Tag: TV

Watching TV

⚽  We Americans, according to research studies, are more likely to watch television than engage in any activity other than sleeping and working.  Studies show that what we watch can shape our thinking, political preferences, and even our cognitive ability.  

Now, I agree with most of that statement, but I’m a bit surprised that it affects us cognitively.  The study goes on to say the evidence suggests that time spent in front of the screen can have negative consequences, particularly when the shows are mostly entertainment. The harm seems to come from the fact that it replaces more enlightening ways of spending time.  I think most of us will agree that we spend too much time watching that darn TV.  A daily average for my wife and I would be about 3 hours, and truth be known, that’s probably excessive. 

My first wife and I got married right after high school in 1959.  I went into the US Air Force shortly thereafter and she joined me in 3 months at Lackland AFB, TX.  Four months later I transferred to an air base outside Dallas (Perrin,) and we lived there for almost 2 years.  During those two years, we were without a TV for almost a year.  An Airman I worked with was buying a new TV and offered to sell me his old one on the cheap.  It was a black & white with a 12” screen and stood off the floor on thin legs that were about 2 feet long.  A small 45 RPM record player came with it and plugged into the back of the TV so you could listen to music thru the speakers.  I can clearly remember the first day I came home from work and after eating supper, sitting down with my wife to watch TV.  It was like having a movie theater in our home!  Every evening we were being entertained, and that felt so good!  But, eventually, we became accustomed to being entertained and the smile gradually left our faces.  And here I am 60 years later, watching TV without even a hint of a smile.  The one thing I know for certain is that TV will dumb-you-down faster than anything else in your life.  It requires nothing from you, and in return, never gives you anything substantial in return.  So, that begs the question, why don’t I go on a “No TV” sabbatical.  I think it is because TV has become ingrained as part of my being, becoming like an extra organ, and we all know you can’t live absent an organ.  Maybe I should concentrate on trimming back the amount of time I watch the blasted thing, or better still, apply the routine I use in smoking cigars:  watch TV every other day for a few hours.  Clearly, as confused as I am, I need to give this some more thought 😊.     

⚽  The young people amongst us are less likely to suffer in silence, but almost all of us are social creatures.  A lot of us hate to be alone, believing that if we are, we’re anti-social.  Solitude is not always good for us, but it can be, and should be, judiciously pursued.  Choosing to do things alone can have mental and emotional benefits.  Being alone with our thoughts and giving our mind free rein to wander can be exhilarating. It can be simple things, for example, I have an umbrella that I use when I go down the driveway to get the mail when it’s raining.  One of its rods had a broken string that kept the fabric tight, and it has been that way for several years.  I have often given thought to throwing it away and buying a new one, but I hated to do that just because of one broken string.  So, the other day, I sat down with that “broken” umbrella and started thinking of how I could repair it.  Sure ‘nuff, during that time of solitude, the answer came to me and now I have a perfectly fine umbrella.  Kinda leads me to believe I should do that more often😊. If you want to know my umbrella solution, let me know.  It was fairly simple.

⚽ Amish men take about 18,425 steps per day. Amish women take about 14,196. The average American adult takes about 4,000 steps per day. Only 4% of Amish are obese, compared to 31% of the general population.  

We have made several trips to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania and, I must admit, we have seen very few overweight Amish people.  It is amazing to witness how simple their life seems to be.  It reminds me so much of my life as a young boy at 5 years old.  We didn’t have electricity, running water, or even a bathroom.  I carried drinking water in a bucket from a well about a quarter mile from our house.  I lived with my Grandpa and Grandma McCoy, and neither of them had a paying job.  Grandma did housework for families located up and down the valley, and Grandpa mostly piddled around the house.  I’ll betcha if I had a Fitbit back then I would’ve averaged 20,000 steps a day.  On one of our trips to Amish Country, we took a ride in a horse-drawn wagon with an old Amish guy as the guide.  We took a tour thru a typical Amish home and in so many ways, with the simplicity I observed inside the home, it reminded me of my childhood.  They seem to take pride in the simplicity of their lives but, to me, it’s like having a wealthy family located in a poor neighborhood and the poor people not wanting to be like them. I could see the look of drudgery on the faces of the women & children whose entire day was filled with chores.  The only ones that appeared to be content with their lot was the men and boys.  I couldn’t quite put it all together, but I suspect that the boys were always up to some sort of mischief and the men probably had a hobby of sorts.  I observed that the men interacted with the public more so than the women. 

I want to think that it’s admirable for a group of people to elect to live such a simple life, however, I find it hard to accept because they expect their children to live the same way and if they choose a more modern path, they are banned for life.  I have a hard time understanding how you abandon a child you love under any circumstances.  Why not allow them to live their life and come home to visit when they want?  That’s always been the proper way to raise children. I’ll have to give it some more thought.  Maybe one day I’ll figure out their logic.  

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.”  — Helen Keller

I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives.  Until next time, be well….Tommy.

Lessons From Andy

On my top five list of all-time favorite television shows, The Andy Griffith Show remains in the #1 spot!  No matter how many times I watch any one of the 249 half-hour episodes, they never fail to give me a lingering smile and a few belly laughs.  I never tire of watching the old show.  It is my “go to” TV time when I need to just clear my mind, cheer myself up, or just relax. 

It first aired in 1960, two years before I was born.  The last episode aired in 1968.  As a child, I was not allowed to watch much television.  So, I wasn’t exposed to my all-time favorite show until my adult years.  I am very thankful for syndication.  I cannot imagine my life without having enjoyed the wonderment of such talents as Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and countless others who graced the world-famous Mayberry stage.

The Andy Griffith Show has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the most watched and enjoyed shows in television history.  I believe what makes the show so timeless is its humble and pure, all American roots, it’s strong family and community values that always tug at your heart strings.  And it is always served with a side order of comedy and a Southern twang.   

There is a lot to be learned from watching The Andy Griffith Show.  The “lessons” as I like to call them, are woven throughout the episodes.  Placed in true to life situations that anyone can relate to.  Strong morals are sprinkled throughout almost every story line.  Some episodes are just pure comedy of course, with the expected silliness and slapstick humor. But more than not, there is a good ole fashioned lesson to be learned in there.

My point being made by the fact that many Christian churches have chosen to use some Andy Griffith Show episodes to teach their youth life lessons.  Ones that can help them become more well-rounded individuals.  When I first heard of this being done in my own neck of the woods, I thought, “Wow, what an awesome idea!”  If more children watched The Andy Griffith Show instead of playing violent video games, I believe we’d have happier kids and parents.  Maybe I’m just dreaming, but the positivity offered abundantly in these episodes certainly can’t hurt.

Most of Andy’s lessons on the show are given to his young son Opie.  The on-screen chemistry between these two can have you believing they are actual father and son.   Every given chance, Andy is offering his boy words of wisdom and insight, that if collected and stored, will help Opie throughout his entire life.  Just like a loving dad should do.  But too many times in real life, that ball is dropped by a parent.  I think there are lessons for the adults in these episodes as well.

Over the years I have met many people who share my sentiments.  I no longer feel weird, or silly that I get so much joy from an old TV show.  I’ve concluded that if a person is also an Andy Griffith fan, then they are a person I want to get to know.    

So, if you have never watched The Andy Griffith Show, or it’s been a while, may I suggest that you catch an episode now and then.  And if you fall in love with the show like I did, you can binge watch on Netflix, or find the entire 249-episode collection on DVD.  You might want to check out the episode titled “Fun Girls” for your PG-13 entertainment.  And if you want to sit down and enjoy a good family episode with your children, I suggest the title “Mr. McBeeVee”.  These are two of my all-time faves!  Happy watching.   


Oh, How I Love Coffee

I have been drinking coffee all of my adult life.  My brother, Jerry, and I weren’t permitted to drink it growing up, Mom & Dad thought it was an adult drink.  We could, however, drink all the Coke & Pepsi we wanted.  So, for sixty years, I’ve had a morning cup of coffee (black).  I have been having some problems with my old ticker kicking into overdrive and racing up to 160 beats per minute (BPM) for about 5 minutes then quickly dropping back down to the normal 57-58 BPM.  I informed my doctor during my last physical that I thought I had A Fib (atrial fibrillation), but he thought it was tachycardia and, unless it got worse, I didn’t need medication.  Well, it has steadily gotten worse, so I did some internet research (naturally) and found that tachycardia can be caused by too much caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol.  Today (4/29/19) is my first day without my favorite Cup of Joe.  I am prepared for headaches, knowing they will arrive sooner or later, but I’m confident that eliminating coffee will solve my problem.  I guess I could drink decaffeinated, and I may eventually do that, but for now I want to see if that is indeed the cause of the problem.  I have been averaging 1-2 episodes each month, but the other day I had two within thirty minutes.  If it turns out not to be the caffeine, then I will visit my doctor for treatment.  An old Spanish Proverb says, “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools”.  That certainly hit the nail on the head.       

 This past December, I bought myself a drone (Mavic 2 Pro), a rather expensive one, that will return home and avoid hazards on its own. I have been patiently awaiting good weather, and it has finally arrived.  As I unpacked that beautiful masterpiece of flying technology, I was impressed by its simplicity.  The propellers were folded neatly above its body, the high definition camera dangled prominently from its nose, and the remote controller easily accepted my cellphone as the command center.  I immediately put the batteries on the charger and headed for YouTube to find instructions on how to fly the darn thing.  I’m inclined to believe that anyone that ever owned a Mavic drone has made a video on how to fly it.  I am quietly storing the web address of the videos I watch so I can return to them as often as needed.  One guy suggested that I go to the website, “Skillshare.com” and sign up.  Well, off I headed to that website and they wasted very little time in asking me to fork over $100 for a one-year membership.  I might be inclined to do that if there weren’t at least 50 other people willing to walk me thru the process for just the cost of my time. 

   I am so looking forward to this new learning adventure.  I think we should experience new adventures as often as possible, for that adds the beautiful colors to our existence.  We should constantly strive to add color to our lives and that can be done so easily.  I do that by visiting friends and family, going to church, attending plays/shows, and taking a vacation several times each year (retirees do that a lot!).  I have given thought to standing on a local street corner and shaking everyone’s hand as they walked by, but I have never gotten up the courage to do such a thing.  Who knows, maybe one day I will do just that. 

Richard Jefferies said it so eloquently, “Color is a sort of food; every spot of color is a drop of wine to the heart,”.      

 I attended a church service a few weeks ago and our minister was extolling the virtue of being a “believer”.  He then calmly asked the congregation if there were any “idiots” present.  Of course, no one raised their hand, and I made a point to sit on mine so as not to be tempted.  He continued by explaining that in ancient Greece those who did not contribute to politics and the community were known as “Idiotes”, originating from the word “Idios” which means the self.  If you failed to demonstrate social responsibility and political awareness, you were considered apathetic, uneducated, and ignorant.  Our minister continued explaining to us that if you think only of yourself and not the good of the greater community, then the Greeks thought you were an idiot.  Of course, our general definition of an idiot runs along the lines of making poor decisions.  To most of us, we interchange “Stupid”, “Dumb”, “Moron” and “Idiot”.  Probably, the most offensive is a “Moron”, but the other three run a close race and would offend all of us if they were used in a sentence to describe our actions.  I had a close relative, now deceased, that used the term “Stupid” often to describe someone’s actions.  I always cringed when she uttered that word, assuming that when I wasn’t around, she probably hurled that invective my way. 

I stopped using those nasty words years ago when I realized that by criticizing someone in that manner it was saying more about my character than about them.  In fact, I was removing myself from the group of people that occasionally made poor decisions and placing myself with the group of elites that assumed they never do anything wrong. 

I remember distinctly the first poor decision I made in my life.  I was four years old and I took one of mom’s hairpins and stuck it in an electrical outlet.  I learned from that, and it never happened again, but it did not prevent the avalanche of “stupid things” that have enticed me all of my life.  I can recall two very bad decisions that could have possibly been fatal, but I escaped free of any harm.  I’ll bet a lot of you can recall something similar to that.  I believe the best we can do is to resolve not to demean someone’s character by using words that deride their intelligence.  We have all deserved criticism of our actions, but seldom our mental capacity.    

 It seems like TV has always existed, when in fact the FCC first approved regular scheduling of TV broadcasts by commercial TV stations on July 1st, 1941 (I was 6 months old 😊).  My dad purchased our first TV ten years later.  The majority of people in our world cannot remember being without television, but it has only been commercially available for 78 years.  In 1951, the world population was 2.5 billion and today it’s 7.7 billion.  That’s an increase of 5.5 billion.  As a side note, the population during Jesus’ time on earth was approximately 170 million.  I was certainly unaware there were that many people during his time.  The world’s population in 5000 BC was 5 million. More people are alive today than have ever died.  That’s astonishing!

 I’m certain that eyelids are starting to droop a little with all that information, but it justifies my conclusion that often what we think has always been just isn’t true.  It also demonstrates how much our world population has increased in 68 years.  It has been projected that the world population will stabilize at 11 billion people in the year 2100 due to the birthrate per woman dropping from 2.5 to 2.0, or less. 

Most of the growth will take place in Africa, and Nigeria is expected to exceed the US population by 2050 (that’s really surprising).

The fastest growing segment of our population is the 60+ age group, and that surely poses a problem.  If you factor in the age group 1–22, you have a lot of people that contribute very little to the tribe.  That puts a lot of stress on the 23–59 age group and necessitates a steady increase in all sorts of taxes.  

It seems our world gets more complex each year and that encourages us to yearn for a simpler time, when TV stations shut down at midnight, you couldn’t buy alcohol on Sunday, and most stores were closed on Sunday to honor the Sabbath Day.  During those “Simple Times”, about 60% of the US population attended church.  Now, it’s approximately 15%. Our US government is so embittered that they accomplish very little and some of our citizens have lost their moral compass. 

So, how do we resolve the situation we’re in?  I believe that when we, as a tribe, determine that our existence is threatened by those outside the norm, we will take the necessary actions to stop their destructive inclinations.  As long as we, as citizens, feel safe in our environment, very little will be initiated by us to stop those with evil intentions. 

I recall that as a young man (age 18) in the US Air force, I was standing in the chow line for dinner and a big burly fellow bucked the line and stepped in front of me.  I had watched him do that dastardly act many times before, and I had decided that I would never allow him to step in front of me.  So, as he stood there, silently daring me to do anything about it, I reached forward, grabbed his collar and jerked him behind me.  He looked at me and growled.  I quietly drew a line in the dirt with my shoe and informed him that if he stepped across that line, I was either going to whip his butt, or he was going to whip mine, but the least that was going to happen would be that I would hurt him a lot (I used a more vulgar term for butt).  He issued threats that he said would occur later, but he stayed behind me.  I guess the point is, I did nothing when he jumped in front of others, but when he did it to me, I did something about it.  And that will be when we, collectively, do something about the meanness and evil in our world.

Brendan Francis said, “Get in a tight spot in combat, and some guy will risk his life to help you.  Get in a tight spot in peacetime, and you go it all alone.”  I believe he makes an excellent point 😊.