Black & Blue Friday

26 11 2010

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while I’m certainly thankful for many things in my life, this year’s thanksgiving doesn’t really feel like that much of a holiday. Either it’s just kinda lackluster, or it just doesn’t make much sense.

As far as I know, the story behind Thanksgiving goes back to the settlers and indians. I understand the ‘philosophy’ of Thanksgiving being a holiday of reflection, based on the story of the holiday… But isn’t it counter-productive to really appreciate what you have for just one day out of the year? Why isn’t there a bigger emphasis on appreciation all year long? And why is shopping after Thanksgiving in this country so animalistic? “Show your thanks by emptying your wallet on stuff you THINK is marked down, but really isn’t!”.

It’s similar to how I feel about the commercialization of Valentines Day. Why show your love for those close to you for just one day of the year by emptying your wallets, when you can make a much bigger impact by showing your love all year long?

In this day and age, and in this country, save your money. There are cheaper ways to show your love and appreciation in one full years than going all out on certain days of the year.

Materialism kills. Don’t be its next victim… unless you want me to throw in a free flat screen tv with that…


Feelin’ Leafy

13 11 2010

I know absolutely nothing about “Lawn Rules” since I grew up and still live in New York City. The closest thing to a lawn I had was the backyard of my apartment building… and when I say backyard, I mean the small walkway of concrete that leads from the sidewalk to the garage and backdoor of the building, lined with a few small benches.

With that in mind… I stayed up in Westchester last night, and when I took a small walk outside this morning, I noticed someone blowing leaves off of their front lawn. That always seemed like a normal thing to do when leaves fall on your lawn… until today. I started to wonder about the reasons why people blow leaves off of their lawns. One would think the leaves would make for some sort of ‘natural protection’ in the colder weather leading up to Winter until you turn the leaves into mulch. If it’s actually unhealthy for fallen leaves to cover the grass just moments after they’ve fallen, that’s one thing. If you’re ‘collecting’ them and turning them into mulch or something useful, that’s another thing. But if you’re just blowing them onto the road or sidewalk, then I ask… Really?…

And I guess because I’ve lived in the city all my life, but I’ve never understood the ‘idea’ of a lawn. What is it about a lawn that makes its caretakers so happy or proud? Does a house ‘need’ a lawn to look good? Does ‘feeling at home in a house’ always require a lawn? I’ve even heard from a few people that you can tell a lot about who lives in a house by the quality of the lawn, to which I said, “Poor Billy… I can’t believe he was beaten by his own father… but his family sure has one hell of a lawn! Great people, they are!”

Wax On… Log Off… Wax On… Log Off…

12 11 2010

I stumbled on this story over at about Facebook users who use the “super logoff” option, rather than just logging off when they are done with their sessions. What does “super logoff” mean? It means they deactivate their accounts each time they log out, and reactivate when they log back in. It takes a few extra steps, but deactivating your account still keeps your friends, posts, and information. You won’t lose a single thing. Why are people doing this? According to the story, it’s an added sense of security when using the super-popular social network. One example they used was citing how users might not want a friend of a friend digging around for their profile while they’re not ‘around’, or logged in… and this is where the idea of  the “Super Logoff” started to lose its purpose.

I get it. Everyone wants to feel more secure online. But if you’re going to share personal and/or private information online, you need to realize something. The internet is not and has never been 100% safe. Why? Users. If you don’t take advantage of a website’s security options and decide to take a few extra steps to ‘secure’ yourself, you may be putting yourself in jeopardy. Don’t want “friends of friends” snooping around your profile? Facebook has an option to limit your profile information to “friends only”. Don’t want to be seen online? Facebook has an option to turn the chat feature off. Don’t want certain people to see your posts in their news feeds? Facebook has an option to block specific people from every aspect of your “Facebook Life”.

Before you get freaked out by someone’s status that reads, “FACEBOOK IS NOT PRIVATE! EVERYONE CAN SEE YOUR PROFILE! PASS THIS ALONG SO MORE PEOPLE CAN SEE HOW BAD FACEBOOK IS!”, take some time to get to know your privacy settings. This applies not only to Facebook, but to any online community you are a member of. Instead of using the Super Logoff method, try using the Super Privacy method. Don’t publish any information you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with the entire world (because everything is hackable), and get to know your community’s privacy settings.

Your social networking experience can be a safe and stress-free experience with a simplified security strategy, without adding unnecessary steps. If you’re still feeling uneasy about taking the ‘simple’ approach, take a little advice from Mr. Miyagi.

A Case of the Subways

12 11 2010

What is it about a New York City subway ride that makes people-watching so much fun? As I sit on this train out of the city, I’ve already observed hundreds of people riding the subway and laughed on the inside at some interesting subway behavior.

My empty train pulls into a very rowded station. When the doors open up, everyone (and I mean everyone) rushes in and congregates in front of the doors on both sides. Not one single person walks farther into the train to make room for more people getting on the train. This begins to annoy a riled up rider who begins to yell and curse, asking people to move into the train. One (yes one) person moves in while the annoyed rider holds the doors open until someone lets her in, delaying everyone’s ride. I guess the middle of the tain has cooties? Maybe people are afraid of catching an std from sitting in an empty seat?

After some more shouting, people move in and we’re on our way. As we pull into my stop, the annoyed passenger decides to stand in the doors as they open as a little payback, making everyone walk to another door. But one passenger was having none of that. A man stands up from his seat and (with all his might) shoves the passenger out of the train, nearly pushing her down onto the platform. Really? Anger management classes not paying off? You never know who you’re dealing with in the subway, let alone when it’s someone who seriously flipped out on everyone in the train.

Those were just two of the things that happened today. There were a few more weird occurances, but I’m about to get off of my train.

Have you ever encountered a hilariously weird subway or train moment where you live or when you travel? I’d love to hear some stories!

Bed Bath & Oy!

10 11 2010

The other day, I was shopping in Bed Bath & Beyond. Among the countless number of Christmas gifts and decorations, I stumbled on the one lonely shelving unit of Chanukah gifts and decorations. At first, I was pretty annoyed because, well… Why does Chanukah get a flimsy shelf of stuff while an entire section of the store is decked out in Christmas stuff!?

Then, I saw it. The one thing that I not only want for Chanukah, but that every Jew should own and pass down from generation to generation until the end of time…

Changing the World… of Warcraft? O.o

10 11 2010

Console gaming is something I consider a hobby of mine, and something I grew up enjoying, with my very first Nintendo Entertainment system. Online gaming, however, is something I’ve only experienced for just over two years. My game of choice? World of Warcraft. Since trying WoW for the very first time in the spring of 2008, I’ve developed an interest in the psychology of online gaming, or MMO gaming. Why do people play MMO games? What do they get out of it other than what the game has to offer? Why do people choose to stereotype those who play MMO games as the typical “South Park WoW” gamers?

When I started playing, I didn’t know anybody in my circle of friends who played, so my initial experience was a bit lonely, and not so fun. Eventually, I would run into a few players who helped me get the hang of the game. I guess you could say I was ‘initiated’ into WoW. Since starting out as a pretty average player, I’ve met some pretty amazing people through the game, and even started my very own Guild that’s been around for a solid two years on our server. In those two years, I’ve not only talked to members of my guild using Ventrilo chat services, but I’ve traveled around the country to meet and hang out with them as well. I will say that while playing WoW has been a lot of fun, I’m usually more excited to play when I know these great people are playing as well. I’ve started to use WoW as a way to keep in touch with these people, rather than just playing a game I enjoy playing. Although, I will say, if you’re not having fun playing a game, why play at all… right?

This post comes in response to a comment that was made to me from someone who recently made the same negative stereotypes in regards to my time playing WoW. Someone who personally knows me, as a friend, and refuses to understand that sometimes there are very real people behind the ‘screen’, and that a game doesn’t define a person. It just doesn’t make sense to make such a huge assumption without taking the time to experience it for yourself, which is on of the reasons why I’m so interested in the Psychology behind the players and the observers of MMO gaming, in all facets.

If someone feels passionate enough to attack someone about something so trivial, you’d think they could redirect that passion to… I don’t know… change the world or something…

Speaking of changing the world…

So enlighten me, fellow MMO players, why do you play? Does your personality carry over into how you play your game of choice? Do you allow your ‘out of game’ emotions carry over into your game of choice? Do you often help other players? Do you often ‘grief’ other players?

יהיה טוב

9 11 2010

Being unemployed since August, I’ve come to realize that sometimes you just need to take a walk. The stress of unemployment is too dangerous to one’s health to sit at a computer screen all day, mindlessly sending out resumes and cover letters to employers who probably received around 300 resumes a day that look just like the rest. As the stress of trying to make yourself stand out from the rest of the unemployed builds, it’s okay to step away for a few hours, a day, even a few days, and just take a walk. Take a look around you, take a deep breath, and remember that everything is going to get better. Someone out there is going to see your skills, your talents, your potential, and scoop you up from the ranks of the unemployed. Each and every day I am thankful for having people in my life who care about me, look out for me, and are there for me to lean on for guidance and love. Please, lean on these people in your life for the same guidance and love.

Getting back to the topic, what I also realized is how much I’ve missed songwriting, and I need to start doing more of that, as well as performing/recording my music. I feel blessed and appreciative every day when I see that music lovers and listeners still watch videos, share them with their friends and family, and purchase it to keep it for their very own. Just knowing that happens every day makes me miss doing what I love and what I’m so great at. I need to get back into the music, and I’m going to. I’m much happier, relaxed, and calmer when I’m immersed in music. My great friend Gedaliah (whose blog is linked on the right side of the page), who I’ve done most of my writing/recording/performing with, is working with me to create more of the music we both love, and I’m excited to share it with everyone who is reading this (whoever you are) when its ready.

In the words of one of my favorite Israeli musicians, David Broza, “יהיה טוב” or “Yihyeh Tov”. It will be good.

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