Sunday, April 28, 2013

Al Bundy Syndrome: Living In Your Glory Days

It's always nostalgic to look back into yesteryear and to simpler times. For me I look to my favorite decade, the 1990s.  During this time, one of my favorite shows, Married With Children, was popular. Al Bundy's character needs little introduction. He had a boring life as a poor shoe salesman in a dead end marriage. It always gave him joy to go back to his time as a star high school football player. 

Many of us, again, do this. However, several others are like Al: living in the past and not in reality. They cannot face the real world as it currently is. Therefore, they do whatever they can to stay young.

The glory days for many, like Al, were high school, or even college. It's prom season nationwide, sparking even more good and bad memories. You have those that want to relive their prom night over and over, and those that want to forget it.

There are also those people that were the kings and queens of their high school. Popular, attractive, no worries. Now they're adults with families and responsibilities. Many have a difficult time accepting the person they now are.

My advice to these folks that constantly turn back the hands of time is simple. Live for today and make it great. Find adult-friendly activities to get involved in. The fun doesn't have to stop because you're over 30 and are simply a common or average Joe. Life is good and a blessing.

Looking in the rearview mirror is fine. Not moving forward and keeping your eyes in front of you is dangerous. You really don't want to be the person that lives by the motto "the older I get, the better I was."

Growing up and putting away childish things is supposed to mature a person, not keep them frozen in time. It's 2013, and it's time to make new and possibly better memories.

YouTube Tutorial: Uploading Your Own Videos

YouTube has been around for eight years now and has transformed how we view various types of videos. People regularly download their own flicks, and one can spend hours on end viewing them.

The idea for this tutorial came when I was approached with one of those revolting voting competitions. It was a singing competition that my friend's daughter had entered in. She had a video and all. I watched it, the young lady has a great sound, similar to Taylor Swift. I suggested to the mom that they upload the vid to YouTube. After all, many famous musicians, including Justin Bieber and Drake, got noticed this way. She claimed she didn't know how to do it. I said I would teach her.

Folks download videos to YouTube and WorldStarHipHop everyday. I wondered how hard it could be. Turns out, it wasn't very hard, even for a tech-savvy person such as myself.

This tutorial is based on someone that has a smartphone with access to YouTube. However, these tips can apply to a laptop or tablet.

1. Create the video and save it into your media.
2. Go to YouTube. Make sure you have an account. If not, sign up. It's free and quick.
3. Go into your personal account. There will be a download arrow that will allow you to send your video. Press or click on this arrow.
4. You will then have to search for your video in your media. Once you have found it, select the video.
5. Downloading should begin immediately. It may take 5-20 minutes depending upon the speed of your Internet and the size of your video file.
6. Now your video is downloaded!  Use the share option to post the video and send it to others.

There you go! Now you can make videos for YouTube and get them more worldwide exposure. Good luck and happy video making!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Eulogy for Robert Willard Costner

April 8, 2013 was the date when I lost yet another person near and dear to my heart. He was my great uncle Robert Willard Costner. He was married to my great aunt, my grandmother's baby sister, Ellen Jean, for nearly 40 years.  Robert left us at the age of 67.
Robert was a private person, not one for the public eye at all. He stayed to himself and minded his own business. Therefore, his dying wishes were that be cremated, and that a funeral would be unnecessary for him. His daughter Sissy decided to just make a place for his urn and allow folks the opportunity to pay their respects at any time.
I respect my Uncle Robert's wishes, but I do feel like he deserves some sort of eulogy. And here it is.   
Robert grew up from humble beginnings, the eldest of six children. Outside of his quiet nature, he was known for his relentless work ethic. He began working at age 15 with no formal education at the local Community Cash supermarket.
He married Ellen Jean Dover in the late 1960s. Ellen already had a son, Jerry. Robert raised and reared him just as he was his own flesh and blood. Sissy was born in 1970. Shortly thereafter, Robert bought a house directly across from the mill he worked at for two decades in Clover, SC.
Robert was a dedicated worker, husband and father. He did not want his family needing or wanting anything in life or death. He would even work in the mill on holidays, often being the only person there.
He was never one to gossip or to just blatantly put anyone down. Robert handled his business like a real man should, and was pleasant to be around. He had a folksy, very country way of talking and telling stories. He maintained his sense of humor even after he became sick and then lost his wife.
Robert was especially good to my mom and myself. We were very close with all of them. He was a father figure to both of us. There's nothing we wouldn't have did for him.
His hard work may have permanently disabled him, but it did not stop him from paying off his home before he died. Life insurance took care of other expenses. Therefore, he did not leave Sissy, Jerry, or his grandchildren with any debts or burdens.
He was special not because he saved lives, gave a wad of money to a church, or won prizes. He was a regular, hardworking average Joe who treated everyone well and was usually honest and ethical. You don't find many men like this anymore.
My hope is we can all work hard and laugh like Robert spent a lifetime doing. He set a great example for his entire family. I will miss our conversations, how he always lit up whenever myself or Mom came to visit, and his determined spirit.
Many may not have known the real Robert Costner. My hope in this article is that you can get a taste of the type of man he was, and the type of man I want to be. 

Birthday Freebies 2.0

Birthdays are intended to be a special celebration, regardless of the age. Those who know me well are aware how serious I take mine.

That being said, I wrote a Facebook note four years ago about the various restaurants I found that offer freebies or discounts on or around your birthdate. When the same friends that introduced me to those found two more websites with various deals, a part 2 was in order.  These two sites are MrFreeStuff and FatWallet.

These two sites send me frequent alerts with coupons, discount and freebies from several businesses, restaurants included. Also, they have a listing of many restaurants with birthday e-clubs. I will allow you, the reader, to research most of these on your own as the list was quite long. However, the new ones I found included Copper River Grill, MarbleSlab Creamery, Steak 'N' Shake, Del Taco, IHOP, and FuddRuckers. Tony Romas still remains the best in my opinion and also in the thoughts of several others. Now I will see if any of these other restaurants can best them when my birthday arrives in July.

The reason I write about finances and discounts often is because it's good to save and put back money. It does not make good sense to pay full price  for the same quality of service you can receive free or discounted. No one should turn their noses up at this.

My goal is to eat all 31 days of July for free. I get closer every year and maybe 2013 will be that magic year.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Libraries: A Dying Institution

Remember when once upon a time you had to go to the library to check out a book? You had no option of downloading it. You had to use the card catalog to search for the book, Microfiche to look at old newspapers, and you took pride in checking out library books.

Technology has its downsides. One of them is making physical libraries more irrevelant. Many of the services that a library offers can be found at home or a Google search. This has caused many libraries to reduce hours, close in many cities, and even give away books that no one even checks out or reads.

Believe me,I'm an advocate of the library system. As a writer and lifelong reader, I do not want to see the library go anywhere. I thoroughly enjoy going for many reasons. One is that many services, such as checkout, Wi-Fi and Internet are free. Plus they are good for quiet hangout locations and even study meetings.

Replacing the physical presence of this institution would be a disgrace. It is never creepy or uncool to read and browse in a library. Everyone is welcome. 

I'm also an advocate of progress and technology; therefore, the changing of this modern system is quite the double-edged sword. People want information faster and more convenient. However, the intrapersonal touch is lost.

I would personally give the public library system about 20 years before it becomes a distant memory, or an archives center. Social media may even get involved, as well as bookstores such as Amazon. Change is here, and there's no stopping it. We can only make the best of it.

At least folks haven't stopped reading and getting books and information. That would be the biggest tragedy.

Four Popular Baby Party Ideas

Celebrating the pregnancy and birth of a new life has expanded from the traditional baby shower. There are other ways, including the shower, that the expectant mother can utilize to showcase their pregnancy. Here are four such ideas.

1. Gender reveal party

These have really taken off over the past couple of years. Basically it's a fancy and extravagant way of announcing to your family and friends what the gender of your unborn child is. Often the event is planned so elaborately that the parents themselves do not know until the party. To me, this seems like a prequel to the baby shower.

2. Ultrasound parties and viewings

These can also be gender reveal parties in a sense. You can showcase the video of the baby's first heartbeat, first hand movement, or if the fetus shows its little face. Many parents are proud to showcase their ultrasound photos and videos, and this is another way to do just that.

3. Baby moons.

These usually take place around the second trimester while the mother can still safely travel. The mother and either the father or a bunch of friends take a vacation in honor of the new life coming soon. It's basically like a honeymoon celebrating a new marital union. Instead you are celebrating the addition or completion of your family. 

4. Welcome Parties

This happens after the baby is born. They can include welcome home parties, sip and sees, and maybe even a post birth baby shower. These are actually pretty common.

Now often these methods may seem extra and make it seem like the expectant mother is trying to find a reason to put the spotlight on herself. However, think of it like this. It is better to be celebrating a new life rather than mourning over the loss of one.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The David Ruffin Complex

There is always that egotistical, pompous, overconfident person that believes that no one is bigger and better than them. They think that without their presence, the show can't go on.

Speaking of shows, I'm using David Ruffin from the Motown singing group The Temptations as a prime example.

David Ruffin was talented, charismatic, handsome, and arrogant. He was a key member of The Temptations and their early success. However he let it all go to his head and it led to differences within the group. They voted him out and he delusionly thought the group would be worse without him. Conversely, The Temptations won a Grammy, continued to sell multiple records and even recorded their classic rendition of "Silent Night".

The point here is we have too many David Ruffin-like characters. Think Terrell Owens, Kanye West, Rosie O'Donnell and even Kobe Bryant. 

Ego and confidence can be a good thing, but you should stay humble and grounded. I have said before that what you have can become what you had in an instant. You cannot allow yourself to believe your own hype.

Now on the flipside, some people do serve as sparkplugs in our lives and our such big contributors that their absence leaves a void. You want to make a positive impact, but not rub it in everyone's faces. You are human and fallible after all.

I've also spoken of karma in the past. It's real and will bite you in the backside if you decide you're bigger than God, or God Himself.  David Ruffin did have success after The Temptations, but will always be remembered most for "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud To Beg".

Therefore it's probably best to say little and do more. Let your actions and achievements do the talking. And never get comfortable or complacent.  Stay in touch with your true self: heart, mind, and soul.

Seven Things I Want To Teach My Future Child

I look forward to the day that I have my own child. It will be work, but I'm ready to give my future son or daughter a good foundation and skillset. The following are seven things that I want them to learn.

1. About love, and loving the Lord

I cannot say yet whether or not I have a preference which denomination my kids are raised under. My main focus is that they know who the Lord is, read the Bible, and about Heaven and Hell.  I want to teach them love and how to love and be loved. What better way to do that than by teaching them God's love and Jesus's sacrifice for us. God is love and I want them to know that.

2. How to cook and grill

Being that I'm adept on the grill and come from a long line of awesome cooks, this is something I want them to know how to do, male or female. I want them to be self sufficient and independent and this is one way. Nowadays it seems no one cooks anymore. They microwave and eat out. I don't want this art to be lost on my seed.

3. Reading and Writing Well

I want them to be well read and educated. I would like them to at least finish high school and possibly college, military or tech school.  I mentioned before about cursive writing being phased out. Well I want my children to understand the basics of signing your name and communicating well in numerous areas. Sharing this gift and skill can help them in their futures.

4. Play at least one musicial instrument.

Music is the universal language, and I want them to understand it. It could be piano lessons, the school band, church or the orchestra. I want them to at least give it a try. I am all about enhancing the brain and expanding horizons.

5. Computer knowledge

The schools teach technology even more, and technology drives our everyday lives. I want my children to have a piece of what I have learned: past, present, and future.  No illiteracy of any kind will exist in my house, and computers are no different.

6. Basic Law Knowledge

My grandmother told me that knowing the law is so important and applicable to many situations. I want them to know due process, how to treat and talk to law enforcement, and to know their legal rights. The intent will not be for them to live above the law but abide by the law, and to protect themselves against unfair practices.

7. Mechanical knowledge (car, home)

I don't want my children feeling like they need to have Triple A on speed dial. I want them to be able to change their oil, tires, and maintain an automobile. I also want them to at least be able to swing a hammer and know how to properly use a wrench. This goes back to being self sufficient. I want them to be better than me in many aspects, and being mechanical is one of them.

I am a realist and I know they may not grasp everything I show them or may live a different life. However, I want to do my part, not be forceful, and then leave them in God's hands.