Friday, November 7, 2014

Life update!

Whoa! It's been a while since I've updated this blog. Actually, "It's been a while" might be the understatement of the year. A lot has happened since my last update on November 23rd of 2011:

1) I got married!

2) I moved to a different state!

3) I've got new family!

Those are some pretty drastic changes, to be sure. A few things have stayed the same, namely:

1) I'm still self-employed and my company turned 4 years old on October first.

2) I'm still a big Android fan and totally into technology. I'd better be, seeing as my company provides IT support to anyone that needs it.

I've made some great new friends & I've lost touch with some great friends - life goes on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm a Raiders fan...

You will get no apologies from me, either. I've been a fan ever since I was about 9 years old. I can remember playing football with my friends and then everybody going to their homes to watch the Bears play. This was back in the mid-1970s. Anyone from Chicago can tell you how bad the Bears were back then. It was actually embarrassing. Even the arrival of Walter Payton did not make much of a difference in the win/loss column. There was no other way to say it: Back in the middle to late 1970's the Chicago Bears were BAD. Actually, the early 80's were not kind to the Bears either.

I usually had the TV to myself back in those days. Watching 6 hours of football was the norm for me. After watching the Bears routinely lose week in and week out, I started noticing the Raiders were on consistently at 3 PM on Channel 5. I'll never forget the game that made me a Raiders fan. The Raiders were playing the Chargers and Raiders Defensive End John Matuszak sacked the Chargers quarterback. Matuszak stood over the fallen quarterback and the quarterback tried getting up which resulted in Matuszak putting his hand on the Chargers quarterback's facemask and shoving him back down to the ground. I sat there in awe. THAT was how football was supposed to be played.

From that point forward, I was watching the Raiders play. The Raiders didn't win every game, but they sure fought like hell...and they put fear into the other teams. I remember my mom letting me stay up late on Monday nights, when the Raiders were on MNF. They actually did win just about all of those games. The Raiders were unstoppable on MNF.

Me & my sister around 1979. Notice the Raiders shirt...

As I grew up and peer pressure entered into the picture, I started catching flak for my love of the Raiders. I didn't really care though. I actually loved the notoriety that came with rooting for the bad guys. I was completely drawn in by the Raiders mystique. True story: I was out with the family at a department store and I was wearing my Raiders football jacket. I remember these two older men nod their heads at me when we passed. One of them said to other, “My man's rootin' for the right team”. I held my head high the rest of the day. I remember being at my Grandma's house, in the back bedroom sitting in front of the TV when the Raiders beat the Browns in the playoffs in 1981. I begged my parents to stay until the game was over and they did. I made a scrapbook from the newspaper clippings when the Raiders beat the Eagles in the Superbowl that year.

I was in high school when I bought my first Raiders jersey. I still have it, as a matter of fact and I was on cloud 9 when the Raiders crushed the Redskins in the Superbowl back in 1983. My love of the Raiders runs deep. So deep, in fact, that I got a Raiders tattoo back in 2003. On my bucket list is to go to Oakland to see the Raiders play.

There's more to my love of the Raiders though. I'm proud to say I am an Al Davis fan. I think if more people knew what Al Davis did for football, they would have respected him more. Al Davis took care of his players, often hiring them after their playing days if they needed work. He paid for funerals for other teams players. Let that sink in for a minute. He actually paid for the funerals of players that didn't even play for the Raiders. John Madden was quoted as saying “If you were in trouble and could make one phone call, that call would be to Al Davis”. That's the kind of man Al Davis was. He was fiercely loyal to the people that were loyal to him and to the Raiders organization. That's classic “us against the world” mentality and something I can really relate to.

I'll never apologize for it, but I'm an Oakland Raiders fan. Raiders forever, baby!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keep your hands off our classics!

A brief Twitter exchange tonight with Ali Baumann aka @ABaumann really stopped me in my tracks. Is the entertainment industry so devoid of originality that it has to keep re-making the movies and music of the past? Why does Hollywood and to a lesser extent, the music industry, seem intent on trying to make the classics better? Do we really need to see a 2011 version of "It's a Wonderful Life"? Do we really need to hear a 2011 version of Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight"?

I really don't think we do. Hollywood, leave our classics alone!

I really have to give Ali the credit for this blog post.

Exhibit A:

Here is my list of 10 movies that should be "Off Limits":

  1. It's A Wonderful Life
  2. Casablanca
  3. Easy Rider
  4. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  5. Blazing Saddles
  6. CaddyShack
  7. The Outlaw Josey Wales
  8. Blade Runner
  9. Full Metal Jacket
  10. Animal House
We've all got lists. What's in yours?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Empire Avenue?

Empire Avenue. It's the latest, hippest, buzzword flying around Social Media these days. But what is it? And how does it work? Well, the "What is it?" is relatively easy to answer - it's a Social Media dashboard wrapped up in a delicious gaming shell. It's treats your Social Media interactions as business transactions. The more you interact, the more attractive you look to other players who "invest" in you. If you interact heavily on, say Twitter for example, your Twitter score will be high. Ignore Facebook and your Facebook score drops. The trick being to have high scores with all of the different, linkable, Social Media platforms because the higher all of those scores are, the better an investment you will be.

For me that just might be the most valuable part of Empire Avenue. It makes me think about interacting on multiple platforms, especially those I don't think about much like LinkedIn. Empire Avenue makes it fun to keep your finger on the pulse of your Social Media footprint.

When I signed up a few days ago, it looked like buying low and selling high was the main point of the exercise. But that just may be the wrong way to look at it. Dividens seem to be the more accurate benchmark of how people, aka stocks, perform. Just like with real stocks, look for the dividends people pay out. People that pay out very low dividends just don't make sense to hold on to. Now that doesn't sound very compassionate when we think about the players as people. But as investments? It's the only way to go.

Now as for "How does it work?", well I'm afraid you are going to have to give it a try to answer that question ;)

My two take-aways from all of this?

1) If you ever wanted to fool around with stocks but don't have the money, give Empire Avenue a shot!

2) If you are looking for a tool to help you engage better on multiple Social Media platforms, definitely give Empire Avenue a shot!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why I don't drink...

"Hey Tom, what are ya drinkin'?"

For a non-drinker, no other question can cause more angst. Or bring up more questions.

I've found that people tend to generally look down upon and in some cases, not trust people who don't drink. I've been asked if I'm an alcoholic*. I've been asked about my religion. I've been asked if I'm sick. I've even been asked if I didn't like the people I was with.

Now, for the record, let me say that I LOVE Guinness. I LOVE dirty gin martinis. I LOVE Jack Daniels. Hell, I even like wine. So it's not that I don't like to drink. That's not the case at all. So, why don't I drink? Let's jump into the time machine and go back to 1998...

I was in the Marines and while driving in a convoy on I-5 in California, the small truck I was driving was hit by a big truck. You know, the type with 18 wheels. To make a very long story short, I ended up losing my spleen. For those of you that don't know, the spleen filters bacteria and dead blood cells out of your blood. It's a rather important organ. When you don't have a spleen, your kidneys and liver try to take over. They do an OK job from what my doctors have told me, but really? I'm now in the "Compromised Immune System" club. Sadly there are no perks to this club. The surgeon that removed my spleen told me I've lost years off my life expectancy. I'm a bacteria based illness away from very bad things happening. Like a trip to a morgue, for example. I've been told to never go to a hospital unless I'm a patient. Granted, I had to break that rule when my Mom had cancer, but otherwise it's a rule I stick to. Not to sound all bleak and depressed, but those are things you deal with when you have a compromised immune system.

After I recovered from the accident, life eventually returned to normal. I drank just like I did before the accident. However, I found that recovering after drinking...well...that was a different story. Alcohol seemed to hit me harder and the mornings were infinitely harder then they should have been. As I got older, it just got worse.

I would talk to my doctors over the years and we'd bring up the spleen and I'd ask about drinking. The consensus has been that not drinking really was in my best interests. I have never been told by a doctor that my idea about not drinking because my spleen is gone, is nonsense. My liver and kidneys are already stressed out due to the spleen being gone. Why stress them out further by drinking?

On August 15th of 2009 I stopped drinking. I've had 4 glasses of champagne - one at a wedding, one on each of the last two New Year Eve's and one when my company came into being. I had one margarita while out for dinner last month (which totally ruined the next day) - and that's it. You know what? Life goes on and I don't miss drinking at all. I will say I actually thought people would like having a permanent designated driver around!

It comes down to this - it's a personal choice. I honestly don't judge others. If you drink, I say "drink up!". As for me, I'll have a Club Soda. If that makes me lame, so be it.

*My Mom was an alcoholic as were many of my relatives on her side of the family. Since Alcoholism can be hereditary, I figure that it's yet another reason to embrace sobriety.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shrubbery!! - 10/14/10

Shrubbery!! - 10/14/10, originally uploaded by TomRubin.

Day 284 of Project 365. Another late afternoon on a park bench, enjoying the scenery. You've gotta stop and smell the roses as they say, right? Right.

Crown Foutain at night - 10/13/10

Day 283 of Project 365. People in Chicago most likely have seen this before, but seeing people's faces when they are from out of town when they first see this is pretty amazing. The Crown Fountain changes colors at night.

Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Golden Leaves - 10/12/10

Golden Leaves - 10/12/10, originally uploaded by TomRubin.

Day 282 of Project 365. The picture didn't quite capture the beauty of the leaves the way I saw it, but I still liked the picture. This is in our backyard.

LSD - 10/11/10

LSD - 10/11/10, originally uploaded by TomRubin.

Day 281 of Project 365. A Monday afternoon...or was it Tuesday? Hmmm, not really sure it matters. Anyway, I was going south on Lake Shore Drive. You can see Navy Pier off in the distance.

Fall - 10/10/10

Fall - 10/10/10, originally uploaded by TomRubin.

Day 280 of Project 365. It was such a beautiful day outside. I was actually thinking of taking a picture and then I saw the trees across the street. Enjoy!