My New Year’s resolutions

So what are your New Year’s resolutions? That question gets ask more at this time of the year besides “How was your Christmas?” Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone probably has some resolution that they would like to tackle in the upcoming year. A very common resolution is to give up smoking, a great one if you ask me!! Others want to lose weight or go to the gym more often. The sad thing about resolutions is they are commonly broken by about March. A classic example is someone who, at the beginning of the year, signs up at a local gym. They are all pumped up to start working out and get in shape. Come March, that desire is suddenly gone; it becomes tougher and tougher to get to the gym and those excuses start coming up. Believe me, I see it at my local gym every year. January is usually the busiest month but after a few months, those newbies are suddenly no-shows and the club becomes less filled with people. 

I have to admit that I did not fulfill all of my resolutions from last year but I did make keep a few. One of my resolutions was to cut out a lot of sugar in my diet and I did succeed in doing that. I did not eliminate sugar completely out of my diet but just cut back on the quantities. It was not an easy thing to do; some of my co-workers like to bring in pastry goodies and I had to turn down their offers many times. By cutting back, I feel much better and have more energy. I really notice it when I workout. Another resolution that I kept was the number of blogs that I wanted to write in the year. My goal was to post 100 entries and I have succeeded in doing that. I hope to write as many this year depending on my schedule. Well anyways, that was last year and this is a new year with more goals to achieve. The following are just a few goals that I have my eyes set on for the upcoming year.

1. Save 1000 dollars. I have a 401k plan at work but I am striving on saving more of my money in the upcoming year for 2 reason. First of all, I want to travel to a warm weather destination next winter for a week. I cannot deal with this sub-zero crap!! I need to escape to someplace warm and have fun in the sun. The second reason is that I am looking at buying a new home. I will definitely need to start saving more if that dream become a reality. 

2. Go to more new release movies. This a very common resolution that I always break. If I have time to go to a ball game, I certainly have time to go to a great new movie. My area has a fancy movie theater so it would be a great experience. I enjoy movies a lot but I never seem to fit them into my schedule. During our family gathering at Christmas, someone asked me what was the last great movie that you saw. I could not answer the question!!

3. Read more.  I read the newspaper, stories off the internet on my smartphone and computer but sitting down and reading a book? It has been about 4 years since I last read a good book. I am kind of a history buff and also love inspirational books. Of course I like sports books as well.

4. Perform more random acts of kindness.  I would like to donate more money to charities this year. Not only giving money but just doing simple things for people. It makes me feel good inside when I can help others out and make their day and I would like to do more of it in the upcoming year.

5. Mediate for at least 30 minutes a day.  Everyone should do this everyday. Shut off the television and computer, turn off the smartphone and just sit down and relax. My schedule tends to be very busy at times and I just need to take a time out to relax and unwind more often. 

I hope everyone has had a good year in 2013 and may 2014 be the best year of your life.

 

 

 

 

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The least secure job in the country

One of the biggest things that I look for in a good job has very little to do with pay, vacation days or getting some nice pension package. To me, job security is a crucial element in job happiness. If you are always worried about whether you will be fired at any moment, the joy of going to work is greatly diminished. We all would love a job that is secure and such that if we leave, we do so on our own terms, not someone else’s decision. Of the many jobs in this country, I still think the radio industry is probably the least secure. And then you have those NFL head coaches. It is very rare for an NFL head coach to go his entire career without getting the axe at one time or another.

Today is know as Black Monday in sports. The NFL regular season ended yesterday and those teams who had disappointing seasons are looking for scapegoats. You never see the entire team get fired, the blame usually falls on the coach. They are always the fall guy and the first in line to get removed. Forget about the whether the team has a lousy starting quarterback situation (see Minnesota), a lousy owner (see Washington) or just a bad team in general (see Cleveland). The coach has got to go! Somebody has to take the blame and I find it amazing how the coach is usually the first one out. 

What exactly are these teams trying to accomplish by firing the head coach? Do they think some coach is out there who will come riding a white horse and totally turn around the team? A classic example is here in Minnesota. They decided to get rid of Leslie Frazier today and that firing is a classic example of what I am talking about. Frazier was given a very unsettled quarterback situation and had to deal with a very inexperienced and depleted secondary all year long. There is absolutely no coach alive who could have won in Minnesota this year, absolutely none!! The players liked playing for the guy, he did not lose the locker room like what happened in Washington and he was a class act in the organization. Just last year, he finished with 11 wins and suddenly he is a bad coach? Even more amazing is the situation in Cleveland. Firing a guy after only one year? Are you serious?

One of the biggest keys to any successful football team is chemistry and continuity. It takes a few years for the players to adapt to a new coach and system. When you constantly fire coaches and expect a new one to come in and suddenly save the day, you are being very delusional. Coaches get far too much praise for winning and way too much blame for losing. Many coaches are expected to produce chicken soup for chicken poop. It ain’t going to happen.

I can see why Detroit would fire their head coach. His team severely underachieved all year long and was very undisciplined. That falls on the coach and Jim Schwartz was rightfully let go in my opinion. But these other guys? I am not sure. It just goes to show you how insecure an NFL head coaching job is. Coaches are hired to be fired. Maybe next year, a lot of these teams will considering firing the general managers instead for giving the coaches no talent to work with. Of course, that will never happen, it is always the coaches fault.

 

 

My 2013 People of the Year awards

Usually at this time of the year, media publications throughout this country like to give out people or persons of year awards to people who they feel have had the greatest impact during the year. Some of the choices are rather puzzling. I read where one news magazine had Miley Cyrus as a finalist! Why?? What exactly has she done in the past year except to stir up more attention towards herself in an effort to sell her image? My take on these awards is very simple; I look for people who have done very inspiring acts and have gone above their call of duty in an effort to help out our society and fellow man. 2013 produced many people who were very worthy in my opinion. Besides the following that I am about to list, there are thousands of people in this world who go about doing wonderful and inspiring things without any big hoopla or attention. It could be that gentleman across the street who volunteers his own time and effort to help out troubled youth. Or it might be a teacher who inspired some young student to make something out of his or her life and go on to college. The list  is endless and those people are truly deserving of getting this award. So let me mention some of the people who I think are most worthy.

1. Peyton Manning.  A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about whether Manning would ever play again the the NFL. Here is a guy who was reaching his mid 30’s, already had a Super Bowl ring and suddenly he was faced with having multiple neck surgeries. Why would he play again? He could have ridden off into the sunset with a glorious career to fall back on. But Manning was determined to come back and give it another shot, not just to simply play again, but at a high level. Many of the experts thought he was crazy to come back and risk further injury. Well all Manning did was break the NFL record for the most touchdowns thrown in a single season. The level of his play after what he went through and his age is absolutely amazing!! He might be the most inspirational athlete of the last 20 years.

2. Ted Cruz.  I know Cruz has a lot of critics out there and some are blaming him for the shutdown but you really have to admire a politician like Cruz who actually has some guts to stand up not only to another party, but his as well. Politicians like him are a rarity these days. He stood up and talked for 20 plus hours straight in an effort to defeat something that he thought was wrong for the people of this country. People from both parties mocked and laughed at him but Cruz was not about to back down. He stood on his principles and funny, everything he said was right. His long stand against Obamacare is to be greatly commended.

3. Zach Sobiech.  A certain young man just east of here touched millions of people with his approach to having terminal cancer. Instead of giving up and feeling sorry for himself, Zach wrote a song about life called “Clouds” after his diagnosis. The song was a hit on Youtube and has inspired millions of people. The proceeds from the song has raised a lot of money towards cancer research. If you don’t know who this fine young man was, Google his name. I have to warn you, you will be really touched by his story.

4. Rhonda Crosswhite.  Every year, this award would not be complete without a teacher’s name listed and this year, it a teacher in Oklahoma who saved several of her students during last May’s devasting tornado. Crosswhite put her young students lives ahead of her own as she laid on top on them and protected them during the tornado. A very brave and courageous act by a remarkable woman.

5. Natalie Stavas, Dan Marshall and Larry Hittinger.  These 3 brave people were recently named as Bostonians of the year for their actions following the Boston Marathon bombings. Just normal human beings who risked their lives in order to serve other people. Instead of running away from the scene, they felt the need to help out the wounded. Their were many heroes on that day and those 3 are just a small sample.

And finally, my people of the year goes out to the brave, young Arizona firefighters who lost their lives last June during a devastating wildfire. The actions taken by those brave 19 men could have saved many lives and much property. I have learned to appreciate firefighters a lot more after hearing about this tragic story. May people always remember the bravery of those young men.

 

 

RIP to a bad sports stadium

On Sunday December 29th, the final event ever will be held in the Metrodome as the Minnesota Vikings will play the Detroit Lions in a very meaningless NFL game. Both teams are out of the playoff chase, so the game really amounts to nothing more than a glorified exhibition game, except for the fact that this will be the final chapter in the 30 plus years of that domed indoor stadium. As a sports fan in the Twin Cities area, I can honestly say that I will not shed any tears or go search for some dome memorabilia after the game is completed. In my opinion, the Dome (as we like to call it here) was a very sub-standard stadium, especially for baseball.

From the outside, the Metrodome looks very unique and interesting. A large building with a huge teflon, fiberglass roof that stands out as you drive past on the freeway. However, the inside is a totally different story. The corridors of the inside are very narrow and sometimes you feel like Adrian Peterson in trying to reach the bathroom or your favorite concession area. Not to mention the huge lines at the bathrooms.

After finding your seat, you are somewhat amazed at the lack of leg space in front of you. I am a 6′ guy who needs to stretch out my legs from time to time!! Imagine the torture that someone who is 6’5″ has to go through? Quite often for baseball, you need to twist your neck to see the action as the seats do not seem to be designed for watching a baseball game. Believe me, it is not always the most ergonomically friendly thing in the world to watch a baseball game at the dome. The seats are mainly designed for football.

Despite some of these hardships, I have had many fond memories of the Metrodome in watching many sports. Believe it or not, my most fond memory of that place was not baseball or football. It was actually watching a NBA game during the Timberwolves first season. I still remember a night in March of that season when Magic Johnson and the L.A. Lakers came to visit. There were about 50,000 plus in the stands that night and the place was very electric. It was very common for the Wolves to draw big crowds during their inaugural season. The Wolves played at the Dome during their first season while their new arena was being built.

I enjoyed many NFL games there as well including a few classic NFL games between the Vikings and Packers and a few Twin’s baseball playoff games. Anytime you have 50-60 thousand people in a domed stadium, there is bound to be a lot of noise and the Dome was always one of the noisiest stadiums in the country. I remember leaving some of those games with my ears ringing because of the noise.

Despite having many good memories of those big games in that noisy environment, I am ready to move on as a sports fan to bigger and better stadiums. The new Twins stadium is a huge upgrade from playing in the Metrodome. Sure there might be some bad weather nights or days but baseball is meant to be played outside, period!! I love sitting outside on those warm summer nights instead of sitting inside some indoor stadium. I am sure the Viking’s new stadium will be a huge upgrade as well. Just maybe I will not have to exert as much energy as the players in walking through the concourse.

The Metrodome will always have those special moments in Minnesota sports history. The Superbowl, Final Four and World Series were all held there. Some of my biggest memories ever have taken place there. But I am not sad at all to see the Dome go down. It was great for December and January football games but little else. I hope no other city makes the mistake of building and wasting a bunch of money on a domed stadium. There is just something about watching a football or baseball game outside and smelling the fresh air. We missed that here in Minnesota for many years. I can safely say that very few sports fan here in this state will miss the Dome either. We are all looking forward to much better stadiums and viewing experiences.

Things I like and do not like about Christmas

In just a few days, people around the world will celebrate another edition of Christmas. It is my favorite holiday of the year without a doubt. In fact, I would be willing to guess that I fit in with a majority of people who just love this time of the year. It is indeed a very special time for many people. My list of things that I love about this holiday far outweigh any negatives. Yes, there are some negative things that I have about Christmas. So without any further delays, let me get started.

The Negatives:

1. Stress.  I find the few weeks leading up to Christmas to be the most stressful and busiest of the year. On top of your regular duties like work and other stuff, you have that extra shopping to do and figuring out what gifts to buy for people. There are many Christmas social events to go to, office parties and so on. Many people unfortunately are just too busy in their lives to enjoy this time of the year. I always try to take some time off around Christmas to relax and enjoy the season.

2. Corny Christmas songs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love good Christmas music but some of the worst songs ever are Christmas songs like that “Mommy kissed Santa Claus” or “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”.  Those songs bring serious pain to my ears!

3. Dicey travel.  Winter weather and traveling are not always compatible. The most stressful part of the season can be traveling to and from your destination. Believe me, I have had my share of travel stories during the Christmas season.

4. Crowded shopping malls.  There is nothing worse than being trapped inside some crowded shopping mall when it is nearly impossible to get from point A to point B. Or when you have to wait in line forever in the checkout lines only to be given some fake greeting by an overstressed cashier.

5. Life’s downers are magnified.  Some people have lost loved ones shortly before Christmas and those losses tend to sting a little more. An example would be the Newtown shootings of last year. Or maybe a relationship ended and you are down in the dumps. Seeing everyone happy around you is difficult to take.

6. The end.  I think most people feel a little down when Christmas is over. The buildup for so many weeks, then it is all over. I know I feel a little down when I give my final hugs to my family and head back home.

The Positives:

1. The family gatherings.  My immediate family lives out-of-town so those gatherings are very special to me. It is also a joy to spend time with my nieces and nephews during Christmas and watch them open their presents. One of my favorite things is to watch my youngest nieces and nephews open their presents and watch the joy and happiness on their faces.

2. Great food.  If you’re trying to lose weight, this is not the time to do it. There are tons of goodies to choose from and great meals. A typical person gains about 5-10 lbs during December.

3. The church services.  It just does not seem or feel like Christmas unless you go to one of the many church services on Christmas eve and day. I am really touched by the music during those services. It is a great way to celebrate what Christmas is all about, the birth of Jesus Christ.

4. Old time Christmas music and movies.  I could listen to classic old-time Christmas music all day during this season. Another way  that I get into the mood for Christmas is to watch a good Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. They always have a great selection of Christmas movies on during the Christmas season.

5. The presents.  As I have gotten older, I really do not care about getting presents. I would rather give to someone more needy than myself. But I really enjoy getting that unexpected extra amount of cash from Santa or my employer.

6. The family traditions.  Nearly every family has some sort of family tradition on Christmas. My family has always started off Christmas by going to the first Christmas eve service followed by a meal before opening our presents. We gather again on Christmas Day for another great meal and get together. Other families have a much more sophisticated approach to celebrating Christmas. If you have a new, young family, it is time to start some new traditions and start developing some memories that will last a lifetime.

Those are just some things that I would like to share. I wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and may this be one of the best and most memorable Christmas’s ever for you and your family.

 

A retail store’s nightmare

Whenever I go to one of my favorite retail stores and make a purchase, I assume that my transaction is safe and protected. I never think twice about pulling out my debit or credit card to pay for my items. Well, that all changed during the past week with the revelation that Target was a victim of a serious security breach. 40 million cardholders are affected for those who used their plastic between November 27th and December 15th. Unfortunately, I am one of those millions whose personal information may now be in the hands of some hackers. But I have taken some steps to prevent any unauthorized use of my information and have not lost any sleep over it.

For Target which is one of the biggest retail chains in the United States, the timing of this security breach could not have come at a more inappropriate time. This is their busiest time of the year and the people at the company headquarters are no doubt frantically trying to fix this PR nightmare. I do not know how this will affect sales but there are a lot of anxious and nervous people who have shopped at Target during that time frame. The last thing that anyone wants during this season is to worry about your personal information. We want to enjoy the season with our family and friends. It is the best time of the year for many people, however, this breach may have put a damper on many people’s joy during this season.

If some hacker can overcome a major retail store’s security system, what other things can they accomplish? What other stores can they bust into? This should be a major concern of any person who shops retail, well just about anyone does. In the future, what steps are these retail stores going to take to ensure that we can be safe shopping, not only at a store but online as well. Quite frankly, I worry much more about losing personal info online than actually going to a store and making a purchase with my card. This is a major issue that I hope stores and major retailers will find a solution to. Maybe this is a wake-up call to these stores.

It was rather interesting to note that during the past week when all this went down, the problems of the state and federal health exchanges kept putting up in the news as well. I was thinking to myself, if some major health website continues to have software glitches and people are having problems enrolling, how safe can that be? Those health exchanges have to be a hackers gold mine for personal information. I would be not even considering signing up on one of those exchanges right now. I really question how safe those sites are. Fortunately, I do not have to use them.

This story about the security breach also brings up another issue in our society and that is the dark side of this world. People who try to steal from others to enhance their own wealth are some of the worst scum on this earth. They are all over the world. These hackers have absolutely no morals at all. A person who is willing to take advantage of someone else is a pretty sick human being. Eventually, their day will come when they get caught and I hope they get their just punishment. These people are a danger to our world and they need to be handled just like any terrorist; lock them up and throw away the keys!!

No shopper should have to experience the anxiety of losing their personal information at a store. Unfortunately in this high tech world of crime, this will probably not be the last case of this type of crime. I know I never will take my credit or debit card for granted again. I will be more careful about my cards and check my statement more often. Using a debit or credit card is a great and easy way to make a purchase without carrying around a bunch of cash. Unfortunately, this has added new and easy targets for those hackers intent on making a few easy bucks; a very sad truth about our modern society.

Thoughts on the Duck Dynasty controversy

Well, chalk one up for political correctness! A few days ago, a popular member of a very successful cable television show got suspended indefinitely for remarks he made to GQ magazine. When I first heard of the suspension, I assumed the person at the center of the controversy, Phil Robertson had uttered some very offensive homophobic words and therefore, he was being punished; after all, he seems to have a redneck, good old boy type of personality and those type of people are normally not the most politically correct people in the world (see Larry the Cable guy). But then I read more into the story and found out what he really said. Apparently, Mr. Robertson had the gull to quote the bible as to who are sinners and mentioned homosexuals as the first group of people who are sinners. Oh how dare he call a homosexual person a sinner!! That is not politically correct in this day and age! We are to treat homosexuals with the white-glove treatment. No one is supposed to question their lifestyle but Robertson did and now he is paying the price.

I find it almost laughable for the reason of the suspension given by the network of his show, A&E. It is like Robertson had committed some serious breach of speech but all the guy was doing was giving his religious view on a certain group of people. He has a total right to speak up and express his views. It is called freedom of speech and I personally find absolutely no reason why he should be penalized for that. It is a very sad day in this country if we start firing people for expressing their personal religious views or quoting what the bible says. That is totally wrong and it is very refreshing to see the outrage that has developed over this story. Perhaps there is more to why Robertson got suspended and we may find out more in the near future. Maybe there was a contract dispute between him and the network but it appears that A&E is just another group or business that buckled under the pressure of the gay and lesbian extremists and it may come back to haunt them.

The gay and lesbians groups out there have long preached for people to respect them and tolerate their views. But tolerance is a 2 way street and I find these groups do not respect people who do not agree with them. They resort to name calling such as calling people haters or bigots who do not agree with them. By the way, if you call people who quote the bible as a bigot, you are also calling God a bigot as well. Just something to think about.

I do not think people who claim to be Christians are really being hateful towards gays and lesbians. We do not agree with their lifestyle but we still love them as people. If Jesus were alive today, he would not shun them just because they have a different sexual orientation. During his time on earth, Jesus spent most of his time with sinners and Christians should follow the same example. And many do. Most Christians are far from being bigots or haters, not even close.

The A&E network certainly has the right to suspend and fire whoever these please, but to suspend a major cash cow for your network is totally crazy and insane. And even more insane is suspending a guy for expressing his religious views and denying him freedom of speech. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or not; this ought to enrage everyone except for a small group of people who like to preach tolerance but are far from being tolerant to differing viewpoints. Unfortunately, this latest form of political correctness has being developing for years. Perhaps these radicals went too far this time.