Category Archives: General

Perspective

Reddit has a fascinating feed known as “Shower Thoughts” — a stream of random thoughts and nuggets of wisdom that were, hypothetically, conjured in that brief span of time each day we spend cleansing our minds and bodies. Some of these really crack me up and are just pure humor. Some aren’t as funny as the writer intended. Some just give you a “ha! Never thought of that!” moment. But interestingly, the ones that intrigue me the most demonstrate the use of perspective. Sometimes when you look at things from a different angle, you see them quite differently. And by ‘things’, I don’t necessarily mean physical things (though, that too), but the intangible things.  For example:

“You know you’re getting old when you agree with the antagonist in teen movies. The principal in “Ferris Bueller” was just trying to make sure a troubled teen got an education, and he’s the bad guy?”

Now, if you’re a kid reading this, you’re probably thinking “Who the heck is Ferris Bueller?” But if you’re an adult, like me (as in, not old, but old enough to remember being a kid), your reaction will likely be similar to mine. Ironically, I was just thinking something similar the other day while listening to Simple Minds “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, which made me think of watching Breakfast Club.  It struck me that “wow – Principal Vernon was just trying to help those kids and they really worked him over!” While once I sided entirely with the kids, now I find myself empathizing with the adult. (In writing this, I discovered an awesome blog discussing this exact point – check it out!)

What's your perspective?So what changed? Simply put, it was my perspective. As a kid, I could only see things from a kid’s point of view. Now that I’m grown, I’ve discovered the other side of the fence. But I’m not forgetful, either.  Some folks are — they lose touch with their ‘inner child’, and forget what it was like being young.  Or they are so ‘set’ in their current position that they can’t bend to look and see what the view is like from elsewhere. But aside from reflecting on childhood, the ability to recognize perspective can have a great impact. It can teach us about things like right and wrong, good and bad, and forgiveness and tolerance.

Sometimes we rush to put folks on a pedestal, and we lose our perspective. We ‘whitewash’ the elements of a person that we want to forget, usually those which do not fit the image we want to have in our minds. This typically occurs with famous people, especially the likes of those who have done ‘great things’ or who are well-accomplished. It’s easy to highlight the lines we want to read and skim over the rest. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, Dr. Martin Luther King plagiarized (and cheated on his wife), Mark Wahlburg was once charged with attempted murder for a racially motivated attack that left a guy blind, and Kim Kardashian made a video (that I will not link here) that should definitely prevent any girl from looking up to her. But yet, people still flock to these people. Why?!

In three days, Donald Trump will be our 45th President. Maybe you voted for him, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you like him, maybe you don’t. Maybe you preached unity and tolerance until the election turned out differently than you hoped. Maybe you fear the worst, or just you just know things will be bad. Or maybe you think the next four years will be just what the doctor ordered. Do we really know? I can say one thing with certainty, and be 100% correct — I really do not know. None of us truly do. We can only speculate, based upon how we view past events. We paint pictures based on what we see — but does yours looks like everyone else’s? Is the other person wrong because they saw something different? Does your painting have any shades of gray? After all, who amongst us can predict the future?  So regardless of where you stand now, maybe your picture will change with time (for better or worse). Perhaps all we need is to find is a little perspective.

~Mike

Saving Sears (it’s too late!)

It was announced today that ‘Sears Holdings Corp.’ is closing 150 Sears and K-Mart stores and (*gasp*) selling the Craftsman brand to Black & Decker (for $900 million!).  This makes me sad, really. I spent a lot of time as a kid thumbing through the Sears catalog for my Christmas wish list. I spent just as much time as a young adult, thumbing through the Craftsman catalogs for my next tool that I had to have. The Craftsman quality and guarantee are what pulled me in and kept me coming back.

So what happened with Sears? I think they got too big for their britches. Sears started off selling goods that people needed through catalogs. But their decline, I think, really started when they stopped issuance of the catalog in 1993. The Internet wasn’t even a factor yet!  It was how people shopped from home BEFORE the Internet. Sears’ failure, from my perspective, was the ‘go bigger’ mentality. To me, this is the failure of many public companies, who are always chasing the elusive earnings-per-share increase. Sears became a ridiculous amalgamation of companies that had NOTHING to do with retail. They tried to make their stores bigger. They bought other chains, such as K-Mart and Lands’ End. Bigger, bigger, bigger! Their website has been a mess for years, when they tried to become a ‘marketplace’, selling from unreliable sources that are not related to Sears. They became a store that had no identity. Was it an upscale department store like Macy’s? A discount department store like K-Mart? A hardware and lawn/garden/patio store? Or was it an appliance and electronics store? Inevitably, they were the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’.

To me, they truly missed the boat with their ‘Sears Appliance & Hardware’ and ‘Sears Hometown’ stores. THAT could have been the future of Sears, and probably would have been great for long-term growth. Instead of going BIG, they needed to go smaller. There’s a reason that retailers such as Rural King and Tractor Supply Co. are growing. Their specialties are more narrow, despite offering a variety of things (hardware, home/garden, pet/livestock, clothing, hunting/fishing). But in typical Sears fashion, they half-@ssed it. They converted former K-Marts or opened these stores in bland buildings. They operated them like discount/outlet stores. They had no identity.  They failed to offer an EXPERIENCE, which is what shoppers want today.
Continue reading Saving Sears (it’s too late!)

Requiem for an ’80s Kid

Came across this article the other day while perusing Flipboard and thought it was really well-done. From Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) to Bowie, Prince, and now Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), it seems 2016 was a hard year for those of us who grew up in the ’80s. Probably because most of us are now well into our 40’s, putting many of our TV/Movie/Music heroes into their 60’s (or older) now.

At least Tom Cruise, Madonna (barely), Rob Lowe, John Schneider, and the girl from the Night Ranger ‘Sister Christian’ video are still in their 50s! Unfortunately the other Toms (Wopat and Selleck) are now drawing social security.

Anyhow, if you were a ‘child of the ’80s, you’ll likely appreciate this article… Requiem for an ’80s Kid

Hoping everyone had a very Merry Christmas – here’s to a safe (and less dreadful) 2017!

~Mike

Happy Friday

Once upon a time, the time period before the holidays always seemed so quiet at work. Everyone brought in food and the atmosphere was more relaxed as many folks were on vacation. But not anymore! For the past few years, things have been so hectic/crazy. I’m looking forward to my vacation in a week!

On another note, I’ve been putting some thought into to do with this blog. One of the things (e.g. products) I think I’ll bring out is things I recommend. Those who know me well know that I spend a TON of time researching pretty much anything I purchase. Like,  lenghty, painstaking, “read every review and blog” type research. The upside is that I don’t have to return many things, and I tend to get great deals on stuff. The downside is that it is sometimes very time-consuming. But I know some folks have made purchases based on my recommendations, so why not share what I’ve learned? Even if I don’t profit from it, it will at least make my time more worth it. Stay tuned!

Have a great weekend!
~Mike

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is ‘Pearl Harbor Day’ – a ‘day that will live in infamy’.  Some events in American history really stand out, and this is certainly one of them.  Many people – both soldiers and civilians – lost their lives that day, which of course launched our involvement in WWII.  Although I was not born until 1972, I feel it was still well-etched in the minds of people at that time. Now, 75 years later, memories are fading but fortunately not forgotten. National Geographic actually has a really nice site with interactive multimedia dedicated to this sad event. To their credit, they have finally removed the horrendous ads which plagued the site for a couple of years. I encourage everyone to check it out here and spend a little time just exploring and understanding:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pearlharbor/

You can also read an engaging eyewitness account of the day here:
http://saturdaybriefing.outrigger.com/featured-post/eyewitness-to-history-75th-anniversary-recollections-of-pearl-harbor/

Say a prayer today for those who lost lives, loved ones, or who gave up their personal freedom as a result of this event. But also say a prayer for our country and leaders. Terror strikes a new face these days, and divisiveness is stronger than ever. But I feel confident that Americans will always rise to meet those who threaten our freedom. God bless America – may our flag forever wave.

Why this blog?

Some folks might question why I’ve added blogging to this site. Actually, I’ve been blogging for several years – first with Microsoft Live blogging, then WordPress.com, and then to my hosted blog (the former ‘thoughtnot’ blog). I closed that blog up a few years ago when I found I just didn’t have time to focus on it. It was also running an older version of WordPress that didn’t auto-update as easily, so every update was a major time-consuming pain.

I’ve been a writer (of sorts) since my high school days. I prefer short stories, poems, and small musings. Notice I didn’t say I was a good writer, but I try. 🙂 I enjoy having someplace to share my thoughts, but social media, for me, is not the place. I avoid Facebook like the plague. In fact, I’m pretty sure Facebook IS a plague.

This site – mikeandemily.com – may seem like a strange site name to host a blog. But it does represent my thoughts and our lives, to an extent. Maybe someday I can get Emily to blog. lol! For now, I thought it was silly to pay the annual fee just to save the sitename and point it to a static page. So why not use it? Hopefully you’ll join me here from time to time. I like getting feedback/conversation on stuff I post, so feel free to chime in. Maybe I’ll keep up with it better this time!  (Also, please excuse any strange issues that come up for a while as I work the kinks out of the site configuration. Thanks!)

~Mike