WFB June 2016

Charge it up

Wouldn’t life be simpler if everything used the same charger?

It sounds utopian, I know, but just think how much having a single charger for every electronic device you own would be.

In doing a quick mental inventory between my home and office, I counted no less than six devices I use on a regular basis that each require a separate charger.

And since I am so far behind the times technology-wise, I know that is a conservative figure compared to alot of people.

Cell phones, digital music players, portable data assistants, GPS units, recorders, cameras… the list is seemingly endless.

Until they get around to inventing the ultimate multi-tasker, that combines all these functions into one, easy to afford unit, there will always be a need to power these devices. And none of the manufacturers can seem to come up with one cord to do the job.

My new cell phone was the same model as my old one, just a newer version. So why do I need to have an entirely different charger?

There must be a lot of money to be made in the charger business, for that can be the only reason everything requires a different cord. Plus, you are going to need a separate one for your car and home… and probably it wouldn’t hurt to keep one at work. So that is three cords for one device right there!

And that brings up another problem: when I purchase a new electronic gizmo, I am stuck with yet another charger. Compounding this problem, I have a severe aversion to throwing anything away so I have a box filled with a rat’s nest of tangled chargers and useless devices.

I found five different remote controls from VCRs and DVD players that have long since ceased to function. No less than 12 chargers from old cell phones, PDAs and MP3 players. Others belong to some item that I can no longer remember, let alone find.

Yet, rather than tossing them all into the garbage, they went back into the box with the fanciful belief that they may all be useful again one day.

What is wrong with me? I can’t even toss out an old charge cord. I wish there was an easy way to recycle them, and I don’t think there is a market for them since you could go to your local electronics store and buy a new charger for about $15.

I imagine that I could list them on an auction site, since there has to be someone looking for a power cord to a Commodore 64 computer out there, but I don’t think that is worth the effort.

I am not one to ask for congressional assistance, what with all the other “important problems” they are already working on (sarcasm), but there should be a law that all rechargeable devices should have a universal charge port so that a single cord could power them all.

After that, they can get back to holding hearings on whatever scandal is driving the news this week.


There is nothing in the world better than a good hamburger.

I prefer mine cooked just a little over medium-rare, with some lettuce, mayo, mustard, ketchup, fresh onion, a pickle slice and a sprinkling of black pepper.

But it’s not just about the condiments for me, a good burger has to have a nicely flavored base- namely the meat.

We’ve all eaten a hockey-puck that sat on the grill for too long, of a factory-molded disc that just doesn’t seem quite right.

But sometime in the near future, we may be eating hamburger that was grown in a lab.

Recently, scientists in Europe held the first-ever taste test for such a burger; comprised of meat grown from cattle stem cells.

A team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, led by Mike Post, used muscle cells from two cows that were grown in a nutrient solution, then linked together into a patty.

The cost for the one burger- a whopping $332,000.

Two “lucky” food tasters were offered the chance to sample the meat, and weren’t exactly overwhelmed by the taste. They did say that it was “close to beef,” and with a little tweaking (plus some ketchup) it could pass as real food. The problem, they say, was the meat was extremely lean, with no fat at all, and food experts agree that fat in a burger is what gives it the best flavor.

The extreme cost for one burger, and the taste, mean we won’t be eating lab-beef anytime soon, but it is getting closer.

It is a pretty significant achievement since food shortage could soon be a global problem. As the population continues to grow, and farm land gets turned into developments, it stretches our resources and it gets harder and harder to feed everybody.

Plus, there is the environmental aspect of the cattle industry. A 2006 report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization states that the meat industry contributes 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and it is growing as countries like China are producing more meat.  That’s a lot of cow flatulence.

There is a lot of science going into creating food products from lab-grown materials. Beef is only the first step.

Soon, we may live in a science-fiction type world where when we want to make dinner, all we need to do is pour some protein glop into a machine and out pops a full-course meal.

Just think what that would do to all the cooking shows on television. We’d have no need to buy cookbooks, because all we would need to do is push a few buttons for anything we want.

If I am ever offered the chance to eat a lab-burger, I probably will take it. I would like to see what it tastes like. I’d like to get a head-start before we all end up eating it anyway.

But for now, I’ll stick to my good-ole’ farm raised beef on a bun.

Father’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday that gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so. But Father’s Day seems to get second billing.

On Mother’s day – cards, flowers, gifts and family dinners all serve to honor the ones who gave us life. Dads, despite the clichéd tie, usually fail to get the same recognition.

Maybe it is part of the macho mentality and dads around the country don’t like the extra attention, or maybe it is the simple fact that flowers and jewelry don’t seem like apropos gifts for the man who gave you life.

My Dad is no longer with us, but his influence on my life is evident every day.

As I get older, I realize with each passing day how smart my dad really was. Like most kids growing up, I questioned my father’s wisdom on more than one occasion. Looking back I can see with wiser eyes what he was trying to teach me.

I would like to take a moment and thank my dad for some of the things he gave to me.

He gave me the confidence that I could do anything I set out to do, and the humility to know when to admit I was in over my head.

He instilled in me the knowledge to own up to my mistakes when I make them, and not to rub it in when someone else fails.

Dad taught me that most pain is only temporary and to not be afraid of new situations. It goes back to my baseball days. You are always told to “keep your eye on the ball” when you are up to bat. For a kid, having a hard object thrown at you can be a frightening thing, but you have to learn to stay in the batter’s box and trust that it won’t hit you.

Sometimes it does, and you just have to shrug off the pain and get back in there.

He taught me sometimes, hard work is unappreciated, but important just the same. Some nights, when I stumble back to the house after a 12-hour day, I remember all the times dad was called out in the middle of the night for an emergency, or the weekend plans that got put on hold because of a job he had to do.

I know now that he would rather be with us, but he knew that if he didn’t do what was needed, we wouldn’t be able to afford the things we had and the food on our plates.

His experiences made him the man he was, and he spent most of his life passing that knowledge on to me. Even when I didn’t want to listen.

Mark Twain once famously said: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Those words are amazingly true.


Do you know what I really miss? 

The Gong Show.

That’s right, the 1970’s variety show that featured wacky acts and oddball antics from the host, judges and contestants.

While not exactly groundbreaking television, the brainchild of genious/nutjob Chuck Barris, the show certainly found a niche and helped define a decade. 

Nothing much of substance came out of the Gong Show. By my research, only two acts made it big off the show, and a handful of others (Pee Wee Herman for example) got famous on their own years later, and who is to say that they didn’t get a boost of confidence from making fools of themselves in front of Jaye P. Morgan?

They certainly didn’t do it for the fame, a winner only received a dirty sock and $516.32, not nationwide attention and offers to make a reality tv show. 

That’s why my main love of the show was the fact that the people that appeared did so just to have fun. 

Today, it seems the only people want to appear on any sort of television show have an ulterior motive. Namely, they want to be famous.

And “famous” is a word we throw about way too casually these days anyway. 

I don’t watch American Idol, but I certainly heard too much about “Pants on the Ground Guy.” 

I want to know why? 

Sure, it may have been a funny bit, and everyone deserves a laugh now and again, but for it to spread across the globe and the guy offered a recording contract? Come on, are we that starved for entertainment that this guy is the “next best thing?”

To be fair, he isn’t the only “celebrity” to grab hold of the comet’s tail and ride it for the full 15 minutes. 

It seems that every week there is a new “media darling” that pops up on the internet, and soon, every news show has to at least mention the newest fad.

It is a symbiotic relationship. The person gets exposure and a possible paycheck, while the networks appear to be “hip” with their viewers. 

In a way, I empathize with these people. Why not cash in when someone’s handing you a blank check? Why not make a few million for doing virtually nothing? 

Corporate America is full of people like that; we call them CEO’s. 

It just bothers me that we pay these people any attention at all.

Why do we care about the Kardashian’s? Or whoever is the flavor of the week?

What have they done to enrich our lives or society? Who will really care about them in 5 years, let alone a lifetime from now?

Back when the Gong Show was at its heights, we all know what it was, a funny show. We didn’t expect to see someone get a movie deal out of their appearance, and quickly forgot about them when the next week’s show aired.

All I know is, I still remember Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. He did his shtick, and moved on with his life. 

That’s the way it should be.

To the Class of 2016

This Saturday, as you don your caps and gowns and cross the stage to collect your diplomas, I want you to remember the moment for all it is worth.

You are preparing to take the biggest challenge of your lives to this point. You are embarking on a new world filled with obstacles, heartbreak and disappointment. But, you will also experience joy, discovery, wonder and awe at what lies ahead.

You weren’t even born when I was in your shoes and walked with my fellow classmates to the podium to start the next chapter of my life. It wasn’t that long ago, but the world has changed since I left high school.

For one thing, I was pretty sure I could find a job after college and I didn’t have to worry about my family losing their home, jobs or way of life.

So I have two things to offer you on your special day: an apology and a challenge.

First, the apology. 

I am sorry about the condition of the world you are about to inherit. For some reason, my generation, and the generations before me, didn’t exactly leave you a whole lot to work with. 

Somewhere along the line we got distracted by celebrities and inane causes. Instead of making the world a better place, we worried about ourselves. We were more concerned about what movie stars were doing with their pretend lives than to bother to develop ones of our own. 

We became greedy, shortsighted and narrow-minded.

We were more concerned with who was going to be the next American Idol than who was going to lead us. 

So you are about to enter a world with an economy in tatters, a job market where corporate CEO’s are more concerned with the almighty dollar than with quality workmanship or the well being of their employees. 

America is in danger of losing its place as a nation to be admired and the leader in innovation and change. More and more people in the world look at us with disdain, or even hate. 

All because the generations before you lost sight of the ideals the country was founded upon.

For that, I am sorry.

Here comes the second part of my message to you; the challenge.

Do something about it.

You are among the most technologically advanced generations ever to be in existence. The advances in communication and computing ability simply dwarf what was around when I was in your shoes many years ago.

The things you take for granted every day, were not even dreamed of when I was in school. You have the opportunity to leverage the world you grew up with into a powerful tool for change.

Don’t squander it like we did.

There is still hope for us older folks. Many of us have seen the error of our ways and are trying to fix things. 

But the real change begins with you. 

Take charge, repair the damage we caused and shape the world into something we can be proud of. 

I know it won’t be easy, but I have faith that you will take up the challenge and do something to make the world a better place.

We have to have faith, it is all we have left.