Category Archives: Personal

Sony Walkman – End Of An Era

Who remembers the Sony Walkman? Strangely enough, I purchased probably 4 of these over the early years, but I never owned one. I bought them for other people because I had something already that handled that duty. I don’t remember what the brand name was; my dad was always the cutting edge guy, and I usually had something way before everyone else back in the day, whether or not it was a name brand.

Not being someone who was ever all that obsessed with what was in fashion, I never quite saw the need for my owning one. However, I always knew that other people craved these things, even if they already had something, and they never did cost all that much. They made the perfect gift, and there wasn’t one person I ever gave one of these things to that wasn’t overly impressed with it.

It’s hard for younger people to know just how big a deal portable cassette players were. Back then most of us could create our own tapes, and I was one of those folks who used to make my own dance mix tapes as well. I used to take my player with me when I walked the lake, or when I went many other places. Strangely enough, I never took it with me to the gym when I used to belong back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and these days I couldn’t imagine leaving home for the gym without my MP3 player.

And that was what really started changing things. You could get a bunch more digital files into a player than you ever could cassette tapes, and of course you can access your songs quicker than you could with a cassette. Sound quality initially favored records and cassettes because CDs were pretty sterile sounding, but with the improvement in sound acoustics, it was only a matter of time. After all, even most cars now have removed cassette players, which is going to irritate me the next time I have to buy a car because the library still has so many books on cassette that I’ve yet to listen to.

Man, first 8-tracks, then records, and now cassette players; what’s next?

Lancaster Entertainment Center in Paprika by Crosley Radio






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First Day At My Conference

I’m not at home right now. I’m in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at the Annual National Institute of the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. It’s a national organization for basically the people who bring money into either hospitals or physicians groups, or any other type of medical entity there is that has its own billing people. That’s a job I did for many years until going into business on my own, and I still consult in that field, of course. I’m also the local chapter’s president once more, so I’m down here at a conference in an official capacity, which earns me free passage to the conference other than paying to get here the hotel room.

I came in Tuesday, and actually it’s not the first day of the conference for everyone. I came in because there was board business to get to, and thus we had to be here a day earlier than everyone else. Still, it was an adventure on the day, so I’m going to talk about it.

The morning started at 4:25 with the alarm going off. My plane was leaving at 6AM, but it’s never crowded in the lines at the airport, so I figured I’d take a little bit more time than I normally would. I had also stayed up late trying to watch the football game, but I finally decided I needed at least 4 hours of sleep and took my silly self to sleep.

Got up, showered, put the last bits of things I wanted to bring with me together, and my wife and I finally leave for the airport, which is just over 10 minutes away; that’s pretty lucky. I check in easily enough, and then the first little snag hits; the bar that comes up on my suitcase so I can pull it around doesn’t want to go back down. So I’m standing there with the guy who’s waiting to xray the bag slamming down on this thing, and you know the last thing you want to do with any of these guys is have your bag look like there’s something wrong with it. I finally do get it down, though, and he just laughs; I hope it’s because he’s seen that before.

I go up the escalator to go to the gate and run into surprise number two; the line is long! Whoa; total miscalculation on my part! Now I start worrying a little bit; it’s 5:15, my plane leaves at 6, which means they’ll start boarding in about 20 minutes; ugh! But there’s nothing I can do so I just stand in line, and luckily someone comes in and opens a second line, and things start moving better. I’m carrying two things, my laptop and my CPAP for the first time; guess what they want to examine? Nothing I could do about that either, so I make it through the scanner without anything going off and take my time putting all my stuff back together until he brings my CPAP back to me, fine and dandy. I get to the gate just as they’re boarding the plane, and since they now load in zones I breathe a sign of relief that they haven’t gotten to my zone yet.

The first trip from Syracuse to Washington D. C. was fairly nondescript. I got to share my little row of seats with a very attractive young lady, but who’s in the mood to talk that early in the morning, right? I put on my headphones and listen to a book on my MP# while she falls asleep. The first trip took about 50 minutes, and then we had to wait outside the gate about 15 minutes because the plane arrived a bit ahead of schedule, and another plane was at our terminal. Once we finally get in I realize I have 50 minutes before the next flight; time to get something to eat.

Now, y’all know I’ve been on an eating plan (actually maybe you don’t), but it’s now a trip, and the doctor said if I went off my plan during my time away not to worry about it, just do what I can do. So what’s the first thing I see? Cinnabon! Yup, popped over there and got a cinnamon bun; yum! But I knew I needed some real food as well. There was a place called Five Guys, and they were serving egg sandwiches, and you could add a hamburger with it; do that bad boy! I ate my sandwich, then my cinnamon buns, and walked to my next gate, where five minutes later we loaded for the next flight, this one to Florida.

This time around I have an older gentleman next to me and I assume his wife, though I could be off on that one. It might have been his daughter; now that’s kind of scary. And his breath; oy! But there’s nothing one can do about that. Now, one thing I noticed on the first flight, and then again on this one, is how easily I can fit into the seats. Exercise and losing some inches is really working!

Get into Ft. Lauderdale and what hits me immediately is the humidity; it’s supposed to rain my entire time here off and on, and with the heat and the ocean it’s not the best combination for me. I go to baggage claim and my bag is the 4th one off the carousel; that’s never happened before. I want outside and ask for a cab and it’s there; wow, two for two. I just might make that noon meeting after all.

I get to my hotel, check in, and see I have 5 minutes to make it to the meeting. Man, I’m hungry, as it’s not 4 1/2 hours since I last ate. Nothing I can do about that, so I rush to the other hotel, since I’m not staying in the same hotel as the convention (why not? My hotel is costing me $79 a night; the other hotel would cost me $250 a night). I get there and can’t find anyone; turns out the thing doesn’t start until 1PM. Ah, time to find food.

I come back to my hotel, then realize their restaurant is gone; under renovations and won’t open until spring. This young lady tells me there’s a grill in the other building that serves lunch. I head over there, and the woman there tells me that because of the weather lunch is being served at the bar that I just walked past in the other building. I go back and the guy says they won’t start serving lunch until 1PM; what the hey? Nothing I can do but go to the other hotel to see what I can find there to eat.

Other hotel, a Marriott, has one thing open for lunch. Most of the food on the menu looked, well, yucky except for one thing; a hamburger. And that hamburger… $15! Talk about being a captive audience! I’m stuck, so I go in, order my hamburger, and then greet someone I know, who invites me to her table. I go there, finally get my burger, ask for mayo and the woman brings me two packets; I’m paying $15 for a burger and I get packets?

Finally I’m feeling good, and we head to the meeting. I find that they’ve put me on the legislative committee, which means we discuss which policy initiatives we’d like to present to government officials that can help us with medical billing issues throughout the country. My committee, led by someone else, debated this thing for more than 2 hours. I’m going along with the recommendation, even though I tend to think it won’t really solve our issues, but I’m not going to say what it is since it’s official business and not just my business.

Finally get out of that and the rest of the day is ours. I come to the hotel, hook up internet ($9.95 a day), turn on the TV and I’m watching Voyager while trying to do some things online. I learn there’s a Ruth Chris Steakhouse about 10 minutes away, so I call another friend down here and off we go in a cab for dinner. Man, I ate a lot, but it was worth it, since the nearest Ruth Chris to me at home is in NYC, 6 hours away.

I come back to the hotel feeling sluggish, and I decide I need to hit the treadmill. I do 40 minutes on the treadmill, sweating up a storm, come back to the room to watch poker, and the night is done.

I’m going to be here through Saturday, and I may not recount everything else like I did here. I did want to get a post in, though, so you know where I am if I skip another day. I want to relax some, work some, and finally try to see what this place is all about. I hope y’all are having a great week wherever you are.

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Random Thoughts Three

In March 2009 I wrote a post that I called Some Random Thoughts. It was basically a quick hitter of commentary on some current topics and basically rants I had that I just needed to get off my chest. Then last November I had a political rant on health care in America. I’m feeling the need for my third random rants post, thus that’s what this one is. I hope you read and comment; I’m having my say anyway.

In the United States, the political season is upon us. This year it seemed to start earlier, as we started getting hammered with political ads back in July. That’s because then it was the beginning of primary season. I hate political ads, and have never been swayed by any of them. To me, most of the process is fake, and most of what you hear in an ad is a lie. One thing that’s really odd these days is that, unless it’s an ad attacking someone, they never say what party they’re with. If they’re attacking Obama, you know the person is Republican; if you’re not, you’re a Democrat. Frankly, I hate attack ads, and surveys have shown that an overwhelming majority of people say they hate them. Yet they work, and the nastier one can make their ad, the more likely they’re going to be elected. It’s the fault of the people; if more people did their own research into someone instead of deciding based on political ads, these things would go away, or at least temper themselves. We are our own worst enemies; it’s a shame.

It seems that everyone I know says they hate bullying. Yet bullying still continues, and frankly it’s starting to get out of hand. We had bullies back in our day as well, but I don’t know of a single kid who ever committed suicide because of a bully. The thing is, almost no one seems to ever help a kid being bullied. Parents say they don’t know; schools say they’re not allowed to do anything; the police say it’s not their jurisdiction. I’ve always said if I were a parent and my kid was being bullied that I’d have gone to the other parent’s house and threatened to beat that parent up, or gone directly after the kid. Sure, that’s when everyone else gets involved. Even other parents are bullying some kids, and then don’t want to take any responsibility when a kid kills themselves; y’all remember that story, right? Everyone needs to be watching their kids, but the parents of kids being bullied and the parents of potential bullies. The latest girl to kill herself was only 12 years old; neither she nor the kids bullying them were legally old enough to even be on those sites. Hillary Clinton was right; it takes a village to raise a kid. And on this topic, y’all need to go read this post by Holly.

Next, there seems to be too many kids being killed in some fashion by parents these days; what’s all this about? The latest was a pastor down south who “forgot” his 14-month old daughter was in the van and she died of overheating. There has been a rash of these all over the place; what’s wrong with people? In my very first rant I mentioned fathers who were killing their kids to spite the mother; now it seems there’s a lot more mothers killing their kids, and it’s usually because they just decide they don’t want to deal with them anymore or are doing it because they want to be with some man who doesn’t want to have kids. There really needs to be more education and more oversight on young mothers, otherwise this epidemic is going to keep happening, and it has to stop.

And finally, a word about “isms”. I put a question out on my FB business page asking people if they’d ever step in to help someone who they saw was a victim of some kind of “ism”. The only response I got was one guy who said he didn’t understand the question. That tells me that he, and others, have absolutely no understanding of what to do when they see someone being treated badly because of racism, sexism, gayism, etc. There are just too many of us deciding to “mind our own business” instead of stepping forward to help someone when they can. Are there times when you should err on the side of caution? Sure; that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the phone and call 911 or something, does it? Bad things are going to continue happening to people until someone decides to step forward and offer some kind of support. When Rodney King was beaten, the only support he got was some guy who filmed the whole thing, and the local populace acquitted the police, not believing their own eyes. When it takes the federal government to protect someone’s rights, it shows that the entire system of common sense and decency if flawed. Remember this part of the old axiom; if you don’t stand up for someone else’s rights, when it’s your turn there won’t be anyone to stand up for you.

I think that’s enough. I have more but now I have to go drink something cold and cool down. Just some things to think about; what are your thoughts?

Tolerance






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9/11/01 9 Years Later; Never Forget

A relatively short post today. Last Sunday I asked your thoughts about 9/11/01. All week long I thought briefly about it, but wasn’t getting too deep into it because, well, it seemed that life was going on, and people were saying they were ready to move on.

I changed my mind. I’m not really going to dwell on it all day long. However, it’s important to show a few images from that day, some very disturbing things, and then close with something sort of positive, though not exactly what I wanted to show. And this article is posting at the time the first plane hit.

This first clip is of the first tower of the World Trade Center being hit. There’s graphic language, but I believe it can be forgiven this one time:

This next clip is of the second tower of the World Trade Center being hit, with commentary about the first one going on before you see it. Strange thing that there’s not a single clip of anyone on the other side of the WTC getting a real shot of it being hit, but seeing this plane, which I saw live at the time, is still chilling after all these years.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any real clip of the Pentagon after it was hit, and the same obviously goes for the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. The folks who helped take that plane down and giving their lives for many others took a lot of courage, and in my mind they were heroes as well as anyone else.

This next clip was the first large assembly of people in the country after this event took place, and I watched it live because I wondered what they would do. The WWE has always been upfront in its support of the troops of this country, and they didn’t let me down here.

This final clip isn’t the one I wanted to show, but NBC has a lock on the copyright and, to date, has never allowed the clip to be seen by anyone after the first few copies got out. Saturday Night Live did a show 4 days later, which was the opening show of the new season. They asked Paul Simon to come in and sing The Boxer, and had Mayor Rudy Guiliani and a host of police and firemen standing behind him as he performed the song by himself with just his guitar. I thought it was drastically inspiring, and why NBC has kept a lid on it I’ll never know. No matter; here’s a different clip of Paul Simon singing the same song, in an odd way more of what New York City used to be than it is now, or actually was on 9/11/01.

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De-Stressing Life By Not Commenting

Two weeks ago on my business blog, I wrote a post titled Do We Have To Talk To Each Other? The premise of the post was that there are times when it’s probably better not to have interactions with someone else because not every person you encounter has to be deemed as someone you have to have a crucial conversation with. If it’s work related in a company and you need to do business, that’s one thing, but in your personal life, why would you want to consistently go through that type of thing?

Conflict by Rishi S

here are things I normally don’t like to discuss, but every once in a while, in my own space, I’ll get off a bomb here and there.

For instance, I don’t like the way the state of politics is in our country right now. Suffice it to say, my politics is totally against the party of “no”, and I don’t like how they’ve consistently lied to the American public about health care and about President Obama personally. I was particularly intrigued by this post on The Slate titled Why Won’t Any Republicans Condemn the “Obama is a Muslim” Myth? Don’t even let me start talking about this thing with the guy who’s going to be burning Quran’s (they keep changing the spelling of this thing; someone needs to decide on it one way or another and leave it be) this weekend, because my overall take wouldn’t be what someone might expect from me.

Having said that, I’ve realized over time that there are some battles you just can’t win, especially online. It’s not necessarily whether you’re correct or not. It has to do with distance and perspective.

Back in the early 90’s I was on bulletin board systems, the early versions of forums for those of you too young to remember. There was this particular forum I was in where some people came in just to be naysayers and cause trouble. They weren’t overly interested in the topic or in discussing issues; they just wanted to jam up the works.

This one guy in particular got on my nerves so much that I decided I was going to track him down. And I did; guess what? It turned out he was only a 90-minute drive away.

I got his real name, got his address and phone number, and I was ready to go. But I decided instead to let him know I had his information and that I just might pop down for a “face to face conversation” (sometimes I have a mean streak; I’m working on that lol).

In the forum I outed him, with his real name and the dorm he lived in; yes, he turned out to be a college student. I didn’t give his phone number or the name of the college, but he knew I had the goods on him. He wrote back saying if I showed up he would call the police and have me arrested for harassment, and that he would sue me for everything I had; good thing I had nothing back then. He deleted his account and never bothered any of us again. It didn’t stop anyone else, but I had my proof.

People tend to behave differently in person than they do online. Not everyone of course; I’ve met some wonderful people. But nasty people are a different matter. They’re not trying to be civil; they don’t care about you or your space. It may not always seem to be intentional, but there are patterns that happen, “track record” as I like to call it.

Sometimes, it’s not that drastic. There are some of us who just can’t get along with others. It’s unknown what the reason is, but it happens.

I have an interesting track record myself. People who meet me say that if you can’t get along with me, you have a problem. I appreciate that, but I also know I’m not every person’s cup of tea.

I’m a bit too politically correct for many. I’m also a bit of a hothead when I feel it’s justified, and I go for the throat. I’ve told friends that it’s never good enough to get even; you have to go for the jugular so you never have to deal with it again. That’s a concept the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card captured perfectly; it’s a great book and one I’d recommend to anyone who likes science fiction that’s not too far away from the world we could recognize. It’s a reason I’ve only ever had 2 practical jokes pulled on me and why I ended up having few fights as a kid.

Peace by lintmachine

However, I’ve come to an epiphany at this juncture. I’m now 51, and I know that realistically I’ve lived more than 2/3rds of my life. I have the right to decide if I want to spend any of that time arguing with people whose minds I’m never going to change or just leaving it alone and keeping some peace in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to try to go the peaceful route. If I feel that I’m starting to get mad at something, I’m going to leave it be, at least as it pertains to me. I need to work harder on de-stressing my life by not commenting.

If I feel the need to come to someone’s defense, I’m still going to do that; trying to save the world, as my wife says, but my big 3 are loyalty, respect, and trustworthiness. I’m loyal to my friends and people I like; I hope I’ve proven that often enough over the years both online and offline.

So, if you don’t see me respond to a certain post here and there, trust me, it’s probably a good thing. Social media has brought the world closer, but it’s also brought a lot of people together who aren’t really prepared to play well with each other sometimes. On Twitter I’m sometimes more political than I want to be; I think I’ve struck the correct balance on this blog. I tend to think that all of us have to try to take some time to look at what we see when we’re being responded to, but we also have to be ready to defend ourselves as well as try as best we can to get our proper message across. I add a smiley face a lot, or a “lol” to make sure people take what I’m saying as tongue in cheek fun. If you misunderstand that, I’m not giving a second chance anymore. I need to de-stress my life.

Who’s with me on this one?
 

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