Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Caroling...awkward

I was recently thinking about caroling and I believe it has to be one of the most awkward activities ever. I would rate it right up there with being approached by panhandlers.  Before you label me as an Ebenezer Scrooge, let me explain myself. I enjoy Christmas time and carols, but successful caroling is not as easy as it looks. I'm sure there are those who love visits from carolers and are touched by the experience, but I'll bet most people, like myself, feel kind of uncomfortable.

How it is supposed to work:
A group of cheerful, attractive, and vocally talented people approach a home while singing Christmas carols. As they arrive at the porch, someone opens the door with a smile and the occupants of home quickly come to see their visitors and begin to soak in the Christmas spirit. When the singing is done the listeners are touched thank them for sharing their talents. If the recipient is an older or lonely person they may even shed a tear during the performance or offer some sort of treat to the carolers. This is the ideal way you would probably see it happening in the movies.

How it happens in real life:
You hear people singing outside your home but you can't turn off your lights quick enough so you reluctantly open the door and you are immediately reminded how freaking cold it is. You obviously can't invite the big group in so you stand there shivering with a fake smile on your face. As you listen to their singing, you ask yourself "Are they doing this for me because they think I like it?". There is nothing more awkward than staring at a group of strangers who have showed up at your home to sing to you with no warning.

What it's supposed to be like:

How it feels for me:

I'm sorry if I come across as a party pooper. I appreciate people who enthusiastically serve others by sharing their vocal talents, but I'm just saying it sometimes gets kind of weird. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Best Band Names

Recently I was thinking about what I considered to be the best music group names and I realized this was yet another topic that needs to be analyzed and categorized. Thinking of starting up a band? Here are some things to consider before deciding on a name.

Normal Names-One of the most common practices is sticking with your name and keeping it simple. Elton John, Rod Stewart, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, and Celine Dion are examples, although many of these artists have modified their birth names. The only disadvantage is there are bound to be thousands of people with the same name who could cash your royalty checks if they ever fell into their hands.

The Bands-They feature the lead singer's name and do little more than acknowledge the band as is the case with the Greg Kihn Band, Steve Miller Band, or Dave Matthews Band. Another variation of this is to name the band after some sort of entity. I suppose it is a step up from being known as "band", but I wonder if The News , The Heart breakers, or the Pips ever get jealous. I hope Huey Lewis, Tom Petty, and Gladys Knight can sleep well at night knowing they've hogged more than their their fair share of the fame.

The one word names-These are also popular. U2, Devo, Prince, Moby, Cher, Madonna, Muse, Queen, Yes, etc. You can't argue with success these guys have had with keeping their names simple. Seal was actually named Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel. I think abbreviating his name was a wise business move.

The Abbreviations-No need for an explanation here. Some of these groups are better known by their initials than they are by their full name. A few that come to mind are ELO, CCR, BOC, OMD, TLC, REM, and RATM.

The long creative names-These guys try hard to come up with a unique name. Dexy's Midnight Runners, Bullet for My Valentine, The Stone Temple Pilots, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Panic at the Disco, Fine Young Cannibals, The Goo Goo Dolls, Hootie and the Blowfish, etc. I think it is ironic that there are now so many groups with crazy complicated names that they no longer sound unique. It's kind of like getting perfume overload. After a while you just want to say " I get it, you have a unique and random name-who doesn't?"

If Congress passed some legislation enforcing limits to band names it would save the musicians a lot of time and they would be able to use their creative energies on making music instead of trying to think up with unique and catchy names. I'm sure it would also alleviate friction and break ups between band members. I think a numbering system would be most efficient. Each band would get a number and they would increase each time a new group came on the scene. If we went back to the beginning of time we could start with The Rolling Stones at #1 and just go from there.

That's my contributing idea to society for the day. Do what you will with it. If you are thinking of naming your band and need some help feel free to let me know. I'm sure I could help you think of some good ones.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gossip for Nomads

I'm sure gossip has been around since the beginning of man, but with the invention of checkout stands at grocery stores, the industry has flourished. In today's world it is just too easy to find out gossip about celebrities thanks to instant communication, social media, and fine publications like The Enquirer. I'd like to see dirt digging ventures like TMZ really earn their money and make a living without the Internet or modern technology.

Can you imagine trying to run a juicy celebrity gossip business a thousand years ago if you were living with a bunch of Nomads in the desert? You would have to write everything down on a scroll or tell others your exciting stories when you came across a caravan or bought supplies at a market. I'm guessing the big stories and headlines might sound like the following:

"One of the rich man's goats went into it his nice tent and it angered him. One of his wives said this is a common occurance!"

"Naaman adds yet another chariot to his lavish collection. How many vehicles does one person need?"

"The servant caught trying to stay in the shade when his master was not watching now acuses him of being cruel and having a wicked temper."

Yeah, it's definitely more entertaining gossip these days. I'm pretty sure the paparazzi could not have made a living in ancient times. I'll bet those racy engravings of the queen sunbathing didn't circulate as quickly as they do today either.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have been meaning to write a post about gratitude for a long time. Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to finally share some thoughts on the subject. First, I'd like to acknowledge the fact that my family has received many blessings this year. Some of them are things we have been looking forward to for a long time. There are three particular events that have been a huge deal for us.

1) After a longer than usual wait, we had another baby this year. I know many people look at us like we are crazy or irresponsible for having 10 kids, but it is something we feel strongly about. It would be more affordable, convenient, clean, and quiet, if we had fewer kids, but my family is the best part of my life and each one of them makes the world a better place. Besides, I am not going to get my own reality TV show unless I can surpass the Duggars. Our newest addition is such a bright spot for our family and I can't imagine what it would be like without her.

2) After 14 years of living in a home with absolutely filthy carpet (click here for proof), we were finally able to re-carpet our house. I'm really not into material things, but it is amazing how after being surrounded by nasty carpet, when you get clean flooring, it can boost your spirits and make you feel so much better.

3) We finally went to Disneyland! Our family has not been on a real vacation for over 11 years. We have been to family reunions and over the weekend events, but not a full blown family vacation. I had been telling my kids we were going to go to Disneyland for over 10 years, but each year the money just wasn't there and we ended up putting it off for another year. As a result, I have become the boy who cried wolf to my kids and they would just say "whatever" when I told them we were going to go this year again.

This year as the date was approaching, things were still not panning out. I know Dave Ramsey would rip me a new one if he knew I was taking my family on a vacation under our current financial situation. Somehow, a string of miracles occurred over the last few months that allowed us to pull it off by the skin of our teeth.

I love Disneyland, especially the magic of seeing kids reactions to it for the first time. I'm not sure how my 5 year old was able to maintain such a calm reaction going over the falls while her older brothers thought they were going to die.

I have so many things to be grateful for, but I am particularly thankful for these three events that we have patiently looked forward to for a long time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pinterest Update

Several months ago I did a post about Pinterest and basically made fun of it for being a glamorized digital version of scrap booking. I was going to give it a shot and see if I could create a testosterone laced page until I found out that signing up would automatically change my Facebook account to the timeline format. A couple of months ago, I was moved to Timeline against my will anyway, so I decided it was time to give Pinterest a shot. I'll admit that 90% of the content floating around on it is total chick stuff, but I have still been able to create some fun boards and I actually like it. Feel free to check it out.

My Pinterest page

This year I have really been distracted from my usual blogging habits and production as a result of Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter. (Sorry Linkedin, you are too boring to be classified as a distraction). As a result, I have done fewer posts and they have probably been lower quality too. I feel like a slacker.

I'm probably not the only one who has experienced this, so I thought I would list some of those links here for my blogging friends in case they'd care to get connected on some of these other social networking sites.

My Facebook link

I have also recently come to the realization that in order to market successfully in today's world, you have to have your business listed on Facebook. As a result, I have started using it for my personal training business and have also started a YouTube channel for videos. Feel free to check them out at the links below and like or subscribe. I will continue to blog on Chaka's World, but I am also going to be spending more time on some of these other sites.

Your Fitness Quest on Facebook

Your Fitness Quest Videos on YouTube

On a side note, I am glad the election is finally over. I am not going to miss all the political ads! I have been sickened over all of the divisive talk over the last several months. Regardless of your political persuasion or how you feel about the outcome, I just hope that we can all come together as a country and work together to solve our nation's problems. Hopefully we will be mature and civil enough to do it on our own without having to be compelled to be united by some natural disaster or being attacked by aliens. I really hope things improve for everyone in the future.

I stole this from Kristina P. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scary Movies

It's nearly Halloween and I'll be the first to admit that I'm a wimp and don't like being scared. I love movies that offer suspense and surprises, but I don't care for the ones that get in your mind and instill fear in you long after you watch them. There are plenty of movies in the horror genre. I don't think the ones about serial killers, chainsaw wielding psychopaths, or monsters are that scary, but I do get spooked with the more subtle supernatural stuff like ghosts.

The first movie I remember being scared of was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I saw it in the theater with my parents when I was a little kid. They ended up taking me out to the lobby. I'm not sure if it was the Oompa Loompas, watching kids get picked off, or Gene Wilder's hair, but something was just wrong and scary about that movie. It should not have been classified as a children's movie.

Here is a list of horror movies that have since scared me. Since I'm not a big fan of this genre, I admit I haven't seen very many scary movies so my list is limited.

Psycho- This is a classic. The concept behind this movie has been copied quite a bit since then. I miss the subtlety and suspense that Hitchcock featured in his movies.
The Ring- I never thought a little girl could scare me so bad, but I wet my pants when she crawled out of the TV.
The Exorcist- I've only seen parts of this movie. Whenever I am flipping channels and come across Linda Blair's spinning head, I just keep moving on.
The Shining- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Nosferatu-The original from 1922 and Klaus Kinsky's 1979 German version is also great.
Salem's Lot-Several things about this movie freaked me out. It was no fun walking home from my friends house after it was over.
Poltergeist- I've never looked at clowns the same after seeing this movie.
Nightmare on Elm Street-This movie had a scary premise. I only saw the original so I can't vouch for any sequels.
Alien(s)- One of the few " monster" movies I think is extremely intense and scary.
What Lies Beneath-The real horror in this movie is that Harrison Ford plays the bad guy for a change!
The 6th Sense-My wife's family all slept in their living room after watching it because they were too afraid to sleep in separate bedrooms.
The Others-Not that scary, or original, but I still liked it.
Diabolique-I'm referring to the original 1955 French version. Very suspenseful.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers- Both the 1956 original and the 1978 remake were pretty good. I love the concept of people not really being who they appear to be.
The Haunting in Connecticut-Makes you want to get a very detailed history of a home before you buy one.

What are some movies that have kept you from wanting to go down in the fruit cellar at night?
PS- This post was borrowed from The Movie Guy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Are You In The Right Profession?

At least this is not your job.
Over the years I have realized that some people don't enjoy what they do for a living. Some of them hide that fact, but others make it painfully obvious that they don't like their job. I'm sure many people who are competent employees would totally excel with a different occupation. Paul Potts previously selling cell phones comes to mind.

What if Michael Jordan would have decided to become an insurance adjuster instead of a basketball player? I'm sure he would have been great at what ever he chose to do, but we would have missed out on his basketball talents. At least he didn't stick with the baseball thing.

I'm sure there are many people who wish they could do something else for a living. I also have a feeling more of those buried desires are aimed at the entertainment industry as opposed to the science field. I bet a lot more people strike out for Hollywood on a bus with their last 50 dollars hoping to catch a break than people who head out to MIT to see if they can impress someone and become a famous scientist. Does that mean Hollywood has less substance to it if just about anyone who is ambitious enough could break into it regardless of their experience level or talent? I'd say yes.

Under the current economic conditions people should be grateful to have any job, but I am especially happy for those people who enjoy what they do for a living, regardless of what their work is. I think it's good advice to go into a field that you enjoy. By the way, if any of you happen to know of any openings for positions in the NBA, or for work as a movie critic, comedian, or food critic, that doesn't really require that you are good at it, I'd love to hear about it. I hear it's all about who you know.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Turnover Tragedy

I really hate to see waste, especially when it comes to something as dear to my heart as food. Many supermarkets, grocery stores, and businesses throw out large amounts of food on a daily basis. I think it's a shame to see food wasted when there are so many hungry people who would gladly accept it. I know many stores donate their day-old bread and other foods to homeless shelters or food banks, but they still end up throwing away a lot of food that is beyond the expiration date due to liability concerns.

I have always been a picky eater and am sensitive to eating food once it is beyond its prime. I frequently turn my nose up to and decline perishable food items if I suspect they might be tainted or unsafe to eat. That being said, I have no problem eating foods that are a little past the expiration date, especially if they are canned or dry goods. It's kind of a no-brainer. I know to pass on the green hamburger in the back of the fridge with the white cotton like coat growing on top of it, but if some packaged and processed food is a little past the "best by" date, then who cares? I hope that doesn't make me sound like I'm a food hoarder or a dumpster diver.
Not me, but I could be that guy's stunt double.
One of my saddest and most recent food wasting memories happened when I was eating at Arby's. I placed my order for a couple items off the dollar menu and, while I was waiting, a new teenage employee had just finished icing a tray of warm cherry turnovers. As he was loading them under the heat lamp with the tongs, one of them slipped out and fell several inches onto the clean stainless steel counter top below and it smudged a little of the icing on top. He picked it up and did the unthinkable.

Without hesitating, he tossed the perfectly good turnover into the garbage, as time stood still and I cried out in anguish, "NOOOOOO" in slow motion. As the turnover sank into the bottom of the trash can, I sank to my knees then collapsed into the fetal position and sobbed uncontrollably. Yes, they really are that good.

I guess it's a good thing employees are trained to discard food that doesn't meet quality standards, but it's not like it fell on the floor. He just smeared a little frosting. Note to Arby's: If you expect me to ring that bell when I leave, then I expect you to offer me any of the less than perfect-looking turnovers your new employees may have screwed up before you discard them.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

5 Year Anniversary-Double Standards

Today is the 5 year Anniversary of Chaka's World. To celebrate, I thought I'd share some thought I have about double standards. Double Standards are found in many different aspects of life. They are common in politics, but I'm going to avoid that topic. One double standard that comes to mind is how it is acceptable for girls and women to idolize and talk about how gorgeous some men are, but if a guy does the same thing about beautiful women, it doesn't seem to work out quite as well.

Let me first start with teenage girls and young women. If you see their Pinterest board or posters in their room, they will probably have tons of pictures of Zac Efron, Ryan Gosling, and Taylor Lautner and they will comment how they are such a hunk, dream boat, or some other lame name to indicate how infatuated they are with them.

Now if a teenage boy puts pictures of Selena Gomez, Brooklyn Decker, or Megan Fox up and comments about how "hot" they are, then they are often accused of objectifying women and looking at them as objects as opposed to human beings.

An extension of this double standard that really bothers me is when women with boyfriends or even married women will list as their likes on Facebook and say things like Hugh Jackman or George Clooney and rant and rave about how they are so in love with some celebrity in front of their significant other.

If a married guy were to talk about how beautiful he thinks Kate Beckinsale or Halle Barry is in front of his wife, then people will think he is an insensitive jerk or his wife will probably take offense and elbow him in the ribs. So what's up with that? Luckily my wife isn't that way. She only has me wear that Brad Pitt mask each evening when I get home because she said the kids think it's funny.

The most extreme level of this double standard is when married women like Twilight Moms totally get into teenage boys that are half their age. People might look at them and think they are a little fanatical and shake their head and laugh, but if a grown man were to act the same way over a teenage starlet, then people would be clamoring for them to be listed on the national sex offender registry.

One other area that comes to mind is how women are able to compliment other women so easily with no questions asked. I always hear women say things like "She is soooo gorgeous", " you have the most amazing eyes, hair, etc". If I were to tell a male co-worker or friend that he looked "so handsome", the eyebrows of everyone within earshot would raise and it would get really awkward.

Even though there are double standards and they don't seem fair, I'm kind of glad that some of the rules don't apply to men and women equally.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drug Commercials

We live in a litigious society and as a result people have to protect themselves by disclosing all kinds of information. Legal disclaimers are common at the end of most commercials, especially if the product can affect your health. The drug commercials I see on TV and hear on the radio are a great example of this. The snake oil salesman had it made back in the day. He could say what ever he wanted, but today drug companies have to list every single side effect that could possibly happen.

Let's say you have heart burn and you decide to take a pharmaceutical product for it. The commercial says it may relieve your symptoms, but then it goes on to tell you that you may experience dry mouth, dizziness, diarrhea, headache, slurred speech, bloody stools, convulsions, paralysis, etc. Hey drug companies, you had me at dry mouth. I think I'll just stick with my heartburn, but thanks.

Even though drug companies have to disclose all the scary side effects, they still have ways of making their product appealing to the masses. These commercials always have smiling models in comfortable situations enjoying life. They are usually shown exercising, gardening, having a picnic, dancing with their significant other, or walking on the beach. These models either have amazingly high levels of self confidence or have no idea what the commercial is about. How can the beautiful lady look so confident and dignified. Doesn't she know she's promoting a product to help you stop pooping your pants?

I wonder if the same guy writes all these commercials since they are all so similar. "See our ad in Good Housekeeping, Ask your doctor is (blank) is right for you". These commercials also seem to have quite a budget since most of them are not your usual 30 second spots. Some of them are even several minutes long.

I have also noticed a correlation between drug commercials and attorney commercials. As part of my retirement plan I am considering having my physician prescribe every new drug know to man so when the law firm commercials start asking if I ever took (blank) I can say I did and can be part of the settlements. Maybe I should run that by Dave Ramsey first.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My top 20 Tweets

I have noticed the disturbing trend that more time is passing between my posts. I have to admit that Facebook and Twitter have drawn quite a few people's attention away from blogging, including myself. For those of you not into Twitter, I have decided to list some of the tweets I have authored over the past couple months. The only thing better than a top 10 list is a top 20 list so here you go.

1) Spent 6 hours yesterday with my first ever yard sale. Made $22.50. I will only do it again if I can get half a dozen hoarders to RSVP first.

2) I'm becoming more fitness conscious. I quit using the remote door opener and now I unlock the car by turning the key to burn more calories.

3) It bugs me when celebrities change their real name for show business. I just found out Mr. T's real name is Mr. H.

4) Muffin top: Funny how the same word can either mean something that makes you hungry, or something that makes you lose your appetite.

5) What goes around, comes around. I just had a client walk off with my pen...The one I picked up from the bank earlier today.

6) The only thing that can compare to the excitement of earning an Olympic Gold medal is when I get my LinkedIn e-mail updates.

7) Ladies, looking for a way to come across 20 years younger? Just pronounce it "LIBARY"

8) Badminton is to the Summer Olympics what curling is to the Winter Olympics.

9) I know many people who are gluten intolerant, but my dietary challenge is that I am glutton tolerant.

10) I'm pretty sure corn nuts were created by dentists as a way to insure job security.

11) I sometimes get the names Dana White and Vanna White mixed up. My friends who are into MMA and the Wheel of Fortune think I'm an idiot.

12) Chinese food, I love you too much to not tell you that everyone is talking behind your back about how lame your hard cookie dessert is.

13) I'm glad to see so many gluten intolerant friends coming out of the closet. When I was growing up, society was not as accepting of them.

14) I accidentally referred to Bruce Banner "Hulk" as David Banner. A mistake like that could have cost me my life if it happened at Comic Con.

15) Ink refills for my printer cost more than filling up my van. Big oil has nothing on big ink!

16) Dear Cap'n Crunch, Thank you for the fleshy stalactites I now have hanging from the roof of my mouth.

17) I think the name "Lady Bird Johnson" sounds like she should have been Bob Dog's sidekick on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

18) Was feeling depressed & lethargic. Just realized it's probably because I bought anti-inspirant instead of antiperspirant by mistake.

19) The effectiveness of using a chainsaw is offset by the amount of time it takes to actually get it started.

20) The cheapest testosterone supplement I've been able to find is just watching the Expendables 2 trailer at the beginning of each day.

If you have a Twitter account, feel free to stay in touch at @Chaka4612. Stay tuned for my next post when I give you a summary of all of my Facebook updates that you may have missed. Just kidding.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Take on Neck Ties

First of all I'd like to say that the person who invented the neck tie should have been hung by one, but since society has adopted this fashion trend, I have given in and go along with it. As an experienced tie wearer, I have decided to enlighten the readers of Chaka's World with a few insights on the subject.

Designs- I prefer conservative or subtle designs as opposed to noisy ones with cartoon characters or dumb messages on them. I can make occasional exceptions for wearing a flag tie around the 4th of July or a Christmas tie during the holidays, but regularly wearing team logos or Bugs Bunny on your tie can backfire. As you move away from simple patterns and move towards an actual message with your tie, you are entering dangerous territory.

The knot- I prefer the Windsor knot. It is more full and symmetrical and I believe it looks better than the quickly tied knots I see many young men sporting these days. Some of the ties I see look like guys were just guessing how to tie them.

To the Neck- I hate feeling like I'm being choked, but If you are wearing a tie, then wear it all the way up. I can understand after a long day at the office if you unbutton your top button, loosen your tie, or role up your sleeves, but if you show up with a loose and crooked tie, it just looks horrible.

Tie length- According to Dress for Success, the tip of the tie should come down to the center of your belt buckle. If it's too long, it says you are sloppy and uncaring, if it is too short, it makes you look like you are 50 pounds overweight since it accentuates your uncovered belly. Don't become a victim to the short tie look. You are better than that!
Obsessive Compulsive- I have never been diagnosed as having an obsessive compulsive personality, but I often feel that way when I tie my ties. If my ties does not reach the ideal hanging zone or feel just right, I end up tying it over and over until I feel it has been tied properly.

Tie Tacks and bars- These are too formal for me and even though I have some, I never wear them. The main reason is because I refuse to wear them correctly which is at the 3rd button down. I think the 5th button or mid shirt looks much better, but I don't like people telling me that I'm wearing it too low.
My tie secret- In order to have the perfect hanging tie, I use a tie clip, but not one that anyone can see. For years I have used a plastic coated paperclip (so the ends don't damage your tie) and pin the skinny end of the tie to my shirt after sliding it through the loop on the underside of the tie. That way when you lean forward or move, the tie remains in  place and you give off the image of being a super hero who can defy gravity.

If you have to wear a tie, then you have my condolences, but you might as well look good doing so. I hope these amazing and life changing tips help you improve your appearance and self confidence and that as a result you land yourself a multi-mullion dollar business deal. If this is the case, please remember me and feel free to leave a little something in my Paypal donation sidebar since I am trying to take my large family to Disneyland in a couple months and it is going to be freaking expensive!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Children's Music Education

When I was in grade school, I took piano lessons for about 4 months. In 6th grade, I played the trumpet for one year (and was first chair I might add). I later bought drum sticks and a drumming pad and would have become a world famous percussionist if I had actually started the drums. Despite my limited dabbling with musical instruments and my willingness to quickly abandon practicing them, I still enjoy music, even if I can't remember how to read notes.

Before I proceed, here is a quick lesson on genetics for you. If a woman who is a professional violinist has children with a man who played sports, then music will be the dominant gene for their kids as long as the woman is the one wearing the jeans.

My oldest boy started playing the piano over 16 years ago and I put up with a lot of twinkle twinkle little star and other monotonous practicing that beginners go through. Over the years he got better until I actually enjoyed hearing him and my other kids practice. He recently earned a music scholarship to college. I find it ironic that as a classically trained musician he also have quite a  following on his YouTube channel for all of his piano covers he has done of death metal music. My fifteen year old daughter is an amazing pianist and violinist and could get a scholarship for either instrument too.

Our family does not have boats, ATVs, big screen televisions, campers, or any of that other fun stuff. Instead we have instruments. All of my kids play the piano and most play a second instrument like the violin, cello, and my five year old just started the harp. One reason my wife is so adamant about music is because she says "we don't have cows to milk."

I credit my family's musical talent to hard working kids, music teachers, and their mom who comes from a very musical family. My mother in law even wrote a book about that exact topic entitled "How to get your kids to practice without resorting to violence".

By the way, I am still working on my book called "How to waste countless hours online". I will let you know when it is finished, but I can't ever seem to break away from Facebook to work on it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrities on T-shirts

I don't understand the trend to wear clothes with dead celebrities on them. I'm a pretty conservative dresser (which is code for meaning I have no sense of style), so I am not a fan of T-shirts with silly or cocky messages written on them, let alone clothes with images of actual people on them.

Some of the more popularT-shirt  images I've noticed people wearing over the years include:

Elvis Presley
Bob Marley
James Dean
Marilyn Monroe
Bruce Lee
Che Guevara
Janis Joplin
Albert Einstein
John Lennon

When I was a teenager, an older lady in my neighborhood asked me why I advertised for companies for free. It took me a minute to realize that she was talking about the Nike Swoosh logo on my shirt. Ever since then I have decided to stop leaving money on the table so I got a sponsorship with Nike. Just kidding, apparently they only pay famous people for wearing their logo, the rest of us pay them in order to to wear their brand.

I'm guessing this T-shirt trend is probably just a form of idol worship (not the kind like lighting incense to Baal, but like wearing a team jersey with the number of your favorite athlete). If you really are a hard core fan of a celebrity, then go ahead and wear their T-shirt, but if you've never seen a James Dean movie, but you wear the shirt just because you think it's hip, then I feel bad for you.

The one I really don't get is Che Guevara. I can understand if you were a huge Lohn Lennon fan or if Bruce Lee was your martial arts mentor you looked up to, but I would venture to guess that most of the college aged kids wearing Guevara shirts are not Marxist revolutionaries. They are probably just trying to be rebels or be a little edgy. How come we don't see those same people wearing Stalin T-shirts?

Anyway, when I die, I hope you will all buy my T-shirts that feature my pensive countenance since it will probably be a cultural icon for generations. You will also be guaranteed to be cool if you do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Super Powers

The topic of super powers is one that most guys have probably wasted a lot of time thinking about over the course of their lives. There are so many good powers to choose from, but I think being able to read a person's mind has to be at the top of the list. You could make a good living as a salesman without having to go through all the numbers.

I've always thought that having special vision would also be a cool. This might include X ray vision, having eagle eyes that could see details at long distances, or being able to see in the dark.

If I had the power of super human strength and I was walking around in the desert and came across an old rusted out abandoned car, I'm afraid I would probably be tempted to see how far I could throw it just for fun. That probably explains why I have not been entrusted with that particular power yet.

I actually do have a super power, but it kind of sucks. It is the heightened ability to hear water dripping and running. I can hear a drippy faucet on the other side of the house and can sense whenever sprinklers or a water softener is running no matter how noisy the surroundings may be.

My special water senses are actually more of a curse since I sometimes wake up at night when I hear the pipes hissing that nobody else seems to notice. I always imagine something like the picture to the right happening somewhere in my house when I hear those water noises. I'm kind of like Aqua Man but in reverse since water freaks me out.

My super powers of water sound sensitivity only stress me out. If I do happen to find leaking water, there is not much I can do about it except call another super hero named plumber man. He has the super power of getting people to pay him tons of money for his work. Now that's a real super power.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Picture of the Month July 2012

In honor of the Olympic hosts.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What Happened to Blogging?

If Chaka's World were a celebrity, then at the end of this month it would be checking into rehab with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. I have no idea what happened in the month of July, but visiting traffic came to a halt. Maybe it was because it's summer and people are on vacation and foolishly think they don't need to check in on my blog.

Did I go on a racist or anti-Semitic rant that I don't remember? Did I get too political or religious and alienate readers? Did I forget to shower all month? Has Google or the CIA been redirecting web traffic? Are extra terrestrials disregarding the prime directive?

I have asked the question "is blogging dead" before, and I'm reconsidering that question again after seeing this months statistics. People used to actually comment on posts and reading their witty remarks and insightful comments was always my favorite part. Has social media replaced antiquated blogs? I've seen some blogging giants turn to other means to get their message out over the years. Should bloggers feel like a carburetor, vinyl record, or a dial up modem?

To all my blogging friends who may be experiencing the same thing, I'd like to share an emotional speech of encouragement with you. Think Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, 300, Patton, Rocky, etc.

Hearken to my words dear brothers of Blogger. We may be out numbered by an innumerable host of newer and cooler ways to communicate, but we are still strong. We may give way to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, someday, but today is not that day! We may have the stigma of being called a blog and the hassle of requiring word verification, but we will not give up. Join with me in reclaiming our readership. We will unite mommy blogs, recipe blogs, and family blogs with conspiracy theory blogs, fitness blogs, fashion and craft blogs until we once again rule the Internet. If you have even a hint of blogging ambition and desire to restore blogging to it's prior glory and splendor, then join us, for tonight we dine in Hell!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Picture of the Month July 2012

I really liked this. There are too many similarities between the walking dead and the many young people I see wandering around in a trance unaware of their surroundings. I'm not sure which one is scarier.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Kryptonite: Scout Cheers

I have been a scout master for over 6 years for the boys in my neighborhood. Even though I am not a big fan of camping, I still enjoy serving in that position. I think the scouting program can be a very effective program to help boys learn skills, reach goals, achieve personal growth, and serve their community. I also agree with the timeless values that the Boy Scouts of America promote.

That being said, I do have one big gripe with the scouting program: WHAT'S UP WITH THE STUPID CHEERS? I can understand young cub scouts being entertained with silly cheers and songs, but once boys get to the teenage years, it just gets awkward. What really concerns me is when I go to a training meeting with other adult leaders and they still insist on doing cheers, yells, and games that were designed for 10 year olds. Sometimes I want to scream "What are you doing? There are no kids here!".

Maybe I just have a bad attitude, but I can't be the only one who feels this way. It's not that I think I'm too cool to do wait a minute, yes I do! Some personalities like doing stuff like that, but it just makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and I feel that they were designed to strip away any dignity I might have. I'm a 43 year old guy and I don't enjoy singing about being a teapot, or acting out actions to cute cheers in front of others.

To offset my complaining, I am going to give some practical advice to parents who have boys in scouting. Over the years I have noticed a huge correlation between how involved parents are and how likely a boy is to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. I'd recommend focusing on rank advancements as soon as a boy turns 11 and starts scouting.

With minimal consistent effort, a boy can earn his Eagle by the time he is 13 as long as he stays on top of things. I suggest parents look over their kids scout book with them each week. It only takes 5 minutes but keeps them on track and it makes a huge difference. Once a kid turns 16, it's an uphill battle to finish since they will have so many other priorities competing for their time like dating, driving, school, athletics, etc.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Handwriting: The Lost Art

I spent this last week at scout camp and sat in on several merit badge classes that my scouts took. Some of the classes required that the boys write down answers to questions or write a paragraph about their observations. While looking for a lost assignment for one of my scouts, I flipped through a large pile of papers that scouts from all over the state had turned in. I was unprepared for what I saw. I have come to the conclusion that handwriting is a lost art.

My handwriting can be pretty sloppy at times so I admit I may be a hypocrite, but I am shocked at how few kids and teenagers have good handwriting and spelling these days. I'm not just talking about bad handwriting. What I saw was not even remotely legible and was just random symbols and nonsensical scribbles. I'm pretty sure that 100 years ago kids' penmanship was better and they all knew cursive. You could probably find as many kids today who know Latin as you can those who can write in cursive. Some day archaeologists may have to decipher my old journals and school reports in order to understand the mysterious ancient script they are written in.

There are several factors contributing to the decline in penmanship but, ironically, I think technology is the big culprit. Today, kids type their reports and assignments and they frequently text and abbreviate words instead of having to write them out or spell them correctly. E-mail has completely replaced letter writing. I don't even think kids write letters to Santa Claus anymore.

On the bright side, I think we are preparing a generation of future physicians who will be confident and adept at writing prescriptions. I Googled "sloppy handwriting" and the picture of the above prescription came up. My wife is a medical transcriptionist and at a glance she told me it was a prenatal vitamin prescription and it was pretty clear what it was for. I didn't realize she knew Mandarin.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Blog Cleanse

When I was at the store recently, I noticed several cleansing products on one of the aisles. I've always been intrigued with this concept, but at the same time I'm a little leery of the stories that 40 pounds of undigested food were found in John Wayne's colon at the time of his autopsy. I've heard similar urban legends involving Elvis. Anyway, now that we are grossed out I can move onto my topic of the blog cleanse.

I recently had a blogger friend mention that she was deleting several people from her Facebook account since she wasn't even sure who they were. I think cleaning things, de-junking, and simplifying can be a good thing. I've recently felt that my posts have been mediocre at best and they don't seem to pack the same punch they did several years ago. I think now is a good time to take a brief blog vacation to renew and cleanse so I can come back in better shape.

Coincidentally, in the morning I am taking 10 scouts to scout camp for a week so I will be away from my computer and it is the perfect time for a blog cleanse. While I am up in the mountains, I hope to clear away the clutter of my mind and hopefully I will come back refreshed and ready to unleash some new creative ideas on my blog with a vengeance....or at least have some insightful posts about tying knots and earning merit badges.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shoes In The Blender

This afternoon while we were having lunch, my 7-year-old boy came walking into the kitchen wearing the shoes shown below. Before any of you try to report me to the Division of Child Protective Services, I have to defend myself and let you know that these were brand new shoes three months ago. I don't know if the heavy wear and tear was a result of buying cheap shoes, excessive summer play outside, or possibly putting his shoes in the blender, but I still can't believe it.

Seeing these shoes reminded me of when I was a little boy and my shoes would start to look like I should be in the cast of Oliver. My dad would take me to Sears and buy me new sneakers. He always invited us to go on errands with him. He would also take us grocery shopping on Saturdays and would buy us ice cream cones and hot dogs afterwards. 

Since it is Father's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to express my gratitude for having a Dad who did those little things for his kids. I probably didn't appreciate it as much at the time but, as an adult with children of my own, it means a lot more to me today. Happy Father's Day. It looks like I have an appointment at the shoe store.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

High School Cliques

I was recently reminiscing about my high school years and was thinking about the different groups kids associate with. We all have obvious differences, preferences, and tastes, but it is kind of sad to see insecure teenagers labeled because they affiliate with a certain group. Here are the main cliques I remember

Jocks- I probably fit in this category since I enjoyed sports, but unfortunately, athletic ability was frequently accompanied by cockiness and pride.

Stuck up/mean girls-The female version of the jocks. Usually many cheerleaders were in this group. Why are good looks so frequently accompanied by so much attitude?

Stoners- These were the people who spent a good amount of their time out in the parking lot with the hacky sack and banned substances who avoided the class room whenever possible.

The Brains- The polar opposite of the stoners. These were honor students, Sterling scholars, and people who actually actually took their education seriously. I'm guessing many of these kids have PHD's as adults.

Nerds-These socially award kids were usually found in the library and often seen wearing pocket protectors with their sweater tucked into their underpants. In my day they were into dungeons and dragons.

Goths-There were only a few of these back when I was in high school and they hung out in C-Wing.. They were usually musicians or thespians who enjoyed being freaky different and dressing in black and going heavy on the makeup.

Cowboys-The FFA club members could be an intimidating group with their fleece lines Levi jackets, their CAT truck baseball caps and tight wranglers complete with the skoal ring in their back pocket.

Even though we all relate to different groups more than others, it's nice to be able to grow up and hopefully lose the labels. I guess we all become more alike once we start having kids, paying bills, and dealing with life.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Yams and Sweet Potatoes

I'd like to take a few minutes and address an issue that concerns me. Over the years, I have heard so many narrow minded and prejudiced people express their dislike for something I feel strongly about. I can't believe how many people don't like yams. Yams and sweet potatoes are not that bad. Cut them some slack! It's not like we are talking about brussel sprouts and turnips.

First of all, I'd like to clarify that yams and sweet potatoes are not the same, but people frequently confuse them with each other since they look similar, kind of like Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry.

Are people scared of them just because they are orange or because they are sweet? If this is a person's criteria for judging something, then the Oompa Loompas don't have a chance. Sweet potatoes have more flavor, more fiber, more anti-oxidants, slightly fewer calories, and a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. Because of this they are usually a hit with fitness enthusiasts and healthy eaters.

If you want to criticize a vegetable, then let's talk about onions. I've expressed my concern about this diabolical food before. Let me just summarize how I feel about onions by saying I don't care to eat something that smells like it was grown in some one's armpit.

I understand that there will still be haters out there even after this informative and life changing post. I'm just asking people to be a little more tolerant towards these root vegetables and give them a chance more often than once a year at Thanksgiving. I'll bet posts like this probably make you wonder how much money I make under the table from the National Tuber Association.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Overpaying is Worth It

I'd like to share two experiences that involved money. Last week I took my daughter to an ice cream/yogurt place in town she wanted to go to. We used their smallest sized containers and served up some frozen yogurt with toppings. We were told to put our food on the scale to determine the price. I was shocked when it came to $12.99 for two small frozen yogurts. It was good, but not that good, and I had a hard time enjoying it knowing I had just been financially raped. I might expect to pay that much at a famous tourist attraction or at an airport, but not at a self serve place in my home town.

In contrast, about 20 years ago I toured Europe with my dad for nearly a month. After the group he was leading finished their vacation, my finance and brother joined us and we were able to continue travelling around Europe on our own for several more weeks. I had been wearing the same few sets of clothes over and over since we were traveling light. I had to wash them in sinks and air dry them since we were living like Gypsies and sleeping on trains for the second half of our trip. The necklines on my T-shirts had stretched so much that they looked like I was going for this over the shoulder look.

One day while we were in France, we had a rare break from a hectic schedule and I came across a laundromat. I think I paid the equivalent of $25 to do a load of laundry, but it was so worth it to dry my clothes in an electric dryer and have them clean and shrunk back to their original size.

Recalling these experiences made me think about other situations in life when people totally overpay for something, but still felt it was worth the hefty price. When have you knowingly paid more than you should have for something yet still been happy with your decision?

I'd love to hear if others have had any similar experiences concerning this topic in the comments.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TV Spin Off Shows

Life is not only like a box of chocolates, but it is also like a spin-off of a TV show. I was first introduced as a new character to my family in 1968 and played a cute baby boy. Over the years I developed into a wise talking youngster and eventually took on the role of  teen heartthrob. The producers of the original show decided I should start my own show so I got married and had a family, and today I play the grumpy dad to a houseful of kids. Yes, Chaka's World is also filmed in front of a live audience.

Thinking about the different TV shows I've seen over the years brought back memories of wasted time in front of the TV. I have decided to share my memories of those spin-off TV shows with you because I'm a giver and that's what I do.

The Successful Ones:

The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All in the Family.

Frazier evolved from Cheers.

The Colbert Report originated from the Daley Show.

Happy Days gave rise to both Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy.

The Andy Griffith Show helped launch Gomer Pyle and the equally successful Floyd the Barber which lasted 14 seasons. Okay, I'm messing with you now.

The Bad Ones- Maybe calling them "bad" is a bit too harsh, but since these shows only lasted one season, I feel justified.

Before we give too much credit to Happy Days, we also need to remember they were responsible for Joanie Loves Chachi, also know as "people no likey".

Three's Company spawned The Ropers. Who's bright idea was that? I'm pretty sure Elton John's song Candle in the Wind was dedicated to this show.

The Dukes of Hazzard created Enos. Really? I can see Daisy Duke, Rosco, or Boss Hog trying to branch off, but Enos getting his own show? He had a combined total of 10 minutes of screen time during the entire history of the Dukes of Hazzard, or the DOH as we cool people call it.

What Could Have Been- If television executives just had greater vision and used this concept more, then we could have seen the following shows:

Epstein's Place-I'd like to see Epstein branch out from Welcome Back Kotter and move to California and become the principal of a boys school. The tagline would be, "What goes around comes around!"

The Howells- If the castaways ever got rescued we could have seen 10 seasons of Thurston and Lovey blowing money and being oblivious to the plight of the common man.

Rerun- In this new series, Rerun from What's Happening would team up with the Doobie Brothers in every episode to try and atone for the time he lost their trust by trying to record their concert to pirate it.

Sam & Alice- Nobody really cared about the Brady kids. Sam and Alice were TomCat and Brangelina first. These two love birds and unsung heroes were the glue that kept the Brady Bunch together...along with Vincent Price.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Standing Ovations

I'm not the kind of cultured person who goes to the opera, ballet, or symphony on a regular basis, but occasionally I will grace these upper class activities with my presence. If a performance is off the chart exceptional, then the audience is supposed to jump to their feet to applaud at the conclusion. I'm okay with a well earned standing ovation, but there are a few concerns I have with this practice.

I've never dreamed about being on stage and having people yell bravo and throw roses on stage around me. It's usually money they throw in my dreams. Anyway, below I list a few scenarios that I don't like about the encore mentality.

Peer Pressure-The first scenario is when someone sitting up front stands and starts clapping and it's kind of like the wave as those sitting behind them follow his example and then the peer pressure spreads until everyone feels obligated to stand and applaud. If you ever want to feel like the scum of the earth, just don't stand after the guy in a wheel chair has finished his motivational speech and see what looks you get from the audience.

The Glory Hogs- I also find it amusing when a performer leaves the stage quickly as the audience is applauding. As the audience continues to clap, they then come out for an encore bow. Sometimes I feel that certain performers try to see how many times they can race off the stage as fast as possible and run back before the clapping stops in an effort to get bragging rights about how many ovations they received. Rock stars are also guilty of walking off stage and waiting for enough applause until they come out for a few encore numbers.

Undeserved-I think as a society we are too inclined to automatically offer up a standing ovation without it really being earned. This goes for musicians, politicians, artists, and athletes. If an athlete is having his number retired and being honored after a long and successful career he probably deserves it. If he scored 8 points in the second half and is being taken out of the game, probably not so much. Your son may have been the best carrot in the school play about nutrition, but does he really deserve a standing ovation?

Just remember, if everyone gets a standing ovation every time they speak, perform, or present, then it is no longer something special and it loses it's meaning. If this continues to be the trend, we will have to come up with some other way to express our appreciation for a person who exceeds our expectations. In an effort to preserve the integrity of the standing ovation, I will not be forced into participating in them unless I am completely blown away or moved to tears by something, kind of like how you feel after reading my posts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Confusing Numbers and Letters

I've been helping my little kids with their handwriting and math and have noticed that they sometimes get some of their symbols mixed up. For a while I suspected that one of my boys was dyslexic because he would consistently write letters and words backwards and get them confused with each other.

Sometimes that kind of confusion affects adults too. I work with vehicle identification numbers from cars on a regular basis and when I'm typing these long numbers and letter combinations fast, I sometimes get hung up or will confuse the following symbols with each other.

5S     4A     1I     8B    6G     0O     E3

I don't think I'm the only one who should have to experience this confusion, so the next time you call your insurance agent to add a car to your policy, I suggest you mess with them a little bit by trying the following things when you read them the VIN.

First, call them from your cell phone and put it on speaker phone so there will be plenty of background noise. It's also a favorite when someone is calling while driving down the freeway with their windows down. You might also try to mumble or speak in a thick accent. Once you have that down, you can proceed to my favorite part. If you are trying to clarify certain letters when you are reading the VIN to them, rather than say T like Tango and F like Foxtrot, I suggest you use some of the less popular word examples below.

P like pneumonia
T as in tsunami
G like gnome
A like aisle
K as in knee
E like Euphoria
W like wrestling

You are welcome. I'm just here to help.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012