Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I’ve been teased about having four daughters and no sons. I don’t mind. I don’t have to deal with the rough and tumble of boys tearing my house apart. Granted, my girls have eardrum shattering screams, but I’ll take it.

I’ll admit part of me is relieved that I don’t have sons. I’m an Eagle Scout, mostly because of a supportive mom and a great scoutmaster. I don’t like camping. Or hunting. Or fishing. Not having any sons means I don’t feel obligated to do any of those manly things.

What do I like to do? Well, you’re reading it.

My daughter Amy reminded me of a story when she was in first grade. It was a Daddy-Daughter day at school. The students had written things about their dads that they would read in front of the class.

One boy wrote something along the lines of, “My dad likes to wrestle gorillas.” Another wrote, “My dad is strong. He can cut down trees with his bare hands.” Yet another said, “My dad could beat up your dad.”

When my adorable, little red-headed daughter got up to read, I was curious what she would say. She wrote, “My dad is sweet and kind. He likes to give me hugs and kisses and play dolls with me.”

The parents laughed—and so did I.

Never in my life had I felt so manly.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My computer won’t let me

There are numerous books and movies that use the premise that man creates something in an effort to make his life easier. After a time, the creation turns against who created it.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several movies where that creation is a computer in one form or another: Tron, The Matrix, Blade Runner, WarGames, The Terminator and I, Robot.

The idea seems pretty farfetched, doesn’t it? After all, with all these movies warning us about the dangers, we wouldn’t let that happen in real life—would we?

I had scheduled an appointment for a technician from Time Warner to come replace our modem—our internet phone was having issues. The tech tried to call us to confirm the appointment, but couldn’t get through (Duh! We were having phone issues!) so he canceled the appointment.

When I called Time Warner (from my cell) because the tech didn’t show, they told me what happened. It was still early in the day, so I told them I needed to have someone come out that same day. They told me the next available appointment was the following day.

I escalated the call to his supervisor and then his supervisor. I got the same response: “I can’t get a tech out to you today, because all our appointments are scheduled through our computer system, and it won’t let me.”

The computer won’t let him? What?

When I did get a tech to show up (the following day), I told him the story. He shook his head in disbelief. “That’s ridiculous,” he said, “all they needed to do was call my cell and I would have been right over. I was in the area yesterday.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Media Shower

This isn’t a political post. Heck, I’m not even going to mention the candidates running for President of the USA (except just then). I’ll go as far as to make a vow not to post any political stuff on this blog—there are a boatload of websites already out there that do that.

I won’t add to the discussion—not because I don’t care. No, it’s because it seems everywhere I look, I’m bombarded by ads, opinions, and attacks on any number of political issues.

Facebook has been especially hit hard. People post their political views. Some people respond with their opposing point of view—and often it turns into name calling. Then there are those that post on Facebook that they don’t like all the political bickering and ask people to stop. The response? “Oh yeah, it’s much more important to post a picture of your puppy than who will be the next leader of the free world!” (Their words, not mine.)

In retail, the biggest day of the year is “Black Friday”—or the day after Thanksgiving. In TV news, it’s election night. It takes months of prep time to get ready for the big event. All the stops are pulled out. And increasingly, the “filler” between election results are interviews with experts. You know—the people who tell us what we should be thinking.

What I find interesting—and a bit disturbing—is how different the experts for the Democrats and the Republicans view the truth. After all, the first rule about claiming to be on one side or the other is to point out the flaws of the other side. Right?

When someone stands on a street corner and shouts, “The world is coming to an end tomorrow!” most people ignore them because their views are so extreme. Yet, when it comes to extremist spouting off against their opposing political party, they aren’t ignored. Nope. They are put on TV.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not worth 14 seconds

I was in a classroom of high school students on September 11th, 2012—11 years after the terrorist attacks on America. When it was time to say the pledge of allegiance, about half of the students stood up. Of those that did stand, only a couple of them put their hands to their hearts and actually recited the pledge.

Once attendance was taken and announcements were done, I was able to address the students. I asked them what had happened on 9/11. They said things like, “Some planes crashed into buildings somewhere.” and “Terrorist did something like blow up planes.”

I told them of my experience. I wrote a blog about it that can be accessed here.

To me, 9/11 isn’t history or something people told me about. I experienced it. I felt the fear. I worried about my family. I wondered if my house in Connecticut would still be there when I went home.

I also recall the resurgence of patriotism after the event. For many people, including myself, it was a wakeup call of how precious our freedom is.

After I explained this to the students, I asked them about the pledge of allegiance. One young man said, “It’s just something we do. I don’t know why.” Another student, this one a young woman, said, “I don’t understand why we have to do it every day. Once a week is fine. I think it’s a stupid. It’s not worth 14 seconds of my time.”

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reading Clean Giveaway Hop

I'm pleased to announce I'm part of the "Reading Clean Giveaway Hop" starting on Thursday, Sept 6th!

Winning on this blog is easy: Simply post a comment below with your email address so I can contact you if you win.

While you're here, feel free to follow my blog. I post all sorts of things from humor, insight and writing tips.

Oh! What's that you say? What can you win? You will win an autographed copy of either The Hidden Sun or The Waxing Moon (your choice).

Thank you an good luck!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm not me

According to a recent census, these are the most common male names in America: John Smith, James Johnson, Robert Williams and Michael Jones.

Why do I bring this up? Let me tell you a little story.

We recently were offered free telephone internet for a year from Time Warner. It something we could actually use, so we accepted it. Part of the install was to get a new modem. From the time we got it, our internet service has been spotty—at best. Webpages sometimes take forever to load—if they load at all. And it wasn’t only on one computer—we have several.

I finally got tired of it and decided to contact Time Warner tech support. They had the option of doing an online chat with a technician. After logging in, I got this message:

But, I was at home and was able to do other things while I waited. Finally, I get connected to a technician—his name? Shawn Brown.

I explain my problem, and he tells me to delete my “cookies and cache” from my computer. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know a little about computers. Yet, I imagine a lot of people in the USA wouldn’t know how to do that. So, I played dumb and asked him how to do that. He did an okay job explaining the process.

BUT, because the issue was happening to more than one computer, and the problems started happening when we got the new modem, I expressed my doubts at his solution.

What happened next? I took a screen grab of conversation. Please do not think ill of me when you read the following:

According to a recent census, these are the most common male names in India: Aditya Sharma, Raj Chatterjee, Rakesh Nayar and Dhruv Singh.

I don’t care if the rep is from India or America or the North Pole. If they are hired to do a job, and they can do it—great.

Here is what bothers me: Why give the rep an American sounding name? I think it could be one of the following reasons:

1. Time Warner wants us to have confidence in the tech helping us. By giving him a good old fashioned American name, they believe that we’ll be more likely to trust the rep than if he had an Indian name.

2. Time Warner doesn’t want its customers to realize that it has outsourced jobs to India. That would make them look bad.

My conversation with the rep also brings up another question. Why didn’t the rep just admit he was from India rather than try to guess which state wasn’t in the USA? I would have had a lot more confidence in him if he’d just come clean.

Lesson learned here? I guess it’s okay to lie about who you are in order to make other people feel better about you.