Sunday, July 16, 2017

What exactly are you looking for?

For those that have been reading this blog for a while now, some may realize that we are coming up on the 10th year.  Not bad for someone with serious commitment issues.  Oh, but for those of you that didn't get the link when I first started the blog, you are probably unaware that this started as a way for me to communicate my dating fiascos after several friends, to remain nameless, that pitched in with funds for dating websites.  You read that right.  This originally started as a way for me to communicate to my friends, all at the same time, the hilarity that ensued from trying to meet new people in a new town, and by the means that one of my friends had suggested as a "good" method.  Not just to meet new men, but new places in a new town.  Okay, it was one disaster after the next.  It was hilarious.  My readership at one point had spiked over 500.  That's quite a bit when you consider that the link was originally shared with about 7 people, and I think only 3 of them actually read it regularly.  The funnier the post, the more readership I picked up.  Then I got sick of dating.  For those of you that have been happily, or even unhappily, married for decades, you can't possibly imagine how much it sucks to date.  But yea, for my friends, single or not, my excerpts seemed to just make their mundane lives that much better.  Not to say that my experiences were funny at the time, often they were kind of like mini-nightmares--one right after the other--of what no one would want to date.  One guy had some serious hygiene issues.  Another had spent the whole date bragging about how much money he used to have--yes, used to have.  Talk about ridiculous.  The one that spent the whole time checking out other women.  Another that had the highest pitch voice I had ever heard--from anyone including women.  I think he was considering being the cartoon voice for Minnie Mouse.  The control freak who utterly was infuriated with me for not liking Sarah Palin.  Come on now.  Hmm, in hindsight he was probably a sign of things to come in this country.  Or my personal favorite of them all, the guy I never ever even met, who after only a week of texting and a couple phone calls, went ballistic because I went for a couple drinks after work with a couple of co-workers on a Friday night.   I actually had to cancel one of the 3 online dating memberships and block him from my Facebook, my MySpace, and even had to change my phone number to get rid of him because blocking his number only meant he'd call from other numbers.  So, it may surprise anyone, even me, that I actually invested any money in online dating again.  

Frankly, it was not my first choice.  I had mentioned to my friends that I might be genuinely interested in meeting someone.  Admittedly, most of my friends know what a phobia I have for relationships.  They all have their advice on how to find the right relationship.  Some, one or three or so, will tell me to stay single.  Well, that's easy for them, because they are in relationships.  Always amazes me at how non-single people will proffer up advice to stay single when they are in real relationships like some tom cat, slut puppy.  "You don't want to be tied down.  You want to be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.  You don't want someone telling you what to do.  You don't need a man.  You have it made."  All very, very true.  I don't want someone telling me what to do.  I don't need a man to pay my bills, put a roof over my head, or even to buy me dinner.  Now, here's the thing though.  I have been tied "down" to my boys, so that argument is a bit stupid really.  I'm not tied to that responsibility anymore, but there's something to be said for having someone that you actually care about more than you care about yourself.  Somehow it makes life worth living.   My days for the most part now that the boys are grown men are work, home, work, home, work, home, hang out with friends, ride my motorcycle, home, work, home, work.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  The only real difference is that when my day is over, there's Hulu to look forward to.  There's really no one to tell about my great, ordinary or pissy day.  Well, there is--if you want to stop at a bar after work once in a while.  And there's no one to say, "you know what we need?  A weekend away."  No, that little sentence has to come out of the recesses of my own effort when even that little effort really needs that outside nudge.  So, I had mentioned to a couple of friends that I had hit this point last year.  

But online dating?  Again?  How did that happen?  Well, most of my friends tried to talk me out of it--out of any relationship even when I don't have one.  See excuses in above paragraph.  A couple others started listing off a number of our single friends.  Uh, hello.  Not to be bitchy, but if some of the single guys I know fit the bill, would I still be single?  That was a rhetorical question, but one of my friends did point out that I am a total commitment phob.  Was I even serious about this?  Of course.  Well, no one ever remembers me saying 'yes, I actually want a relationship.'  I mean they remember me saying I would like one, and I suspect that only a couple of them took this conversation serious.  Now, of the couple that did, one just was blunt as hell.  We don't know any good single men.  The ones that we know are all single for a reason, and when it comes to me, she said that there were plenty that would want to date me.  Sounds like problem solved, right?  But she pointed out that I am way too smart for almost all the guys we know.  Thank God.  But with that breath of relief, I realized I have a real problem.  How am I going to actually meet someone that is smart enough as not to bore me to death, is interesting in their own right, and not intimidated by a woman who is more than capable of taking care of herself?  Her response?  Online dating.  

Admittedly, I didn't jump right on the idea.  First, I'm one of those in person types.  I have always been pretty good at reading people.  A side effect of the childhood that I had.  But there's really something to be said about when you meet someone in person.  You can get a real feel for who they are.  We have become a society that is constantly being presented one liners and for the most part that is all online dating is.  You post a pic or two or 10 or 20.  You post a few sentences to a few paragraphs, either explaining who you think you are or who you think you want.  The problem is that I have never dated the "same" type twice.  Seriously.  I have been pretty inventive in finding new and different fits to see if I can find the "right" guy.  Honestly, as long as the guy is smarter than the average bear, I can make it work for a bit.  White collar, blue collar, liberal leaning, conservative leaning, great work ethic, no work ethic, single minded, broad minded, various hobbies, no hobbies.  I am pretty malleable.  I have a couple guy friends that I could have dated, a couple that I have, and a whole shit ton that I wouldn't dream of dating.  I may have polled a couple of them for inputs on this new quest.  I need someone like me.  WTF?  Like me?  Do they actually make this animal?  Oh, and--this was kind of like the "but" I would get from my female friends--someone who keeps me grounded and who isn't freaked out when I get all soft and fuzzy.   Oh, right.  No one ever thinks of me as "warm, fuzzy, soft kitten" type.  According to one of my oldest friends, actually the oldest as in time not age, longest friend of over 40+ years now, he pointed out I need to find another conundrum like myself that doesn't mind being with a woman that is from the outside looking in completely got it going on that totally appreciates that I'm going to hide behind him as soon as I get home.  Now, I'm not saying that I'm hiding, but that girl in me that is ready to run?  Runaway or just run, depending on the day of the week, yea, he may have a point.  How do you put that in a profile?  

So, I had finally broke down and put a new profile up 6 months ago.  The blog had originally started with six month membership that I literally had to force myself to "try" to meet new people.  I even had committed to the idea, once I started the blog, of going on a date at least a couple times a month.  I mean I needed new material.  It wasn't that hard to meet the "6 month relationship" guarantee trying to write exploits for my friends that had paid for it.  On the other hand, I really had no intention of going beyond that 1 year point.  I had figured that the "free" 6 months were their money too, so yea, the blog was a year by the end of that nonsense.  This time, well, I haven't been super active trying to date.  I said I was ready for a relationship.  I am, but for the right relationship.  So I haven't even gone out on a single date since signing up.  On the other hand, without any force of blog or otherwise, I have actually met the 6 month guarantee requirements--to my shock.  I kind of thought this whole thing would've blown over by now.  I suppose so did my friends.  The commitment phobia would kick in.  Through the last few months though, I have realized that it isn't that I'm afraid of a relationship.  I'm just not interested in being in the wrong relationship.  I've been so uninterested in being in the wrong relationship that I have been willing to be in the wrong relationship knowing that there is an end in sight.  That was the funny thing about the wrong relationships--I already knew it was over before it even got started.  

Well, I'd tell you that I was going to write about it, but I don't.  I have actually talked to a couple different guys long enough to realize that we weren't going to be a good fit.  One was pretty interesting and we talked for about 4 weeks, but then it finally came out that he drinks like a glass of wine once a month, his definition of "occasional" drinker.  My definition of almost non-drinker.  Of course, he had been an alcoholic when he was younger (his words not mine) and so my couple times a week was way over his idea of acceptable.  The other one that I talked to for a bit told me he was from Germany, eventually not really his mother was.  It never was said, but after a bit, I realized his father was from Egypt or Saudi.  Pass.  I'm way too American for that.  Trust me--way, way too American.  Another was 30 years military, interesting, but I got the impression fairly quickly that he was recently divorced and just interested in less.  Normally, I suppose that would've appealed to me.  I dropped those conversations within the first week.  And one that had his own business, never married, no kids, true Southern gentleman.  Yup, all the way to the mama's boy stereotype.  He was single because mama had a tight leash on him.  Glad he has a good relationship with his mama, but something started to scream "Deliverance".  That's 4 out of 18 "required" contacts.  I'm thinking that wasn't bad considering that half of these people on a paid sight are not even actually paying members.  I'd tell you about some of the bizarre ones that have sent me emails, but this time the membership wasn't or isn't about the ridiculous people that are out there.  We all know there are some pretty strange birds out there.  But this has been a genuine effort on my part.

Okay, so yes, now going to start month 7--the first free month.  I'll be honest.  I seriously doubt this is how I meet anyone worth meeting.  It just doesn't seem like the right method for me.  For someone that can look back and only actually think of 3 guys that I have ever been super interested in--none of whom I met online but in circumstances that were completely random--I just don't see it.  One I met through a cousin, another through a random friend (who had been crushing on me to make things complicated) and then one I met randomly a couple years after that blog creating attempt at online dating.  Yea, I'm just not sure I can "buy" into this method.  But hey, it's another 6 months, free, so I'll take it about as seriously as I take dating in general.  Don't expect the guy I marry to come from it.  Seriously, don't.  I imagine the guy that I would marry would have about as much faith in online dating as I do.  Like none.  I have a good idea what I'm looking for.  I'm just not convinced that the guy I'm looking for has a good idea of what he's looking for.  It took me a long time--I suspect it might take him longer.  ;)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Anti Social media? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?

Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for bullshit.  Your kid running around outside my hotel room at 7 am screaming and yelling will probably start my day off the wrong way.  Maybe it's because I'm getting older and have always viewed the world in a unique way.  I don't see those things that divide us, because frankly, I don't give a shit.  I see things in all their complexity and I prefer to look for the positive in all things and people.  I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt until your kid is still carrying on at 0830.  Then I'm going to get dressed, go down to the hotel staff and complain that enough is enough.  However, maybe it's just that after the ridiculousness of the last election, and my bullshit limit has completely been exhausted.  I tried to get people to see each other's views.  It didn't matter if they were voting for either major party candidate.  I saw the appeal of each and I saw the even stronger lack of merit of either.  Lack of merit didn't bother most.  Somehow, as long as there was one thing that appealed to them they simply ignored the lack of.  Why?  Well, I have never deleted anyone for political reasons.  But, what I've started to realize is that since many no longer review the merits of anyone or anything, they simply latch on to the most drama they can find.  It's infuriating really.

What do I mean by latching on to drama?  It's really pretty simple.  You share bullshit.  You don't even care it's bullshit.  I saw Kid Rock dead posts on Facebook several times today.  Hoax, hoax, damn he was young, was it drugs, hoax....The comments read as a count of morons in this country.  Please double check. It's not that hard.  It's not hard at all.  Some would point out it was a hoax.  Some would ignore it, if they knew it was a hoax.  Some would just share without double checking....obviously.  Some would select the tears button.  Really.  'Oh just f***king stop already.'  Yes, that's exactly what went through my mind. 'You've got to be kidding me.'   Nope, they're not.  They are lazy.  They are so lazy that they can't take 10 seconds to Google or Yahoo News to ensure they are not sharing bullshit.  Social media let's us all know who the dumbasses are who believe every little thing they hear or see.  And not just me or you.  No, every one of those political advisors know how f**king stupid they are too.

Sometimes these people share these awesome memes.  Like if you don't like button because it's about Jesus, you're going to hell.  Ummmm, Jesus wasn't blonde or blue eyed.  And I vaguely recall a section of the Bible that damns those that worship false idols.  Can't get anymore false than a made up picture of a dude that was from the Middle East being blonde to strawberry blonde haired, fair skinned and blue eyed.  Add some freckles and you have Howdy Doodie with long hair.  Yet, this lie has played like a broken record, or skipping CD for the younger crowd, for so long that it's taken on a very real perpetuation for centuries.  Ignorance at its best.  Even when they know it can't possibly be what Jesus actually looked like...what the hell, share it anyway.  Makes them feel good to think Jesus was actually white.  Let alone that somehow we all have to like and share or we are forsaking our beliefs.

But hey, let's not stop there.  It's America's birthday.  You know--the day we declared independence from the British Crown.  Ironically, the land founded on freedom of religion, the Rights of all to be equal and have inalienable rights that should be afforded to all human beings.  Yes, let's make that day about Jesus too.  It's all about your religion after all. Totally missed that freedom, freedom of religion AND inalienable rights shit, eh?

Then bitch about racism, how much you hate "liberals", "conservatives", or anyone that disagrees with you.  No, that's not YOUR America, and therefore, it's not American.  Guess what?  It is our America.  Good, bad, beautiful and the ugly.  We are racists, especially if we were born before 1980.  Our childhoods were full of hidden racist cues.  Bitch about how bad the economy is, but what are you going to do about it?  Nothing.  Bitch about how your jobs went overseas.  Again are you trying to find a way to create new jobs?  Bitch you pay too much in taxes.  We do, but we don't pay as much as the Europeans.  Bitch how much money we spend overseas.  But never bother to look up that it's less than 2-5% of our government's budget.  Bitch about how much we spend on the military (laughable really) while thanking every service member.  Bitch about how much college costs but cut the federal aid budget (thanks Obama).  Bitch about a weak USA and how we need to make America great again while not realizing your bitching is exactly why we aren't great anymore.  We can't be great with all you assholes complaining how un-great we are.  Duh. It's like common sense has completely left the damn building.  We have our own religious nut cases, yet some of you point fingers at the Middle East like they somehow have the lockdown on religious crazies.  Ummm, thanks for the meme telling me I'm going to an eternal hell because your Christian faith taught you so much tolerance and acceptance in your very next post.

By all means get pissed at me for pointing out your hypocrisy.  Don't give a shit.  I'm sick of the one liners and regardless of whether you stereotype liberals, conservatives (I mean how obtuse are you if you really believe you agree with the entire "conservative" or "liberal" agenda anyway),  you just sound like ignorant assholes.  Most of the people doing the most bitching about the "other" side have no idea what the "other" side thinks because God forbid that they invest some time listening to what the other side actually has to say.   They're so f**king worried they might make sense that they simply categorize them as wrong and jump on their high horse.  Dumbasses.

Oh, no, I'm under no delusions that this is all my opinion.  But unlike those of you thinking I should shut up, well, the rest of my readers are thinking I wish they would shut up too. We want America to stay great and we are concerned that some of you dumbasses have ceded that we aren't by simply buying into one liner bullshit.  We aren't under any delusions that racism doesn't exist.  We just don't think racist assholes should be given 15 minutes of fame, let alone the thousands of internet hours you idiots will give them.  We realize that the Islamic jihadists are a real threat, but we also are under no illusions that they are the only religious nuts.  Eric Rudolph, David Koresh, Jonestown....seriously some of the most insane religious logic is right here in the guise of Christianity.  Let alone some of the other iffy at best home grown crazies like Timothy McVey, the Unibomber  You remember them right?  How quickly some of us will point fingers while ignoring those things we all know can't possibly be as simple as one line, one finger or one person. But like me, a majority of us just want social media to be a smidgen of this and a smidgen of that. You want deep discussion?  I love deep discussion until you want to bitch about some racist while using reverse racism. Did it affect you?  No.  Is it going to?  Maybe but give it a rest.  Those of us that aren't racist don't want to hear it anymore and for good measure, you racists out there, we don't give a shit about your agenda either. I know the race war is coming, blah, blah, blah...Guess what?  There's one in the Middle East right now, and for the most part you can't tell which one is which.  Seriously. The Israelites are a race.  The Arabs are a race. They look silly fighting over race and so do you even if the color of the skin is easier for you to figure out who you think is your enemy.   We're all human. God's children.  You would no more choose one of your children over another but somehow you live in the delusion that our father, our God, would?  WTF....Not a question.  A statement.

So, next time you want to share some stupid shit on Facebook or any other social media, think.  Is this who I really am? Are you the judgemental asshat who thinks all non Christians burn in hell?  Do you really hate someone because they believe in global warming and you don't?  Did you really think the last 5 twitters from the President were a "good" idea or are you just refusing to admit he might run off at the mouth way more than a President should?  Are you really hating anyone who wants to save the environment?  Or protect their right to own guns?  I mean maybe you don't understand what they think, but do you really hate them?  How??  You don't even f**king know them.  If you hate someone you don't even know, well, as the comedian and a meme you've probably shared one too many times says, "you're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?"

Monday, June 26, 2017

Music. Don't miss the door.

So I'm pretty proud of my boys (yes, men) since they have their own opinions of real facts and they generally know the difference.  I won't pretend that who they are isn't a culmination of who I am.  It is...sort of.  I love everything.   Hell, I love everyone...people wise.  I think everyone has the ability to be interesting.   Everyone is special.  Everyone has the ability, regardless of smarts, to be value add to the conversation.   Nothing actually annoys me more than anyone acting like an opinion, whether I agree or not, has no value.  All thoughts, opinions, are value add....especially those we don't agree with trying to silence another. Those ideas.  Those concepts.  Those analyses.  They make us open our minds.  Open ourselves.  Realize how amazing each of our contributions are.

The sign of a open mind has always been the theater.  The music.  The arts in general.  So it was no surprise...although admittedly I found it shocking....that my neighbors, one of them, told my son that he was "weird".   When my son relayed this, I was a bit confused.  I have lived my whole life thinking music touches everyone.  Granted over the years I've become accepting over the fact that some people have no ability to appreciate any music that they don't personally find appealing.  My ex husband hated rap.  Granted at the inception.  But still in his mind it wasn't an option to have rap CDs.  Not that his opinion ever affected me. (You'd have to know me to get it.)  To me, music is the entrance to everything we are, everything we hope to be, and more importantly, every lesson we pray our children learn, change and evolve with.  Sadness, love, death, happiness, loss, gain, growing up, getting old, accepting who we are, allowing for who we aren't and still might never be....and then some.  This is every musical note.  Every word in a lyric, a chorus, a spoken word.  Every song, every lyric, every poem set to words.  They are conveying our feelings, our hopes and disappointments, our dreams and our losses.  I'm always amazed by people who claim they don't get this music or that music.  They all convey the same thing.  Loss, gain, heart, hurt, pain, hated, love....pure emotion.  How do some people completely ignore how music conveys how much we are alike?

So the neighbor told my son that he's weird...I was like...uh....how?  The neighbor told him everyone is easily defined by what kind of music they listen to.  Some dudes listen to rap.  Easy to know them.  Some guys listen to country or hard rock.  Or dance or jazz or whatever.  The neighbor had basically stereotyped that music and that defines them.  Our choice in music defines us.  Does it?  I LOVE all music but opera.  And admittedly there's some opera--like Bugs Bunny's version of the Barber of Seville-- that I adore.  Music defines us?  How?

Truth?  The best rappers are into all kinds of music.  The best rock musicians love all kinds of music.  Don't doubt me.  Hell look it up.  There's an entire CD of Linkin Park and JayZ.  Best album in the last 20+ years if you have an open mind.  So much in common between a major rock band and a major rapper?   Not possible? Only to the sad and shallow.  The reality is that every art doesn't touch all of us.  But given the right moment every single one of us can connect with even the art forms we have no ability to imagine giving us more.  We gain the world from the most unexpected places.  We should all be so lucky to see the world in someone else's eyes.   Music and poetry are that gift.  Music conveys emotion but lyrics, poetry, conveys even more.  Who knew they could be combined?  Just 100 years ago...Unspeakable.  Go figure the naivete.

So my son. Cut from my cloth?  My ex likes rock and country.  He's broader minded than many.  But he never understood my obsession with polka, classical, jazz, R&B, old school rock, blues, you name it.  I listened even then.  But...

The neighbor said to my son.  "The music you listen to tells me who you are.  How you think...you are weird.  You listen to everything.  I don't know what to think of you based' the music you listen to.  One day it's rap.  The next it's Sinatra."

YAY.  People with depth have no definition. There is no simple definition of those that learn and accept others.  We are complex, undefined by simple stereotypes and what kind of music we listen to.  We listen to as much as we can still we can appreciate... not just those who would limit us to the small experience they've had.   Life is an adventure.  Music, in all its glory, is the key to the door some of us choose to miss

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A mid-life crisis....

There are some questions in the English language that can have multiple meanings.  Where are you going?  Destination, in life, in exiting an argument, when leaving home to strike out on your own.  The meaning of the question becomes highly dependent upon the discussion at hand.  Who are you? The question invokes different ideas in each of us.  Are you a student?  Your mother's son?  An adult, child, teenager, mature, immature, professional, exhausted, parent, friend, blue collar, white collar.  Perhaps we think of ourselves as organizations we affiliate with or specifically what work we do.  A slew of words come to mind just to describe myself.  Mother, engineer, veteran, American, Constitutionalist, biker, hiker, yoga enthusiast.  Blogger, obviously.  Ever loving optimist.  Dilettante in my personal life, but consummate professional in my work.  Hard worker yet love my lazy days.  Emotional, intellectual (again in only a dilettante fashion).  Happy overall.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Now think about who you are.  What exactly makes up you?

Precursor warning, as usual this blog is, well, about me.  You take your golden nuggets from it as it comes.  

Recently, I've become an empty nester.  Not completely, my oldest is technically living with me again.  But for the most part, I'm free to come and go as I please and don't have to worry daily about what my sons are eating, who they are hanging out with, if they need anything.  Oh sure, I still worry because I'm a mom, their Mom, but without the daily stress of how I'm going to make sure everything is taken care of for them.  They are grown men now, and if I raised them right, then they should get on fine without my daily advice or intervention.  They aren't children anymore.  They have their own lives, goals and aspirations, and have to be allowed to make their own decisions, mistakes, and successes.  When each of them has succeeded in something I definitely have a sense of accomplishment; it really is more of a sense rather than a feeling.  The feeling of accomplishment for me is for a job as a parent well done.  It's not an empty reward, but the feeling of being needed is no longer there.  Their successes define them now, not me.  

So now while I'm a mother, it is still my proudest description of myself, I'm all those other things more pronounced.  What does that mean?  A friend of mine thought I was going through my mid-life crisis when I bought my Dodge Challenger.  But it wasn't the first sports car with a big engine I had owned.  It was more a representation of who I have always been rather than a momentary lapse in reason that the term "mid-life crisis" implies.  I'm pretty sure I'm going through that crisis right now.  My dream car, my dream career, my stable life...all the sudden I have the craving to throw caution to the wind, ditch what remaining responsibilities I have and run away.  The sensible me, the one that raised three gentlemen on my own, tells this crisis side of me to shut the hell up.  Breathe.  Don't do anything rash.  Be practical.  WTH are you thinking?  My sons still need advice at times, even maybe a helping hand here and there.  The practical me even makes the ever so true argument that I've already done my rash, take off on a whim, impractical run away stunt before.  I had my wild moments and prudence had won out after a brief spell.

The part of me going through this crisis has its own arguments.  Life is short.  The things that I've been waiting on are never coming to fruition.  Hell, I'm not even sure anymore what I've been waiting on.  It sounds more like an excuse to be responsible to the wild side of me.  There's all kinds of things I want to do that I haven't.  I've traveled, but almost always for work.  There's been rare exceptions to that but nothing like my bucket list.  I want to see Hong Kong, before it goes communist or China and Russia are the new super powers and Americans are no longer welcomed as cash cows.  I'd like to see Poland, the Black Forest, London, all of Scotland, the Mediterranean from Morocco, Venice, maybe Moscow.  I'd like to hike the Great Wall, see the Forbidden City, and see the Mongolian hills.  Call it wanting to see my roots firsthand.  Of course, the wild of me would also be just as content to sell everything, move to a beach and live as a semi bum along an ocean.  Not even particular to which ocean as long as it's peaceful, there's a small bar (maybe even my own) close by, and I can do yoga in the morning while watching the sun rise.  Reading on the shoreline--newspapers, philosophy, history.  I could stand to catch up on Bertrand Russell who was one of the great philosophers of the twentieth century and get a glimpse into one of my mother's favorite writers.  My wild side wants to finish the novel, one of the three or all three, that I've started.  Maybe even dabble in a master's of arts in history.  My wild side may feel a little intellectually starved.  

Oh sure, I recognize that this crisis probably doesn't even remotely resemble what other people would refer to as a mid-life crisis.  Don't forget the previous disclaimer.  I'm just starting to feel like Walter Mitty, the written version not the movie version, where the fantasy has become a suitable replacement to a desired reality.  Of course, my wild side certainly knows better.  But then I've done a lot of the things I've set out to accomplish.  It's a reality that I know so many people never achieve.  I've been very blessed that I've had the drive to accomplish those things that I've set to achieve.  It's not like I haven't had my setbacks like anyone else.  Sometimes the setbacks for the achievers are just reminders that everything in life is also a smidge of luck, good or bad, and that we can never predict, control or harness everything.  There's a bit of a gamble in everything we try--even with the best laid plans.  So I'm also not naive that all of my accomplishments are because of my wild side, albeit properly reined in.

So there begs the question then.  Who am I?  Who are any of us?  A sum of words that can be put to paper?  For some of us, perhaps that is all we are and we are content.  But for those of us that can never be summed up completely in a few words, and especially those of us that could fill volumes and still not be completely defined, well, who are we?  Maybe I just need a vacation.  A new chapter.   Or maybe it's time to start a whole new volume in the series of volumes that makes up me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Outside...looking in....

So first I apologize to my avid readers for not writing this month til now.  I've been extremely busy between a wedding and then being out of the country for work.  I have just been too tired to write.  In all honesty, I really haven't wanted to write about POTUS.  The Europeans and Asians have a very different view of President Trump than the far left, the far right, those that didn't support him and those that did.  For someone like me who had my trepidations from the start, well, honestly, they sound more like I do.  They don't have the hatred that a good third of the nation do.   They don't have the starstruck, kiss his ass, he can do no wrong attitudes of the people who blindly voted for him because they somehow truly believed his one liners even when he often contradicted them.  Most of our country knew he wasn't actually going to "make America great again".  We need true leadership for that and his track record was never that of a leader.  Entrepreneurs are more often than not the most difficult people to work for and with.

Our new President is definitely an entrepreneur type of person.  Stubborn.  Extremely confident in what he knows.  Extremely confident in what he doesn't know sometimes.  And, dare I say, just a bit of a braggart.  I question whether a braggart can keep a secret.   POTUS's ego appears to be way, way, way beyond the pig headed, over confident, full of confidence entrepreneur.  He's got to brag.   It's his thing.  We could see it during the election.   He knew more than....it doesn't really matter who.  He always tells everyone how much he knows more than any experts in any field than they do.   It's always over the top.  He also falls miserably to apologize.  It's pretty hard for some people.   Trump has never apologized ever for anything, and there's no way we could ever expect that he would start now.  Of course, by basic assessment,  Trump is definitely the same as and yet opposite Obama.  Obama apologized so much I wanted to ring his neck.  Trump is so unapologetic that I want to ring his too.  Give him a good shake and yell at him to wake the hell up, grow up, something.  The biggest issue with Trump's version of entrepreneur is most are mature thinkers and I'm not convinced our POTUS is actually mature enough to be President.  A mature man knows when to say something and more importantly when not to.

Funny thing is that I want POTUS to be successful.  Wanting him to fail is like shooting yourself in the foot the night before you're going to run a marathon.  I'll even admit he could look Presidential.  I mean he's quite tubby compared to most former Presidents.  But Taft, the President who got stuck in the White House bathtub, well, he was more than tubby and he looked presidential.  The problem with this POTUS is his mouth.  He just doesn't know when to shut the hell up.  That was all too evident in the election.  He would scream and carry on, talking over his opponents.  He would sling insults too freely for a professional who knew limits.  He didn't have any limits to what he would say during the election, and so there's little surprise that his tone downed "presidential" version of himself is still far less presidential and far more reality TV showboating.  Don't get me wrong.  You can tell he's trying, but overall he's just probably incapable.  So while he's basically bragged without meaning to in interfering with an ongoing FBI investigation, then flatly claiming it was his decision to fire the FBI Director in what blatantly appears to be interference with an investigation and possible retaliation for the Director not complying with his demands which would be completely illegal, to topping that (as if it couldn't get worse) with having the Russians in the Oval Office immediately following.  That alone either means he's completely stupid and oblivious to appearances or potentially, dare I point this out, a traitor.  As is that wasn't enough....and trust me it was way, way, way enough for the rest of the world especially our allies in Europe who have reasons to be extremely concerned over Russia's attempts at expansionism in a Hitler-esque way...this idiot savant just blabbers intelligence secrets received from one of our allies in the Middle East.  Whether that ally is a European based ally or more likely a Middle East based ally, none are happy about the Russian expansionist presence in the Middle East, and they are reeling at the idea that a US President would betray their confidence.  At best this man we elected is either way, way more of a idiot who has used his bragging to make money (which is a distinct possibility) or the man is a traitor.  So far his presidency has been one fiasco after the next....successful for Putin.

The intelligence community couldn't even brief him initially because of that moron racist from Breitbart.  Once POTUS put the reins on him, I really thought with him actually listening to the intelligence community he'd catch on.  But there are numerous reports that he doesn't read the briefs they provide and that he has demanded bullet points because that's how he's run his businesses.  That's fine when details can be relied upon your staff to make it work, but there are intelligence that are received that are eyes only.  These types of things are limited to less than 50 USA citizens have any knowledge at all about--things so classified that less than 10% of Congress even has the clearance, let alone the President's staff.  This POTUS has chosen to surround himself with several people that couldn't pass the security clearances. Most Americans based on military personnel clearances wouldn't be cleared for top secret and that's only the third level of secret by DoD (Department of Defense) classifications.  Things that can ixney just that level include civil arrests, a good (not great) credit score, traveling to certain countries even on vacation.  The clearance needed for eyes only hasn't even been granted to Trump's right hand, his son in law.  It's unclear exactly how many levels above top secret there are, and even more guarded is how complicated each of these levels are.  The problem is that by virtue of being President, we the American public, grant access to someone who those "in the know" might never give access to.  That's actually all on us.  So having someone we duly elected want classified information that might be limited down to as few as a dozen Americans to bullet points just sounds idiotic and more troubling, problematic.  Our obligations when we vote aren't trivial votes for high school prom king or queen.  We are voting for a person to take our security seriously and in this measure we have failed ourselves.  The current POTUS four months into his term still hasn't gotten a grip on this monumental responsibility, let alone surrounding himself with people capable of advising him.

Still this might be working in our favor.  We look stupid.  Weak.  Inept.  Hardly the "great America" that would lead any effort for freedom.  We can barely secure our own. We looked like bickering children for 8 years under Obama.  We still look like bickering children under Trump.  After more than a decade (another couple years) of this childish leadership and behavior of our media, our leadership, and worst of all, ourselves, we won't be anyone's force to be reckoned with.  At least that's how we are starting to look from the outside looking in.  Britain, Germany, even France, have become the prime terrorist targets.  They are now seen as the bigger threats to tyranny and religious zealots.  

That might be all well and good after the bombing in Manchester this week.  God knows we were devastated by the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  There's no way to ever erase that.  But we became so unified, that the great "sleeping giant" of this country was unified.  Many think of Admiral Yamamoto's reference to the "sleeping giant" as our military might and/or the leadership of this nation, but that's inaccurate.  We, the American people, are the sleeping giant.  We like our complacency, our inaction.  We are fat and lazy and content to be left alone.  This POTUS represents that part of us well.  In his speech in Saudi Arabia this week, it came off quite clear that he's leading us into isolationism.  He iterated over and over that he was only concerned with Americans security first.  Sounds good to us lazy, average Americans.  All of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are tired of war, tired of the conflicts in the Middle East, weary of a poor economy and looking like we are ready to throw in the towel.  Yet while giving this same stupid rhetoric, he was also bragging about how much money the new accord with the Saudis was about.  In an area where estimates range from 20% to as much as 82% of the people live in poverty.  And not the American version of poverty.  No state help or aid available.  The Sally Struthers commercials version of poverty.  Bragging about money in front of them, hundreds of billions of dollars, is like taking an entire cactus and shoving it under your saddle while riding a barely broken in wild mustang.  Stupid as hell.  That's our POTUS.  We won't be hated by the extremists for meddling in their systemic slaughter of the opposition.  No, let's be hated for good old American greed.  

Back during Obama's terms, particularly after reading Bob Woodward's books about his first term, I made no qualms that I thought Obama was bad for this country.  When you are that far down, there's no where to go but up, right?  During the election, I made no qualms that I was mortified that the two major parties had actually been able to find worse, and I made the analogy that if elected Trump would simply be the white GOP version of Obama.  Both were virtually nothing in their parties prior to their bids for the White House.  Neither had any real political experience.  Both liked to brag about themselves, and both seemed to use bully tactics to get what they wanted.  So far, even though I had hoped to be wrong, this POTUS has proved me right, but he does have some major differences.  One of which is the blatantly obvious peacock show of money.  He loves to brag about his money whether he has it or not.  

Well that's all fine and good until you realize that Russia's interest in the Middle East is all about money.  What if the financial collapse that we experienced was orchestrated?  Who has benefited most by our economic demise?  Not our European allies or Asian allies.  We took them down the tubes with us.  Russia has.  Putin has gained significant influence and he has invaded countries, annexing parts of other countries and shooting down commercial aircraft without a whimper out of us.  We want out of Iraq, away from Iran, out of Afghanistan.  Hell I understand the ramifications better than the average bear and even I want us out of there.  But then the bombing in Manchester.  This is because of a weakened Allied alliance.  America is weak after 8 years of Obama with his apologies and ineffective ability as Commander in Chief.  Now, with four years of a POTUS who can't even maintain highest levels of intelligence, we have reached the pinnacle of weak, greedy, self absorbed stereotype of Americans.  Worse yet, we almost seem to be relishing in it.  

Still only four months into the new POTUS's term, we can't be sure whether he will grow into the job or not.  Not many have ever grown into the job.   They either went in able or they didn't.  So it's looking like Trump might just be another Obama.  His failures with the initial health bill are all reminiscent of Obama's failures to get bills passed.  Obama used bullying words like "you will", "you must", " you have to".  Trump just is a bully by nature. It's not hard to picture him trying to verbally in his own manner bully a FBI Director.  It's not a stretch to think he might have been misled by the Russians by the people around him.  He just isn't very detail oriented.  But the idea that a man with his entire "empire" built on selling his name being completely clueless that timing is everything??  I hope it doesn't turn out he's a traitor.  In fact, if he is, I'd rather never know.  The impact to the White House, to the Presidency, to the psyche of our great nation....It's just too much to bear.  And yet, that's where we stand from the outside looking in.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Be scared...be very, very scared...

Have you ever wondered how American democracy goes down?  I mean really.  I suspect that if you are the "average" American you are under the delusion that it will go down because of Middle Eastern terrorists.  Or if you are slightly more than average, you might be under the impression that we will do it ourselves.  While that is definitely true, it will not be by "ourselves" in the true sense of the word.  Still, if you are even a little smarter than that, you look around at the state of the world right now with countries like Iran and South Korea with nuclear weapon capability compared to our current leadership and you're pretty sure a nuclear apocalypse is just around the corner.  Of course, that wouldn't just take down American "democracy"; it would take the entire of the planet with it.  So imagine if I tell you it simply will go down with a whimper, because we as Americans have allowed it to?  

Americans love to talk about our "democracy".  We love to think that we are "better" than everyone else in the world.  A friend recently posted on Facebook how mortified he was on his vacation to Mexico that Americans he observed acted like assholes.  I'm very familiar with this.  We do it at home also.  We like to assume that all foreigners are stupid.  It adds to this overall psyche of superiority that we developed after bailing Europe out of 2 world wars--the wars to end all wars.  But they didn't "end" war, and we have become one of the least successful warfare countries in the world.  We didn't win the Korean War.  It's in armistice.  We certainly didn't win Vietnam; ask any 'Nam vet.  Ask most Gulf vets, doesn't matter which campaign, we haven't won.  When we've had the upper hand, we pull out.  Our "arrogance" is founded on wars that ended more than 70 years ago.  The majority of the Americans that won that war are dead and been dead for more than 20 years.  We are not that America anymore.

Sure, we're not that America anymore, and some Americans would love for us to be that America again.  I understand the appeal.  My Grams was everything to me growing up, and I remember seeing America through her opinions and her eyes.  We were the apex of global power.  We were also hypocrites so far from "equal" that just the color of your skin decided what you could or couldn't accomplish in life. We used to have FCC rules that required the news to be delivered with opposing views also, so that we as Americans would have the opportunity to "think" for ourselves.  During the last year of President Reagan, these rules were removed and opened the door for the tabloid news crap we get today.  I'm a huge Reagan fan and we now know he was probably fairly ineffective that last year due to Alzheimer's.  So who did this?  No outrage when we finally discussed it more than 15 years later.  Not a whimper from the politically left.  Not an outrage from the politically right.  Gone.     

Now imagine if I tell you while you are so worried about Facebook selling your personal information, you're one of the typical Americans that is utterly clueless.  That's not even the tip of the iceberg. While barely anyone in the USA is talking about it, the "it" has been being talked about overseas far more.  Ironic, right?  Socialist forms of society of Europe are more concerned than our far more capitalistic, democratic society.  First, let me put your personal information in perspective.  You have a phone.  You download apps.  They have your information for free.  You gave it to them.  You shop.  You give them your credit card number and name.  They know your credit score and how often you apply for credit.  It's not a hard back step for them.  You play those games on Facebook that tell you who your "Hangover friends" will be.  All those companies sell your information.  You didn't actually think they make money off those ridiculous ads on their pages, did you?  Aww, you did?  That's so sweet.  Every time I see one of those stupid posts warning me about my FB settings and how they are going to sell my information I have to laugh and then I'm a tad irritated.  How stupid are some people?  We already gave them permission to sell our information by joining their damn site.  Ironically, FB takes our freedoms and personal information more seriously than we do.

Some years ago Facebook had been working on an algorithm that would help predict our personalities.  The reality is that algorithm is up and running and being improved upon everyday.  Facebook claims to only use it for less than nefarious purposes.  Helping decide which ads you should see and scientific research.  In 2013, the personality aspect of the analysis was a minor blip, because we didn't think it that important.  By we, I mean the American population as a whole. Even those of us, like yours truly, that had some amount of concern, saw the scientific value.  Personality estimates have now shown to be somewhat accurate, but that rarer personalities may be even rarer--particularly in lower populace regions of the country.  For example, I'm an ENTP.  We make up 5% of the population, but in rural areas we are close to zero.  ENTJs are only 3%; the only way people in rural areas are going to meet most of them is when the CEO flies in with his entourage to tour the only plant in town.  Extroverts are more likely to live closer to city amenities than introverts.  Some of this becomes common sense.  But that N--intuitive--versus S--sensory perception ability tends to be more in higher populated areas.  Do we move out of the areas that most are sensory to find more like ourselves?  You can see how this data from Facebook could be very interesting and have scientific value in how we could populate more rural areas with the people that could help grow the economy in those areas.  But what if....       

It's no secret that very few Americans question the news media that they watch.  God forbid you try to talk to someone who watches only Fox News or NBC News.  Now imagine these news organizations, political entities or advertising firms representing political entities having the power to appeal to you based on your personality.  It's no secret this ability would be the "Holy Grail" of political campaigns.  So imagine my shock and dismay while listening to BBC World News on SiriusXM the commentator announces that the UK advertising firm, Cambridge Analytica, have admitted to using personality driven ads, up to 350+ different ads on FB every day, geared to get Trump elected.  I was shocked.  They didn't do polls.  They didn't give a shit.  They used your personality and had different ads geared to put ads in front of you that would make you more likely to vote and vote for Trump.  One thing that they pointed out was that some personalities were easier to manipulate than others.  But guess what?  Heard of the 80-20 rule?  It's a rule that states that 80% of your problems come from 20% of the root causes.  It also has been proven over the years to apply to just about everything--including people.  So, 80% of the people fall into personalities that are more easily manipulated.  Now, add (pun intended) in the idea of using information, true or not, to guide their decisions in elections....

Oh but that's silly.  A computer can't predict me.  Well, even Facebook has acknowledged that the algorithm has reached a point where it can predict your behavior better than your spouse or family or closest friends.  There are a couple of personalities that it is not that great at predicting.  I happen to be one of them.  The "debater" ENTPs can rest comfortably.  While it knew I hated Clinton, it couldn't feed me the right ad for Trump.  It wasn't that hard to know I hated Clinton; I lost several ultra liberal FB friends during the Obama years.  Now, FB wouldn't sell the algorithm to anyone, *rolling my eyes*, during the election.  Well, one of course they wouldn't because theirs is the premier product right now and two Zuckerberg is one of those NTP/NTJ types.  He's not selling this to use for manipulation of that level.  It would interfere with his idealism.  It's okay to make money by giving you what you want in ads, but not okay to the level of using your personality to manipulate a political campaign.  So, the reality is that Cambridge Analytica's claims are not only possible--it is very probable.  

Using analysts to turn the tide of public opinion and "manipulate" the masses via news stories and other staged events is nothing new to the political scene.  This has been a huge, expensive market and the few people willing to sell their souls and that have the ability to do this make billions of dollars, yen, euros, etc. helping politicians around the world manage their public image and manipulate public opinion.  But this is a gift that only a few people have.  It's ironic though.  Zuckerberg is an INTJ and this is the most manipulative of all personality types.  In fact, most political strategists are INTJ, and as previously stated the NTP/NTJ personalities make up the 20% (well, 18% but anyway).  That's right.  Those that are most likely to manipulate and least likely to be manipulated are the 20%.  So what are the 80% then counting on?  Either the innate kindness of these personalities to "do the right thing" or it's time for them to wake up.

Wake up?  Yes, wake up.  Regardless of personality type, we all have things that are very important to us.  Some of us are more easily fed than others, but regardless, we need to realize that given the right information about us personally--what we like, what we don't like, who we hang around, what they like, what they don't.  Every time we like something on FB, we tell them who we are.  It's no longer a guessing game to figure out how to manipulate the masses that only 3% of the population is really good enough at it to make money.  No, now anyone that can afford to buy access to this software can do it via Cambridge Analytica or any other organizations that have been developing this software.  In this day and age, whether we like it or not, it's come to fruition that all of us have to start paying attention and broadening our minds and opinions to more than just what we agree with.  

What do I care?  I'm one of the NTP/NTJs right?  Only about 3 to 5% of us are actually wanting this "new world order" where the very few rule all of us.  INTJs are most likely to be successful manipulators; yet, even Zuckerberg is loathe to allow the most powerful tool of this sort for these means.  The other 15-18% are not interested in this sort of "utopia".  Mindless morons easily doing what they are told based on the ability to use their personalities to control them is not our utopia.  In our utopia, everyone thinks for themselves.  Who would I debate with if there was no one to debate various ideas and concepts and all the grey area in between?  I have grown over the years because of the other personalities and their different views.  If everyone was manipulated into just thinking this or that and nothing in between, the world would be nothing but manipulated mice not even realizing they are in the maze.  Perhaps the severe polarization we saw in the last election is indicative that we are already there.  

The fact is the cat is out of the bag.  The ability to use our personalities to manipulate the majority of the masses is real.  There's no putting it back into the bag.  What used to be so many different factors on who might do this or who might be able to be brought to think this over that...it was as much a guessing game as an art form.  Now, it's as easy as spending several million dollars.  We are for sale and most of us don't even realize it.  A true "utopia" of slaves that don't even know they are slaves being bought and sold in political advertising board rooms.  This is how American democracy dies. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tired of paying a couple hundred bucks a month...

If you're like me, then you've probably stuck with cable or satellite.  You call and renegotiate yourself back into a contract with satellite or you threaten to go to cable...or vice versa.  Telling the cable company that you want to go to satellite might get you a slight price break, but 6-12 months later you're right back where you started plus some.  If you're tied to a satellite company, you can't call for 12 months after that "cool" 12 month price break ends in your 2 year contract.  One of the satellite companies had me at about $160 a month about 3 years ago.  So I switched to cable.  It dropped to like $80 a month.  Then one day I realized I was back up to $150 a month.  It's like the never ending succubus of television hell.  

Admittedly, I hem hawed like you probably are. Unless you're a boob tube addict, you probably only watch a handful of shows.  If you're like me, you're discovering that there are only like 3 or 4 you want to watch regularly.  So what are you going to miss out on?  Well, cable will give you local channels, but satellite companies are wanting too much money from local channel affiliates and periodically you're being fed commercials for you to pressure the local affiliate to capitulate to their demands.  You can still get these channels for free though if you want them--all you need is an old fashioned antenna.  That's right and you can buy one online or wherever you buy your electronics.  Of course, the only reason I watch the local channels really is for the news.  Okay, not really--more like just for the weather when I wake up in the morning.  I don't even need an antenna really.  I can stream their news on my phone.  I can even watch it on my TV if I have the right equipment.  

What television channels do you watch the most?  Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS?  TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, Disney?  Sports channels--ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports?  Make a list of what TV shows you watch regularly.  I watch a lot of TNT shows.  I watch "Designated Survivor" on ABC.  I watch "Empire", "24", "Blackish", "The Man in the High Castle", "Supernatural", "Elementary"...okay so I get home and I want to vegetate or read or type this blog while listening to some drama or sitcom.  I want to watch the race on the weekend or Premier League.  Well, I can watch sports at a bar.  "Supernatural" and other CW shows are all free via the CW website/app.  All those other shows are on Hulu within 24 hours of airing.  EXCEPT CBS.  CBS has it's own app and you can pay direct online to watch CBS or wait until the next season comes out and watch the last season on Hulu.  This was all perfect, except...my sci fi addiction to "Doctor Who".  A true Whovian I must, absolutely have to watch, the current season of the Doctor as it airs.  I can wait for CBS's Sherlock Holmes for next season to come out so I can watch this season on Hulu.  Screw CBS.  But the Doctor?  Sigh.  What's a girl to do?  

A girl needs her BBC America and Sling TV doesn't even offer it.  Sling toots off being the cheapest...and they are.  But if you are into sports, you'll spend $40 a month for it and only 40-ish channels.  But channel for channel, the lowest DirectTV Now package at $35 a month is way more bang for your buck with over 60 channels.  Now DirectTV has eaten some crap, because Sling was first.  I'll admit the complaints that the streaming didn't work gave me pause.  But there was the thing that Sling requires you to have the larger package or you can only use it with one device at a time.  So, I opted for DirectTV in spite of the complaints.  

What about those issues with operating with DirectTV?  (Sorry, can't speak to Sling.)  Well, I'll admit with the first generation Amazon Fire stick, periodically it was coughing.  BUT, with the free Amazon Fire Stick that DirectTV included with me agreeing to sign up on the spot rather than a free trial, well, all those glitches are gone. 

Well, yea, but what about my DVR or OnDemand options.  DirectTV offers replay for about 3 weeks of new episodes of shows that have gone by. You're going to have to watch commercials, but here's the thing, it's like your OnDemand already.  It's a little less than watching live.  This option will not work well with the original Fire stick, but you can also stream DirectTV from a phone or tablet with a Google Chrome. 

Now, here's the major limitation with the streaming services: They only have Fox of the "major" networks.  Hulu offers all but CBS shows the day after airing and the whole season, including Fox.  Of course, if you have an antenna, you won't care anyway, except that you can't watch at your leisure.  With the antenna, you're tied to watching when the shows air. 

BUT you want your sports.  With the exception of NFL Sunday Ticket, if you are a sports addict, all the major sports offer online streaming packages.  I have NHL Center Ice.  I can watch it on my phone and I can cast it from my phone to my TV via Google Chrome.  Problem solved.

Here's the final scary problem for most of us.  Which hardware to use?  You can Google Chrome and cast from your tablet, computer or phone to your TV.  Or you can purchase the Amazon Fire Stick or console.  I own both the Google Chrome and the Amazon Fire Stick.  These both have their positives and negatives.  Amazon offers all kinds of apps for the Fire Stick and sometimes the apps aren't completely debugged.  Google Chrome is only limited by the device you are casting from.  If you are an Amazon Prime member and you order the Fire Stick from Amazon, when it is delivered and you plug it in, they will have already set it up for your account.  You just have to put in your passwords for your wi-fi and Amazon account. Google Chrome needs you to download the app to cast from your phone or tablet and you'll need that to set up the Chrome stick also.  The Fire stick is easier to set up in my opinion even if you didn't get it via your Amazon Prime membership.  The Chrome will cost you $35 at Walmart or Google shop.  The Fire stick will cost you $40.  If you're like me, you can have both for less than half of one month of what you are paying the cable or satellite company.  

The hardest thing is admitting you are wasting money.  And you are.  I took my bill from over $150 month for cable to $43 a month for Hulu and DirectTV Now.  I recommend keeping cable internet.  DSL can be expensive.  Of course, if you have AT&T as your cell service provider, there are a couple of bonuses to consider.  One, you get DirectTV Now's lowest version for $10 a month.  AND you also can get "unlimited" streaming to your phone.  (This would be a time that you would want the Chrome over the Fire stick.)  A friend told me there's some limitations to that streaming to your phone, and of course, these deals could go away and have you tied to AT&T for your cell service.  So I'm not advocating this.  Just if you already are with AT&T, you should take advantage if you are taking my advice about dumping cable or satellite.  

Now, the final question.  What about multiple TVs in the house?  Well, I kept my internet with the cable company.  We stream music, shows to two TVs simultaneously and surf the internet from 2 or more devices...with no issues.  You won't have to watch the Disney channel because the kids or grandkids are.  

The basic recommendations:  Hulu, $7.99.  DirectTV, $35.  Amazon Fire Stick (the newest generation), $40 (one time per tv). 

Add for the sports fanatics: Google Chrome and sign up for the streaming offered by your favorite sports--or go to a sports bar.

AT&T cell customer:  stream from your phone--opt for the Google Chrome.