Why I Can’t Be Perry Mason?

Recently, I had to call my internet provider, Cox Communications, to change the phone number they had listed on my account.  They had my brother’s number instead of mine, so they were unable to get a hold of me, which caused me to have to pay some type of late fee.  When I called customer service I expected to have a fight on my hands.  I thought I would speak to some guy who was grumpy after a long shift spent listening to people complain.

While the phone rang I got all my notes lined out, detailing why it was such an injustice that they had charged me that fee when it was their fault for having the wrong phone number.  Years of watching lawyers argue on TV was finally going to pay off.  Perry Mason and Atticus Finch were about to be proud.

“Thank you for calling Cox Communications, my name is Tim. How can I help you?” spoke a very cheerful voice.  Of course you are so cheerful, Tim, I thought.  You are probably the one who took my extra $25, I said to myself as I planned to launch my opening statements.

“Yes, Tim, I need you to change the phone number you have listed on my account and I need you to talk to someone about getting a late charged removed,” I said using my big boy voice.

“I am very sorry about that sir.  Let me take care of this for you,” Tim said.  “I will make sure I correct this issue.”

From there, Tim patiently listened to my complaint and updated my account information.  Not only did he refund my $25, but he even got me a better deal that will save me $10 a month and provide me with faster internet (apparently I was using a modem that was only slightly better than the old screechy AOL dial up).

In the book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, author John G. Miller discusses personal accountability and how today’s society has “a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining and procrastination.”  Miller says that instead of asking “who dropped the ball?” we should ask “how can I help solve the problem.”

My call with Tim from Cox Communications is a perfect example of this.  Tim could have said that he was not responsible for Cox taking my $25 and shifted the blame to someone else.  But instead he asked, “what can I do to fix this?”  I think John G. Miller would feel that Tim handled the situation perfectly.

On the contrary, I had been constantly shifting blame.  It was Cox’s fault for not having the right number. It was my brother’s fault for not letting me know that they were calling his phone.  I wanted to shift blame and pick a fight rather than take responsibility.  I blame that on watching too many lawyer shows.  Just kidding.  Hopefully I will use this experience going forward to help me develop more personal accountability in all aspects of my life.

Remember the VHS?

On Monday, I referenced an article that discussed the importance of expressive writing when dealing with difficult events.  The article also touched on writing about positive experiences and it determined that the timing of your writing is also very important.  It said that people should only write about happy thoughts on Thursdays at 9:00am.  Just kidding

The story brought up a study that showed that people who counted their blessings once a week increased well being.  The participants who counted their blessings several times a week did not.  According to the study, counting blessings too often led people to become bored with the practice and they found it less fresh and meaningful over time.

Although I think you can never spend too much time thanking God for your blessings, I can understand what they mean.  I can see how writing about blessings too much would lose some luster after awhile.

So I have decided to dedicate Thursdays on this blog to counting my blessings and I will be calling it Thankful Thursdays.  Another alliteration Adam? Alright, already.

Here goes the first Thankful Thursday:

Today I am thankful for DVD players.  Why DVD players you ask?  Seems like an odd thing to be thankful for, you say?  Yes, I suppose that it is a little odd, but let me explain.

I am currently in the process of helping my parents convert all of their old VHS tapes to DVDs.

On a side note, my parents have a VHS tape from as recently as 2011.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  I thought after YouTube was invented, VHS cassettes became illegal.  And it gets better…the thing that my parents thought was important enough to preserve for all of history and needed to be recorded onto a VHS was, get this, the 2011 MTV Music Awards.

Yes, you read that correctly.  I am surprised that my parents could find MTV on their television.  I think it is more than a few channels away from whatever station Diagnosis Murder is on.

Why on earth did they need to record this particular MTV Music Awards?  As far as I know, it has never been a family tradition to watch this any award show, much less this one.  The only thing I can think of is that they saw LL Cool J and thought it was an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.

But that is enough about how hip my parents are, let’s get back to why I am thankful for DVD players.

Since I am converting dozens of VHS cassettes to DVDs, I have to rewind all the VHS tapes to make sure I record from the beginning.  Does anyone remember how long it takes to rewind a six hour long cassette?? About 12 hours, I think!

I’ve spent most of the other day just rewinding.  And after that I felt the need to unwind from a tough day.

Thus, I am thankful for DVD players which allow us to skip chapters at a time and also hit a menu button and automatically go back to the beginning of a video.  I already know the menu button will come in handy when my parents have a nice relaxing night of watching the 2011 MTV Music Awards.

That’s all for the first Thankful Thursday.  Let me know what you are thankful for in the comments section below.  Now it’s time to get back to rewinding!

Why Is It Called A Jukebox?

C.S. Lewis once said, “If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

That quote really caught my eye.  Whether it is Googling “how to be a wrestler” like I did yesterday, or spending way too much time on YouTube, I am constantly finding ways to distract myself from what I actually need to be doing.

C.S. Lewis seemed to think that the only way to combat this feeling is to constantly be learning, even when times aren’t perfect.  That is very profound, but what does it actually mean?  Does Mr. Lewis want me to find my old Science book and teach myself the periodic table of elements? Probably not. More likely he means that learning can come in all shapes and sizes and we just have to be receptive to it and recognize an opportunity to learn when one presents itself.

As my blog name indicates, I am a big fan of alliteration.  Adam always acts amused around alliteration (see how fun that is).  So I have decided that I will have a few alliteration based formats on this blog.  The first of which will be called “Wonder Why Wednesdays.”

On Wednesdays I will be discussing something that makes me wonder, such as: why can’t you sneeze with your eyes open, or why is it called jaywalking?  Each question will be something that actually has a real answer and not just a silly question like, why does your nose run and your feet smell, or before the light bulb was invented, what appeared over people’s heads when they had an idea?

This will be my take on the C.S. Lewis quote that we always need to be looking for knowledge.  And to add a fun twist, I will try to guess and give you my version of the answer before I look it up.  It will be BlogByBake’s version of Balderdash (not bad alliteration).

Today’s Wonder Why Wednesday:

Recently, I was at a restaurant that had an old fashioned jukebox.  You know, the kind that makes you want to have a drink out of an ice cold 1940’s Coke bottle while you hang out with the Fonz.  After daydreaming for a few minutes about the shenanigans the Fonz and I would get into, I asked myself, “why do they call it a jukebox?”  When I was little I thought it was called a juicebox or a jutebox.  Neither of which makes any more sense than a jukebox.

Here’s my guess at why it is called a jukebox:

When these large music contraptions were first invented, they were often placed in the middle of the dance floor so that the entire room could hear the music (this was before Bose speakers). When guys and gals came to the dance floor to ‘cut a rug’ they would often bump into the music machine.  After crashing into the big music player a few times, the dancers became bruised and could no longer ‘get down with their bad self’.  Because they did not want to slow down their dancing, they realized that they’d have to “juke” or quickly move around the contraption when they got close.  Much like the great football player Red Grange would do to avoid a linebacker.  Because the name “big bruising box” didn’t sound very friendly, the creators began calling the machine a jukebox.

Here’s the real answer to why it is called a jukebox:

According to Wikipedia, “the term ‘jukebox’ came into use in the United States around 1940, apparently derived from the familiar usage “juke joint”, derived from the Bullah word “juke” or “joog” meaning disorderly, rowdy, or wicked.”  Apparently juke joints were informal establishments that featured music, dancing, gambling and drinking.

Jukebox judgment:

My guess wasn’t very close to the real story.  Juke has nothing to do with Red Grange or trying to avoid crashing into the machine itself.  Although, after reading what a juke joint is, I bet the jukebox did cause some bruising for a few unruly folks.

See how much fun it can be to learn.  Now you just have to make sure to remember the real meaning, and not my silly guess.

What have you been wondering lately? Let me know in the comment section below and I will feature it in an upcoming Wonder Why Wednesday!

Also, if anyone has a good string of alliteration, feel free to post it below.

What Makes Me Qualified To Be A Wrestler?

Following this morning’s post, I decided to do a quick Google search to see what the internet says it takes to become a writer.  A funny thing happened as I wrote “what does it take to be a wr.”  Before I could type the last four letters, Google assumed that I was looking for “what does it take to be a wrestler.”

Always one to get sidetracked, I decided to see what the World Wide Web thinks it takes to be a wrestler. You know, in case this whole writing thing doesn’t work out.

After looking at a few different sites about how to become the next Hulk Hogan, I decided to perform the same voices of fear exercise from earlier.  Let’s take a look.

Voices of fear for why I could never be a wrestler:

  • Lack of size and overall strength
  • I don’t like tight fitting spandex
  • No catchy or imposing nickname
  • Too much body hair

This time, the voices of fear seemed a little more daunting. But after another quick Google search I found my answer to each one of those voices of fear:

What Makes Me Qualified To Be A Writer?

Eight years ago I started a blog.  Blogs were fairly new so I said “what the heck, I could probably create a popular blog.”  Like many people out there, I was really into in for the first week but eventually went months went by and I didn’t make any updates and finally the blog dissolved in less than a year.

In order prevent the same thing from happening again, I asked myself “what makes me qualified to be a writer?” In typical pessimistic fashion, I ended up answering the question of “what makes me unqualified to be a writer.”

In the book Start, author Jon Acuff talks about our voices of fear that tell us we can’t do certain things.  Acuff encourages his readers to write down their voices of fear because acknowledging them can make them shrink and not seem as imposing.

So I’ve decided to write down the three main voices of fear that kept creeping into my head anytime I asked “what makes me qualified to be a writer?”

Voices of fear:

  • I am not a grate speller and my vocabulary is limited
  • I never come up with clever and witty sayings, such as “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain
  • There are too many better writers out there.

Once I saw the voices of fear on paper, I knew exactly how I could refute each one:

  • I am not a grate speller and my vocabulary is limited. Computers have this new great thing called spell check and there are numerous word of the day apps that can increase my lexicon.
  • I never come up with clever and witty sayings, such as “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain  Every time I write my mom a Mother’s Day poem, she puts it on the fridge.
  • There are too many better writers out there.  If The Situation can do it, so can I.

What voices of fear do you constantly hear in your life? Put them down on paper or write them in the comments section below and it will help you see that they are really not that imposing after all.

Why Write?

I recently read an article titled “The Power of the Pen: Boosting Happiness, Health, and Productivity” by Adam Grant that talked about a study done on one hundred senior engineers that were laid off by a computer company.  The engineers were broken up into three groups.  The control group did nothing unusual.  One group kept a journal where they wrote about time management and a third group kept a journal about their deepest thoughts and feelings associated with the job loss. Each of those two groups wrote for five days, 20 minutes per day.

After three months, less than 5% of the control group was reemployed.  In the expressive writing group, more than 26% of the participants were reemployed.  The study found that expressive writing didn’t help the engineers get a greater number of interviews. However, the expressive journal writing increased the odds that the engineers were hired when they did land an interview. Expressive writing affected the quality, not the quantity, of their job search.

The article said that expressive writing helps people make sense of traumatic events and improves health when people describe facts and feelings.  I’ve been fortunate and blessed to not have to endure anything really traumatic in my life.  That being said, I know that I do most of my expressive writing during my more difficult times.  For whatever reason, I am drawn to a journal when times get tough.  Looking back, putting my feelings into words in a journal has helped me make sense of what I was going through and it has given me better insight into those challenging situations.

Grant’s article concluded by saying that journaling, among other things, can help people focus on their goals and achieve success.

Recently, I have had a hard time focusing on my goals.  I feel that I have a million things swirling around in my head and I can’t focus on any particular one.

So in addition to sharing the extra ordinary I wrote about yesterday, I have decided to use this blog to better increase my odds of accomplishing my goals.  And hopefully along the way, I can help others accomplish theirs as well.

I would like to thank my buddy Aaron for sharing this article by Adam Grant.  Here’s another link to the where you can read it –“The Power of the Pen: Boosting Happiness, Health, and Productivity.”  I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Do You Need Some Extra Ordinary?

Hello. My name is Adam and I am extraordinary.  Before you start to think that I am cocky or egotistical, let me explain.

When I contemplated starting a blog, I was hesitant.  I figured that the World Wide Web already had enough blogs and why would anyone read mine when there are millions of others to choose from.

Like many of you, I often struggle to find out what sets me apart in this world.  What am I qualified to write about?  I am not smart enough to be a contestant on Jeopardy and I am not tough enough to be a contestant on Fear Factor.  I might be awkward enough to be on Wipe Out.

To convince myself that I could start a blog that people would actually want to read, I decided to take inventory of who I am.  Looking for something that makes me stand out in a world of blogs, here’s what I found.

I am a 5’10”, 165 pound white Christian male who is right handed, balding and wears a size 10 shoe.

To see where I stand out, let’s take a look at some facts:

  • The average male height in the United States is 5’10”
  • The average male weight for someone 5’10” is 141-175 pounds
  • In the US, 77% of people identify themselves as Christian
  • 89% of all people are right handed
  • Nearly 35 million American men are losing their hair, which accounts for roughly ½ of all males
  • The average male shoe size is 10

After seeing at that, I realized that I am overflowing with ordinary.  I could give away some ordinary and still have plenty left over.  I have extra ordinary.

So I convinced myself that someone who is so extra ordinary should have a blog.  I have always liked to share, so I will be using this blog to share some of my extra ordinary with you.  Enjoy…