Monday, December 26, 2011

Word Pet Peeves

I'd like to address the topic of misused or mispronounced words that I hear quite frequently. With the new year approaching and people thinking about goals and resolutions, some people may want to set a goal to improve their vocabulary. DISCLAIMER: I'm no expert and I regularly make many mistakes on this blog so I'm not presenting this in a holier than thou attitude. I'm just doing it because hearing some of these words pronounced incorrectly can be more painful than hearing nails on a chalk board.

The most common mispronounced victim is the word Escape, not excape. The button on the computer you use to escape says ESC, it is not the X button.

Realtor not Realator. Even many realtors I have known mispronounce their occupation.

You take something for granted not granite. The exception to this is if you make assumptions about counter top materials you are shopping for.

Nuclear not nucular. President Bush had many critics who did not agree with him on a variety of issues. The way he pronounced this word was my biggest concern with him. Just sound it out!

Especially not expecially (a cousin to excape)

It is etcetera not excetra.

Asterisk not asterix (I guess we are a country with a fixation for the x sound)

For all intents and purposes is often verbalized as "for all intensive purposes."

Chest of drawers is not Chester Drawers. He was Cleetus' friend on the Dukes of Hazard.

The color sticks kids draw with are called crayons not crons or crowns.

Another favorite is "Patriotical" used in place of patriarchal. I think a patriotical blessing must be something members of the LDS church receive on the 4th of July.

"Samich" and "libary" are the most painful words to hear. If you are out of grade school you need to pronounce these correctly.

What other words would you add to the list?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Random thoughts

It's time for another edition of my random thoughts.

Whenever I accidentally flip over my computer mouse and the red light is exposed and shines out, I like to pretend it is cyclops from X-men. I always cover my eyes and quickly flip it back over before any damage is done.

Dana White and Vanna White have similar names. I sometimes get them mixed up. My friends who are into UFC and Wheel of Fortune don't have much respect for me.

I think a deal breaker on a first date is if your date doesn't mind when people who use the word dental caries instead of cavities.

I'm glad there is balance in the universe. I saw a preview for Sisterhood of the Traveling pants. The antidote to help me feel like a man again was watching the trailer for the Expendables 2. Check it out below. It's only a minute long, but I have never seen so much potential testosterone in a movie before. I think the Surgeon General needs to put a warning on the movie poster.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Picture of the Month Dec. 2012

I give a thumbs up to anyone who can combine two of my favorite things: Christmas and Star Wars.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Top 10 Beard Excuses

Around Thanksgiving, someone accidentally scratched my face while I was playing a game of basketball. I didn't shave for a couple days after that since I wanted to let it heal. For some reason I decided to just keep letting it grow. Since I have never been a beard guy, I have been getting a lot of comments and questions about it lately. In order to put an end to the questioning, I have decided to make a top ten list of my favorite reasons I give people as to why I'm growing a beard.

10) I just want people to appreciate all the times when I do shave.

9) I'm trying out for the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

8) I enjoy having tellers ask to see my ID now and not trusting me at my bank anymore.

7) Because I can.

6) I'm getting into Civil War reenactments and I should be ready for my first performance as Stonewall Jackson in 2014.

5) I was considering hanging out with the Occupy Salt Lake City group and wanted to look the part.

4) I'm just following the example of my mentor, James Brolin.

3) I burned my face and they had to use a skin graft from my back.

2) The tattoo artist misspelled "Stud Muffin" and I don't have money for laser removal , so get used to the beard.

1) What beard? Oh... Crap! I forgot to shave this morning.

I'm not a fan of facial hair and I don't think I can keep it up much longer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Intimidating Machinery

I've been watching some educational shows with my kids recently that show how things like glass, pills, bottle tops, candy, and all kinds of every day objects are made. It's kind of cool to see the process, but what really impresses me is the size and speed of the customized machinery used to mass produce stuff.

I am amazed when I see these machines at work, but at the same time my heart sinks in despair when I see this equipment in action. We will never be able to stand up to such efficient machines after they get intelligence chips and turn on us.

I really don't believe in the rise of machines theory, but I still get intimidated when I see factories full of huge equipment or heavy machinery that is larger than my house. Where does the stuff come from? How can you make machines that big? Who do you call when it breaks? When I see robotic arms welding cars together or machines counting out and bottling 1,000 vitamins in a fraction of a second, I'm in awe, but it also worries me and stresses me out.

If I were stuck on a desert island for 50 years, I'm afraid the only invention I'd come up with would be a rock to help me sharpen sticks. Other men in similar circumstances would have a fabrication plant up and running after several years and would not only have an escape boat, but it would be a luxury yacht.

I can not relate to machinists, mechanics, or inventors. They have my respect. The people who can make such crazy machines and equipment should be the heroes of our day instead of the musicians, movie stars, and athletes that get all the attention. I say we forget about the potential candidates running for president next year and instead let the person who made the machine that paints 5,000 Coke cans in 4 minutes be president. At least they know how to get stuff done.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The 10 Worst Christmas Songs Ever

Now that we are in December, you are probably hearing more Christmas music. Yesterday while I was driving home from work, a local radio station host posed the question "Which Christmas songs don't you care for?". I have been contemplating this topic for a while so I think it's time to address my least favorite Christmas songs.

I understand people have a wide variety of music preferences, and I don't want to come across as Mr. Scrooge, but  I feel that speaking out against these songs is my duty, kind of like coming to a person's aid when they are being mugged. Here is my list of what I consider to be the 10 worst Christmas songs of all time.

10. Jingle Bells by Fresh Aire. Here me out on this. I love Manheim Steamroller and they make up the majority of my Christmas music, but this particular version (Christmas in the Air 1995) is the most slow and depressing narcoleptic piece I've ever heard.

9. I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. It's a toss up. Maybe these songs get some people in the Christmas mood, but not me. They just don't sound like Christmas songs to me.

8. The Muppet's 12 days of Christmas. I once had coworkers who would play this all-star muppet cast version over and over and over without tiring of it. Now whenever I hear the muppets sing, I just feel sick.

7. Last Christmas- George Michael or Wham or whoever sings this created one of the wussiest song I have ever heard. I can see why she threw it away the very next day.

6. Santa Baby- My kids heard this song for the first time recently and to quote my 8 year old "What's wrong with that lady? She's creeping me out."

5. A Wonderful Christmas Time- Paul McCartney- Yes, even Beatles make mistakes. This obnoxious, repetitious song features some of the worst synth ever recorded by man.

4. Christmas Shoes by Newsong. Before you accuse me of being a heartless insensitive guy, just think about the premise of the song. A kid's mom is dying and he's worried about buying her footwear instead of spending time with her? It's a blatant attempt to be a tear jerker song, but I'm afraid it back fired.

3. Feliz Navidad. I have nothing against my south of the border friends. I speak Spanish and enjoy the language, but this whiny pitched song drives me nuts and really gets on my nerves. I can't stand it because it seems so inappropriate. It is very un-Christmas like, kind of like Beach Boys songs.

2. Jingle Bell Rock. When I was in second grade, we had to sing this for a school program and even at that early age, I felt there was something very wrong with this song. "Giddy up jingle horse? Really? I'm still trying to recover from the trauma it caused me.

1. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. This is the ultimate classless hick song. Whenever I hear this, my IQ immediately drops 50 points and I don't have many digits to spare in that department.

I hope I didn't step on any one's toes. I could go on and name several other honorable mentions, but I'd rather hear which Christmas songs you don't care for.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Adsense Challenge

I'm not sure why, but I still have some Adsense ads on my blogs. I'm always amazed at how quickly they adapt and customize to the topic of my latest post. I am never amazed or impressed with how little they pay out. Anyway, if I write about Christmas trees, then tree ads appear immediately after I publish the post. If I write about college, then online course advertisements suddenly appear.

You have probably heard about John Henry vs. the digging machine or the Jeopardy nerds vs. Watson the computer. I have decided to try a challenge kind of like that. I call it me against Google data recognition. I'm going to briefly discuss a topic with synonyms and see if the Google computers are smart enough to know what I'm talking about. Here goes the test.

I'm thinking of a food in the nut family. It is my favorite variety and the first part of the name is a word for paper money. The last syllable is a noise people make when they are grossed out. These delicious foods come in cans and sometimes compliment Chinese cuisine. They are also used in an ice cream flavor with caramel. They look like this.

Let's see if Adsense is smart enough to identify this wonderful food.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Family Time and Ping Pong

I don't want to brag, but I am pretty dang good at Ping Pong. My family had a ping pong table when I was younger and I occasionally played when I was a teenager. Some friends recently offered us a ping pong table they were getting rid of so we took it. It is packed in the middle of our play room upstairs and I'm sure any interior designer or Feng Shui expert would have a fit, but I don't mind. Despite not playing table tennis for over 20 years, I am pleased to report that I still have the skills!

We have a tradition of attempting to spend time together every week in my family. Ideally we would watch a movie, or go to the park, have a lesson, plan activities, or make something fun to eat. Frequently it just consists of me getting mad at my kids for being noisy and not listening so I end up dismissing them and sending them to bed until there is only one kid left and they are declared the winner. We very seldom have functional family home evenings. When I want to get the family together for an impromptu gathering during the week I call it an emergency session since it sounds more important and makes me feel like a general.

I think spending family time together is extremely important. Eating together as a family is a lost art. The invention of the microwave and TV and computer have impacted how families eat. I'm all for convenience and doing things on the run, but I also think having the occasional "Waltons" sit down dinner would do wonders for most families.

Anyway, back to Ping Pong. Since we got this table, I have spent way more quality time with my kids and have had a blast playing with them and learning even more about their attitudes and personalities. It has been fun to have heated trash talking battles with my teenagers as well as patient teaching moments with my 5 year old who is just happy to be able to hit the ball back 2 or 3 times in a volley.

I highly recommend ping pong and regular family time. Doing simple and easy things together can work wonders for your family. I challenge you to look for ways to spend more quality time as a family. (He types this as he is telling his kids to be quiet so he can watch sports highlights on YouTube), but seriously, as you are shopping for presents for your kids this year, consider stuff you can do together as a family instead of buying them more electronics which often retard their social skills and seclude them from the world.

Speaking of ping pong, here is a crazy clip of some guys I would hate to play against.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I've been a little reluctant to post about Thanksgiving since I'm sure the topic has already been addressed by most people this week. Even so, I'd still like to share some thoughts about gratitude and giving thanks since I have been blessed with so much.

Several years ago I was going through a very hard time. I was having financial setbacks, stress, and was very depressed and discouraged. One evening I was feeling sorry for myself since everything seemed to be going against me. At that moment I felt impressed to make a list of the things I was thankful for. I reluctantly started the process of counting my blessings and by the time I finished, I had several pages of evidence why I should be happy and grateful despite the less than ideal experiences I was going through.

Most people living in developed countries take luxuries like running water, electricity, and heating for granted. I can only imagine how much of our day would be spent in survival mode if we didn't live in civilizations that have the infrastructure to take care of these important things for us. For many of us, the challenge we deal with is deciding how we are going to entertain ourselves in our free time. By the way, reading Chaka's World is always a good option since it is free and doesn't take too much time.

Despite our screwed up government and political corruption, we are still blessed with freedoms, rights, and privileges that others could only dream of. I'm grateful for the order that governments provide and that we have security and protection and are not just a bunch of tribes and gangs trying to fight for the necessities we need to survive.

I'm sure we all have challenges and set backs and are wanting in many areas of our lives, but focusing on what we do have and being thankful for those things can improve our quality of life. I really believe that having an attitude of gratitude makes us more receptive to God's blessings.

Some people might think that Thanksgiving is a gluttonous time of eating, but I think the annual practice of feasting is very appropriate since it reminds us how richly we've been blessed with an abundance of things. I am also a big fan of food so I'd probably be all for it even without the symbolism.  I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with your friends and family. I also hope we can remember to be grateful for all that we have all the other days of the year too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Picture of the Month-Nov 2011

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I have decided to pay tribute to my favorite food. I know that turkey is supposed to be the star of the show, but mashed potatoes and gravy have always been my favorite. I consider them to be the staple and all of the other great foods are just accessories on the plate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Might Be A Blogger If...

It has been 8 days since I last posted on Chaka's World and I believe that's the longest break I've ever taken since I started blogging. This got me thinking about the psychology of blogging. I've been doing it for a while now and have come to realize that there are people who have a blog and then there are your hard core bloggers. In order to help you see which you are, I have prepared some questions.

You are probably not a serious blogger if you can't remember your blog address when someone asks for it or if you haven't posted anything since Obama was elected president.

You might be a hard core blogger if...

* You have many blogging acquaintances you consider to be good friends, but you have never actually met them. (Yes, some of the nice women who make clever comments on this blog could actually be grown men living in their mom's basement and I'd never know the difference.)

* You have ever published a post by accident.

* You have ever deleted entire posts by accident.

* You worry about what it was that you wrote or how you offended someone whenever you lose a follower.

* You constantly take notes in the back of your mind when you see something that would make a good blog topic or story. Just today I came up with the idea of installing Arby's bells in the library so you can let the librarians know that they did a good job. I will have to elaborate on this later in a post.

* You feel pressure to post at least every week if not more frequently.

* You no longer notice word verification screens because you leave so many comments.

I'm not trying to judge bloggers who don't write much or are not very active. I just wanted to make the point that there are casual bloggers and then there are very active bloggers. Don't feel bad if you feel you are in the first group. You are probably more well rounded and less screwed up.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daylight Savings

I'm still not sure if I hate pitch black mornings or early nights more.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Hunger Strike

I have been very frustrated with the NBA lockout. It seems that neither side is willing to make the compromises that are needed to resolve the conflict. As a result, the fans are being hurt. In an attempt to put some extra pressure on David Stern and all of the league's superstars, I have decided to go on a hunger strike until the situation is resolved. I am dead serious about this.

Until the lockout is resolved, I will not eat the following foods:


Hopefully my sacrifice will motivate the league to resolve the situation with a greater sense of urgency.  I know my actions may sound extreme or even dangerous, but I miss seeing my daily NBA highlights and something has to be done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jim Meskimen Impressions

I love watching good impressionists. It seems everyone one and their dog can do John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jimmy Stewart, but Jim Meskimen has in impressive repertoire and I love hearing Shakespeare in all the different celebrity voices. I especially like his Gervais, Clooney, Shatner, Giamatti, and Freeman. Check this out if you have not seen it before.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life's Not Fair

I try to stay away from political commentary since that's a great way to alienate readers, but I've recently heard some comments from some of the "occupy everywhere" protesters around the country that bothered me. A common theme I keep hearing is that we need to redistribute the wealth in order to make things fair. I believe society has an obligation to watch out for and help those who are less fortunate or struggling, but I don't think it is the government's job to try and make everything fair. Guess what? Life's not fair.

I can respect demonstrating for civil rights, women's suffrage, or trying to obtain freedom from an oppressive government, but when your cause is a potpourri of random objectives like "I shouldn't have to pay back my student loans" or vague statements like "corporate greed is destroying our country", then I have a hard time empathizing with them.

If you are serious about making things fair, then it's going to take much more than just taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Many people are fine with the redistribution of wealth philosophy, but if we really want to make things fair we should extend it to the following areas too.

Education- It's not fair that some students pull down straight A's while others struggle and fail in school. Why not just give all the students a C+ to make it fair? Also, some schools have way more prestige associated with them than others. I think changes need to be made to education institutions until community and technical colleges are respected and accepted on a resume just as much as Harvard or Yale.

Success- Professional sports teams like the Celtics, Steelers, and Yankees have had way more than their fair share of championships. Maybe we should ban them from future playoffs or only let them play their second string players in games to make it more fair. We need to even the playing field.

Good looks- Why should people like George Clooney, Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Anniston, and Kate Beckinsale get all the breaks? I demand that ugly people get free plastic surgery and spa treatments from now on. If someone is really good looking they should also be required to get a scar or some kind of blemish to compensate.

Fame- Why is it that so many of the Hollywood actors who claim to support and promote "equality" take an unfair share of work in the movie industry. I think everyone should have a chance to be in the movies. Emma Watson has been in 8 Harry Potter Movies, but most of us haven't even been in one! Why can't I be James Bond for a change? It would be more fair if after you've been in one movie, your Hollywood career is over so we can make room for others who would like to be in a movie but don't have a chance because of all the usual actors hogging the fame.

World Wide Equality- Rich is a relative term. The poorest of the poor in this country are still wealthier than most people in other countries. Are you comparing your plight to someone who owns a vacation home at Martha's vineyard or people living in the slums of Calcutta? Maybe starving people in Africa and India should protest that it is not fair that the poorest of the protesters in America have a much higher standard of living than them.

I know this sounds extreme and you might think I'm a jerk for posing such ridiculous scenarios, but that is what we need to do if we are really going to make everything fair. By the way, I admit there is corporate greed and extreme inequality but I think we have more power to change things if we focus on improving the 99% as opposed to complaining about the 1%. I don't have all the answers, but I believe allowing people the freedom to create their own destiny is a better option than trying to make life equal and only mediocre at best for everyone. We should have equal opportunities, not equal results.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Evolution of Halloween

As Halloween nears, I am frequently reminded how much my wife hates this holiday. I find that ironic coming from a girl who had the coolest Princess Leia costume for Halloween (complete with sweet roll hair and blaster) when she was in first grade. She loves Autumn and harvest time but can't stand Halloween. She refers to it as Satan's birthday and doesn't care for celebrating the themes of darkness, death, and fear.

I'm not as much of a party pooper as my good wife, but I can see where she's coming from. At the risk of sounding like the grumpy old man and stepping on the toes of those who really love the holiday, I have decided to share some insights about Halloween.

First of all, there was a time when Halloween used to be like the Norman Rockwell painting above. Over the years, the holiday has evolved into an excuse for girls to dress like skanks. Unfortunately many of those who decide to dress so provocatively don't look like the models below. I've also noticed that it's kind of a one-sided thing. You don't see guys looking for an excuse to dress like Chippendale's dancers for Halloween.

Here are some things I like and don't like about Halloween.


-Carving pumpkins with my kids.

-Cider, donuts, and good candy.

-Seeing people in public or at work who dress up in creative costumes since I never do.

-How excited my kids get to dress up no matter how lame their costume may be.

-Scary, suspenseful movies like Psycho, Lady in White, The Sixth Sense, and The Ring.

-Exacting my trick-or-treat tax from my little kids after I take them around the block.

-Watching my wife get worked up over innocent things like evil pastries.


-Kids who trick or treat after they are teenagers. Once you start shaving, it's time to move on to costume parties or spook alleys with your friends but leave the begging for candy routine to the little kids.

-Kids who start ringing my doorbell at 2:00 PM to trick or treat a good three hours before it even starts to get dark!

-Bobbing for apples. Are you serious? What genius came up with this unsanitary game? Probably some dude who licks his fingers after he uses the bathroom.

-Pointless slasher movies where some crazed person goes around killing stupid teenagers in the woods.

-Lonely old people who make you come in and visit and do actual tricks before they will give you a treat.

-People who give out popcorn balls to trick-or-treaters. This is even worse than razor blades.

I hope I don't sound too judgemental. I have many friends who have a blast every Halloween and I'm kind of jealous of them. Anyway, if you are are a goth enthusiast, a 16-year-old boy who still likes to trick or treat, a girl that wants to dress up like a prostitute, or a lonely old person, I hope you enjoy doing your thing this year and wish you a Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Hierarchy of M & M's

For today's post, I'd like to rank my favorite M & M colors, but before we continue, I'd like to make it clear that Peanut M & M s are superior to plain. I'm pretty sure all the different colors taste the same, but some colors definitely produce a more positive emotional response and make me feel better than others.

I know it sounds kind of racist to judge candy by it's color. I am not that way when it comes to judging people. I want to make it clear that I am not so shallow and judgemental to judge a human being by the color of their skin. I judge them by how attractive they are.

But seriously folks, after years of analyzing and eating M & Ms, I have found the hierarchy to go as follows: green, yellow, brown, orange, red, and finally blue.

Green- these are far superior to all other colors.
Yellow- a close second for this exciting color.
Brown- It's kind of boring looking but is probably the most natural color.
Orange- Remind me of Reece's Pieces, but I guess they're okay for October.
Red- These are just too intense and stress me out. They look like Boston Baked Beans.
Blue- Completely unnatural color for a chocolate candy. I don't mind the artificial colors for the other ones, but I have my limits when it comes to blue food. Even though these are uncalled for, I still eat them.

There is actually another one I forgot to mention which I would rank below blue. My least favorite is actually Eminem the rapper. He always seems angry and has so much attitude. If he could just chill out and relax I might move him up a notch below the red. Somebody needs to give that guy a hug.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Picture of the Month- Oct 2011

Now that's what I call carving a pumpkin!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Man Purse

In an effort to be more involved with recycling, I have decided to re-share a post from 2008. The good news is that I finally broke my man purse habit and have since moved on to using a back pack instead.

For the past ten years I have been carrying around a big black computer bag with me when I go to work each day and whenever I travel out of town. It looks like your standard laptop case with handles and a shoulder strap. The average observer might not think anything of this, but they don't know the whole story.

My secret is that there is no computer in the bag. It is full of color coded folders sorted by topic for things like goals, bills, fitness information, time lines, home repairs, study topics, movie data, business ideas, etc. My bag is really a mobile office. The side pockets contain things like an MP3 player, fingernail clippers, checkbooks, coins, a jump drive, a phone charger, batteries, cell phone, coupons, etc.

So basically I'm admitting that I carry a man purse with me. I'm not proud of this but I can guarantee I carry more stuff with me than most women do in their purses. Last week I even found a small flashlight in my bag. Maybe my need to haul around so much junk stems from seeing too many episodes of Let's Make a Deal when I was younger.

People will occasionally notice my bag and ask why I brought my laptop with me to social settings where they might not expect to see one. Once I explain that there is no computer inside then additional questioning inevitably starts and it goes down hill from there. I feel awkward as I attempt to justify why I would need to haul around all that paperwork with me. I watch the other person's face as they try hard to pretend that this is normal and I'm sure most roll their eyes as they walk off.

Confessing my obsessive bag addiction to others can be awkward, but the greater problem is that I'm so paranoid about protecting it. When I leave home with it I can never just set it down somewhere and come back for it later. I don't dare let it out of my sight since it contains checkbooks, bills, debt charts, blog ideas, and other personal information that I wouldn't want falling into the wrong hands (any hands but mine). Maybe I should transfer it's contents into a brief case and attach it to my wrist with handcuffs since that would be more telling of my relationship with my man purse.

I've seen little kids with their security blankets and my bag kind of acts the same way. I've recently tried finding a mentor who has overcome this addiction but apparently the only other people who suffer from this malady are pushing shopping carts full of garbage around bus stops and freeway underpasses. I have even tried to wean myself from it's constant companionship by downsizing to a smaller attache, but then I realized admitting that I carry a purse is bad enough but calling it an "attache" would only compound my problems. So for now I will feel awkward for carrying excess baggage around with me, but someday when I'm at a party and the power goes out and someone wants to see a timeline I will be prepared and I will be the hero.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Misquoted Lyrics

Have you ever sung a song only to later learn that you were singing the wrong words?  Around Christmas time I sometimes hear little kids singing about "Round John Virgin" while singing Silent Night. Manfred Man has a song called Blinded by the Light. Part of the lyrics are as follows: "revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night". I'm not going to tell you all the different versions of this song I have heard people sing over the years.

Speaking of misquoted lyrics, despite being a great patriotic song, the Star Spangled Banner has also put hundreds of performers to shame. It probably wouldn't be so hard to sing if the lyrics were written by Rebecca Black instead of Francis Scott Key. I imagine it might sound more like this: "Is the flag still there? Oh yah, we so excited..."

Here are some lyrics from songs that can be a little unclear at times. I don't know if it is the fault of the performer or just inattentive listeners, but I've heard the parts of the following songs sung as follows.

"...On a corn dog's winter night"- REO Speedwagon- I can't stop this feeling

"...The Dukes of Hazzard in the classroom"- Pink Floyd- The Wall

"...Don't put the blame on the diet seven up"- Cory Hart-Sunglasses at night

"...Dirty deeds and the dunder chief"- AC/DC- Dirty Deeds

Luckily I don't have much of a singing voice so I don't have to worry about getting caught singing the wrong words to songs unless someone happens to plant a bug in my car. If you can think of any other frequently mis-sung or just misunderstood lyrics, let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tribute to Sales and Marketing

I suck at sales. I've had several sales related jobs over the years, but I always end up getting "promoted" to a behind the scenes  position to deal with details and paperwork and as a result, I make less than the slick salesmen. Maybe it's a case of bitter grapes, but I am sometimes annoyed by salesmen. I'm not trying to bash the entire industry. I know many talented and hard working people who do well in sales.

It just bothers me when they are too aggressive or are selling worthless stuff or things you don't need. I also don't care for many of the over used sales techniques. When I hear a phrase like "what would it take for me to put you in this car today" it just drives me crazy.  Below I have listed some of the over used sales tactics I'm sure you've seen on TV or the Internet:

The shocking headline ploy- "How I earned $35,000 in just one week starting with only a bag of paperclips" or "Denver mom makes medical doctors angry with her new discovery"

If they change the font color, maybe that will get our attention. I've noticed this is a favorite tactic of e-book offers.

Maybe font size will catch your attention if the color doesn't.

Wait there's more...- I think Ginsu knives invented this add on technique. Offering two or three widgets for the price of one sometimes backfires and makes me realize how cheap the merchandise really is.

The most insulting is the assumptive close. "Would you like two sets of encyclopedias or just one?" (Gee, when you put it that way, buying one isn't as expensive after all.... I'll guess I'll take one at half the price)

"Act fast, operators are standing by." Some ads feature a count down timer indicating valuable time slipping away. Note: this exact same commercial has been playing for years yet the twenty minute timer has never run out. This technique is a close cousin to the bogus "If you're one of the first 50 callers...."

"Previously only available in Europe." I love this one. It insinuates how slow Americans are to finally catch onto new trends and technology from overseas. Aren't Members Only jackets still in style in Europe?

I'm not advocating that everything should be sold in brown paper bags. I actually find the psychology of marketing to be very fascinating, I just tire of seeing so many of the same old techniques. I know there are some sales associates who have mastered their art and don't have to rely on the above mentioned techniques to close a sale. Instead they use Jedi mind tricks. You are screwed if you come up against one of them.

In case you weren't aware, Chaka's World has a Pay Pal donation button on the side bar. Operators are standing by...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lady Elaine Fairchilde

As a little kid I watched shows like Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Zoom, and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. My parents must have owned stock in PBS. Anyway, I recently had a suppressed memory surface about one of the characters from Mr. Rogers. I know Fred Rogers is a good guy, but where on earth did he come up with such a freaky puppet as Lady Elaine Fairchilde? Seriously, What on earth?

There were some weird characters on that show. The live actors were almost as strange as the puppets. Mr. McFeely, Handyman Joe Negri, Chef Brocket, and Robert Troll are some names that come to mind from the past. If you are too young to remember those names, then consider yourself blessed. Anyway, back to lady Elaine. She dressed like a Canadian Mountie, was always rude, had an alcoholic nose and looked like she used a hot curling iron to apply blush to her cheeks. She also gave off some vibes that made me unsure of her gender (probably because she was being voiced by a man)

What's my point? I don't know, but I am sure that I am not alone and there are thousands others like me who watched TV in the 70's as kids who are still creeped out to this day by a little puppet lady who was the brain child of Fred Rogers. He may has well have used a little Freddy Kruger puppet instead of her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chaka's World Four Year Anniversary

This week is the 4 year anniversary of Chaka's World. It has been rewarding to see the progress I have made in blogging over the last 4 years. When I started, I was a young and naive blogger with nothing of much substance to share. I have developed over the years where I am now older and cynical, and have even less to impart to readers. To commemorate my meteoric rise and my immeasurable contributions to blogging, I'd like to re-share my ultimate inspirational story from 2008.

Over the years I have heard a variety of motivational stories that are very common in business education, self improvement books, church, job training, and e-mails. I have enjoyed most of them and seeing how I am prone to help others, I think the best service I could do is to consolidate them into one all encompassing ultimate story of Inspiration. If this can't get you moving forward in life than nothing can enlighten or motivate you.

One evening as I was walking down the beach I came across some footsteps in the sand. I followed them for some time then I noticed one set suddenly disappeared. As I looked around to see why, I noticed a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. I felt bad for his futile attempt to save them. As I approached him to tell him what I thought I heard someone screaming for help. I saw a young man thrashing in the water. I was about to run to help him, but I noticed there was already an old man in a toga pulling his limp body out of the water.

By this time the sun was setting and it was getting dark, so I walked towards a distant lighthouse. I could see an exchange of flickering lights taking place. As I neared the lighthouse I noticed a massive destroyer ship turning 20 degrees and barely missing the lighthouse. I was curious to find out what happened so I approached the lighthouse door and range the bell. I waited several minutes while watching the hound dog on the front porch moan, but nobody answered so I let myself in.

Once inside, I saw a man but he did not notice me because he was so engrossed in his animal experiments. He was heating up frogs in pots of warm water, there were crabs in baskets, flees in glass jars, and out the window I saw a baby elephant that was tied to to a tent peg with a thin rope. I decided to take a closer look at the elephant but by the time I got outside there were three blind men examining its various parts. I decided not to bother them. I needed to get home so I jogged to the nearby train station.

When I got there I noticed police and an ambulance. The train was not running because a worker's body had just been found in the refrigeration car. I decided to take the subway instead. During my commute I kept being distracted by several noisy kids who's father was oblivious to the problems they were causing. When I finally got to my apartment I was shocked to see it was engulfed in flames. My landlord was on top of the roof but he wouldn't take hold of the helicopter ladder. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but he died. I just wish he could have heard me yelling "get up and win the race".

Now it's time to test your knowledge of  how many of these motivational stories you recognize by using the chart below. This is the same kind of highly sophisticated model used on Internet articles that help you determine what kind of shape you are in, if you are a good kisser, or what your financial IQ is.

1-3    It's time to start reading something besides Steven King
4-6    Subscribe to more unwanted e-mail group lists
7-10  You must be very positive
11-14 Is that you Zig Zigler?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Things That Bug Me

Sometimes I find that certain little things bug me. Not that you care, but I thought I'd list some of the smaller things in life that frequently irritate me.

-When people talk about themselves in the third person. Chaka hates it when people do this!

-When people use the word "anywho". It also bothers me when they say they "drive truck" or that a book was "a good read". This is crazy Tarzan talk if you ask me. The only thing that is worse than this is when people say "believe you me" Yoda talk is actually worse than Tarzan talk.

-I hate it when you try to bypass an automated phone recording by pushing 0, but it only starts the recording back from the very beginning again to punish you for that renegade move.

-The ads on websites that start playing loud audio clips while you are trying to read or watch something online. They are usually hidden and hard to find what it producing the obnoxious noise.

-When girls snap and chew gum loudly and roll it around in their mouth for you to see what color it is.

-When someone puts you on speaker phone without permission and you can hardly hear what they are saying and don't know who else is listening.

-People referring to themselves as being a twenty, thirty or forty something... Is the "something" supposed to make it more mysterious or are they only willing to update their profile or tell you how old they are every 10 years? I don't get it.

-When people staple papers straight across the top instead of on a nice slant in the corner that is more conducive to the future natural folding of the pages.

-When guys pull up to an intersection in their car with windows down and they crank their music up super loud to show how great their speakers are, especially when it's rap music with filthy lyrics.

-When a fast food place screws up your order at the drive through and you drive away before checking for accuracy.

-It also bugs me when people whine and complain about stuff like I have been doing since you started reading this post. Sorry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Gender of Restaurants

I was recently speaking with a friend and she commented how Carl's Jr. is obviously a guy's restaurant because they promote big messy burgers and frequently have scantily clad women promoting their food. That got thinking about what gender certain restaurants appeal to. I am not saying people who go to these restaurants are masculine or feminine, but some food chains cater or appeal to a certain gender more than others. Here are some restaurants that came to mind.

Carls Junior
Burger King
Outback Steakhouse
Hooters (going out on a limb with this one)
Tony Romas
Texas Roadhouse

These places are usually packed with guys. Many of restaurants that cater to guys also feature flat screen TV's which are constantly showing sports programs.

Panda Express
Mimi's Cafe 
The Olive Garden

Mimi's Cafe not only sounds feminine, but it's architecture looks like a cute little house you might see at Disneyland. That's probably not the best draw for a guy's night out, even if the food is good.

I know there are many guys who might prefer a light salad or chicken and there are women who prefer burgers or steak so don't think I'm trying to stereotype all men and women. If you feel that your gender has been threatened from my list, then I apologize. I am not trying to insinuate anything about the patrons of these restaurants or my readers.

I would be interested in knowing if you can think of any other restaurants that jump out to you as catering to more of a male or female clientele.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Panhandling and Begging

Yesterday I saw a dirty looking guy on a busy street. He was carrying a styrofoam doggy bag that someone had just given him from a nearby restaurant. He walked down the street a ways, discarded the container on the grass without examining the contents, then pulled out multiple cardboard signs from his back pack, unfolded one and set up shop on the corner soliciting people for financial aid.

I don't usually give to people begging for money because my Spidey senses tell me they usually want the money for booze or drugs. A man once approached me with tears in his eyes asking for $5 since he had starving kids at home and he needed to buy them food. I offered to go to the store with him and get some groceries but he got pissed off at me for calling his bluff and walked away.

On another occasion a guy approached me and said he had not eaten for days and he was homeless. I had not eaten that day and was on my way to lunch. There was a Burger King across the street. I told him I only had $4 on me at the time, which was true, but I was willing to split it with him and we could each get two items off of their dollar menu. He then said with how infrequently he ate, he needed a big meal. He said he wanted to to the Golden Coral since it was an all you can eat buffet. He declined my offer. The phrase "beggars can't be choosers" came to mind.

After having many experiences like these or seeing the same guy in a mall parking lot over the period of a month telling people his car just ran out of gas and he needed $10, I have become more cynical. Cheeseboy recently shared an experience about when people ask him for money because they ran out of gas or because their car broke down, he gives them Monopoly money. When they say "this isn't real" he tells them "neither is your story."

I know I am not supposed to judge the beggar. The scriptures tell us we should "impart of our substance one to another" and that "inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." I just wish it was easier to identify those who are truly in need. I have more empathy for the people clinging to a shopping carts full of garbage or people who literally live on the streets, since they most likely suffer from mental illness and are not there to scam people for money.

There are many panhandlers and con artists who have cried wolf for so long to the public that it has become hard to tell when someone has a legitimate need anymore. I'm sure there are many people who really do need help, so it is sad that so many people muddy the waters and make it hard to tell who is really in need.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Products I'd Endorse

I'm a small fish in a big pond, so I currently don't have people knocking down the doors of Chaka's World trying to get me to endorse their products. Whenever I'm listening to the radio and hear a celebrity or news anchor sneakily transitions from actual news and launch into a commercial for a mattress, flowers, carpet cleaning, or any other product, it kind of bugs me and actually backfires since I think "You are only promoting that product because they are paying you."

Below, I have listed some products I have enjoyed over the years that I would gladly endorse without getting paid.

Toblerone- If you've read my blog, you know I love Toblerones. They are so unique and delicious. They remind me of Christmas and Europe.

Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds- These bad boys are as good as almonds can get. Their intoxicating smell is as almost as good as the taste.

Cream of Wheat- I've trusted this meal since I was a kid. My mom used to tell me stories about the cook on the box when I was little. I could eat 10 pieces of toast as long as I could dip them in my cream of wheat seasoned in brown sugar.

Movies 8- The dollar theater is one of the few industries that hasn't kept up with inflation. Back in the mid 80's it cost $1 to see a movie. Today it still only cost between $1.50-$2.00 depending on the time of the showing  and the day. You can't complain about that.

There you have some of the products that I would endorse without being compensated. Before you think I am a pillar of integrity with all my free advertising, I have to admit I would probably be a sellout and promote lead based carcinogenic children's toys if someone paid me enough. Maybe not, but at least I'd stoop to Adsense.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Age Gracefully

I just had my 43rd birthday and can't really complain since I feel pretty good for my age, but I'm still kind of bothered by a couple things. When I look in the mirror, my mind is in denial and doesn't want to accept the reality that things have changed. When I see recent photographs of myself, I am forced to realize that my hair line is receding and I am getting older and heavier.

I recently noticed what appear to be age spots on my skin.What's up with that? I'm slowly getting more gray hair, less hair, and the most alarming redistribution. I started to make old guy noises several years ago. I noticed that I sometimes make grunting noises while doing simple tasks like picking things up off the floor. I am not excited about getting old. I try to take good care of myself. I play basketball regularly with college students half my age. They refer to me as "the old guy". I also try to stay young by being immature and childish whenever I can get away with it.

Some people seem to age gracefully or even defy the aging process. A few names that come to mind are Ellen Barkin, Helen Mirren, Sophia Loren, and Racquel Welch (see photo to the right). I think she is over 70 years old now. I don't know if it's healthy living, lots of money, genetics, or just a good plastic surgeon, but some people don't seem to age as quickly as others.

Why did I label this post "how to age gracefully"? Probably just to get people to read it. I'm sorry I have no idea how to stop time, but I did find some quotes about aging on the Internet that I liked.

A man is not old as long as he is seeking something.  ~Jean Rostand

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.  ~Mark Twain

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.  ~Samuel Ullman

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.  ~Bill Vaughn

You can't turn back the clock.  But you can wind it up again.  ~Bonnie Prudden

Regular naps prevent old age, especially if you take them while driving.  ~Author Unknown

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Quote

A friend recently shared this variation of footsteps in the sand with me and I liked it so much, I just had to pass it on. Please don't take offense.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This week I am headed out to a family reunion. It will be held up in the mountains so it is being referred to as "camping", but technically we are staying in cabins so it is really the cushy version of camping. I am excited about that because I'm not a big fan of camping. This is kind of ironic since I have been a scout master for the last 5 years and average camping out about 16 nights per year.

The biggest problem I have with camping is that I find it to be counter productive. If I had to, I could survive in the wild like Bear Grylls, (minus the looking for every excuse to drink my own pee). I actually love spending time outside and getting away from the stress of the city, but at the same time, there is also a law of diminishing returns. You have to factor in things like squatting behind bushes to go to the bathroom, sleeping on the ground, burning your eyes with campfire smoke while trying to stay warm, and getting bit by mosquitoes. I'll admit that camping isn't so bad if you are prepared and have the proper equipment, but that's beside the point. I just don't enjoy going backwards.

Camping for fun is like undoing that which has already been taken care of. It's like pretending we can't walk and deciding to crawl on our hands and knees instead. I love kitchens, indoor bathrooms, and modern conveniences and think they are just as beautiful as any sunset or forest view. I'm okay with just watching movies that feature the great outdoors from the comfort of my bed as opposed to actually going there.

Some nature enthusiasts reading this might think I'm a party pooper or a wuss, and they are probably right, but there are thousands of women who agree with me about this. Unfortunately they also like shopping, getting facials, and watching the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

After looking around, I was finally able to find another guy who agrees with me. I love Jim Gaffigan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Band Dynamics

I am not a musician, but I'd like to share a couple insights and pose some questions about music bands. First of all, why does the lead singer of a band always seem to hog all the fame? I'm talking about all the Paul McCartney types out there who get most of the publicity for the group.

I recently saw a picture of a country music band and there was a guy on stage playing the fiddle. I'm pretty sure it was not Charlie Daniels, but rather some dude who comes out to accompany certain songs and has an occasional solo. It made me wonder how much money he makes compared to the other band members.

Do most bands split the money evenly among the performers? If they do, then groups like Rush must be happy to divide their income by 3 as opposed to Earth Wind and Fire who have to split it 16 ways. Moby is probably pretty stoked to be able to keep his entire check to himself.

This got me thinking about the pecking order when it comes to which instruments or roles are considered most valued in a band. I'm guessing it might be close to how I ranked them below. I apologize that most of my examples are from the 80's. I guess you can tell when I was a teenager.

1) Lead singer prima donnas (Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Bono)
2) Eccentric lead guitarists (Eddie Van Halen, Rick Nielsen, Angus Young, Pete Townsend, Slash)
3) Bass players (Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, Flea, John Entwistle)
4) Drummers (Stewart Copeland, Neil Peart, Tommy Lee, Bun E. Carlos, Charlie Watts)
5) Keyboards (This was a hard one since most famous keyboard guys are solo artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Chick Corea, and Ray Charles and are not really known for being part of a band.)
6) Miscellaneous (This includes back up singers, tambourine players, saxophones, horns, etc.

Even though drummers fall in the middle of the pack, I think they should earn more than the others since they are usually hidden at the back of the stage and because drums are far more dangerous due to the higher risk of spontaneous combustion associated with that instrument.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chaka's Chakras

The concept of energy meridians and chakras in the human body is something I find very interesting. Over the years I have become much more open minded to eastern medicine and alternative medical practices. There is quite a range of practices when it comes to Eastern medicine. On one side of the spectrum there are simple things like massage therapy and essential oils. As you move towards the other end there are practices like energy work, acupuncture, and even full blown witch doctors.

Some people only trust western medicine. Most of us think of x-rays, prescriptions, and surgery when it comes to health care. I will be the first to admit that eastern medicine can be an easy breeding ground for charlatans, but I also think our traditional health care system is frequently guilty of merely treating systems and over medicating people as opposed to focusing on prevention and creating harmony with mind, body, and spirit. (That last part made me sound like a hippy.)

The concept of Chakras is popular in Hinduism and Buddhism and teaches that there are 7 primary energy centers in the body. Each of these centers has an affect on various parts of the body. When these energy centers become blocked, then disease may develop. It's actually more complicated than that, but since I am still writing on a high school level that's the best explanation you will get from me.

I have no doubt that our bodies are composed of energy and everything we interact with is a form of energy, but I wonder how accurate the Chakra energy system is and if there are better systems to explain the intricate interactions of energy in our bodies.

I don't consider myself a new age, mystical kind of guy, but I find the concept of tracking and improving the energy flow of our bodies to be very interesting. I have a lot of questions and concerns about these systems, but if I end up figuring out how this works, then I may have to change the name of my blog to Chakras World.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Role Models for Scientists

When I was a teenager, I had posters of Dr. J and Michael Jordan all over my room. I wanted to do what they did when I grew up. Oh well... I'm sure others felt the same way about athletes or rock stars who they idolized. It's easy to capture images of athletes or entertainers doing their thing. You see posters or screen savers of Lebron James dunking, Travis Pastrana doing back flips on his motorcycle, Aretha Franklin singing, or Michael Phelps swimming.

I was wondering what kids who are really into science put up on their walls to fire themselves up. If you are an intellectual powerhouse and want to be a scientist or a Nobel Prize winner some day, what do the posters in your room look like? I imagine Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Steven Hawking are popular figures, but how do you capture an image of a scientist at the moment of his peak performance like you do an athlete? Maybe it would be a portrait of a person in deep thought with their index finger pointing to their chin. Perhaps it would be a poster of someone sitting on a distinguished panel of experts at a medical conference waiting to answer a question. I don't know.

While I was looking for pictures of scientists online, I came across this one. I know that there are many beautiful women who are also extremely intelligent, but I have a sneaking suspicion that these two gals were hired for this photo for their looks as opposed to their multiple PHDs. Maybe I'm a sexist, judgemental pig, but my spidey senses tell me they are using all their brain power trying to determine what color the liquid in the test tube is.

I love sports and entertainment, but I am glad there are people who aspire to more noble occupations. They may not get the fame and fortune of the movie stars, but they certainly make the world a better place. So if you are one of those smart people working in a scientific field, my hat is off to you. If you are working on a vaccine to cure the common cold or trying to invent a new energy source, keep it up. One day you may be everyone's hero, but for now I'm sorry your posters suck.