The horrors and joys of Christmas shopping

Today is Black Friday and the so-called unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season. Many die-hard shoppers across the country are flooding to the shopping malls and retail stores in search of that special deal on a particular item whether it be on a flat screen television or simply a toy for that child on their shopping list. A lot of people are those hard-core shoppers; they feel the need the show up at some store in the wee hours of the morning, stand in line for hours in freezing temperatures until the store opens their doors. I have to tip my cap to those individuals although I think they may be a bit crazy! You would never catch me doing that! But anyways, Christmas shopping can be a great experience for many people or a real pain in the you know what. As a guy, I think it has many pros and cons but for most of the time, it is something that I dread, like going to the dentist.

Quite frankly, I think most guys feel the same way that I do. I mean isn’t shopping, especially Christmas shopping suppose to be a chick thing? Us guys would rather lay on the couch, relax and watch football all day. Hanging around at some crowded mall with a bunch of rude people is not our idea of fun and excitement. Women are born to like shopping. It is in their DNA.

The problem that I have with Christmas shopping starts even before I enter a store or mall area. Arriving and trying to park my car can be a frustrating adventure in itself. Fighting for a good parking spot can be a major challenge. Some folks circle the lot forever so they can save walking about 50 yards, unbelievable!! All they do is slow up traffic. You also have to be heads up for those drivers who do not believe in looking before they back out of their parking spots and those who whip around the corners. Your attention span has to be on high alert before you even enter the store. You may have success in parking but you still run the risk of getting hit by a vehicle while walking to the front door.

Once instead the store or mall, the adventure really begins. Trying to get from store A to store B always poses difficulties. I like to walk fast and there is always some fat person or persons who waddle in front of me, just taking their sweet old time. Sometimes they even stop and look around without realizing what they are doing. I often feel like an NFL running back in those situations. I look for the nearest gap to escape and go forward. If it is not those slow walkers, it is the idiots who decide to park their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle! What are those people thinking?!! And last but not least, let’s not forget those folks who like to talk loudly on their cell phones, a very annoying social behavior of many people.

After dodging people and getting my items, the next challenge is the checkout line. I am like many people, I hate waiting in line to get checked out. I am famous for picking the line that has a price check or some slow cashier that may be in training. Also, is it not such a big deal for the cashier to give me a nice greeting? I have seen too many cashiers who have the personality of a telephone pool. A warm greeting can really add to the shopping experience.

Finally, I am done with my shopping and  can go home, right? Well not so fast! Oh where did I park my car? Believe me, I have had many occurrences where I forgot my parking spot in either the lot or ramp and wasted needless time searching for my car. Maybe it is just old age!! And once again, you have to be heads up for those ding bat drivers.

Having said all those things, there are times when I actually enjoy doing some shopping. There is nothing that puts me in the mood for Christmas more than going to a shopping mall or store during the holiday season. The lights, decorations, music and Christmas trees really puts you in the spirit. I usually go the Mall of America a few times before Christmas. They have a couple of the world biggest Christmas trees near the main entrance. A must see for any holiday shopper.

The real joy of Christmas is getting that gift that you know will really please someone. All of those hassles are really worth it when you finally find that special gift. On Christmas, you witness the joy on their faces when they open the gift and it makes you feel very warm inside as well. You may have stood outside some store in freezing temperatures on Black Friday just so you could be first in line to buy that special toy for your son or daughter. Seeing them scream with excitement after they open your gift along with a nice, long hug makes that sacrifice all the worth it. It is always better to give than receive.

Sure there is internet shopping but that has some drawbacks as well. The shipping charges are absolutely crazy on most products. Why should I pay a 10 dollars shipping charge on a 50 dollar item? But shopping online in the comforts and privacy of your own home is a very good alternative to fighting the crowds at the malls.

I hope everyone has a very successful time shopping during this holiday season. There are many drawbacks and annoyances in going to those crowded shopping malls but nothing puts you in a better mood for Christmas. You just might want to go back again for one last trip before the big day. Even this male blogger might be tempted to get off the couch and go shopping.


My 2013 Turkey of the Year awards

In a few days from now, many people from around this great country of ours will be sitting down and consuming a huge turkey dinner with all the fixings. ItImage is one of my top 5 favorite days of the year. Lots of good food, football, nap time and family gatherings all make this day wonderful. Most Americans use this time of the year to count their blessings and reflect on the many gifts that they have. I join millions in doing that but also take it one step further. Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect on all those turkeys in our society, and I am not talking about those birds that we consume during dinner on Thanksgiving. Many folks in this country have made utter fools out of themselves and they are to be recognized during this holiday. My committee and I have been hard at work for the past 12 months and have come up with a list of people very deserving and worthy of this very prestigious award. This year’s awards posed some very difficult decisions and challenges to us. One of our tougher decisions was whether the president of the United States should be given consideration for the award. After mulling it over for a few days, we came to the conclusion that the office of the president should be respected, therefore, he is banned from consideration. The same holds true for the author of this blog. Sorry folks! I am not being considered as well! So without any further delays, let’s get on with the awards starting with the finalists.

1. George Zimmerman-  Mr. Zimmerman was rather fortunate in being acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin. He probably avoided spending several years in jail and no doubt would have been the target of many of his fellow inmates. So what does Zimmerman do after this acquittal? He goes and allegedly beats up his girlfriend and gets charged with assault. Not exactly a smart move!! Maybe some people are just destined to spend their life in jail.

2. Michael Bloomberg- For the first time ever, 2 mayors have made the final cut. Fortunately for the people of New York, this man’s term will expire soon and his big government intrusion into people’s choices. You might remember Bloomberg is responsible for banning all large soft drinks in the city. Maybe somebody should present Bloomberg with a large soda at his going away party or have a large drink named after him.

3. Rob Ford-  The second mayor to be considered. Toronto really elected a winner of a guy for mayor. Whether it is public intoxication of smoking crack, this man does it all!! Before long, he will get caught with a prostitute, mark my words on that. I would expect public officials to show much better judgement than Ford has been showing.

4. Ryan Braun- There are always some athlete that makes the finals and this is the first one. Braun basically lied to ever sports fan in the nation when he was asked during an ESPN interview whether he used performance enhancing drugs. Not only to sports fans but he also lied when confronted by his buddy Aaron Rodgers. He denied to Rodgers as well. Braun will return but the way he lied will never be forgotten.

5. Miley Cirus-  Who can forget that despicable act of hers during the MTV awards! She is basically trying to be another Lady Gaga or Madonna. Like I wrote in a blog a few months ago, Miley needs to be Miley and not try to copy someone else’s act. Her act is getting more ridiculous everyday.

6. Justin Bieber-  Raise your hand if you are sick and tired of hearing about this little whippersnapper’s problems in the news. Whether it is threatening a photographer, smoking a joint , going on a twitter rampage or defacing property with graffiti, the Biebster has really been on a roll lately. I wish someone would also buy him a pair on pants that actually fit him, or maybe a belt!! Why people are fascinated with this guy is beyond me!!

First runnerup-  The U.S. Congress. I saw a poll the other day that showed the approval rating for Congress is at an all time low. Wow, what a surprise!! The representatives in Congress are like little children; constantly fighting and not achieving anything. The Republican party has a major civil war going on among its ranks and the Democrats have a bunch of wacky liberals in control. We were going to give the award to this group until we realized something; they would just waste time fighting over who was more deserving of the trophy and maybe shut down the government again! Not good!!

Second runnerup- Kathleen Sebelius. Somebody has to be put to task for the awful Obamacare rollout and Sebelius, being the Secretary of Human and Health Services, deserves a large amount of blame. She had to have known of the computer glitches and problems before the site went live yet the decision was made to proceed. In her position, she is responsible for the oversight of the rollout and it has been a complete disaster. Like many officials of the Obama administration, she is blaming others for her shortcomings instead of shouldering the blame. There is absolutely no way you can defend Sebelius and the lousy job she is doing with the rollout. If this happened in the real world for a major company, she would be out of a job. I find it amazing that she is still in her position. Just another incompetent Obama official who was given serious consideration for the award.

The big winner is… Envelope please…. Aaron Hernandez. This guy had everything going for him, a very talented tight end for the Patriots, lots of money, a chance to play with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and win many Super Bowls; instead he throws it all away by hanging out with the wrong crowd and now he is being accused of murder. Maybe this will be a great lesson for other athletes who think they can get away with murder or breaking the law. Hernandez was in a situation that ever football player in this country dreams about. Now it is all gone and he will be lucky to ever get another chance of playing again.

Last but not least, my committee would like to give honorable mention to those who were being considered but did not make the final list. Alec Baldwin, Hillary Clinton, Bob Costas, Pierce Morgan, Bob Filner, Louis Lerner, Oprah Winfrey and Alex Rodriguiz. Thanks for coming people; have a great Thanksgiving and see you next year.




10 least favorite pro sports teams

If you are a huge sports fan like myself, chances are you probably have those teams which you hate with all of your guts!! Well I am being a bit extreme but seeing those hated teams struggle really brings joy to your heart. A loss by those teams brings about as much happiness as seeing your favorite teams win. Your eyes sparkle with happiness when you scroll your smart phone for scores and see those hated teams getting the crap beat out of them. I have many teams that I simply dislike for a variety of reasons. Many times it just the fans of that city that turn me off. Or it could be a player or players. A lot of times, fans are turned off by a team’s coach or owner. Quite often, it is just a matter of jealously; you are envious of the team’s success. I have several teams both at the college and pro level who I love to root against. I find a watching a game more interesting when those teams are playing. The opponents suddenly become my newest favorite team! The following is a list of pro teams that I really enjoy see getting beat. I will do a blog on college teams someday but for now, we are talking about the guys who play for a living.

1. L.A. Lakers-  I have never been a fan of Kobe Bryant so the player association is why I dislike this team. The fact that many smug Hollywood stars attend their games is another reason. The team is way too glitzy for me. About the only thing I like about the team is their colors. It delights me that the Clippers have now taken over the town as the new king of the city.

2. Green Bay Packers-  A huge border rival of my favorite NFL team the Minnesota Vikings. Many fans of the Packers live and work here in the Twin Cities since Wisconsin is next door. I get sick and tired of hearing those fans of the Pack talk about how they have won all these Super Bowls and the Vikings have won zero. They really like to rub it in!! Believe it or not, the Packers are the second favorite pro sports team here in the Twin Cities and also the most hated. Quite a contrast!!

3. Chicago Bears-  See number 2. Many of the same reasons apply to the Bears. We have many annoying Bears fans in this area as well. So who do you root for Mark, when those two teams play each other? The Bears have a very small edge but a lot depends on the standings.

4. Dallas Mavericks-  I find myself disliking teams with overly zealous owners. Mark Cuban fits that mode. I don’t personally hate the guy but he seems to be over the top in his criticism of referees and his constant whining at court side. Dirk Nowitzki kind of turns me off also with his whining. In his mind, he has never committed a foul in his career!!

5. Dallas Cowboys-  Sorry Dallas, I don’t like your football team either. The reason? Once again the owner, Jerry Jones. Another overzealous, mega-rich owner.

6. Boston Red Sox-  Pssst, I am a closet Yankees fan. Thou shall not root for the Red Sox if you claim to be a Yankee’s fan.

7. New England Patriots-  Not really a fan of either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. But a lot of it boils down to jealously; the Patriots have just been too good for too long.

8. Chicago White Sox- They are a division rival of my favorite MLB team, the Twins. The broadcast team of the White Sox are the biggest bunch of homers, pardon the pun, in major league baseball. Those guys act like a couple of rube fans in the broadcast booth even going a bit over the top at times. Another example of how overzealous personal turns me against a team.

9. Atlanta Braves- I used to be a Braves fan until the 1991 World Series against my Twins. Several actions by the Braves fans really turned me against the franchise and the feelings have not gone away.

10. Montreal Canadians- I had to throw in a hockey team for good measure. My dislike for that franchise goes back many years during my childhood. Once again, the jealously factor is probably why I don’t like this team. I guess any American NHL fan probably has a tough time rooting for any NHL team from Canada especially when they might arguably be Canada’s team.

No offense to the fans of those teams but I simply do not like your squads and please do not buy me a jersey of any of those teams for Christmas! I may use it for an oil rag.



The wonderful world of Facebook

About a month ago, a breaking news alert flashed on my television screen. My heart immediately sank for fear of what was to follow. Was there another school shooting or terrorism attack? Perhaps someone famous had died? Oh, none of those things. The news anchor grimly announced that Facebook was down that morning and should be up shortly. It was indeed a very difficult morning for millions of people around the world who seem to be very addicted to this popular and somewhat overrated website.

It seems that nearly everyone in the world has a Facebook account except for my mother. I am still working on that impossible task. I might have a better chance of swimming across the ocean before I ever get her to join. People like her are a very rare breed. A huge number of people in our society are absolutely hooked on that social media site. People are naturally curious about what goes on with other people especially when it comes to their friends or relatives. Businesses and news organizations seem to be using Facebook in  increasing numbers to promote certain things and events which makes the site even more prone to addiction.

I personally enjoy Facebook but I am by no means an addict. I have many family members who live several miles away so it is a great way to stay in touch with them and see what is going on in their lives. I do not have to wait for the holidays to see or hear about all the family gossip. I also have had the opportunity to rekindle some old friendships through Facebook. Several of my old classmates have accounts and it is really fascinating to see how people change or for some, stay the same through all these years. Those things make Facebook a very appealing site to millions.

There are many drawbacks to the site as well. I find only a small percentage of people on my friend’s list even participate. It is usually the same few people who post stuff or give details about events in their lives. I can understand that some people are very private and do not want to share with others but it would be nice to occasionally share with others about what is transpiring in your life. Like what are you doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Maybe you are going to the hospital for surgery. People are very curious to how you are doing and are there to offer you support. It would be nice to post something about how you are doing or perhaps you are dealing with certain personal issues like a divorce or breakup. Your friend’s or family’s comments can serve to be very uplifting.

Of course, some people go to far in posting stuff. I do not need to see pictures of people’s broken toe nails. TMI !!!!. Nor do I need to know that you are currently folding socks or have bad gas!! Yes, I have seen things like that posted. I personally do not post any political comments. I have seen some very heated child-like discussions on Facebook regarding politics and quite frankly, I do not find that site to be a place for expressing my political views. Also, if you are either married or in a relationship, be very careful about what you post on Facebook. I have been there done that!! People’s jealousies really come out on Facebook. For example, suppose that old girlfriend/boyfriend of yours comments on your status. In some cases, that can lead to some resentment even to a breakup or divorce. I wonder how many divorces are caused by Facebook postings. Or even a simple like about someone’s post. The same holds true about posts regarding your job. A person really needs to be careful about what they post and use good judgement.

I don’t know what the future of Facebook will bring. Perhaps it will be just another flash in the pan social media site like Myspace. Who really knows. But for being able to connect with family and friends for free, you just can’t beat that!! Just be careful about falling into the trap known as Facebook addiction. It could happen to you sooner that you think.






The NFL and workplace bullying

When one thinks of bullying, images of some poor high school nerd being picked on by a bunch of jocks usually comes to mind. The last place that I would expect to see or hear about any bullying case would be the National Football League. I thought the players were suppose to be big, macho guys, who if faced being bullied, would certainly fight back and potentially start a huge heavyweight fight. But as surprising as it seems, that was not the case with Johnathon Martin, a 300 lb plus tackle for the Miami Dolphins. He left the team after supposedly being bullied by one of his teammates, Richard Incognito, another 300 lb plus player. 

My initial reaction to the story was kind of ho hum. Why is this kind of stuff not kept in-house and in the locker room? A feud between a couple of players is really not anybody’s business. Of course, in today’s society, people seem to crave on stories like this so it is not surprising that it has garnered so much attention. Sports talk radio shows thrive on these feuds. But it dawned on me that this story could open up and begin discussion about a problem in our society that has been around for a long time. It has to do with workplace bullying.

In any organization, large of small, you are bound to have those individuals like Incognito who love to intimated and control people. There are always those bad apples in any business or company who make life miserable for someone else. Many times, the bullying occurs when the person is not around and behind their back. I have seen it many times in my company. An example would be talking about their job performances behind their back or maybe the way they act or dress. Suddenly that person has developed a terrible reputation around the company. Many times it is not deserved. You will always have clashing personalities in any company. Some people are totally not tolerant of others and find the need to harass or intimate.

Whether you play on a sports team or work for company, bullying has ABSOLUTELY NO place in any work environment. A person has the right to show up for work and not worry about being harassed by others. Any evidence of bullying should be taken seriously by the higher ups or coaches. I realize that not everyone will like each other and want to go out and have a beer after work or practice but everyone should realize how important their co-worker or teammate is. You are all there for the common goal of making your company or team better or successful. Bullying by people is a sure way to prevent a sports team or a business organization from reaching it’s goals. This is especially true in a team game like football. You are like a band of brothers who play for each other.

Quite frankly, I don’t know why Incognito is still in the league or even got a chance to play in the NFL. Here is a guy who has a very alarming rap sheet. He got suspended 3 times during his college career which should have raised many red flags among NFL teams. There have been numerous stories about him not being able to control his temper and emotions. If you look up the word “hothead” in the dictionary, his name and picture appear. Of course, many teams bypass those troublesome traits and are really only concerned about what type of player he his. Good character is not even considered when looking at a player. Teams are so concerned about winning that they fail to look at what picking up these malcontent players will do. The same can be said about the way employers hire people at any company. I strongly believe that having good people and leadership skills are one of the most important traits any employee can have. That trait is often overlooked in the hiring phase. A guy with a great resume or education is often looked at in greater terms than someone who is probably less skilled but appears to have better people skills. A guy with a Harvard degree who is total jerk is not worth hiring to me. The same can be said about picking up a good top-notch player. Sure they might have a lot of talent but how well do they get along with their teammates?

In my opinion, Incognito should get released by the Dolphins. If I sent a racist phone message to one of my co-workers, I would get fired immediately. His conduct to a teammate is grounds for dismissal. Sure he is a good player and former all-pro player but he can be replaced. Incognito should realize what a privilege it is to play in the NFL and how lucky he is. Perhaps the Dolphins will give him a second chance and work with him to control his anger and bullying. This story should serve as a wake up call to the fact that workplace bullying happens on the playing field as well. Teammates need to build each other up, not tear each other down. Bullying is a sure way to ruin any team harmony and morale.




More White House dishonesty

Throughout the course of American history, there has never been a shortage of dishonest people living in the White House or those of a presidential administration. Both parties have had their share of dishonest people who go out and tell their bosses, the American people, lies and half-truths about a certain issue. The latest outrage over the cancellation of millions of health insurance policies is just another example of politicians trying to stretch the truth in an effort to maintain power and stay in office.

I have very vivid memories of a few years ago when the President trying to sell his health care law to people. In many of his speeches, he assured people that they would not lose their insurance, their premiums would down and they would not lose their doctors. This new health care law would be better than sliced bread!! Many folks around the country bought into his used car salesmen speeches and helped him get elected. However, there were many skeptics, including myself, who had many doubts about his new plan. My doubts originated from the fact that this concept of socialized medicine has been tried before and failed. Why would it work now and in this country?

The revelations about the latest problems with the bill should come as no surprise to people who are actually paying attention. I could see this happening many years ago and sadly, it has been revealed that people in the White House also knew that about half of all insurance policies would be canceled under this new law. Of course, they did not speak the truth about what might happen. After all, they wanted their guy to get re-elected for a second term. Suppose these truths about the health care law came out about a year ago? Do anybody in their right mind believe that Barack Obama would have been re-elected. I am almost certain that Mitt Romney would have been our new president.

The same dishonesty holds true about Benghazi. The White House officials totally lied about what happened. I still believe that Mitt Romney made a terrible mistake in not pressing the president more on this issue during the debates. The White House had to know from the get go that the attack that night in Benghazi was a terrorist attack that killed 4 Americans. Instead they gave the American people a totally different story that was proven to be false. And let us not forget the IRS scandal just a few months ago. I often shake my head in amazement when I hear the president say that he is not aware of a situation that is troubling to the White House. He is the President and he should be AWARE of what is going on for crying out loud!!. Either someone is trying to cover his butt or he is not being honest with the country. I find it hard to believe that he is not aware of what is going on in many of these scandals.

If the White House thinks the American people like myself are dumb enough to just forget about these scandals, they better think again. The president’s job approval rating is now at an all time low and people in this country are getting fed up with being lied to and being told half-truths. Whether you are in private business or in the business of running the country, honesty is an often forgotten virtue. Dishonesty is a sure way to ruin a business as well as a presidency.  It will caught up to you. People have to be very careful when electing people to represent us. We all pay for their lies. Elections have consequences and the past presidential election is just a prime example. If you voted for Obama and are now faced with losing your insurance, doctor and paying higher premiums, you have nobody to blame but yourself. We all should be more careful with these used car salesmen politicians who promise one thing but deliver another.