Category Archives: observations

things I see and must speak on, son!

No more shouting at the wind: why I deleted social media from my phone

social media icons

In the early days of social media, we jumped from one network to the next. What was once new hotness became old and busted (I’m keeping it 2018 with my Men in Black reference), and we moved on to the next one like an angsty teen. From Myspace to Friendster to Google Buzz (and probably a bunch of other ones I’ve forgotten), Social Media has now been around for over a decade. Then, as platforms evolved and we settled in to The New Normal of Facebook Twitter and Instagram (oh Google Plus, you hang in there!), I’ve tried to engage, but it hasn’t gone so well.

In my personal experience, Facebook is the official website of finding out which of your old friends from high school are racist, are open to living under a fascist dictatorship (“We should postpone the next election until all the illegal voting stops!”) and/or can’t seem to make an inference (“I know this story sounds far-fetched, but the website my new friend Sergei linked to looks so real!”) as well as what they had for dinner last night. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before Mark Zuckerberg had to testify in front of Congress because a foreign intelligence agency used his business to muck with American democracy, the folks at Facebook development realize they could track us (and gather information for its advertising platform) much better with an app rather than the simple convenience of a mobile site, so Facebook started asking you to download the messenger app, the Facebook app and whatever the hell else. For some reason, the fact that I could simply switch to desktop mode on my phone’s mobile browser and circumvent their nonsense really annoyed me, and my minimal use a Facebook dwindled to non-existent.

Yes, the photos of people’s dinner got old quickly, but that was a far cry compared with what was to come. You know what I’m talking about: the negative behavior feedback loops, the tracking, the fake news story links, the advertising, and so on. And Facebook’s not the only one.

In terms of user experience and content, I do like Twitter. Lots of easily digestible content from interesting people. For some reason, it doesn’t seem like a lot of people I grew up with are on Twitter, so there’s no pressure to like Little Johnny’s video of his ceremony celebrating moving from green belt to brown belt, “I made a pie FROM SCRATCH!” and that sort of thing. But I find that Twitter has all the same problems as Facebook with a lot more stranger danger. I’m nobody, this website’s reach is bodaciously a small, so I don’t think that has anything to do with the way people treat me on Twitter, and yeah, it’s not exactly great. The interaction is fine with people I know, but man, strangers will just let you have it and they don’t care if they’re right. Of course, you’ve also got your bots and trolls (particularly the ones employed by governments) also muddying up the waters . I don’t need to get yelled at by some stranger – whether he’s in idiot, a program or a foreign intelligence agent, I just don’t have time for this. My threshold for news and entertainment just got higher and my Twitter use dwindled.

Instagram seemed like the answer. I like taking pictures, I like looking at pictures and the fact that you can view and share them electronically means there’s no hard copy to produce and store. This seemed like the perfect option for me, but again, I just got bored with the content and annoyed with my own photos. I started to feel like I was taking pictures for Instagram instead of myself and that was the end of that.

App deleted.

Initially, I thought this was just me on another quest to find a social media network that fit. I left Facebook for Twitter and then Twitter for Instagram, but then wandered back to Twitter. Just the other day, somebody responded to an innocuous reply with the usual vitriolic nonsense and I was fed up. I deleted the Twitter app and haven’t looked back.

In the end, I didn’t delete any of my social media accounts, I just stopped using them and deleted the links and apps from my phone. This website automatically drops notifications for each post, so since I don’t have to post anything manually, that will continue, but that’s pretty much it. Social networking can be a valuable Communications tool and a lot of fun for many, but right now, it seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth in every possible sense – at least for me. There’s the many sins these companies have committed, a lack of interesting content and the fact that it seems as though there is little going on to change this other than the costly Facebook apology commercial airing on cable television.

#MarchForOurLives in Hackensack, NJ

#MarchForOurLives in Hackensack, nj

Now that I’ve graduated to my mid/late thirties, I’m more aware than ever that today’s kids are growing up differently than I did. This isn’t going to turn into a, “when I was your age” diatribe because I also understand that I grew up differently than my parents, who came of age during the era of “duck and cover.”

“Can you imagine?” I used to say. “It’s NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON, the world is coming to an end, everybody get under your desk! That’ll do it.” You see, I was used to fire drills – there is a simple logic that applies to a fire in any building. “The building is on fire, so let’s get out of the building.” There’s dozens of reasons a fire could start in a structure and there’s really only one that’s malicious, so a fire drill didn’t exactly strike fear into my heart. But my parents and now kids today face a threat I can scarcely imagine.

#MarchForOurLives in Hackensack, nj

That’s the thing that really struck me about the speeches at the #MarchForOurLives event I attended in Hackensack, New Jersey. When these kids got up to speak -these seniors, juniors and even a freshman in high school came up to the microphone – they all talked a lot about the drills. These kids have grown up in the era of the active shooter drill, the lockdown drill. This is a totally foreign experience to me. When I was a kid all the way through grade school, we’d have random fire drills. The school bell wood ring in a tick-tick-tick emergency fashion and we’d all get up walk out of the classroom, down the hall, out on to the sidewalk and stand around for a while until some administrator waved us back in. That’s it. These children brought me up to speed: an announcement comes over the PA that the school is in lockdown mode and each classroom begins the procedure. They close the door and lock it. They draw all the window shades. They hide the kids in a corner or in a closet. And then they wait. They wait and they wait and they wait. They wait for an all clear because these kids say that they never know if it’s a drill or if it’s the real thing. I guess I didn’t either when it came to fire drills, but school fires are a rare things. You knew it probably wasn’t a fire. Anybody who even casually pays attention to the news knows that anytime a school goes into lockdown, the unspeakable could be happening.

#MarchForOurLives in Hackensack, nj

This isn’t something that these children think about just when a tragedy occurs – this is something they deal with every day.  They have to get up each morning and face their fears – that they could become another story on the news.  One of these young speakers talked about how they didn’t worry about the results of a test because they figured there was a chance they wouldn’t be alive to receive them.  Another joked that all they wanted to worry about at school was test scores, project grades and what the cafeteria was serving for lunch.  And that’s how it should be.

Unfortunately, we all know the truth – that’s now how it is.  But it could be.  You’ve probably heard people saying that this isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue, but every country has people that are unwell and they don’t have the same gun violence problem we have here in the United States, so that tells me that the problem is guns and we have to fight back.  The best ways to do this are to donate to gun safety groups like Everytown and vote for candidates who support gun control and campaign finance reform because until we get the guns off the streets and the money out of politics, nothing is going to change.

But we can make it happen.  I hope you’ll join this movement and take action today.

Babe Ruth and the 60(+) home run club

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There was this one time Babe Ruth ate hot dogs till he passed out. True story. You know how many hot dogs you need to eat to lose consciousness? Apparently, it’s somewhere between 12 and 18.

Last year as a member of the Florida Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs.  Now that he’s moved to the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, the dream (and the hope) is that he can punish even more baseballs – which is not a reasonable request, but a fun thing Yankee fans can hope for going into the 2018 season. Hitting a home run is still one of the most exciting and impressive feats in all of sports. Despite the fact of the home run’s arbitrary nature (different pitchers, how far the ball travels doesn’t matter, every field is so different in so many ways from layout to distance from home plate to wall to the height of said wall and so on), we all dig the long ball.

A home run may be a regular occurrence during a baseball season, but the guys who have the chance to put it out of the park every time they come to the plate are special players and the ones who can do it with ferocious regularity are rarer. There are only five major league baseball players to ever hit 60 or more home runs in a single season: Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth . It’s not easy to hit 60 home runs over the course of six months. I get that no one says it is, but it’s such an incredible achievement that I think it’s worth saying. Maris was feeling the pressure to the point where his hair started falling out. Bonds, McGwire and Sosa all used performance enhancing drugs.  And Ruth?  Well, Babe Ruth ate too many hot dogs and drink too much alcohol.

So… Yeah. In case it’s not clear, Babe Ruth was REALLY good at hitting a baseball.

It’s difficult to quantify baseball players against each other, especially when they played during different eras of the game. You’ve got your dead ball era, your live ball era, before and after they lowered the mound by 6 inches, before and after night games and fly across the country, before and after segregation and international players, any time the league expanded, the era of everybody being on speed, of everybody being on steroids, the advent of the personal trainer, the specialization of the bullpen and about a million other things that have changed the game over time.

But of course there is one player who transcends time, and I guess in this case space and even the game itself. You know who I mean, it’s the Babe! George Herman Ruth. This guy could play today and he’d still be a top tier player. Even if he only achieved half of what he did back then in today’s game, he’d still have hit 30 home runs in one year, which is pretty great. There just aren’t a lot of players you can transport to any point in the history of the game and they’d still be a star, and he’s one of the few.

Babe Ruth hit his 60 home runs in 1927.  He was so far ahead of his time that he had more home runs on his own than 12 (TWELVE!) teams had clubbed with their entire roster.  Nobody matched or beat his record until Maris hit 61 homers in 1961.  He beat him by one, and that year, the schedule had been expanded, so Maris played in 8 more games than Ruth had in 1927.  Nobody topped Maris’ mark until 1998, when McGwire hit 70 and Sosa hit 66. Bonds then hit 73 in 2001.  So if you’re keeping score at home, Ruth held the record for 34 years, Maris held it for 40 years and then three players surpassed them both in the space of three years.

Yeah…  that’s not suspicious at all.

mcgwire_milk-ad

McGwire waited to have the glass of milk after he got “home” because he needed the steroids before he got to the plate.

Another quick tidbit:  Sosa, McGwire and Bonds all played in the National League, so the single season home run record in the American League still belongs to Roger Maris.  Because Maris played in eight more games than Ruth, they continued to include Ruth’s record – the idea was to treat them as separate records because of the schedule disparity.  Maris died in 1985 and finally in 1991, Commissioner Fay Vincent’s Committee on Statistical Accuracy essentially decided that a baseball season is a baseball season and proclaimed support for the “The single record thesis,” meaning there is only one record.  I tend to agree given how much the game (and life) has changed between 1927, 1961 and 1998.  There’s no way to quantify it, so there’s no reason to try.

And now here we are in 2018.  The New York Yankees feature two great power hitters in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, much like they did with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Will Judge (52 home runs in ’17) and/or Stanton (59 home runs in ’17) reach the promised land this year?  Who knows.  But it’ll be fun to watch, and yet, it’ll never be like watching Babe Ruth.  He set the standards for the game and players are still chasing his records 70 years after his death and 91 years since he set his most famous bench mark.  We’ll never see his like again.

And I didn’t even talk about Ruth’s pitching numbers. Spoiler alert: they’re good.

5 reasons the NFL is getting hard to watch

I love sports and while football isn’t my favorite, I do enjoy watching a game on the gridiron. I used to just watch football for the sake of football. But it’s getting harder and harder to watch.  Here are five reasons (in no particular order, because they’re all horrible) why as each season goes by, I watch fewer and fewer games. Read the rest of this entry

The opening scene of The Godfather is GENIUS (Quick Reviews – NEW EPISODE!)

NEW EPISODES.  NEW SET.  NEW CHANNEL. SAME JAMIE.

This episode of Quick Reviews examines the opening scene of The Godfather, which we all know is one of the best movies of all time. but I wanted to take a specific look at how it digs its claws into you so quickly.

Please subscribe to the new Quick Reviews channel on YouTube!  All old episodes have moved there and this is where all new episodes will be posted going forward!  If you subscribe, you’re not only telling me that you like the show, but you’re helping spread the word because the more subscribers the channel has, the better placement it’ll get in search results.  And it’s free!  A little love goes a long way!  Just log into your google (Gmail, YouTube, etc) account and hit the subscribe button, it’s easy!  And, you’ll make my day!

And I love COMMENTS!  Feel free to let me know how you feel about the video, The Godfather or anything else.   Maybe you think there’s a more important scene – man, that last scene sure is a candidate for why it’s one of the most enduring films of all time…  Stuff like that!  Here’s hoping to hear from you soon!

S-Town podcast review

s-town

S-Town is the new podcast from Serial and This American Life (I highly recommend both shows, especially season 2 of Serial) that chronicles… well, I’ll let them tell you:

JOHN DESPISES HIS ALABAMA TOWN AND DECIDES TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. HE ASKS a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.

spoiler alert

Read the rest of this entry

Gun Control NOW!

email-congress

Guns take a life in America every 16 minutes. Enough is enough. I know the NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington (if not the most powerful), but this is ridiculous. It shouldn’t be easier to get a gun then it is to get a driver’s license.  It’s time for some Australian styled gun control.  Email your representative in the House and Senate to tell them you want gun control NOW!

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Facebook: The Official Site of Finding Out Which of Your High School Friends are Racist and/or Crazy

facebook-still-friends

This is the best thing ever.

Oh Facebook, you’ve taught me so much over the years.  I suppose the most treasured lesson is the revelation that former acquaintances have taken the proverbial long walk off the short mental pier.  Read the rest of this entry

I’m Back & I’m Married

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The hiatus is over – I’m back and I’m married!
Read the rest of this entry

Halloween Grab Bag 2015

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Here’s a mix of the best from around the web for Halloween 2015!  Read the rest of this entry

Most Popular Halloween Costumes 1990-2015

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A plastic smock and a mask held on by rubber bands were the only Halloween costumes you could buy in the 80s.

I can’t believe I’ve never looked into this before, but better late than never.  Here are the most popular Halloween costumes spanning from 1990 to 2015.  How can the internet already know what the most popular costume of this year is already?  The internet just knows, man – it just knows.  Read the rest of this entry

Little Elm, TX knows how to Celebrate Halloween

Little-Elm-Pumpkin-Hollow

I’ve never lived in a town that did anything for Halloween, and now, I wish I did.  Hats off to Little Elm, Texas and their Little Elm Pumpkin Hollow. Check out a town that celebrates Halloween properly! Read the rest of this entry

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