Sunday, December 20, 2015

First Big Fight

After 9+ years of marriage, my wife and I are gearing up for our first fight. I don't mean a spousal argument, but rather throwing on some boxing gloves and trading punches. I should probably explain this a little better before you get the wrong idea and call the police for domestic abuse. My wife and I are going to start working out together by means of a little fun and friendly hand-to-hand combat.

For my wife, this is an opportunity to take the kickboxing workout videos she's done in the past to the next level. For me, it's something I've always enjoyed and a form of exercise I am actually likely to keep up. (It doesn't hurt that it involves both of us and my wife already has excellent workout habits.)

It all came to fruition this morning while my girls were playing a boxing game on the Wii. My wife (Sarah) asked the girls if they'd like to see her punching with real gloves. Within a few minutes, Sarah had my daughter's boxing gloves on and I had punching mitts for her as targets. I have to say she's a pretty good pupil and therefore a fast learner when it comes to punching technique. We even spent a few minutes working on her sidekick and front roundhouse kick.

We have decided to go ahead and get sparring gear for each of us so we can use this as an ongoing form of exercise. As I alluded to before, I am not great about sticking to a workout routine. I need something that I actually enjoy if I have a chance of maintaining a routine. I have always found martial arts to be a great cardio workout. Considering I have high blood pressure and some extra weight to lose, this may just be the ticket. There is more than just exercise involved though.

There aren't that many things my wife and I get to do together all that often anymore. It's kind of fun to have an activity that we both enjoy...while helping me get a bit of exercise. (Sarah would workout regardless.) Considering we both have many of the same stresses (life isn't always a dream) this is also a way for us to get our minds off things that are stressing us and burn off some tension.

Self Defense
Knowing how to throw a punch (and take one) is a good first step for self defense. After just 20 minutes in our first session this morning, Sarah already has the ability to blind and drop an attacker so she can then escape. OK. So that part probably meant more to me than her, but she did have fun punching and kicking. I did tell her that I wanted to work some other self defense techniques into our workouts. Learning how to get out of holds or how to do a take-down is a good cool down exercise.

I think this is the beginning of something great. It improves the odds of me successfully sticking to a workout routine. It give my wife and I a bot of together time where we have the added benefit of blowing off steam (or stress). It makes me feel better about my wife's ability to defend herself should the need arise. It will also eventually build confidence for my wife should she ever have to use it for self defense. Last, but certainly not least, it paves the way for me training my girls in the same techniques in the future. I'm already off to a good start in that light as my older daughter already has a nice back fist-punch combo.

I'm really excited about this...even more so because I know Sarah is excited about it too. I wonder how long I have to wait before teaching her some knife fighting skills. Maybe we'll wait and see how the punching, kicking, pressure points, joint locks and take down moves go first. Until next time....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Small Stuff Matters

It seems to be a semi-annual, knee-jerk reaction on my part to get fed up with Facebook and think about deleting my account forever. Any time I have gone ahead and deleted my account in the past, I ended up logging back in just a few short weeks later. I admit, the overall benefits of social media outweighed my irritations with it.

My problem with Facebook has always been the way it tells me what it thinks I want to see rather than what I "tell it" I want to see. Most of you can probably relate to the annoyance that is formerly known as the "News Feed." Looking back, the news feed has always been the reason behind me deleting my account out of irritation.

My problem last year was almost funny. The problem I was having then was that my wife's posts weren't showing up in my news feed. Of any posts showing up in my news feed, you would think my wife's would. We are friends on Facebook. I am officially "following" her posts on Facebook. She is listed as my "wife" on Facebook. (Yes - We are Facebook official.) After all of that, you'd think Facebook would catch on and actually allow her posts to show up on my news feed. Apparently they have other ideas, but that's not what's been irritating me this week.

My current irritation is the "suggested posts" that Facebook is inserting into my news feed. I understand the advertising part - they are a business after all. What blows my mind is the stories it suggests to me. More importantly, how far off they are from anything I have ever read, liked or shared on Facebook.

If you were to scroll through my personal Facebook profile (not my average jester profile - since that's just my blog posts) you would see a bunch of posts about how I’m a Christian, gun-loving, right wing conservative American patriot. For some reason though, Facebook feels the need to push its liberal agenda on me anyway.

All my suggested posts (by Facebook) are anti-Christian, anti-gun, pro-baby killing, anti-American liberal garbage. How in the world is that possibly a “suggested post” for me? I’m sure some of you are going to say I’m paranoid, but it feels a lot like a liberal indoctrination. It’s certainly not suggesting anything I would actually want to read.

For the most part, I don’t have a problem with views differing from my own. If you don’t like guns – don’t buy one. If you don’t love God – my opinion is the least of your worries. If you want to believe in climate change – go ahead. The point is…those are things some people want to read about. I’m clearly not one of them so why suggest it to me?

Now back to the title of this post, “The Small Stuff Matters.” My little rant about Facebook’s idea of what I should be reading may seem trivial, but the small stuff is what really gets to me. Little things like this are trying to sneak in under the radar. They are the most dangerous. Now I probably have a few of you shaking your heads in disagreement….so here’s an explanation of how I look at it.

You’re probably thinking that since I proclaimed myself to be a gun-loving patriotic American that I would spend a lot of time focusing on gun-grabbing legislation rather than complaining about Facebook indoctrination. The reality is that gun legislation only means so much. It’s nothing new. There’s always an anti-gun agenda. In my mind, if it really got to the point of gun confiscation, it wouldn’t really matter what the law was because there would be a revolution.

The anti-gun agenda is a big thing, but not something I’m going to worry about. It’s in your face, out loud and pretty straight forward. Yes, it could go horribly wrong at any moment and a revolution would tear this country apart, but it's too far out of my hands to sit and worry about it on a daily basis.

The small things like Facebook bias, media bias, and the garbage you hear about teachers getting away with in the public schools these days is terrifying. (The liberal, anti-American indoctrination of our children is a topic I could easily do a series of posts about - which is why I chose the simpler Facebook example today.)

The “big worries” of today, like the next mass shooting or terrorist attack, are certainly something to be vigilant about, but the chance of it actually affecting you personally is pretty slim. The “small things” like bias in the media and schools is an everyday threat that affects every single one of us.

To that I say feel free to worry about the small things. If you keep dibs on the small things, keeping track of the big ones is easy.

I realize this wasn’t my typical post, but sometimes when I feel like writing something, I just can’t let it go. Have a great week. Merry Christmas! (I won’t censor myself on that.) Until next time….

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wii - Now We Are Having Fun

So the last time I personally owned a video game system of any kind, it was similar to the old school Atari shown in the photo. Thanks to the generosity of my sister and her husband, my family now has the added joy of having a Wii in our house. As far as gaming systems go, I think the Wii is about the best (and possibly only) option for our family.

Although I have spent my fair share of time mindlessly playing video games over the years (a number of years ago anyway), there is a reason we haven't had one in our house up until now. Most importantly, we didn't want our girls to get used to sitting around playing video games when they could be doing something more active. I have been pleasantly surprised with the active possibilities with the Wii. I've also learned a few lessons.

Don't challenge your children - They will win
It took me all of about 5 minutes to learn that my girls pick up on the games ten times faster than I do. I already knew they had ten times the energy I do. Put those two facts together and you can guess who wins most of the games. It only took me a few days to learn that tennis is my sport. I only say that because my six year old beat me in every other game we played from shuffleboard to boxing. Yes. My daughter beat me at boxing...I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Playing Wii does NOT calm kids down before bed
One little scheduling glitch I have found is that my game playing time with the girls seems to work out best after dinner and before their bath and bedtime routine. You would think that a few high energy rounds of games would wear them out and help prep them for bed. I know for me anyway, a number of rounds of the Wii Sports Resort games followed by a hot shower would put me right to sleep. Not so with kids. It seems to make them wild and crazy.

Video games can be great exercise
On the bright side, I think this might prove my wife's point about how exercise gives you more energy. This Wii might just be the best of both worlds. It's fun and entertaining while also "forcing" you (me) to be active at the same time. My wife and I setup our Wii Fit profiles tonight. Although I'm not sure how accurate the initial assessment was, I am looking forward to seeing how I progress....while still having the fun of playing video games.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this Wii can help me stay active during the remainder of our Minnesota winter. (Technically, that's not much of an excuse this winter considering how mild the winter has been so far.) I think it's going to be a great opportunity to have some family fun while getting a bit of exercise. I'll let you know how it goes. Until next time....

Friday, December 4, 2015

Autocorrect Is Smarter Than You Think

You've probably seen the collections of text-messages-gone-wrong floating around your favorite social media sites. They draw me in every time. I have been known to literally laugh out loud while reading some of them. It's actually gotten to the point that if I'm looking at my phone and laughing hysterically, my wife will just ask, "Text message mishaps?" Yep. Got me again. My favorite "seasonal" text-gone-wrong is this one:
Guy: "I'm outside defecating and it's getting all tangled up. Could you give me a hand?"
Gal: "Ewww. Gross. No way!!"
Guy: "Decorating! I'm outside decorating. I'm hanging the Christmas lights and they're getting tangled...."

This made me think about the times autocorrect has really bugged me. (Side note: According to my Google search, "autocorrect" is one word, but Wordpress keeps telling me I'm spelling it wrong.) Ok. Back to MY problems with autocorrect...because that's what you really want to hear.

My biggest problem is the word "girls." I use it all the time and it's NEVER right. Being the sole man in a household of four, everything about my family involves me and "my girls." Whether I'm referring to just my daughters or my wife and daughters, I typically say "my girls." Well, my super smart smart phone is constantly giving me not so subtle options to use other than "girls." Here is the "progress" I've made so far with the word "girls" while texting:

The definition, according to the Oxford online dictionary, describes a Gurkha as "a
 member of any of several peoples of Nepal noted for their military prowess." An extended Google search will show you pages upon pages describing their fierce fighting style and even a few pictures of their traditional 18" long fighting knife called a kukri.

Although I don't intend to refer to my girls as my little Gurkhas, it's really not that far off. If you don't believe me, stop by our house some evening around bedtime when my two little Gurkhas are over-tired and downright cranky. Every toy they pick up suddenly looks like an 18" fighting weapon....and believe me, they know how to wield it.

I finally got sick of manually typing in "girls" every time I texted my wife to see how they were doing, so I followed the excruciatingly difficult process of removing the word "Gurkha" from my phone's dictionary. (Tech tip: When you type a word and it gives you a bad spelling, tap and hold the incorrect word for a second and it will pop up a message to remove that word from the learned dictionary. Not sure how it "learned" the word in the first place since I don't recall ever wanting to spell the word Gurkha prior to this post.)

Perfect. Everything's fine now, right? Nope. Autocorrect just found another incorrect word to use. I would be upset, but the new word is still fitting.

The definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary  is (abbreviated) a "teacher or guide" or "a person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject."

My girls fit that to a tee. They're always trying to teach me what they learned in school each day. They certainly talk like they have a lot of experience and knowledge in any topic that may come up. In fact, they often challenge the minute details of everyday occurrences regardless of the facts and/or who witnessed them firsthand.

Truth be told though, I really think I learn more from them on any given day than they do from me. If you took a little time to read through some of my older posts, you would find that I have often related lessons learned from them to the "real world" in regards to customer service and general employee management. I still haven't decided if that means my girls are really smart or if your average employee acts like a kid.

I have since removed "guru" from my phone's learned dictionary as well. I guess I will have to find a different word to describe myself in text messages going forward. For the most part, I have actually had my phone write "girls" when I swipe the word "girls." I have noticed a couple of times recently that it autocorrected it to "forks," but I can totally explain that away as well. I just don't have enough time right now to explain just how much my girls and I enjoy food....and there are often forks involved. Until next time....