Saturday, August 25, 2012

Are You Going to Watch the Republican and/or Democratic Conventions?

The national conventions for the Republican Party and Democratic Party will be going on these next two weeks.  The Republicans will have first crack at getting the attention of the nation.  The Democrats will follow suite the next week.  My question of the day is, will you be watching on TV either of the conventions?

I remember as a kid that I hated it when they came on TV.  Thank goodness they only came on once every four years.  All of my favorite shows were not on, and I did not know what was going on with these people.  There was a lot of talking going on, there were a lot of cheering (and some booing), and sometimes, there were lots of balloons.  How boring!

As I got older as a teenager and beyond, I became to better understand what was going on.  Each party was trying to decide who they wanted to run for president.  Sometimes it was just one party who was trying to make that decision, because the other party already knew who they wanted to run for president since that person was already president.  For example, in 1964, President Johnson was already president, and he was a Democrat.  The Republicans had to decide who they wanted to run.  If my memory serves me well, Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller were the primary candidates.  Goldwater was more conservative than Rockefeller, and he was the one nominated.

The various candidates ran in various primaries, but it was a rare event, if ever, if one candidate won enough primary delegates to have enough votes to qualify as the nominee ahead of the convention.  Thus the nominee was determined during the convention.  It would be up to the delegates who the nominee would be.  A lot of back room meetings were held, and a lot of deals were made.  Sometimes a dark horse candidate came from behind and became the nominee.  Sometimes many rounds of votes had to be taken before a candidate had a majority of votes.  Candidates did not usually become the nominee on the first ballot.

In 1968, both political parties had to select a nominee since President Johnson decided not to run again because of the opposition to the Viet Nam War. (In case you do not know, Johnson became president after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.  Johnson was reelected president by a landslide over Goldwater in 1964.).  Richard Nixon was the Republican nominee at the convention in Miami, if I am not mistaken.  The Democratic convention was held in Chicago, and it was a very contentious convention.  There were riots in the streets of Chicago, and the delegates themselves were very divided, mostly over the Viet Nam War.  In the end, Hubert Humphrey became the nominee.  He was the vice-president under Johnson  It certainly was not boring TV.  I did not mind that my favorite shows were not on.

Now we have changed the process on how the nominees are selected.  More primaries occur in various states, many debates are held, and thus the nominee is determined usually before the convention.  This year Mitt Romney secured the Republication nomination well before the convention.  He even has already selected someone to run with him for vice-president, Paul Ryan.  That determination used to be made during the convention.  Thus there is hardly any drama during the political conventions.  The nominees are already determined.  There might be a small fight over a platform issue, but nothing else.  The only thing of interest might be the nominee's acceptance speech.  The nominee might say something then about his vision for the future, both for the campaign and for when the person might be president.

Thus to answer my own question, I do not think I will be watching much of either convention on TV.  There should not be any drama to get excited over unless something very unexpected happens, and that would not be a good thing.  The real drama will be the campaign itself and the election itself.  It looks like it will be a very close race for the presidency.  We might not know who the next president will be until the wee hours of the morning.  That is drama  I just don't want the kind of drama that occurred in 2000.  We did not know who won until several days after the election, and that decision was not made by the people.  It was made by the Supreme Court of the U.S.  No one should want that, or anything like it, to happen again.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dreaming, An Activity We All Do

Dreaming is something we all do.  We dream at night whether or not we remember that we did dream after waking up the next morning.  We daydream as well during the day (isn't that what daydream means?), but we may not daydream everyday.  Last week, especially last Friday, this whole country did a lot of dreaming, both day and night.  We all dreamed about winning $656 million from the Mega-Million lottery.

Last week, along with everyone else, I spent $5.00 playing the lottery.  I dreamed, along with everyone else, about what I would do if I won the lottery.  I dreamed about paying off my debts.  I dreamed about buying various things.  I knew I couldn't spend all that money on myself, so I thought about how I could put some of that money to use helping others.  I dreamed about traveling to various places.  I don't think any of my dreaming was vastly different from what other people were dreaming about last week.  That was one aspect that made last week a shared experience.  We all were dreaming about winning that huge jackpot.  The dreaming was fun to do, and it was fun talking to others about what we might do with all that money.  For a little while, it was fun forgetting our troubles and thinking about what we would do if we won.

While it was fun dreaming about winning the lottery, I also was aware that winning the lottery could be a bad thing in the long run.  There are too many stories of people being worse off after winning the lottery.  They would spend the money foolishly and end up in worse financial shape.  It would be hard to resist going into a spending frenzy with all that money, especially if you have gone without for a long time.  The smart thing to do if you win the lottery is to seek financial advice.  You can still "reward" yourself after winning, but you want to set something up so that the money will last you the rest of your life.  I think that is one reason some people do not claim their lottery winnings right away.  They need time to setup a financial plan so that the money will last, and they need to do that with someone they trust.  That does not happen overnight.  I hope that is what I would do if I ever won.

Last night I played the Mega-Million lottery again with only $3.00 this time even though the jackpot was just $20 million (just?) .  Why did I do that?  I have an almost zero chance of winning, but it is zero chance of winning if I don't play.  I knew I would not win, but I had fun thinking and dreaming about the prospect of winning.  It was a form of entertainment, and I enjoyed doing it.  I never spend of lot of money on the lottery.  I usually spend just $5.00, and I only do that occasionally.  As long as I don't spend a lot of money on the lottery tickets, I don't see the harm in playing.  It is good to have something to look forward to, even if it is just a dream.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Change for an Older Guy

I love using Bounty paper towels.  I have used this brand of paper towels for many years.  They are very useful for many things around the house, or in my case, around my condo.  I would recommend them to anyone.

Then one day they started offering paper towels that you could tear in half sizes as well as whole-size paper towels.  Why would I want those kind of paper towels?  I don't want a paper towel with a perforation in the middle that makes it easy to tear in half.  Why would I use a half-sized paper towel?  I have always used full-size paper towels to cleanup the spills that I always make.  However, Bounty was not giving me much of choice.  All I could see on the Bounty shelves were the paper towels you could easily tear in half.  What was I to do.

But I started to find uses for the half-sized paper towels.  I put the spoon I use to stir my cup of coffee on a half-sized paper towel.  I put my spatula or my big spoon I use when I am cooking on a half-sized paper towel.  After cooking bacon in my microwave, I clean the bottom of my microwave with a half-sized paper towel.  I even use  a one and one-half paper towel when I clean the white board of a classroom.  When I use a half-sized paper towel, and it does the job of a whole paper towel, I am saving paper and money by doing so.  I have grown to like this kind of paper towel.  I would not be happy if this kind of paper towel went away.

Too my horror, it looks like the unthinkable has happened.  A couple of weeks ago when I went to the paper towel aisle in the grocery store, and all I saw on the Bounty shelves were the full-size paper towels only.  The half-sized paper towels were no where to be seen.  My favorite paper towels were gone.

Why did this terrible thing happen?  I don't go to the grocery store every day to see if my favorite paper towels are back (maybe I should).  Maybe they were out of those kind of paper towels temporarily and had to fill the shelves with the full-size paper towels.  Maybe they were not making enough money on the half-sized paper towels and figured they could make more money on the full-sized type.  It seems so cruel to get someone used to using a product in a new way, and then ripping that away.  I have become dependent on using half-sized paper towels.  I miss them.  I am sad that they seem to be gone from my life.

I know you are thinking now that I have really flipped.  He is not really upset over a paper towel, is he?  No, I am not that upset.  However, the older you are, the harder it is to accept change.  I had accepted change when I started to like using half-sized paper towels.  Now I have to go back to using the old-styled paper towels, especially when I was saving money and paper using the new-styled ones?  Oh, what a cruel world this can be!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sad Weekend

I am saddened this weekend by the loss of two famous people.  Whitney Houston died yesterday afternoon, cause unknown.  Glen Campbell has not died yet, but he is dying slowly of Alzheimer's disease.

Whitney Houston had a fantastic singing voice, and she was beautiful as well.  She has left behind an incomparable singing legacy, and she even performed well as an actress in the movie "The Bodyguard" with Kevin Costner, a ground breaking movie at the time because of the interracial relationship portrayed in the movie.  Yet she paid a heavy price for her fame and talent.  Perhaps if she had a little less talent and a little less fame, she would have been more able to pay the price for her talent and fame, and Whitney Houston would still be alive today.  It is sad when someone dies so young (she was only 48 when she passed after all) and with such a talent, but it is even sadder to think what the drugs and alcohol did to her, that they caused her to lose that talent, and maybe ultimately, her life.

Glen Campbell has a great talent of his own, a talent for singing and for playing the guitar.  According to CBS Sunday Morning,  Glen Campbell played guitar on many recordings, including at least one recording of Frank Sinatra.  He even was a Beach Boy for 6 months before making records of his own and hosting a TV show for 4 years.  He has had many hit songs, and he acted with John Wayne in "True Grit".  He is 75 now, and last year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  Not only is there no cure for this disease, but it robs a person of who they are, their ability to remember things and remember people.  It robs people of their personality.  Glen Campbell is on his last concert tour, and his last album is now out.  Three of his children play in his band, including his daughter who helps him stay on track, especially during the concerts.  His life is slowly ebbing away, and it is so sad to see that happen to Glen Campbell.  It is so sad to see that happen to anyone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Man is an Island

No Man is an Island is the title of a poem by John Donne, an English poet who lived from 1572 to 1631.  Why am I bringing this up?  I am not known for reading poetry, or for knowing anything about poetry.  That is usually left to a fellow blogger Dan Verner, who is a retired English teacher.  However in one of my GED classes yesterday, the subject about being connected came up, and John Donne's famous poem came to my mind.  I remembered studying about it in high school, which is quite a feat for me at my age.  It is a short poem, but a very meaningful one.  So I recite it here.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

As I see it, this poem is saying we are all connected to each other, that when we lose someone, we are in someway diminished.  A part of ourselves is gone, never to be retrieved.  Even if we do not know the person, we are affected by the death of this person, whether we realize it or not.  If a church bell is tolling for that person, it tolls for us as well.  A part of us has also died.

I am not sure when John Donne wrote this poem, in the 16th or 17th century, but obviously there was not much technology around then, not to today's standards.  I think he would be more than amazed to see the technology of today.  He would be amazed to see how connected we are through our social media of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like.  But are we really connected in the way John Donne would like us to be?  Do we feel the lose of someone on the other part of the world, or the lose of someone across the street?  We still fight each other.  We still hotly debate the issues of the day, but we debate in a personal and hurtful way.  We have the "my way or the highway" attitude.    

I wish people realized how connected we are to each other, not by our technology, but in a spiritual sense.  We are all human beings, and we have more things that are the same than are different.  If we focused more on the things we hold in common, perhaps we would get along a little better.  That may be a lot to ask, but if we don't ask, it won't happen.

Monday, January 30, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

The expression "you get what you pay for" has been around for a long time.  It generally means the cheaper something is, the less value for your money it has.  The more expensive something is, the more value it has.  This is not always true.  There are expensive items that are not worth the extra cost.  Sometimes you are paying more for the item's reputation and ad campaign versus how good a product really is.

I was reminded of this expression a couple of weeks ago in a very small way concerning my laundry detergent. For a long time I have used a detergent, which I will call brand A, that cost more than most other detergents.  In an effort to save a little money, I decided to switch to a cheaper brand, brand B.  I did not notice any difference in my clothes with brand B.  They all felt the same on me with one exception, my blue jeans.

My jeans felt real nice when I wore them the first day after washing them with brand A.  When I wore them a second day, my jeans did not feel as nice.  On the first day with brand B, my jeans felt like they did on the second day after washing with brand A.  I did not think much of it at first, but after a while, I began to realize why my jeans did not feel as good after washing them.  Sometimes I am a slow learner, but it finally sunk in that the cheaper brand was not as good as the more expensive brand.  My jeans were not as clean with brand B as they were with brand A.  I indeed was saving a little money, and over time, those little savings can add up to a big savings, but my clothes were not as clean.

Now I am have returned to brand A.  I may feel the extra cleanliness only in my jeans, but it makes me feel better when I know my clothes and anything else that I wash in the washer are cleaner.  I am keeping the container of the cheaper detergent I already have in case I need to wash something and I don't have any brand A available.

Now I understand better the expression "you get what you pay for".  Hopefully I will keep that expression in mind more when I am shopping.  That does not mean I will always buy the most expensive item.  It does mean that if something about an item is important to have, I will be more willing to pay the extra expense.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reading is Fun

I have always enjoyed reading, whether I am reading strictly for pleasure or for studying something.  When I was a kid, I would borrow books from the library, read them all in two weeks, and then return the books back to the library and borrow more books.  I would do that more during the summer when I had more time to do so.  I don't quite read that much now, but I certainly do read something everyday.  I start each day by drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.  That time is my favorite part of the day.

I am currently reading the book 11/22/63 by Stephen King.   Mr. King is known for his horror books, but this book is a science fiction book.  The main character is able to travel back in time, and his mission is to stop the assassination of President Kennedy.  One day last week I was reading one passage where I found that I could not read the passage fast enough.  I could not turn to the next page fast enough.  However, I did pause enough in my reading to realize that I was having fun, a lot of fun.  I was really enjoying myself.  It was like I was on a roller coaster, and I wanted the vehicle to go faster and faster on the tracks.  The faster I went, the more I liked it.  It was quite a feeling.  It reminded me how I much I like to read.  You almost can say reading is a passion of mine.  I just don't read at home.  I like to go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, get a Vanilla Latte, and read a book or magazine.  If I go with someone to a shopping mall, while that person is looking around in a store or actually shopping, I will find a place to sit and read with another Vanilla Latte.  Now that I have a Nook Simple Touch, I am reading even more.  At least for me, reading is fun.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Changing My Blogs

In December 2010, I started my first blog.  I blogged for over 6 months fairly consistently, and then I stopped writing in July, the reason for stopping mainly being nothing came to my mind to write about (writers block?).  Then about two months ago I started writing again, but I wrote in a different blog that had the same name as the first blog but was under my Gmail email account instead of my AOL email account.  I wrote more about tech issues in the second blog, and I got at least one comment back indicating that person was not interested in tech issues.  That got me to thinking that maybe I should separate my writings into two separate blogs, one dealing with mainly tech issues and the other dealing with non-tech issues.

I have combined my two blogs under my Gmail account.  I am keeping the name of my first blog, Blog from a Florida Gator in Virginia, and that blog will contain postings of non-tech issues.  I have renamed my second blog Blog from a Florida Gator in Virginia with Geek Tendencies (not a big name change).  That blog will mainly deal with tech issues.  A lot of my tech issues come from, a Geek web site, but I will certainly be talking about tech issues from other sources, including myself.  It will be interesting to see how that works out, at least interesting to me.

Amazing, I never thought I would be a blogger, and now I have two blogs.  What is this world coming to.