When TV collides with life: Trump, House of Cards, FBI & CSI Cyber

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Quick note to start – yes, I am still training and fundraising. In fact, it would be fabulous if you would throw in $30 to the cause. I pretty much need $30/day for the rest of the time to meet the minimum. Also, things are starting to hurt a little. I’ll save that for another update (really!).

Project Athena Harbor to Harbor – $1,800 needed, please help!

And now, on to the main event!

These are the thoughts rattling through my head in recent weeks.

The first, I realized while watching the story about the FBI and Apple unfold that my impression of the whole scenario was being influenced not by any actual knowledge I have, but by the TV shows I watch! As I would read how the FBI needed Apple to create a back door hack into an iPhone that had been used by one of the San Bernadino terrorist attackers, all I could think was “But why? Can’t they just hack it themselves?! They do it ALL THE TIME on CSI Cyber!” You know, just throw the phone at Crummy and he’ll just type away madly on a keyboard for 20 seconds and VOILA! Phone unlocked! That’s all real isn’t it? Seriously I have just been SO unimpressed with the the REAL agents did here – asking the county to change the password and somehow not knowing how to get the backed up data or perhaps even locking themselves out of it? Meanwhile, since it was the guy’s work phone, not his personal one, I seriously doubt there’s anything on it worth having. At this point I am pretty much leaning towards being happy that Apple is standing their ground. Makes me feel pretty good knowing that darn little pass code I have on my phone is so impenetrable!

As an aside, can we talk about how damn awful CSI: Cyber is? I got suckered into watching it since my son and I are addicted to all things CSI and we were feeling major withdrawals when the original one wrapped up. I liked that they transitioned the Ted Danson character over form Vegas to DC, but from the absolutely atrocious episode that aired most recently, it looks like he is now out of there. I swear he probably went to the producers and said “Dear god, please write me out! The writing and acting are pitiful! I don’t need a paycheck this bad!” I mean, CSI: Miami was not anything fabulous either, but at least they seemed to be writing that one with tongue firmly planted in cheek. That’s why the Horatio meme of making a dramatic statement and then sliding on sunglasses is still going strong on the internet! But Cyber has NO CLUE they are bad. They are just…really really bad.

Meanwhile….House of Cards Season 4 dropped. WOW. No spoilers, but I pretty much think I loved this one as much as Season 1. Like most I totally binge watched, though I did spread it out over 3 nights. Here’s the thing though: some of the “Holy shit did they just DO that?” bite was somewhat diminished by what is happening in our very REAL election this year!! Every time I would think “No Presidential candidate could get away with THAT sort of theatrics/scheming etc.”, I would think to myself “Oh yeah. Trump.” That man has broken every single rule of class, decorum, leadership, respectability….whatever you want to call it. At this point I don’t even care what his policies are, I am just stunned at what he says, the vitriol he incites, and now the way his own supporters are behaving at his events. I mean (and this isn’t a spoiler)…there is a segment on House of Cards when an old picture of Frank Underwood’s father standing next to a Grand Master of the KKK is blown up and draped over a billboard in his home state of South Carolina. As always, Frank wiggles out from under what would normally be an End Of Your Campaign moment. But THEN…I immediately flashed to Donald Trump being endorsed by David Duke (he of the modern day KKK/White Supremacy movement). I remembered the many times when he, personally, has re-tweeted statements made by known White Supremacist leaders. Just today there is an NPR story about a family who has never been involved in politics who is now phone banking for Trump. The images show the woman with tattoos on her hands depicting the Hitler 88 symbol and the white supremacy associated star. And is ANY of this sticking to Trump in a negative way to devalue his campaign? He claims he doesn’t know about “any of that” and he simply manages to bluster louder than the people who deign to question him. And does it impact his campaign? Hell, from where I sit it seems to be HELPING him to have latched onto these sorts of voters because damn if he didn’t win a bunch of states again yesterday!

Please take note that in House of Cards, it was about the character’s FATHER’s association with Klansmen. This is directly about the candidate himself. In real life!

I just….really…don’t understand how the GOP 2016 campaign has turned into something LESS shocking than House of Cards! Are we living in a reality TV show?

Please tell me a President Trump would really NOT be worse than a President Underwood?

Just my .02 – I’ll go back to either working or walking now.

 

 

 

Unexpected connections, sunglasses and – chi?

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I knew Thursday would be packed.

Another department manager had resigned, and a replacement wouldn’t arrive until next week. That meant existing folks jumping in to fill the gap. For the month end close, my day helping out would fall heaviest that day.

I was prepared because I had cleared out my own tasks faster than usual and I made sure no one needed me for anything that evening in case I had to stay later.

The additional challenge to the day was not even, really, presented by the work itself.

It was the damn Health Fair!

First of all, I had it in my mind to make sure to bring the temp worker and my other full time female co-worker with me. (The male in my office was not interested).

The reason I did was because I had read a Happify task: Reach Out To A Potential Friend

Is there someone at work you’d like to befriend but don’t know how? Is there a neighbor who once said “I’d love to have you over for a drink, sometime!” but never followed through?

Now, I never take these tasks 100% literally – in fact, they all have an option for you to decide on your own how you want to approach it, but it’s the intention behind it that matters.

I wanted to reach out to the temp so she could enjoy the giveaways and presentations. She couldn’t win the raffle as someone not a full time employee, but she still might see something of interest to her and just be part of a social event to break up the day. The full time co-worker is a normally shy and quiet gal who I knew wanted to go but would also feel better if there were people with her.

Well, the other full time employee and I were over there for the full 90 minutes of the event! We had so much fun doing little things like trying out food, juice, lotions, getting a bone density reading, a BMI test and then….then..then! The one that blew us both away – the chi analysis.

We had watched them in the corner booth for a bit and already heard reports that the woman who did the reading was amazing. Her husband uses chi for pain removal, and he was also there. My co-worker has some cranky knees so she sat down for a session with him while I put our names in line for the reading. It took time because she was giving everyone at least 10 minutes at a time.

All I will say when it came to my turn is that I was astonished at how accurately she “read” me without asking me a thing! I stood in front of her for about 2-3 minutes. She was about 2 feet back from me, and she kind of bounced her hand in the air over portions of my body – mostly focusing on the torso and shoulders.  She took notes on an iPad, and when she was done I sat down, and THEN we talked.  Truthfully, she asked spot on questions, I did my best to answer succinctly because people were waiting in line – but just even her questions were so revealing that my head was in utter turmoil when I stood up.  Turmoil sounds bad, but it’s not really – there was just so much she uncovered so quickly I knew it would take time to process.  My co-worker felt the same way when she was done. Oh, and her knees felt much better, and they still do today!

We are both going to call them for a full 30 minute free session.

So, clearly I reached out and connected with my co-worker quite successfully. We were still talking about it again this morning, and it’s probably the most animated I’ve seen her since she started working here. I know I probably would not have stayed as long at the fair or perhaps not even done the chi session without her.

Oh – and we both won prizes! She won a free facial treatment, and I won a pair of pretty snazzy new sunglasses! Which is kind of funny since I had just left my old ones at my parent’s over Easter  which reminded me that those were cheap and scratched, and maybe I could treat myself to some new ones. Hmmm…maybe I gave off a chi vibe about that?

Anyway, I was extra grateful at the end of the day to have this additional task in my Happify track:

Body Scan Meditation:

Block out 10 minutes, lie down somewhere comfortable, and spend a minute focusing on your breathing.

Now, imagine you’re taking a scan of your whole body, starting with your feet and moving past your torso on up to your head.

This was absolutely perfect for me to do and I know the reason I had such a good night sleep despite working until 7 and having that turmoil in my mind is because I first talked to M about it and then did this task.

The bottom line is that these tasks make me approach things so much differently each day.  I certainly would not have made the connections that I did on Thursday which would have been a huge loss.

3 Mules at Torrey Pines

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This is the tweet/facebook status I posted at 8am today:

“Driving in to work, I passed a man walking along the side of Torrey Pines Rd-leading 3 pack mules! Yes, mules!! What the??”

And this is the link that someone posted as a response:

Three Mules in LA Oct 5 as posted in Root Simple

Three Mules in Los Angeles

Last weekend, Kelly and I were treated to one of the most surreal scenes I’ve ever witnessed in Los Angeles: three pack mules being lead down busy Sunset Boulevard. On the side of one of the packs was a hand painted sign reading, “3mules.com“. As is fitting for a man leading three mules across the US, 3mules.com is just one page, managed by someone else. On that page is the following poetic statement,

3 MULES     To answer the most asked questions:  Who are we?  Where are we from? And where are we going?  We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day , every day. Where are we going? Nowhere, we’re here- the outside, the web of life- the beautiful earth, a place like no other.    We have come to this place-a place of golden sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody.  Give your faith, hope and  energy to this place at which time you connect to it and receive the magic and endless possibility of infinity.   As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth like no other can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time.

I couldn’t stop to take a picture because I was driving up the hill in the opposite direction on my way in to work. There was no safe place to turn around. I was also going by too fast to take note of the website on the side of the suitcase that you can see in the picture above. What I find really fun in all this is the comment section on the Root Simple posting. People have been posting in there essentially tracking the 3 mules as the moved south from LA to Orange County and then in to San Diego. It seems as if he has been wandering through the county here for a little over a month.Looks like he started out in the eastern areas and then turned to the coast within the last week and is now making his way back north.

People who have run into him up close and chatted with him report nothing but positive reactions and conversations. The mules look healthy – the man said he’s had one of them for 27 years. Clearly he has all he needs with him to care for himself and the animals. Yeah, he seems a bit nuts yet is harmless and is bringing people a lot of joy as he passes through their neighborhoods.

During this typically hectic time of the year for many, if the site of the 3 mules makes you take a breath and relax and just look on in wonder as they mosey on by then it is ALL good!

Push Presents and our Madison Avenue driven culture of expectation (re-post)

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Listening to a morning radio show on the way to work I heard a completely new term. “Push Present” Now, I know I fall out of the range of your typical female target audience. The things that I watch on TV or the magazines & blogs I read are WAY out of the norm for most women. But I do pay attention to conversations on Facebook and of course I have the August moms who usually end up talking about things here and there which helps me pick up things I might otherwise miss amongst the more generic girl talk. And yet this one had bypassed me. Turns out I did know the concept, just not by this title. A Push Present is the gift a man gives to a woman after the birth of their child. A reward for pushing the baby out 🙂 Kinda cute and it’s a lovely sentiment and I do know some women who have received these. SOME. Not all by a long shot and it was not something most of us talked about when we were pregnant.

What bothered me about the conversation this morning was that the women on the show – both in their early 30s – spoke of it as if it was EXPECTED. About as expected as a birthday or anniversary gift. For some reason, this rubbed me the wrong way entirely. I am sure it has something to do with my overall distaste for the way Madison Avenue has commercialized just about every holiday ever. Even the ones that were never *supposed* to have big presents or parties have become extravagant affairs if you follow advertising trends and popular TV/Magazine trends. I have often lamented the trend towards children *expecting* a big birthday party every single year. Mini golf, laser tag, chuck-e-cheese, bowling, etc etc. The parties get bigger and more expensive every year and it all seems like a grand competition to top one another. Little Johnny is only turning 2, but you have to invite 50 people to a pool party with jumpies and clowns and a Dj and and….!! Johnny won’t remember ANY OF THIS!!

It’s interesting because there is an overall sense that we can’t stand what is referred to as the “Entitlement attitude” of current generations. The phrase is thrown around in political arguments and in discussions on society as a whole. Typically it is used to vilify liberals expecting government handouts (sorry, had to stray a bit into politics for a second there). However, I think this whole notion is something that can be more properly laid at the feet of Madison Avenue. Anyone who consumes any amount of media is bombarded with the idea that the way you show off your success (and you must!) is by buying the shiniest, most expensive things. The way you show your love is by giving the shiniest most expensive things. Forget the country, citizens in general are more in debt than ever thanks to this constant messaging that you must have Tumi luggage, a shiny Lexus, a 2 carat ring, Jimmy Choo shoes and on and on. Self worth is wrapped up in it. Kids are steeped in it early with the birthday parties and accompanying pile of gifts. It’s not poor people who feel entitled to help; it is everyone, from all economic backgrounds that learned the world will shower you with all the pretty things that make you feel loved if you just whip out that credit card.

What would I consider a proper Push Present? Just be there. Be a dad. Stick around. Take them to doctor’s appointments and soccer practice & be there to watch their dance recitals. Make dinner and clean up after their barf. Be a partner in discipline and homework struggles and illnesses. That diamond tennis bracelet won’t do those things. Save that money. Start the college fund with it. That is what I *expect* from you. Birthday parties? How about we go back to marking the milestone years only? Every culture has some variations of course, but gosh just hitting the ‘5s’ and ‘0s’ works for me. Or, if you really love celebrating and having an excuse to be with a crowd of friends, then make it a No Gift party most of the time. Family will take care of that. Your 50 neighborhood and school friends? Nah – you just want the fun of having them there to play with you but they don’t all have to bring gifts. You want to reduce the entitlement culture? Then reduce those expectations.

UPDATE #1Ask 16 about his birthday as an example. Scroll down and see pics from his BBQ. He *loved* his day! Did he get some gifts? Sure, from family, but not from his peers. We told them to just show up. I bought them tickets to the movie and provided transportation there and back. All 16 wanted was to gather enough money to buy himself a new headset for his Xbox and he got exactly that. How many 16 year old boys do you all know who would be perfectly with that? Be honest!

Crazy how 2 mins of a radio show elicited that whole rant eh 🙂

Oh yeah! The guy who was the topic of the radio show? The Push Present he gave to his wife? A week at a FAT CAMP?!! Oh, he REALLY missed the concept. He’s in the Forever Dog House for sure.

UPDATE #2: Re-posting this because it has received a little more attention again along with a comment trying to explain the origination of the Push Present concept. Also a recommendation for a new website selling push presents that properly encapsulate the sentiment or something like that.  Endless love and protection of the mother and child? Yeah, sweet, but no. You know how to show that? I told you up above. Just be there.  Everything else is gravy and is simply a material item to be sold that continues on the culture of consumption. Push Presents are not mandatory, they are extra niceties if you have the money – maybe. But I will always resist it becoming some kind of expectation. 

Teaching my brain how to focus

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Instead of constantly bitching about the shiny object syndrome that hampers nearly everyone’s ability to focus, I decided to actively try and do something about it.

I had already stopped obsessively reading my twitter timeline daily (yes, I stupidly used to actually try and do that. And? I sadly DID for a long time). I had everyone organized into lists so I simply started using those more effectively which mean perhaps keeping my eye on the Media list during the day but only checking in on other time lines first thing in the morning or after dinner. But on the weekends I was still being drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Same with Facebook. I was never quite as addicted as I was to Twitter, but I was still in there a lot and reading certain Close Friend lists constantly and posting and commenting quite a lot.

My Google Reader feed with all the blogs I follow? Checked it and opened/read/skimmed nearly every damn post. Which is insane because I subscribe to 75 blogs. I know that’s actually not a LOT compared to some, but really…75!!

Then I started to up my writing – both for fun and for work and..I know..this will shock you – I discovered that I couldn’t get started. A lot! I wouldn’t call it writer’s block at all. It was more like, information overload where I had taken in SO MUCH at once that I didn’t know how to unjumble the words.

I mean, in reality, I was doing a LOT of skimming. It was incredibly rare for me to click on a link from Twitter or Facebook and then read the WHOLE article shared. Same with those blog posts in my Reader. Skimmed. Nearly every time. Unless it was full of cat pictures. THOSE I read top to bottom 🙂 But commenting on any of the sites? Oh hardly ever since, well, I hadn’t really ABSORBED whatever lovely things had been written.

And as someone who thinks likes and follows are cool, but that comments on a post are GOLDEN, well…I wasn’t exactly playing the game correctly myself was I?

So, I said STOP.

What is quite funny is that right after my own internal clock setting off that alarm, I just happened to get a link to a most on What Multitasking Does To Our Brains. And I read it. All of it. In one sitting. And I nodded. A lot. In the advice on how to bring yourself back to focusing it hit upon some of the techniques I started doing.

I closed my browser tabs to all social media UNLESS I was in a space when Twitter & Facebook were OK to peruse. This also meant moving my phone out of my sight and reach and even turning it face down.

I listen to music more which does work for me.

I’ve gone back to the tried and true routine of making lists on paper. I’ve got a little notebook I carry around with a weekly task list for web content writing or promotion. I’ve got another one at my day job with a list of weekly tasks. I’ve found the process of physically holding pen to paper to jot down my ideas/notes/inspirations gained is critical to cementing them in my brain in a more organized fashion so that when I have to tap into one of them to create a post or even re-design a spreadsheet at work, the thoughts flow out much more freely.

I allow myself NOT to read things entirely. If I know I only have time to skim my Reader? Then I check the list, see if a title or an author grabs my eye and if not, then “Mark as Read” is hit and I close the tab. If I see something I want to read, then I READ IT. Depending on how much time I have allotted in that moment, I might read 2 or 3. But I READ THEM. And I try to leave a comment on anything that drew me in long enough to do that.

When I have the time at the end of the night to perhaps catch up on twitter, half the time I pick up a book instead. The goal there is to focus on something more than 140 character bursts. Again, it’s like that helps my brain keep the information going in more organized.

I also save more tweets to go back and click on links later if I know I will want to READ them.

And I have to say that it’s been so much more relaxing this way!

When I want to write, it’s no big deal to get going. Words flow, I can stick with it to the end and when I hit post I feel a lot better about what I’ve written.

At work, I am back to starting and FINISHING tasks in one sitting without those “Squirrel!” moments catching my eye. Amazingly enough, the workday goes by a lot faster as a result!

And all of THAT relaxes me so that I can respond to the needs of the other two people in the house AND also carve out time to run much more easily.

So yes, I would certainly have to say that multitasking was not working for me at all. Practicing mindful focus is much much healthier and more productive.

What do YOU do to keep your focus?

Dear Christine

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No, this isn’t a new name I came up with to address – it’s the name that TOO MANY DAMN PEOPLE use to address ME!

Note to parents: I know you worry about naming your children & how you spell their names because you don’t want them to be teased and such in school – yeah – forget that. Worry about the ADULTS who are too busy/inconsiderate/blind/disrespectful to care.

Now, I understand if you were first introduced to me in person and you get mixed up. ChristinA – Christine – they are close. I get it. I will even gently correct you once or twice once you develop your bad habit of getting my name wrong. Certainly, if we become close enough to consider each other friends and I see you fairly frequently, I WILL tweak you a bit if you keep screwing it up.

However….

If you reply to me after I send you an email…when my signature clearly shows my name spelled out properly…and you STILL reply back to me “Dear Christine”? Well, as you can imagine I have now completely tuned you out. It doesn’t matter what you write after the salutation because my brain registered it as “Oh, a dumbass! DELETE!”

Now, trust me – I wish I could delete. But especially at work, I can’t. However, especially at work – I am even more insulted! How unprofessional do you have to be to not be careful about how you spell someone’s name? It just happened again this week. I sent an email in response to a voice message because I needed clarification what the dumbass..errr…co-worker needed. She responded with “Hi Christine….blah blah blah..I’m too stupid to care if I spelled that right…blah blah blah!” Ok, so everything after the misspelled name might have been what my mind read vs what it really said but….

I managed to swallow my annoyance and provide her an answer…and then I sort of stealthily BOLDED the a in my signature thusly:

Christina

Now – I have no clue if she noticed or not. You know why? Because not only is she blind – she’s also rude. After providing her the information she needed I got CRICKETS back in return. No “Thank you” – NADA.

Blind AND inconsiderate all in one package.

I blame Christine. She needs to GTFO of my life already!

It is what it is – don’t look here for motivation!

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Over the past month the top search term drawing random strangers to this site is “Motivation”.

Pardon me for a moment while I react to the idea that I can provide advice on this topic:

OK, OK….so um..motivation eh?

I supposed folks were experiencing what I call the February doldrums. Still stuck with winter weather. Holidays and New Year’s Resolutions long faded from memory. This year they even added an extra day to the Monday of Months (thank you Garfield). I’m sure there were many straws being grasped in order to plug away each day. Well, keep grasping folks because this isn’t the place for your motivation to be found!

I’m the one who cannot even get through this blog post without clicking over the Facebook. A title, two sentences and a picture load and I’m already distracted!

Sure, I reached my running goal for the year early, but I also ended up the day Friday with a scratchy throat which felt like the start of a cold and I totally shut down for the weekend and stayed home from work on Monday. You can look at it as taking no chances and refusing to push myself when I feel sick. Or it’s an excuse to be ultra lazy. Whatever, it worked, and on Tuesday other than a little runny nose nonsense, I was fine and back to running.

We have a new challenge at work which I guess you could call some motivation – we log in our “activity minutes” each day. The Goal is to reach 600 in a month. I guess this is the replacement for last years Steps to Wellness program when we wore a pedometer for what felt like forever. Those kinds of little “check in” things tend to work for me.

Oh – new email – and a couple of text messages!

Where was I? Oh yeah..motivation. Um…so Alex is doing a smidgen better. He’s acing his online course right now though also fighting me every step of the way as I try to (ahem) *motivate* him to stay on the right pace. He’s also doing better with his regular classes. Sort of, kind of. IF I stay on him. He literally wont work without me being here to keep him on task. So I get home every night as fast as I can from work because I know he’s been farting around since he got home from school. We start off by going over what needs to get done, prioritizing them, and then I have to move him to the right spot in the house. Last night he needed to read an article and answer some questions. Which meant peeling him away from the computer so he could focus on reading. There is no way he can read at the computer desk because it is too easy to click over to something more fun (where does he get that, I wonder? :)) Some nights he cooperates with my suggestions, but at least one night a week he is clearly in teen rebellion mode and generally makes both our lives miserable with his defiant attitude. I’m trying to just walk away when he’s like that, but it’s hard. More often I go into martyr mode lamenting all the hard work and time I’ve put into getting him on track and mwah mwah mwah mwah mwah…..yeah, I even tune myself out when I get too wrapped up in those rants/lectures. I need a beer just thinking about it!

Oooh – new pictures over on the Love & Hisses Facebook page……baby stripey kittehs….awww…

Clearly I am not your best source for motivation. However, I would like to know if any of YOU can figure out what the motivation was behind THIS?:

Yes, this is from the So Called Ladies Room in the basement offices at my workplace. Which is, as my friend pointed out, an institution of higher education. And yet – this is a not uncommon thing to find around the 4pm hour in there. FWIW, the paper jammed into the edge of the trash receptacle is the wrapper that was around the new roll of paper. Apparently there is an inability to properly crumple things & put them in there along with an utter lack of ability to put the new roll on the holder? My co worker said she found it like this the other day, but with the wrapper simply tossed on the ground. Yeah, we don’t quite get it.