An Open Letter to Comcast / Xfinity

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Ramblings

Hello,

My name is Stacie Huckeba I have been a customer of Comcast for over eight years.

I realize that it’s a dirty little secret and you don’t like to talk about it, but c’mon, between just you and me, you can admit it. Basically you have a monopoly on internet service, at least in terms of speed. It’s ok, I like money too. Nobody is happier than me when I deposit big fat checks. Sadly, I’m not quite as “connected” as you guys.

I’m a photographer and I think I’m really good, unfortunately, I live in a town with a plethora of talented photographers so I can’t just sit back and be lazy. I’ve sent emails to the Mayor, and Governor and even my Senators and Congressmen asking that they put in regulations to make sure I am the only photographer who can use professional and top of the…

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Happy (belated) Birthday Internet!!!

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Happy belated birthday internet!  Where’s Al Gore!  Let’s shake that man’s hand!  Oops, you mean to tell me he really didn’t create the internet?  It’s true; he did not.  I’m fairly certain I’m at least a decade past the prime of making fun of Al Gore and the internet – so does that make it retro?  Besides we all know that Al Gore invented global warming – DAMN YOU Al Gore!!!  In honor of this wonderful time in human history, known simply as Electronic Babylon or How Humanity Forgot to Communicate While They Communicated, I have decided to give you the top 5 biggest ways the internet changed my life – excluding porn, because that’s just too easy of a softball to hit!

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 #5.  Shopping Addictions!  Let’s face it, as a guy I hate going shopping, but I love buying shit.  The online market place, not to be confused with the healthcare market place – a place where nobody can buy anything, has opened the door to a whole generation of male window shoppers.  I can’t tell you how many baskets of sports supplements, audio equipment, car stereos (wtf, my car stereo is already great,) running shoes, computers, and cell phones that I’ve had to empty after I remember I’m too poor to buy any of that shit whether it’s online or in store.  Maybe the best part of online window shopping is price comparison; I can literally price compare the different brands of the adult diapers I’ll end up wearing in 30 years, it’s fucking fantastic.

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 #4.  Emotional Detachment.  A real added bonus to the internet is the lack of actual emotion I have to feel for people.  I can text bad news, good news, find out about a dead loved one, and it’s like it’s already at a distance.  I’ve got students breaking up with each other on Facebook.  Hell you can practically get laid without actually touching the other person with apps like Snap Chat or Kik.  It’s an amazing time to be alive.  I can disengage from any actual conversation I have and plug into my virtual life, where I don’t have to worry about responding poorly, having consideration for others feelings, or stalking.

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 #3.  Chronicling every step of my Life.  I have an extremely exciting life as you can tell from my social media life.  My kids are growing up as you can easily see – day by day – every move they make, from eating strained peas to pooping on the toilet for the first time.  An orchestra concert, yup!  There’s the video and 20 pictures to go along.  Letting everyone know that I worked out today, and I burned “X” amount of calories, and had a sanctimonious I’m better than you fruit smoothie for breakfast, while I brewed my organic fair trade coffee.  Step by step to my grave you get to follow the story of my life!  Hmmm, is that what that 1 Directions song is really about?  Ohhh, I just had another thought – status update – tweet tweet!  Hashtaging your hashtag!

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 #2.  Adult Onset Content Driven ADD.  I never had ADD as a kid or pre-technology boom; however, as the revolution has become a hand held device world, where I can watch Netflix, YouTube, and scroll Twitter and Facebook, clicking on links, taking surveys, and finding out which Muppet character I am, I have developed a Web Content based form of ADD.  I NEED to check Weather Bug a dozen times a day, that’s normal, right?  I cannot fall asleep without one more article from Huffington Post, RT, Buzzfeed or my new guilty pleasure Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy.  Just one more game of Ultimate Puzzle – I’m actually not a video game player – takes too much time sitting in one place – if I could walk and type on my laptop I would.  My attention flies in and out as quickly as Flappy Bird was popular.  At dinner time, when all the devices are off I bounce my knee up and down waiting impatiently for the next input I can get – Luke, you want to play Legos?  Let’s build – this may be a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.  I’m sure none of this has to do with my anxiety.

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 #1.  (Speaking of anxiety.)  WebMD and the Self Diagnosis!  Perhaps the greatest gift the web has given me (us) is the ability to be a complete hypochondriac when I want.  What’s that pain in my chest area?  A coronary event?  Lung cancer?  A hematoma?  What the fuck is a hematoma anyways? That headache HAS to be an aneurysm.  “I’m absolutely positive the only way to find out what is wrong doc is to do a CT scan.”  I mean hell, I created AOCD ADD in #2 above – I’m certain this is a real condition or should be.  I’m sure doctors love WebMD and the fact that their really expensive medical degrees get used like toilet paper by Junior College drop outs who are experiencing pains in their guts that aren’t tumors but constipation brought on by fast food diets, extra large Cokes, and cigarettes.

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I didn’t say that the internet changed my way beneficially, and I didn’t include porn – which really could go either way; but really, has technology, has the internet, improved my life?  I don’t know.  I guess it has given me a place to write absurd shit like this, but as far as usefulness, I suppose it’s better than the US Postal Service or the public library.  

Around The Water Cooler

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It’s been quite some time since I last posted on The Frontal Lobe, which isn’t surprising.  Given my initial desire to write a blog and my usual excellent follow-through, I’m surprised I even know the log-in information for my WordPress account.  Thank goodness for, “do you want Google to remember your password.”

This is certainly not to say that I haven’t actually written anything, I’ve written quite a few things, all of them lousy and uninspired.  I wrote a mock interview with a narcissistic blog writer who was full of himself, I’m not sure what part of my ego that catered to, but in the end it was trash, and definitely deserved a sarcastic mocking hashtag most likely created by sister—who upon reading that sentence will now look to create a sarcastic mocking hashtag for this post.  Maybe I just hate the word blog so much that I am repelled from creating content.

Psst.  I have a secret!  I know exactly what keeps me from writing exactly what I want to write.  It’s my profession.  You see, I am a teacher. Image

When you work in a cubicle for a monolithic, massive, chain, grocery, coffee, fast-food, company, you have every right and are even expected to bitch.  If you don’t bitch, you’re considered a do-gooder that is probably trying to brown-nose your way to some position where you can crap on other people.  However, in education you are not allowed to utter the negative feelings you have about your job.  If you do, people think you must be in the wrong line of work, and they’ll look to fire you.

Breaking news, teachers don’t always like their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good at them.   Doctors don’t wake up everyday and say, holy crap I love seeing the same sick fucking people every week, guess what you sick fucks, try and take better care of yourself, maybe cut down on the cigarettes and cheese curds and take the fucking stairs for a change.  Nobody goes and tells the doctors that they’re in the wrong profession.  Unless they say that to your face.

Teachers are human beings.  Just because we take in your precious gems each and every day doesn’t mean that we are not inclined to the occasional I-hate-my-jobitis or your kid is a actually a C student rant.  Oh, I hear all of the teacher-haters out there saying, “but you get summers off.”  And, now I’ve said too much – the golden calf is out of the box – summers off!!! 

You see, even this minimal amount of dissatisfaction is frowned upon.  We have the same water coolers, we have the same slow talkers, skittish bathroom users, and the funny guy who wears suspenders.  We have bosses and systems that make less sense than you can imagine and the redundancy of our line of work is staggeringly epic.  Let’s be honest, we’re an institution that is modeled on Government with a capital G.  We are the kings of acronyms.  Our TPS report have TPS reports and at least 2 memos and 1 meeting in order to accurately disseminate the information.  The codes and rules of governance are ripe for blogging about, but…

We’re teachers.  We love our jobs.  Each and every day is sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops; we sing cumbaya during circle time, (actually we don’t do that song because it mentions “lord” and that’s a no-no in our business,) and we go home refreshed to live our extravagant lives.  Obviously, we make plans to visit Tahiti and save whales in Alaska, because as teachers we make so much money we can actually use it to start our wallets on fire.Image

“But you get summers off.”  If a teacher gets summers off then it’s because they have another bread winner in the house that brings home a real salary, or have been doing it so long, that when they started the copy room had a typesetter and printing press.  The other 90% of us do something else, we do summer school, we tutor, we work at retail jobs – which are amazing places to work at if you want to bitch – we wait tables and bartend; but trust me, it’s a glamorous life that none of us ever ever ever bitch about.

Note:  To any future employers considering me for a future position, please view this is an example of my ability to write, not my attitude towards my job.  (Shhhhh, they’re listening.)

10 WAYS TO SPEND YOUR NEXT POLAR VORTEX

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Until this year nobody except Meteorological nerds knew what a polar vortex was or how they worked.  Now, everybody knows what a polar vortex is, and it will quickly make the top 10 most hated words/phrases of 2014 (quickly joining such favorite hated words/sayings like hashtaging your hashtag, fiscal cliff, Obamacare, and oldies but goodies like WMDs and Gen X.)  Frankly, I’ve gotten sort of use to it being below zero, and have resigned myself to a forever winter – we haven’t seen a temperature above 32 in the last two weeks, and have an average of about 7 degrees so far in February.  So, as we embark on the frigid waning weeks of February I have compiled a list of 10 fun activities for everyone to tackle during their next polar vortex, vortexes, vortacies? 

10.  Flip your mattress!  According to mattress.com, which is apparently a real thing for all things mattress related, “New mattresses should be rotated, on average, every 3 months. But use your best judgment and if you feel a bit of a sag or can see one with the naked eye, it might be best to rotate your mattress more often. And make sure you don’t forget your foundation! Your nightly slumber can weigh heavily on a box spring as well, so rotate your box spring every 6 months, but be sure to never, EVER flip it.”  There’s nothing like wrestling with a 50lb mattress so old that it bends in half like soft shell taco.  What’s even better is you can rope others into helping you with this fun an often over looked task.  

9.  Friend and stalk former girlfriend/boyfriend that really pissed you off in the past on Facebook.  Comment on everything they’ve ever posted, and use lol even (or especially) where inappropriate.   As an added bonus friend their current partner/spouse and hope they blindly accept the friend request – repeat annoying behavior.  Unfriend once polar vortex has concluded.

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8.  Download and play Flappy Bird.  The addiction that is Flappy Bird will have you tossing your smart phone across room rather quickly.  Flappy Bird is about the most basic game in the market place and requires you only be able to rhythmically tap the screen to make a little bird flap its wings and navigate obstacles.  Heather Kelly of CNN writes, “The game’s fluttering rise to the top has been a viral mystery. Its addictiveness and absurd level of difficulty have driven many to the brink of madness and spawned a number of online rants and hysterical reviews.”  Give it a go, and don’t forget to pen a suicide note before hand.  

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7.    Begin reading War and Peace, the proverbial greatest (and longest fucking) book ever written.  Many have tried, yours included, and failed – I’m certain I purposefully left it one apartment or another during some move while living in closets and coatrooms in Chicago.  I tried reading that book when I was in my 20’s living the Hemingwayian writer’s lifestyle, with very little writing and a whole bunch of drinking.  It was very seedy, often dirty, and totally unproductive – at least that’s what the 40 year old me tells myself.  Reading the 1400+ page book isn’t necessarily a literary accomplishment, but you certainly do earn some bragging rights in your book club. 

6.  Watch The Shining, because nothing says I love being trapped inside my house like Jack Nicholson.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

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5.  Figure out what Twitter is for.  This is primarily for those over 35 who have Twitter accounts, but are uncertain of just why the hell they only have 140 characters to say something.  These people are also addicted to Facebook, and frequently debase themselves for the amount of time they spend clicking like and not actually reading the article. #wtfistwitter

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4.  Watch reruns of Bay Watch, because who doesn’t love David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson running around on the beach saving lives.  I’m pretty sure the show got a little out of hand when they got abducted by aliens – but that was just Tommy Lee, and that’s a different video anyway.  This epic show certainly didn’t inspire me to run off to California and become a life guard, but knowing that Hasselhof dies an epic death on stage in Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical makes a body happy.

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3.  MINECRAFT – while not personally addicted to this video game, if my daughter is any indication it must possess an addictive drug that makes it nearly impossible to stop playing, watching YouTube videos about, and talking incessantly.  I can tell you there about 1000 different mods, and a entire dictionary to understand exactly what the hell a mod is and the rest of the language you have to speak in order to play this game.

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2.  Read Apple’s Eula – or better yet, let Richard Dreyfus read it for you!  Yes, Academy Award winner Mr. Holland lent his baritones to this epic reading.  Pay close attention to the “Effective Until” recording – priceless.

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1.  Make list of things to do during a polar vortex that you will never actually do, but believe are just witty enough to share with the rest of the world or the 17 people that casually follow your blog.

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Biggest Loser Loses Out

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Years ago when I smoked cigarettes and sat on the couch eating Skippy peanut butter out of a vat with chocolate chip chasers I’d watch the Biggest Loser and feel bad about myself then switch to ice cream or Oreos or perhaps both.  The Biggest Loser became sort of running joke for a couple years between my wife and I; we’d laugh at our culinary shortcomings and watch people of all ages transform their bodies from the morbidly obese to the fit and functional, and some even to the athletic and svelte.  

Eventually my wife and I ditched some bad habits.  Perhaps it was having Bob, Jillian, and Dolvette silently mock us season after season, but we finally joined the YMCA near our home.  It was rough and I can still remember my first workout, a 3-2-1 group workout (a glutton for punishment) that was 3 minutes of hell, 2 minutes of devil worship, and 1 minute of having my fingernails pulled out 1 by 1, repeated over and over again for what felt like eternity.  Let’s not be confused here, I only did 50% of what everyone else did, and the other 50% of the time I cried or gasped for my last breath of air or both – being the only male in class this only doubled the shame I felt as I watched any ego get stomped out by the 60 year old grandmother, Sophie, who was on her second class of the day.

Time passes and heals all muscles, although very slowly in the beginning.  My endurance picked up, I was able to run the mile.  I hadn’t run a mile in ever.  Even in high school I walked the mile, in protest, because I couldn’t run it mainly.  Pounds started falling off, and dietary practices began changing.  My wife worked hard to clean up our food choices; we’re now to the point where we eat mostly whole food – I still cheat too often.  I ran my first (and second) 5k’s and am shooting for a (sprint) triathlon this summer – all of this while undergoing two shoulder surgeries.  It’s been 2 years now, and I’m down 30-40lbs of fat weight and added who knows how much lean muscle, and I feel better than I have in ever.  I trashed my body with bad choices for most of my life so I’m grateful it stuck around and decided to still work.  I find myself today teaching two Spin classes a week at my Y, and seriously considering going after personal trainer certification.  I credit the show Biggest Loser for helping motivate me, for developing and showcasing individuals who change their body, mind and soul.  These individuals go from Death’s door to living rich full and active lives, many of whom use their experience to motivate others to create their own success stories. 

This past season of the Biggest Loser ended with what can only be described as a monumental fail, an epic fail – the very idea that the Biggest Loser champions against – ill health.  The winner, Rachel Frederickson, lost 60% of her total body weight, finishing at 105 pounds.  She looked emaciated and in very ill health.  Bob and Jillian, the show’s two most veteran trainers looked at her in horror, as well they should.

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I by no means consider Rachel to be a bad person for her results; I think she just simply wanted to win too badly.  By no standards does she even remotely resemble a healthy person.  In the previous episode she looked fit and athletic, there was no way that she could have safely lost the remaining weight she did. 

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I don’t know if there is fault to be cast, but I believe that the Biggest Loser needs to regroup and evaluate their criteria for a winner.  Healthy living and healthy weight should be the standard by which Biggest Loser should brand itself.  Rachel Frederickson embodied neither and there is no justification for how she looked.  Allowing her to win sets an ugly precedent, and if the show or trainers don’t address what has happened then I fear that a future contestant may pay the ultimate price in trying to win.  Losing weight and changing one’s life is something to be championed, we should all seek to live healthy, stay active, and help others do the same when you are able.  The Biggest Loser will certainly face criticism and backlash, and I’m sure they’ll weather the storm; I however, will not continue watching the show until this issue has been addressed.  I encourage others to put pressure on the show to acknowledge the pitfalls and dangers that Rachel has placed herself in by losing an unhealthy amount of weight.  This season the biggest loser was the Biggest Loser.