Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tenacity vs Talent: Goals for 2012

Some goals to consider when forging ahead in 2012 is doing everything with the understanding in mind- the difference between “talented” and someone who has “tenacity.” Talented people are the many individuals that might be better, more creative, more skilled in the area of the talent of your choice.

Someone who has tenacity is someone who may not be perfect, they may have to climb some hills and have to deal with numerous obstacles. They may not come from money. They may not be able to achieve their goal in the time frame that their peers do, but their tenacity makes them strong and it is those with thick skin, those that can go the long distance that are the prize.

In the year 2012, what ever goal you may have in your life for this year that you want to achieve. Think upon your goals and remember this about achievement. Not everyone catches breaks and yes, there are many more people out their more successful, more talented, more creative, more intelligent, they come from an advantaged background.

It is just as important to have tenacity as it does to have the talent, skills, and intelligence. It is just as important to not get discouraged during hardships and setbacks. Every set back makes you stronger. Surround yourself this year with people that believe in you and avoid negativity.

It takes baby steps to reach a mile and with each step forward, you can reach the finish line. It is a marathon, but with enough persistence, you can reach your goal. Tenacity above perfection- to me that is the key to success because there are millions of talented people who never reached the finish line. You can, even if you may not be perfect.

Perfection is not as important as heart.

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

-Vince Lombardi

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Media Consumption: Clean, Simple Designs & New Technology

There are several different ways one can consume media today. Our television watching experience has become more diversified. However, one of my favorite experiences is watching movies at a drive-in. For an entire list of drive-in theaters in the United States you can check out a great site called Drive-ins and Drive-in Movies. 

Technology is expanding and shrinking at once. The more advanced the technology, the smaller in size it becomes. The best example is the smart phone.  

Now, this all relates to how we consume media because we seem to find it fascinating to watch and read everything on a screen that is the size of a tablet or smart phone. The fact that high technology has shrunk shows the need for lighter and less cumbersome designs. This is why I feel certain products have done better than others.

Simple, easy to use and user friendly designs seem to have an easier ability to sell itself than more complex designs where the product comes with a training manual that makes “War and Peace” look like a quick read, a short entertainment novel you take with you to the beach. All products seem to follow this common thread of what users want. Take the car industry where Toyota’s are one of the most popular vehicles not just because of their reliability, but because of the Toyota design. The Chicago Tribune wrote a recent article relating to Toyota's Camry 2012 design. In the article you can find words like: "edgier," "minimal," and that, "Toyota's designers got it right when they added covers to the Camry's multiple storage compartments, making it easy for the car's interior to look clean and clutter-free." The designs of most Toyota’s are simple, modern, and clean; I own a Prius and it is the one thing that I enjoy about it. To start the car, you push a button. To get to a place, you use the navigator and it takes you anywhere you need. If you are being robbed or attacked, you can push a panic button on the roof of the car and it calls the cops for you. The car let’s the cops know where you are located. I know because I accidentally pushed the button once and two cop cars showed up within minutes.

Most blue-ray players now come with Netflix, Hulu Plus and other video viewing applications which allows you to hook up your blue ray player, sign in to your Hulu plus account, Netflix, Blockbuster online, YouTube, and others. We can also go to our apple store on our iPhone’s or other smart phones, buy or download a free video application widget. In yesterday's CNN online "technology" article The 10 biggest stories of 2011 in mobile tech stated it best:  

This year's U.S. debut of Spotify -- along with new and updated mobile streaming music and video services from Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix, Hulu and video chat/calling services like Google Plus hangouts -- are helping to fuel the demand for streaming mobile media. And behind the scenes,  technology from companies like MobiTV are helping streaming video consumers seamlessly shift their viewing experience from one device to another.

The iPhone's still do not play flash movies. When I tried accessing a video from my Amazon video library, it wouldn’t play on my iPhone because it doesn’t run flash. I tried buying or putting flash capabilities on my iPhone but it still wouldn’t play. Other than this minor annoyance, our society today has evolved into numerous methods of television and film consumption. However, I think that like some of the new blue-ray players, easy access and simple designs is what most consumers are looking for today. 

Though, just as technology has evolved so has our theater watching experience. I love drive-in theaters during the summer months and for the grueling cold winters, treating yourself to an IMAX film will not be something you regret. 

My most recent IMAX experience was "Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol," worth the $36 for 2 adults. Yes, this is expensive, but do not prejudge the "weirdo scientologist" because Tom Cruise does not disappoint in this film. From beginning until the end, the flow of the action and the film left me on the edge of my seat. 

The way we watch film, television shows today varies. We have much more ways to consume media today than we did 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Pick your devise, venue, technology tool, it makes no difference because the theater experience is up to the audience. As long as we're viewing a captivating film, television show, web series then the tool is only a small fraction. Though I must admit, the tools are clean and simple designs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Netflix Streaming: Some Positives

Netflix has caused quite a stir, angering its customers when it separated the cost of its streaming and DVD rental cost on customers, raising their prices. Back in July a Forbes, magazine article complained “Only a company that is overvalued would think that it has the right to increase our monthly fee by 60%.” Recently, more unsatisfied customers complained about a new Netflix application for the X-Box 360 upgrade and the “removal of the Netflix party feature” one web news site After Dawn states.

However, not taking sides, I want to point out that it is not just Netflix raising their prices. It seems that most things are simply more expensive. My husband and I took a short trip to the grocery store today and we got a few things. Well, the few things ended up being nearly $100.  On the drive, back home we reminisced when just a few years ago $100 worth of groceries took you much farther than it does today. Everything is much more expensive today and unfortunately there is not enough jobs or raises to compensate for the higher cost of living. We can turn to Occupy Wall Street to get that many of us are more than frustrated.

Therefore, when companies such as Netflix raised their prices on their customers, it caused a fury. Many of my friends dropped membership even and decided that they could no longer afford what Netflix had to offer. If one looks at the movie collection on Netflix streaming, especially under “New Arrivals,” what Netflix considers “new” is not what it used to mean years ago. Going back about 10 years ago when Blockbuster was not going out of business, whenever Blockbusters or Netflix said “New Arrivals” they meant it. These new movies were the films you missed in the theater because you were either: a) not interested, b) broke when the movie came out in theaters OR c) too busy and didn’t have any free time to catch the flick in theaters, as much as you wanted to, meant to…you missed it.

In a latest Washington Post article, “Netflix increases 3Q spending to woo lawmakers as subscribers rebel against price increase” expressed that although people enjoy the convenience of watching on-demand videos and streaming content, that Netflix has to offer. They do not enjoy the new wave of media consumption at the additional price spike. The article stated “Netflix Inc. spent more money currying favor with U.S. lawmakers and regulators in the third quarter while the video subscription service’s customers rebelled against a price increase.”

I happen to be a Netflix subscriber that has recently joined. Perhaps for long-term subscribers, the prices and membership plan changes feels like a betrayal. If Netflix would have decided to not raise or change plans for older members and only begin changing plans with new members, maybe Netflix would not have to spend so much time, energy, and money battling with law makers. For me, I do not have an issue paying the $7.99 that costs me for unlimited streaming per month. I do not want to wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail. I have developed a method of watching movies, tv shows, as convenient and low cost to me as possible. Netflix, I will admit does not have all the new movies. Their streaming film library is pretty limiting. If you are looking to watch the latest new release to have gone to DVD, you may not find it on Netflix streaming. If you are looking to watch films that are recently new, you missed it in the theater and it has been a while since it has gone to DVD- it may be on Netflix.

Netflix streaming is good for those that want to catch up on television shows and documentaries. Honestly, Netflix streaming actually has a real good television show selection and one of the largest online streaming selection of documentaries I have seen in a while. If you are in to foreign films, you could find some new and unique films on Netflix. There are some surprisingly interesting independent films available, as well as a large horror selection if you are a horror-junky.

Hey listen, I know money is tight. No one wants prices to go up, but who is not raising prices? Doesn’t it come with the territory of a bad economy? Everything is more expensive today. Netflix is one of many businesses raising prices. It is happening everywhere. Netflix is just happening to take more of a beating than other businesses doing the exact same thing.

Honestly, if I want to watch newer movies that Netflix doesn’t have- it is actually on Redbox. For a little over a buck, I can get a new movie that I won’t be able to see on Netflix streaming. Then, to catch up on television shows and my thirst for documentary films, I go to Netflix streaming, I like the fact that for $7.99 a month I can watch: 100 episodes of How I Met Your Mother, at least the first 2 seasons of Vampire Diaries, most if not, all the episodes of older series such as South Park, classics like The Wonder Years, and one of the most addicting shows on FX, my number one favorite show, Son’s of Anarchy.  For the newest thing to hit the theater, I go to the theater.

What’s the big deal? My personal opinion, I see no reason to complain about Netflix. Yes, I would like a larger film selection of new releases and I hope they keep their library of tv shows expanding. My only request to Netflix, if they are reading this blog- it would really be awesome if they could put all of Dexter’s series on Netflix streaming. I know this probably will never happen, but maybe Santa will bring me a full collection of Dexter for Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Reality Show Trends: Non-Realistic Reality?

I am convinced that the next new wave of Reality TV Shows are tending to go towards the absurd. But, again I am very guilty of watching them because Reality TV tends to hook their audience. The more absurd, the more one is glued to the television screen. Reality Television is often not as real as it would appear. I think people are catching on more and more.

TLC has "Sister Wives" which I watch because I think it is so insane. It is about a Mormon dude that has not 1, not 2, not 3...but 4 wives. For anyone watching the show, the average person is not a polygomous. In my husband's words "In this economy, who the heck can afford 1 wife let alone 4!" Sister wives, seems to reflect the unusual life of one guy who has four wives that live in Las Vegas and each of them have their own house. He is currently unemployed I think or looking for work. I am not exactly sure who is paying for 4 separate house holds? Would they be making enough money from TLC? The Gosslins made money from TLC, I suppose being filmed isn't such a bad gig. Don't get me wrong, I love reality shows. I watch them and would love to even work for TLC or Bravo or Discovery. I am addicted to reality shows. But, I can't help but feel like the title should be changed to "Not Typical Reality" or "Not the Norm Reality" or "Non-Realistic Reality."

Maybe the more unusual and absurd the more we want to watch? Take "Extreme Couponing" for example. This show is by far the most non-realistic reality show on today. It gives us false expectations that we can go out and get all this food for free using coupons. I do not know where all these people get stacks and stacks of coupons and then spend up to $500 worth of groceries and get it usually for $30 or even for free. Most of them, if you have ever watched the show- tend to buy stuff for bulk but stuff that is usually bad for you. Stuff like 3 dozen boxes of twinkies and 4 pounds of candy and 20 cans of processed food. Either way, I tried going on line and printing out coupons and looking for them. There is no way on earth a person can realistically gather that many coupons without some sort of help. Maybe help from the  network filming them? Who knows, but either way I do not see how any real person can actually go out there and get 500, 600, $700 worth of groceries for free using coupons. Some people on the show have actually broken the register because of all their coupons being scanned. I don't know, call me skeptical, but that is one show I am not sure about and would fall under my "Non-Realistic" category of reality shows.

My last "Non-Realistic" reality show is "Hoarders." The show can make you want to clean your house. Yes, I also watch the show and like it. But, I also think that it is not the norm. Most people fall into something in between. The people that are on the show fall under the extremes. Some of us have clutter in our home, a bit of a mess but not to such extremes as seen on this show. Again, "Non-Realistic" reality shows. I can name more, but I won't. In my opinion, reality shows are going to get much more extreme in nature.

CONCLUSION: We will continue to exploite the extremes, the weird, and the absurd. Why? Because it sells and because it makes those that are watching feel less screwed up or perhaps normal people are boring to watch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vampire Obsession in Film and TV

There is an obsession with the supernatural world in story telling as of late. Recently, it seems that most of the popular block buster hits has come from comic books or the paranormal world. The fascination with vampires has especially sky rocketed. The fight between good and evil is an old tale. It seems that there are very few stories that have not been done before. But, recently there is something that is compelling people to escape in the fantasy of romanticizing what traditionally has been the picture of evil.

Evil has a face for most of us, a face from a myth that has had a great American tradition. Vampires were a bit more wicked, but has recently softened in character. They have since, morphed in to visual versions of historical romance novels, which is where it all began. Since, historical romance novels has branched out into sub-genres: supernatural and paranormal romance novels.  I am guilty for reading all sorts of books from romance novels to Kurt Vonnegut. I have a range because like television or film, I like to think of it like a buffet. I like to taste a little of everything, because I think it helps one to be well rounded.

Vampire movies are not what they used to be. They satisfy our craving to understand the dark side within us. In my opinion the romanticized version of vampire movies today is catching the attention of so many young adults and hell, people of all ages. It has morphed in to more than a trend, but a huge cult like wave, a following that is unbelievable. The fight that vampires must battle inside themselves to choose between killing to live and living an eternity finding ways to be good despite their nature to do what is considered "evil." This internal struggle is something most people can identify with. Also, comic book heroes and vampires can get away with doing things that we can't ordinarily do. Again, we as the audience are sucked into escaping within the vortex of the supernatural world. Why? Because the impossible is possible and because the rules of the universe change.

Although, the vampires today are not what they used to be when they first appeared in films. Humans have always been intrigued by the concept of eternal life. But, this modern day 21st century vampire has definitely filled our ordinary and dull lives with a new fantastical and romantic dance between love, lust, and yes... blood.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Flawed Health Care: Lack of PCPs & New Online Medical Database

The most frustrating thing about health care today is that even if you do have health care, there is not enough Primary Care Physicians. When I moved to Upstate, New York getting a Primary Care Physician was next to impossible not to mention a specialist. I am not sure how health care is for other insurance holders, that is if you are lucky enough to be covered under an insurance at all. But, even if you do have insurance there is a wait list for everything. One deals with either being put on a 6 month wait list or being denied because the Physician is no longer taking new patients.

If you have a diagnosis and you need medication, one has to resort to waiting in the emergency room for hours and hours just to get a prescription refill. Recently, I had to do the whole "emergency room bit" just to get a prescription refill. Because some doctors have policies, they require a PCP to sign off on a referral in order to be seen. But, with a 6-month wait list for a Primary Care Physician, by the time one actually gets around to seeing the specialist that they need to see, it's practically a year later! Tri-Care which is the insurance for military people and their family tends to be a nightmarish situation of having supposedly great health care benefits, those of which some civilians envy. But, what most people do not realize is that the chances of being seen by a doctor in areas where there is a shortage of Primary Care Physicians is next to impossible. Who can wait 6 or even 9 months for medication that one is prescribed and one needs to take every day?!?! There has got to be a better solution for this.

My last ER visit (to just get simple prescription medication I must take daily in addition to a simple referral to finally get seen) was quite strange. I was put in a data base with my consent of course, in order to have my medical records accessible anywhere, in any city and in any hospital nation wide. One might question the ethics behind medical records being this accessible and how easy computer systems and data bases can be hacked in to. But, if you are someone such as myself that travels frequently and needs their medical records available readily, it feels like a new sense of freedom. Strange, how sharing more of your information- especially one such as medical records is becoming more and more the standard. For those of us that have disabilities and or need to take medication on a regular basis. To function in a learning environment or a work environment, medical records need to be accessible in order to provide proof. Having updated online medical record data bases can definitely feel like an invasion of privacy. But for someone that needs medical treatment on a regular basis and a hospital nearby, it is an equally necessary tool in today's world where we need information quickly and accessibly.

Soon, we may even restore the "VeriChip" which was discontinued in 2010. It was also called "VeriMed." It was made up of a 16 digit number and transmitted as it was scanned. 80 hospitals and 232 doctor's agreed to this having medical records accessible via an imbedded micro-chip. And although it was discontinued in 2010, it may come back new and improved. Who knows? As of now, I am awaiting my own medical records to be mailed old-school from Colorado where I once lived. Having a copy of our medical records are always an important thing to have. But soon, my medical records will be updated over the web and available anywhere, nationwide. This is both good and bad depending upon whom utilizes such a powerful tool. And soon, people like me will not have to wait a week or more for medical records to be mailed to us. It will all be available via the internet, as it already is I am sure.


Microchip implant (human)

Good Related Articles: 

Ethical Issues of Medical Records on the Internet

The Future of primary care in an ACO model

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learn To Listen: Embracing Conversation in the Digital Age

Look around and observe your surroundings, be interested in what other people have to say. Often when we are trying to find our way in this world, carve out a path for our lives we spend more time assuming than actually fully recognizing a message in its entirety. Observation is the key to growing as an individual because it causes us to become aware of what is going on around us. Observation forces us to take notice of national and international affairs, awakening our senses to other people's reality even if it is for one brief moment. You'll be amazed at how much you grow when you stop to try and gain perspective from expanding your ability to empathize with people you don't know.

When we are consumed with our own world or even our own thoughts, we do a disservice to the real lesson's people teach us. That is why it is always better to learn how to be a stronger listener and not just be an active listener, but one that is sincere. Being honest in your work; being an honest writer and filmmaker is that sensitive balance that comes from healthy objectivity and regulating your emotions. It is surprising how easy it is to get offended. It is surprising how easy it is to misunderstand one another. We live in a society full of "entitlement" thinking and egos that get in the way of healthy bi-partisanship.

The more the wave of technology brings new media and new changes, it is still just as important to know the power behind them. We must not allow technology to numb our sensibilities and cause us to forget how to simply be genuine and have a sincere conversation with another human being. No texting. No IMing. No phone calls. Take a moment out of your busy day, when you are talking to someone- learn to be a better listener. When you are having a good conversation or when someone is speaking and really teaching you something, embrace the lesson with both ears and a sincere hunger to want to understand their perspective even if you may not agree.

If you happen to have a good conversation with someone, count yourself lucky. The basis to any story,  good writing or film begins with experiences. Embrace the inspiration that is around you and experience a good old fashion face-to-face.