Sunday, February 26, 2012

Plunder and Pillage or: Confession and Opinion

There are two separate (but equal?) issues I need to delve into today.  First, I have a confession.  Second, I have an opinion (unrelated to the aforementioned confession).  Now, if you go back and read some of my old posts, you will find that I have an uncanny ability to ramble with the best of them.  I have received wonderful comments along the lines of “I usually just skim long posts, but actually read yours” or “you are so funny” or “I like ducks and you should too so meet exotic singles at my website”.  As such, I feel comfortable just laying all this out there for you.
Confession time…
I don’t really know what I want from this little (but internationally-acclaimed) blog of mine. 
Ducks has been woefully neglected and usually falls to the very bottom of my priority list.*  Part of this reason has to do with the fact that I simply have more important things to do than write a blog that generates no revenue, but requires time.  The other, larger contributing reason is that I am unsure of its purpose.
*Reason Why You Need a Freelance Writer #879:  I love the fact that grammar check hasn’t picked up on the fact that “ducks has” is technically incorrect and should be “ducks have”… unless this program is scary-intelligent and knows that “Ducks” is my blog.
As mentioned, I’ve never received a dime from writing my posts.  This little fact has not had an impact on how much I enjoy producing these rambling pieces.
Quick note, related to absolutely nothing:  I have a cat sitting on my shoulder right now.  I feel like half a pirate, half an old cat lady.  I want to go to Wal-Mart and start plundering the blue hair dye section.  Yargh.
(See, that’s why it’s for the best that these pieces aren’t merely skimmed over.  You’d be sitting there saying “Confession.  Opinion.  Low priority.  I need a freelance writer.  He’s a pirate.  He’s an old cat lady.  Skimmed over…  Got it.” and totally missing out on the image of me going to Wal-Mart and plundering the blue hair dye section.  Think about how much it would suck to miss out on that!)
Uh, moving along…
I was saying that I’ve never received any financial compensation, but enjoy writing the blog.  So the purpose of Ducks Out Of A Row is not necessarily a money-making venture.  (Note:  There is a donation button off to the side and the previous comment doesn’t mean “don’t not use it if you were previously going to.”  Just sayin’…)  (But, seriously, don’t feel bad if you weren’t going to, because it would certainly be unexpected.)
Besides not being about the money, this blog is also definitely not about playing the “get followers” game.  Yes, I would like a lot of followers.  If I was able to entertain/inform/promote thought/etc. a plethora of people, I would be quite happy.  This is, after all, a reason writers write.   
But in the blogosphere, there is a certain game that goes on.  The goal is to win followers by being an active (key word right there…) follower on other blogs.  It is a quid pro quo system and I get that.  If you want fellow bloggers to read your blog and make insightful comment, then you should read theirs, too. 
The issue I run into with this, though, is that it is terribly time-consuming.  I enjoy reading other peoples’ blogs.  (In the past, I’ve highlighted a handful that I am particularly fond of reading.)  And I like being able to make meaningful comments—above and beyond “nice post” or “I agree so visit my website”—but that all takes time.
So the purpose of Ducks isn’t making money or gaining followers (merely for the sake of having a lot of followers).  Well, it’s also definitely not “about me.”
I mentioned in a previous post about a young punk commenting “What, do you write about what you had for breakfast?”  Without going back and reading that post again, I’m sure I made the point that my life, in and of itself, isn’t that interesting.  I think that my thoughts, observations, and opinions about various issues can be—or I wouldn’t waste time sharing them—but I am not a superhero or celeb.  I don’t hobnob with power players or shape national policies.  Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not Justin Bieber posting under an alias.
I suppose that I don’t really know what the purpose of Ducks is.  An old friend of mine told me that she always liked receiving email from me because they always made her think and laugh.  If I can do that for anyone who reads this, perhaps that is the purpose.
Time for an opinion…
The above, first section of this post is probably sufficient by itself, but I saw something in the paper this morning that made me go “I don’t agree with that at all” and felt it was worth sharing.
Mitt Romney, evidently, would like to “ax Amtrak, PBS” if elected President.
Not sure if I’ve mentioned this here or not, but I fall somewhere between Republican and Democrat.  I am rather liberal in some regards, but conservative in others.  As such, you won’t find me bashing candidates from either party, as long as I agree with what they have to say.
I don’t agree with his proposed privatization of PBS.
In a very simplistic view, Republicans eschew large government and Democrats prefer not to see too much power given to large corporations.  Personally, I am vehemently against large government and large corporations.  (Power to the people… says the hippy blogger.)
The privatization of PBS would put too much (more) power into the hands of corporations.  Whereas Mr. Romney would be “willing to have Big Bird look at Corn Flakes from time to time,” I am not in favor of Kellogg’s being able to dictate what happens on the show. 
(Admittedly, I don’t think Kellogg’s would ask for the Sesame Street crew to start slinging drugs or popping  caps in rival gang members’ asses… but I still consider this to be a slippery slope.)
Corporate America (for the most part) does NOT have the issues of the public at large in its heart.  Their loyalties lie with the shareholders and, essentially, the chase for as many dollars as possible… consequences be damned.
The flawed part of this, in my non-economist opinion, is that they really should.  (It is in the best interest of all corporations to care for the American public—the major consumer base—and promote the general welfare.)  What drives me nuts, speaking as an anti-big government guy, is that the government is, supposedly, mandated with having concern for the “general welfare.” 
Unfortunately, those whose best interests should be in mind don’t have the resources (read as “money”) that the fiscal elite do.  The government is in the pocket of major corporations, plain and simple.  Are there lobbyists for “the common man”?  Nope. 
Note:  Does this make me a cynical idealist?  Perhaps, but I see things the way I see things. .. just like everyone else does.  All I can do is express my position and listen to other sides.  If they make a compelling case, I’ll ponder it all and see if I need to adjust my position.  I am, if nothing else, a fairly open-minded guy.
Yes, the federal government (and most state/local ones, as well) needs to curb spending.  I fully acknowledge this point.  But I don’t think giving corporations, which may or may not be paying enough in taxes (honestly, I really don’t know, but do hear an awful lot about tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy…), influence over “public” television is the way to go.
The last thing this society needs is documentaries on Propecia being a wonder drug for everyone and how your life would be so much better if you took it, or a Masterpiece Theater play featuring the E*TRADE baby helping diversify your portfolio.  (Actually, that second one would probably be quite humorous, as those ads are rather genius.  But still…)
Maybe this rambling is coming off as a bunch of socialist rhetoric, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I have zero trust for Corporate America to have my best interest—or that of my fellow private citizens—at heart.  For this reason, I disagree with Senor Romney regarding this matter.
Now perhaps I’ll “stick it to The Man” by heading to Wal-Mart and plundering the blue hair dye section.  Power—and blue hair—to the people!
Editor’s note:  He’s not going to “stick it’ to anyone via plunder or pillage.  We’ll make sure of it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

Back in the Fall, I had mentioned to a teenage punk – apparently I’ve turned 80 – that I had a (woefully-in-need-of-updating) blog.  The kid’s response was something along the lines of “What, do you write about what you had for breakfast?”

See, it feels like I’ve been struggling with blog ideas of as of late – rather uncharacteristically, speaking as someone who falls in the “creative type” category – and was wondering if people might actually be interested in what I had for breakfast.

If so, I feel bad, because it’s not going to happen.

(Okay, I don’t really feel that bad about it.  I mean, my breakfast consisting of exotic foods eaten in fascinating places with super-celebrities while doing activities like extreme snorkeling or discussing realistic solutions for world peace isn’t really that interesting.  No one wants to hear about that…)

Anyhow, I haven’t been feeling particularly creative, but I lost sight of the fact that my method is to sit down and start writing.  Everything else flows from that and I needn’t worry about it so much.

I suppose that I’ve been thinking a lot as of late about the fact that the universe never rewards inaction.  Planning is fine – and often quite necessary – but it doesn’t mean anything unless steps are taken.

I’ve been guilty in the past of putting too much emphasis on the planning part of a process and not enough on the “actually doing it” part.

Right now I’m going through a personal revitalization stage.  Continual improvement has always been, and will always be, one of the main focuses of my life.  But sometimes I get so caught up in the “how am I going to do this” that I don’t place enough effort in taking steps.  I wait too long for the fabled “perfect plan” to be developed when such a thing doesn’t exist.

There needs to be a balance between planning and doing, but my scale was weighted too heavily on planning and it left me ineffective in certain regards.  This has been a major realization… one that I’m embarrassed has taken so long to A) recognize and B) taken action against.

But no more.

When I started this post, I didn’t have a particular direction I was thinking about taking things.  Sometimes I do… just not today.  That is okay, though, because I now have a completed post.

Oh, my breakfast was oatmeal and scrambled eggs.  (You’re welcome.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Keeping Up with the Ducks

One of the lucky people who shares the same domestic dwelling as myself -- and may or may not be Mrs. Ducks Out Of A Row -- happens to like tv shows featuring Kardashians.  I am feeling the need to share something with you pertinent to this fact...

So there's this show called "Kim and Kortney Take New York" (or something to that effect... I'm not 100% sure and, admittedly, do not care enough to fact check this).  It features an uber-talented and not-nearly-famous-enough lady named Kim Kardashian.  (That's weird, the patented Sarcasm Detector 3000 here at Ducks is going haywire.  Huh.)

Evidently -- remember, I'm not the fan of the show -- Kim (the show's apparent "hero") got married recently to this basketball player named Kris Humphries.  The two seem to be having a problem adjusting to married life.  (Happens to all of us, right?  Right??)  Now, the editors are portraying Kris as some kind of doofus -- or maybe he's portraying himself as such in a brilliant performance -- but I think he's simply misunderstood.  (Many geniuses are.)

You know, in spite of their current problems, I think the two will work it out and have a long, happy marriage.

Also, I'm thinking the show will probably sweep the Emmys for all the major categories, including:  Best Actress, Best Writing, Best Use of Curvaceous Body in a Crappy TV Series and Best Prop (which will go to Kris Humphries).

That show does boast a rather talented cast.  (Why is the Sarcasm Detector 3000 shaking violently???)

Editor's Note:  R.I.P. Sarcasm Detector 3000.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Blackout is Over!!!

Wikipedia's 24-hour blackout to protest the proposed anti-Internet bills  H.R. 3261 and S. 968 is now over. As such, the staff here at Ducks has determined that our considerably-more-impressive protest blackout -- you know, the one that has been going since last April -- is also over.  

(Or maybe 2011 was a really awful year -- probably the worst since I lost my mom to cancer in 1999 -- and it is time to get back on my feet and bring you, my beloved billions of readers, even more award-winning content than ever before.)

If you've never heard the sound of the enter world rejoicing at once, take a minute and listen to the collective reaction to this news. That is what it sounds like.

I saw on CNN -- scrolling across the bottom of the screen, nonetheless -- that a company was going to have "slightly-less than expected losses" and couldn't help but wonder if that is cause for celebration or not? On one hand, slightly-less than expected losses" is considerably better than "significantly-more than expected losses." On the other, it's still losses. So do they break out the bubbly? Do they fire some office slackers (the ones who contributed to the not-enormous losses)? Do they hire me for a very large fee to fire some office slackers? If they were smart, they would!

(It's things like that that I wonder about... and fully assume that means you do, too.)

I like seeing what Internet searches are popular and trending. (The "trending" part is important, because if I'm just going with "popular," there would probably be a lot of results for adult-themed websites.)

Speaking of "adult-themed websites," people were looking up "Bikini bodyguards train in China." Bikini bodyguards? Are we really sure that Communism isn't the way to go? (Okay, I completely acknowledge that this isn't "adult-themed" -- more like "PG-13-themed" -- but I needed a good segue.)

Sometimes a good segue isn't needed.

It was recently brought to my attention that MTV ignored my pleas to send the Jersey Shore cast to Iran for the new season. I don't know what they are thinking. I mean, I'd actually watch the show if that was the premise.

Random rambling? Popular Internet searches?? Sending the Jersey Shore kids to the Middle East??? Clearly, Ducks is back!