Manic Monday: Smoking

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When you talk about smokers, you are inevitably going to make someone upset because most people that smoke are very passionate about their personal freedom to smoke as they please. This passion has grown now that an already large group of cigarette smokers have been multiplied by an equally large number of smokers who have
transmogrified themselves and their habits into huge clouds of vapor. BUT smoking is inevitably smoking.

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An estimated 40 million adults in the United States alone currently smoke cigarettes which is dwarfed by the fact that over 1 billion people are categorized as smokers worldwide. In 2014, this was nearly 20% of the world population. While smoking rates have leveled off or declined in developed nations, especially among men (which accounted for a staggering 800 million of that 1 billion statistic in 2014), in developing nations tobacco consumption continues to rise. But this is not a celebration of how many people choose to kill themselves slowly by smoking; these Manic Monday blogs are about pet peeves and things that drive people insane. Someone, who is not a smoker, having to endure the stench of cigarette smoke or having to walk through a huge strawberry flavored cloud of vapor is most definitely a lot of people’s pet peeve.
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I’m all for people living their life as they please. Everyone should be able to live their own lives as they choose but when your personal freedom invades my nostrils, I must draw the line. I find it distasteful when me and my family are walking through the local grocery store and walk through a steam engine sized plume of banana flavored vapor. Or better yet when you are with your toddler in the park and someone sparks up a Marlboro Red beside of you on the bench. Is it dangerous to me and my CHILD to smell your smoke? Yes! And do I find it deplorable for people to smoke while I can smell it or be affected by it knowing that I don’t smoke…well you know the answer to that.

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Freddy’s Friday Fashion Faux Pas: Baggy Pants

Growing up at a time when bell bottoms were a thing of beauty, Freddy Jones donned his dapper attire despite the hippy flare. Always the snazzy dresser, his white sweater and orange ascot may be on the preppy side but you can’t deny the fact that the young man knew how to dress. But Freddy Jones was not a normal man. The simple fact of the matter is that some men do not care about their appearance. Then again, some men’s opinions of what looks good is jaded by environmental and societal norms. One fashion faux pas needs to be taken care of asap.

saggy-pants-frank-goodman‘Saggin’, baggy pants and over sized shirts makes you appear to be unkempt to most of the population. The fact is that if you are not under the age of 3, I should never see your underwear. If you have an inch or two of underwear showing, with your shirt covering it…by all means remain in your level of comfort.

There is an urban myth that ‘sagging’ pants was adopted from a prison trend that meant that the wearer was signaling his sexual availability. This urban myth has been said to be false and despite this rumor sagging has became a truly controversial style of dress. The fad that flourished in the hip-hop culture after rappers in the early 90s started immolating this prison trend stuck around. By the mid-90s, this trend had seeped into mainstream teen culture and has done nothing but blossomed into what we see today.

The truth of the matter is that sagging did start in the prison system but it had nothing to do with being a homosexual. Sagging pants happens in prisons because the ill-fitting prison garb does not come with a belt. Most prisons do not allow belts because far too many times, the correctional officers would find inmates using them as weapons or as tools for suicide. Where the trend of sagging comes from has no relevance. Does telling someone that they can or cannot wear something infringe on their rights and/or freedom of speech? I’m not really the one to say.

Some towns have taken it upon themselves to try and change this societal trend bysaggy pants outlawing ‘sagging’. That’s right. The government has gotten involved. Towns in New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, California and many other places across the US have made it a law that you must not show your underwear. Like many things, I do not think that the government needs to get involved in a trivial situation. Many have argued that the anti-‘sagging pants’ law is a form of racial profiling because the majority of people that wear this style are young black youth.

We will always find something disturbing about someone else’s appearance. I find it disturbing when women wear black leggings with brown boots. I also find it disturbing to see a rocker dude’s belly button while wearing a drift shirt band shirt. Does that mean that they should be arrested? No. I will argue and say that I find it quite different when you are able to see the undergarments of someone ahead of you while you’re trying to buy a bunch of bananas at Walmart. If its a 16 year old boy with his pants down past the crack of his behind or a 40 year old white man who’s Levis are falling too low in the back due to his lack of buttocks (because plumber’s crack is worse than sagging); it doesn’t matter.

The purpose of Freddy’s Friday Fashion Faux Pas is to get people to realize that their appearance affects those around them. Whether you are a 16 year old kid with 5 inches of his plaid Fruit of the Looms hanging out of his pants or a 40 year old man with 2 inches of plumbers crack and 2 inches more of his tighty whities protruding from his relaxed fit Levi’s; take the time to pull your pants up. Many people’s eyes will be happy that you did.

Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: the Harley Davidson Motorcycle

fat boyThere’s just something about riding a motorcycle. The sun at your back and the wind whipping past you, as you cut across the asphalt on your Harley-Davidson Fatboy. You can picture that in your mind, right? You can hear the thunderous exhaust roaring behind you. You can smell the fresh air. You can see the car coming, veering slowly veering into your lane!!!! Be careful there in your day dream because the United States Department of Transportation reports that there are 37 times more motorcycle fatalities than car fatalities per vehicle mile.

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Wolverine himself has been riding motorcycles since the two-wheeled (or sometimes 1908 harleythree-wheeled) beasts motored their way onto the automotive scene in the late 1800s. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, motorcycles went from a bicycle with a pedal crank motor to a steam-powered big wheel cycle to something reminiscent of what we know today. By the time the 20th century rolled around, William Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson along with Arthur’s brother harley-davidson racerWalter started working on their ‘motor-cycles’ and set out on a journey that no one would ever imagine. The company would be one of two cycle manufactures to make it harley davidson liberatorthrough the Depression, had riders winning thousands of races, supplied motorcycles to the Army in World War II and until 1969, when Harley-Davidson was purchased by AMF, Harley-Davidson continued to grow in popularity.  The new purchase caused more expensive bikes made with less quality but that all changed in 1981 when the company was purchased by a group of investors (one of whom was the grandson of William Davidson).

84 shovelhead.jpgAfter this purchase, Harley-Davidson started appealing to the ‘retro’ crowd and adopted the look and feel of their earlier bikes. Thusly models like the Softail and the Fat Boy were created and once again were the heavyweights in their field. When most people think ‘motorcycle’, they envision a Harley-Davidson. They might not be able to tell you the difference between a 1941 Flathead 1200 cc engine and a 1984 1200 cc Shovelhead; but they can recognize the throaty growl of  Harley coming down the road.

Wolverine-bikeHOG’s are everywhere. By the way, when you hear someone call a Harley-Davidson a ‘hog’, the reason is because there were a group of farm boy racers who became known as the ‘hog boys’ because they were ‘hogging’ all of the race wins. The group even began to bring a hog to the race to ride on the Harley during the victory lap. Because of the this nickname, Harley-Davidson turned the ‘hog’ nickname into the acronym “HOG” which stands for Harley Owners Group. This nickname was so important to Harley-Davidson that they changed their stock exchange ticker symbol from HDI to HOG. The simple fact of the matter is that Harley-Davidson is part of our American lexicon. It is part of American pop culture. When you think motorcycle, you envision a Harley Davidson.

 

Manic Monday: Yo’ Bad Kids

“Mind your manners,” was my mother’s favorite saying when I was dropped off at any of my friends houses growing up. I was always taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I was always taught to ask for things and be genuinely respectful to my elders; but it would seem that much like my 3rd grade mullet, manners aren’t as popular as they used to be.

To not make the parents out there feel too bad, I must admit that there have always been bad devil kidskids. I remember there being disrespectful kids in my classes in Elementary school but it wasn’t as frequent of a thing as it is now. It is my belief that a lot of the problem is that kids are modeling the behavior that they see around them. Or could it be that good manners just aren’t enforced anymore? Good manners must be taught, discussed, and practiced. Dr. Alex J. Packer, Ph.D., wrote a book entitled How Rude! The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out. In a survey that she took for her book; out of the 70 parents that responded to her survey, three-quarters answered that today’s children and adults are less polite than when ‘they’, were growing up.

oblivious parentsIs it technology’s fault? Is our lives that thrive on instant this and fast that? Or is a lack of communication or interaction to blame? Is the fact that our children grow up texting and emailing more than they actually communicate face-to-face with other human beings?

The answer is difficult to give an unequivocal ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. There is kid on cell phoneno denying that texting and tweeting has encouraged brief communications, which has led to a complete lack of knowledge of the nuances of communication. There is no clarity or respect in the language of a text message. There is no sensitivity and care in a tweet. In other words….it produces bad manners. In a 2014 study by the Boston Medical Center, they found that 75% of families observed at fast food restaurants looked at their smart phones during the meal and of that 75%, one-third of the parents were on their smart phones during the entire meal.

So does that mean that parents are to blame completely? Absolutely. While it is easy to just be oblivious to our child glued to their iPod, we are missing the opportunity to help our child become a better person. While our child is oblivious to the world around them, let’s try practicing what we would like to or should see. If we lead by example, then our children will follow suit. Here are some ideas for us to do when it comes to helping raise better children:

  • Say “Please,” “Thank you,” “You’re welcome,”and “Excuse me.”
  • Look people in the eye while we converse with them.
  • Be respectful to the elderly.
  • Don’t use foul language.
  • Use GOOD table manners.
  • (Especially for boys) Have a good firm handshake.
  • Speak when spoken to.
  • Don’t say hurtful things to ANYONE.
  • Don’t do things that are inappropriate at specific times (talking in movie theaters, disrespectfully talking while adults (or anyone) is trying to talk.
  • Have family meals. I know that we’re all in a hurry but find time to eat with your kids.
  • STAY OFF YOUR PHONE WHILE YOU’RE WITH YOUR KIDS! Especially while you are at the dinner table.

 

 

My Summer Job

For 10 months out of the year I am a high school English teacher and part time community college instructor. But for my two summer months off of teaching, I work with my best friend and former college roommate at his commercial refrigeration business. His business creates and repairs the systems that keep the grocery store itself and the food held within it cold (or frozen for that matter). I have been blessed enough to travel around the East Coast of the United States with him and his crew. This has opened the door of opportunity to see some things that you wouldn’t see any other time.

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Found beauty.

Sometimes, as you’re trying to get the air handlers on the roof of a Walmart Super Center to work correctly, you glance to the sky and realize just how beautiful God’s creation is. Whether you are a Christian, Atheist, Wiccan, Pastafarian, or Jew; there is no way to deny the beauty of some of the things on our little slice of the Universe. I love gazing at the majestic hill tops of the Appalachian Mountains or the crashing waves in the Atlantic Ocean; but sometimes I just look up into the sky and am amazed. This happened to me the other night as we were walking back and forth to said air handlers on the roof of said Walmart Super Center. We were there at dusk with the moon to our east and the setting sun to our west (both of which were perfectly to our respective lefts and rights).

 

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If you’ve ever wondered what those things in the ceiling at Walmart look like from up top.

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Thor’s Thursday Tour

rainbow bridge.jpgThor is a busy god. One day he’s out fighting the Clone Ragnarok with the Hulk on Planet Hulk after recapturing his conniving brother Loki back into prison only after meeting up with Jane for a date on the French Riviera. Thor needs a vacation. But not just any vacation will do for our blonde hair future king of Asgard. Nay nay. We need a vacation fit for a king. Thor walks to the end of the Rainbow Bridge and Heimdall knows exactly where Thor should go.

museum .jpgThor lands down in Cherokee, NC amongst the beautiful trees of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He takes a breath of fresh air and starts to take in his surroundings. He travels to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian to learn about the history of the people who live in this area. He walks through the streets and sees the shops but as we all know, Thor’s biggest enemy is his stomach. He has to find food fast and sees the Kobe Express of Cherokee and Thor tastes some of the most delicious sushi that he has ever had in his life.

harrahs.jpgHe fills his barren belly and sees a large building in the distance. He gets closer to find that it is the Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino.  He enters the facility after booking a room and tries his luck at the video slot machines. As Thor is an intelligent creature, he is angered when he does not win but he is relentless. Thor continues on and finds himself at the card tables and just strikes even. Thor realizes that he is hungry again and his card dealer tells him about the grand Chef’s Stage Buffet.

Thor stuffs himself with steak, seafood, and everything else that his hunger could desire.

He walks himself back to his luscious motel room in the Soco Tower and relaxes on the comfortable queen sized bed.

He awakens to begin his day again and finds his way to the breakfast buffet where he instructs the chef that he should probably bring out another pan of bacon. As he stares out the window at the beautiful stream that flows beside the hotel, he doesn’t think he ever wants to leave.

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Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: The Hot Rod

Wolverine is a modified, amped up mutant so why would he not be able to be compared to hot rod clubsthe modified classic American cars with modified engines and bodies. The term “hot rod” became a commonplace term by the 1940s. Most of the camshafts were replaced with new ‘hotter’ versions for increased performance and came to be known as a ‘hot rod’.  The first cars to be modified were the early 20s and 30s Model Ts and Model As which were modified by returning soldiers or the bootleggers that were modifying their cars to flee from revenue agents during prohibition. These cars were modified to reduce weight and modifiers would remove tops, hoods, bumpers, windshields, and fenders.

american graffiti.jpgAfter WWII, many military airports were left abandoned and allowed hot rodders the opportunity to utilize these tracks of asphalt to race. Hot rodding became more popular and with the rise of street rodding, caused the scene to change. Movies, like American Graffiti kept the Hot Rod culture alive, while the Rockabilly culture is keeping the old school alive today. Now-a-days, there is a movement to bring back the tradition of the old school hot rod and car clubs and builders are popping up all around the world. TV shows, magazines and car shows are continuing to keep the Hot Rod relevant in popular culture.

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