Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shush! I wasn't done.

Today's world is so ready to talk—and so ill-equipped to listen—miscommunication is at an all-time high. 

Every high school, college and HR Department should offer a once-a-year course in communication skills training, No one should be exempt from this one. It's stunning to me to encounter the sheer number of people who don't know how to properly communicate. Here's what I mean. Here's your basic conversational dynamic; you speak, I listen. Then, I speak, YOU listen. Simple right? Wrong. No one can seem to do this. No ONE. Not in 7.1 Billion souls on Earth can a single one of us seem to get this right. 

And it's getting worse. 

Not a day goes by when in my teenager-ridden home that at least half of them are talking at once. Let me repeat that. At least two of the four people in the room are talking at the same time, often at full volume (i.e., shouting). 

On Immigrants and Nukes and Shouting Real Loud

Recently, President Obama was speaking about new landmark developments concerning some spectacular policy changes in our county's relationship with Iran. Then, without provocation, several young people in the crowd start shouting—at The President of The United States!—about immigration policy reform. 

Are you kidding me? This is the leader of the free world you dope! Stop talking and let the man speak! He will get to your topic right after he shares how we might be able to avoid World War III by bringing Iran to the table to discuss nuclear disarmament. Kind of sounds important doesn't it? The hecklers would have thought so too if they had taken a moment to shut their mouths, open their ears and listen. 

In all fairness, the president handled himself in a cool and commanding manner, while reminding the hecklers that, "What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is using our democratic process" Obama reminds the passionate, yelling young man,"It won't be as easy as shouting, it requires using our laws to get things done." You can see the exchange, here.

The hecklers would have known this if they had simply LISTENED in their American history class, they would have known the office of the President is NOT a king, that laws are tradition of our democratic process and that means people discussing and voting on said laws to bring about change.

The Lost Art Of Listening 

So if the President can't get a word in on foreign policy, what hope does my living room have? What chance do co-workers have in the free exchange of ideas and concepts if two or more are talking at once? Or worse, when someone is railroading someone else in a conversation (this is when someone is speaking and another party begins speaking right over them before they are finished making their point). 

As I understand things, the exchange of ideas means only one person speaks while one or more listen. I learned that from the Baby-Boomers, the generations that lived through the depression, the American Dust Bowl tragedy of the 1930's and a couple World Wars. Not only do they know how to listen, I would argue they have a thing or two worth hearing, seeing as they have lived through nuclear scares, the overhaul of civil rights and horrific wars coupled with spell-binding social change. 

Children speak over each other, adults bulldoze conversations and even the President of the United States can't seem to get a word in edgewise. We may all be doomed to the horrible consequences of our inability to listen. 

The world, the very Earth itself is crying out for us to change our ways. If we raise generations that only speak and don't listen how will they know not to repeat the same mistakes of previous generations? The world seems to be the same powder keg as it always has been but fewer and fewer people are paying any attention because everyone is talking.

So I pose this question if everyone is speaking at once—in the room, in the country, in the world—then,  who's listening? 
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cats For Cash

Attention entrepreneurs! I celebrate my 100th post with a golden opportunity to give a poor defenseless, abandoned stray cat a new home–while making some mad cash to boot! 

I've lived in big cities my entire adult life. Everywhere I've lived has had a healthy supply of stray cats in almost every neighborhood. Now, I need to go down on record and say that I am VERY far from a cat lover, but my personal sense of humanity and my own nurturing nature says no animal should have to 'rough it' in a man-made environment. 

So as a potential solution, I propose the following 'Cats For Cash' initiative. Hear me out before you go all ASPCA on my backside. 

Cats are coy, lovable furry little pests… I mean pets, that cuddle on demand, fetch, roll-over, wag their tail when you pet 'em, hop around when you come home and.. oh wait, those are called dogs. Well, I'm sure cats do useful and lovable stuff, too, like scratch up your furniture, pee on your stuff–so you have to throw it out–and make you sneeze uncontrollably. 

Anyway you look at these fun-fueled hairballs, they deserve a home. Here's what I suggest:

STEP 1: Find a cat. Dip your head into any city alleyway and you're sure to find a treasure trove of homeless felines of every make, model, color and grade of aloofness. Pick your candidate and proceed to…

STEP 2: Say cheese! Take a pic of your new home-needy hair factory. Try innovative and lovable poses (example: getting into trouble with the laundry is always an attention grabber!). Pick 3-6 of your favorite pics and then you're ready to… 

STEP 3: Create your Craigslist Cat-for-sale post! Come up with an adorable name like Muffins, Uncle Cuddle-bottoms, Mr. Mittens or one of my favorites, 'Bob' (wait for it…). Once your faux feline friend has a name it's time to create your fun back story! Popular options are; you have to move to a country where cats are not welcome or you've lost everything and have to downsize and can't keep him/her/it. You pick the tale, then weave your storytelling magic. Next…

STEP 4: Cha-ching! Posting to Instagram or Craigslist is best! Ask for a modest–but believable fee–"$250 obo" for your little schnook-ums. When meeting the new pet owner, remind them that their new pet loves long walks, 'Frisky-Fiesta' brand canned cat food (sure it's pricier but hey, the li'l feller's had a hard life, let him live a little) and that their shot record is not up-to-date (after all you don't want to LIE). 

BONUS! This is also a great opportunity to clean out the closet. Old shoes, torn socks, grimy old soft toys and stuffed animals long-past their prime can have new life dropped off with your little bundle of departing joy. Just tell the new owner Captain Cuddles can't go a day without 'ball-ball'. 

STEP 5: Rinse and repeat. Now, the drawback (aside from this being horribly immoral and potentially illegal) is the fact that once you successfully complete this transaction, you may have to go undercover, wear a disguise, change your name, get a new phone number etc. 

But hey, just think of all that cash! 

The Bottom Line: This post is purely a matter of comedy. If you're seriously thinking that scooping up stray cats and peddling them to unsuspecting single ladies online is okay, well, you are far from being (ahem!) the 'Cat's Meow.'

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why even go?

This must be what it's like to get old(er). TV commercials seem sillier and sillier as they obviously appeal to an ever-increasingly immature mindset. I'm reminded of a recent ad I watched featuring four clearly NOT athletic looking young men (one particularly obese) jump from scenario to action-packed scenario shooting unseen enemies and blowing up soviet helicopters with shoulder-mounted RPGs. 

In Las Vegas, no less. You know, where MANY soviet attack helicopters often terrorize people on a regular basis. 

One scene even has these bozos shooting automatic rifles at, again, unseen adversaries in orbit wearing space suits (spoiler alert! machine guns don't work in zero gravity). Soon the video game that sponsors this mini excursion into insanity flashes its Ritalin-deprived message of 'buy now!' All three of my teenage boys shout "yes" and pump fists into the air and high-five one another. Really?  

But I digress. 

As if to amplify my current state of cultural malaise, I remember a recent experience at my local cineplex. At the screening, three burly (and I'm being kind) middle-aged dudes spent the entire 15-minute trailer segment before the start f the film  telling each other–in regular voices–which movies they thought were 'dumb', 'stupid' or 'awesome'. Who does that? You know we can hear you, right? Thankfully, these three rotund connoisseurs of film avant garde simmered down by show time. 

Then the characters in the audience really show their colors. 

Half-way through the movie another mid-40's fellow movie-goer decided it was time to eat some cellophane-packed sugary treats that took what seemed like a week to open and pound through. The entire process was louder than the movie. How? How is it he doesn't think the rest of us can't hear this, let alone won't mind? 

Then there is the uh… 'portly' gentleman, who comes in late, sits in the front row and immediately falls asleep—snoring at full volume. Mind you, this is a 10 am film on a Sunday morning. We've all nodded off during a flick in our time, but wow. If you were that tired, maybe sitting in a dark room with comfy seats with a room full of strangers isn't the best game-plan for the morning. Why did he even leave home? Why did either this guy or his sweet-toothed, sugar-addicted co-movie-ruiner even come? 

Then I remember even more infractions. People, mostly women (sorry ladies)  who sit at half-court at NBA games texting and not even watching the event. Watch ANY NBA game for more than 6 minutes… you'll see them. Or concert goers who sit while everyone else stands, seemingly bored to tears. I've even been to school plays where parents are so busy texting and chatting they miss their own kid's performance. 

We have become so distracted, so overcome with the need to be stimulated, we can't even enjoy events MEANT to stimulate and entertain us. To me it's like going to a museum just to buy a pack a gum at the gift shop. Why even go? 

I'd love to hear other instances of distracted indifference, but I would imagine none of my readers ever make it this far into the blog.  Probably got some tweets to read or something. 

Nuff' said. Heading back to the corner… 
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