Sunday, August 21, 2016

The So Gone Challenge: So Right and So Wrong

You would almost have to be living under a rock to not know about the #sogonechallenge going on currently on social media.. This is the latest in social media challenges over the past few years and like the others, has its ups and downs.

It started when Monica (yep that Monica from the 90s) recorded her newest single "So Gone." She then did a freestyle over this infectious beat. Many people, including celebrities, have been doing the same, and have been utilizing FB Live, Instagram, Periscope, and even Vine to post their freestyles and even R&B melodies to this beat.

Now why I'm glad that certain lyricists are coming out of the woodwork to display their skills and show that hip hop is not trap music, it's the ones that have no business doing it that I have a problem with. There has to come a point where you're being funny and you realize that everything isn't for everyone. Dwayne Wade is one of many that showed he should stick to basketball . Folks, like every social media challenge, are starting to ruin it. It's becoming more like American Idol or The Voice. Sounds harsh, but it's the tactful truth.

Please don't let social media dictate your life anymore than it already has. The #sogonechallenge is meant to be fun, but it's no fun seeing people fumble through their own raps and they can only do 10 bars instead of a full 16. 

Football can't return soon enough!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Home Improvement Problems? Planning For The Unplanned

OK being that it is August, it is without question the one appliance in your home you don't want breaking down is your A/C. It can be the zombie apocalypse. However, there are several appliances and repairs you may have to make.

But first let's talk about obscessed people have  become with being a homeowner. It's part of the American Dream. When people can't find that perfect person nor have children, they can still buy and own their own homes. Problem is, many don't realize the maintenance and upkeep required. It's like my old analogy, playing a game without first knowing the rules. 

This year, which still has four months remaining, has drained my pockets, savings, and such in home improvement costs. I have had to repair or replace two lawnmowers, a hot water heater and now my clothes dryer. The AC may be salvageable but I'm looking into space coolers and window units in the meantime. My mom recently suffered a heat stroke and I can't risk that again.

Ok here are some tips I have picked up while buying and replacing items for your home, and while unrigging all the raggedy work my step dad did on this home.

1. Save an allowance of money for home improvement projects.

You have an idea of what's coming (#2) so budget for that and then some. I expected some of the things so I set aside funds for those. Others I had to use other measures. Either way, try and get an idea of what you need, the best prices and such.

2. Do and keep a home inventory.

This perhaps should be #1. Keep track of your appliances and watch out if something isn't working or sounding properly. Staying ahead of the problem can help in keeping it down later.

3. Know the major appliances that need attention and their warranties/shelf lives.

These include but aren't limited to: your sinks, toilets, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer, hot water heater, oven. lawnmower, and heating/AC unit. Replacing them all at once can break you. Doing it for a deal or maybe once in  while isn't as bad.

4. Don't cheap out or go all that.

A $1000 dryer or hot water heater isn't necessary. However do your research, don't buy used unless you trust the source, and find the best fit for your home.

5 . Get a Lowes or a Home Depot card.

Now first of all I'm not in favor of credit cards, unless your credit is already established and you're responsible. If you're gonna get a store card, pay the monthly balance down as much as possible, not just the minimum. Also know your limit and stay within it, especially on a six month basis. Just like your home, it's all about the interest rate.

6. Keep handy people and fix it folks on standby.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not Tim the Tool man nor Bob Villa. However, I stay connected with folks that can help me in tight situations. This could be from installing stuff, to carrying out things, or even using their truck to haul equipment. Keep a steady network of these things.

7. Prepare for the temporary inconvenience and have backup plans.

If your shower is broken or your water goes out, make plans for laundry, baths in the short term. Keep box fans and space heaters for your heating and AC. Also, if you have a grill, keep meat in your freezer and charcoal or gas handy just in case you may need to cook outdoors for a few days. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Happy home improving!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hustle For The Muscle: Helping A Good Person, Friend, and Native Son

Blacksburg, SC is my hometown, and I have found myself writing and talking about it more over the years. The best thing I can say about my small town is its sense of community, especially when someone is in need.

This was in display in full force on Saturday, July 30th as my service organization, Smokin Rita and Friends, helped organize a benefit at the First Baptist Church for Shon Dawkins, who is fighting ALS. The event was a complete success with a hot dog meal, several desserts and sports memorabilia were raffled, and there was even face painting and bouncy houses for the children.

I love seeing when a community can come together and put aside their differences. These are the stories that should be reported first nightly on the news.

Some of you probably want to know more about Shon Dawkins and why anyone would make a big deal out of one person, albeit one deeply affected by ALS.

Well first and foremost, this is how Blacksburg does for its own, when one of its own is sick and in need. The community spirit is strong and they have your back in your hour of need. Even folks from nearby Gaffney and classmates of his from Gardner-Webb University came and showed love.

Second, Shon was not only an awesome athlete during his years at Blacksburg High, he was (and still is) and awesome person that could get along with anyone and make anybody smile and laugh. Shon and his family grew up near me in rural Kings Creek. His family is well known for being good people, good athletes, and hard workers.

Also, it is a tragedy to see ALS take down anyone, especially someone physically and mentally strong as Shon. It has affected his body, but it cannot touch his mind and heart. He is very inspirational despite his pain, and will have you laughing and crying. I always loved being around him, and there was no way I was missing this benefit.

#thehustleforthemuscle movement continues as Shon's condition does worsen and the bills don't stop. There is a 5K run planned soon in Blacksburg, plus other benefits. There is already a GoFundMe in place. Shon is one of the last folks I know that would ask for any help. Therefore, help him since he would help you, and help in this fight against ALS! Continue to check my blogs, vlogs, and social media accounts for more info!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pokemon GO! Playing it safely, literally

The Pokemon craze from the mid 90s has swept the world again, now in smartphone form. And yours truly is into it.

Many of us have been going to firestations, churches and other landmarks for powerups and rare Pokemons. People of all ages are trying to catch them, and some are getting injured and causing injuries. It is an interactive game, but one that should be played with some common sense and awareness.

Here are some tips I have picked up in my short time playing this game.

1. Play in open spaces, like a downtown area or a park. You want to have a few feet (5 or more) open around you for playing so you don't run into anything whilst trying to catch a Pokemon.

2. Look both ways before crossing streets, and keep your eyes up around cars and pedestrians.

3. Don't play after the sun goes down.

4. Drive to destinations when possible, and obey traffic and parking laws.

5. Make a plan to play, and have a couple of folks with you, especially if you're in team mode.

6. Watch your battery and data usage.

7. Have fun and be safe!

There are more I could name, but basically use common sense and good judgment. Don't lose yourself in any game.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Random Ramblings.

We've had a lot going on in our world lately. Cops killing black men, cops being killed in retaliation. The Pokemon GO craze is out, and people are playing this game in droves. And the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are right around the corner. Either way, everyone has thoughts about all of this.

And here are mine.

1. It is against my code of ethics to take someone's life, period, unless yours is threatened. You look at almost every instance over the past few years and murder could have been avoided. I have an uncle that is a skilled shooter, was the top markman in his platoon in the Army during the 70s. Police, you are trained to subdue the person, not kill them. My brothers and sisters, killing innocent cops isn't the answer.

2. I have written and spoken on this subject many times and I'm gonna say this again once more. We need more legislation and effective action to end this unjust killing. Rogue killing and passive protests isn't getting the job done. Look at what Dr. King and other historic characters and people in power positions have accomplished. Let's use some of that to end this madness and fix this broken system. I need to feel safe again when I drive at night, and I don't need my mother up at night (or any other parent) worrying if I will make it home alive.

3. Many of you know how seriously I take my birthday. The main reason is that we preach that this live matters and that life matters. Okay well if we're that cool, how hard it is to wish me Happy Birthday? You remember celebrity's birthdays that you won't meet but you can't remember mine. Hmmm is all I gotta say.

4. My black friends, you don't need to feel uncomfortable discussing these topics with me. Yes I'm biracial and I see both sides. But people are people to me. We can talk, as long as you are respectful and realize that all white folks and cops aren't out to eliminate an entire race of people. I certainly wasn't raised like that, I was raised to love and have an open mind. Therefore , if you're my friend , we should be able to have an open, respectful dialogue. Shoot both races make me mad also so chances are we may be on the same side!

5. Also, if the worst happens and I end up a statistic, PLEASE do not hashtag #AndrewLanier or #imjustdrew if we aren't cool like that. You don't know me, we aren't even related. You didn't even wish me Happy Birthday. Therefore, don't treat me like a martyr when I'm gone if you treated me like garbage when I was alive and well. #thatisall.

6. I like the Pokemon GO game, it's addictive. However I play it in safe environments. I have my own thoughts far as this game goes (potential future blog subject).

So here are my ramblings. Expect more in the future.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Mid-Yead Wrap Up and Awards

OK it's the dog days of summer, which means it's time for my mid year award list of stupidity in sports, pop culture, and entertainment. Beyonce' is back and Kanye and Kobe both managed to stay off this list.

Repeats:

Big business award: Beyonce'. First of all, Bey is one of the best marketing geniuses of our time. Her techniques should be taught in business schools and boardrooms everywhere. That being said, why in the world would you charge that much for anyone to attend one of your concerts? Even during tax season, that's a lot to ask. Maybe it's because she knows the fans will pay that price, and doesn't care if it's a six figure bank executive, or a single welfare mom.

Troubled athlete: Johnny Manziel. I mean, who didn't see this coming. Overprivileged, overhyped QB who was bound to spontaneously combust. He's like Doug Flutie merged with Stephen Garcia and Tommy Chong.

Unnecessary sporting event: The Pro Bowl. Who watches or even cares anymore, besides Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders?

Sore loser: Cam Newton. He still may be the best QB in the NFL talentwise, but he can't handle losing. C'mon Cam, you must be more classy than that after a huge loss.

Racist award: The SAEs (I have another award for police and activists so wait). You guys are awful far as your treatment towards anyone of color. Why haven't y'all been shut down yet?

Unjust award (see?): The police, U.S. Justice system, the media and our government. America is becoming an embarrassment thanks to all of you determined to keep us divided as citizens and distracted from other issues.

Social media faux pas: Status update games. They are getting wilder and more ridiculous. They seem to only end when something tragic occurs or it's a major holiday.

Crooked sport: The NBA. You guys are so desperate for ratings and to topple the NFL, you make a circus yearly out of the playoffs, the draft lottery and the draft.

Disloyalty award: bandwagoner fans. Once upon a time, you picked a team and stuck with them.  Now folks go with whomever is winning. I honestly saw this start in the 90s with the Bulls and Cowboys and is getting much worse.

Crybaby athlete: Lebron James. Well I guess now ole Bron Bron not only controls the Cavaliers, he controls the NBA. One phone call and he decides the series and brings a championship back to Cleveland for the first time in 52 years.

Can't Get Right Award: Jon Jones. Personally I think you are overrated as a fighter and Cormier would have finally beat you in 200. Don't worry, Bellator awaits in two years or less.

Newbies:

Crooked politician: Hillary Clinton. When everyone thought it was Bill or Trump, it is also you Hill. It's getting harder to trust anyone in public office.

Coon award: Stacey Dash. You have embarrassed yourself. You simply cannot go again an entire race of people like that, especially your own.

Fashion faux pas: the man bun. Why, why?

Blatant disrespect award: The Oscars. You bring back Chris Rock to host, which is good. But no minority nominees at all? Really?

Violent athlete: Lesean McCoy. C'mon dude, I thought you were trying to get paid and establish your career. You have proven that one must conquer their inner demons and watch who they hang with.

Unreliable teammate: D'Angelo Russell. Dude don't you know that what goes on in the locker room, stays in the locker room? Swaggy P, you were almost as bad as you don't blab your business. But Russell was awful.

Questionable athlete: Laranby Tunsil. It just goes to show you in this era of technology nothing you do is hidden and eventually what is done in the dark comes to light.

Dirty program (could be Ole Miss next): Baylor and Art Briles. You guys got good fast, and now your coach is gone. Who's next?

Retail rant: Lowes. The way in which you treat customers is deplorable. I hope Home Depot crushes you guys. 

Moron rapper: Joe Budden. Hip hop artists will learn one day to stop going after Drake. 

Athlete with aggression: Draymond Green. Now Dray I admire your style of play. However, you must control it, and your anger, before you cost your team multiple championships and yourself freedom as a citizen.

OK that's it for now. Moral of this post: people do not learn from the past.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ways To Survive The Dog Days Of Summer

July and even early August are the toughest parts of summer oftentimes. They are referred to as the "dog days of summer." Many of your favorite TV shows are on summer hiatus, there aren't as many big summer blockbuster movies, and sports are simply monotonous at best. Many have already taken their summer vacations. Baseball is not nearly as interesting and NASCAR has possibly two or three exciting races before Bristol in mid August. It can often be a good and a bad time.

One good thing is the 4th of July of course. You seemingly have parties and celebrations everywhere.

Here are some ways to fight off the dog days of summer. Many of these are similar to my post from 2012 regarding top date ideas for the Spring and Summer months.

1. Go swimming and/or to a water park/lake.

This rarely gets old and is often inexpensive. You and your family are hot and want to take a dip and be around cool water. Many water activities remind you of how great summer is.

2. Don't wait for an invite, have your own cookouts!

I feel grateful to be invited to summer parties and cookouts. However I realize all do not have this luxury. Therefore, buy some meats and charcoal, invite some friends over and have your own BBQ. No grill, no worries. Walmart has cheap but effective kettle grills for around $30, and they are easy to assemble and use. Many of you know I love grilling, it's relieving and an awesome way to get folks together.

3. Do some early morning/late afternoon workouts outdoors.

This is a prime season for this. It is usually no lower than 65 degrees during the dog days in the morning, and cools down as the sun sets. Working out outside, whether be running, walking, hiking, cycling is hard to beat. Summer flies by so take advantage while you can.

4. Stream plenty of movies and TV shows from the source of your choice (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Kodi).

All of these streaming services allow you to catch up on TV and movies, and even view new ones. Season 4 of Orange is the New Black is currently available and many (myself included) are watching this.

5. Go to amusement parks, drive in theaters and even local festivals.

There is usually something happening within close driving distance. Get out and experience and enjoy what is going on, and see other people as well. It is fun and healthy.

Ok now that you've read this piece, get out and enjoy the dog days!