I’m not alone when I say that I fret over my kids’ safety. It’s such a common theme just mentioning it makes some people, especially those without kids, roll their eyes and say, “Oh, no. Not another crabbing parent whining about precious Johnny or Susie.” On the other hand, I roll my eyes every time I hear people complain, “When I was a kid, I didn’t have safety pads when skateboarding or bike helmets, instead we had real steal-tipped arrows and explosive cherry bombs, yadda, yadda, yadda…” Well… so what? Does this mean that kids today live in a Plexiglas world where nothing can harm them and they never have to worry about ever getting hurt? Survey says…Errr! Wrong. How about armed kids in schools and vulnerability of your kid’s identity through the internet and creepy predators? It seems like for every safety harness added to protect kids there’s another bullet in the chamber waiting to knock them down.

It bothers me when folks are too far on one side of the fence or the other, either thinking that kids are far too protected or far too vulnerable. The fact is, there have always been dangers for kids. No matter what age you live in or were born in. The dangers have just shifted or changed from one generation to the next. I recall several summer days as a kid when I’d say bye to my mom and take off on my bike (no helmet) and I wouldn’t return for hours. Sometimes I was riding the whole time, and other times I’d make friends with some random kid and play until I got tired or bored. Was it safe then? No. Perhaps I wasn’t as susceptible to some things as others, but who’s to say I couldn’t have been hurt or killed?

Nevertheless, I worry about my kids. Every time they leave the house unattended, even if it’s just out in the front yard playing with some their friends who I know, I fear that something might happen and I might never see them again. I know it’s morbid, but that’s how fear works. Still, I let them go anyhow. Because if I don’t I also fear I’m not teaching them how to do things without Daddy hovering in their midst. Ugg, more fear.

No matter how you look at it, there’s always some sort of risk lingering out there. The best we can hope for, at least in my opinion, is to steer in a God-driven course and pray for that safety net should the wire get too shaky. And all the while, smile while you’re doing it. Smiling keeps at least some of the fears at bay, plus it makes others wonder what you’re up to.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disney Buys Star Wars

In case you haven’t noticed from my occasional Star Wars references and comics of Star Wars characters, I kinda like the films. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a “fanboy” (a.k.a. total Star Wars nut), but I am admittedly about two steps away from such an honor. So it’s not so unreasonable that I was little surprised that Disney – an empire built on a mouse – shelled out over four billion smackers to buy this Jedi-centered epic. This certainly confirms my impression of Disney as being a super giant conglomerate.

Despite my apprehension toward accepting the fate of Star Wars, I’m sure there are some possible positive things that may come from it. For one, Disney has promised a new Star Wars movie every two to three years. Far better than the “Oh, whenever I get around to it,” carrot that Mr. Lucas had been dangling in front of fanboys for the past few decades. Plus, there may even be more bonus features in the upcoming episodes. In fact, I have another one of my notorious lists that has some possible additions to the Star Wars universe now that Disney is at the helm.

1.    Even More Annoying Pointless Characters – You thought Jar Jar and C3PO were annoying? Well, well, well. Now with the Disney “creative” horsepower, you better believe there will be even more annoying characters providing marginally funny slapstick undoubtedly intermixed with such quality entertainment like fart jokes and expressions that only a toddler would laugh at.

2.    Star Wars the Musical – Ever wanted to hear Luke Skywalker belt out a sorrowful dirge lamenting his troubles of starting a Jedi academy? Now with a Disney Star Wars steering the ship, you may just get your chance. And after all these toe tapping tunes are released from the movie, you can certainly count on the songs remade and re-released over and over again by whiney teenagers who remix the songs with an annoying “pop” beat. Fun!

3.    More Princesses – Ever notice how many females there are in the Star Wars movies? Not many. Heck, in the first Star Wars, you’ve got Aunt Beru (who’s killed off pretty quick), Princess Leia, and that’s it. This certainly doesn’t fit the Disney movie template. Why, over half of Disney’s clientele are female. They can’t expect to make enough money to buy their success (i.e. Lucasfilm and Pixar and the Muppets) without selling Star Wars products equally.

4.    Horrible Happy Endings – Ever see the end of Lilo and Stitch? I rest my case.

5.    Ineffective Blasters and Lightsabers – In case you haven’t noticed, nobody is ever shot and killed in the world of Disney films. And severing body parts with lethal light swords? No way. In the Disney Star Wars you can count on new and inventive ways that people will either avoid being shot or miraculously be unaffected by such lethal blows.

6.    Bye-bye Jedi – I don’t mean that there won’t be any Jedi in the new Star Wars, they’ll just suck. What makes Jedi cool is the fact that it is a religion in itself. Jedi live and behave accounting to rules govern by this spiritual, omnipresent force that “surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Disney couldn’t possibly fund movies that back a religious theme. At least, not since the 1980’s when the Christian-centered company decided to become agnostic.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Spice of Life

We’ve all heard the trite saying: variety is the spice of life. But how often do we act on this notion? I’m certainly guilty of being so predicable that I could step into most restaurants and a family or friend could guess what I want without hesitation. I even find myself getting angry when I drive into work see someone has parked in my spot. And if the local Publix stops stocking my favorite toothpaste, watch out.
Have you ever gone through the day and paid attention to all the little things that you do just out of routine? They kinda creep up on you. And they are typically little things like the order you put on your shoes or which seat you use at the dinner table or how many squares of toilet paper you use at a time. Since they are little things, ever try to mix things up here and there? It doesn’t have to be over the top, like going sky diving when you usually do something a little less risky like floss your teeth, although the latter is more likely to draw blood.
But I digress. Just look for all the little things that you do routinely. Especially the things that you may not even know why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it. Why? Well, why not? You may discover a better way of doing things. Or at the very least, you may discover the trite saying about a spicy life isn’t so trite after all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We All Hate Math

Math. One of the scariest words for many kids and adults worldwide. Over the years I have had the unfortunate pleasure of tutoring various friends and kids and other unwilling participants with various math subjects. Not that I’ve ever liked math myself; I’ve always found it a boring necessity. I was just one of the weird kids who “got it”. The main problem with math is it’s pretty hard to BS it. In most other subjects, there’s always a degree of wiggle room where you can just make up something, and as long as it makes sense and you can talk other people into it, you’re gold. Even in science, there’re theories and hypotheses that sprout from someone coming up with what they think is true. This doesn’t seem to work with math. And for the creative at heart, figuring out problem after problem just isn’t worth the effort. Thus math is an evil beast contrived by the devil himself.

For those you who hate folks like me who do “get it”, rest assured that there is at least some justice in life. Because many of my friends and family have pegged me as the math guy, I’ve had the painful job of teaching the subject in various forms to these math haters. And believe me, teaching math to people who are repelled by it is about as easy as taking the square root of a negative number – yes, a corny math reference that roughly means that it’s impossible without using a little “i”magination (ba-dum, dum). As I struggle through these teachings, I continually ask myself, “So, how many different ways can I explain this until this guy/girl gets it?” So in short, I hate math as much as anyone else. Not only because it’s boring but because I’m often stuck dealing with it more.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty hard to live without math. Try to and you’ll end up gullible and poor, always paying more for things, even taxes – like people who play the lottery. It’s one of those subjects that won’t go away no matter what you do, particularly if you have kids and have to relive the horrors known as math. But at least you can take small comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Trust me, it’s mathematically impossible.