Giving Thanks, Remembering Others

Give Thanks!Seems sad that many of us need one day to express thanks for the things we have. In fact, we should be giving thanks every day for the following: reasonable good health, family, old and new friendships, the clothes on our back, a roof over our heads, food for nourishment, soap and water to wash our ass, a “pot to piss in” i.e., flushable toilets, and much more! We should be thankful for whoever has had some positive impact in our lives as well for those who have helped us along the way to get to the point where we are now.

In all this giving of thanks, let us not forget:

  • there are people living and struggling with severe economic, financial and medical hardships.
  • the people in New York, New Jersey, other parts of this country and places around the world who were recently affected by natural disasters.
  • those who are homeless, displaced, or at the very least, not living in an ideal home setting.
  • the people who lost property, loved ones and their own lives – not only to natural disasters but to wars, trigger-happy civilian and police actions and other acts of senseless violence and mayhem.
  • those who are unjustly and wrongfully jailed or imprisoned.
    and last but never least…
  • the men and women in military uniform who cannot be home with their own loved ones to share in the giving of thanks. As a veteran, I recall having missed many family gatherings for Thanksgiving therefore I know all too well what it’s like to be thousands of miles away and to miss…home.

Since you are reading this, I remind you to count yourself not lucky, privileged or exceptional but…blessed …be that by one god, many gods or by mere coincidence. Let us not be so selfish in relishing in our blessings that we forget there are others who want just an mere inkling of what we now have and enjoy. Never ever take anything for granted. Happy Thanksgiving!

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Black Friday Nonsense

It’s back!  The Black Friday nonsense! Actually, as of this writing, the infamous Black Friday is not yet here but the nonsense towards that day has already begun! I’m talking about the so-called “bargain shoppers”; the people camping out at some major “box” store, many as early as today (Monday) and throughout the rest of the week until late Thanksgiving Day Thursday when many of the stores here in Saginaw and across the country will open in the evening, at around 8 o’clock local time (give or take an hour), kicking off the frenzy that is Black Friday. Camping outside a store is, in my opinion, taking holiday shopping – and human vanity just a bit too far! It is ridiculousness and frankly, it sickens me!

I can appreciate people wanting to save some money whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I try to do the same. Yet, I could never understand why merchants had to have a Black Friday in the first place, creating the potential for people who claimed to be “thankful” for everything at one moment only to end up acting like wild animals several hours later.

At this time every year, people line up at stores, dressed in multiple layers of clothing and live in tents. Other than the merchant’s need – and greed – for money, I wonder why merchants permit camping outside their place of business. It’s very unsightly. Regular customers are subjected to seeing this nonsense every year! It’s bad enough that we see and have to walk by, around or over these bargain-shopper campers simply to enter a store!  I don’t even want to talk about the amount of trash that often accumulates and clutter outside the stores and often finds its way into the parking lot! I’m not too concerned why bargain-shopper campers station themselves outside of a store for days at a time, often enduring the cold and inclement weather. It already seems apparent to me that these are some c-r-a-z-y, people. However, I do have some questions. For example, assuming merchants allow use of their restroom facilities to bargain-shopper campers during normal business hours, where do these campers go when the store is closed? As far as I know, neither the store nor the city arranges the stationing of port-a-potties for them. Do bargain-shopper campers bring their own camping pottie? Or do they head over to which ever gas station or 24-hour convenience store that happens to be open or nearby? I wonder where the bargain-shopper campers go to wash up or brush their teeth – assuming they bother to do either whenever they are NOT camping out at some store!  I’m not sure if it’s true but I hear that some merchants issue some sort of “placement number” to each camper on a first come-first served basis so that campers don’t lose their place in line. Still, for those stores which don’t issue such numbers, I have to also wonder if a bargain-shopper campers ever leaves the tent to go get food, take a piss or a shit, do will he/she/they lose their place in line or is their tent supposed to “hold” their  place in line? I suppose there must be some sort of bargain-shopper campers etiquette that exists; some unwritten courtesy which only remains valid until the store doors open either late Thanksgiving evening or early the following Friday morning when all bets are off!  I also wonder if any of these people have jobs, school, or families. I sure hope they aren’t unemployed – choosing to sit outside some store for days at a time simply to buy something instead of looking for work. I can just imagine one of them telling their boss, professor, or some significant other something to the effect of:
“I’m off to camp out like some homeless person on a concrete sidewalk or slab in the city at the (insert box store name here). If I survive, I’ll see you when I get back on Friday or Monday, with all the Christmas presents I could snatch steal buy!”

Finally, I’ll never understand why people of good sense continue to condone this store-front camp out nonsense in their city or why the media would sensationalize it in the first place. This leads me to further address ask the following questions to the bargain-shopper camper:

  • What the fuck? (I mean, really: WHAT THE FUCK!)
  • Why would you want the stress associated with this kind of shopping?
  • Why would you want to risk your safety or be that willing to tolerate  bad weather – all just to save a few dollars?  
  • Would not the store(s) have enough of any new item in stock for everyone that wanted to buy one during their regular operating hours? 
  • Could not the merchants always order more – even if it required some PATIENCE on your part as the customer? 
  • It’s the 21st century. Why aren’t you shopping online?

It seems to me that most of the people camping outside are likely there to buy electronic gear like big screen televisions, computers, iPads or some similar devices. Surely, they must be well aware of the alternative shopping option called “on-line shopping”!

Over the years, many people have fought other early bargain-shopper campers over some lifeless product or thing and every year, there are news reports about shoppers fighting, biting, stabbing and maiming someone else in the store. Evidently, many Black Friday shoppers have the potential to be nasty, inconsiderate, disrespectful and violent, like savages or animals fighting over carrion. Listen: No temporarily low-cost thing ever justifies being nasty or physically harming another person!

In all the years of my life and all my travels of the world, I’ve never understood this insane need to out-do other people with wanting to be “the first” to own some sort of product or thing, particularly things which may are imperfect, may have a factory defect, may need immediate (and often constant) updates to fix post-release problems of functional operation or are considered obsolete the moment it comes off the shelves. Consider the kind of message these adult bargain-shopper campers send to children! Read my post about one such instance here.

Imagine, in this season of thanks, giving, benevolence and a look forward to the beginning of a new year, if people applied the same dedication, patience and energy used in being the first to buy or own something towards those things which are more worthwhile such as volunteerism, community clean-up or some other social contribution – things which are more important and which actually pays in huge, socially beneficial dividends!

I may laugh at these crazy nutty people but I also shake my head in disgust and disappointment of their vanity.

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Good Parenting Series: Kids and Video Games

My wonderful 16-year old video game-playing son is mad at me. He’ll probably be mad at me for a while. Ha! I don’t care. Shit happens and he’ll get over it. I’m sure he’s mad at his mom too. Why? Because of some damn popular video game that went on sale this morning [Tuesday, November 13] at 12:01/00:01 midnight; about an hour ago. The video game? Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

According to news reports, this game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” is expected to be “the biggest video game release of the year”. My son, and “all his friends” (he says), along with “hundreds of thousands of other gamers”, (news reports say) were expected to line up at thousands of stores, including, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and GameStop, to get this game at midnight. I’ve heard news reports telling the public that gamers – that is, kids, college students, and adults who play this game, will be late to school and/or take the day off from school or work due to them playing this game all night long and perhaps all day today (Tuesday). Well, MY son will NOT be standing in such a line at midnight, hours before he has to get up at 6:30 am to go to a school where the first class period bell rings at 7:40 am. He already hates getting up! Good thing he drives now and most of the responsibility for getting to school on time rests with him. (Depending on whose house he’s staying over, either me or his mom will often add that extra kick in his butt to make sure he is up and out the door on time.)

Twice this past weekend, my son called to ask me to take him to Game Stop at midnight so he could get the new Call of Duty video game. Twice I told him that he should wait to get the game after school on Tuesday. The boy practically begged me to take him.  Of course, like most kids his age who try to play one parent against the other in order to get their way (especially parents who live apart), my son intentionally withheld some vital information.  Until I spoke to his mom, I had no idea that he had already pre-purchased the game last Friday to ensure that his copy would be reserved. I did not know that his mother had already told him to wait until later, the following Tuesday, when she would pick up the game for him after she got off work. I also did not know that she had denied his request to take him to the store late Monday night – before midnight – and hours before he was due to be up to get ready for school. Of course, like most ex’s, she told our son, “If your father is willing to take you to the store, she would be fine with it.” In all fairness to my ex, I believe she knew me well enough to already know that I too, would never agree to take our son anywhere at that time of night  – especially for some video game on a school night. She was right.

I am not an asshole of a parent; well, perhaps my teenage son would beg to differ at this point. I like to pride myself on an ability to keep tabs and awareness of most new technology, particular new electronic toys and games played today (even though I don’t play them). I am neither out-of-touch with the world or the generation of kids today. I understand the intrigue behind video gaming, particularly this game, Call of Duty and other games of action. I’ve watched my son play and enjoy earlier releases of Call of Duty. I’ve always enjoyed the graphics and storyline of animated games. I’ve witnessed the evolution of video games over the past 25 to 30 years. I’ve also been more than aware of the competition of popular high-graphic gaming systems like Xbox and PlayStation but have come to loathe the allure of the attention span caused by video games of hundreds of kids – my son included – from the occurrences of the REAL world around them.

I don’t always like it but I understand gaming is the “pied piper” of today’s kids and many young adults (and those of fully grown men and women, too). What a strange, yet vast difference from the days of my childhood when it was the great OUTDOORS – regardless of the weather, that always called my name.  I’m sure other parents – married or single feel my pain when we would often have to tell our kids to “shut it down” (“it” meaning the video game) because they had school the next day. Of course, most of us would come back to our kids’ room ten minutes later and have to repeat ourselves, often getting a bit nasty just so our kids would follow our instructions. Kids would always have some rationale for wanting to “finish the game or operation first”. We’d repeat our demand; then, as we walked away, we’d overhear them say to their other friends playing on-line, “I gotta go; Dad (or Mom) is on my case…” LOL! Kids today; they all seem to act as though we parents were not defiant to our own parents when we were their age. The more things change, the more they stay the same – particularly in parenting.

Like everything else in the world, video games also have their time and place.  I never understood the rationale for any merchant to participate in the debacle of putting some item on sale at midnight any more than I understood the logic of those who just had to have the first and the “latest-n-greatest” of anything at that time of night or the moment a new item hit the store shelves. I’ve seen and heard stories of people lined up at stores when the computer operating system, Windows 95 first came on the market some 17 years ago. This nonsense would repeat for every “major” release of some high-tech gadget, like an Apple computer, a software program, or some gaming system or video game that followed. People would stand, sit or pitch a damn tent in long lines in all kinds to weather just so they could get the “hottest things since sliced bread” …and get it before anyone else got it!

I gotta ask: What the fuck, people??? Would not the stores have enough of any new item in stock for everyone that wanted to buy one during their regular operating hours?  Could not the stores always order more – even if it required some PATIENCE on the part of the customer? What the fuck is this insane need to out-do other people with being “the first” to own some THING or any THING, particularly those THINGS which could have a factory defect or perhaps need immediate (and often constant!) updates to fix post-release problems of operation? Imagine if people applied the same dedication and patience to other WORTHWHILE things like volunteerism, community clean-up, or some other social contribution that actually pays in huge socially beneficial dividends! I laugh at these people but I also shake my head in disappointment of human vanity.

Yeah, my son may be a bit upset today that he won’t be able to join his buddies online this early morning of the release of this new video game called Call of Duty: Black Ops II . When his mother picks up the game later today or he chooses to get it himself after school, he can play it later. I understand that he has two half-days of school this week so he’ll have time to play the game – and only after school responsibilities like homework and home chores are done. My ex and I do not want our son growing up and going through life having a “want it now” or to develop some impatient attitude of life and what it has to offer. Before our split five years ago we were raising and teaching our son patience and to “try all things first”; meaning, check out the validity, accuracy, truthfulness, and reliability of certain things before jumping into something that might prove itself to be nothing but hype. Separately, we are still doing that. Our son is a good kid. He may be unhappy with his parents right now but knowing him, he’ll quickly get over it. He knows we love him and that we often express that love to him, express why we love him and often why we have to say ‘no’ to many things he wants to do or desire to have.  He knows that when it comes to his well-being, his mother and I will always discuss a matter and usually be on the same page or come to some sort of compromise. We love our son. I’m not concerned about my son in that aspect or with his feelings about this video game situation. I am however, concerned for the kids whose parents are not parenting and who are not setting similar guiding priorities for their kids.

My son will be in class later this morning, where he belongs. Where will YOUR kid be?

Keepin’ It…..REAL!

Keep Your Free Meal, Applebee’s!

Happy Veterans Day to all my fellow veterans in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard …AND to those in the Reserves and National Guard units. Thank you for your service!

I posted the following letter on Funnybook a few hours ago today (Sunday, November 11, 2012). When you read it, you’ll see what happened. Some on Funnybook supported me and said this was indeed petty of Applebee’s. So far, only one person failed to see things through my eyes. This person made judgmental and harshly critical comments and said that my letter was “too long” and was “causing a stink” all before he said that he thought that I was the one who was being petty. Then the person added that he hopes I “don’t get mad“. Well, I certainly wasn’t happy with his comment but like the mature person, I said that his opinion was noted. (sigh)

Regardless of whether you readers agree or disagree, I’m not asking for negative opinions here on my blog about a situation which happened in MY life and happened to be a personal experience.  Yes, I got judged harshly but I made a final comment in response to that one person because I don’t believe in conducting an argument with anyone who has no clue or all the facts to things happening in my life, especially on Funnybook. Anyway, without further ado, here is my letter to Applebee’s, posted to their Funnybook page and shared here simply to be real of what happened to ME and how I felt.
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“Dear Applebee’s,

I visited your establishment this evening (Sunday, November 11, 2012) on Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw, Michigan. It was 5:30pm and I’d just gotten off a long day of work. I figured that since you were giving a free meal to active duty and retired veterans on Veterans Day, that I, as a retired U.S. Navy veteran, would stop by to get mine. Due to other obligations, I knew I would not be able to stay to eat the meal at Applebee’s so I decided I’d get it to go. When I made that request of your door greeter, I was told “no”; that it was not Applebee’s policy to allow meal-to-go under the “Free Meal to Veterans” promotion. I asked to see the manager to confirm this. After waiting for about ten minutes, the manager finally arrived to greet me. I identified myself as a veteran and made the same “meal-to-go” request. I asked him why couldn’t people, in particular veterans, who could not stay or who had no desire to stay at Applebee’s for whatever reason, get their meal to go. The manager said something to the effect that “it was not Applebee’s policy to allow meals to-go under the “free meal to veterans” promotion due to the goal of wanting to have veterans dine together at Applebee’s” (or words to that effect).

Mind you Applebee’s, your establishment on Tittabawassee Road was already crowded (as is normally the case on Sundays), both in the general seating area, at the bar, and by or in the foyer where customers wait to be seated. I asked the manager if Applebee’s still had a meal-to-go policy for customers in general. He said “yes”. I asked, “Other than my being a veteran, and the meal you’re offering being free, what is the difference between me and another customer requesting a meal to go?” The manager seemed stumped by this logical question and retorted with some comment to the effect that “If they [Applebee’s] gave me a meal to go they would have to do for everybody [meaning every veteran].” I explained that I was not “everybody” but even if another veteran had come in and wanted his/her meal to go, that would in no way hurt Applebee’s. At this point, the manager stated that he would go confirm the policy with the General Manager. I waited five more minutes before this first manager returned, only to repeat to me that “no veteran will be allowed to have a free meal to go under the Veterans Day promotion.”

Applebee’s, while I can appreciate your offering to give a free meal to veterans, you have, at the same time, taken upon yourself to be selfish, petty and even hypocritical with your “promotion of appreciation” to the veterans of the United States of America. Clearly, you have demonstrated as one does when they say they will do one thing but at the same time, maintain some hidden string attachment to such an offer. Rather than be friendly and make harmless allowances to those who may need or require it, you, Applebee’s, would rather be trivial with the details and play childish games with your “free meal to veterans” promotion offer; I’m talking about me and other men and women who have taken and followed orders which have often threaten our safety and our lives. How dare you!

Applebee’s, you acted with little to no understanding that not everyone has the luxury of convenience to sit in one of your establishments to eat a meal just because you say it has to be. There are customers who need their meal to go for various reasons. Your manager confirmed to me that you have still have “meal to go/carry out” program. I already know that you do because on non-VETERANS DAYS, I’ve ordered such from one of your establishments in this area. But now, because you have a promotion giving away something that is FREE… to a VETERAN, no less, your program does not apply. This makes no damn sense. I have to wonder that if Applebee’s is willing to be this petty, what else is Applebee’s willing to do or not do with regards to its customers, especially a Veteran?

Well Applebee’s congratulations. You have lost THIS Veteran as a customer! I will tell others of your restrictive pettiness and hypocrisy regarding this incident. Please understand: I did not need your “free” meal but since you seemed so kind and gracious for my military service, like any soldier, I decided to take you up on your offer. However, I see that you have some hidden, baseless exceptions that are applicable to one group but not another – for the same thing, with the other difference being MONEY. To me, this falls dangerously close and along the lines of bias against the military and against the veterans who have made more costly sacrifices than the pounds of food you throw away in the garbage each night. I cannot and will not support ANY establishment that shows itself discriminate or unfriendly to veterans. Consider Applebee’s Grill & Bar added to my list of such places of questionable character with regard to the fair treatment of America’s veterans.

– G E “RobFather” Robinson, Sr., USN, (Ret)”
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People comment about things that affect them negatively all the time. I only want people to respect the fact that I shall be no different.

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Your Year-Long Political Homework “Assignment” Is Due!

I have blogged about citizen apathy, voter participation, political campaign noise and even about the voting eligibility of ex-offenders here and made comments of the same on Funnybook. Here’s my final word on these subjects:

READERS: It is NOT so much about which political party and/or candidate(s) a person supports. It is more about being an American – that is, one who considers him or herself a true CITIZEN of this country, the United States of America; one who gives a damn about what happens here; and one who backs up his/her words or rhetoric with the power of the VOTE.

Too many people from ALL ethnic groups and gender in the history of this great country have sacrificed time and lives to ensure that the RIGHT TO VOTE remains alive and strong and with the PEOPLE in America just so that those in elected to power to govern or make laws do not run amok over the governed.  WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE THE ELECTORATE; WE ARE THE TRUE CHECKS AND BALANCES OF OUR GOVERNMENT!

I’ve been to countries where the right to vote and/or self-govern is greatly suppressed or is non-existent! Believe me: once you’ve enjoyed freedom all of your life, you never, ever want to live in a country where one’s freedom is defined and/or dictated. This statement is aimed at those apathetic citizens who don’t believe in participating in the political/electoral process of this country and who would attempt to influence others to follow their twisted line of thinking. Forget what the apathetic citizens have to say or what their reasons are.  It’s their choice not to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Respect that of them and move on. Everyone else: think and decide for yourself, especially those of you who are eligible to vote and who will be voting for the first time!

Everyone should have done their political “homework” by now. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6, 2012,you get to present the results of your year-long research and decisions in the voting booth. Get up, get out the house or off the job and GO VOTE for your candidates…AND the proposals/referendums of YOUR choice!

Keepin’ It…REAL!