Racist or Ignorant?

I was raised by my parents NOT to be racist and to treat everyone with respect. This is odd since I was a child in the 60s and 70s and grew up in small towns in South Georgia. My parents forbid the use of the N-word and taught me to treat everyone the same. So, I never paid attention to someone’s color unless they made an issue of it. Even though I wasn’t racist, I still had times when I was either insensitive or ignorant to it. It is hard for a white person to truly understand. The recent tragedy of George Floyd has uncovered an ugly division that still exists. I had assumed we were better people today that we shouldn’t have a problem with racism.

Obviously that was ignorant thought on my part. It reminded me of other times in the past when I have been ignorant or insensitive about race.

I am reminded of the time when I was going to the football games of my favorite team. There was a protest that was initiated against the band playing “Dixie” as the team’s theme song. I went into the office one day and expressed my disgust that people were protesting a fight song until my co-worker and friend, Sam, explained to me why the song was offensive. Since it offended him, it then offended me. I understood it and I was happy when the school removed any references to “Dixie” to the band.

Speaking of Dixie, it sickens me to see people display or fly the Confederate Flag. The flag should be in a museum and not on public display. The war is over. It is a symbol that is insensitive to the feelings of black men and women.

I was also reminded of the time when I attended a church with a pastor that liked to tell racist jokes when he was not behind the pulpit. He thought it was okay to share these jokes with me since I laughed at them and never called him out about it especially considering the fact that we had some mixed races in the congregation. Looking back now I see that I only encouraged his behavior by laughing at his jokes and not ever calling him out about it. I repented of condoning his jokes and I hope that he has repented of this at some point.

I have also seen where employers have fixed the hiring process to ensure that they hire minorities- not based on qualifications – but simply because of a quota. While I understand the reason for this practice, I also think this is unfair to all minorities to simply make an office or company “look” like they have diversity. Given the appearance of diversity doesn’t mean there is equality.

So, yes, there are still race issues today and I am ignorant if I say there’s not. We really need to fix this.

It is ridiculous that we have police shooting and killing black victims. The actions of these overzealous law enforcement officers taint the many who are good and do their jobs without regard to race. I know I wouldn’t want to be in law enforcement. Unfortunately, officers tend to get jaded and desensitized to their subjects because they do see the negative side of society. It is too easy from some of them to fall into stereotypes and make assumptions about people based upon their race. It’s going to take more than requiring classes on race sensitivity training.

The ugly truth is that America still has race issues. While racism does exist, there is also ignorance and insensitivity.

It is disappointing to see how divided our country is right now on race, politics, sex and religion.

56 Things

Today as I turn 56, I am reflecting back on 56 things that I have learned about life so far:

  1. The older you get, the faster the world becomes.
  2. People will let you down.
  3. No matter what you do, you will let others down.
  4. Money only brings temporary happiness.
  5. A house is not a home.
  6. Whether or not you attend your high school prom really doesn’t matter.
  7. Don’t base your self-worth on what others think about you. Just because they have an opinion doesn’t mean they are right.
  8. Trust God and leave the results to Him. Don’t try to “help” him out.
  9. Don’t marry the person you can live with, marry the one you can’t live without.
  10. You body will wear out. Things will break or not work as they should.
  11. Everything does happen for a reason but you won’t always like the reason
  12. Church attendance is overrated. Going to church doesn’t make someone a Christian.
  13. You don’t know you are in a cult when you in one.
  14. Don’t breathe through your nose when changing a diaper. (Trust me on this one)
  15. Be good at adjusting to change.
  16. Be quick to forgive. The longer you wait, the more bitterness will set in.
  17. If people gossip about others to you, they will gossip about you to others.
  18. Never make an important decision when you are hungry.
  19. Learn from your mistakes.
  20. Give people a second chance
  21. You can never detect your own bad breath. This amazes me since our nose is so close to our mouth.
  22. Never assume anything.
  23. Never talk about having extra money around your house or car.
  24. Be careful what you post on social media.
  25. All of your Facebook friends aren’t your friends. You also don’t HAVE to friend everyone from high school or all of your relatives.
  26. Know your limitations. Just because you set your mind to do something doesn’t mean that you can.
  27. Don’t judge someone based on how they look. Actions speak louder than anything else.
  28. If work was fun it wouldn’t be called work.
  29. Do the right thing even when no one is looking.
  30. If you do a million good things people will remember the one bad thing.
  31. You can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends.
  32. Follow your heart but take your brain with you.
  33. Be on time.
  34. The one who really cares about you will be the one who cares for you.
  35. You can’t control what others do, you can only control what you do.
  36. When I die I want a representative from the Atlanta Falcons to be a pallbearer so they can let me down one more time.
  37. Don’t get so wrapped up with your favorite sports team.
  38. Take time to sit in silence.
  39. Work isn’t the most important thing in life.
  40. Hallmark doesn’t have a card for everything.
  41. There’s only one God and we’re not it.
  42. Nobody likes a smart ass.
  43. Take a European vacation.
  44. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  45. You can’t finish something you don’t start.
  46. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  47. Time doesn’t always heal all wounds.
  48. It’s never wrong to do the right thing.
  49. Do more than what’s expected.
  50. When one difficult co-worker leaves, they will be replaced by two.
  51. You can’t always plan everything.
  52. When times get tough, hang on.
  53. A good attitude can change everything.
  54. True love does exist.
  55. Wear Sunscreen.
  56. 56 years go by faster than you think.

What Is Cabin Fever?

With most of us in lockdown mode for over a month now, people are getting antsy and anxious to opening up their lives again. Although there are some legitimate reasons for caution, people are ready to get rid of their “cabin fever”.

What exactly is cabin fever? Is it really a thing?

Cabin fever is defined as irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors. It isn’t actually a fever; however, it can lead to some psychological and emotional issues. It can also lead to a higher risk of depression or, in some cases, suicidal thoughts. The lack of natural sunlight can increase a person’s anxiety.

With us coping with stay-at-home orders, this can lead to cabin fever as we grow restless, bored, lack of patience, overeating and sadness. If you are already a person who suffers from depression, being isolated for long periods of time can make you more vulnerable to serious effects of cabin fever.

So how can you cure cabin fever?

  • Get outside. Find a way to spend some time outside and enjoy some fresh air.
  • Work on a hobby. We all have something we enjoy doing. This is a perfect time to focus on it.
  • Start a good book. With society taking a time-out, we finally have time to sit down and read a book.
  • Work on some chores you never had time to tackle.
  • Write a letter to someone. An actual handwritten letter can brighten someone’s day.
  • Exercise. When you exercise the body, you are giving your mind a break.

It is easy to let the mind get lazy when you succumb to cabin fever. Giving into it can also contribute to physical problems such as headaches and nerve problems. It is important to recognize cabin fever early and make a plan to derail it before it drives you – and the people around you crazy.

To help cure your cabin fever during this Coronavirus pandemic, check on this game from Amazon:

Finer Than Frog Hair (and other strange sayings)

frogRecently these words came out of my mouth when my wife asked how I was doing.  While searching for a clever comeback, somehow my brain pulled this rather strange phrase out.

Finer than frog hair?

Why is that a saying?   As we both stood there for a moment, I couldn’t help but wonder why that came out.  I assumed it was a saying that originated from my South Georgia roots.  Who would even think of such a thing?  And is frog hair really fine?

This got me to wondering about other odd sayings that are out there and how they originated:

“Finer than frog hair”

  • What does it mean?  It means a person is in good spirits or excellent mood.
  • Origin:  The allusion to the hairs on a frog clearly points us to the ‘slender, narrow’, meaning of the phrase. Just as clearly, (most) frogs don’t have hair, and the ironic reference to it is intended to highlight the effect.

“I’ll keep my eyes peeled”

  • What does it mean?  Although it sounds like a painful thing to do to our eyeballs, it actually means we are going to watch something very closely.
  • Origin:  From about the 17th century on, pill was commonly spelt peel and took on the sense of “to remove or strip” in the weakened sense of removing an outer covering, such as a fruit. The figurative sense of keeping alert, by removing any covering of the eye that might impede vision, seems to have appeared in the US about 1850.

I beg to differ”

  • What does it mean?  It is usually a way to disagree with someone in a nice way.  You may not actually resort to begging but disagreeing kindly.
  • Origin:  Most sources indicate this saying originated from England as a proper British phrase.

“Let’s hightail it out of here”

  • What does it mean?  While the image of such a phrase is rather humorous, it usually means to get away very quickly.
  • Origin:  From comparisons of animals that raise their tails when fleeing.  Could also be from the days when horses were our primary modes of transportation.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes”

  • What does it mean?  A way to say you have missed someone or that you are happy to see them.
  • Origin:  This phrase was first recorded by Jonathan Swift, in A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, 1738.

“Sleep tight”

  • What does it mean?  We are wishing someone to have a good night’s sleep.   Of course I have already heard it with “…and don’t let the bed bugs bite”.   Yes, that’s a real comforting thought.
  • Origin:  This 19th century expression isn’t, as is often wrongly claimed, a reference to the tightness of the strings used to support mattresses.

“Blood is thicker than water”

  • What does it mean?  Family is more important than anything else.  Yeah, you would think right?
  • Origin:  In ancient Middle Eastern culture, blood rituals between men symbolized bonds that were far greater than those of family. The saying also has to do with “blood brothers,” because warriors who symbolically shared the blood they shed in battle together were said to have stronger bonds than biological brothers.

“I quit cold turkey”

  • What does it mean?  To quit something quickly.
  • Origin:  People believed that during withdrawal, the skin of drug addicts became translucent, hard to the touch, and covered with goose bumps – like the skin of a plucked turkey.

“Waking up on the wrong side of the bed”

  • Meaning:  Waking up in a bad mood.   If you’ve known people like this you might want to consider the origin.
  • Origin:  The left side of the body or anything having to do with the left was often associated considered sinister. To ward off evil, innkeepers made sure the left side of the bed was pushed against a wall, so guests had no other option but to get up on the right side of the bed.

“Getting the cart before the horse”

  • What does it mean?  Getting things out of order
  • Origin:  The meaning of the phrase is based on the common knowledge that a horse usually pulls a cart, despite rare examples of vehicles pushed by horses in 19th-century Germany and early 20th-century France.

There are many more interesting phrases we use and, if your are from the South, the list is even longer.  Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has educated a lot of people on some of those.  We have some very interesting sayings.  Hopefully, I won’t be a frequent user of “fine as frog hair” in my vocabulary.  It’s even more confusing to use it around Halloween.  Some folks might get the idea that you are a witch and using frog hair for some kind of spell.

Okay, let me hightail it out of here before I say anything else…

For further reading on strange sayings, check out these books from Amazon:

BOREVID-19: Are You Bored Yet?

It has been over a month since we have been told to stay-at-home or do our part to “flatten the curve”. Now it seems that everyone is eager to re-open the country regardless of what doctors and science are telling us to do.

People are bored. They can’t stand it anymore. They want OUT!

For me, I have enjoyed this time. No rushing around and being able to enjoy time at home with my wife. I haven’t been bored.

People are funny though. They build their houses, buy entertainment devices and linked into social media yet they are still bored.

It wasn’t like when I was growing up when my parents would tell me to play in the yard.

No today my friend. People are totally bored with staying at home (for those of us who have) and need to get out.

What’s the rush?

Why do we get bored so easily when we have so much?

Consider these facts and figures:

  • Americans spend an average of $200,000 on their homes
  • We spend $2,913 annually for home entertainment equipment
  • Americans spend a total of over $36 Billion a year for video games
  • Game systems made over $7 Billion
  • We spend an average of $60 per month on Internet service
  • We average spending $1,093 per year for furniture
  • The average American subscribes to 3-4 movie streaming services for an average of $29 per month.

We spend all of this money for these things in our homes yet we are still bored. Boredom is a modern condition which has oddly increased the more that technology has. Boredom was literally nonexistent until the late 18th century leading into the Industrial Revolution. Early in human history, when our ancestors had to spend most of their days securing food and shelter, boredom wasn’t an option.

Having the latest in home entertainment doesn’t cure our boredom, we are motivated out of boredom when we do something. Here are a few things that you can do to become productive during this time:

  1. Update your resume
  2. Read your emails
  3. Clean the garage (or other space in your house you’ve been putting off)
  4. Read a book
  5. Write a letter (yes, actually WRITE a letter.)
  6. Watch an online tutorial
  7. Learn how to cook
  8. Write your autobiography

Need more help in managing your boredom? Try some of these:

Making Teleworking Work For You

As most of the world is dealing with the current pandemic of COVID19, the way we work has drastically changed over the past few weeks. While it is unfortunate that some can’t work during this time, there are some who are experiencing teleworking for the first time.

I am one of those people. For the first time in my 38 years of working, I have been teleworking. Although I am sad about the reason we are having to do this, I love being able to work from home. I wish I had been able to do this sooner. With my job, I spend about 80% of my days on the computer working with data. Obviously I can’t do every aspect of my job but I can assure you that I have been very busy since I have been working remotely. The work hasn’t slowed down even if the bandwidth has slowed me down. As I was preparing to telework, I had hoped that my internet provider – Xfinity – would do something temporarily to bump up my internet speed but all they were interested in was trying to up sale me on a new plan. I am disappointed that they weren’t willing to make exceptions for this situation. Fortunately, my current speed is okay but it would have been nice if they would have worked with me on this.

It’s important that you prepare yourself for teleworking. Make sure you have a dedicated place to work and that your technology is setup for working from home.

The first thing I love about teleworking is – well – working from home and being with my wife. On most days we spend about 11 hours apart. It’s a good feeling to be close and know that she’s here. We get along well and love being together. Although I am working, I get to see her a lot more and have lunch with her every day.

The second thing is the commute. I normally have to get up at 5 a.m. and take a van pool with people who are totally opposite in their political views than me and ride 45 minutes to/from work. That can be a very long 45 minutes of my day. Over the last two weeks, my commute has been 15 steps to where I am working.

The third good thing about teleworking is that every day is casual day. I don’t have to figure out what I am going to wear. I just put on some comfy clothes and go to work. In fact, today is wear-your-Disney-shirt-to-work day here.

Here are some other things I have learned with my telework experience:

  • You must be disciplined. Working at home doesn’t mean you don’t work. I know that’s sounds crazy but it can be too tempting to goof off when you telework. The key to keeping the work in telework is to be disciplined. Our management requires us to keep a log of what we are working on every 30-minutes. I stick to this by setting my watch alarm for 30 minutes so that I can keep to the schedule and keep my log accurate.
  • Keep work routine. For me, I continue to get up, take a shower and get dressed for work. I also continue with the usual breaks and lunch times I have when I am working in the office.
  • Manage your interruptions and distractions. One of the benefits of teleworking is that I don’t have to deal with co-workers or supervisors interrupting me or what I call “drive-bys”. I can actually focus on my work; however, working from home presents new interruptions and distractions such as the humming noise of neighbors mowing their lawn that I hear right now. Depending on where you set up your home office, the television can be a distraction so you will have to decide what level of distraction you can work with at home.
  • Adjust to changes in workflow. I have had to adjust to the slower pace that I have to work now since I am not physically in the office connected to our network. There are many days where I am running projects on two or three computers. I am also adjusting to the change of working on one monitor than the two monitors in the office. Working from home forces you to prioritize your work even more than when you are in the office.
  • Adapting to communicating with co-workers/supervisors. Communication with others is different since you don’t have in-person interaction when teleworking. I have kept communication going with email or Skype. Personally, I like this form much better than the in-person or my office phone ringing to interrupt me.
  • Reward yourself. I think it is important to reward yourself for being disciplined when you are teleworking. Take five minutes to walk around, go outside or plan an activity when the workday is over. Sometimes I tell myself that at a certain time I will get a snack or do a short chore just to break up the routine. It’s good to take a few breaks as long as it isn’t longer than five minutes.

When this crisis is over and life gets back to normal I hope I will be able to continue to telework at least one day each week and as I approach being eligible to retire from my current job in the near future, I would love to find employment with someone who offers teleworking or work from home. I am definitely disciplined to do this and have the personality that is suited for it.

Sure, you still have to work when you telework but it is a welcome change from the daily grind. I’m just very fortunate that I can still work during this time of being locked in while we all try to navigate this pandemic.