Better Days

 

Better Days, by Will Saunders

I have noticed lots of people having a bad year in 2017 and claiming a better 2018. My year wasn’t all that bad, but there are areas in which I wanted to see a little more sunshine. But like others, I’m speaking some goodness into existence for 2018. Yes, you definitely have to claim the things you want. If this is you, keep on speaking those things into existence.

But real talk though, you should already know what you’re going to get in 2018. You have to sow seeds for the kind of better life you want. While speaking things into existence is good energy, it’s just a first step. If all you’re doing is merely stating what it is you want, that’s not quite enough; you won’t likely see any sustainable improvements. Long-term, positive changes don’t occur by happenstance. You have to set things in motion to make them happen. If you want to find love, you need to do more than just saying that’s what you want. You have to go out and meet people and if necessary, change things about yourself so that you’re more desirable. If you want a new job, consider taking some classes or completing a certification or a degree program. If you want to buy a house, maybe paying off your credit cards or cutting out frivolous spending or saving money more aggressively would be wise. You get the point?

You cannot realistically expect things to happen just by wishing them so. Even if you are a religious person and believe in the power of prayer, you still need to do your part in order for prayer to work most effectively, hence the phrase prayer without works is dead. You must take proactive steps to change your life. I know 2018 is just a few days away, but it’s still not too late. You can begin doing things right now.

So, get busy. Hop to it, okay? Git er done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inverted Christmas Tree

Inverted Christmas Tree, by Will Saunders

I was surfing the net (do people still say that?), and I saw an ad for an upside down Christmas tree. I thought it was a joke, so I did some searches and found plenty of these trees for sale by various vendors.

My first thought was how weird that is. But then, I realized how practical it is. With a wide bottom, most standard trees take up a lot of space. By inverting it, the bottom is on top and it gives you more room. That’s particularly important for people in homes with limited space. Some people who might want one but not able to fit it in their space, just might be able to have a tree. Nonetheless, I still wouldn’t get one though. I’m a traditionalist; that can be either a blessing or a curse. Give me my old fashioned, regular “normal” tree or no tree at all.

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Miss You Most At Christmastime

Miss You Most At Christmastime, by Will Saunders

It’s fascinating how songs can touch the heart so deeply.  Mariah Carey’s song is doing that for me today. Though she is focusing on missing someone romantically, it could certainly apply to all relationship types.

Sometimes a song is just a song.  Other times, it can have a poignant meaning.

 

 

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Focusing On The Wrong Things

Focusing On The Wrong Things, by Will Saunders

Do you ever focus on the wrong things? Sometimes I pay attention to one thing when I’m supposed to notice something else. Take those photos, for instance. Those are from ads from an online vendor, Soxy, that specializes in socks of unusual or far-out colors. But that’s not the first thing that caught my eyes. My eyes focused on the shoes. Not just one pair of shoes but several. But then I’m a l’il podophilliac, so both the shoes and the socks are bound to catch my eye.

I guess it makes the socks look better if they’re accentuated with some stylish shoes, or maybe it makes the shoes look better if they are outfitted with a pair of hot socks. It all depends on your vantage point and how you look at it. I wasn’t supposed to be caught up by those shoes. The socks were the star of the show. But the shoes stole the spotlight. That happens in movies a lot. That’s how they ended up with the award category, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS.

An excellent example of this is Hattie McDaniel winning that award for the role of Mammy in Gone With The Wind. Hattie was amazing.

 

Additionally, Whoopi Goldberg won that award for her role of Oda Mae Brown in the movie Ghost. I adored that movie, and she was quite adorable in it.

You see it in music a lot too. I noticed it with the Ludacris Release Therapy CD. There are a few on that CD that got little radio play or music video time, but to me were far better than the ones the production company were pimping. My favorite one is Woozy. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best song on there. But, I never heard it on the radio. If I hadn’t purchased the CD, Woozy and several other songs on there I might never have heard. Same goes for Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik CD. For instance, ‘Aint No Thang’ and ‘Git Up Git Out’ were all over the radio and television. But several others on the CD were not. I wonder how these companies decide which ones they will peddle. I’m sure it’s a gamble. Must be hard to know what will sell – hard to know what people will focus on. The human mind is so fickle.

C’est la vie! That’s life.

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Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments, by Will Saunders

There is always an opportunity to teach someone a different way of viewing things. If you do it in a respectful manner and if the other person has an open mind, it can be a beautiful learning milieu. I experienced that recently and it was a great feeling for me and for that other person.

So, the other day I was exiting a building in Bethesda, Maryland, behind two teenage boys and an older gentleman. One of the boys held the door for the old guy and he thanked the teen. The teen smiled and politely said, “Sure, no problem sir.” While the guy and I were waiting for taxis and after the teens ran off, the guy began to mumble about how you’re supposed to say “You’re welcome!” in response to someone thanking you. That’s when I put on my teacher hat. Initially I was going to keep silent, but decided to speak up for the teen.

I first asked the man the intent behind that “You’re welcome!” phrase. I know what it means but I wanted to get in the man’s head. He went on to talk about how it shows you acknowledging someone who thanks you and that you didn’t mind helping them and that you accept or appreciate the expression of gratitude. As he was talking, he evidently realized that the kid had done exactly that, but he expressed it in his own words instead of the words the old guy expected to hear. Don’t you hate it when you are all revved up to let someone ‘have it’ but then they steal your thunder? Well, that’s how it went that day. I was about to teach that man something new, but he ‘got it’ before I had a chance to, just from me asking him that one simple, little question. I was prepared to tell him that it’s a lot like two friends greeting one another. They could say hello, howdy, hi there, what’s up, hey, hiya, or maybe some other word or phrase. Whether or not you like all of these greetings, they all convey the same message, albeit differently. Neither of them is wrong. They’re just different.

The same is true with the You’re welcome! phrase, and I helped that gentleman to see that. He thanked me and I said, “You’re welcome.” We both had a brief laugh before we parted. Things could have ended up differently if I had chastised him or corrected him in a condescending manner or tone. I approached it rather gingerly and had great results, and that exchange took fewer than three minutes. Even though he figured it out for himself, I was still the catalyst that made it happen. It doesn’t take much to sway a situation one way or another. We all can learn. We all can teach.

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Sexual Harassment and Personal Body Cams

Google Glass

Sexual Harassment and Personal Body Cams, by Will Saunders

It’s always refreshing when people are held accountable and face sanctions when they do wrong. I’m speaking about all of the men in recent weeks who have been fired or suspended for sexual harassment. I hope victims are taking note and continue to feel comfortable coming forth.

I can see an increase in the use of personal body cameras, such as the Google Glass device. It was a device that many thought would die out. But now is the perfect time for it to appeal to consumers. There are many other suitable devices out there too. This would be good for men and women alike. Many of the perps don’t take full responsibility for their actions. I’ve listened to their apologies, or read their prepared written statements, and many of them (most of the ones I’m aware of) apologize but add how all of the facts aren’t true or the facts are being misrepresented. Case in point, this excerpt from Matt Lauer’s apology in which he stated, “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.” It’s too much to ask for him to just publically apologize and leave it at that rather than add in about the untruths. Other predators have included similar mitigating statements with their apologies. If they truly are sorry, why can’t they just show remorse and apologize for hurting or offending their victims without implying the victim isn’t being truthful?

Perhaps the use of personal cams could prove who is being untrue. When someone asserts they were victimized, the cam footage can back it up; likewise, when a sleaze says he didn’t do it or the facts are all wrong, the cam footage can back that up too. These 21st century cameras can even attach to your lapel or collar inconspicuously and might even look like you’re wearing jewelry (think James Bond or Maxwell Smart). It’s not just a thing of one’s imagination to have a camera in your ring or watch or an ink pen. Most are hands free, and even a technologically-dense person could use them. They can help eliminate all the he said, she said discrepancies. I don’t know how much truth-stretching goes on in these cases, but the video can go a long way to get to the bottom of it, much like the nanny cam has uncovered the abuse of babies.

Be careful who you abuse or sexual harass. They just might be wearing a camera.

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Work and Leadership: Soft Skills

Work and Leadership: Soft Skills, by Will Saunders

Soft skills are crucial. Don’t get me wrong. The technical competence and academic knowledge of your chosen profession play a pivotal role, no doubt about that. People  definitely need the right background. Just look at some of the agency heads throughout the current presidential administration. Some of them aren’t well suited for the positions they hold. You know who I mean. That is true in many public, private, for profit, and non-profit organizations. It happens.

But I think the soft skills are essential too. They are important because they’re skills that you seldom are able to teach others. People generally have them or they don’t. People can grow and self-improve on their own. But the manager can’t make it happen. If the employee isn’t already motivated to do so, it isn’t likely to happen.

The thinking is, getting in the employees’ head and understanding their thought process will be far more meaningful to the manager and to the organization than knowing whether the employee can create a pivot table in Microsoft Excel or if they are experienced using data analytics software applications, such as Sisense. You can always teach people the mechanics of how use Excel or Sisense. But you can’t teach them how to be creative or how to cope well with chaos in the office or how to be agreeable, cordial and engaging or stepping up to take initiative and being proactive or having empathy for others. These things are more innate, and they naturally become a part of a person’s soul.

Many employers focus heavily on these soft skills. That’s why hiring managers ask interview questions that many job seekers find weird or irrelevant to the work (i.e., What is a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how did you deal with it? What is a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work and how did you communicate to your management or peer group that your idea should be considered?). This is also why some employers make applicants take a set of assessments, like a personality inventory or a taleo assessment.

If people better understood this, they would develop themselves and work on honing up those soft skills so they would shine brighter and be a more stellar, valuable employee. Nobody can teach that to you but you. Of course, many people lack the soft skills as well as the technical knowledge to do the job. Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump immediately come to mind. There are many others too.  If you suck at both the technical knowledge and the soft skills too, heaven help you.

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Backup Your Phone

Backup Your Phone, by Will Saunders

 

How often do you back up the information on your phone? If you’re like most people, you have tons of information that would cause you distress if you couldn’t access it. From appointments, to names and numbers, essential banking data, purchased music or movies, photographs and videos, email, and lots of other valuable content.

I think of all the names and numbers in my phone that I don’t know by heart, some of which I did know when I had to manually dial them manually. It’s dumbed me down. I suspect thats how it is for most people. I either scroll down the list and push their name (or their picture) and the phone calls them — or I just give a verbal command, such as “Call John Doe” or “Call Jane X” and the phone obliges. In the not too distant past, when I had to dial the digits, it was easy to remember a person’s number. Not anymore. I can only recite the phone numbers of a small, paltry amount of my contacts.  So, I back up my phone frequently.

I just got the iPhone X on Saturday, and boy was (am) I excited, I love this thing. Not to digress too much from the point of this post, I got it early. I ordered it mid November and they gave a ship date of December 13th, and Verizon promised me a $366 rebate for sending in my old iPhone 7 once I got the new one. I completed an online questionnaire and my responses helped the automated system offer that $366 rebate amount. I was quite paranoid that I would scratch it up or crack the screen or break one of the buttons before I had a change to mail it in. Fortunately, I didn’t have any mishaps, and I was able to return an almost good as new phone.

Anyhow, back to my post. As I was manually backing up my old phone and restoring my data onto my new phone, I was reminded of how much information is in my phone. I’m bringing all this up after something I witnessed the other day. I got on an elevator and a woman was running to catch it before the door closed. As she entered the elevator, she dropped her phone and it fell through the little slit on the floor at the door’s opening. She peered down and watched it fall. First of all, who would you call to try and get the phone returned? Secondly, the phone probably ended up breaking up in to pieces and badly damaged beyond usability even if she got it back. I asked her if she had backed up the data in her phone, and she didn’t understand what I was asking…which meant she probably lost all of her data along with her phone. What a double whammy.

If your phone isn’t backed up, go ahead and handle it. You can either back it up to a cloud environment or save your data to a hard drive. You can even put it on a schedule so the backup happens automatically. That’s what I do. I do it manually when I have a reason to and don’t want to wait for the auto-backup to kick in. It’s a beautiful thing. As expensive as a phone can be, I sure don’t want to lose it. But if I do, at least I won’t also lose all my information along with it.

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Gift vs. Gift Card

Gift vs. Gift Card, by Will Saunders

With Christmas approaching, the gift card will end up being the go-to option for many. It used to be for me too, but after my birthday this year, not so much anymore. A friend gave me a remote controlled, wireless power strip. It came with five little mini strips, and I use them exclusively for lamps around my home: two in my bedroom, three in the front room. It was the perfect gift, and I am certain he has no idea just how much I genuinely appreciate it.

This gift is far better than a gift card would have been, because each time I reach for the remote to turn on or off the lamps, I think fondly of my friend Rashad who gave it to me. If I had been given a gift card, I might not associate anything I bought with him. But I do understand the ease and simplicity of the gift card, though. You don’t need to remember what size the person wears; you don’t need to guess what you think the person might need or want; you don’t need to consider if your taste might be viewed as gauche and wretched; and you don’t have to worry if the person might truly hate the gift altogether, which could strain the friendship.

Case in point: for you I Love Lucy fans, do you remember the episode titled, “Ethel’s Birthday” (Season 4, Episode 8) when Fred commissioned Lucy to go buy something on his behalf for Ethel’s birthday? Lucy bought a pair of party pants that Ethel hated, and was quite miffed at Lucy for having such bad taste. Lucy was mad at Ethel. Ethel was mad at Lucy and Fred. It was a big ole crazy, funny mess. Go look it up if you never saw it. . . of if you have seen it but want a good laugh again. A gift card (or gift certificate was the in-thing yesteryear) would have solved the problem for Fred. But the gift card removes the personal touch.

If you really want to make a special, lasting impression on the gift recipient, skip the gift card. Go for the gusto and give a well-thought out gift. Incidentally, you should get yourself a wireless, remote outlet switch. This is what Rashad gave me. It really is an amazing gadget.  You can get it either from the  ETEKCITY Zap 5LX Remote Outlet Switch or go to Amazon.com.  There’s a picture of it. It truly is fabulous. If you don’t get it for yourself, gift it to someone.

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They Can Be A Lot Of Trouble

They Can Be A Lot Of Trouble, By Will Saunders

A few days ago, I was driving along and saw this deer with ginormous antlers dart across the road. Well, it wasn’t exactly this particular deer in the picture, but it looked identical to it. People don’t realize how menacing deer can be until you see it up close, with or without antlers. They aren’t all as cute and cuddly as Bambi or Rudolph.

I’m glad I was in a vehicle and I’m also glad I was alert and paying attention, or there might have been an accident. People walking along the road or those waiting on a bus probably might feel a little scared. I know I would have been. There are woods in the area adjacent to houses, apartments, and condos as well as a park and a shopping district with stores like CVS, Big Lots, Denny’s, and several other big and small businesses. So there were plenty of people around.

This time of year is especially problematic because it’s mating season for deer (or like some of you might say, cuffing season), and these deer are out looking for some affection. They can charge toward you and attack if they feel cornered or intimated. If their young are nearby, that also could spawn an attack. Additionally, what some people may not realize is, it’s not uncommon for a deer to become rabid just like smaller animals such as squirrel or raccoon do, further increasing the likelihood of an attack. But generally, deer are pretty docile and aren’t looking for any trouble.

Around 2007, my mom was driving her 1998 (I think that’s the year it was) Cadillac DeVille, and a small deer ran in front of her and she couldn’t stop in time without hitting it. The collision caused some terrible damage. I want to stress it was a very small animal. Most of the damage was caused by its hooves. Mom’s car ended up on top of the deer as it continued to kick the undercarriage. I don’t even want to think about what an animal like that could do to a person, between its powerful kicks and the pokes from its antlers, particularly a large deer.

The increased encounters of deer with human is due to extensive land developments. Their natural habitats are being destroyed, so these animals have become homeless. I’ve heard of land developers trapping and relocating deer to undeveloped wooded areas, which is a viable solution. But, I don’t think that’s the norm. In my opinion, it should be a condition of granting a permit to these contractors. They get their permit to develop the land if they humanely relocate the deer. That probably isn’t likely to happen very often. It’s probably too hard to regulate. So meanwhile, we just have to share our space with them as we go to and fro. I suppose it’s a lot like it is with people: let us learn to give each other space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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