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Archive for December, 2010

Happy Christmas!

So, supposedly there is a war on Christmas, at least if you believe  anything that Fox News says.  Of course, I don’t believe Fox News for  most things as they make more news than they report on.  What is even a more cruel twist of fate, evil irony, or just plain devil incarnate (Can  you tell how I feel about Fox News?) is that they report on the news  that they make up.  If you pay attention, you will discover this for  yourself, you do not have to believe me.

A war on Christmas? Really?  Here is the big issue, they hate the fact  that people are saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  So,  freaking what!?!  Are you telling me that if people suddenly begin to  say Happy Holidays instead of Christmas than the United States of  America will suddenly become a Muslim state?  Seriously?  Do you think  the Jewish people are complaining that people are saying Merry Christmas?  Find me one, just one! They don’t care.  What about the  Muslims?  Contrary to what Fox News might tell you, the Muslims that  live here, want to be here and like it here.  As a matter of fact, go  to your local Muslim owned gas station, and you know what will be  written on their windows?  That’s right, Merry Christmas.  They are not stupid, they know that their culture and belief system will not be  destroyed by experiencing the local culture, which is Christmas.

Santa the God Destroyer

The funny thing is, you know what is really killing Christmas?  Fox  News, no, just kidding.  Seriously, the killer of Christmas is Santa  Claus.  For those of you that may not be aware, Christmas is the  celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.  Santa and the shopping season  as so destroyed that concept that many people who I know make comments like, “We don’t have Santa with our kids.  We are not Christian.”  That is an actual quote from a person that I know.  The idea that people  equate Santa and the commercialism of gifts and Christianity is the  real killer of Christmas.  If you know me, or read my blog, you  probably know that I am a Christian and we celebrate the birth of Jesus in our home and I don’t give a flying Fahrvergnügen if you say Happy Holidays or not.  Why should I care?  You can say Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or Rad Ramadan (you like that? Just made it up) to me and it won’t affect my beliefs.  The biggest lesson that most people need to learn is that “What you do ain’t got nothin’ to do with me!”  So, don’t let Fox News convince you that you are doing something wrong by saying “Happy Holidays”.  Since when did it become wrong to care about not hurting other people’s feelings.  As a matter of fact, it sounds like something Jesus would do.

Oh, and you left-wing, tree-hugging, liberals, I got something for you  too.  Chill out!  Do you know what the most popular holiday in the US is?  That’s right, Christmas.  And that’s a fact.  Well, I don’t know if it’s a fact, but I do know that if you are off of work right now, it is because of Christmas.  You know why?  Because you live in the United States of Frickin America, that’s why.  If I lived in Israel, do you think I would be complaining about Hanukkah?  Like it or not, if you live in the US then deal with the fact that Christmas is popular.  So, say Merry Christmas!  If you are offending someone, just say “Sorry, my bad, I did not realize that by saying Merry Christmas I was rejecting your culture, or claiming that your religion was wrong.  Or maybe you are just a little too sensitive about what I say as a greeting?  Maybe you need to reevaluate what you believe in if a two-word salutation by me is going to rock your faith or lack thereof.  Or maybe, just maybe, you need to be worrying less about what I am saying and more about how you can spend more times with your kids and wife instead of worrying about what other people are saying or doing.  Now, get out of my face before I go Bad Santa all over your ass.  Oh and by the way, Merry Christmas!”

So, the moral of this story is do what you got to do.  Say Happy 
Holidays if you like, you will not destroy Christmas.  Say Merry 
Christmas, and if someone is offended, then say sorry and move on, or try my suggestion above.  Regardless, I hope you have a great and loving time with your friends and family this holiday season.  And I believe that Gumby said it best, “Merry Christmas Damn It!”

Eddie Murphy as Gumby. Awesome!

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Over Thanks giving, my got mad because I hated the fact that I had to wait in line as a kid at the grocery store while she ran off and got something she forgot.  She pointed out that I didn’t mind it when she waited in line at Disneyland so that me and my friends did not have to wait going from ride to ride.  She is right, but I still hold to the fact that I hated it.  But it makes me think of my own kids as we take them to Mall of America for Christmas Eve, spend hours upon hours looking for the items that we know they want, or drive from place to place so they can go sledding, see friends, or go to the mall with friends.  And they have no idea what we go through to make them happy.  Just as I did not appreciate my mom waiting in lines for me at Disneyland, neither my kids will appreciate until they have kids.  Nonetheless, as parents, it is what we do.  Thanks Mom!  And Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.  I’m just sayin …

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I’m in Minneapolis right now, and it is the freakin’ ice age up here.  There is like 2-3 feet of snow on the ground and it keeps snowing.  What amazes me every year is the number of black people who I see living here.  Black folks and snow? Who knew?  I get the white folks.  They are crazy, but the black folks?  What is the world coming too?  I’m just sayin (Part Deux) …

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So, today is Wednesday.  You know what that means in the Woods household?  No TV day.  Isn’t that the craziest thing you have ever heard?  TV has given so much and asked so little.  A while back my wife requested that we have at least one day when the television is not turned on.  Of course my response was, “Why would we do that?”  “I don’t know, so that we could talk as a family. Get to know each other maybe.  Bond.” She replied.  Silliness.  Down right silliness.  Which brings us back to today, no TV.

The first time we did this, we announced to only Brett at the time that Wednesday would be no TV day.  He of course asked “Why?”  Mighty fine question son.  Leah explained the deal, and he again asked if we had to, looking to me for help.  I gave him a look as if to say, “We are on the losing team on this particular battle, son.”  Once he saw no help from me, he said, “Fine”.  I still remember that first night like it was yesterday.  Brett Jr. had gone to bed, and the first thing I do is turn on the TV.  Which of course met resistance from my wife.  “What are you doing?  It’s no TV day.”  “What?!?  You meant me too?  Why do I have to have no TV day?” was my response.  “So, we can talk.” She said.  “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Ugh, I say.”  Which brings us back to today, no TV day.  We have been doing this for several years now.  At has become part of us.  Everyone knows that Wednesday is no TV day.  I remember when my brother and his son was staying with us for a while.  I even made him obey the no TV rule on Wednesdays.  He was not impressed.  Of course it led him to want to move out of our home quicker, so that was a bonus buy.

We will have dinner tonight.  Go around the table and everyone will talk about their days.  After dinner, the boys will “play” fight until the 3-year-old cries and then complain to us that his older brother is being too rough.  To which we will reply, “Then don’t fight with him.”  Thirty seconds later, he is fighting with his brother again, until once again he is crying and the circle of life continues.  Once a little three year old energy has burned off`, at least a little, we will either play a game or watch a movie.  The choice will be affected by how tired we are, which is interesting, as I think most decisions in this house are determined by the adult fatigue level.  Which brings us back to today, no TV day.

Things have evolved over time.  No TV day has slowly become Forced Family Fun Day.  Sometimes it is good to not only NOT watch TV, but get out of the house and do something fun.  The first time we did this, it received the same resistance.  Brett asked me “Do I have to go?”  “Yes” I replied, “As a matter of fact I have to go too.” Hence the term, Forced Family Fun Day, as everyone is forced to enjoy the day.  This is probably mostly for me, as I can be a pill sometimes.  We will be having FFF Day this Friday, which means a second day of no TV.  How did that happen?  I’ll tell you how that happened.  It turns out that kids enjoy hanging out with the family.  Brett Jr. suggested we have family day later this week.  “Traitor! He has been turned over to the Dark Side!”  Well, what do you do?  It turns out my wife’s crazy brained idea has been adopted by the entire family.  Yeah, I don’t mind them either.  What’s a little Forced Family Fun among friends?

So, I will go without TV for two days this week.  I guess it is not a bad price to pay for a family that enjoys being around each other.  Makes you wonder if you shouldn’t consider having a No TV Day of your own, or maybe a FFF Day.  Of course if you do, and your family looks at you crazy, don’t blame me, I’d look at you crazy too.  No TV. Bah!

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You know what is funny?  I got up this morning and it was zero.  ZERO!  That’s cold.  On my way home I think the temperature was around 25.  Now, here is the funny part.  I took OFF my jacket.  In what world is 25 warm?  The Wisconsin world that where!  No one should live here.  I’m just sayin …

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So, over the Thanksgiving holiday I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of college.  It is really an ongoing conversation regarding the importance of getting a degree over starting your own business.  For example, Bill Gates is often brought up as a successful person who never went to college.  The irony of using Gates as an example is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may give more money to help students, especially minority students, go to college than any other foundation on the planet.  He even has a blog to encourage students to finish college (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/bill-gates-101011-improving-college-completion.aspx).  Nonetheless, our conversation has got me thinking what is the value of a college degree?

The focus of the conversation over the holiday was my nephew, my sister’s youngest who recently graduated from high school.  He has an interest in videography and is making plans on how to break into some sort of video business.  My sister owns her own business and has probably not worked for someone else in 30 years.  I am a professor, so it should be no surprise to my readers that I am pushing my nephew to attend college.  It is interesting, in many ways I feel as if we are fighting for my nephew’s soul.   Who will win?  The promise of financial freedom? Or the tried and true stability of the promise of an education?  Inspired by our conversations, I have decided to write this blog.  What is the value of college education?

Independence.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was how to live on my own.  With the safety net of home and parents limited (eight hours away in my case), I could not just run home every time I needed help or was struggling.  I was forced to figure out things on my own, and these lessons were invaluable to my development, both emotionally and spiritually.  I do not think I truly learn about MYSELF until experiencing college and being on my own.

Multi-tasking.  While in college one must study, work (I worked 20-30 hours per week), socialize, and juggle other important miscellaneous activities and still be successful.  This is a skill that I can’t stress enough to its importance.

Social Skills.  I have never met a more variety of people than I did attending college.  My experience was especially diverse at Berkeley, my alma mater.  To this day I remember having amazing conversations with my atheist friend, Connie.  We would get into knock-down arguments over God and religion and then after go for lunch or dinner.  It taught me how important it was to have friends that thought differently than me.  This is something I think most people are missing from their lives.  Trust me, it is important.  I do not want to be surrounded by people who think just like me.  It is not enriching, nor growth inspiring.

Exposure.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  One of the largest advantages to college is to be exposed to different subjects and ideas.  There is no other forum that a person can take classes and talk with others about economy, history, science all on the same day.  When I entered college I was planning on becoming a lawyer, but through various experiences at Cal, I learned that I loved animals and started the pathway that I am currently on.  Most students change their majors multiple times, but it is their opportunity to explore that I think is most valuable.

Higher Probability for Success.  The fact is that most people require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum to obtain a successful job.  Is it possible to be successful without a degree, of course, but the Gates stories are rare.  Even owning one’s own business is a risky adventure.  Most businesses fail in the first two years.  In 2008, 15.5 million people claimed to be self-employed and their median personal marginal federal tax rate was 10 percent, which is an income range of $0 – $8,025.  Only 4.1 % of the self-employed were in the marginal tax bracket of 33% or more (Taxable income of 164,550-357,700 for 2010).  The bottom line: being successful via less traditional means has a lower probability of success.

Finish What you Start.  This is my number one reason for going to college.  It teaches you to finish what you start.  The reality is that a Bachelor’s degree is not special.  It will not prepare you for a job any more than anything else, but what it will do is show a potential employer that you can finish what you start.  Think about how important this skill is.  Can you think of people in your life that don’t finish what they start?  Of course you can.  It might even be you, but this is a crucial skill.  The ability to overcome adversity to finish a task can not be overlooked or underestimated.  Having a degree says something about a person, and that’s a fact. 

And no, it doesn’t have to be a degree.  But we are impressed by people with accomplishments.  And being the best at Call of Duty doesn’t count.  So, get your degree, it is a wonderful accomplishment, but more important it will teach many things along the way.  Is it the only way, of course not, but if you find yourself not doing much these days, or wondering what to do next, it is not a bad way to go and you just might learn something.  Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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No matter what it is that you do, I hope you love it.  Do what you love and things will be alright.  I chose Berkeley because it had the most beautiful brochure of all the college material I got.  It wasn’t till after I got accepted to I realize that it was a good school.  Probably not the most intelligent way to pick a school, but it worked out and speaks to my personality.  I’m just sayin …

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