Monday, August 25, 2014

The Oprah Effect

Oprah Winfrey's popularly and notoreity have risen ten fold in the past three decades. She began playing the memorable "Sophia" in The Color Purple and was nominated for an Academy Award. She then was given a shot to have her own talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show." NBC placed her in the same timeslot with another talk-show legend: Phil Donahue. Pretty soon, Oprah was passing him by.

Oprah has turned her acting and talk show success into mogul status. During the show's 20+ year run, she recommended good books to read, gave away several fancy prizes, and have exclusive interviews that rivaled 60 Minutes. Not just anyone could get an interview on Oprah, let alone get tickets to a live taping.

Her success and status has helped the careers of those such as Tyler Perry, Gayle King, Racheal Ray, Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom took over her time slot once she left and started the OWN network.

Oprah has had such an impact not only on blacks and black women, she has restarted the ice water challenge from earlier this summer, getting celebrities involved. The cause is for ALS,and millions nationwide are following Winfrey's lead and are dousing their heads and bodies with cold water and challenging others to do the same. I have been challenged three times (and counting) myself.

She is simply a larger than life character, someone who influences change in others. People simply trust her and her advice , and the circle of people around her. They admire her independence and drive for continued success. Oprah is worth billions but still stays hungry and works hard everyday at 60 years old.

Oprah really is "every woman" and has that X factor, that juice. You either love or hate her, there's no in between. And many people love them some Oprah Winfrey.

What are your feelings towards Oprah? How has she changed or influenced your life?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Never Can Say Good-Bye: Five Ways To Do This

This is the season for send-offs, goodbyes and farewells. Students everywhere are returning to school, some for the first time as they are now off at college. We are also bidding adieu to another summer season and welcoming the fall season. These are indeed tough and bittersweet endings.

Would you like to make these easier? Here are a few ways.

1. Take lots of pictures and look at them about once or twice/week.

We are in a photo and video taking and making era. Therefore, capture as many of these moments as possible for keepsake and nostalgic purposes.

2. Stay in touch but give some distance.

Cell phones and social media make it easier to keep in touch with someone that has moved away. However allow them to properly adjust and don't hold on to them too tightly. Basically talk to them about two-three times per week, not everyday. Absence can truly make the heart grow fonder and the adjustment smoother.

3. Have a farewell bash/dinner.

This can apply to even the end of summer. You see plenty of Labor Day weekend parties and such, signifiying the end of summer. Also, these shindigs are appropriate for your loved ones as well. You are showing them how much they mean to you, and you are happy about the next chapter of their lives.

4. Plan to get together at least twice/year.
You want to keep the friendship and relationship going. Therefore you and your friends/family should make it a priority to get together at least twice/year to stay connected and reminisce.

5.  Live, laugh, love and continue to make new connections.

Certain people and times are irreplaceable. However, continue to make your own fun by meeting others, expanding your circle and enjoying life. Pause things for a minute, but don't press the stop button on your life. It is precious and must continue despite not having someone special around so much.

What are some ways that you cope with someone leaving you? What are some tips that you use for saying farewell or goodbye?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gaffney: A City Of Peaches, Football, And Much More

Off of I-85 southbound between Blacksburg and Spartanburg lies a city with a lot of pride, tradition and history. It is identified by the giant Peach water tower. This is Gaffney, South Carolina, population of about 20,000 plus.

Gaffney has long been known for three things: peaches due to the South Carolina Peach Festival , high school football and their mills and plants.

The Peach Festival is held every year in July, and always draws a huge crowd with their parades, BBQ contests, road races, concerts, and the Mud Bog. Many artists have come through the city, which include Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Otis from the Temptations, Colt Ford, and Brantley Gilbert. Gaffney actually produces more peaches yearly than the state of Georgia.

High school football is huge in South Carolina , and it doesn't get much bigger for one of the state's oldest and most successful programs. The Gaffney Indians have won 17 state championships, most in the state. Almost 10,000 fans pack the Reservation every Friday night for home games, and a large following is always present at away games. People in Gaffney love football , period, and any negative word towards the Indians will not be tolerated.

For years, Gaffney thrived off of its cotton mills and textile plants. Hamrick Mills, Nestle Frozen Foods, and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation are some if the ones that have helped the city thrive and allow residents to raise families and earn a good living in their towns.

There are two sides to the city separated by the railroad tracks: the East side and the West Side. While the East has Limestone College, Harold's restaurant and lots of farmland, the West side has more of the businesses and commerce. Floyd Baker Boulevard is where most of the major businesses and such are located. There are also many out near the Prime Outlets (called the "Yellow Mall" by residents) , including the Big E , a state of the art entertainment center which includes a movie theater, a play center for children, bowling alley, arcade and even a bar and grill that I have written about before when it was under different management.

Gaffney also has its staples in small business. The previously mentioned Harold's is one, as it appeared on the Food Network. There are also Bronco's Mexican Restaurant. Aegean Pizza, Hong Kong Express and Daddy Joe's BBQ and Grill. "Gaffneynites" are very proud of what they have, while trying to get more businesses into town, and activities for the youth.

This is overall a tight knit community where everyone eithers knows your name or at least one of your family members. One can really feel at home in a city such as Gaffney.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The SEC Network: Another Feather In The Cap Of A Great Conference

I have written about the SEC a couple of times, especially them being arguably the best conference in all of college football. They now have a network of their own, which premiered on August 14, 2014.

Currently, the SEC network is showing classic games, highlights, and SEC Storied episodes. The special "The Stars Aligned" was really good. It gave people a birdeye's view about the day in the life of an SEC sports fan.

During the sporting season, certain games that will not air on ESPN or CBS will air on this network.

Now I am still a diehard Notre Dame fan in football and University of North Carolina fan in basketball. Nevertheless, I enjoy good sports, especially football. The SEC has that and then some.

And you gotta love that Rudy commercial advertising the NCAA's new four team playoff system.

They have featured many of the recent great Alabama and Auburn teams, including some specials on Bo Jackson. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is now an analyst for the network. South Carolina has been shown some as well, given the splash they have made in the SEC in football and baseball the past few years.

The SEC network is available virtually everywhere, including DirecTV (channel 611), DISH, Charter and Time Warner Cable. It is definitely a big deal.

Enthusiasm is high right now for the southern football fan, and for sports fans in general. The SEC network is capturing this and proving why they have been competitive for so long.

Do you root for an SEC team? What do you think of this new network?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Words That Have Became Offensive Over The Past Few Years

We are now in an era of greater tolerance, especially in the face of anti-bullying and hypersensitivity. There are more words than ever that can no longer be used in a public context. Obviously such words such as the one beginning with the letter 'n', midgets, and pretty much any slang against the Asian culture is offensive. Here are a list of other words that are even deemed illegal in certain areas and states.

1. Porch Monkeys
2. Retarded
3. Mongoloid
4. Dwarf
5. Half-Breed
6. Mixed (not offended by this one BTW)
7. Fat
8. Dumb
9. Idiot
10. Apes
11. Sambo
12. Spearchucker
13. Handicapped
14. Crippled
15. Waiter/Waitress
16.  Secretary
17. Receptionist
18. Steward/Stewardess
19. Janitor
20. Stripper
21. Spook
22. Tar Baby
23. Towel Head
24. Beaner
25. Peckerwood
26. Cracker
27. Honky
28. American Indian
29. Most Native American Nicknames
30.  Yankee
31. Redneck
32. Hillbilly
33. Trailer Park Trash
34. Good Ol' Boy
35. Guido
36. Uncle Tom
37. Oreo
38. Aunt Jemima
39. Uncle Ben or Remus
40. Nerd.
41. Pygmies
42. Swish
43. Wop

Are there any other offensive words that you may or may not have been aware of?

My Own Version of "How Bourgie Are You?"

It appears we are all snobs about something. Some of us are simply bigger snobs than others.

Buzzfeed has been doing a variety of quizzes lately, one of them being "how bourgie are you?". Bourgie means uppidity, snobby, and thinking you are above most people.  I believe I am far from that. However, according to the quiz,  I was 80% bourgie. Not that I trust every quiz Buzzfeed makes up. However, looking at the questions make me think and reflect. I then decided to conjure up my own list of signs and such that you may be bourgie or "bougie" as a slang term.

1. You refuse to shop at Walmart or Sam's Club, especially for clothes. Target and Costco are your places.

2. You won't buy anything from a yard sale, trading post or thrift shop.

3. Everything you own is name brand.

4. You get a professional full body wax once per month.

5. You have recently gotten braces as an adult not because you need them, but to cover up Michael Strahan type gaps.

6. You take about 50 selfies/day on social media.

7. You refuse to drive a domestic car.

8. You have a housekeeper, nanny and/or gardener

9. You're in a book club

10. You have a Blu Ray player and HDTV and refuse to watch any program or DVD that is otherwise.

11.  You only vacation outside the country.

12.  You have to have the latest tech gadget ( iPhone, Samsung Galaxy phone) the day it drops.

13. You shy away from manual labor whenever possible

14. No one ever sees you dressed down.

15.  You send your children to private schools.

16. You look down on anyone that doesn't have at least a Bachelor's Degree

17. You do not buy anything secondhand. Everything you own is brand new.

18. You refuse to live in a small town.

19. You will not go hunting, fishing or grow your own produce. In short, you do not try to fetch your own food.

20. You refuse to drink water from a faucet, even well water.

21. You no longer read a book unless it's on your tablet.

22. You only go out to lounges and upscale bars, never a hole in the wall club

23. You won't eat any type of ethnic food (chitlins, hog mauls, pig feet, etc)

24. You drive a Prius or other smartcar

25. You won't eat out at places such as Applebee's or Ruby Tuesdays. It has to be upscale with an expensive wine menu.

26. You refuse to live in a trailer or trailer park

27. You won't buy meats and veggies from the supermarket

28. Every male must be circumcised and wear his hair short

29. You still believe in and practice the legendary "brown paper bag" test.

30. You won't allow your children to swim in a creek or river.

31. You only drink bottled water like Fiji or Smart water. No tap water, especially city water.

OK this is all I have for now.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Five Classes They Should Not Stop Teaching in Public Schools

We are near the beginning of yet another academic school year. Each year, it seems more and more classes are considered unnecessary or too expensive and cut out of the budgets. Our students need many of these classes to reach their full potential and survive in the working and business worlds. Here are five such classes that do not need to go.

1. Cursive handwriting

I did a blog on this entire subject last year. It's sad when anyone born after 1994 cannot properly sign their name or has poor penmanship. There is very little excuse for this.

2. Home Economics.

Either Home Ec has been phased out of schools, or restructured into family and consumer science. Now why I don't believe we should simply be training students to be stay at home housekeepers, there are many useful skills that home economics teaches. You have cooking and sewing of course, taking care of home, and overall being and living healthy. This skill set cannot be lost on our youth.

3. Physical education.

Children nowadays are already inactive and obese enough. Physical education (P.E.). teaches physical skills, activities and health and wellness, all essential for good living as an adult. No one seems to play as much as recess and score is rarely kept in sports. Kids need to understand the importance of staying active and fair play.

4. The arts (music, art, band, chorus)

Playing instruments and being creative enchance the brain. Also, there may be those that want a career as a musicial or a conceptual artist. No child should be left behind, or otherwise Iimited.

5. Honors and AP classes

Students of higher intellect are challenged more in these types of classes, and it helps tremendously in college prep. Plus it's always a bonus if one can earn college credit.

Please let's not limit our young students. It's bad enough that many schools have curriculums setup to teach to standardized tests. How about we teach our students to think, be creative and offer them a wide variety of choices and options? I believe it would help us become more competitive with other countries as well.

Which classes do you think they should reinstate? Are they any classes that you think are unnecessary?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Revenge Of The Nerds: Social Media

The series on the intellectuals and geniuses continues with social media. I have spoken about social media often, but not really about its origins.

Social media really came out in the late 1990s with BlackPlanet and College Club. Basically if you were a programming wiz with web development and HTML experience, creating a social network was very possible.

During the 2000s, MySpace and Friendster came on the scene. Then a 19 year old sophomore at Harvard named Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004.  The initial purpose was to make it exclusive for Harvard students only. They then started expanding to colleges around the country and the world. You could not get an account prior to 2006 unless your college was listed and you had a .edu email. Now the entire world can sign up for an access Facebook.

While Facebook eventually became the world's #1 network, there has been more competition from Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Google + , LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Despite all of their various efforts, Facebook has remained strong and Zuckerberg is worth billions.

Now this is not bad at all. A so called "geek" and "loner" created a site to help others connect with their friends worldwide and became wealthy from it. It appears being smart definitely paid off for young Zuckerberg, who isn't even 30 yet.

Social media, as I have also mentioned before, seems here to stay in our culture. We should encourage our youth to learn about computers and web development so they develop great sites and apps to assist the world. Knowledge is definitely power now.