Politics, Religion and The Great Pumpkin

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” —- Linus VanPelt.

I live by this quote.  Why?  Because I have learned I can share my opinions on these topics but if the person you are sharing said opinions with doesn’t feel the same way you can open up a Pandora’s Box and end up in a 3 hour argument.  No I’m not kidding!!  I’ve been close to a knock down drag out fight over the Great Pumpkin.

WARNING:  That being said this blog may be very complicated to write without interjecting my opinion’s related to religion and politics. Normally I would call this a ‘Random Thought’ post because several of these topics have nothing to do with each other.  So buckle up buttercup here we go.

I have so many tabs opened up on my browser now that the Norton alert has told me to shut a few down.  I would ace CURRENT EVENTS day in social studies with these:

1.  Billy Ray Cyrus.  (HA! thought I was going to go all anti-Miley on you didn’t you?)  So in the wake of his daughters VMA performance, I’m wondering if he will be kicked off of the Advisory Board of the Parent’s Television Council?  Yes he really is on the board advocating “to protect children from graphic and gratuitous programming and to restore responsibility to the entertainment industry.” Nope not kidding, check out the link here:   http://w2.parentstv.org/main/About/AdvisoryBoard.aspx.  Because nothing says “HIPOCRIT” quite like being on a board to prevent lewdness on television and then have your barely adult daughter go on television and “Twerk” and sexual violate a foam finger and a married man.  Maybe… just maybe if you want to prevent lewdness on TV you should start in your home.  Glass houses and stones… two very tricky things Billy Ray.

2.  Starbucks.  Yay Starbucks!  In an article on CNN Money, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz has stated that he doesn’t plan on cutting any employee benefits in light of upcoming changes with the Obamacare plan.  Unlike the majority of companies country-wide (and yes local and state governments too) who have cut hours, and decreased benefits to maintain their bottom lines, Starbucks is going the extra mile for employees.  “It’s not about the law. It’s about responsibility we have to the people who do work and who represent us,” Schultz told CNN on Tuesday.  Starbucks  currently pays more for employee benefits than it does for coffee.  And they don’t plan on changing that.  Who wants to work for Starbucks???  ME!!!  What would it be like if your employer saw that how they treat you as an employee directly relates to how you treat customers?  MIND BLOWING CONCEPT (not)!!!  Check out the article here: http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/27/news/companies/starbucks-obamacare-schultz/index.html.  And someone get me a Venti Carmel Macchiato!!

3. “I have a dream.”  Today being the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous speech on the Washington Mall I want to take time to point out one part of his speech that seems to have been forgotten.  “….but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”  Let me let that sink in a bit….. the content of their character.  Now before someone shouts racist or compares me to Paula Deen, let me explain.  I believe whole heartedly in what Dr. King said, judge people by the content of the character and not the color of the skin.  The problem today is  (at least for me) not the color of someone’s skin as much as the content of their character.  I work in emergency services which means I deal with people of all different races, religions, sexes, ages, disabilities and sexual orientations, and I treat each one the same.  Don’t believe me?  Remember I answer a phone, I can’t see the person I’m talking to.  But trust me in all these “categories” there are persons who have character and there are those who don’t.  911 is one of the most under utilized sociology tools around.  I dare any award-winning sociologist to come spend a day with me.  You will get an eye-opening view of human beings that you have never experienced before.  (Ok so I’m starting to push the religion/politics thing here — and I purposely avoided the Obamacare issue above – damn).  Rest in Peace Martin Luther King Jr. — you will always be one of my favorite historical figures and one of my favorite persons to quote!  Side note:  I grew up in the wrong era, I would have rocked the 60’s!!

Moving on to the final topic — which truly has no religious or political ties…………

4. Twerking.  This bothers me.  The name alone bothers me. When I first saw the name I honestly thought it had something to do with being the “master of your own domain.”  (For younger readers, it’s a thing from Seinfeld — Google it.)  Wikipedia defines it as,  “a dance move that involves a person, usually a woman, shaking her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle.”  Hmmmm …… lets see where do I even begin?  OK so lets start with the obvious, most women don’t need a dance move to get their ass to shake, wobble and jiggle.  Mine does that walking across the living room.  Next, speaking as a woman who wears Spanx to control the shake, wobble and jiggle, why the hell would you purposely do a dance to make the junk in your trunk jiggle?  And mostly when they start twerking, they bend over and touch the floor making the jiggling, shaking and wobbling ass the focal point.  WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS???  A) not sure I can touch the floor and dance at the same time B) If I did this it would give my dance partners nightmares for years C) trying to gyrate my hips while wildly making my ass shake, jiggle and wobble while touching the floor would end with a trip to the ER.  OK so it’s a dance move for a younger generation for sure, but they need to know that it doesn’t look attractive or sexy in any way shape or form (even for the skinny girls — Miley’s ass looked like two piglets fighting to get out of plastic bag — NOT attractive!)  Ok full disclosure I may be somewhat bitter about Miley because she’s worth $120 million — several thousand of which I contributed to buying a bunch of Hannah Montana crap for a star struck 5-year-old. Halloween 2007….. She had to be Hannah!

halloween001

This year she wants to be Katy Perry:

katy perry

Tiger sports bra, Flame boxers, French braids and tube socks …. check!

Oh my! I started this blog with coffee (still waiting on that Carmel Macchiato — adds to the jiggle) and I’m ending it with wine.  My brain feels like a ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel!  (I sent that in a text to my mom earlier this week but it was too good not to share with the world).

Love to Linus and the Great Pumpkin.  Goodnight!

linus

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My Blissful Fish flopped out of my Bucket…. Now What?

happy-fish-bone-md

I’m going to share with you my “bliss list.”  These are 15 things that make me happy or that I enjoy doing.

15 Things that make me happy:

 

1.  Writing – blog is easiest… book ideas come to me a lot but they are a lot harder to get from idea to paper

2.  Reading – fiction because I like to see other writers styles and how they create characters

3.  Watching movies (and TV shows – see above re: fiction)

4.  Photography

5.  Doing crafts/art (computer graphics too)

6.  Cooking and baking – like trying new recipes

7.  Travelling – seeing new places

8.  Watching the kids do activities like sports etc..

9.  Spending time with Dave on our days off together

10.  Sundays at my moms

11.  Participating in fundraisers (like the golf tournaments, BINGO)

12.  Delivering Meals on Wheels

13.  Animals (spending time with dogs etc… visiting zoo’s… wildlife)

14.  Computer/Phone games (scrabble, scramble, diner dash, crosswords)

15.  Spending time together as a family…usually doing one of the activities above

 

This was the first part of the book called The Bliss List by JP Hansen.  Write down 15 things that make you happy.  Then use these 15 things to find your dream job.  I kind of “failed” the 15 things by the way.  After I made my list I continued reading only to find that my list, in comparison with the examples listed, seemed simple.  Some of the example lists included things like “giving people hope” and “having time to exercise 3 times a week” and “being part of a spiritual leader’s network” and “completing __________ degree.”  My list was supposed to include things that challenge me and set higher goals for me.  WHAT????  The original instructions just said: “simply write what makes you feel the happiest.”  Those 15 things are what make me happy.

After feeling generally disappointed in myself I stopped reading for a few days.  Grumbling about the title of the book and basically complaining because I felt like it was supposed to be my “bliss list” so why was I made to feel inadequate by the examples given. Forcing myself the whole time I continued to read – maybe I should have put “NOT A QUITTER” on my list.  It got better – talking about having a positive attitude and meditation and visualizing your dream job.  More list making like: write your dream job based on your list, write down what skills you already possess and then what skills you need to accomplish your dream job.  My “dream” job reads something like this:

Create my own photo journal magazine featuring articles on travel, cooking, fiction, movies and animals.

It was either that or:  Travelling food truck with an accompanying blog including photos of the travels and food (but I have to be home every Sunday to be at my mom’s).  Maybe even a TV show featuring my travelling food truck on the Food Network.  And really, a TV show that followed me to Sunday at G’ma’s would be really entertaining. 

What skills do I possess?  All of them… photography and writing being the top two.  What skills do I lack?  Not really a skill but …. Financing.  As is typical with all my brilliant ideas.  Again feeling disappointed I quit reading for a few days.  Determined to finish the book I pushed myself to keep reading.

The next portion of the book was the “six spokes of bliss.”  You get to grade yourself on 6 areas:  Relational, Financial, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual.  I scored 20….. Out of 60.  It was at this point I told my husband I just didn’t think these self-help books worked for me.  That’s when we came up with the idea that I should write my own book called “My Blissful Fish flopped out of my Bucket…. Now What?”

The title is based on the several books I’ve recently read on ways to improve your work life and/or find a different job:  Fish!, How Full is Your Bucket? and The Bliss List. The first one I read was Fish! It was a good book, didn’t once quit reading it.  Arming myself with its principles of choosing my attitude, being there (meaning focusing on your work), playing (having fun) and motivating others, I went to work for several months determined to make these ideas work. The problem is that this book was geared for managers to implement a program for their employees and I’m not a manager.  And if your manager isn’t implementing these ideas then your co-workers think you’re crazy for trying to push some new wave ideas on them.  After Fish! failed me, I went to How Full Is Your Bucket? This concept is that everyone has a bucket and you can either dip from someone’s bucket (being mean, negative) or fill their bucket (being nice).  Same basic problem as Fish!, if the management isn’t implementing it the coworkers aren’t buying it.

I tried to imagine what it would be like if my Director said we were implementing the concepts of one of these books; the eye-rolling and sarcastic comments that would follow.  That’s when I realized that no matter how you spin it being a 911 Operator cannot be positive. Let’s face it, people call 911 when they are in trouble or need help not because they are having a great day.  911 operators get cussed at, yelled at and argued with on the daily.  You have to have tough skin but at the same time be empathetic.  It’s a hard balance to master and even once you master it it’s hard to maintain that balance on a daily basis.  Filling and dipping buckets really doesn’t work in this business because there’s a lot of dipping and not so much filling.  The Fish! concept is probably the best but it would still be a struggle to get it to take off and get all the employees to buy into it.

That’s when I thought “CAREER CHANGE!!”  That’s when I bought The Bliss List. And that’s why I’m now at “NOW WHAT??”  Don’t get me wrong I see a lot of potential “real” jobs in my list of 15 things. Blogger, Author, Photographer, Graphic Designer, Chef/Baker (I really like the food truck idea), Animal Rescue, Zookeeper, Movie Critic, Television Critic, Not-for-profit Fundraiser, Writer for Travel magazine, REALITY TV STAR!!!  I’m telling your my family is way more entertaining than the Kardashians.  “Sunday’s at Mom’s” could soooooo be a hit show.  Oh yeah did I mention The Bliss List says not to watch TV.  Such an epic fail for me!

Right now I’m just chugging along; trying to find a way to turn one of my 15 things to turn into a career.  It’s not quite as easy for me as it is for The Bliss List author who is a millionaire (ok.. self-made millionaire) or his clients he references who have things like ocean front houses and take 3 month-long trips to Italy.  I can’t just quit my job and pursue a writing career which may not work out.  I must have a guaranteed regular income because I don’t have a trust fund or even a decent savings account to rely on if my venture doesn’t work.

So …. My Blissful Fish Flopped out of My Bucket…. Now What?  Accepting (positive) suggestions here:

Code of Conduct

I was reading through the Code of Conduct policy for athletes at my son’s school.  Mostly because during parent orientation last week the athletic director got up and spoke briefly about what they expect of student athletes.  The sentence that grabbed my attention was, “We expect our athletes to be model citizens 365 days a year.”

We expect our athletes to be model citizens 365 days a year.

Hello….. Roger Goodell…. This might be a policy you want to initiate.  Bud Selig and David Stern you might want to take note also.

My son plays high school soccer.  He is expected for 365 days a year not to do any kind of drugs – including alcohol and tobacco because he’s a minor.  He cannot be arrested or have any type of police report filed against him whether he is charged with a crime or not.  He also cannot commit any act of delinquency nor have any major violations of the student handbook. 365 days a year, not just during the season.  If he violates any of these policies he’s placed on probation for 1 year and cannot return to playing for 4 weeks and has to complete school approved counseling at his own (i.e. parents) expense.  That’s for the first violation.  The 2nd violation is a suspension from all extracurricular activities for 1 year.  The 2nd violation also requires more parental funded counseling and if the violation involves drug/alcohol use:  a clean drug test (also at the parent’s expense) and a second clean drug test at the end of the suspension. 3rd violation = 3 strikes and you’re out.  That seems like a rule the MLB should be able to comprehend.

My son is not a bad kid so these rules aren’t really hard for him to follow.  Now that I have typed that sentence I feel like I’m jinxing myself somehow, but anyway, he should be able to follow those rules for four years without much concentrated effort.  This level of responsible behavior is expected from a teenager, yet we can’t expect the same responsible behavior from adult athletes.  Well I think we as a society expect this from adult athletes even though the organizations that employ them don’t seem to.

Don’t get me wrong all of the professional sports organizations have their share of athletes who are good role models and do succeed at being good citizens year round.  Unfortunately anything they are doing good for their communities they bad-boy team mates are erasing with their arrests and allegations dominating the headlines.

I’m going to specifically pick on the NFL – not a particularly original topic as every blogger in the world has picked on them this year as their organization is an easy target right now.  31 players arrested since February.  Most of them arrested on charges involving drugs or alcohol, weapons and assault and battery.  One of them the infamous Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones.  He was arrested for assault after allegedly punching a woman at a bar.  He states it was self-defense because the woman hit him with a beer bottle after he turned down her request for a picture.  What did the NFL do?  They released a statement saying they stand behind him and they support him and to top it off they had him speak at a symposium for the NFL Rookies.  Here’s a quote from his speech:

 “I can’t control what people say, or what people’s opinion is.  But who are you to judge or say how I’ve grown or what I’ve done. … I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing, being a great father and doing good in the community and keep my head straight and keep doing like I’ve been doing.”

Yep – because punching a woman at a bar demonstrates ‘doing good in the community,’ and ‘being a great father.’  Here’s a tip Pacman, a) let her take the damn picture or b) if you don’t let her take the picture and she hits you with a beer bottle —- WALK AWAY!  Because had you done a) there would be no headline or b) the headline reads “Pacman Jones assaulted by crazy fan at bar” instead of “Pacman Jones arrested for hitting a female at a bar.”

But the NFL, “stands behind and supports” Pacman.  WHAT!?!?!  If Pacman was in high school he’d be missing the first 4 weeks of play, he’d be on school probation for a year and he’d have to submit a clean drug test and complete counseling.  To be fair, several of the arrested players were fired by the individual team owners, but only because the owners made those decisions and not because the NFL was involved.

So my big question here is how come these millionaire athletes have zero expectations of being good citizens?  Do the organizations just say here’s a multi-million dollar contract with no clauses in it concerning if you get arrested or do drugs or punch some psycho chick at a bar.  Where do I sign? Because if I hit some chick in a bar and got arrested – my employer would fire me with no questions asked and they certainly wouldn’t stand behind me no matter what my version of the incident was because when I was hired it was with the understanding that I’m supposed to be a model citizen.  And model citizens don’t get arrested.  Model citizens don’t put themselves in a position where they might be arrested.  It’s about making choices.

You would think that an off-season with 31 players arrested (one on murder charges) would be a wake up call for the NFL.  But instead of putting into place some type of no tolerance policy or even addressing that there is a problem all they have done is launch a diversionary PR campaign called “Back to Football.”

Here’s hoping the younger generation of up and coming athletes learn early on that they need to be role models instead of headlines.