Monday, April 28, 2014

Some Things We Can Learn From Chick Fil-A and QuikTrip In Regards To Treating People Properly

Good customer service seems to be extinct, along with manners and common courtesy. It seems respect for others has fallen to the wayside.

Thank God for places such as Chick Fil-A and QuikTrip for keeping hope alive that you can be treated like royalty in a public establishment. At both of these businesses, their top priority is providing you with quick, courteous,  non-hassle service.  That is not too much to ask and it rarely hurts to be nice.  They have been highly regarded for this behavior for years.

So what can be learned from these businesses in regards to everyday life? Well consider this.

1. Smile and be friendly

Oftentimes this can diffuse any friction or disagreement.  Keep your cool, talk and act calm, and just handle yourself like an adult.  The old saying really is true, in that more bees can be caught with honey than vinegar. 

2. Everyone deserves to feel loved.

We as humans are fallible and flawed. However, it doesn't mean we don't deserve a kind word and a helping hand. Don't just walk and wave to everyone.  Show folks that you genuinely care for them, rather than being standoffish.

3. Be as flexible and punctual as possible. 

Your time is valuable, as it other people's.  Therefore, do your best to work with others, their needs and time constraints. Reach a common, middle ground and be unified in what you want and what you are doing.

4. Strive to be the best friend and relative you can.

Mother's Day is around the corner. You will see several folks taking advantage of this time to honor their mothers and mother figures. However,  why wait until then?  Make this a regular practice.  Also, keep up with your friends and family better, or make the effort to do so. Sometimes this can be tough,  but be open and available. 

5. Take pride in yourself as well as others.

Employees of both of these businesses not only respect others, they respect themselves.  It shows also. They present a friendly image and warm spirit,  and they do their jobs to the highest quality.  The pay may not make them millionaires, but what is priceless is the impact they have on others. People can sense someone who has a facade and someone who is sincere.  Choose the latter and be as true to yourself as possible. I love being around people who are comfortable in their own skin, and have  proper understanding of respect. 

What else can you learn from Chick Fil-A and QuikTrip in regards to treating others well? How have one or both of these businesses positively impacted you?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

29719: Kings Creek Pride

29719 was more than five numbers to a small group of people. It was our lifestyle, our family,  our roots, our former zip code.

That is linked to a place called Kings Creek,  just between Blacksburg and Smyrna,  SC, named by some "God's Country. " 

The widening of Highway 5 heading into York County,  plus the closing of our post office in 1998, along with other businesses,  have virtually taken us off the grid. Google doesn't even recognize us on Google Earth or Google Maps anymore. It's like they have merged communities like ours and Cherokee Falls with Blacksburg. 

I tell folks that don't understand or to whom I don't care to explain that I'm from Blacksburg.  However,  I have always claimed Kings Creek (the KC) as my home.

Kings Creek was a small mining community for years, home of the Industrial Mills plant. This plant employed virtually the entire hamlet,  and was a landmark. We also had Boheler's Store, where you stopped to catch up on gossip, get snacks, and play video games and pool in the adjoining arcade. Love's Grocery was our gas station, just a few feet up.  We also had plenty of swimming holes: Kings Creek (or The Curb) and the infamous Burnt Mills. Burnt Mills is still going strong and has a bar right in front of the bank of the creek. Lots of good hunting, fishing and four wheeling lands and trails surround our area also. It's our own slice of Heaven. 

Growing up, everyone literally knew everyone.  We rode the school bus together,  gathered at Boheler's or the post office,  and simply had a mutual trust and respect towards each other. On Halloweens, we knew we could safely trick or treat at almost any home in the area.

Smyrna and even the eastern part of Blacksburg just outside of city limits share a lot in common with us. But there's something special about being from Kings Creek that only the residents can grasp.

We have the rich, dirt poor, middle class, simpletons, and all in between.  However, we have always came together in the name of the KC.

It will take more than the closing of a post office and a road widening to erase our identity. 29719 will forever live in our hearts.  We may have to write Blacksburg on bills, job applications,  letters and such.  Nevertheless, we all know that this is Kings Creek, the one and only. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fitness Challenges and Results

Over the past several months,  I have refocused and rejuvenated my physical fitness goals. This began in September when I changed over to Anytime Fitness. Thus far, it appears to be working out.  I am highly motivated,  seeing results again, and am setting many long and short term goals. I am also involved in some challenges,  one of which just ended.

I was in a Biggest Loser Challenge at Anytime York. It was based on weight percentage lost. I ended up being the winner of this challenge, which ended last week.  Although my metabolism and motivation are both up, I still have weight loss goals. Therefore, I plan to continue this challenge on my own. I'm less than 20 pounds from my goal, a far cry from where I began.

Another challenge is wrapping up this week. Many of you have seen the "Get Moving" video that Anytime Spartanburg-Hillcrest made featuring me. I am participating in the Jacob's Ladder Mount  Everest challenge.  The goal of the challenge is to climb 29,035 total feet on the Jacob's Ladder,  the height of Mount Everest.  All who accomplish this feat receive a free T-shirt and recognition on the Jacob's Ladder web page, as well as social media. At press time, I am about 3,500 feet away, and I plan to finish this challenge this week. 

My other challenge at Spartanburg-Hillcrest will take more work, which is fine. It is running on the treadmill at a speed of 6 with an incline of 30. I have did similar workouts in the past through Jeanette Jenkins. However, this one will be a doozy. I am currently working on incline level 9, and I can run nearly 6 miles without an incline. I'm confident I can reach this challenge within the next couple of months. Those who accomplish this feat will be featured on the wall at the Spartanburg-Hillcrest facility.

Finally, there is one that caps off all of these challenges, and other ones. It's sharing my own Anytime story via The grand winner will receive $10,000 for themselves , plus $10,000 for the charity of my choice.  I have my charity picked out, and I'm putting together my story.  The deadline is June 17, my deceased father's birthday.  I hope to have an even better chapter to add to my already amazing journey with Anytime Fitness.

Thanks and shoutouts will follow later. For now, I just want to thank you all that have followed my fitness journey since my days at YBB and previous to this.  It feels good to be back in the saddle and I don't plan to disappoint.  I am using old methods mixed with new ones from others to give myself the healthy physique I desire.

Continue to keep up with me in my physical adventure!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

'Un ' common Core: How Much Should It Be Taught, If At All

Nationwide,  our schools are diligently trying to make our students more adept and capable of competing with the world's best at whatever career path they choose. This starts with knowing the basic skills and being able to apply them early and often.  Reading, writing and of course arithmetic. 

There appears to be a problem with the arithmetic portion.  Controversy exists in the form of common core. 

Common core is when you break down certain math problems and concepts, most notably addition and subtraction,  in order to help the student understand the concept better. It appears to be complicating matters in a number of cases.

This method is fighting its way to becoming the norm in many school systems. The solution (no pun intended) may not be in this method.  It typically comes from using the tried and true methods of practice,  practice,  and more practice. And obviously the ability of the teacher plays a huge factor in whichever method you choose. 

I remember I struggled with subtracting large numbers and even long division until I received proper instruction on how to do it and retain it.  Therefore,  ensure your teachers are up for the task. 

Next, determine what type of students you have and how they learn the best. Realize that all children do not retain information the same. Some of them are very advanced in numbers,  some remedial, and some are right in the middle.  You teach basic skills in a basic matter before reverting to common core or any new and unproven method. 

Therefore,  common core is perhaps best in private tutoring sessions as a last-ditch effort to get the students to retain and get the material. 

Either way, something has to be done. Many adults, mostly because of calculators, are incapable of basic math and order of operations.  We don't need to confuse the younger generation any further.

What are your thoughts on common core? Do you think it should be given a chance?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top NBA Big Men In The Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference in the NBA isn't known for big men, let along true centers. Mostly power forwards and swingmen permeate the East. The West, meanwhile, has household names such as Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard,  Zack Randolph, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis.  Here are five notable bigs out of the East. 

1. Andre Drummond.

This dude is a beast, plain and simple. He scores,  rebounds and blocks. Guys find it difficult in the paint against him. The Pistons will either need to build around him, or risk losing him to another team needing that center spot to complete their roster.

2. Roy Hibbert

I mention him next because despite his youth and at times lack of aggressive play, he is still a true center. He is more known for blocking shots with his seven foot frame. His rebounding leaves much to be desired, but is slowly coming along. He is surrounded with other great players in the paint such as David West and Paul George. All of them have a blue collar work ethic and now the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Hibbert will continue to prove he's more than a one-trick pony.

3. Al Jefferson. 

After further investigation and years of watching him, Jefferson is actually much better than Hibbert,  and has rejuvenated the Bobcats into a playoff berth. He may not be a true big, but at 6'11,  he plays like one. He is simply dominant, and has been for years on different teams. It appears the Heat will face the future Hornets in the first round. They will have problems down low since they really don't have a great center, and Bosh can't hang with him the entire series.

4. Spencer Hawes.

He was dominant at center and power forward for the Kings and Sixers before joining a young and improving Cleveland Cavaliers squad. Hawes is one of those guys that rebounds, blocks, and can shoot from high and low range. He can play, period,  has good size, and can't be disregarded.

5. Al Horford.

You may question if he is a true center or another power forward. However, Horford's ability and athleticism are rarley in question. He has suffered with many injuries in his NBA career but on the court at full strength, he holds his own. He caught my eye when he played at the University of Florida alongside Joakim Noah and continues to impress me.

Honorable mention: Noah,  Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez

Sunday, April 13, 2014

High School: Do Some People Ever Really Leave?

I have been out of high school for almost eighteen years now. That's right, if you do the math, I'm almost 36.  And being in my mid 30s,  what I have discovered is that many folks never mentally leave high school, or that stage in their lives.

Their behavior is still very juvenile.  They may have successful careers and families, but they still have cliques,  drama, and thoughts like a high schooler would have. Laughing at inappropriate times and things.  Belittling others and competing to keep up with the Joneses.  These adults seem to take more pleasure out of badmouthing and trashing others than the teenagers do.  It's a 24/7 popularity contest.

High school was also the last time they may have felt significant,  or even attractive.  During those days, they were living the 90210 life: parties,  proms, popularity. They were the stars of their sports teams, head cheerleaders, class beauties, and life seemed like it would never end. Then came graduation day. Now many of the most popular kids in high school live the most boring lives. They are stuck in unfulfilling, dead end jobs, their beauty has faded, they are sky high in debt, and they are unsatisfied in their love lives. They may also feel stuck in their hometowns, and feel bitter towards others.

High school can be a rough time for anyone to grow up in. You have recently hit puberty, you are forced to make choices that could affect you long term in life. You learn to drive,  fall in love for the first time, and see how popular or unpopular you are. Oftentimes being different isn't tolerated in social circles.

It's great to look back every now and then. I'm big on nostalgia.  However,  one needs to grow up and move forward with their lives. Become more cultured and seek life outside of the norm. It's like Pharrell says, experience life in a room without a roof. Be happy where you are and live it up.

I have attended two high school reunions and I have my third coming up in a couple of years. One thing to remember is that everyone isn't stuck in high school.  Many people are into their own lives now and have put old drama behind them. Therefore,  it should not be rekindled. Rather it should be resolved. You shouldn't still be thinking about how you miss that post-prom blowout in 1994.

Therefore, take off the Richie Cunningham letter jacket and stop worrying about not getting invited to the first cookout or soiree' of the year. It's time to live in the present moment and make the most positive memories you can.

Monday, April 7, 2014

10 Different Types Of Friends

We encounter many different types of friends in our lives. Some are very loyal,  always down with us. Others serve different purposes, and we know the role they play in our lives. Which type of friend are you to a certain person?  Everyone can't be #1 to everyone, that's just the way of the world.

1. Old homies/best friends. 

You have a long history with these friends.  They know you better than you know yourself. You all may still hang out, but you may not because of proximity,  work schedules,  etc. However,  it seems when you do all hang out or talk, nothing is lost. You simply pick back up where you left off. 

2. Hang Out/Partying Friends

These are simply the friends you have wild times with. Parties, bonfires,  drinking,  smoking,  clubbing,  etc. Their devotion is really tested, however,  when one needs bail money.

3. Business/Work.

You know each other through work and spend a lot of time mostly because of that. You may hang out, go to dinner and do fun stuff together.  However,  outside of business at hand, there isn't much in common.

4. Hook Up/Connections

These are your friends with all the connections on everything from EBT to hotel rooms and other vacation amenities.  They know or are your mechanics and fix it folk. They basically help you obtain things at a free or a discounted price.  They are also good for a job reference or even giving you extra work.

5. Opposite Sex Friends (minus the benefits).

These friends serve many purposes. You may be able to talk to them easier about things that your same sex friends wouldn't understand. They give you the point of view from the opposite sex. They also may be good either as a connection friend also, or a mother/father figure.

6. Simply Virtual Friends.

These are friends that you communicate with primarily through social media. You don't really hang out with them, and you may not know them in real life. However,  you all have awesome conversations and discussions over status updates, hot button topics,  and pictures. 

7. Friends That Are Like Fam.

Similar to #1, these are your elite friends.  They are closer than a friend.  They are more like a brother or a sister. You can count on them for anything and they won't betray you. You could have known them for a couple of years or decades but they are there for the long haul.

8. Frenemies (Fake Friends)

We have many people in life that we entertain briefly,  mostly to be polite. There is no real friendship. You may have a mutual friend, connection or interest. That is basically it. This isn't the person you call over to watch the game with, or have a drink. 

9. Activity Friends.

These may be the friends that you see the most, as they are the ones who are at the activities you partake in the most. Parties,  cookouts, church,  sporting events, and even vacations.  These are who you do all your fun stuff with, often for convenience or mutual love for the same thing.  Good friendships can be built from these fun activities.

10. Down For Anything,  Beat Down friends.

These are the ones you call or contact when you feel in harm's way.  They will be there on the double to protect you. Some of them aren't even afraid to go to jail for you. If someone is threatening you or whatever,  they have your back and your front. They are like your team.

Friends come and go, in most categories and instances. Again, know which roles they have in your lives, and the ones to draw closest to.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Life Cycle Of Dating For The Average Male

We men are not that complicated, really. It just appears women want to make us that way. However, our levels of maturity and cycles of dating are something out of the ordinary. 

Here is a sample, not an exact model, of a typical dating cycle for a man from boyhood until way deep into life.

1. Chasing Around During Recess

This is how women first get into bad boys. They often fail to get past the perception "if he hits you, he likes you." This is usually only true in elementary school,  when he chases you around,  throws rocks at you, and may throw you in the mud. He may occasionally write one of those corny "do you like me" notes.  At this age, those, he is literally about the chase.

2. The butt and boob grab.

This is around middle school and early high school. Puberty has ascended upon the males and hormones are out of control,  especially with how the girl's bodies have matured.  In short, this is the pervert portion of a young male's life. Oftentimes the guys will show their affection by grabbing a girl's booty and running.  The more brave will grab a breast.  These are the times when a young man has usually received his first kiss, once he learns to control his hands. 

3. Puppy Love.

You are full on into high school.  You have many crushes, but may only one to date one girl. You want to take her to the school dance, prom, or even want her to be your first. This can turn into puppy love,  as you believe this is your future wife. Sometimes this ends up that way, but most of the times the guy still wants to play the field.

4. Young Adulthood.

The guy either is married right now, or is engaged in a variety of activities. These could include college,  the military,  or their first full time job. They're trying to earn enough money and/or education to make themselves more desirable to a woman, even if they aren't settling just yet.

5. Going through certain female types.

You may be going through your "opposite race" phase, big girl, prep, cheerleader,  or even cougar phase. An older,  attractive woman has their eye on you,  and you feel like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate: flattered and drawn into her. You could end up with any of these ladies,  but you at least want to try out these ladies first.

6. Settling Down

OK now you're ready to settle. You have it together financially,  you have a steady woman, maybe a child or two together.  You realize it's time to become a family man and get married.

7. Divorcee' or widower

It can  be tough to get back in the saddle when your perfect marriage has fallen apart. You almost have to learn the dating game again,  depending upon how long you have been out of it. It can be very challenging. 

8. The Old Man In The Club.

This is something most do not care to be. They are few,  but around.  These men are like sugar daddies,  going after much younger women, trying to manipulate them, and even using old school lines on them.

9. Old, Retired, and Just Tired

At a certain point,  even the most vibrant man cools down.  Viagra and Cialis have increased sexual activity amongst the senior citizen community. However many would rather settle in and watch Matlock with their wives and go to bed at 8pm than go out hunting for more or new action. 

Men's sexual peak does end early, and that's probably why so many of us like to date a lot while young. Either way, if he's the settling type, he will eventually settle.  Just allow him to do it on his terms and bear in mind he may have more living left to do.