College Life-How Sweet It Is!

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One of my college kids called me the other night.  Well actually she text-ed me.  Because that is what kids do today.  When they have a complex question that involves a response that could exceed 100 words, they of course text.   My standard response when this happens…”call me”.

So the phone call shortly arrived.  The whole purpose for this communication involved a certain movie streaming application that her new television came with last summer.  She has been enjoying this application with no charge associated.  She thought Dad had set it up but I had not.  So, all I can figure is there was some type of free introductory period. The freebie had now ended and daughter was hoping that Dad would either provide his log in to this program, or a credit card so this right of college life could continue.

Matters like this are better not to hit me with at 10pm at night.  I understand just enough about business to know that no company has set up a video streaming app that all one person needs to do is share their password with their college student and pretty soon an entire dorm is streaming movies on your account.  I was not entirely sure how the business model worked, and daughter swore she would keep my login secret (I really believe she would do her best to keep it secret), but I was not buying it.  I enjoy the service, we use it at home, and the last thing I wanted was to get our home blocked because my password was also being used at a college campus not exactly in the same location as my home.   I thought maybe there was a usage model that might solve this issue but as my tired head tried to figure out a solution at the company’s website, the solution hit me.

The solution was so obvious frankly I got a little upset at myself for not having immediately thought of this.  Our goal is for our kids to come out of college debt-free.  So, we cover tuition, room and board and books.  Social items are on the kids so they need to work whenever they can to pay for their social and entertainment.  Same program I was on with my parents and I am forever thankful to them for not forcing me into the world of student loans.   I was not handing over my log in information, so this problem was not mine.  Clearly an entertainment issue…this was daughter’s to decide.  Plus in my research I found out the cost of an unlimited plan was less than two grande lattes at Starbucks!  We know how often college kids make that pit stop!  (To daughter’s credit, she called me later and apologized for expecting me to handle this expense-much appreciated.)

Which brings me to the end of the story but I just could not stop thinking about this.  What a world we live in!  For $8 a month, you can have unlimited movies streaming into your college room.  My first memory was that we had a small black and white TV in my college room and we hardly could watch it through the snow on the screen as we strained to pick up stations 75 miles away!  We did buy record albums (kids-ask your parents what they are) and I remember those being about $6 each.  One album with 40 minutes of music, 35 years ago, cost more than the limited plan for the movie streaming application!  If they sold albums today they probably would be $15!  College kids in the 70’s collected record albums like the Harbaugh family collects coaching victories.  Our kids have no idea how great life is for them.

Of course, I sure hope they find some time to study!


I Survived!

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A weird thing happened last week.  I had a birthday and I didn’t die!

I assume since you are reading this that news pleases you.  Maybe that is a bad assumption.  Pleases most of you.

By now, you are likely wondering what in the world I am talking about.  Did you know that a study of over two million people over the course of 20 years found that we are more likely to die on our birthday than any other day?

Sadly, as you review this study, it does appear the statistics are somewhat weighted toward people who take their own lives.  Interestingly, there is a significant number of people who die on their birthday by falling down accidentally.  This might be the best excuse ever for not going out dancing or rock climbing to celebrate a birthday!  Fortunately for me, my birthday did not include any real thrill seeking.  I can recall a birthday or two (lets just say those lovely anniversary dates) where I might have enjoyed myself a lot more than this year.   This was just a nice birthday spent with family and friends, and best of all, spread out over several different days.

Maybe that is the secret to a longer life.  Don’t celebrate your birthday on your birthday!  Spread out the risk by having multiple parties and celebrations.  When I turned 50 everybody joked that October became the month of Joel.  This idea has seemed to catch on with other friends who have enjoyed their own birthday month celebrations during the years of their major anniversaries.  If you are likely to take bigger life threatening risks on those 30, 40 and 50 birthdays, then just spread it out.  Avoid the risk this study suggests.  Improve your mortality!

Plus it is a lot more fun to have a month of parties.  From the sound of this study, I would suggest that avoiding celebrating with family and friends might be depressing.  So those of you that keep your birthday secret, reconsider.  We all need a little celebration for our good health!

Hot Fun In The Summertime

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OK..I know I am ahead of myself a little bit.  It feels like summer.  Warm air, thunderstorms, baseball and the return of the migrating college student.  It is the return of the college student that annually turns us to anticipation of how much our home life will change over the next few months.   Excuse me if the migration to our home is different than yours.  I have discussed this with enough parents I doubt it.

The migration patterns of a college student are forced on them by the institutions that take so much of our money to provide training that will enable them to survive in society.  The training only goes so far.  The migrating college student often seems to not realize the differences in the world outside academia.  The strange part is unless forced behavior patterns are introduced they will not recognize that outside their institutions the world does not include sleep until noon, proceeded by many hours of reality TV, and finally mass socialization events starting at 11pm.  For these reasons, the annual summer migration pattern where these cocoons of academia no longer provide protection of this lifestyle, create a level of stress on the homes where the migration occurs.

Starting today, we expect the return of our first college student.  Both of our students already have made their presence felt by convincing their brother to come to school over the weekend and provide use of his truck to bring to our home most personal possessions and furnishings.  Of course, with no thought of where these items would be deposited, the brother and I spent Sunday afternoon carrying things to storage and upstairs to bedrooms in preparation for the migration.  Why do we have to handle the migration and all of its baggage also?  The migration is like taking a business trip, where when you reach your hotel you find your favorite big screen TV, chair, couch and reading materials.  Not to mention a full wardrobe of clothing that most likely has hardly been touched (but was needed just in case)!

For months we have enjoyed a lifestyle that includes sleeping through the night at what most of us consider normal hours.  Beginning tonight, I can almost hear the TV’s blaring through our home at 1am, waking me up to the sound of Jersey Shore reruns.  Not to mention that I am accustomed to getting out of bed and not worrying about the bodies deposited on couches throughout the home.   Did I mention the food consumption and lack of parking?  Or finding myself blocked into our driveway by multiple vehicles when trying to leave to go to the office?

My wife and children consider my attitude about this migration a sign of my senility.  They may be right.  I am increasingly a creature of habit.  Just like nature, the migration affects my habits and it causes conflict.  The good news?  Jobs!  Yes, get the student employed quickly in a job where they work eight hours and are tired by late evening!  This seems to make a huge difference in the adaptation of the student to it’s new environment.  If they can’t find one, create one for them!  You are not running college housing and the migration needs to include a rapid adaptation program to the lifestyle of the remainder of the home.  Unless you also have high school students who will be out of school in a month.   At that point all you can do is plan vacations and disrupt the patterns.

True, we love having our kids back home.  It is the adaptation process that is a true test of our patience and now a part of our recognition of summer.  I think I now understand the real reason people  purchase summer homes!


Addiction To Social Media

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I just read that Chicago University researchers have found that tweeting or checking email can actually be harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes!  I spent the last five minutes finding the link to the article so I can tweet it to my followers.  Can you believe this?  Can’t speak for cigarettes but alcohol?  Guess I can’t speak for alcohol either.  I am a light drinker.  I better send out a clarification via Twitter and Facebook (since Facebook receives a feed from my twitter).

These researchers also found that as the day dragged on, willpower became lower when it came to using social networking sites, and the temptations grew stronger.  I can tell you right now that is nonsense.  I wake up at 6am and immediately review my Seesmic feed of all the people I follow, on all of my accounts, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Late in the day I get weaker.  That is nonsense!

Darn it..everybody is tweeting about Angelina Jolie’s Oscars dress and the link is dead.  Better Google it.  Wooooo…

So, where was I?

These researchers also think that the desire for these media is harder to resist because the price is  Well, they might have a point there.  Free is a good thing..though nothing that is free lasts forever.   These sites will find a way to creep advertising into their media streams…you just wait.

I think it is so great that so many of my friends send me their horoscope sign every day.  Somebody is “in for a frustrating day with a friend today and their attitude will be greatly affected.”  I hope that friend is not me.  Probably not, I have never met this person even if they call me friend.  Wait, I can click here to view the full horoscope.   Oh, boring..that just takes me to some page that wants access to my info.  I bet if I click on that all of my friends will start getting my horoscope and won’t they be thrilled?  Oh, and maybe a few direct messages marketing products.  Think I will pass on that one.  Maybe more people should think that through before clicking “yes” on everything!

So, the logic in this study is that social media is free making it a bigger addiction than cigarettes or booze because those things cost money.  The researchers are also noting that traditional addictions take tolls way beyond money, while social media takes what?  Time, logic, a nagging persistent feeling that your followers are waiting for you to say something?  It seems this nagging feeling causes many people to make public statements that I often feel like responding with a “WTF?”  Look it up.

Or, really good people who decide that their social media presense should be emphasized with the latest multilevel marketing scheme they are involved in.  Social media is pretty similar to multilevel marketing so I guess I see the logic.   I just hate being tempted all day with vitamins, toys and candles being sold by my friends.

Somehow I have a friend who is Spanish and I can read only a few phrases they publish.  How did that happen?   Does he get annoyed by my posts in English?  Maybe I should ask him..Google offers a translator function.  Maybe I should post in multiple languages?

My favorite day in social media was when across my desktop I received a tweet that somebody I actually know was feeling much better after they had relieved themselves.  Really….ever hear of too much information?

The study, which will appear in Psychological Science, finally makes the point that the biggest loss for addicted users of social media is a thing called time.  I think I could have figured that one out without a fancy Dr. next to my name.  I am so glad they have confirmed this.

How did I hear about this study?  It was tweeted to me..of course.  Now, please excuse me.  I am getting nervous I have not checked my feeds in the last five minutes.


Attack of the Conehead!

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Our puppy Buddy came home yesterday with a cone on his head and without his manhood.  Now, most of you will know what I am talking about and realize that this is just a normal rite of passage for male puppies.  I have had three male dogs and all of them have made the trip to the vet that caused each “he” to become an “it”.

It is the cone that has my attention.   Plastic cones are used with dogs to keep them from licking their wounds if you know what I mean.  There is an old joke about that with men but it is not appropriate to recite here..just leave it to be said that Buddy is very unhappy not being able to inspect his private areas.  I thought about adding a picture to this post but decided it was more pitiful than fun and I might just get somebody who finds the picture cruel.   So, I stuck with what keeps coming to mind..the Coneheads from SNL.  Basically, the cone is a piece of plastic connected in a circle around the dog’s neck and extending to a wider opening just beyond the dog’s nose.  Not really like the Coneheads of the 1980’s but the word just seems appropriate.

Anyway, something about this cone on his head has made it so Buddy can’t get through doorways without banging the cone and almost ripping it off his neck.   Buddy seems just fine and is moving through doorways with no loss of speed.  Suddenly, his cone clips the wall and he does a quick stop and looks around like “what the heck?”

I thought he would have trouble eating but I forgot, he is a dog!   They can figure out how to eat the smallest crumb that finds its way all the way under the couch.  A cone presents little problem.  What does he care about the mess he makes?  If he could talk I’m sure he would say “thats what you guys get for giving me this ridiculous cone and not letting me lick myself and feel better?”

So, this morning Buddy really let me have it.  Not sure why I am the target of his frustration because my wife Jennifer took him and picked him up from the manhood doctor.  I can’t be associated with this whole act.  I guess he just knows Jennifer will sleep through anything.  Buddy jumped up on our bed..right on me, and swung the cone straight across my face.  Then a second time to just make sure I understood how upset he is.   Who needs an alarm clock when they can be knocked silly by a dog wearing a plastic cone?  The perfect start of my day!   Now I am certain somehow Buddy is blaming me.  Everybody else around here can do no wrong so it must be the grumpy old guy’s fault.

Soon life will return to normal around here again.   The cone will be removed and Buddy will be free to roam around the cabin, if you know what I mean.   As a person who has owned a dog for a long time, I know the cone will return one day.   When it does, I will make sure to remember the awakening I experienced this morning and discuss with Buddy it is only fair he share the cone with him Mom next time.