April 5, 2008

Click here and make a Billion Dollars a day, Right

I'm sure that all of you have seen the websites, the job postings, and even the flyers around town that offer things similar to this. All you have to do is call or e-mail and send them $39.95, and you'll be a billionaire by the end of the week. Of course, the problem with this idea is very simple, my dear Watson, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone a billionaire?
Now don't get me wrong, I've fallen for a few very well disguised ones myself. But, who really believes any of this crap? If you want to learn to become a billionaire, there are plenty of books that advertise the same general idea, and you can get those at the library. Than again, you could just look at this idea logically and decide to stay away from this stuff completely.
The scheme behind this type of scam is actually pretty straight forward. You get enough people to buy your book, e-book, or sign up for your billionaire website and, boom, your the one who ends up with a bunch of money. That's how these people work, they trick people out of their money. You end up at home with a marginally well written book about nothing, they get your money.
My recommendation is to just ignore these people, they've been around a long time(anyone ever read the advertisements dating back to the frontier times, snake oil curing all your ailments, sound familiar). There are plenty of people willing to fall for it, these people aren't going out of business anytime soon, just try to not become one of those people.
I personally don't have the foggiest idea how these people and companies stay around, what happened to false advertising and the laws against it? But they found a loophole and they're willing to use it to swindle you out of every penny.
Stay safe, smart, and out of trouble. Till next post, Dear Reader, goodbye.

April 3, 2008

Reality has left the Building

Has anyone else noticed the modern obsession with "life-based" computer games and social sites? Everybody wants to be somebody else, or has a desire to stretch themselves into the virtual world.
I remember when the game "The Sims" first came out in stores, it was addicting but boredom came quickly. You could only make the little virtual person do so much, than they came out with add-ons and more "Sim" games. Now your Sim can have hobbies, a high profile job, go dating around the world, go to college, etc. It's amazing how involved this game has become.
I recently started playing Sims 2, it's amazing how intuitive the game has become, but it doesn't compare to real life at all.
There are now various websites and programs completely devoted to this time of "gaming". People are making new friends, networking, opening stores, and everything else you can do in the real world in these virtual worlds.
I'm still a firm believer in keeping games just that, games. There are thousands of people worldwide becoming so engrossed in the virtual world, they start to neglect themselves, their kids and their lives in the real world. There are even addiction clinics for this now. How in the heck did we go from playing games to becoming the games? You really need to step back, make sure you real life is taken care of, and spend a little bit of time playing. There's no reason to delve so completely into this other world that nothing else matters.
I came to the realization I was getting into games a bit too much when, just by random thought, I realized that I was accomplishing squat. Sure, I had a beautiful house, a million bucks, a super street racing car, and plenty of top scores.
But, all of this game stuff doesn't do anything for you in the real world. I still have a relatively cheap car, no where near a million dollars, and nice house. None of the game accomplishments mean anything. We need to realize that the old saying we've heard again and again is still universally true, "Relax, it's just a game".
Wake up and realize that a high logic level, a huge house, and a good job in a virtual world just don't translate into college credits, a paying job or a real life, and none of that translates onto a resume or college admission form to well.

April 2, 2008

Waiting Line Blues

I thought I'd do one more thought for the night, a little poke at how things are run. Has anyone ever noticed that all of the things that the government deems necessary, are also the most time consuming and irritating.
Jury Duty, you have to wait for hours to find out if you've won the grand prize, a vacation from work to sit in a courtroom. Most of the time you end up on a case like, I don't know, the 16 year old master thief who got caught stealing from Walmart.
The next big thing, I'm sure everyone agrees on this one, is the Drivers Licence Bureau. You can wait in line for literally hours, just to get your ID(forget anything more complicated). My pet peeve is the DMV, I've waited for hours, as I'm sure many have, only to find out I'm missing one single, simple thing. Whoosh, you get to start all over again.
My wife and I recently had dealings with the government, not in a bad way mind you, at our local food stamp office. Turns out that anytime, and every time, you have to turn the tiniest bit of paperwork in you have to wait in line for at least 45 minutes. Our case worker is such a wonderful woman, she lost all of our paperwork, and now wants us to turn it all in again. So, because a well paid government employee misplaced our paper work, we've got to wait in that line again. Not to mention if we miss one thing, she won't let us know until at least a week later, we have to go back and wait in line again.
I just don't understand how the government, the system that is supposed to be running our entire country, could be so completely disorganized. Sorry, don't like to whine to much, my problems with this are much smaller than a million other people's problems.
Once again, just had to get that out there. It's a subject many people discuss and I wanted to bring it to light, your not the only one fed up.

Before you walk out that Door...

It seems to me like to leave your house today, you have to constantly look over your shoulder and check, re-check and check again to make sure your doors are locked, windows are closed, nobody is behind that bush, etc. It's gotten to the point where you should probably go out, buy a bullet proof vest, get a weapons permit, and stand watch outside your home.
I've been robbed at gunpoint myself(another story, another time), and it looks as if, as time goes on, these things could very well become necessary. I don't mean to inspire fear in people, thats not my point, I just mean to open up the conversation about the world today and it's violence. I know that the world has always been a relatively violent place, human beings being the main culprits, but you think over time, with all our advances, it would slow down a bit.
And, that's not the scariest part of it all. My wife and I were talking the other day about how you cant' even count on your fellow citizens anymore for help. You could be attacked right outside someone's home, but are they going to let you in when you bang on their door for help, probably not. They might call the police, but beyond that, your on your own.
I know that people just don't want to "get involved" and they want to stay away from danger. I can understand if you have children, they come first. And, I know that the level of trust among people has become almost zero. That guy banging on your door for help could very well be trying to trick you into opening your door.
But we need to start watching out for each other. The police and firefighters have a million people to save and can't always get there in time. We're going to have to learn to trust each other. When you hear a gunshot outside your home, I don't expect you to strap on your cape and head out. But if you see someone attacking someone else in the parking lot of your local grocery store, don't just stand there and stare or get into your car and ignore it. Say something, get a security officer, call for help, heck scream at the top of your lungs.
I know you don't want to get involved, you want to mind your own business. The only problem with that is very simple, if we keep ignoring it, it's only going to get worse.
Stay safe, don't grab your gun and go hunting for it, don't try and be a vigilante, or bum rush that guy with the gun. Just take small steps to help your community and the people around you. If everyone started taking these small steps it would change the world.

International Childrens Book Day

Every year on the 2nd of April, International Book Day is celebrated. Every year it is hosted by a diffrent section of the world, this year it's being hosted by Thailand. They also pick an illustrator and/or author to represent the host, this year it is Chakrabhand Posayyakrit. I encourage you, my reader and your family/friends, to check out this link: http://www.storylines.org.nz/events.asp?pid=107.
It explains what International Children's Book Day is and who is sponsoring it this year. You can also download a PDF of the Illustrator/Authors work, the poster that he created is really interesting.
I bring this up in Joe's Thoughts because, being a father myself, I think that this is an important celebration for people, especially parents/grandparents, to know about. It's a day specifically set aside to encourage children to read and be read to.
I would like to share with you, from the above website, this message from Chakraband Posayyakrit:

2008 Message to the children of the world from Chakrabhand Posayakrit, Thailand
"Books enlighten; Knowledge delights The quest for knowledge through reading needs to be given a high priority and nurtured from childhood.
In my view, Thai children have long been inculcated with a desire for knowledge through reading, based on a sublime culture and tradition.
Parents are their first teachers and the clergy are their principle mentors in guiding and educating young people intellectually and mentally, in both worldly and spiritual matters.
I found inspiration for this painting from Thailand's long recorded traditions, through the telling of stories to children to their learning by reading inscriptions on palm leaves placed on small folding tables exclusively designed for the purpose of reading.
Stories written on palm leaves usually come from Buddhism. They tell of Buddha's life and recount tales from the Jataka's with the noble intention of cultivating young minds and instilling in them faith, imagination and morality".

It contains a wonderful message of children and the roles of parents in their lives. I think this is the time for one of those "moments" I've been talking about, I know your listening parents.

The holiday was started in 1967 by the International Board on Books for Young People, they act as the sponsor each year and choose the host country, they are also the ones who invite the children's author and illustrator to come up with a message and a poster.
The really cool thing about this holiday is that it is always celebrated on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday. This well known author of children's fables can be found all over the web and in your local library, his birthday was chosen because he was such a wonderfully imaginative author of children's literature.
Once again, I urge you to take some time aside today to not only talk to your kids about this wonderful holiday, but also to read to them, go out and buy them a new book to read, or to just sit on the floor and watch the miracle of a child's imagination at work, while they read.
For more information pertaining to this holiday, go to your favorite search engine, there are tons of websites dedicated to International Children's Book Day.
And remember, everyday is a chance for your children to learn something new and wonderful, be the one to teach them that wonderful new thing.

April 1, 2008

Whatever?: Bobby Joe tries out for "Romeo and Juliet"

This is my newest Whatever funny. Don't take any offense, I'm from Indiana myself and don't mean anything against people with Southern Accents. God Willing, the creeks don't rise, I'll be drawing up some more Whatever? comics, I'll try to do one at least every 3 days.

A Father on a Diffrent Path

I remember when I was a kid I really did think much about not really having my birth father around. I had my adopted dad Hadyn, he adopted me when I was 5. But, him and my mom divorced a few years later. So, I spent most of my life with my mom, Sally.
She was a great mother, she always did whatever it took to take care of me and my sister. Recently I came back into contact with my birth father Jim. At first all I wanted to do was yell at him and tell him how much he'd missed because he left. Yet, the thing I find myself realizing, as a father myself, is the regret and anger he must already feel for himself. He "gave up" my sister, mother and I twice, both times because of alcohol.
The first time was when I was three, so I don't remember a lot about him or our life. Him and my mom remarried again when I was about 10, and left again when I was 11. This time I got a front row seat to how alcohol can effect the lives of children living with alcoholics. I remember having to carry him to bed, he'd passed out on the toilet, the tears he would cry because he was so sorry, and the next day he'd be right back at the bar after work.
The fonder memories are of walking with him, riding on his motorcycle together, and feeling that sense of being "like" your parent. It wasn't meant to last though, I know that now. I learned from him how not to be a father and a person.
Another thing I picked up is the disgust for alcohol and everything associated with it. I stay clear of alcohol, the realization that his alcoholic genes are in me is a big turn down for that. In the past I used to think his life was a wasted one, but even he served his purpose. Now I only hope that I can be a good father and that my wife and kids can know my father. It's important that your kids know their family.
I understand in a lot of situations that this isn't possible and I'm grateful for the little contact I have with him. There are plenty of situation where the parent is a junky or just can't give up the bottle. The influence on the kids and the general atmosphere of a parent like that, it makes sense to want to keep your distance.
My father, thankfully, gave it up and has been sober for 6 years now. He lives in Illinois, so I don't get to see him, I only get to talk to him on the phone once in a while.
I know the lesson of this situation though, besides the ones mentioned earlier, about life and how to live it. Appreciate the people around you and that they love you, be the kind of parent who lets their kid/kids know everyday that you love them, and most importantly, be there for your kids when they want you to be; they need you and, lets face it, you need them.

Latest Whatever Comic...

Here's my latest Whatever comic, I call this one "The Dreaded Coffee Zombies". I'm still working on the comics format, so bear with me. Hope you like it.

March 31, 2008

Going Green...

I guess the big "fad" right now is company's going "green". The whole subject of global warming was brought to light and ,BAM, you've got everyone suddenly trying to go green.

But, this lime light isn't all bad, the idea of recycling, saving, planting tree's and such is probably the best "fad" that has occurred in a long time.

So, I decided to join in on the fun and throw out(no pun intended)some ideas for the average folk on going green:

  • Instead of planning that big RV trip this summer, find a local activity.

  • Take the time to crush and recycle those aluminum cans, taking a few extra minutes to do so can make a huge difference.

  • Find a website or company that plants trees for either a small donation or, if you have the land for it, plant a tree yourself. They not only save the environment, provide oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide, they also provide wonderful shade, are a great way to grow your own fruit, and will later make a great place to tie your hammock.

  • Turn off your computer when your done, even if you plan on using it later, this is another thing you can do that not only benefits you but also benefits the environment(your electric bill will be a bit cheaper).

  • Do a "street wash", instead of just using that bucket of water to wash your car(if it's not too terribly dirty), let your neighbor use the water to wash his/her car.

  • If your using your printer to print out notes for yourself or a daily plan, set your printer to collate. It'll print on both sides instead of using two separate sheets. Less paper use equals less trees being cut down.

  • Finally, the most well known environment saver, carpooling is a great way to save your wallet but also to save the environment.

These ideas, of course, are only a few great ways to help us keep Mother Earth a healthy home. There are zillions of websites devoted to nothing but going green. There are also some great news articles and books on the subject.

I encourage you to take a look around, ask yourself if you want to be fried to a crisp every time you step out of your home because of the depletion of the ozone, and I expect you'll make the right choice.

This is not only something that will affect us now, it's also something that could possibly save the generations to come.

March 30, 2008


I was recently listening to a story on the radio about the troops overseas and how their time over there is constantly being extended. It got me thinking about all of these troops all over the world, from the U.S. and other countries. The people over here in America are always talking about respecting our troops and how glad we should be that they are protecting our freedom. But it's not just U.S. troops that keep the freedoms we have in our hands.
There have been troops from Australia, Canada, England and even the much criticized French that have played a major role in this war, and others, playing a part in protecting our freedom and theirs.
Another thing that I really got to thinking about is how we turn the people in the middle east into barbarians, going after us like animals. The problem with that is the fact that while we get so angry at these "evil" people, they're angry at us for the exact same reason; they view us as barbarians. It is a side effect of war; the de-humanizing of other people. It is considered a necessary thing, this propaganda. It's what makes us capable of hating each other and being okay with killing one another.
We're so upset about their attacks on the U.S. and Allied Forces, yet no one ever thinks about the damage, not to mention lives lost, we've dealt them. I'm not defending their actions, it's never okay to follow the path of vengeance or revenge. The only reason wars should happen is if they are the last remaining course of action.
Which of course, a lot of people now realize, is not what we did in Iraq. Everyone, even the Bush supporters, agree that we rushed into this blindly. It's obvious at this point in the war, we should have taken a more careful plan of action. Everybody was so upset about September 11th, Bush could have said the terrorists were from anywhere and we would have marched in.
Revenge is a survival instinct, the problem is that most survival instincts are just that, instincts. And those survival instincts are the animalistic side of human beings.
We hate them and they came over here because they hate us, they hurt us so we had to hurt them back. I agree that Saddam was a very bad man, but maybe if we would have planned this out instead of acting on instinct we might have a few less dead and have the true culprit, Osama. This of course is the Joe's Thoughts blog, so these are just my thoughts alone. I'm not here to tell anyone they're right or wrong.
I'm not a military strategist, politician, president or anything near; I'm just a person watching and observing the world around me.