Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Commercial Television Woes

   When I was a kid, back before the turn of the century, we watched  old-fashioned television. I remember the first television that our family owned. It was the size of a large hard-sided suitcase with a round screen about 10' in diameter. Black and white pictures only!

   Television (TV) programs were limited since we only had three channels: ABC, NBC and CBS. To make matters even more inconvenient, in order to change channels you actually had to get out of your chair, walk to the TV and turn a knob - BY HAND! There were no remote control units back then. If you wanted to be a couch potato you were out of luck. To watch TV, you actually had to MOVE! I know, I know. Hard to imagine!

   Back then, like today TV had commercials. Back then, unlike today the commercials were limited to a one minute interruption of the program. A few years later that minute was lengthened to 90 seconds (1 1/2 minutes). It seemed like forever when you were watching The Lone Ranger! 

   Fast forward to modern times: We see commercial breaks lasting up to eight minutes or more in length. This is long enough that we sometimes forget what programs we were watching or what the story line was. The programmers know this and will, on some programs, replay the last 10 seconds of the show prior to the commercial break in order to remind you of the storyline. Nice of them!

   I never paid much attention to this turn of events since it happened over the course of so many years and was so gradual that before we knew it, it seemed that we were watching more commercials than the program that we tuned in to watch.

   My wife and I have hosted several foreign exchange students. One was a boy from Hanover, Germany. When he first watched American TV he was absolutely beside himself over the commercials.
   "How can you watch TV like this?" he asked.
   "Like what?" we replied, totally unaware of the problem.
   "Why do they interrupt the programs like that?" he asked. We had no reply. 
   "To sell stuff, I suppose." we finally said, still unsure of the problem.

   He (J.P.) explained that in most of Europe, the commercials come before and after the program and that the actual program is un-interrupted by commercials. This way you can actually enjoy the program and watch the commercials or not - your choice.

   What a concept! No longer would we have to endure the onslaught of toilet bowl cleaners and Trojan Man ads! No more commercials about adult diapers and anti-depression drugs! No more attention deficit disorder due to commercials derailing our trains of thought!

   How then would the advertisers ever sell products if we had the option to not watch commercials? Apparently the Europeans have no problems with this. Products still fly off their shelves, European people still consume stuff.

   In our home commercials are seldom an issue. Most of the time we just hit he mute button on the remote and take the opportunity to use the bathroom, grab a snack or even occasionally talk to one another.

   We still buy stuff that we see advertised on the TV. This I know because I take out far more trash than I bring into the house in the form of purchased goods. I have never been able to explain this fact to myself in any satisfactory manner. It's a mystery!.

   When satellite TV was first introduced it was advertised as "non-commercial TV". This quickly changed when it became apparent that money was to be made through the use of commercials on the new satellite systems.

   We have to ask ourselves how far this will go? When will we get to the turning point: when we are watching more commercials than programming? At this time we average eight minutes of commercials for every ten minutes of programming. We're almost there. Before too long, TV listings will list the commercials to be seen sadly interrupted by the 6 o'clock news and Jerry Springer.

The Geezer loves the mute button!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Comes But Once a Year

   I'm sitting here thinking of Christmas. Not necessarily the one coming up, but of past Christmases.

   In my family, we never really had any particular "Tradition" - something that we always did no matter what. Like help out at a homeless shelter or go to church as a family.

   What we mostly did as kids was wait until we could just about see the sky start to lighten up then sneak out to see a pile of packages under the Christmas tree. We'd wake our parents, sit around and open the packages then have breakfast. I guess we did have a tradition after all.

   As I've gotten older, Christmas isn't what it was when I was younger. I guess some of the magic of the holiday has lost it's sparkle. Not having any children may contribute to that. Christmas has always been, for me, a children's holiday.

   My wife and I are in our 60s and we don't do much for Christmas other than maybe visit relatives and make the Christmas dinner of Turkey, potatoes, yams, dressing and cranberry sauce. We then have leftovers for the rest of the week.

   After last Thanksgiving, we stripped the meat from our turkey and put all the bones and scraps out for the neighborhood scavengers. We'll probably do the same with our Christmas turkey.

   As for gift giving, we (my wife and I) have what we need and don't much lust after spendy trinkets and such. We will wait until we get our tax refund check then buy stuff that we agree on and maybe a small gift for one another.

   I've been wanting a comfortable new chair for the living room and maybe one of those e-book readers like the Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook pads. I love to read and I usually buy my books on line. The e-books are available almost instantly and are several dollars cheaper than print books. But when you factor in the cost of the reader am I really saving any money? We'll see...

   I guess that getting old isn't what it's cracked up to be. The body creaks and the holidays have lost their allure. I seldom have the need for "The Next New Thing" and I concern myself with things like politics and is Taylor Swift REALLY a country singer? Will my pipes freeze up this winter and what the hell is the attraction to Hip Hop and Rap?

As The Geezer I'm going to leave Christmas to the kids and find myself an nice quilt to put over my legs as I watch UFC re-runs. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Political Correctness vs. Free Speech

   In "Guns Guns Guns!" I spoke about the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This short essay is about the First Amendment. Freedom of Speech.

   In America we have the freedom to express ourselves through freedom of speech. The courts have held that this freedom is extended to expression of our thoughts, ideas and talents. In other words, we are free in this country to do or say just about anything we want as long as what we do or say doesn't cause harm or damage to another.

   We can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater and thereby cause a panic which might cause injury to another. We can't slander or libel another person and cause that person to be injured by falsely damaging their reputation or cause them damage financially, however if through print or speech what we say or print is the truth, then we can say or print away to our heart's content.

   We can say or print anything in expression of our own opinions and beliefs as long as we label it as such: "It is my opinion that..." or, "this is what I believe to be the case..."  This lets us say these things since they are our own words, thoughts and expressions.

   A number of years ago the term "Political Correctness" crept into our vocabulary. Being Politically Correct means saying things in such a way that no one anywhere at any time will be offended by our words or thoughts. In my opinion it's a load of crap!

   Thankfully, Political Correctness isn't written into the law - yet. We are not required to conform to the ideal of political correctness - yet. The First Amendment still protects what we can say or write but political correctness somewhat dictates how and when we can say what we want to say. Best not say something that will be contrversial and/or make someone uncomfortable!

   Some people have become so pampered, sheltered and coddled that they have grown to be too thin-skinned. So thin-skinned that they feel that they should be offended by off-handed comments made by others. Comments that are not intended to offend but are used in unguarded casual conversation.

   We have to be alert! We have to think ahead so that our words will pass through our internal PC filter and come out clean and pure as the driven snow so that we won't be pounced upon by the PC Police!

   Recently an actor used the word "Trannie" on a television show; "Trannie" being a pejorative (slang) term for a transsexual (A person who has undergone sexual "reassignment" surgery [changed from male to female or vice-versa]). The word "Trannie" is just easier to use, everyone knows what it is (not a term for an automotive gear-change mechanism). Being politically correct is mentally exhausting! The actor found himself in the position of having to apologize profusely for using a common word to describe an uncommon situation. Sad!

   So many people are too quick to take offense at nothing at all. Words that are neither designed to damage nor intended to hurt another person or group. These folks have found a friend in attorneys who do nothing but file lawsuit after lawsuit claiming emotional damage or harm to their clients who felt insulted or put upon by the careless words of another.

   People say things that are never intended to harm others but it does happen. People say things all the time. More people should say to themselves "That is none of my business" or "That wasn't intended for me" or "So what? I'm not going to let it bother me" or even "I'm a better person than that - I forgive you".

   As The Geezer, I have learned to let my skin grow a bit thicker. Life's too short to let this kind of behaviour get to me. I'll say what I want to say! I was here before Political Correctness but after the First Amendment to the US Constitution. I'm immune! I'm The Geezer!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guns Guns Guns!

   I own guns. There, I said it. I'm a gun owner.

   In some circles it's not politically correct to own guns, let alone state the fact publicly.  At one time I had someone come into my home and as soon as they learned that I was a gun owner and actually had "one of those things" in my house, they became visibly agitated - as if I were going to start taking shots at them for the fun of it. Maybe I should have, just to prove that I was one of those crazy gun nuts!

      I have been involved with guns of one sort or another since I was five or six years old; my parents bought me a BB gun for my birthday. I was in heaven!  My father taught me to shoot it. He was a Marine Corps sniper in WWII and Korea. He knew how to shoot! Over the years he taught me what I needed to know.

   We once had a problem with feral cats around our home (see: Cats, I Hate Cats). I would occasionally go outside to "take care of" a cat that had the poor judgement to stand still long enough for me to grab my .22 and make it to the back door. Afterward my wife would ask: "Did you get him?" I would just respond, "Of course" as if there was any doubt. In fact there is never any doubt. I always hit what I aim at. I'm good. Not bragging, just a fact. My Dad taught me well.

   During a visit a year or so before he passed away, we went out and shot at some ground squirrels (often called prairie dogs). They are about as large as a man's fist. Dad pointed to a spot about 50 yards away and told me he was going to shoot that squirrel right in the eye. I could barely see the little thing. It was in it's burrow and just barely peeking over the lip of the mound around it's home. Dad shot and a puff of dust rose up from his .22 striking the dirt. We walked over and he pulled the squirrel from the hole. He had done exactly what he had said he would do. Right through the eye! A few minutes later I made virtually the same shot at another squirrel. "I taught you well, grasshopper!" he said. High praise! We laughed. It was a very good day!

   When I was in the military, during basic training, one of the instructors was teaching marksmanship but doing so somewhat poorly. I made a suggestion (not very well received but he listened to what I had to say about the way he was explaining the fundamentals. He later took me aside and thanked me for my suggestion and asked me if he could use the tip I had given him.) It was something that my Dad had taught me: "Aim small, hit small - Aim big, hit nothing". Meaning: Don't aim at the target - aim at a small part of the target and you're likely to hit very close to that point. (If all of the other fundamentals are sound - this can take a lifetime and some people never get it)

   For readers who live outside the USA: I know that there are those who question us Americans and our love of guns. It's part of our heritage. Our history is rife with stories of our ancestors - the pioneers who tamed the wilderness with a rifle in one hand and a plow in the other. Stories of our "Wild West" and the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" are mostly overblown and gunfights were rare. The OK Corral gunfight happened but has mostly been romanticized through books and films.

   Our founding fathers saw the need of/for the armed citizen in order to maintain balance with our government and to make it all but impossible for a foreign army to invade our country. This was stated in the second amendment of the US Constitution - Right below the first amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. The second amendment supports the first.

   In states where citizens have the right to carry concealed weapons, crime statistics all indicate a downward trend. When criminals don't know which of their intended victims are armed, they tend to look elsewhere. "An armed society is a polite society". Robert A. Heinlein

   I have firearms that I have inherited from my father and those that I have purchased for myself. Many of those that I have inherited, I don't fire. They are keepsakes - but I still have ammunition for them all, just in case... I have a handgun and a rifle that are new and unfired. Why? I just haven't gotten around to it - yet. Their day will come. Soon.

   From The Geezer: If you don't like guns, that's fine. Don't criticize and demonize those of us who do. If you ever need to be protected, call your neighbor. Statistics say that he or she will have a firearm in their home and will know how to use it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Men are Different from Women: Tips and Tricks

   I'm a guy, so this will be from a man's point of view. If you are a young man and are "In Love", please read this and consider that I've been a guy all my life* and I've been married for almost 35 years.

*(These days it really IS a choice. Ask Chaz Bono - the son Cher never had.)

   First off, in the most basic respect, females are different than men. I'm not talking about the wonderful physical differences. I'm talking about the most important difference. I'm talking about what goes on inside our brains. Our thought processes.

   You'd think that we would think alike. Our brains are almost identical but we use them in vastly different ways.

   When I was a young man, I'd do those things that I thought would appeal to girls in order to make them like me - to make me attractive to them. Futile. Trying to get a female to do anything that you want them to do is impossible. It's like trying to herd cats or put toothpaste back into the tube. Impossible! Well not impossible, per se, but very highly unlikely.

   Breakthrough! After many years I discovered the truth about how a female thinks. You see, females are trained from birth to think a certain way by their mothers and their mothers before them. It's their heritage. Females never stop thinking.

   Let me repeat that: Females Never Stop Thinking. It's what makes them crazy and insecure. There is no rhyme or reason to the way they analyze any given subject.

   Example: If, while on your way home from work you see a flower vendor at a stop sign and you think that you want to surprise her and bring home a flower, so you buy one and give it to her first thing in the door. Nice, right? You did good, right? Son, you have a lot to learn.

   Here's what she thinks: Oh! He brought me a flower. That's nice. I love this guy, but why didn't he buy me a dozen of them he probably doesn't love me enough maybe he's feeling guilty about doing something he shouldn't have done maybe he had an affair at work or with one of my friends which one of my friends is he sleeping with boy I hope it isn't Sue she and I have been friends for years and she always laughs a little too much when he tells a joke yes it has to be her that lying cheating b**** just wait until I see her she's going to get it right in the face and after that he and I are going to have it out.... and on and on. Not good!   

      Do yourself a favor and buy her flowers only on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Mother's Day. Any other time is suspect unless there is something special to celebrate.

   Females are motivated by their emotions. Romance is the most effective way to get to a female. From an early age girls are given dolls. Barbie and Ken are romantically involved. Girls love bride dolls. Girls want to grow up to be Cinderella. They want a fairytale romance. They will be disappointed. No guy wants to spend their time riding ponies and combing their girl's hair all day long.

   Men, on the other hand are motivated by visual input. We're pragmatic problem solvers. We're given trucks and shovels to play with. Tell us something that's wrong and we'll work to fix it. Ask us for advice and we'll give you a solution. Guys like to look at pretty females in tight fitting clothes or string bikinis. This is why porn is such a big business. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. It's just the way it is.

   The interaction between males and females is often fraught with danger. When a woman asks a man, "What are you thinking?" and the man replies, "Nothing", believe him.

   Women simply don't understand that men have the capacity to actually turn of their thought process and go into neutral bliss. We can quite simply think of nothing whereas a female cannot turn it off. A female cannot for a second stop thinking of something. Even during her sleep, a female is thinking and dreaming. Dangerous for men!
  
   You have to be careful when talking to a female. Think befor you speak. No matter what you say, she will take it the wrong way. She'll take it in a way that was never intended. They will often do this intentionally just to see how quick you can think on the fly. Trust me, you'll never be up to her level of verbal combat. You just won't! Never think you will win!
  
   If you are ever in an argument with a female and you think you have won because the female says "Fine". Run! Not only have you not won, you are in for the worst time in your life. You just lost! You will pay the price for your impertinence! How dare you think you could best a female at verbal combat!

   Beware if a female asks questions like: "Do I look fat in this?" or "If I were to die, would you remarry?" or "Do you really like my cooking?". There is no right answer to these questions. The best thing to do is roll over and play dead - or - answer her question with a question of your own in order to deflect hers. I warn you that this won't work forever. When she asks these questions, what she is really asking is, "Do You Love Me?" You will spend days, weeks, months and years proving you're love to her. Good luck!

   The best thing you can hope for, if you are married, is to reach a kind of equilibrium. That point in your relationship where you completely trust one another and you know everything about each other from backgrounds, families and even each other's aches and pains. This takes time. As I said, my wife and I have been married almost 35 years. We are almost there. Ten to twelve more years and we should be at that point.

   We have our roles defined. We share the cooking, cleaning and housework. If one of us is unable to do something due to illness or injury, the other fills in and takes up the slack. Whenever we travel I am the driver and she is the relief driver. I am the pack mule when we load or unload the car.

   She knows that I love her and I know that she loves me, yet we tell each other every day, just to reaffirm.

   Take it from The Geezer: When you find a female that you truly love, marry her then spend the rest of your life getting to know her. It takes work and dedication, but in the end - it's worth every minute!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Too Much Reality for Me!

   There are way too many "Reality" television programs to suit me! (For those of you who do not live in the USA, a Reality Show is where cameras follow people around during their everyday lives then edit the film to make their lives look better than yours.)

   The only reality TV that I enjoy watching are the news programs and these are disturbing enough these days.

   Scanning through the on-screen guide I see that reality shows are taking over. They have become so pervasive that we have become a nation of voyeurs.

   Have our lives become so dull and boring that we have to watch other people's dramas played out on the flat screen in order to feel fulfilled? Probably so.

   Here are a few of the many that I have seen and my comments. Some I like and some I don't.:

The Bachelor. A program about a befuddled good looking guy that can't seem to get a date so he's fixed up with 20 hot girls from which he has to choose. Poor guy!

The Bachelorette. The same but reversed roles. How does a good looking girl never find a date? Really?

Deadliest Catch. A show about fishermen yelling at each other while trying to catch the crabs.

Ice Road Truckers. The drama of truck driver's lives on snowy roads. Wow - gripping!

Iron Chef America. Chefs have a cook-off making food that a real person will never get to eat.

Challenge. Bakers bake cakes. Compete for big check. Much drama.

Cupcake Wars. Bakers bake cupcakes. Compete for big check. Less drama.

Sweet Genius. Gay Nazi tells cooks to make him a dessert.

Design on a Dime. Interior decorators make cheap improvements. When did curtains become "Window Treatments" and a drippy faucet become a "Water Feature"?

House Hunters. People looking for a new house.

House Hunters - International. People looking for a new house in another country. Oh yeah. Like this is something I need to know about!

Property Virgins. People looking for their first house. Yawn!

Project Runway. Has absolutely nothing to do with airplanes. It's gay guys designing crappy clothes.

America's Next Top Model. Really tall anorexic girls wear crappy clothes (designed by gay guys) between bouts of bulimia.

American Idol. Singing competition. I'll say this is fairly entertaining. But still...

America's Got Talent. But mostly, it doesn't. You'd think that some of these people's friends would tell them the truth...

The X Factor. More of a competition between the judges. Still somewhat entertaining if you already have your sock drawer alphabetized.

The Sing-Off. Actually fun to watch. Acapella groups compete for recording contract.

Dancing With the Stars. First off, who really thinks these so-called "Stars" are stars? The only saving grace of this season is Mr. J.R. Martinez who is a disfigured Vet who was burned over 40% of his body while in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Inspirational and a pretty good dancer, too.
   I look for him to win.  ----->

Bass Pros. When did fishing become a spectator sport?

Ghost Hunters. Roto-Rooter guys search for ghosts in their spare time. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

Top Gear. USA and British versions. Guys driving cars. Loads of fun!

Cribs. Rappers show us their homes and cars that they bought with the money they received from performing Rap Music (an oxymoron).

Antiques Roadshow. Folks take their old stuff to get appraised. This will make you a better yard-sale shopper.

Parking Wars. Meter maids write parking tickets. OOoooooo!

Dawg the Bounty Hunter. Professional wrestler wanna-be goes after crooks who skip bail.

Top Shot. Guys with guns... enough said.

The Real Housewives of... Name your city. Middle aged women who have too much time on their hands get into cat-fights.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Bimbo cheerleaders compete to become ... bimbo cheerleaders.

American Guns. All the drama of gun repair. Yes... that's it.

Hogs Gone Wild and American Hoggers. Not an eating competition. Hunting wild hogs. Sometimes it's hard to tell the hogs from the hunters.

Pit Bulls and Parolees. Crooks raise pit bulls. So what else is new?

American Ninja Warrior. Seriously? Words fail me (and that's a first).

Storage Wars and Auction Wars. Guys with way too much money buy other people's discarded crap from closed storage lockers.

Pawn Stars. Pawn shop buys odd junk for less than half of what it's worth.

   These are just a few that I've seen this past year or so. There are many, many others. 

   How have we come to this? What have we as a society become to make shows like these entertainment? Are we really that sedentary and bored that we have to live our lives through the exploits of others?

   Yeah. I guess we have. Otherwise these shows wouldn't be as popular as they are.

   The Geezer says to go out and do something. Get a life. Preferably your own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We're All the Same

   I often go online to the Bushcraft USA forum to view and participate in the various posts that are there. We discuss various aspects of woodscraft or bushcraft or woodsmanship - whatever title you like to attach to that sort of activity. Camping, hunting, hiking and fishing - all outdoor activities designed to get a person into the great outdoors.

   Recently I have seen contributions to this forum (bushcraftusa.com) by a couple of members from Russia. Very interesting! They have posted photos of their camping and trapping trips during the winter in the Kirov region. It looks very cold! These are just a few of the many photos they have posted.

   The reason I bring this up is this: We older folks in the USA grew up during the 'Cold War' era and the propaganda that were exposed to gave us the impression that Russia (or at least the Soviet Union) was a dark and dreary place to live! After seeing these photos posted by Russian outdoorsmen I have to change my perceptions. If I had been told that these guys were from Wisconsin or Minnesota, I would have had to reason to doubt it.

   The country shown in these photos is beautiful in that stark way that any winter scene is portrayed. The men in the photos are outdoorsmen and that doesn't change from country to country. Wearing warm clothing as they demonstrate universal bushcraft in order to be comfortable in the cold.

   Their camp shelter is simple but well done. It provides shelter from the wind and snow as well as keep in the heat from their stove. This provides much more comfort than just a tent and sleeping bag.

   Since I don't read Russian, I  feel that (from their photos) the purpose of their trip is to build a more permanent shelter for future trapping and hunting expeditions. The shelter starts as a dug-out with interior walls of split wood then roofed over in a way that will shed snow and be easy to make waterproof by means of a tarp or plastic sheeting. With a small wood burning stove inside it will be very nice.

    I have often wondered about the Russian people and life in that huge country. So much wilderness to see and the different customs to experience and understand. As I look at these photos and others that are too many to post here, I get the sense that the universal skills and methods that are inherent in bushcraft and outdoor survival are what make me feel a kinship to these men living on the other side of the world.

   I look at the readership of this blog and I have discovered that I have readers from all over the world, including Russia. This is to my Russian brothers who apply their skills and experience to survive in the wild! There is so much of the world that I would like to see in person but as I get older I no longer desire to travel long distances as I once did. I have to be contented to see the world  through the experiences and photographs of others.

   As a Geezer, I enjoy my warmth too well to go camping in the winter but I often envy the experiences of those hardy enough to brave the elements.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Uncle Sam Loves Me!

   I know that it's true!

   How do I know, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It's a matter of deductive reasoning: If Uncle Sam didn't love me, why would he make me wear my seat belt? Why would he insist that I not talk on my cell phone while I drive? Why does he make me wear my helmet when I ride my motorcycle? He loves me, that's why!

   It's not just me... he loves us all! He must!

   He insists that we all get inoculated against diseases while we are young. He makes us strap our children into automotive child seats whenever we drive. He makes car makers install air bags in all new cars.  Everyone wears helmets when they ride bicycles and horses these days. All this so we can live longer and safer lives. He wants us live long enough to pay lotsa taxes!

   But at what cost?

   We lose some of our freedoms. We lose the freedom to make our own choices regardless of the consequences.

   We lose the freedom of choice.

   If I choose to ride my bike without my helmet, I should have the freedom to do so without interruption from the police.

   When I was a kid, we would ride in the back seat of our pre-1968 Detroit land boat without the benefit of seat belts. I would often lie on the rear window deck (ask your grandpa) as we went down the road, oblivious to the fact that if my Dad hit the brakes, I would have flown at least as far as the windshield. There were no padded dashboards back then - solid steel, baby!

   I have NEVER worn a helmet while riding a bicycle. Until I was in my 20s, I had NEVER seen anyone wear a helmet while riding a horse.

   Kids were not required to ride in child seats - they were for sissy kids! Real kids rode like a pack of monkeys in a box going down the road at 70 MPH!

   Yee Haw!

   Did people die in car wrecks back then? You bet they did! Lots of em'!

   Back before we had safety rules and regulations to "Protect" us, many, many more folks were killed doing things that we now take for granted. What's wrong with that?  These days I see a lot of people that should not reproduce.  You know the ones I mean. I'm sure you've seen them wandering the aisles at WalMart in the late/early hours of the day like poorly dressed zombies in a REALLY bad horror movie.

   Back in the day, these folks would have died off at an early age due in a big part to stupidity. Yeah, I said it!  As Ron White says: "You can't fix stupid!"

   It's the same reason that wolves pick off the weak and sickest of the herds:

   Only the smartest and healthiest should survive. That's what makes a people, a society strong.

   The Geezer knows that the herd needs thinning. We have way too many folks out there that, but for Uncle Sam's intervention would have kicked the bucket a long time ago.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Wall Street?

   We are currently seeing people from all over the world protesting against "Big Business" in the "Occupy Wall Street" craze.

   I have to ask: What really are you protesting against? What are you so angry about? Are you angry because "Big Business" (I'll just call it 'BB' for now on to save my fingers from cramps) is making more money than you? Are you angry that BB CEOs are being paid exorbitant salaries and you're not? Are you angry because BB seems to have stuff that you do not?

   If so, you should go to this link and watch the short opinion/editorial video called "Three and a Half Days".

   Here's the link: http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpid=56&load=6158

   The video clip is 5 minutes and 27 seconds long. This is such a short time to invest in order to get right down to the actual roots of this protest movement. It is, in effect, saying that these protesters are "Cutting off their collective noses to spite their face(s)" as the saying goes.

   This goes to illustrate that we have come to the point in our society - In the USA and worldwide - where we feel "Entitled" to receive the perceived necessities of life. We have become such an urbanized society of consumers that we have forgotten where our bread, milk and meat come from. We despise the oil companies but love our plastics and gasoline. We are a society of hypocrites.

   If anything, we should be grateful to BB for doing for us those things that we can no longer, or are unwilling to do for ourselves.

   We can do away with big business if we want. We just have to stop the consumption of everything BB produces and sells to us. We should go back to being an agrarian society or become hunter-gatherer nomads who only consume what we grow, find or kill. We need to go out and make our own 4-G iPhones and Hybrid automobiles from rocks and sticks!  That'll show them greedy buggers! That'll teach them capitalist fools that they can't push us around! Yeah, right! Just how much does being a protester pay, anyway?

  

   As The Geezer, I have to say that I'm happy to have Big Business around. I'm getting too old to run down and kill a bunny rabbit!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Knives... I Love Knives!

   I have always had a fascination with knives. I'm sure I got it from my Father. He always told me that a knife was like an individual. Each one was different and each had it's own 'personality'. He told me that before using a knife in the woods or just to whittle a bit, I should get to know it. I should learn what it's likes and dislikes were. By that, he meant learn what the knife will do easily and what it won't do. It sounds kinda Zen it it's totality but it's true.

   I owned a knife that was spectacular at cutting my flesh and the flesh of others who handled it. It seemed to have a taste for blood. I seldom picked it up when it didn't bite me. I traded that one off to some unsuspecting individual. Heh heh heh!

   I have blades that I use in the woods when I go camping. These are old friends that have never let me down. Like an old family dog, they just beg to be taken out to play and be used. Used to make tent stakes, a pot hanger or splitting some sticks to make a fire. I use them to cut food for the pot and I sometimes even use them to spear a piece of roasted meat straight from the fire and pop it into my mouth! Shown at the top are a BK&T Campanion and a custom skinner from Big Rock Forge.


   I have had knives that were good for nothing other than cutting string and opening packages. Good utility knives are easy to find.

   I have knives that I have purchased and have never used. Seems like a waste of money, but it pleases me. I sit and sharpen the edge of each one. I oil the blades, look at them, buff them up a bit then put them away for the next time.
  
   I have a couple of custom made knives that I specified the design and materials with the makers. One I use frequently and the other is a Drawer Queen... one of those that I just polish and oil and sharpen occasionally (not that it needs it - it's like a razor!) The one shown is from Big Rock Forge and it's a user!
http://www.bigrockforge.com/

  I have folding knives - some inexpensive and some rather pricey. I almost always have a knife of some sort in my pocket when I am out of the house. Like the Chris Reeve Small Sebenza shown to the right. It's one of those things that it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Kinda like a life jacket on a boat, or seat belts in a car. http://www.chrisreeve.com/

   Knives are probably one of Man's oldest tools. As much as the knife has changed over the millenia it still remains basically the same - a sharp piece of material with a way to safely hold it in your hand. The earliest knives were merely pieces or shards of fractured rock. Then man figured out that if he started to knap or chip away at a piece of flint or obsidian, he could get the material sharper than a razor and in a shape that was more useful. The stone blade shown here is one that my Father found as a young man. (The yellow marker is included for size comparison.)

   From this basic concept men have redesigned and reconfigured the knife into more designs, styles and blade lengths than you can shake a stick at. The materials range from rock to the most advanced steels and ceramics. It's mind-boggling to think of the advancements that have been made in the cutlery industry just to improve on the rock knife.

   Being The Geezer, I have seen, held and used a lot of knives. I still see and covet many of the new and a few of the older designs. When I go camping, though... I take my old friends.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bushcraft or Woodsmanship, It's All Good

           

   When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my Dad began to take me fishing with him. In all honesty, I would try to fish and my Dad spent most of his time teaching me how to fish, untangling my line, baiting my hook, untangling the line again and all the time he was patient and never once tried to strangle me!

   As I grew older our trips would become overnight camping-fishing trips. We would likely go to Tony Grove Lake in the mountains north of Logan, Utah. Back then the only way to get to the lake was by way of a single track very rough dirt road. The lake shore was totally primitive camping with only the occasional stone fire ring left by previous campers. Many times we would get there and see a wood pile that we had left from our previous trip. Not a lot of folks went there way back when.

   The last time I was there the State of Utah had built a 2-lane paved road all the way to the lake. The campsites were all US Forest Service standard with picnic tables, fire grills, piped in water and restrooms. You have to pay to camp there now. It's sad. Sometimes improvement is no real improvement if you know what I mean.

   During these campouts, Dad would teach me to build a fire using different methods, to purify water, to track animals, to build a shelter, how to find food by foraging and trapping small game. Basically he gave me the skills to survive in the out-of-doors.

   By the time I was 10 or 11 years old I was able to go into the woods, camp out and provide enough for myself and not have it be too much of a hardship. He would tell me that if I found myself lost or stuck in the woods for whatever reason that I shouldn't panic; it (a survival situation) was just an unplanned camping trip. Having that mindset made it easier for me to adapt to the unexpected.

   Fast forward to my adult life. Since I was a boy I have enjoyed being out in the wilderness (In the Western USA we have a LOT of wilderness). I have enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping. When I was released from the military at the end of my enlistment I took time off to do a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail from Donner Summit to Bishop, California. I took minimal gear and just enough food to supplement what I could forage along the way. I didn't go hungry.

   The next year, 1972, I hiked solo for 3 weeks through what is now the "River of No Return Wilderness Area" in Southern Idaho. During that time I saw two other people in that area but I kept to myself. Those were some of the best days afield I have ever spent.

   I practiced what my Dad called "Woodsmanship". Today it is called "Bushcraft" by modern practitioners. It involves basic and sometimes advanced skills similar to what I was taught as a youngster. Fire building, shelters, water and food procurement. Protection from the elements and overland travel. Some folks would call these "Survival Skills" and they are, but they are more refined and advanced. I say that because survival skills are designed for the short-term survival, whereas bushcraft or woodsmanship skills are honed to the point that they enable the practitioner to make themselves comfortable for a long-term stay in the wilderness.

   Back when I was learning, literally at my father's knee, there were no classes to take and there was no lesson plan to follow; just a patient father teaching his son how to do those things he had learned as a child and had used during his life. Thank's, Dad!

   I currently frequent an online forum called Bushcraft USA (http://www.bushcraftusa.com/) where bushcraft topics are discussed and taught. Lots of good folks there. Many of the members there have not had the experiences or learned the lessons that I was given as a youngster. They frequent this forum to learn these things because they feel that this is something that is good to know. It is a forum where you can have your children read every page. The members are civil and the text is rated PG. I would urge you to take a look if this is something that interests you. (I post under the name 'PMSteve')

   These days I don't get out into the hills as much as I'd like to. Life happens. I still go on the occasional camping trip and intend to do some hunting soon. (I like to call coyotes and see how close I can get them to come before I shoot them).

As I get older I seem to have less time to do the things I enjoyed when I was a young man but the desire is still there to get into the wilderness. I still have the skills and knowledge to do the things I once did, I'm just not as limber. I no longer sleep on the ground in a shelter or a tent. I now use a camping hammock and it makes it easier to go into the wild, knowing that I won't wake up stiff and cold in the morning. ( www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/blackbirds.php )It's the little things that count...



   Being The Geezer isn't easy. My mind says one thing and my body tells me something different. Don't give up your youthful pleasures if you are still able to indulge them once in a while.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Wrong With These Kids Today?

I'll tell you!

   When I was a child and into my early teens, there was so much speculation that children's behaviour was being influenced by "Rock and Roll" music. It was from the Devil!... Little did we know! The music, lyrics, video games, etc. that we have today are so far more damaging to children's behaviour than was ever imagined back in the 50s and 60s.

   But that's not what I wanted to talk about here. What I intended to write about here is really, what is wrong with these kids?

   We have children who suffer from ADD, ADHD, Autism, Food Allergies and any number of other ailments that were never seen when I was a kid.  They may have been present but were classified as "High Strung" or "Inattentive" and were dealt with. There was no "No Child Left Behind" statute. Kids that couldn't cut it were sent to "Special Education" classes or dropped out of school when they got old enough. Someone had to work in car washes and at McDonalds, after all.

   These are all recognized today as legitimate diseases by the medical community. They are treated with drugs rather than taught how to behave in the company of others or given the necessary intensive teaching.

   Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'm a Geezer and I have my own ideas.

   It all stems from the introduction of Credit Cards. WHAT? You heard me. Credit Cards. This is my theory...

   Credit cards were introduced by Diner's Club International in the 1950s. Other organizations like American Express and the major banks followed suit. Soon afterward, the American Family that didn't have at least one credit card was considered "Old Fashioned" or flat out poor.

   So what does this have to do with the childhood diseases of the next millennium? Follow along:

   Credit Cards made it way too easy for a family to get into debt. I'm sure this is no secret to anyone today but in the late 50s and early 60s, family debt was something new. Generally the only major debt were for a house and a car. Now we see families $50,000 in debt for buying clothing and video game systems (on their credit cards). Back then The man of the house was the sole earner. The breadwinner. With the new CC debt, it made it necessary to have two jobs or for the wife and/or mother to go to work and become a two income family. Once a family becomes accustomed to the second income, it is all but impossible to give it up since with more money comes more debt.

   This gave rise to the day care facility and the boom in baby sitters. Someone had to watch the kids while Mom went to work. This caused more and more infants to be fed with "Formula" rather than being breast fed.

   Everyone knows (now) that the infant gets it's immune system fortified by mother's milk through breast feeding. No breast feeding - no immune system upgrades! A weak immune system equals greater instances of childhood disease and a vulnerability to whatever was "Going Around".

   Okay, you say. Some (?) kids do have a lower defense against disease so how does that translate to Autism, ADD, ADHD and so many others?

   As more people entered the job market, they needed transportation and this lead to the two car family. Many more cars on the road translates to more air pollution and more toxins in the air. Food was no longer fresh veggies and meat but pre-packaged mixes and canned goods. Think about the advent of the TV Dinner. They were developed at just about the same time and were beloved of mothers who didn't have time to cook for the family. This new packaged food contained additives to maintain color and was packed with preservatives. These were usually chemicals that had been hastily developed for the purpose. Combine this with a substandard immune system and you have a formula for what we see today. There are other factors that enter into this, I know, but I believe that this is the root cause.

   Parents who don't let their kids play and get dirty is another cause. Modern kids haven't been exposed to germs the way I was when I was a child. It's a way that we become acclimatized to our environment. When I was a child, I'd help in the barn cleaning cow manure from the floor, often using my hands, then go to the apple orchard, pick and eat a green apple then hand a half to my little sister. Never washing my hands in the process or rubbing up with a pocket-sized bottle of Purelle. Germs! Ahhh, lovely germs!

   Today we use antibacterial gel. Now you can get it a dispenser that you don't even have to touch! Air sanitizers, latex gloves for household use so you don't have to touch anything! Heaven forbid that you are one of those who have such a weak system that you're allergic to latex. Some folk's systems are so weak that they have to stay inside and breathe filtered air! We are literally third and fourth generation immune deficient! You can't even go into a hospital these days if you have a cough without wearing a surgical mask! In many countries it's common to see better than half of the population wearing masks on the street and elsewhere in public.

   We have become such a society of germophobes that we are killing ourselves and each other. No wonder the governments of the world have such a fear of biological weapons. Everyone these days are so susceptible to the stray germ that it wouldn't take much to wipe us all out. Films like "Contagion", "28 Days Later" and "The Satan Bug" are more prophetic than grisly entertainment.

   I long for the days when all we had to worry about was Rock and Roll music.

   Honestly, I'm a Geezer and not a Doctor, so what do I know?

   In any case, The Geezer thinks that the world would be a better place if parents would let their children go outside and play (and get dirty). Even a better place if there were no more credit cards! What do you think?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's Up With All the Vampires?

   When I was a child (around 12 years of age) I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Probably one of the creepiest novels that I had ever read. I'd seen the movie that was made in the 30s with Bela Lugosi but I'd never realized that it had come from a book. When I found out, I couldn't wait to read it.

   Then I found out that other classic horror movies were from books and I read them also. Books like "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. I loved (and still do love) scary movies! There's something fundamental about being frightened and startled. It's exhilarating!

   These days scary movies are more slasher movies than anything "Artful" like in the olden days, back before the turn of the century. Before I became The Geezer.

   Lately there has been such a plethora of vampire-themed films, TV programs and books that are anything but scary. They are marketed as horror-romance stories. What the heck is going on? What's up with that? Why women find the idea of some un-dead freak sucking their blood until they die sexy or romantic is beyond me. I'm from a different generation but I'll attempt to figure this all out. Just stick with me for a minute or two, okay?

   Some of the more recent vampire films that I've seen that I care to comment on are Ann Rice's "Diary of a Vampire" which I found kinda funny and a bit gritty in the way the "Vampire Life(?)" was portrayed. I liked the Dracula films  which starred Jack Pallance in one, and Frank Langella in the other. Both were fairly faithful to the original book. Another that I liked was "Shadow of the Vampire" with Willem DaFoe. Creepy, that!

   On TV we have the "Vampire Chronicles", "True Blood" and "Being Human". I just found another one! "My Babysitter's a Vampire". Really?... There are others, I'm sure but I just am not interested enough to search them out. Then there are the "Twilight" films which portray vampires differently than the classic bloodsucker. If you're going to have vampire stories, stick to the rules! Vampires don't "Glisten" in the sunlight, they burst into flames! Read Dracula!

   Most females from little girls to grown women (who should know better) swoon at the thought of being with the "Twilight" vamps. Yechh!

   It's my belief, and this is totally unsupported by anything but my own thoughts, that society today teaches young women that they have to be unique or special somehow in order to be someone of worth. To be loved and valued. They believe that if you can't be beautiful you have to be special. How can you be more special than to be a vampire? ....  Really? Vampires suck.

   Think about it. You never see a movie, TV program or magazine without beautiful girls and women on the covers, as the main character. TV commercials seldom show women and girls who are plain unless it's the "Before" picture in some kind of comparison. Makeover programs depend on this fact. No one would watch if they took a plain looking girl and made her over into... a plain girl. Everyone wants to be special.

   If any girls or young women read this, please understand - You Are Special! You Are Unique! You are someone worth knowing! You are someone who is worthy of someone else's love!

   Don't pin your hopes and dreams on a vampire coming to your rescue and sweeping you away to a life filled with romance. It won't happen. Vampires don't exist. Honest! They really don't!  (Zombies on the other hand....)

   I have been married to my wonderful wife for almost 35 years. If I can find love and happiness and have it last this long, looking the way I do... well, I'm positive that you certainly can!

   If you want to read some words of wisdom from a very talented lady check out Le Petite Crone's Musings (Le Petite Crone means The Little Old Lady). You'll see her link on the right hand side of this screen in My Blog List. I've known her all her life. Actually, I once dropped her on her head when she was a baby. It explains a lot. She's my little Sister.

   Take it from The Geezer: If you want to be unique and special, girls and boys, develop your own skills. Stay in school. Get a good education. Take up a career doing something to improve your life and the lives of those around you. Do that and I guarantee, you'll be remembered. What could be more special than THAT?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Really (really) Random Thoughts

   I'm a member on a couple of different forums. It often amuses me when I see a particularly amusing quotes in the signature line. Here are four that I sometimes see:

"Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life"...      Dante
 
"The problem with quotations on the Internet is that you can never tell if they're authentic"...      Abraham Lincoln

"Mumrff abroonnsh arff fringhet karfoomp"...       Helen Keller

"Never knock at Death's door. Just ring the bell and run away. He hates that!" ...  Methusula

   Yeah, I know. They may not be politically correct but I don't care... They're funny, huh?

   It's the end of September and Autumn is here. I didn't get to do a lot of the things that I would have liked this past summer. Sometimes life gets in the way of fun and you gotta do what you gotta do. You know?

                                       *****
                               
   Now seriously:

   The recent death of the AlQueda leader Anwar al Awlaki (?), who had been under surveillance for upward of six months seems to have met his demise just when a few political points needed to be made in Washington, D.C. for Big O. Coincidence? Don't think so. A ruckus will be made since the guy was an American Citizen, regardless of his actions and politics, is it okay for the Government to assinate one of it's own on foreign soil? Really?

   Now that the economy is in the crapper, we see more and more inducements in the media to continue school or to go back to school for higher education. May as well keep the teachers working and the students away from the unemployment lines. That'll work...

   The border wars with the Mexican Drug cartels is reaching actual "Warlike" status as shooting deaths on both sides of the border with Mexico are on the increase. Let's put the jobless to work. This is all but a shooting war, undeclared as it is. Nothing that a bit of firepower wouldn't cure.

   The greening of left wing America. Everyone wants to "Save the Planet". Really? If we even tried to, we couldn't do the planet that much harm. What the environmentalists proclaim as a "Hole in the Ozone Layer" and "Global Warming" are natural occurrences that have happened before and will happen again. These are just a part of the natural life-cycle of planet Earth. It's just that no one was around the last time who knew what was happening. Studies of the rings in ancient Bristlecone Pine trees show that this has happened before, so let's not get our pantyhose in a bunch. (I wonder where that phrase came from?).

   I'm ashamed that I know where the phrase "Dog and Pony Show" originates. You hear it used all over in the media and in conversations from coast to coast. If everyone knew the origins they'd be ashamed to use it in public or mixed company (that dates me, right there).
   The origin: In the 30s and 40s in towns just over the Mexican border, where servicemen would go to spend their money whilst on leave, they would find a "Dog and Pony Show". That would involve those animals and a woman (usually an older prostitute) who really needed the money. Not a nice picture, but that's a dog and pony show. Now that you know, you can eliminate it from your vocabulary.

Take it from The Geezer: Sometimes folks do things for strange reasons that aren't always apparent. It pays to do a bit of homework to keep yourselves informed.

Edited: 10/7/11 to include 4th quote.



  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollywood Movie Remakes

   I hate it when Hollywood comes out with a "Remake" of a previously made feature flick.

   The latest that I've seen advertised is for the "New Footloose" as if the old one was anything to write home about!

   Some movies that I can recall that have been "Remade" are these: "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "The Incredible Hulk", "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "Titanic" (under various names), "True Grit", the first three "Star Wars" movies were "Re-Introduced" with upgrades and previously deleted scenes. "Cleopatra" has been remade at least 3 times and I read that a 4th remake starring Angelina Jolie is coming up. I know. You can't wait.

   I'm sure that you can think of many more than I can since I'm a Geezer and my memory is slipping down a steep slope. (Say that 10 times real fast!)

   I turned the television on and watched a recent Science Fiction film that had a very familiar theme and then it struck me that it was a remake of "Dances With Wolves". I've seen this film about four times and this is the first time I made the connection. Both films are about a disenfranchised soldier who goes to the frontier and is accepted by the natives, falls in love with a native girl and finally fights against his own kind after being assimilated into the native culture. The film I'm talking about, of course is "Avatar".

   I actually liked both of these films and have them on VHS and DVD.

   There have been many films that are modern updates of Shakespeare plays but you can't really call them "remakes" since the media are different. I get it that new ideas are really scarce in Hollywood these days and they have to resort to the remake. I get that. Really!

   What I don't understand is why no one is making movies from any of the thousands of books that have strong and exciting stories that seem to be ideal for a film. 

   How many times have you read a book and thought, "Boy, someone should make a movie out of this"? It actually happened to a favorite book that I've read: "Jumper" by Steven Gould. The movie was so far from the original story so as to be unrecognizable. It sucked! It would have been better if they had made it word for word from the book!

Take it from The Geezer: The silver screen isn't what it used to be. It should be called the "Green Screen" because that's what the Hollywood movers and shakers are really after! Your green.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Being a Veteran

   I am a veteran of the US Coast Guard. I served for four years, from 1967 to 1971.

   One time when coming back to my duty station from leave, a dirty little Hippie Chick threw a cup full of urine on me and called me a "Baby Killer" at the Oakland, California airport. She was arrested. Still, of all the good times and great duty stations I enjoyed, unfortunately, that memory is the one I'll always remember.

   The veterans of World War II and the Korean War have been dubbed the "Greatest Generation". A very well deserved title, in my opinion.

   Apparently I was a member of the "Baby Killer" generation. In fact the only baby I had contact with was one I helped deliver on a disabled sailboat in San Francisco Bay. He was fine the last I saw of him. He'd be about 41 now. Maybe it was you. Ask your mom.

   The young men and women serving in the armed forces today are called Heroes. They are Heroes and they deserve the recognition. The fact is, I have mixed feelings about the way they are treated. They deserve the attention but I'm jealous. I wish that instead of a cuppa urine, I had received a hug or a 'thank you'.

   Now for something that really upsets me. It's this: Non-Profit organizations that help vets and their families such as the Wounded Warrior Project, or the Jericho Project or Hire Heroes USA. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't upset me that these organizations and others like them exist. It upsets me that they are NEEDED!

   This country and it's leaders should be ashamed of themselves that these young men and women who have served and because of that service are in need of medical, financial and housing assistance have to rely on "The Kindness of Strangers" as Blanche DuBois sweetly put it. It's sad, but there it is.

   These vets handed their country a blank check, payable for up to and including their lives for the next four or two or six years. How many corporate executives or teenage dishwashers would tell their boss that they'd work for the next four years and if it became necessary, they'd give their lives for the employer? That's what these kids do and are doing every day.

   Many Vets are having to foot the bill for their own medical expenses for injuries received while in the service of their country. Why? Why do we have Vets who are homeless or out of work? Shameless!

   I've been very fortunate to have found gainful employment following my service. I have made a good living. I own my home and for the most part, I'm out of debt. Our country puts these kids in harm's way and in too many instances, turns it's back on them when they need help the most. It's a pretty one-sided arrangement, if you ask me.

   Addition - 9/23/11: Last night I watched the Letterman show. He interviewed USMC Sgt. Dakota Meyer who was just awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His recuiter told him that he "didn't have what it takes to become a Marine". The Sgt saved the lives of 39 US and Afghani soldiers. The country needs more kids like Dakota Meyer.

Take it from The Geezer: The Government should stop paying $16 for a muffin and $10 for a cookie and put the money saved toward helping our Vets in need!

http://www.jerichoproject.org/
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
http://www.hireheroesusa.org/

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

These Things Really Drive Me Nuts!

   Everyone has their pet peeves.

   You know, those things that others do or say that just get under your skin. Those little things that make you just want to grab someone by the neck and choke them till they stop wiggling. Okay, maybe in your mind but not really... (unless no one was looking).

   Pet peeves usually fall into two categories:  Things people do and things people say. Let's talk about the things that people do that I find very annoying.

   Here in Nevada we have a lot of wide open space. Where I live is 70 miles from the next town over. Long straight stretches of road lie between here and there. 

   I hate it when another car passes me and they can see for a mile ahead that there is no other car coming but yet they find it necessary to pull directly in front of my vehicle causing me to have to slow down to keep from tailgating. Hate it. (It also seems like they're all from the Left Coast.)

   I hate it when I have to listen to one side of someone else's cell phone conversation. Why do they feel the need to inflict their perceived importance upon society as a whole and me personally?  Yes, I hate it.

   Another thing I really hate is when some young (whippersnapper) kid drives around slowly with their stereo blaring through their sub-woofers so loud that you can see their entire vehicle vibrate with the noise! How do they keep the fenders from vibrating loose? Yeah, I hate that too!

   Let's go to the things that people say that irritate me (time to open the flood gates!).

   I feel that I've had a pretty comprehensive education. Through high school and a few years of college. An education.

   Listen to the commercials on the tube for on-line colleges and universities. The announcers always pronounce the word 'Education' as if it has a 'G' or a 'J' in it: "Ed-Ja-Kay-Shun"!
  
   Really? It's "Ed-You-Kay-Shun" you morons! Get one!
  
   It really bothers me when some folks misuse words. They think the word means one thing when it actually means something else.
   As an example: The word "Decimate" as in "The enemy army was decimated". The literal meaning of the word "Decimate" means to reduce something by 10%.
   Common usage makes it out to mean that a force was completely wiped out. Maybe so, but it sounds strange to me.

   The words "Continual" and "Continuous" do not mean the same thing. They are not interchangeable. Another example of this is "Farther" and "Further". The one that really gets me is the misuse of "Imply" and "Infer". The speaker implies and the listener infers. Simple. Learn it!

   The last example of word misuse is one that I hear so often that I almost don't even pay attention to it anymore: "Difficult" and "Hard". Hard is almost always substituted for difficult. "Difficult" applies to a strenuous or non-easy task. "Hard" refers to a tactile sensation. Otherwise many men would get difficult-ons. See? they're not interchangeable.

   That wasn't too hard, was it?

   Okay, this last example has to do not so much with the words themselves but with the way they're delivered. I'm referring to what I call the "Declarative-Interrogative" statement.

   You've heard it before. Lots of times. You may even use it yourself. It occurs when someone makes a statement but ends it with the uprising lilt at the end which would indicate that it was a question when it actually isn't. As if the speaker is telling you something in a way that they're not quite sure that you understand them, or are following their train of thought and they're constantly checking to see if you are still with them.
  
   It's difficult to actually write an example of this kind of speech since the printed word doesn't lend itself well to speech inflections. The best example I can give is to watch the movie "Valley Girl". Yeah, it's the valley girl accent.

   I'm very sure that I will think of an entire new list of pet peeves as soon as I post this and that in itself is one of my pet peeves. I'm a Geezer and my memory isn't all that it once was. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember things - difficult, too!

   Take it from The Geezer: Old age isn't what it's cracked up to be but at least I'm retired!

Edit: 9/16/11 - I knew I'd think of more!

   Another thing I hate is when at some sporting event, some "Celebrity" sings the US National Anthem and puts their own "interpretation" on it. Usually making it sound like some Rock or Soul version. Sing it like it's written and show some respect! Please?

  

   .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Them So-Called "Social Networks"

   If you have a computer (you do) and you're reading this (you are) you will see at the bottom of my posts, links to the "Social Networks". You know the ones. They even made a movie about the biggest one. It did well.

   These sites are the foundation of social interaction for literally millions of people. They enable the younger generations (or any generation) to interact in a way that the world has never before seen. A person in rural America can have "friends" in every country of the world. What a miraculous device!

   Have you seen the car commercial on TV (in the USA) where a girl's parents are out having fun with their friends while the daughter sits at home in front of her computer mocking her parents. She says: "I have 632 'friends'. This is living".

  Sorry. That is not living. That is becoming a shut-in slave to a computer screen. The Social Networks have enabled many folks to abstain from true social interaction in favor of a few icons on a screen and a bit of text. These are called friends. In my opinion, if you can't shake another person's hand or look into their eyes as you speak, you shouldn't call them your friends.

   How many times have we heard of underage children falling prey to someone they met on the Internet in some chat room? You really never know who you're talking to. You just don't.

   For all you know, I could be some under-tall senior citizen from Nevada... Oh yeah. I am... I could also be an internationally famous celebrity and have more money that Croesus (I wish!). The point is, I could be anyone. Lucky for you, I'm just me.

   I watched a program yesterday ( The Dr. Phil Show - I'm retired. I have a lot of free time, okay?). He featured a school teacher who was the victim of a couple of students who had used one of the Social Networks to spread vile rumors about the her. She was suing the students and their parents.

   The question was raised: "Why do you have to sue? Why can't this be settled through the school disciplinary system?"  The answer, of course is that if this had happened 25 years ago and the incident was based upon a few paper notes being passed in the classroom, it could have been handled in a low-key manner. 

   The Internet makes it difficult to turn a blind eye. Paper notes can be stopped. The Internet makes it possible to spread idle gossip to a world wide audience. Unfortunately, most everyone will believe what they read on the Internet. Remember that everyone who has access to a computer can have access to everything you write.

   Everything.

   I started my Blog just a few days ago and I've already had readers from Canada, Germany and India. (Wow! I'm Famous)  Once you write something and press the "Send" or "Submit" button on your computer it becomes the personal knowledge of everyone who has access to a computer. I'm here to tell you that there's a lot of computers out there.

   Listen to The Geezer: If you don't want everyone to know your secrets, and everyone has them, don't put them on your computer and push "Send". Also, please be careful who you share your life with. If you haven't met them in person, they're not really your friends.

Really, they're not.


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