All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

What 26 Inches Of Snow Looks Like

This is an easy post to write and share. I know some of you aren’t used to the kind of snowfall this area can get, so I thought I’d put up a few pictures to show you. Understand this; I’m posting this Tuesday night. On Thursday there wasn’t a single bit of snow on the ground. It started snowing Thursday although it hadn’t really been predicted to come until Friday at some point. Even on Friday, there might have only been one inch of snow on the ground.

Not any more. I took these pictures Tuesday morning after I’d shoveled the driveway for the 7th time since Saturday. This isn’t a storm by the way; this is just what it can be like where I live when what’s known as “lake effect” gets going. Officially the city of Syracuse says the snowfall is under the 26 inches I know we have. Where I live is right on the line of what’s called the “snowbelt“, which means sometimes we’ll get more snow than the city and sometimes we get what the city gets, as we’re just slightly north of the city.

You wouldn’t think 5 to 10 miles could make a big difference; trust me, in this area it does. Actually, about 30 miles north of here they have at least twice as much snow as we have. By the time the snow season is over, we’ll probably have between 150 and 190 inches of snow; some communities up there will have nearly 400 inches, if not more. That includes the city I went to college in, called Oswego. Yup, we’re gluttons for punishment, but our summers for the most part are beautiful.

By the way, you might wonder why I don’t have a snow blower. I used to use my dad’s old one but it broke and I sold it. Then we hired a guy for a few years to do the driveway, but it seemed we were really losing money on the deal. So the last two years I’ve done it. Last year we would have needed plowing only 3 or 4 times, and at $250+ a year, that made no sense. Right now it sounds like a good idea, but you just never know.

And now, the images:



My driveway after I just finished shoveling


A view of my front yard; 26 inches all around


My neighbor’s house; see, as much snow as mine


Trying to show how much snow’s on the roof


The tree out back just off my deck


Just a quick shot of some of the woods out back
Reebok Kansas City Chiefs Team Logo Padded Winter Gloves

Reebok Kansas City Chiefs Team Logo Padded Winter Gloves






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Twitter Chats

I’m on Twitter often, although I’m not always saying something or reading something. I keep TweetDeck open most of the day, listening for the sound telling me that someone’s either writing me or mentioning my name specifically, and occasionally checking in to see what’s going on at that time.


by Ivan Makarov

I started noticing that some of the people in my Syracuse stream were writing a lot of posts with these hashtags after them. For the uninitiated, hashtags are when you see the number sign (or pound sign; I keep forgetting that’s what they call it now) followed by some word or series of letters or numbers. This signifies a certain topic or thread that people either are or aren’t specifically following. That looks goofy in print, but many people will add a hashtag to finish a thought, knowing that no one is actually following that thread.

Anyway, I wondered what it was all about, so I decided to open up another column to follow this particular chat to see what was going on. In this case it was #cmgrchat, which stands for Community Manager chat. There are people who are employed to handle the social media aspects of their companies or clients, and once a week, Wednesdays at 2PM Eastern time, then get together on Twitter from all around the world and talk about a specific subject. For instance, last week’s topic was how community managers handle vacation time or days off when they might be the only person doing that job. A previous conversation was about SEO and social media; I participated a lot in that one. I’m not technically a community manager, but I do manage a couple of websites for some clients; that plus you don’t have to be a community manager to participate in a chat.

Here’s where the controversy comes in. During the time that a chat goes on, some people might post a lot of material. Sometimes others who are following those people don’t like that hour being hijacked away from them; their words, not mine. If you’re following someone who’s participating in a chat and they happen to have a lot to share, the number of messages from one person could get overwhelming during that hour, so much so that you might miss a message from someone else you follow. Some of the back channel talk has been, well, inflamed if you will, with both sides feeling they’re correct and standing firm on their positions.

I hadn’t realized I had taken a position on it until I reflected on the fact that I participate in at least the one chat and I enjoy myself. After all, Twitter‘s intention was to actively promote conversations amongst people who weren’t in the same location, and what better way to manifest it than doing it in this fashion? I mean, look at how I joined this one; I’d have never known about it if I hadn’t been curious about the hashtags.

I’ve seen some other chats, but haven’t participated yet. And there seems to be at least a couple hundred of them; here’s a link to a list of Twitter chats that someone shared with me. They’re all over the place, and I have to admit that some of them look like fun. I just don’t have the time or memory to participate in most of them.

Do you have a thought on this type of thing? Would you participate, or do you think it’s terrible that a group of people would hijack the stream of a follower like this for an hour or so? And, if you were irritated enough, would you just stop following those people who were participating? By the way, I notice that whenever I participate a lot in one of these things I end up with a lot of new followers, people who were on the chat who must have liked something I said. Since I only track people when they sign up, I couldn’t tell you if anyone has dropped me because of this, but the numbers seem to indicate it doesn’t happen during the chats.

Set of 10 Battery Operated Wizard of Oz Dorothy Red Slipper LED Christmas Lights






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How Can I Be Useful To You?

Last week I was honored to have Chris Brogan stop by this blog for the first time and leave a comment. Of course, I’d been talking about his post regarding ways to write multiple posts in a day. He stated something interesting in the comment: “The qualifier might be USEFUL posts a day”.


Young “ME”
being real useful

It got me to thinking about how often I’ve been “useful” to those who visit this blog. I know that my business blog is useful, if tough for some people to get into, but what about this blog? Is it supposed to be useful or entertaining? Can it be both?

As I get close to post #900 I decided that I would take just a quick look at topics I’ve written on over the past 3 years, but I’m going in a different direction. For instance, I’ve written around 55 posts on entertainment topics. Out of all those posts, only one could be considered as useful, that being when I spoke on how to create playlists on Windows Media Player. Certainly a post like Saturday’s top 20 sports movies isn’t useful, but it’s fun and, in my opinion, is the type of thing where some folks might enjoy comparing their favorites to mine; an outlet for expression that anyone who likes movies can comment and know that there are no wrong responses (that is, unless someone actually thinks The Fish That Ate Pittsburgh is a top 20 film).

I then looked at personal posts, where I get to talk about anything I want to, sometimes things that have nothing to do with my norm here (do I even have a norm?). I’ve written around 50 of those, and I have to admit that determining what’s useful or not is a little bit harder. For instance, my update post on my gym workouts might not be useful to a majority of people, but if there’s someone who’s been thinking about joining a gym to lose weight and reads my post on my travails, have I given them something useful to think about, since I mention it also takes changing one’s diet? Personally I’d have found something like that useful before I joined the gym, but what about anyone else? Anyway, based on my own criteria, I think at least 7 of those posts were fairly useful; the others, well, at least half are subject to interpretation.

And of course there’s the Sunday Question, which may or may not be useful to people. Its intention is to get people thinking most of the time, and to me, that’s useful. However, I’m not sure people learn anything from it, unless they’re learning something about themselves that they never thought of before.

Anyway, based on the quick review, it would seem that I’m useful at least 80% of the time on this blog; I really hadn’t expected that at all. I’ve talked about blogging, writing, software, plugins, product review, health, social media, motivation and posted some interviews. There are more topics, of course, but you get the drift. For me, it’s been an interesting mix of things over time, and I hope to continue it.

Still, I figure it’s time to ask this question; how can I be of more use to you? Are there topics I haven’t covered that you might want to see me tackle, if I’m able? I’m not going to ask what you don’t want me to talk about because, well, I’m going to write what I want to write about, even when it’s a tough topic to discuss like issues of race. And I will tell a story or two here and there, like my story about The Keys. But I figure why not ask, as it’s the holiday season, I’m on the cusp of 900 posts, and who knows, there might be other posts in your questions as well.

Go ahead; let’s see what I do and don’t know as far as helping you out. But if you ask me how to build a car; ain’t gonna happen! 😀
 

 

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My Top 20 Sports Movies Of All Time

Three weeks ago I wrote a post titled 100 Greatest Sports Movies?, where I took a look at the top 10 of someone else’s list of sports movies and had some commentary on them. At that time I said I was going to have my own top list of my favorite sports movies because, well, I just felt left out of that other list.

When you put together a list like this, you have to take certain things into concern. First, you have to select movies that you’ll watch more than once; I’ve done that for every movie on this list except one, and I’ll explain that one. Second, it has to have some kind of meaning for you. And third,… well, third is that you just had to enjoy it, whether it was important or not. For instance, I’ll tell you early on that the first 3 Rocky movies are on this list, but you’ll be stunned at the order I put them in and, after putting my list together, I even surprised myself that the first Rocky movie isn’t the highest rated one for me.

Does this movie lean American; oh yes, yes it does. No soccer, no Olympic sports, though there is one movie here that’s not quite a sports movie, yet it portrays something that was supposed to be a sport so I’m including it.

Without further ado, let’s get this debate on!

20. Rollerball – Rollerball isn’t really a sports, but it was supposed to portray a futuristic version of roller derby, which some still don’t think is a sport. I’m talking about the original version here, with James Caan, and this was just great movie making that was compelling for a nonexistent sport. They don’t put this one on all that often, but if I’m ever lucky enough to catch it I watch it every time.

19. Bad News Bears – This was a movie I could identify with because I was young at the time it came out, though older than most of these kids. It was funny as sin, about baseball, and starred Walter Mathieu and Tatum O’Neil.

18. North Dallas Forty – Folks missed the reality of this movie, thinking of it mainly as a comedy. Some thought it was loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys, and that could be somewhat true, but it was really an indictment of what professional football is really about. If any of you read Tim Green’s book The Dark Side of the Game, you’ll realize just how true that movie was to reality.

17. Fear Strikes Out – While most people thought the crowning glory for Anthony Perkins was his performance in Psycho, I went a different direction and thought his portrayal of Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player with immense talent who had a mental breakdown because of the pressure put on him by his father, was some of the best acting I’d ever seen.

16. The Longest Yard – Forget the Adam Sandler version of this movie and look for the Burt Reynolds performance instead. This movie came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my favorite movies. It’s about a former professional football player who was thrown out of the game for accepting gambling money to throw games, ends up in prison for stealing a car, creates a prison football team to play against the guards, then has his integrity tested again for a chance to earn himself some favors. It’s gritty and sexy and way before its time.

15. Ali – Man, who know Will Smith could pull this off? His performance garnered him an Oscar nomination, and many people saw a side of Muhammad Ali that they may never have known existed. But there’s a surprise on this list; wait for it.

14. Space Jam – Okay, it’s Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, but it’s still basketball and, well, it’s Michael Jordan AND Bugs Bunny!

13. Rocky – This movie was great, gritty, realistic, and no one saw it becoming as popular as it did. It was based on a true story that many people didn’t recognize, that being the life of Chuck Wepner, who had a shot at fighting Muhammad Ali for the championship. That a movie this great ended up at #13 on my list, as much as I enjoyed it, means that the movies ahead of it must mean something more to me.

12. The Hustler – This movie starred Paul Newman and a different Jackie Gleason that people didn’t recognize had this kind of talent at the time. It received 9 Oscar nominations, and for a movie about two pool sharks going at each other, that’s just phenomenal. It was also strange that Jackie Gleason’s character was based on and named after the real Minnesota Fats, who used to be on TV all the time back in the day doing all these trick shots.

11. Brian’s Song – This is the movie on the list that I’ve never been able to really watch ever again after the first time, yet it affected me so much that it had to be on my list. This was the first movie that almost made me cry when I was a kid, the true story of both the friendship between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the first time a black and white football player ever shared the same room, and of course Piccolo’s losing battle with cancer. Man, there was a lot of guy crying in that movie; I just won’t go there again, and I almost feel like crying writing about it, which shows how powerful a story it was. Man, was that really more than 30 years ago?

10. The Jackie Robinson Story – This was an important movie and an enjoyable one as well, but no one would ever say it was well acted. That’s because Jackie Robinson played himself, and as the guy who integrated the major leagues, that was a pretty great accomplishment. It was about a real as it could be for its time; if they’d put the language and abuse that he really had to deal with… well, there isn’t a theater in the country that would have shown it back in the day.

9. A League Of Their Own – “There’s no crying in baseball!” Who doesn’t know that line that lives in the United States? After all, it’s “only” the 54th rated line ever in movie history. Women baseball players during World War II, and they were talented as well. This was based on a true story, and I watched this movie over and over. That neither Geena Davis or Lori Petty were nominated for Oscars from this movie was a travesty.

8. Million Dollar Baby – This movie got, and won, lots of Oscars. I wasn’t ever going to watch this movie because, well, I just wasn’t interested. Then one evening I did sit down and watch it, and it’s great. Women boxing was just the subtext to the entire thing, as it’s mainly about an old boxing manager who gets a shot at redemption. I never saw the ending coming, and truthfully, to this date I’ll only watch the movie up until the time she gets injured; those of you who’ve seen it knows what happens, and those of you who don’t… you need to see this movie.

7. Rocky II – Here’s the second Rocky movie, and it was great theater. It wasn’t as gritty as the first one, since this time around he got real money to clean it up some. But it was a very compelling movie, and I like how they highlighted the angst of Apollo Creed trying to deal with the fact that he just couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t beat a club fighter the first time around. That Sly Stallone would share the stage that way with another actor was one of the best things he could have ever done.

6. The Greatest – Here’s the surprise; Ali playing Ali and doing the same things Will Smith did in the second movie first. Both movies were based on Ali’s autobiography called, what else, The Greatest. I will say that this version left out some of the, well, naughty things that Ali did, but otherwise it was a truthful representation of his book. And Ali really wasn’t all that bad, as this clip shows.

5. Pride of the Yankees – You’ve all heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease; this was the movie about Lou Gehrig. Gary Cooper was the perfect every man actor, and I just can’t think of anyone else who could have played this role and made it believable from that era. From what I hear, Lou Gehrig really was as nice as this movie portrayed him to be, and of all things, the movie has Babe Ruth in it as well. Talk about movies that almost made me cry; add this one to the list. But I can watch this one over and over and do okay with it, maybe because it doesn’t linger as much on his illness as Brian’s Song did.

4. The Great White Hope – Did I ever mention that there are a lot of people who think I look like James Earl Jones? I’m missing it, but this movie is one that was so controversial when it came out that it didn’t play in many parts of the country. It started out as a show in NYC, where you can do anything, and it’s the story of Jack Johnson, who just might be the best heavyweight fighter in history, a black man with a white wife who decided to throw things in the face of white America as opposed to trying to be a good example. It got him thrown in jail, probably throwing a fight, and in the end the first millionaire boxer left this earth penniless and ended the opportunity for black fighters to compete for a championship for almost 30 years.

3. Rocky III – Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking; why is this movie rated by me so high. Because it entertained me more than you could imagine. It introduced Mr. T to us, and is had some of the best lines that I still use to this day. No, it wasn’t great theater like the first two, but it was cut well, very entertaining, and introduced a lot of the world to Hulk Hogan. It outgrossed both of the previous Rocky movies at the theaters, was considered one of the best movies of 1982, and taught us all the line “I pity the fool.”

2. Raging Bull – What’s this, 3 boxing movies in a row? Hey, that’s just how it goes. And this one was the king of them all, about Jake LaMotta, a bad guy who, for some reason, was very compelling to the public. He had 5 fights with Sugar Ray Robinson and won one of them to become the middleweight champion of the world. This movie was shot in black and white, and Robert DeNiro, who won the Oscar for his performance, had to gain and lose significant weight for the role during the movie; that just rarely ever happens, even now. It also really introduced Joe Pesci to us; man, I love his movies!

1. The Natural – As I said in the first post, this is my favorite sports movie of all time, and is in my top 5 movies of all time as well. It’s a beautifully shot movie of old baseball. It was nominated for 4 Oscars, including the score by Randy Newman. Robert Redford didn’t get a nomination, which is a travesty if you ask me. At this stage it’s considered one of the most beloved movies of all time, earning a 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yeah, they changed the ending from the book; they better had!


 

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When Behavior Isn’t Appropriate

Locally we had a tragedy last week. A young lady went missing, 20 years old, and many people mobilized very quickly in trying to find her. Her name was Jenni-Lyn, and unfortunately it didn’t end well. Last Saturday they found her body in a garbage bag, and they arrested her ex-boyfriend, someone who, it seems, didn’t quite feel the same way she did about ending the relationship.


Jenni Lyn

A friend of mine named Tim wrote about it in his blog, but he wrote about it with the title On Religion and Human Tragedy. In general, it was the aftermath of the event, when he went to church the next day, looking for some kind of mental peace, and instead was treated to what I’m calling the “same ol’ thing”. In other words, the person giving the sermon never mentioned the tragedy, instead going on about topics that are usually the staple of some religions.

I was feeling Tim as I was reading his post, for a slightly different reason. Three weeks ago I had a friend of mine pass away. She went for a surgery that, a week later, had complications that took her away from us. It took 10 days for her funeral, and of course my wife and I had to go.

The ceremony was going along normally. There was an opening prayer, a beautifully sung song I’d never heard before, then a parade of people who went up to the lectern and had lots of nice things to say about her. This part took a while to get through, but I learned through these people that she used to sing, that she had wanted to be a writer and actually had a poem published, and that she’d been mentoring a lot of young people over the years, even while raising her own two children.

After one more song, also sung beautifully, it was time for the reverend to give the eulogy. At first it was fairly calm and nondescript; he’d known her, and wanted to express his feelings upon hearing of her demise. I was ready for that part; I wasn’t ready for what came next.

Have you ever heard of “whooping”? It’s a style some preachers go into that, well, supposedly gets people worked up and gets the “spirit” into them. Here’s an example; you don’t have to watch the whole thing:


https://youtu.be/-Sl8rmguJig

I’m not religious, but I honor whatever ceremony people decide to have for their services. In this instance, I didn’t think any of it was appropriate. I felt that some of the things he was saying were out of line, and that irritated me. Another friend told me later on that I shouldn’t have taken any of what this man was saying literally, but I did and I thought that, with her children, ages 16 and 18, and her husband and mother, sitting in the front row, that it was out of place and unnecessary.

My wife and I were appalled. When he said she was ready to go to heaven, we got up and left. Seems he was just getting going, as I heard later on that he spoke at least another 30 minutes.

I wondered who all of that hollering was for. Many people jumped up and answered the call, but this wasn’t a Sunday morning church service. It wasn’t his congregation; truthfully, it wasn’t even his church. It was supposed to be a funeral service for someone I liked a lot; the focus was supposed to be on her.

I can’t say that he didn’t know his audience, but what I will say is that he didn’t know that there were many people in the church not ready for what he was about to deliver. I’ve been to a few black funerals, but never anything like that. There weren’t only people there who were church folks. People came to honor her memory; his presentation only talked about her half the time. If that had been one of my close relatives service I don’t know what I’d have done.


Joy Forbes

I understand that nothing is appropriate for everyone. But some things aren’t appropriate no matter who might think it’s fine. I don’t get to write a presentation for only black people if I know other people are going to be there. I don’t get to write a business presentation only for men if I know half the audience is going to consist of women. At least I shouldn’t. It’s not supposed to be about me but about the audience, the reason people are coming.

I feel I need to add this because it begs the rest of the question of what’s wrong with people. A day after the police found the body of the young lady in the picture above, some idiots hacked into a couple of websites that had been created in her memory and altered them in negative ways. There’s no clue as to who did it, but what has happened to common decency? I know if they’re ever caught someone’s going to say “we thought it was funny”; come on people, decorum!

To relate it to blogging, I guess that’s why I write what I do here in the manner I do. I mix it up because I figure it’s for any and every body. It’s also for me, but it’s not always about me. I hope you feel the same about your blogging space.

Rest in peace Jenni-Lyn; rest in peace “Mama” Joy.
 

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