Goodbye OLD Friend

26 02 2009

So a few things before I get into this post (that likely no one will really care about except me…I’m fine with it really):

Harper came home yesterday after spending from Sunday to Wednesday in the hospital with pneumonia. She is feeling much better (Lily is feeling better also) and we just hope we can make it a little bit longer until we get some consistent warm weather and get past some of this “baby cold” non-sense. 

-Okay so maybe it was just that one thing really, now for a pointless reminiscing.

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The picture above is of my beloved DVD player of 10 years, well call her Marilyn, I received this as a gift from my parents Christmas 1999. I was a freshman in college and it was the perfect addition to my dorm room for it allowed me yet another option for procrastinating and not doing my school work. This DVD player has followed me all over the travels of my life to this point. She has lived in 2 dorm rooms, a house on Wiley Rd. in Montgomery, an apartment on Zelda Rd. in Montgomery, a house on Carter Hill Rd. in Montgomery, a house in Millbrook, an apartment on Fairview Ave. in Montgomery, an apartment at Sturbridge in Montgomery, and finally our house (also in Montgomery).

This DVD player has spent WAY MORE nights than any of you would probably care to know singing me to sleep to the sounds of all my friends on The West Wing, and lately it has been an invaluable tool (particularly in the mornings) to entertaining the girls with Little Einstein while Mommy and Daddy get ready for work. 

Well I am sad to report that Marilyn has seen her last days. She is still a working gal but she is getting slow in her old age and rather doddering as she randomly skips around discs or sometimes is downright stubborn and refuses to play when there is nothing at all wrong with the disc. 

Today (much like Stephanie wrote a week or so ago) we had reached an action point where we could no longer live with the gamble of a player that might or might not work to keep a curious baby entertained at a crucial moment of showering or eating (for the parents of course). So I struck out for my neighborhood “bullseye” retailer and procured a new DVD player. 

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This is “Paris” she’s younger, faster (minds out of the gutters boys), and can be counted on to keep the discs a-spinnin’. I’m pretty sure if we had a fancy pants TV like most of you Paris would show us our old DVD’s in some newfangled fancy light, but we do not and probably won’t for a while so we are just glad we can rely on her. 

This last picture is to show you the great size difference in DVD players 10 years ago and now, bearing in mind that I didn’t even buy the smallest on they had. Also I’m pretty sure my parents paid close to $200 when they bought “Marilyn” and today “Paris” was easily mine for under $50. The times they are definitely changing. Goodbye Marilyn and thanks for your years of dedicated service!

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This Has Got to Stop!!

21 02 2009

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Alright, I am first going to start this post by admitting that I was once part of the problem. I’m not going to make excuses or try to give myself a higher ground I am just saying I was as guilty as the next person. I am talking about texting and driving. It has GOT TO STOP!

I spent Thursday and Friday on the road for work. I made a drive down to Gulf Shores for a meeting on Thursday, spent the night and then headed over to Fairhope on Friday for another meeting before heading home. I probably logged somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 miles that trip. The reason for pointing out how much driving I did is simply to show that I passed a lot of other drivers while I was on the road. Quite literally every driver that I passed on the road that was having any kind of driving issues (swerving out of their lane, going significantly below the speed limit, attempting to change lanes into myself or another vehicle, etc…) had their noses buried in their cell phones clearly not looking at the road. I had to resist the urge, several times, to honk my horn as I passed. I chose not to for fear they might rip their vehicle right off the road in a panic move. I am sure you all see this when you are out for your daily commutes also. It really is becoming a big problem.

Here’s where I come down on this. I feel like talking on the phone (actually using it as a telephone) is still marginally acceptable as it does not typically require one to take their eyes off the road. But texting, emailing, IM’ing (all these great things that technology has put in the palms of our hands) have got to be put on the shelf until you reach a stop. 

I am committing right now before all of you, my adoring readers, that I am no longer going to be a text/email driver. If a message comes in it can wait until I stop. There is no piece of email (personal or work related) nor text message that can’t wait until I am no longer piloting a 1000-2000 pound vehicle down the road at speeds anywhere from 25 to 75 miles per hour. This goes as much for neighborhoods as it does for the interstate (or anything in between for that matter). One errant child that strays out into the street on a bike, foot, or otherwise in front of a self-absorbed texting driver and just like that tragedy strikes. I don’t want to be a part of that and more importantly I don’t want that to be one of my children one day. 

So I say it here and now. I am done with text/email while driving. If you need me and you know I’m driving give me a ring. If you send me a message and don’t hear back right away don’t worry you will when I come to a stop somewhere. Will you join me in this pledge?





Babies, They Grow and Stuff

16 02 2009

Harper feel asleep on my chest this morning right before nap time and it occurred to me in that moment just how much they have grown in the last nine months (that’s right they will be a year old in just three short months). We took them to the doctor last Friday for their nine month check up and for only the second time in their lives (the other was while they were still in the hospital) Harper is longer and weighs more than Lily does. I guess she is taking that ‘big sister’ thing to heart. Below are a few pics for you to see what I mean.

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Crazy Right!?!

That’s all for now. I’ve got the day off with the Mrs. and the Little M’s so we are just doing stuff around the house (cleaning, taxes, school work, etc…). Happy Dia de los Presidentes to you all!!





This is American Idol

12 02 2009

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I’ve talked before about one of my TV guilty pleasures being American Idol. Sometimes it is the train wreckiest of the train wrecks and other time it almost passes for enjoyable. No matter what though it always, for me, merits watching (even when my guy/gal inevitably gets screwed over and loses out to a “hair do”).

A few of you know about my thorough enjoyment of a certain Washington D.C. based radio talk show host, one Mr. Tony Kornheiser (also of Monday Night Football and PTI fame). Well Mr. Tony is a big Idol watcher as well and when he is on the radio he always does a run-down style review of the previous nights performances.

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Well due to some contractual circumstances Mr. Tony is off the radio until his MNF obligations are complete (leaving those of us that crave his curmudgeonly sarcastic banter about all things to sit idle without good radio). This absence leaves a spot open for a brutally honest sarcasm filled reviewer to step up and give you all the weekly Idol updates you need (or could care less about). It is with great honor that I take that task upon my own shoulders.

How it will work (like you really care):

Each week (starting with the final 12…I think the earlier rounds will be a little too much) I will take notes (steno pad style baby) focusing on things such as first impression, what the judges said, my feelings about the performance, and likely hood of exiting the show. I will probably add in some helpful comments that I’m sure Mr. Tony would appreciate such as “they are so annoying they should be smashed in the head with a snowshovel” or “i wish someone would run over their head with bus”.

Now I am WELL aware that Idol does not fall into all or your range of interest and if so I apologize ahead of time for the couple of posts a week that will be (as Randy Jackson says) “just alright for me dawg”, but for the rest of you I hope my thoughts and likely-failed attempts at humor will be a bright spot in your day (aiming a little high aren’t I?).

So keep watching and before you know it it will be time to “crush” those “twitching little freaks”.

This blog and the ensuing American Idol posts in no way reflect the views or opinions of the American Idol TV show, its producers, FOX TV, or Simon Cowell’s tight t-shirts.

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Proof That I Am Not Cool

6 02 2009

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Many of you have read Donald Miller over the years and have really enjoyed him (myself included). I was pleased to learn a while back that he writes a blog, and I have been since keeping up with it. The following is his most recent post that I thought was very good.  I take absolutely no credit for any of the thoughts that follow. I am simply passing along something that I thought was good. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

HOW APPLE PLAYS UPON OUR INSECURITIES

By: Donald Miller

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Most advertisers play on the psychological phenomenon of association/disassociation. An example of association/disassociation might be displayed in a comment like: “The trailblazers lost last night” when my team loses, and “We won last night” when my team wins. I disassociate from what I perceive as losing and associate with what I perceive as winning. I explain why I think we do this in Searching for God Know’s What, relating it all back to what really happened at the fall of man. But right now I want to address how we have all been duped by this phenomenon as it is used in Apple advertisements.

Advertisers carefully position their products next to people who carry social commodity. Often, this is sexual, but it can also be wealth, power, humor and wit (which in ways are all sexual, too). Advertisers, then, are associating their products with our biochemical desire to reproduce and carry on our lines, and also with a relational insecurity we all have regarding redemption. Usually, this is subtle, an attractive man or woman using a certain dish detergent or driving a certain car is seen touting a products significance.

Sexual fertility manifests itself in women in high cheek bones and a 70% waist-to-hip ratio, and in men through a chiseled jaw and broad shoulders. Usually, what we find immediately attractive in the opposite sex is actually our reproductive system wanting our line to survive.

And last years Apple campaign came just came right out and said it:

If you use Apple computers, you are more likely to get laid.

Essentially, the campaign stated if you are young, cool and smooth, you will use Apple products, and if you are fat, old and geeky, you will use IBM.

Here is a good example of the familiar ad:

What amazes me about these ads is that they appealed to and “worked” on an audience many people perceived as cynical about this sort of manipulation. Apple, having been a minority share-holder in the market branded themselves as aloof outsiders, swimming upstream in a culture of conformists. But in all reality, those of us who have fallen for this campaign are the worst offenders. I would even argue the use of Apple products, to some degree, mark us as the most insecure about our identities.

Apple products are defended with near-religious zest. But in our zest are we defending a company or our own identites? Perhaps what we’ve been offered is a brand to associate ourselves with, a brand that triggers our survival instincts, revealing we don’t believe we have enough to survive without this association? Perhaps the use of Apple products reveals insecurity more than it reveals confidence.

Consider Microsoft’s counter ads, which expose the stereotype being created by Apple, focussing on the use of a computer as a tool to do good in the world:

While the ad was true, I doubt it will do much to counter the sexual/social instincts Apple plays upon.

It could be argued that Apple has better product, but I don’t think this is true. There is plenty of superior product that has not taken off the way Apple product has. I think they have great products, and they are user-friendly to be sure, but this can hardly explain the explosion in sales and market share. Without good, user-friendly product, the ads wouldn’t carry the company, I know. It’s the combination of the two that is making Apple a successful company.

But my question isn’t so much about Apple as it is about us. In a culture where we are made to feel socially inferior if we don’t use certain brands or products, what does a true counter-culture look like?

If you think about it, the most confident of counter-culture heros aren’t talking on i-phones, wearing designer jeans or jumping in the air in their facebook photos (why are all the hipsters suddenly jumping in their facebook photos? Why didn’t anybody call me to say we were doing that?) but instead are the people most of us might not notice. The reason we don’t notice these people is because they offer us no beneficial association. They buy products because the products work, they buy jeans because they cover their asses, and coats because a certain coat will keep them warm. A true counter culture is not manipulated by the whims of fashion and therefore is not made up of fashionable people.

I’ve used Apple computers for about fifteen years now. If I had bought Apple stock with all the money I’ve spent buying Apple products, I’d own a lot of Apple Stock (it took me twenty minutes to give up on that line) and to be honest, I’ve been influenced by the commercials without even knowing it. Using a Mac has made me feel cool over the last few years.

It’s true most of my cool friends use Apple Computers. In fact, I think all of my cool friends use Apple Computers. All my friends in rock bands have I-phones. All the girls I know with high cheek bones have I-phones too. They don’t call me with them, but I’ve seen them talking on I-phones to my friends in rock bands. Maybe Apple products do help with fertility. I guess that’s a nature/nurture question. Or maybe all my cool friends are secretly fat losers on the inside. Who knows.

But the reality is, even though I use Apple products, I am not cool. I never have been. I don’t have a chiseled jaw or broad shoulders. I am the same approximate height and weight as the PC guy in the Apple ad, (not the bloated version, although I used to be) and I’m probably a couple years older than him.

Don’t feel sorry for me. It hurt to realize these things at the time, but the truth is I’m probably happier now than I’ve ever been. I don’t exactly know why, except I’m older and part of me has just given up on the game. It feels good to quit. The world will go on with or without me, and I don’t want to miss another sunset worrying about it.

That said, the reason I wrote all this was to ask you hipsters a question:

Would it be okay if I continued using Apple products? I don’t know how to use Windows.

And also, can somebody photoshop me jumping for my facebook photo? I don’t jump. I don’t much see the use of jumping.

P.S. I am about to get bombarded with a bunch of “apple is a superior brand with superior product” which I’ll have to talk about for a second.

this was not a bash of apple product. it was a bash on advertising. and on sin nature. that said, without the advertising strategy, the product would have never been sold, and the development dollars never earned. so we are all buying these products because of the advertising. i think the quality of the product is exceptional, but the two go hand in hand.

P.S.S. Reader Dave Stevens offers this: Thanks Dave!





Super Bowl 2009

2 02 2009

I guess this could technically count as “live blogging” as I am watching the game/commercials as I write this post. The game is alright, I wish the Cardinals were playing better but ultimately I guess I don’t have any real stake in the game. Right this second I am watching Ed McMahon and M.C. Hammer doing a commercial for cash4gold.com and it is very weird (I believe the phrase is “how the mighty have fallen”). Commercials have been alright so far, nothing has really blown me away. It seems like there is a lot of physical humor commercials this year (guy getting hit in the jewels with the snow globe was funny…but people getting hit there always is; provided its not me). I was excited to see the first trailer for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

I enjoyed Bruce Springsteen during the halftime show. It was especially funny for Mrs. M and me because we are steadily working our way through The Sopranos and Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band plays Silvio Dante in The Sopranos.

 

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It is odd not to see him scowling with his pursed lips and wearing his mafia suits and his big pompadour hair. I’ve always liked Bruce although I never make a conscious decision to listen to his music. I guess what I am saying is when it is on I like it but I’ve never gone looking for it. Maybe I will try that sometime soon. Any recommendations? 

This year is the first Super Bowl in 12 years that I have not been at a church youth group party of some kind. The biggest downside of that for me was missing out on the spread of game munchies that one typically finds at such an event. I told Mrs. M I was glad to be home watching the game with her but I was going to need to make at least one “bad for me” game day food item. Below is a picture of what I decided upon.

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As you can see the theme of this year’s M Family Super Bowl Party was “Chili & Cheese” (it’s like leather & lace only much tastier). I enjoyed two chili dogs (mayo, onions, chili, and cheese) and a slathered helping of chili cheese tater tots. YUM!

Since I started this post I have seen a couple of commercials that I thought were funny. The MacGruber/Pepsi Max commercial was good, as was the Scarecrow GE powergrid commercial. Okay, I think I am signing off for now but I may get back on after if there is anything else to blog about. Maybe there will finally be some redemption in the hour long episode of The Office that is about to start when this game ends. BTW this seems like the shortest Super Bowl game ever, but I am guessing that is just because I am not spending the whole time dreading those youth whose parents were guaranteed not to pick them up on time (and thus delaying my going home). Go Cards!

UPDATE (still live): Arizona just scored to take the lead with 2:40 to go!! Hot diggity!

Double Update: Pittsburgh just scored an AMAZING touchdown by the skin of Holmes’ toes. It was definitely an impressive catch. 35 seconds to let’s see what happens.