Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Latest Honeycomb Box- Really?

Recently my kids were eating some Honeycomb cereal for breakfast and I noticed that my older boys seemed amused about what they were reading on the box, so I asked to see it. On the back it listed some ideas of how you can go green by re-using the cereal box after it is empty for different purposes around your home.

Before I rip on share their suggestions, I'd like to say that I'm all for saving, recycling, and conserving. That is until people become militant about it, hand out guilt trips, or claim they are being "green" just to jump on the bandwagon. Here are the ideas Post suggested.

1) Make your empty box into a magazine holder. I can see doing that for old periodicals that you put in storage, but would any of you display magazines from a honeycomb box on your coffee table at home?

2) Make a bee feeding station (aka flower pot) out of it. Same question. Wouldn't your ornamental flowers look lovely springing forth out of a cereal box.

3) Make an eco-friendly folder for school. What if a student ran into a gang of kids with Grape-Nuts folders and they spotted your bright yellow folder? This is just too dangerous in my opinion.

So either Post cereal is trying to get people to do free advertising at home and school for them, or they are concerned about the environment, but only enough to make their consumers clean up the messes they make. I have some suggestions for Post cereals if they are really concerned about going green.

1) Change your box colors from yellow to green.

2) Give us some suggestions how we can make our clothes out of your boxes too. I'd love a yellow suit with the Honeycomb logo all over it.

3) Stop making cereal so you don't have to worry about your boxes adding to the landfill. You could also shut down your plants around the world and plant trees in their places while you are at it.

4) Decorate your own homes with cereal boxes, but I'm sure your board members and executives already follow the advice you give and probably live in homes made entirely of cereal boxes.

Sorry for my admitted over reaction. I would just looking for a big big taste with a big big bite for breakfast, but I also got a hypocritical lecture about protecting the environment when all they were trying to do was promote their product.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Puzzle Tradition

We have pretty much the same traditions in our home as most other people this time of year. I enjoy making my famous chicken nugget casserole, wearing my purple lederhosen, and singing African tribal songs. I also work on our traditional Christmas puzzle.

When I was a a kid, my parents would do puzzles over Christmas break. Back in the early 80's, they bought a Springbok 1,000 piece puzzle and they'd do it every year. When I got married they gave it to me and I've moved the tradition to my family. The puzzle has a retro feel to it with a bunch of detail and it features the poem "The Night Before Christmas" scattered throughout it.

Some friends and family vanish or fake a seizure when I bring it out, but others actually enjoy working on it. We used to leisurely work on it for weeks, but over the years we've gotten more competitive and usually try to beat our record which is around 2.5 hours. It's getting easier now that my kids are older and are able to contribute more than they used to.

 It's a miracle that after all these years we haven't lost any pieces. In fact, it has grown from a 1,000 piece puzzle to about 1,020 pieces. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and have fun with your family's traditions too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Your Customized Christmas Card

I haven't sent out real Christmas cards for many years. I just can't get around to it anymore. I enjoy receiving Christmas cards and all the "my family is better than your family" letters, but I have been a slacker for quite a while when it comes to reciprocating and sending out holiday salutations. As a result, I have decided to post my Christmas card on my blog this year.

Since I associate with a wide variety of people from different religious, political, and socio-economical backgrounds, I thought I'd try to avoid offending anyone and I'd let you customize this Christmas card to your specifications and preferences. Just mark the selections you relate the best to. This way I can send the same card to people who live in a mansion in the Hamptons or to those living in a trailer park in Barstow. Let's start with the greeting on the cover.

Dear Friends,

(  ) Merry Christmas
(  ) Happy Holidays
(  ) Seasons Greetings
(  ) It's Winter

Please choose one of the following photographs for the cover of your card:

Traditional Nativity scene

Winter Village

Homer Santa

Jersey Shore Christmas

I hope you enjoy listening to your favorite holiday music :

(   ) Handel's Messiah
(   ) Oh Holy Night
(   ) Jingle Bells
(   ) Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer

If you are like me, then I know you and your family will enjoy watching:

(   ) It's a Wonderful Life
(   ) How the Grinch Stole Christmas
(   ) Home Alone
(   ) Santa with Muscles

I hope you can spend some quality time with your family:

(   ) Roasting chestnuts over an open fire
(   ) Playing games with your kids
(   ) Making sugar cookies
(   ) Watching the MacGyver marathon on cable

Hopefully, I was able to dial in and reach you all on a personal level. But seriously, I hope you can all get past the stress and hectic pace of the season and enjoy yourselves with those you care about most.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Picture of the Month Dec. 2010

I recently took my kids to see Santa. My youngest clung to me like I was trying to throw her off a cliff as soon as she saw him. It made me realize that warming up to Santa can take some time. I found this picture online that really proves my point. Can you blame them? They are being forced to sit on the lap of a flamboyantly dressed old man who they don't even know. It takes years of presents to condition kids to look forward to this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Turning Utility Bills Around with Pizza

During the summer time I stress out when I see bills in the mail from Rocky Mountain Power. In the Winter, my anxiety changes over to Questar Gas. My dislike for the local city utilities usually remains constant throughout the year since their bills don't fluctuate with the temperature. As much as I appreciate having heat, water, and electricity, I sure hate utility bills.

I don't consider myself an environmentalist, but I don't like seeing litter, pollution, or waste either. I try to conserve energy, but I'm mostly motivated by saving money. I think we could solve more environmental problems if we focused on saving money since money is a language most people understand. When I see my kids washing a dish by holding it under hot running water for 10 minutes (the erosion method), I think of my utility bills, more than I do any impact it may have on the environment.

I'd rather spend utility bill money on me and my family than the utility company, so a while ago I came up with a plan to get my kids on board. I put a copy our most recent utility bills on the fridge and tell my kids if they can help me get next month's bill lower than the prior month, then we will have a pizza party. It works. I don't do it because I'm worried about ozone layers, or carbon footprints or any of that crap. I just figure I'd rather spend that money on something fun, so at least this way it shifts saved money from our utilities budget and moves it over into our food budget instead.

Making my kids aware of energy conservation has helped us reduce things like leaving lights and TVs on in empty rooms, taking super long showers, leaving outside doors open, and running a load of wash for just 2 or 3 items. (At least when I'm at home). I guess I could always frighten my kids by telling them stories about polar bears dying and cities flooding instead in order to motivate them to save energy. Never mind, I think the media already has a monopoly on that approach.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Hair Length Do You Prefer?

My kids recently pointed out that my hairline is beginning to recede. I really appreciate their keen observations and the reminder that male patterned baldness has commenced for me. Maybe some day I will have the same hair style as Phil Collins. This got me thinking about how much hair some people have and the different ways they can wear it. I thought I'd do a quick poll and get some feedback to see which of these hairstyles (not the men) you prefer. Guys can feel free to participate too.

I decided to start with the longest I could find. I didn't want to gross you out with a picture of Willy Nelson, but I don't think Fabio is much better either.

Michael Landon sported the long look too, but it came across as looking a little more natural. I don't think he spent a lot of time in front of the mirror brushing it out each night.

Johnny Depp has had a variety of hair styles and lengths over the years, but here he shows a style in the mid-range.

Matt Damon has always been clean cut and kept his hair fairly short. My hair has been about this length for the past 15 years.

Jamie Foxx usually sports a very short look. I'd prefer mine this length since it's so easy to maintain, but my wife doesn't like it this short. 

Bruce Willis finally gave up on fighting the baldness years ago and decided to just bic it. The totally bald look is actually quite popular these days and I'd consider this some day too if it weren't for the Pac Man Fever tattoo on my scalp.

I know people can look great with different hair styles from each of these categories and there is no right answer, but which of these hair lengths do you prefer?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Feel Good Campaigns

I recently got a notice on Facebook that there is a campaign in progress to end violence against children. Facebook users wanting to support and bring awareness to the cause are encouraged to change their profile picture to a cartoon character until Dec 6th. I noticed a bunch of friends have recently changed their profile pictures so I looked into it.

I ended up giving into the peer pressure, but it was mostly because I did not want to come across as a person who is FOR child abuse. Then came the hard part or choosing a character. I considered Grape Ape, Aqua man, Captain Caveman, and Shaggy. None of them were cool enough so I had to go Vulcan. It was the most logical choice. (Get it.) So I jumped on the band wagon, but not without a plethora of reservations. Here are just a few of the problems I have with this campaign.

1) Kid's aren't even supposed to be on Facebook so it's not like they will notice anyway.
2) I think this movement might be a scam originated by Hannah Barbara or Disney, kind of like Valentines Day is perpetuated by Halmark.
3) Wouldn't I be more effective at preventing child abuse by being nice to my kids instead of yelling at them as they interrupt me while I'm trying to find a cool cartoon character for my profile?

I really wish changing your profile picture to a cartoon character would end violence against children, but I am not so naive. This got me thinking of some future feel good campaigns we might want to do.

* Cutting our toenails on January 1st to help reduce the national debt.
* Make pudding in a cloud for dessert to promote Leukemia awareness.
* Everyone wear green on March 17th for fun. (never mind, that one's already in effect)
* Wear a Fedora on June 12th to help the homeless.

Sorry for being such a cynical party pooper. I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, or detract from any campaign that is attempting to stop violence against children, but I'm sure there are much better ways to get results when it comes to stopping abuse. In the mean time, my new profile picture looks pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Musical Groups with the Longevity Gene

I once did a post on the topic of One Hit Wonders, I thought it would only be appropriate to address their opposite. I'm talking about music groups that were popular back in Teddy Roosevelt's time who are still making music today.

Some groups and artists are quite successful and keep making music for 10 or 20 years. Some do it for a lifetime. The following groups are amazing. I'm not necessarily a fan of all of them, but you've got to hand it to them for their long term success.

The Rolling Stones-I'm beginning to think Keith Richards is invincible. It must be all that healthy living.

U2- I never would have guessed that they would still be around back when I was watching their New Years Day video on MTV back in the early 80's. I also wouldn't have expected Bono to rise to the level of Ambassador of the earth.

Michael Jackson- I started writing this post over a year ago and shelved it before he died so don't think I'm not aware that MJ is no longer around, but he was in the process of preparing for a comeback tour.

Madonna- She scares me, but she's still kicking after 27 years.

Aerosmith- They started in 1970 and are still popular today. Maybe musical longevity has something to do with big lips? Jagger and Tyler seem to support that theory.

ZZ top, The Beach Boys, and Pink Floyd are know for either having the original band members or for still performing today, although they may not be in demand like they used to be. This reminds me of the scene in This Is Spinal Tap when they end up performing at a mall opening and are the opening act for a puppet show.

I'd like to thank all the bands and artists who have been roaming the earth for ages and are still around. It saves me a lot of time to not have to learn about the new whipper snappers like Justin Bieber. I'm sure I have forgotten many others seasoned artists. Feel free to comment to add any to the list.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Based on a True Story

I think most people have seen movies that are "based on a true story". A close cousin to this type of movie is the "based on actual events" genre. As inspiring as these movies may be, I always wonder in the back of my mind which parts are accurate and what parts Hollywood chose to spice up or exaggerate.

Take a war movie for instance. Is the reference to an actual war or battle the true part and the rest just an embellishment? Where do you draw the line? I would love to make a movie about myself and promote it as based on a true story. The real part would be my name, the fact that I'm a man, and enjoy eating pastries, but I would probably elaborate a little about the martial arts skills, being a secret agent, and the part about playing in the NBA.

Even when a movie based on a true story is good like Rudy, Gifted Hands, Flash of Genius, Patch Adams, Erin Brokovich, 8 Seconds, October Sky, Glory Road, The Pursuit of Happyness, etc. it still makes me wonder what parts were not quite accurate. I can tell you one area that is almost always embellished. It entails using attractive actors for the lead characters in the movie. When you watch one of these movies and then see the special features on DVD after and they interview the person the movie was about, they seldom look like Brad Pit or Kate Beckinsale.

I'm proposing that any time someone makes a movie based on a true story, that they are required to list in small print on the poster "Except in real life this person is not that good looking." I hope I haven't ruined inspirational movies based on real events and true stories for you with my cynicism, but this is something I have always struggled with.

PS- This post topic based on an actual post from The Movie Guy blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Glad I'm Not Flying This Week

I've heard a lot of people complaining about the new security measures and I can totally understand where they are coming from, but the people I really feel bad for are the TSA employees. How would you like to pat down and frisk strangers all day? I'm pretty sure the average American couple looks more like Tom Arnold and Rosanne Barr than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aliens Rock

Recently I've been watching old X-files episodes on Netflix. I've also been tempted to rent The Fourth Kind. These shows got me thinking about aliens and the many movies that deal with this subject matter.

I like alien movies. I was just about to make the bold statement that it is hard to go wrong when making a movie about aliens. Then I remembered how bad some recent movies featuring aliens were. I'm thinking about the recent The Day the Earth Stood Still and Escape to Witch Mountain remakes, and Transformers 2. I also didn't care for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull incorporating aliens into the story. Mixing Indian Jones and Aliens is like mixing chocolate and tuna fish. I also heard that Skyline is one of the worst movies ever.

Aside from these stinker movies, there is something appealing about interacting with life forms from other planets. Their appearances often vary from little green creatures, scary monsters, normal looking people, to even super heroes. Here are some of the better alien movies that come to mind in this genre.

The Arrival
Close Encounters
Invasion of The Body Snatchers
Alien (s)
The Fifth Element
Independence Day
Mars Attacks
District 9
Mission to Mars
Star Trek series
Galaxy Quest
Men in Black

Star Wars series

If I was abducted by aliens, they would probably be the scary looking ones. I imagine I would be kept in a giant glass jar with some air holes in the top or something similar to a plastic gerbil cage with a wheel. I would probably have a young alien girl captor who would sometimes shake my cage hard to wake me up if I didn't keep her entertained. That would suck. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I've seen a couple promotions this month for "Movember" which is a prostate cancer awareness campaign.The premise behind it is that men will create awareness for the cause by growing a moustache during the month of November.

Participants are encouraged to start clean-shaven at the first of the month and then grow a stache until the end of the month. I'm not sure how that raises money, unless it works like a read-a-thon. Maybe they get pledges from their neighbors who pay by the length of facial hair you grow. Anyway, last year the organization claims to have raised 42 million dollars for the cause.

I have been pretty much clean-shaven my entire life, but sometimes at the end of the year I will refrain from shaving for a while, but I don't really consider that trying to grow a beard. I have never gone longer than a week without shaving. If you want a good summary of facial hair you can check the post I did a couple years ago called Facial Hair 101.

I think the reason most guys will want to participate in Movember is not so much a concern about prostate cancer awareness, but rather just as an excuse to grow a moustache. At any rate, my hat is off to any cause that raises money for cancer. So, if you see some dude sporting a moustache this month, there is a good chance he's not just doing it as a fashion statement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

I'd like to acknowledge that it's Veterans Day today, and aside from not having to go into work, I'm also grateful for the sacrifices that veterans have made for our country. Rather than re-run a prior post I did last year, I'll just refer you to my Armed Forces post if you want to know how I feel about this subject.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comment Spammers

I think the comments are sometimes the best part of a post. I enjoy the interaction as I read other people's comments. I know that some people will comment on posts just to get their name out and to get some publicity. I can't really blame them for wanting to expand their circle of friends and blogging is certainly a game open to everyone. What does bug me, however; is when a person cuts and pasts a 5 page random comment that is completely unrelated to the post they are commenting on.

Last week after posting my pizza etiquette rant, I received the weirdest comment. It was a from a man who claimed to be from India who enjoys eating Naan breads. (It's hard to go wrong with an introduction like that.) He then commented on a variety of subjects including conspiracy theories about fluoride and aspartame, the mark of the beast, national debt, secret societies, etc. I was going to delete it since it was just a long random comment, but I decided to post it so you could see what a text book spam comment looks like. I'm okay with weird paranoid comments, but I'd prefer them after a post about the Illuminati or end of the world. At least he could have thrown in the words pepperoni or olives somewhere in there to make me think he even read my post.

I occasionally get comments from a company that is trying to sell Air Jordans. They usually consist of sentences in broken English promising the best prices. My fitness blog also gets random comments from medical equipment suppliers trying to promote their stuff. Anyway, I would suggest that trying to advertise your business on Chaka's World in the comments section is about as effective as buying a billboard in the middle of the desert.

I hope I don't sound like I'm critical of readers comments. I have some of the coolest followers who read my blog and I always enjoy their comments. I sometimes run into people who say they read one of my posts and then tell me something about that topic. When I ask why they didn't comment with that insight they often feel scared of posting their comments. As a result, I'd like to dedicate this boring post to all those people who have read my blog but have never commented. I dare you to come out of the closet and say something. It's time to stop hiding in the shadows and be a participant instead of a spectator. (Unless you want to comment about Naan breads.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

8 Industries Changed By The Internet

I was cleaning my closet recently and I came across a record my sister gave me in the late 70's. It was the B-52's High Fidelity. I haven't listened to a record in over 25 years, but I keep it just in case it's worth a lot of money some day. (That's basically my retirement plan.) Owning a vinyl record these days reminded me how technology has changed over the years.

I'm all for technology, but I can't believe how fast it keeps changing. Just the other day I was thinking about the improvements that have taken place in my life because of the Internet. Every industry had been impacted by it. Here is a list of some industries that the Internet has changed or even killed.

1. Travel agencies- When was the last time you went to a travel agent's office to find out airfare prices on a vacation? About 5 years ago I tried getting some Hawaii brochures, but I couldn't find a travel agent that had anything more that the same computer access I did. I guess they still exist, but most people make online travel reservations themselves now.

2. CD Stores- Yesterday someone mentioned the name "Sam Goody" and I realized I haven't heard that name for over 10 years. Few people buy hard copies of their music these days at a physical music store. Today most people download music files thanks to I-tunes, Amazon, and other providers.

3. The post office- We still use the post office in to in order to send cards or gifts, but unless you have an official formal letter you are sending to a friend, most people wouldn't imagine writing a letter, paying for a stamp, and then waiting several days for it to arrive.

4. Encyclopedias- These used to be the ultimate source of knowledge. Most kids today have never used them. Why flip through every topic from Pathology to Purification when you can just Google Pentagon and get millions of links? They may be old school, but I still like encyclopedias.

5. Newspapers- Newspaper subscriptions have fallen across the board. I heard that the Wall Street Journal was one of the few papers that wasn't losing subscribers. It's getting harder to get people to pay for a newspaper that gets your fingers dirty that you have to throw away after, when you can access the same information online.

6. Video Rentals- Blockbuster and Hollywood have been dismantled by Netflix and Red Box along with other providers of streaming entertainment via the Internet. Ten years ago, standing in line for 20 minutes at the video store on Friday night was a normal activity. I just can't imagine doing that now.

7. TV news casts- It used to be that when you wanted to hear the news, get a weather forecast, or sports score, you'd have to turn on your TV at 6:00 or 10:00 p.m. and then watch a half of news until they finally addressed what ever it was you were trying to find out.

8. The Patience Industry- We have gotten spoiled with instant information and services. It seems our attention levels are now diminished and we are disgusted when we have to wait for anything. Much of this problem is our fault as a society, but most of the blame lies with Al Gore for inventing the Internet in the first place.

Maybe sometime in a technology nostalgia post I can address bringing back the old school fax machines that used curly thermal paper or loud screechy computer modems.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recipes For Guys

I'm jealous of people who can cook well. I'm good at making mashed potatoes and a few other things, but I am no Chef Gordon Ramsey, meaning I don't know much about food (and I don't drop F-bombs in the kitchen.) Occasionally I come across simple combinations that work, so I have decided to share some of these recipes on Chaka's World as a public service for guys. I make that clarification because these recipes only require two ingredients!

Nachos- Buy a bag of salted corn chips and an avocado. Cut the avocado in half and dip the chips directly into the avocado. It's almost guacamole, but I like it even more.

BBQ Chicken- Cut up some boneless chicken breasts on a grill and smother them in barbecue sauce. Cook until they are done, then eat.

Peach Appetizer- Put a couple of peach halves in a bowl of cottage cheese. It makes a simple salad.

Mock Apple Pie- Open a can of applesauce. Eat or remove several scoops of sauce to make some room. Then pack several graham crackers into it. Let them sit a few minutes until saturated, then scoop out with a spoon and eat. It has the texture and flavor of apple pie...sort of.

Fruit Salad - Cut a cantaloupe in half and clean the seeds out. Fill the empty space with grapes and serve.

You can obviously embellish and improvise on these recipes by adding more ingredients, but I just thought I'd give a starting point to work from.  I know that sharing such simple recipes is probably making some culinary artists like Mary from One Perfect Bite go crazy, but I think she's out of the country now so I should be safe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inspirational Movie Endings

I 'd like to address one of the most inspirational, yet over used and formulaic movie occurrences which I'm sure you have all seen. It happens at the climax of a movie when large groups of people get involved  by chanting or clapping together to help the main character to achieve their victory.

I think it is time to name this occurrence so we can better identify it in the future. For now I will call these "buzzer beaters". I love many of the movies that use this technique, but it looses its impact the more you see it. Here is a list of some examples:

Spartacus- The slaves standing up one by one claiming "I'm Spartacus" in order to protect him.
Rudy- The crowd chants his name in unison to get the coach to put him in the game so he can make the final play.
Dead Poets Society- The students stand on their desks while saying "Oh captain, my captain" to show their respect to their teacher.
Strictly Ballroom- After the judges pull the plug to stop the music, the dad starts clapping and slowly the crowd joins in until they create a beat to which they can finish their dance.
Karate Kid 2- The villagers start using their spin drums to give Danielson the guidance and focus he needs to defeat his opponent.
Iron Will- The spectators at the finish line begin whistling the special melody to make the dogs continue running and cross the finish line.
On the Waterfront- The final scene as Terry Maloy confronts the union boss after being beaten and all the dock workers stand in solidarity.
Cool Runnings-When the Jamaican team wipes out and carry their sled towards the finish line. One person starts with the strong, slow, deliberate clap and it catches on until the entire crowd erupts once they finally cross the finish line.

I'm sure there are many more, so feel free to add any others you are aware of in the comment section. Also, if you liked this post I suggest you stand up and say" Chaka" over and over until everyone at your workplace or home is doing the same thing. That will give me the motivation I need to make it through another day. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting Discovered

Over the years I have heard stories of how models, athletes, or actors were once lowly people working menial jobs but, at a certain point in their life, they were discovered by someone and that was how they launched their career.

Wanting to get discovered can make some people vulnerable. I've heard of creepy stalker guys claiming to be photographers who offer women a modeling contract if they will come by their place and take some photos. There are also talent agencies who bank on gullible parents and string them along with the dream that their little kid will be the next childhood star like Macaulay Culkin or the Olsen twins.

I'm getting older, but sometimes I wonder if I will ever get discovered and, if so, what it will be for; probably for my ability to tell if a movie is good just from watching the trailer and reading the reviews. Maybe it will be for my talent of shelling sunflower seeds faster than a cage full of parrots. It's hard to identify just one talent that might do it for me.

It's kind of sad that many people who become famous often do so by making a fool of themselves: Miss South Carolina, the rape intruder guy, and Basil Merceaux come to mind. By the way, I noticed that Basil didn't win his election, but he recently got hired to review movies on Jimmy Kimmell Live. I heard his review of Jackass 3D which he refers to as "an amazing film".  I'm pretty sure Roger Ebert doesn't feel threatened.

Maybe it's time to do something stupid on YouTube to further my career and propel Chaka's World to fame. I can already imagine how awesome it would be if they made a movie about my blog. It would probably be way better than The Social Network. Speaking of movies based on the Internet, I can't wait for the movies about Wikipedia or Web MD to come out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fear of Insects

I have to admit that I am uncomfortable around most insects. When I was in second grade, I remember some kids catching grasshoppers during recess and playing with them. They later pulled them apart and chased girls with the parts to scare them.

At an early age, I was blessed with the presence of mind to remain calm and not let on that I was afraid of insects. It's a good thing I did, since some kids spent all their time tormenting others who they knew were afraid of them.

If I were ever on Fear Factor, I'd be eliminated when it came time to sit in a vat of cockroaches (or when it came to do any other event they did on that show). It's not that I'm really scared of bugs, but I'd just rather not touch them if I don't have to. One way I have learned to boost my self esteem is by comparing myself to people who are really scared of bugs. Whenever I hear a girl scream and freak out because there is a spider in the same room with her, it makes me feel a little bit better about myself.

Speaking of spiders, I have a friend who was on a high school field trip and he was taking pictures for the school newspaper. While he was visiting a science lab, he was bit by some kind of mutant spider. He didn't realize what had happened but it made him really sick. It affected his vision and musculature. Anyway, my friend Peter asked me to not give out too much information, but I just want you to know that some spiders can be dangerous.

The Bad Guys-Many insects just gross me out. To this day, I have yet to touch a worm (not an insect, but it fits in the same category of gross stuff I don't want to touch) I also hate grasshoppers, beetles, earwigs, cockroaches, wasps, walking sticks, and dragonflies. Despite my aversion to so many insects, I don't really mind spiders for some reason. I'd obviously avoid touching a black widow, but if some other spider crawled across my arm, I'd just casually flick it off.

The Good Guys-Lest you think I'm a total wimp, there are some insects I don't mind and actually even like. These include lady bugs, potato bugs, butterflies, Box Elder bugs, praying mantises and fruit flies. I'm aware these are the most wussy bugs and they probably sit atop the insect wimp pyramid, but don't read too much into that or make any hasty assumptions about me.

I guess there are worse things one could have than a slight case of entomophobia. At least I'm man enough to admit it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Onion Curse


This post may offend some people, but it's political season so most people should have thick skin this time of year. No, I'm not going to talk about politics, but something far more controversial... Onions! I apologize in advance to any culinary experts or those of you who may suffer from onion enjoyment disorder. My dislike for onions applies to the entire nasty family of red, white, and yellow onions, leeks, and chives.

I hate onions. When I was a little kid I wouldn't eat any food that my mom made if it had onions in it. She caught on and always tried sneaking small diced onions into recipes, but I could always tell when she was trying to poison me. I still try to avoid them today, but it's not always easy due to their popularity. I've had many delicious and otherwise perfectly good hamburgers, salads, and other meals spoiled when I find onions in my food.

There are times when I walk in a room and immediately begin looking for the teenager who hasn't showered for a week who's been wearing the same shirt that they wear to football practice. I then realize it is just someone's food that is loaded with onions. I just don't understand how people can enjoy eating something that smells exactly like body odor!

When I bring the smell issue up with onion enthusiasts, they frequently agree with me and just say "I guess you're right," then shrug it off as I never asked the question. I find that response to be unacceptable. Unfortunately, I am in the minority when it comes to these stinky vegetables. I'm looking for some allies who feel the same way. I'm afraid I may have to go to grade schools to find those who agree with me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amusement and Distractions

I've recently noticed that many people are distracted from reality. I think I am definitely guilty of this too. After a long day of work I find myself escaping by watching the latest sports updates on Youtube, checking Facebook, my e-mail, and blogging. I usually spend much more time doing these activities than I intended.

I'm sure I'm not alone. It's rare to see teenagers these days who are not always texting, playing computer games, or with ear buds in their ears while they are at social gatherings. I think as a society we have a short attention span and believe it's painful and torturous to sit quietly and be forced to think without multi tasking or doing something to stay amused. We are definitely less social despite all the virtual and superficial connections we have to each other.

I'm reminded how the Romans kept the masses happy and distracted from their problems by providing games in the Colosseum. Rather than watching chariot races and gladiators kill each other, today we watch sports, American Idol, and hundreds of other popular TV shows instead.

I've never read Gulliver's Travels, but I did watch a TV mini series years ago. (I can say that about a lot of books.) The most memorable scene for me was when Gulliver was tying to continue his journey and he stopped by a sorcerers palace played by Omar Sharif. He invited him to stay that night to rest up and eat before he continued his journey the next morning. He continued giving him the same invitation every day before he finally realized he was under a spell and had actually been living there for several years and had been distracted  from his journey. Sound familiar?

I'm also reminded of Pinocchio when the boys go to Pleasure Island and are enjoying themselves so much with all the fun and diversions that they don't realize that they are turning into asses.

I hate doing social commentaries, but I have a blog post that needs to be written and it is either address this topic or write a second installment to my apple fritter post. So does this mean I am no longer going to spend time on my computer? Heck no, but I will try to break the habit of turning off my brain and escaping reality with all the amusement and distractions that surround us.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rival Movies

Over the years I've noticed a trend coming out of Hollywood that I'd like to address. Many times different studios will release very similar movies that come out within months of each other. It makes me wonder if rival studio heads come together and say "lets see who can make a better movie starring someone who once played James Bond, but in this movie they will play an eccentric art thief who has a romantic interest with the younger woman who is assigned to investigate him". Then in 1999 both Entrapment and The Thomas Crown Affair are released at the same time.

Was it just a coincidence that 1492 and Christopher Columbus both came out in 1992?

The different movie makers must spy on each other and try to outdo the other. That is why you just happen to have two movies about the fight at the OK Coral released in 1993. Tombstone and Wyatt Earp.

"I heard another Studio is planning on making a movie about a volcano. We are going to miss out on the volcano craze if we don't compete. Ok, lets make one that comes out the same time, except ours will take place in downtown L.A." In 1997 Dante's Peak and Volcano are both in theaters at the same time.

Perhaps the rivalry as simple as getting a short e-mail challenge that says: Lame Mars science Fiction movie in 7 months! Several month later both Mission to Mars and Red Planet come out in 2000.

I saw Without Limits in 1998 which is a movie based on the life of long distance runner Steve Prefontaine. When I returned the video I noticed a movie called Prefontaine which was basically the same story that another studio released in 97.

What are the odds of having more than one action packed drama about a meteor headed towards earth that will wipe out the entire planet unless we can stop it.? Deep Impact and Armageddon both in 1998.

How about a gritty epic World War 2 movie with all star casts? Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line both came out in 1998.

For the longest time I honestly thought that Antz and A Bug's Life was the same movie. Apparently they are separate animated cartoons about ants that both came out in 1998.

In 2006 did you happen to see a suspense/mystery/drama about Magicians in the early 1900's in Europe? I have actually heard cases of people going to the theater and seeing the wrong movie because their friends weren't specific enough about which Magician movie they were recommending. The Prestige and The Illusionist were both good movies, but they reminded me of my theory about movie copycats.

Eagle Eye (2008) was about a rogue computer that frames the main character and tries taking over the government. A year later, The Echelon Conspiracy was released and had nearly the exact same story line.

So you can see that many movies have evil twins. If you can think of any other movies like this, let me know. Ideally they should be released within a year of each other. Also sequels obviously wouldn't count. I know there are many more out there, so let me know the next time you spot one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Sportsmanship

We live in a society where cheating, taunting, rudeness, and poor sportsmanship are very common. I am always reminded of this when a server in a restaurant breaks a dish and customers sarcastically clap to make fun of them. I'd like to share some contrasting examples of people being kind and compassionate. (This is my feel good post for the year.) Don't be intimidated by the 2 videos. They are short and I think they are worth watching.

Maurice Cheeks was one of my favorite point guards when he played for the Philadelphia 76rs. I liked him as a player, but I respect him even more as a coach. It wasn't his job to do this, but he stepped up to help someone in need. He can't carry a tune to save his life, but watch how he bails this girl out of a frightening situation.

You've probably seen this story of how two softball players volunteered to help carry a player on the opposing team around the bases after she hit a home run and injured her knee while rounding first base. They could have chosen to enforce the technicalities of the rules and it would take away her homer, but instead they decided to help her and by doing so they were eliminate them from the tournament.

I couldn't find a video of my favorite example, but it involved two high school football players in Hawaii who had just beaten their in state rival for the state championship game. The kicker on the opposing team missed a last second field goal which would have won the game for his team. While their teammates were celebrating the win, these two players on the winning team had the presence of mind to go out to the kicker (who I'm sure felt like crap and was not getting any support from his own team) and comfort him. Most players these days would probably taunt him and rub it in.

These stories are not as abundant as all the negative stuff we usually read about, but I'd just like to point out that there are still many good people who do small and simple things that can make a big difference in the lives of others. I dare you to be one of them.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Make Money Blogging

I should have put a question mark after the title of this post because I obviously have no idea how to make money blogging. Some of you might be in the same boat and would like to know how to monetize your blog. Unless you are a celebrity with a massive following or have recently gone viral, it can be difficult. 

Despite that challenge, I do have some good news to report. After 2 years of putting ads on my blogs, I finally earned my first check. It was enough to pay my phone bill. When I did the math, I ended up earning an average of 3 cents per hour for my blogging efforts, so it's really nothing to brag about.
Imagine me, a
professional blogger!

However; since I exercised such patience, I can now technically call myself a professional blogger. Now I go around the house saying "Imagine me, a professional blogger", ala Tobias Funke from Arrested Development.

I'm not super excited about waiting another two years for my next paycheck so I have been thinking of some other ways to supplement my blog (aka my ATM.)

1) I was recently thinking back to my walkathon memories from grade school and wonder it that concept still works. Maybe this upcoming year I can go around my neighborhood and get pledges from neighbors and see how much they will pay for each post I write.

2)  I guess I could also stoop to photo shopping celebrities and featuring scandalous headlines about them on Chaka's World, but The National Enquirer already has a corner on that market.

3) Maybe I could change the name of my blog to "Why Bill Gates is the coolest guy ever" and just brown nose him every post and see if he ever reciprocates. 

If any of you have any better ideas or suggestions I'm open minded and eager to listen since I have another phone bill coming due.

P.S.- I did actually benefit financially from my blog at the first of the year. I did a post about my  love for and desire to be a spokesman for Toblerone candy and some anonymous reader sent me a bunch of Toblerones in the mail after reading the post. That was even sweeter than my recent Adsense check. Literally.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

3 Year Anniversary- my gift to you

This week Chaka's World is enjoying it's 3 year anniversary. This reminded me of how when you start blogging, it is kind of like starting medical school when they tell you to look at the person on your right and your left and then tell you that only one of you will be there by the end of the year. Maybe the medical school analogy was not so good after all. We all know blogging is much more difficult than medical school.

After 3 years, many of the people who started blogs at the same time are no longer around. It is always sad when you come upon a blog that has not been updated for a year or more. Especially when you liked what the person had to contribute. Losing comrades is always difficult, but I shouldn't always assume it's a tragedy. Maybe they realized that they have a life away from their computer keyboard and they probably pity us for all the time we "waste" blogging.

Anyway, I'd like to celebrate this milestone with some prizes and give aways. Please feel free to send them to me. But seriously folks, as my gift to you I am finally changing my profile picture from a hairy neanderthal boy to my true identity. This is the ultimate gesture of friendship since it makes me more vulnerable not only to my blogging friends, but also to Internet freaks and stalkers. This is probably not as exciting as when Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, or Clark Kent reveal that they are the men behind the super hero, but it is the best I can do with my limited resources. Have a great week.

Tom (aka Chaka)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Apple Fritters

Fridays are usually a slow day for blogging. I've noticed that most people save their big posts for the beginning or the middle of the week.  I thought today would be a good time to share some brief thoughts about a topic that is dear to me.

I'd like to express my undying love for apple fritters. They are one of the greatest desserts to ever come out of the pastry family. What makes them so special is that they are a hybrid between cinnamon rolls, a donut, and apple pie. I also appreciate the fact that there are small pieces of apple in them so I can attempt to justify that they are healthy. I know this is a lie since every time I eat one, I go into a sugar coma and just sit still and sweat while my ears ring for a few hours.

How can something that looks like a diseased organ recently removed from a person's abdomen taste so good? The only thing that could make them better would be to change the name. I don't like the sound of fritter. I suggest we call them deep fried battered apple pastry instead. That has a much better ring to it.