Ziosk-free and lovin’ it!

Elizabeth, my wife, and I had a nice evening together this past Saturday.  We decided on Chili’s for dinner, as we both really like their appetizers and burgers.  Upon being seated in our booth I noticed this touch screen device on all of the tables.  I’d never seen them before so I was just a little curious as to what they were for. 

It’s called the “Ziosk” and it has applications for reviewing appetizers and drink specials, free games, movies and showtimes, 12 “premium” games that run $1 for unlimited play, as well as an application for paying your bill.  The latter got me thinking. 

We Americans sure love efficiencies, don’t we?  I do, too.  I use Redbox, ATMs, the web for shopping, the “Self Checkout” line at the store, and the like.  I’ve never used the grocery delivering services out there, but I have talked to a few who have who voiced their approval.  Hey, we all have the same 24-hour period so we’re always looking for ways to save time.  It’s like beating the house.  However, I can’t help but ask “are we missing something here?”  I believe we’re losing one of our most important and helpful skills:  Communication.  It seems more and more of us are chosing the technological advances that take us away from human interaction. 

Hey, I’m an outgoing guy.  It’s just who I am.  Always have been.  I can talk to a fence post just about all day.  My parents raised me to treat people with respect, no matter who they are, where they came from, what they look like, how they talk, or what they do for a living.  Further, I truly enjoying interacting with folks of all types:  Actuaries, salespeople, pastors, maintenance workers, cooks, electricians, executives and doctors.  They all have experiences and stories that you’re just missing if you don’t take the time to communicate with them.  You’re missing some gold, folks.  Unplug from your techno-gizmos for a few and you just might remember the good ol’ days when people actually looked at each other and talked. 

[Hint:  the quiet ones have the really good meat on the bone as they’ve been in the corner sloooowly cookin’ at 225*, untouched.] 

I’ve been making an effort lately with people I don’t know at work by simply greeting them with a smile and “good morning” or “hello, have a nice day” as I stroll down the hallways.  You know what, folks, they actually smile back and offer me a returned greeting.  Ahh, it’s wonderful.  It’s like we have this moment or something…something I just didn’t have with that Ziosk. 

Alex

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Radar Party!!!

imageAs I clicked on the Weather Channel app on my iPad, my excitement level began to surge.  “Where is it NOW?”  “When will it be HERE?”  There had been a line “popping up along Highway 44,” as my favorite local Meteorologist likes to phrase it, since early afternoon.  It was now about 3:30 and I was ready.  To be honest my game had begun the night before when said Meteorologist said we could expect them in the afternoon.

Simply put:  I love storms.  Always have.  In college a buddy of mine, Pete, and I would call each other when the local radar in Springfield, Missouri had all green on local radar maps.  We’d yell at each other, “WE’RE SO SCREWED!!!”  As a kid it was my job to have a flashlight in hand at the ready for evening storms that were viewable “over Kim’s house” when we lived in Fairfax, Va.

Now, with my wife not too excited about storms, I have to keep it all in now.  It’s like a kid being excited on Christmas morning…in the Gaza Strip.  I’ve told my kids what we will need to do should the sirens come on.  “Kids, we will CALMLY go downstairs, play games and eat snacks.” They remind me that we haven’t had to do it lately, so it might just be time for another drill.  It’s been dry here for about a month…since I installed a somewhat elaborate drainage system in my kid’s swing set area, (that’s just how that works, isn’t it?) so I’m ready…and waiting.

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Well, I’ve signed up…

imageI’ve really done it this time, folks.  Yeah, and I LOVE it.  I’ve signed up to run in the Rock-n-Roll half-marathon this late October in St. Louis.  I start training in a week.  I’ll be using Fleet Feet’s training schedule.  This is a test of focus on several levels and fronts, and mine at the moment is to avoid injury.  Oh, and to adhere to the schedule strictly.  I’m excited about how far I’m from, but also on where I’m headed…down the road.  Stay tuned.

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How ’bout this one, mom?

You can learn a lot about people by watching where and how they park their automobiles.  Hey, I’m serious here.  Have you ever thought about it?  I hadn’t either until I was listening to one of my podcasts that focuses on survivalism and “prepping” and the host tasked his listeners with paying attention to where they park in an effort to avoid being targeted for theft or worse.  I started paying attention to my parking lot at work.  It’s huge.  There are lots of spots and they’re…well, spacious.  I mean these spots are like a 8-hour spa for our autos.  And when inclement weather takes the day there’s plenty of room between automobiles for a driver to sling open the door in an effort to quickly get in. 

Ok, sorry, back to the picking of our spots.  I know it depends on the lot’s size, number of spots, angles, location to the door where we’re going, our automobile’s size, as well as the number of open spots available at any given time.  However, are you a “puller-though’er?”  Have you seen these people?  They drive around not looking for one spot but TWO!  Well, I am one.  Yep, and it all happened one evening in Perryville, Kentucky while visiting my wife’s grandparents at their farm.  I borrowed my brother-in-law’s truck and I was backing it down the driveway when I slammed right into a huge oak tree.  That point of impact was the center of my conversion.  I remember saying to myself, “I’d be happy if I never had to back up a vehicle again.”  I was raised by a “pull’er-through’er,” as my mom is one.  We’re fine people actually, but don’t get mad when we don’t pull out the chips at the casino.  We’re not that type.

How about “parallel parkers?”  You one of them, too?  Yeah, what a bragidocious group they are.  They can’t WAIT to go downtown just so they can show up off their amazing talent.  It’s their little Super Bowl and they put on quite a show, don’t they?  Well, we need ’em.  I’m not one of them, but I still treasure their talent when I’m with them. 

How about the “I have a big truck so I’m gonna make my own spot” folks?  Yeah, a small group of these types meet around 4:05 – 4:15 at my gym each day.  Now, I can totally understand the huge, lifted white Ford Super Duty 3500.  It’s larger than some drive-thru coffee stands I’ve seen around here.  However, a Chevy S-10?  Really?  I’ve OWNED one of those and, quite honestly, we just aren’t big enough to pull this off.  You look like you really have “little man’s syndrome” when you try this.  Just stop.  Park with us “up there.”  We forgive you and we’ll…well we’ll try…not to remember what you’ve done. 

We all know the “back’er in’er,” don’t we?  As a self-described “pull’er through’er” I find myself waiting on these types a lot while trying to park my car the normal way.  Deep down I guess I’m a little amazed as they have no fear of hitting something.  They tell me they do this because they don’t like backing up to leave the spot?  Uh, the only problem with that, folks, is that you had to back in to get there in the first place.  They also tell me that they can “leave faster.”  Uh, again, small problem – it took you 38 minutes up front to park the thing so you actually lost 37:21 minutes in the process.  It ain’t efficiency, folks, it’s lunacy. 

Lastly, how about the “I’m an Isolationalist and I’m fine with parking way out here by myself” folks?  You’ll see Pat Buchanan here.  They’re proud to get to where they’re going 2 hours early to make the trek.  Now, I completely understand parking the BMW M5…but the ’99 Civic?  In fact it’s almost so absurd for the latter that I almost think it flips to “honorable.”  It makes me want to meet him halfway with a smile, a cup of coffee and the question “just what were you thinking?”

Alex

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I’m new to thi…

I’m new to this, folks.  I’m new to blogging and the like.  Though, I’m trying to learn some new stuff.  Trying to make myself more knowledgable of techy things that have scared me in the past.  I think of it as another way of self-betterment.  I think of it as another way of loving my family well:  I can show my kids that I’ve tried new things that intimidated me in the past and I’m richer for it.  It’s all about expanding myself into new arenas so I can have new experiences with some people I don’t have much in common with yet.  I’ll have a wide ranging topic list here, which is the wonder of one’s own blog.  I’ll have fun and I hope you do, too. 

Alex  

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