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

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'm Gonna Be Rich

For most of my life I have lived from paycheck to paycheck and have just scraped by. I've spent too much time and effort working on my debt collection and have missed out on some opportunities. I am officially fed up with my mediocre earning abilities so I have decided to change things. From now on I am going to be rich! I'm serious about this.

I've tried changing before and have attempted a number of business enterprises including:

1) Donating Plasma
2) Trying to get paid to not grow crops.
3) Adsense
4) Rocking the mic with my mad MC skills.
5) Number combinations
6) Threw my life savings into making a sequel for Gymkata.
7)  Personal Training
8) Changing my name from the blogger formerly known as Tom to a symbol not found on any keyboard.

In the past I have secretly resented people who make a lot of money (that's code word for more than I make). I have especially struggled when I learn how much musicians, athletes and movie stars make, especially the teenage ones. Yes, I'm talking to you Harry Potter cast!

I've realized that I can not move forward until I stop being jealous and resentful for other people's success. As a result, the next time I hear about a college students who starts a social network and becomes a billionaire, I will be celebrate their success. When I hear about some kid who became a millionaire by rapping about how hard life on the streets is, I will be happy for him, but I still might find it ironic if he keeps rapping about the same subject matter once he's rich.

Last week I dreamed that Twitter was paying people by the word for tweets and they removed the 140 character limit. The Internet got kind of ugly after that, but there was potential. I am taking that dream as an omen that good things are about to happen. I also had a dream that I was on the boat with Robert Shaw hunting down Jaws, but then he turned into Tom Hanks and then I was back in junior high and couldn't remember my locker number. I'm not sure what that dream meant.

I don't know exactly how I'm going to be rich, but it may involve a variety of things including developing a new language, using positive affirmations, goal setting, planking, hard work, and using Jedi mind tricks. I will also increase the value of my service, or maybe just start providing some kind of service. It is definitely time for me to start moving on up like the Jeffersons, or even the Clampetts.

I just want to assure you that after I am rich, I will not let it go to my head. I will still be down to earth and approachable. I will probably even drive the same old noisy van that is missing it's hubcaps, that is if my bodyguards and entourage will fit in there.