I have joined the majority of the world, and upgraded to a smart phone for the first time.
And although I love the technology, the old schooler in me has taken a hit.
I have brought something into my life that has the potential to complicate it, provide unnecessary convenience, and make things a little too easy. Definitely not the old school way. But I love great tools that I know I’ll use. And right now I’m excited about this one.
Why? Benefit number one recently: I’m traveling, alone in a New York City hotel room. Despite the insanely comfortable bed, I can’t sleep. It’s 4AM. And I’m writing this post – on my iPhone. Talk about a game changer.
I can write from anywhere, at anytime. If there’s a post idea floating around in my head, I can put it down right then and there. I now have the technology. And it, to me, is crazy.
I also need it for business. In the past, I missed important emails from prospects and customers because I couldn’t get them on the fly. A smartphone changes all that.
I have softened from all of my bluster from before. I do appreciate the fact that I can now listen to any music, watch any video, and search any site of my choosing. With this, I have to be careful not to be one of the many mobile phone addicts and abusers that I see around me.
The number of times that a preoccupied screen watcher (or scroller) has almost walked right into me are starting to add up. The number of drivers on the opposite side of the road, all looking down at their phones? It’s scary to me. These days, defensive driving is a requirement.
As you might guess, buying this phone was stepping way out of my comfort zone. Regular readers will know that I’m firmly stuck in the old school, trying to keep things simple and inexpensive. Treading the path that my grandparents paved.
I will give you my word. I promise not to be “obnoxious cell phone guy”. You know that guy.
I will give you my undivided attention when I am with you. I will always keep the ability to put the phone down, and stay in the real world. The smart phone will not become a substitute for the relationship.
The old school has taken a hit. I have joined yet another club where the comfortable and overly convenient reside. I get more “modern” with each passing day.
Old school has a new tool. And I can use it to spread the message even further.
How about it? Are you a smart phone addict? Or is it just another useful part of your life? Let us know in the comment section below.
In the land of 24/7 media coverage and real time responses from faceless Internet critics, no one would blame you if you questioned every belief you’ve ever had. Prowl on-line long enough, and you can unearth a shadow of a doubt on any subject.
Be it video, text, or photo, there’s always a source for you to question your beliefs.
I have a strong faith that there is a God, an eternal being who created us and watches over us now. This belief was instilled within at a young age, by a family full of immigrants whose Roman Catholic faith was unshakeable.
If I wanted to, I can read articles every day that could make me ponder the question, “What if there is no God?” It may have to do with getting older, being in the second half of your life. Wanting to be sure that there is, in fact, something more that we can look forward to.
I have a strong belief in family. That blood is thicker than water, and that the ties that bind the family are the most powerful you’ll have anywhere. That family comes first.
You can have your doubts here, as well. Friends can become enemies, family become strangers. How well do you really know your loved ones, anyway?
I have a strong belief in country, and I know many will share that view. Whether Democrat or Republican, your main wish should be that our country succeed, no matter what. For the most top of the line belief in country, watch movies like Lone Survivor. Discover the individuals that will go to any lengths for love of country.
There is nothing wrong with questions about God, other people, the environment, conservatism, your country, your government. Questions about truth, lies, sex, videotape, and whether 80s music was as good as it seemed (looking back, I’m having my doubts here).
It’s fair to question your beliefs about any aspect of life happening around you. Except one.
Your belief in yourself.
Now, I’m not here to tell you that my self belief, or confidence, is unwavering. Just the opposite, in fact. I’ve been the recipient of mega self-doubt, not knowing what to do, where to go or how to think, depending on the situation.
Nowadays, the self doubt usually creeps in the subjects of career, financial, home improvement (you’d understand why if you’ve ever seen me use a power drill). But, there’s a difference between “the now” and even just a few years ago.
If the self doubt does make an appearance, it’s short lived. Lasting hours, or even minutes, rather than days or weeks.
And there’s a reason for that. I know who I am. I know what I stand for. Things can change, my opinions can vary, but the core “me” remains what it always has been. That attitude is the very essence of old-school.
People experience self doubt because they compare themselves to others and, more importantly, they don’t do anything that they really enjoy for work or play.
Do you sarcastically say “Just another day in paradise” when asked “How are you?” Is life joyless, devoid of thinking with the curiosity of a kid, intent instead on collecting “things” that add nothing to your identity?
Think about it. About what you liked to do before age eighteen, before life was ruled by higher education, relationships, unsatisfying jobs, mortgages, kids, responsibilities, and the subsequent questions that may create doubt.
Are you doing them now?
Anything? Why not?
When I was younger, it was easier to be plagued by doubting myself. But I had people that believed in me. Like my grandmother. My godmother. I’ll throw my grandfather in there, although it was hard to tell back then. He was an Italian immigrant who was very selective in using his words. His actions did the talking.
Now, I have distinct reasons to believe. There are two kids who will look to what I do, rather than what I say, for examples of how to live. That’s part of being a parent. At ages of 18 and 14, it’s a critical time, and for me, there is no room for prolonged self doubt. They need to know that when doubt is removed, the world can be your oyster.
My immigrant grandparents and their family could have been the champions of self inflicted doubt. Instead, they brought a fire to their duties, putting together their American story and creating future generations of entrepreneurs, doctors, musicians, recording artists, writers, and keepers of the traditions they developed through their years.
The concept of tradition is sinking into a wasteland of trends and media obliteration and saturation. It’s hard to see what’s real anymore, if you don’t look closely. But what’s real is this – my son will play baseball again, launching rockets into sun drenched skies. This summer, my daughter will walk across a stage to shake with one hand and receive a high school diploma with the other.
When she’s done, we’ll carry on our tradition of wandering Cape Cod beaches, exploring, collecting rocks and shells, watching the waves crash and swell. Modern world, and its incarnations of belief killing, be damned.
No room for self doubt. There are reasons to believe.
Tucked away amid waves of string arrangements and woodwind solos, Frank Sinatra’s vocal in “It Was A Very Good Year” is both melancholy and hopeful. He runs through the lyric chronologically, first at age 17, then age 35, finally seguing into a time when life is “like vintage wine, from fine old kegs”.
As you might expect, this favorite song from my youth has taken on a different meaning a few decades later.
The non-conformist in me dismissed the thought of writing an article about the subject of gratitude during the Thanksgiving season. As one year passes on and the new one begins, I feel gratitude especially now for what God has blessed me and my family with in the previous twelve months.
Foremost, my wife and I have two kids that are strong and healthy. If there is a greater gift than your own health, it is the health of family.
My wife and I recently celebrated being married twenty years. Staying married in modern times is not an easy task, and it takes more work and effort than most people think. It’s been easier for us because we have similar tastes and interests, and hold important the goal of always stoking the fire of romance that we started with.
2013 reflected good times for my wife’s side of the family, as well. Relatives with medical complications have been given clean bills of health, and there has been a massive baby boom this year. One cousin born recently, another (a little girl) more recently, and my wife’s nephew will be on the way shortly here in 2014.
This year brought challenges, no doubt. But most of what happened could be called “good stuff”.
If you spied the title of this post expecting a declaration of New Year’s Resolutions, I sincerely hope you’re not too disappointed. I have but one, and it’s recurring: upholding the ritual and traditions of the Italian American lifestyle that I experienced growing up. You can read about it here.
Although the ritual of the ‘making of the meatball’ has fallen off recently, I finally (with some prodding from the family) served up a traditional Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes, right here in my home. I cheated a little bit, cooking five of them at once in a slowly simmered tomato based stew, but my wife said it still counted.
This is also the opportunity most bloggers take to show you their “best of” lists, where they showcase their finest work published in the previous year. While you can see all of what was “epic” here in 2013 just by scrolling down, I’d actually like to share with you two articles that I wish I’d written.
Although the focus of these particular sites is along the lines of social media and content marketing, the articles here focus on the authors’ grandfathers, and the wonderful lessons that were revealed while just living their lives.
Read both of these posts, because I think they’re awesome. Then read them again. If you take away some or the majority of the points in both, and apply them to your own lives, you will be in pretty good shape. It is useful Old School thinking at its finest, presented with class by a couple of fine writers.
If you do this, I dare say New Year’s Resolutions will be the last thing you need.
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Whether fair or not, there’s a lingering stereotype that Italian Americans can be fond of the activity of gambling. While I will admit to playing an occasional football game, poker match, or horse race in the past, wagering my money is not something I do anymore.
However, when the Powerball or state lottery here in New York rise to obscene dollar amounts in prize money, most of my office mates (and myself) pool our money and go buy some tickets for the win.
When I was younger, I used to take my Grandfather to the local mom and pop grocery where he could play his lottery games. He liked to win (and he did hit big a couple of times), but he mostly liked to play for fun.
We play for fun as well, but I find it interesting how people can become overwhelmed with an urge to play all the time, for the remote chance at millions. Because that one big score will change your life and make all of your problems disappear.
If we could only win.
That one prize takes all of the issues of life, the ones that consistently beat you down, and makes them go away. Forever.
I’ve heard it from people who don’t have two nickels to rub together. And from people with asset portfolios in the seven figure range. Interesting, right?
For most, the lottery is nothing but a pipe dream. We can play, but we won’t win. We can fantasize about the new house, fancy car, and exotic trip, but chances are we’ll be going to work the next day.
Should that depress you?
The answer to that question should be “no”. Because in the lottery of life, you have already won.
You live in America. As much as our government tries to make a mockery of our systems, it’s still the best country you can call “home”.
We are in a time of unprecedented technology. Our every need and desire can be met. You, and you alone, can determine the level of your prosperity. All you need is hustle.
Here’s my favorite quote, that I will take credit for and believe to be the truth:
Any day you are above ground, in good health, and able to enjoy the company of friends and family, it’s a good day.
See? You have officially won the lottery!!
I can tell you, now at 50 years old, I have hit the lottery numerous times. You’ll guess that I’ll mention my wife and kids here, and you would be right.
How and when and where I met my wife was truly a lottery score. Nothing but total blind luck. I can only thank the alignment of the planets that night for finally getting me that “right place, right time” moment.
If you go back through the archives of this site, and read about other members of my family (especially the Sicilians), you’ll know that I practically owned the lottery growing up.
And the “friend lottery” is an example of where I continually cash in. My buddy Mike and I hung out for nearly 30 years before his passing in 2012. I can’t emphasize enough what a wonderful friend he was, and how fortunate I was to know him.
Lottery winners just don’t get that lucky.
Many of us will rate ourselves and our level of importance by the things we collect. The titles we acquire. The promotions we achieve. The time spent at the companies we work for.
The trinkets and toys that fill our lives. The stuff that lottery dreams are made of.
It all would be easier if our numbers would just come in. Life is a game of chance, God’s game. We already have the best of luck if we’re here, and get the chance to play.
You already know the truth. A lottery cash prize would be the icing on an already extraordinary cake.
Just play for fun. Because you’ve already won.
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It makes people groan a little bit and roll their eyes. And mutter to themselves, “Oh God. Really??”.
Want to insult someone? Whisper behind their back, “He’s so Old School”.
I’m curious as to how this bad rap came about. Really, is it that bad to embrace the past, keep tradition alive, and keep the fires of old school lessons burning?
You wouldn’t want to be trapped in the 70’s, I understand that. Modern advancement and technology is a wonderful thing, a blessing.
I’ll give an example. When I was a kid, I had pen pals. If you’ve never heard that phrase before, don’t worry, it’s just because you’re young. But, pen pals were guys and (hopefully) girls that you wrote letters to, with similar interests, usually in other parts of the country or world.
Write. With a pen. On paper. Then you had to stuff the letter into an envelope. And put a stamp on it.
And here’s the best part. The last phase of this project was to take the letter and walk it out to a mailbox for delivery. At times the mailbox was close, other times not so much. Then, the recipient would probably receive that letter in several days.
The Beauty of Modern Life
Here’s where the modern (mostly) trumps the Old School. Now when I write a letter, I can compose it on my laptop, and skip all the other steps. To send that letter, the Post Office need not get involved. I can do it by pushing a button, and it’ll be received in two seconds. Two seconds!!
And I also know that the letter has been opened and read! With a pen pal, how could you possibly know? Hypothetically, that letter could have gone straight from the mailbox to the fire pit.
Modern technology, if its not abused, makes you more productive and efficient. I’m all for it.
Old School Value
An example of the value of old school thinking can also be drawn from my youth. On weekend nights, I would typically stay over and my grandparents‘ house, and you could find me up late watching one of my favorite TV shows, a musical variety program called The Midnight Special.
Midnight Special featured all of the big music acts from the 70s, and I would lay on the living room floor, in my feetie pajamas, mesmerized by the large console TV with live concert footage from my favorite bands.
Only one issue. It was on late. Remember, it was the Midnight Special.
Many times, my Grandmother would try to get me off to bed before the show was over. I’d ask her why.
“It’s late and you need your sleep”.
There was no arguing that position. My Grandmother was old-school smart.
There was no need for her to quote from a study, but the eggheads at the National Sleep Foundation find that if you are sleep deprived for any length of time, you won’t stay healthy and/or bad things can happen.
Here’s my point. Common sense and old school thinking eventually merge on the super highway of living a quality life. And when you combine them with smart modern efficiencies, well, now you can really blow it up.
Like I implied, working old school common sense and ethics with modern advances is a win-win. Don’t just make anything overly comfy or convenient. Students of the old school, no matter their age, tend to shun practices that will turn them into cream puffs.
Old School – Still listening to the beautiful and funky sounds from the 70s and 80s. There’s nothing better.
New Age – My, that’s a large and impressive (read: space destroying) album collection you have. You do know you can listen to Kool & The Gang on an iPod, right?
The new school is more efficient here. This example is solid and remarkable. What has happened with music seems to be a necessary part of life. But I think that’s the exception rather than the rule. Read on:
Old School – This smart phone does everything. Damn, how did I live without it? Oh, I do need to put it down occasionally so I can actually enjoy my real life.
New Age – Hopeless. Never, ever puts the phone down. Especially when around friends and family. In the future, won’t see that water fountain straight ahead, or that school bus bearing down on him. Tragic.
Old School – Will use the occasional app to track calories, finances, et al. Wants to ensure things are staying on the right track. Uses tasks to free up time to enjoy with actual humans.
New Age – Apps equal advertising. Look at what I did! I upgraded my iPhone for the 6th time! I saved on my car payment, it’s only $550 a month!!
Old School – Uses social media sparingly. May still think of blue jays when they hear the word “tweet”. Removes people from Facebook that always complain or are excessive braggarts. Uses blogs and websites to advance their agenda. 🙂
New Age – Again, hopeless. Addicted to hashtags. Wants to know via update when you go to the bathroom. Becomes morose and sullen if there are less than 100 “likes” for their latest update. Checks their phone to see what their friends are doing…when they are at a party with the very same friends.
You get this gist. When you temper our coolest and latest with a little old school mentality, the result can be spectacular. Better life, less stress, more health, and you seem a little more informed where you may not have been before. That’s the perception, anyway.
If you prowl the hallways of the Old School, you know better.
That’s my take. What do you think? Is that combination of old and new thinking a necessity these days? Or should I take my head out of 1973? Comments in that little box sure would be nice (ain’t technology great?) !