Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Play On Words

For some people, it's important to them on where they buy their products.  Some people like to keep their purchases local meaning that if they live in a certain country, they like to purchase things that are made in that country.  But the term "made" doesn't always mean that they are actually made in that country.  Rather they can actually be made in one country, but can be built in another.  It's the battle over made vs built, and there is a difference.

Almost everything that we buy has a stamp on it.  The stamp indicates where that product is made.  Let's say that you go buy a new toy car for a child.  They toy will most likely have a stamp on it that says, Made in USA, for example.  However, it doesn't mean that it's actually built in America.  It could be, but maybe it's not.

By definition to make something is to come up with the concept for it like an idea.  The actual definition states that to make something is "to bring into existence by shaping or changing material".  That's why when we have an idea we say that we made it up, because we made it in our heads.  When we produce the parts then we have made them.  When we put it together or we "assemble" it, then it becomes built.  By definition to build something is "to construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials".

Car dealerships use this "play on words" to sometimes mislead their customers so that they can get a sale.  For example, let's say that you walk in to a Mercedes-Benz dealer.  Your friend just bought a new M-Class and you like it and you want one.  The only problem is that you want to buy a car that's made in the United States because that's where you live and you want to keep things local.  You state this to your salesperson and he says, "No problem.  All of our M-Class models are built right here in America in Vance, Alabama".  Wow, you think.  That's awesome.  You go ahead and decide that it's the car for you and buy yourself one.  So were you fooled?  Yes and no.  No in the fact that what the salesperson said was true, but yes in the fact that he only told you half of the story.  While it's true that the Mercedes M-Class is built in America, it's actually made in Germany.  Germany produces all the parts necessary to build the car, then ships those parts to America so that the car is built in America.  Do you see the difference?  Like I said before, many dealerships use this play on words to mislead their customers.  By doing this they can increase their sales all the while being able to honestly say that they never lied to you.  So next time you want to buy a vehicle, keep this in mind, especially if you truly want to keep things local.  Just remember that this isn't exclusive to vehicles, but a ton of other products as well.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Difference Between A Cross And A Memorial

First of all, this is not a post about religion.  While it may have some religious references in it, as you read it, you will understand that I am not making this out to be a religious debate.  I am not going to sit here and take one side over the other, but rather I am just simply stating what I believe should not be going on between a certain group of people and I want to clarify why I am saying it.  Once again, this is not a religious debate.

A young man is driving home to see his family on a weekend getaway.  He hadn't seen his family in a while so he thought it would be nice to see them.  His trip was to be short as he had to get back to work first thing Monday morning.  He hadn't gotten much sleep and was tired on his way home. He was already behind on his schedule because he wanted to spend every possible minute with his family as he could.  On his way home, he became more and more tired.  He was so tired that on his way home he fell asleep at the wheel.  His car started to drift off the road and suddenly swerved and his a pillar of a bridge and in an instant the young man lie dead.

Saddened by their sons death, the family decides to erect a cross in honer of their son and in the place that he died.  Within a few days of the cross being erected, a group of adversaries opposed the erecting of the cross based on the idea that the family is raising this cross, not in honor of their son, rather on the idea that they want to promote religion.

While the above story is fiction and something I just made up, there are tons of stories just like this all across the nation.  What I want to do is try and distinguish the difference between the two types of crosses that are out there because they are very different.

If you want to get technical, there are three types of crosses in this world today.  The first is a cross used in executions.  Yes, there are still countries today that use crucifixion as a form as capital punishment just like there are countries that still stone people to death.  Second is a cross that is found in churches all across the world.  While these crosses stand for the execution of Jesus Christ, it has a different meaning for the church.  A cross in a church means that the cross is the way to their salvation.  Jesus Christ died on the cross and took away all of mankind's sin away on that cross.  Churches understand that Jesus was crucified on a cross but rather most christians see that cross as a representation of salvation not of death.  This is why some people wear crosses as jewelry.  The third represents death.  Not the death as in executions, but the death of a loved one or the death of a partner such as a police station may have crosses that represent fallen officers.  I want to focus on the last two types of crosses.  Like I said before, these two types of crosses are very different.  I'll make this as brief as I can.

When I drive past a church and that church has a cross on the outside of it, I think of Jesus Christ.  I think that this church believes in Jesus and that he died on the cross as the way to pay for our sins.  This church believes in the cross in that manner.  This is the first type of cross.  It's the one that represents Jesus Christ.  Now, if I am driving down a highway and I see a cross on the side of the road, I, in no way think about Jesus.  I don't turn to my wife and say, "Look, Jesus was right there!"  That's not at all what I think.  In reality, I think that someone died there.  That's the second type of cross.  It's the one that represents death.

There are several ways that people express death or rather several objects that represent it.  One is the cross as we have already discussed.  Some people use flowers.  Some people use stuffed animals.  Another is the wreath.  A wreath is used during Christmas time to symbolize the holiday spirit or holiday cheer.  However, a wreath can also be used to symbolized death.  I have personally seen wreaths on the side of highways to symbolize the death of a loved one. As with the cross, when I do see one, I don't think that Santa was there.  I don't think about Christmas.  I think about death and that someone died there.  Every year the President of the United States presents a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier!  In fact, this is called the wreath ceremony.  Arlington National Cemetery also uses wreaths from time to time.  These wreaths are in no way representing Christmas, but rather the death of a soldier or government official.

In the same way that a wreaths used to describe death instead of Christmas, the same holds true for a cross that represents death instead of Jesus.  Like I said, there are two very different types of crosses. What bothers me is when adversaries cry foul when a cross is erected over the death of a loved one and say that the cross was in fact erected not over the death of a loved one, but rather the spreading of religion.  That's so bogus.  Why would a group do such a thing?  They are only hurting the family of the one who died!  Common sense tells us that these crosses are erected for the dead, not for Jesus.

So that's my issue.  Let's use a little bit more common sense when trying to debate why crosses are really erected.  I think that it's honorable that a cross is erected in honor of those who have died, especially when law enforcement agencies do it.  Remember that not every cross erected represents Jesus.  There are two different types of crosses.  Let's just keep that in mind in the future!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Small Bit Of Luxury

As you may know, most high end cars now days come with heated front seats.  Some cars only have the drivers seat as a heated seat, while most are putting heaters in the driver and passenger seats.  Even lower end cars are doing this, however in most cases, you must buy the high end version of that car or buy a package that offers the heated seats.  While heated seats are nice, especially in the winter months or times when it's cold, not everybody can afford them.  Heated seats can be pricy, and if they fail, unless they are still under warranty or you have an extended warranty, they can cost a pretty penny to fix.  In some cases the entire seat must be replaced.

However, heated seats for the rich is now becoming a thing of the past.  With a very small investment almost anybody can afford this small bit of luxury.  Almost every auto parts store carries heated seat cushions.  Stores like Wal-Mart and Target also offer these heated seat cushions.  And if you don't have access to these type of stores, you can always look online and find hundreds of different kinds of heated seat cushions that you can use for your vehicle.  The cost of these heated seat cushions is fairly inexpensive.  Wal-Mart offers one for right around $22.  Online they go anywhere from $20-$50.  Rather inexpensive if you ask me.

What makes these seat heaters so different is that most come with a massage function.  Depending on how much your willing to spend also depends on what your going to get.  The $22 one from Wal-Mart offers one heat setting but you can choose whether you want the seat to heat, the back to heat, or both at the same time.  It also offers an upper back massage function and a lower back massage function.  Both functions have a high and a low setting.  This is quite impressive for only $22.  If you get up into the $50 range, most offer a total body massage meaning the entire seat vibrates in one way or another.  There is also more of a heat range and you can control the heat temperature.

My wife drives a Toyota Sienna and it has the heated seats.  While you can control the temperature of the heat, that's all you can do.  It doesn't have a massage function and you don't get the option of seat only or back only.  If it's on, your getting both.  I bought two of these heated seat cushions from Wal-Mart and for a total of around $48 (including tax), and I'd say that I came out on top in this category!

So there you have it.  It's a wonderful addition to any vehicle especially during the winter months.  This product would be ideal for those who drive a vehicle that have leather seats but do not have heated seats.  So what are your thoughts?  Is there any other product that can make a vehicle more luxurious at an inexpensive price?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Something Interesting About Winter Sickness

So it's a common perception that when it's cold outside, especially during the winter months, that people are more prone to get sick than in the summer months.  We've all heard this.  We are always told to "bundle up" because if we don't, we could get sick.  However, did you know that it really doesn't matter how much we bundle up, it's really not the cold weather that makes us sick?  Here's why.  

The flu and common cold are caused by viruses.  People get sick more often in the winter because they are exposed to each other more in the winter than in the summer.  When it's cold outside, people tend to stay inside and are more likely to spread germs to one another.  Also, because school is in session, kids are around each other all day and are not afraid to share their germs.  With so many people in such close contact, the likelihood of passing germs is much higher when it is cold outside than when it is warm and people are outdoors.  There is also evidence now that viruses spread more easily through dry air.  When it is cold outside, the air is drier both outdoors and inside (where people have their heaters on) which may make it easier for germs to pass from one person to another.  But it is not the cold weather that causes the cold, it just might make it easier to spread the virus.

In tropical areas, where it does not get cold, the common cold and flu season generally occurs during the rainy season.  But again, these illnesses are not caused by the rain.  They are just more prevalent because people come in closer contact with each other than they do during the dry season.

So there is a little bit of information that I found interesting.  It's something that actually makes sense, but goes against almost everything that we were taught as kids on why and how we get sick during the winter months.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Branch Is The Best?

Everybody has their ideas on what branch of the military is the best. Most people say the Marines. I have even heard a few people say the Army. Navy? Air Force? Coast Guard? So which one is the best? Which one is the hardest?

Now I can't speak about any other service except for the Marines. Why? Because I am a Marine! I served with the Marine Corps from 1996-2000, and I can personally tell you that being a Marine isn't easy! It can be fun, but it's extremely challenging! It's hard work and you must have tons of dedication to get the job done.  I'm sure that this is the case in most branches, however, the Marines are just hardcore. So let me say up front that I believe that the Marines are the best branch to be in if you have a pure desire to serve in the military.  It's also the hardest branch to be in. It may not be the hardest branch to get into, but by far, it is the hardest branch to serve in compared to other branches. There is a reason that they say that the Marines are "The Few".  It's the smallest branch of any service.  Well, out of the four main branches.  

Technically, there are seven branches of the military.  Most people have only heard of four, with a select few hearing of five.  Those branches are:

1.) The Unites States Army
2.) The Unites States Marine Corps
3.) The United States Navy
4.) The Unites States Air Force
5.) The Unites States Coast Guard
6.) The Unites States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
7.) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

The first four are the most common and almost everybody has heard of them.  The fifth is also a major player in the military, but most people think that they Coast Guard is some sort of police force rather than an actual military branch.  The last two are relatively unknown but are also part of the military.  The last two do not empower enlisted personal, rather both branches are strictly officer only services.  It's one thing to note that all branches are considered "uniformed services", however, only the first five are considered "armed services" while the last two are considered "non-combatants".  Also, the sixth service can actually be called to serve as part of the armed forces if directed by the President of the United States.

So back to the Marines.  It's my personal belief that the Marines are the hardest branch of military service to be a part of.  Like I said before, there is a reason that they call the Marines "The Few".  When you go to boot camp, it's hard.  Probably one of the hardest things that you will ever do in your life.  And if things get too hard and you think that you can just quit, think again.  Within the first few days at boot camp your going to take a physical fitness test that will determine if you are even ready to begin bootcamp.  Fail that and you'll be in boot camp for about another 3 weeks minimum, or until you can pass the fitness test.  Only then will your training begin.  If at any point during your training you don't make it, you get "recycled".  That basically means that you must be dropped from your current platoon and shipped to another platoon to begin your training all over again until you pass the requirements.  This will go on over and over until you pass.

Like I have said, the training is hard.  Very hard.  When I was in boot camp, we started out with about 120 recruits and ended up with about 90.  We dropped about 40 and then picked up about 10 from other places like the physical conditioning platoon.  When you have about 40 people who simple can't make it, I'd say that should show you how tough it can be!

If you make it through boot camp, it's off to the School of Infantry if your a grunt, or the Marine Combat Training if you have another job specialty.  Then your off to your Marine Occupational Speciality School to learn your job.  Then and only then do you go to the Fleet Marine Force.  Make it through all of that an you still have tons of training to do.  About 3.5 years worth.  Whether it's physical fitness or job training, you have tons to do, and it's never easy.  Marines train day in and day out.  They never quit.  Marines train so hard that they are ready for anything in a moments notice!  There is a reason that Marines are First to Fight!  Marines are sent first because they know what they are doing.  It's not to say that other branches don't, but Marines train harder than any other branch, therefore they go first.  They are more prepared to fight than any other branch!

So that's my opinion.  Do you see it any different?  If so then please let me know.  Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts!