Monthly Archives: January 2019

Teens Engaged by the Presidential Election

Mary, the “mom”

My thirteen-year-old daughter recently observed that she and her friends are much more aware of the current presidential election than she remembered being four years ago. She follows the news and the polls and watched the debate. She wondered whether this increased level of interest was just because they were older (although her sister who is four years younger is pretty aware), or perhaps a result of a Social Studies teacher they all had in seventh grade who really brought politics to life. While I’m sure both of those points are relevant, I think this election has everyone a bit more engaged than in recent years.

First, there’s the historic composition of the tickets – the first African American man to be the presidential nominee of a major party the first woman to be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. As many have pointed out, whichever party wins, this election makes history. Second, I think, is the theme of “Change”. This is a concept teens can really relate to. Finally, I think it’s the way the internet has changed how the candidates interact with the public. The campaigns both have Facebook and MySpace pages and appear regularly on YouTube, a surefire way to reach young audiences.

I think it’s wonderful that these young teens are following the election and educating themselves about the issues. My daughter won’t be quite old enough to vote in the next presidential election, but if she stays this engaged, by the time she is old enough to vote, she should be quite an educated voter.

So, Rach, are you into this election? “Dad”, are your daughters following it closely? What about the rest of you, do you find your kids more engaged in the political process than in the past?

Rach, the “teen”

I’m pretty invested in this election. I credit this to the fact that I am old enough to vote. I voted in the primaries, and I plan to vote in the presidential election. The last election, the one in ‘04 (when I was 13), had little effect on me. I had no real feelings about the whole thing. It seemed silly that young teens would be so invested in something that essentially had no effect on them at all.

The thing is, when I was thirteen, I was forming strong opinions on things that didn’t seem political to me at the time. I thought politics was all economy and oil prices and attacks on our country. I think being politically involved as a young teen is awesome, as long as your political opinions and views are your own. And not a mirror of what your parents, or what your society says.

Anyway, now that I can vote, I am much more interested, because I’m realizing that this really effects me. My health, my education, and my human rights are all on the line. And that’s a scary thought, knowing that I am in charge of me, and my voice won’t be heard unless I stay active in politics.

Brad, the “dad”

As a long-time political junkie (my own father was actually a local politician when I was in my teens), I’m actually a bit disappointed: neither the Valkyrie at 17 or the Elf at 14 are particularly interested in THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. I suspect it’s a bit of typical parental backlash: Dad and Mom are SO into it, the girls are already bored by it before it begins. This is further enhanced — or dis-enhanced — by some bad birth-luck: The Valkyrie turns 18 literally the day after the election, so she can’t vote, and — particularly with so much else going on during her first month in college — she just can’t get herself interested.

The funny thing is, they’ve both made up their minds — they made them up a long time ago. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the importance of the election (though the Elf has told me that if I say, “Hey! You’re witnessing history here, damn it!” one more time, she will kick me in the shins.); it’s just that — among their peers, anyway — it’s virtually a foregone conclusion, and entirely non-historic. Mixed-race candidate? They have friends that look like Obama. Women running on the ticket? Mom may be bursting with pride, but their reaction is basically, “Well, duh, what did you expect?”

I find this oddly encouraging. What seems too revolutionary to old fogies like me is just business-as-usual to them. Of course, there will be African Americans in high office (Los Angeles has a Latino mayor, after all, as the Valk pointed out to me recently, so what is the big deal?). And of course, there will be women in the White House sooner rather than later. And the fact that they see it as more than just inevitable — as what already is – actually gives me hope for the future.

Maybe this tale is already told. Maybe the ‘change’ we’re all so eager for, regardless of your party affiliation, has, in fact, already happened in the hearts and minds of our children…and we just haven’t noticed yet.

Now that’s the kind of change I can believe in.

My New Year Rant-solutions!

Around this time of year, many people look back over the year and start to make resolutions for the New Year. What did I do wrong? What can I improve on? Not me! I spend WAY too many Februaries filled with guilt disgusted with the fact I couldn’t keep any of my resolutions! So this year I am starting a new tradition…telling everyone I know what THEY need to work on! After all, …it is all about me….

  1. Is it at all possible for my family to remove all Kleenex from their pockets before they put their clothes in the wash? I have clocked in way too many hours sitting on my laundry room floor picking small wet blobs of tissue off my shirts.
  2. Can the “10 items or less” rule be enforced in check-out lines? Could the conveyor belt be rigged to shock a person when that 11th item is placed on it?
  3. Can drug companies put all “possible side effects” info hidden on all their packaging so we hypochondriacs don’t experience “tremors, diarrhea, headache, nausea, blurred vision, dry mouth, weight gain, hair loss and/or hives” BEFORE we even swallow the pill?
  4. Can the reality TV people put a show out where gorgeous, slim perfect people be forced to have reverse lipo, stretch marks added to their tummies, a matched set of bags put under their eyes, chin hair implants and their teeth dyed to match corn? Now THAT is a show I’d watch!
  5. How about all dog owners made to follow a mandate where a computer chip is installed in their dogs and speakers added to their bedrooms where the dogs barking is amplified 10 times. Sweet!
  6. Rude people come with a MUTE button….
  7. People that drink to excess can all be recorded on video and forced to watch themselves looking like demented circus monkeys for hours!
  8. Can children once again start being held accountable for their behavior and can the parents step up and not be afraid to say NO to Jr.?
  9. Could all celebrities be taxed for all the stupid stuff they do? If ya make it on the cover of the Enquirer…PAY UP! Lindsey alone could have built two schools by now.
  10. Could everyone put down the cell phones, pagers, iPods…and listen for once…to each other…to that inner voice…to the sounds around you and maybe you might learn something! Happy New Year everyone!

50 places to find free eBooks

Reading on your iPad or Android device is one of the most effective ways to actually, you know, read. In other words, you’ll actually read things that you probably would not have normally. The ease of use of your iPad iPhone, and not, Kindle, and other mobile readers makes it extremely simple and fun to quickly pick up a book and start reading.

But where do you actually find some of these e-books? The following list details more than 50 separate e-book websites where you can download free and legal e-books. These e-books are for your iPad, Kindle, Android, and even your Mac and PCs.

Some of my favorite websites to download e-books include the American libraries Internet archive. This one is a great one this number four on the list because it details descriptions of each book and contains many free books and free text that you would not normally find a lot of these other websites.

I also like boatyards.com, digital libraries.com, and daily free books. A lot of these focus on specifically iPad or Kindle and don’t necessarily offer a lot of open books. However, they are free and depending on your device, a great place to find hundreds of books that you would normally not find anywhere else.

Ranch Dressing Pour vs Squeeze Bottles

This is a small, petty one, but one that bothers me nonetheless. Our family consumes plenty of ranch dressing. My family did I grew up in, and we continue to do so. My wife is the only one that prefers most anything other than ranch, but the rest of pretty much stick with it. The ranch is pretty much a staple at most restaurants I go to as well, but that is just an incidental.

What gets me is the newer bottles dressings come in, particularly ranch dressing. Some of them have started including a squeeze style spout that makes it much handier to control the flow vs the old standard pour method. There are some bottle styles where you know they will include the new squeeze style, but if you have a standard style bottle, it is a bit of hit or miss. Our local store doesn’t always stock the “known” bottle style, so when we purchase a regular bottle, it is pretty much hit or miss. We have looked the bottle over, and there is no indication which style spout you are getting.

I know, big deal, right? I beg to differ. When you have kids under the age of ten, and multiple of them at that, having a flow control spout is a point of interest. This is especially true when your previous bottle was a nice controlled version, and the new one isn’t. Kids and us adults for that matter get used to simply tipping over the bottle and squirting out how much you want. With a regular pour spout, this approach brings an unwelcome surprise. “Have a little salad with your dressing” is the common joke for the situation.

With a dressing such as a ranch, I just can’t see why you would ever not want a spout that controls the flow. Does anyone really like globs dressing spaced throughout your salad instead of a nice spread out small stream?

Of course, if I was really doing it the right way I would do the fork-dip method the weight loss programs suggest, but then that wouldn’t be all that much fun now would it?!

State of the Union Commentary 1

State of the Union Commentary

This likely is more noticeable when you are on one side of the opinion than the other. It is no secret that I simply don’t like politics. I generally don’t agree with the national media in most opinion, so I hate the bias and general pushing of opinion that we are bombarded with every time there is anything on the media. Even as President Bush is entering the chambers for the State of the Union tonight, the journalist covering the event is rattling off stats about how Bush has lost such and such approval ratings, the problems in Iraq, etc. Just cover things that are happening now, don’t try to shape them with your bias. You will have plenty of time for that after comments are made.

State of the Union Commentary 1 I don’t agree with everything this presidency has done, but let’s cover things with some attempt at unbiased coverage and leave the opinions for the appropriate times. I guess it does give me something to complain about, so there is an upside to everything!

The State of the Union is a lot of posturing for the current presidency anyway – does anything specific ever take place because of what was said at one of these big-time speeches? Uh, I’ll answer that, nope. It has been and become more of just of a wish list of where we hear what we want to hear and hope that it is true. I just hope that a portion of what is said can begin to take place. We need a major overhaul in the way our government is running, especially on the way money is spent. We can operate within a budget, even if it will have some short term pain. We can curb the fat and appropriate the available funds into better programs. I hope it can happen someday soon, no matter what party does it.

State of the Union Commentary 1On another note, how many channels do we need the State of the Union simulcast on? Oops, I hit the channel changer…no worries, it’s on this channel too. Good thing I really don’t watch all that much broadcast TV, so I don’t have any shows to miss. 🙂