Today, as I was walking around a shopping district near where I live, I noticed several stores are having store closing sales. There are plenty of small “mom and pop” shops along this strip and every single one seemed to be closing down. I don’t exactly know why they are closing down, nor did I ask the proprietors of these shops, but one thing is certain, two mini shopping malls have recently been built in the vicinity and they are pushing out the smaller stores. None of the “mom and pop” shops are listed among the stores in these malls, which leads me to believe, these small stores have been muscled out of their spot in the market. I am someone who loves the convenience of a mall, but there is just something endearing about walking into a neighborhood store and buying my regular wears. It is sad to think that soon, all of the stores I grew up with will be replaced with corporate chains. I don’t want to get too political, but here in New York the public heavily voted for individuals who claim to be anti big business, and pro middle class, but I have yet to see the benefits promised to the middle class, and small businesses are struggling. It seems like the quest to “build jobs” in America has brought many construction jobs for all of the new malls, and phased out the little guy who cannot afford a spot in these malls. The “middle class” cannot survive on the retail jobs being built everyday, in order to truly grow our economy more has to be done to allow small businesses to grow and eventually export their products. I am saddened to see my neighborhood businesses fall to the wayside, but also hopeful that these business owners will not quit. Anybody who successfully starts a business has the grit to keep going, hopefully the economy will be friendlier to the “little guys” who keep trying everyday.
Stubbornness is one of the most annoying traits I have come in contact with during my time here on earth. Why is it that the people who often need the most instruction are the most stubborn? I understand when a learned individual is stubborn, but they too need a bit of guidance at times. I believe stubbornness has two major types and both are heavily involved with pride, one wants to be proven wrong, the other wants to do as it pleases. The first type of stubbornness usually comes from a place of knowledge and at often times a place of arrogance. A scientist who is confident in a theory may come off as stubborn. Since the scientist would rather not have others altering their work, they will stand on their hypothesis and experimentations until they are disproven. I am not against this type of stubbornness, because when it comes to proving a point often times you have to be stubborn in order to be taken seriously. The second type of stubbornness that annoys me endlessly is the stubbornness that is deaf to reason and usually comes from a teenager or child. This stubbornness is shown whenever a person does not want to listen to correction or advice. I am all for people learning from their mistakes, but when mistakes can be averted it is just easier to listen to instruction. I find interesting that stubbornness is incompatible with leadership. True leaders learn early on, that the best way to lead is to be flexible, stubborn leaders quickly lose the respect of their followers. In a way, stubbornness is just another pathway to learning, once it is placed aside true progress can begin.
Failure is the great adversary of success, but also quite possibly the greatest catalyst for reaching your goals. Robert F. Kennedy once said, “only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly,” and while success never seems close in times of failure, the ability to press on leads to life’s greatest victories. Whenever you find yourself reaching for a goal, there are many setbacks, these can be small or large, a setback isn’t considered failure unless you quit. As life progresses and responsibilities advance setbacks become more common, but with growth comes a natural adaptability to abrupt change. Most people take setbacks in stride, when you know what is important a small speed bump won’t send you off track, but there are also many who cannot deal with setbacks, those are the people who succumb to failure most often. People who cannot deal with setbacks usually stop taking risks, they usually end up failing at their long desired goals due to the fact that they stop trying. Robert F. Kennedy’s quote is most inspirational to anyone who faces multiple setbacks in life, it is a reminder to keep going no matter how risky it may seem, because the achievement will be much greater. Failure is not and should not be an option when looking to achieve your goals, it takes patience, and courage but those who consistently fight through their setbacks will find themselves the most successful.
Last night was the annual NBA Slam Dunk Contest, an event that was once the pinnacle of sports entertainment, but has since lost much of its luster. This year’s event saw a rise in the overall creativity of the dunks over the last few years. Finalists, Zack Levine and Victor Oladipo, showed they were capable of putting on a great show, while keeping the contest competitive. Before this year’s event the contest had been plagued by a lack of variety, and a lack of top talent. While the leagues top player Lebron James has yet to participate in the slam dunk contest, the NBA has been able to effectively show off their young talent through the event. I enjoy seeing lesser known players take part in the contest, but the thing that makes All-Star weekend the marquee event of the year is the showcase of the leagues best talent. The popularity of the NBA seems to be in decline, the league really needs to make an effort to bring new fans into buildings, while keeping old fans satisfied. The NBA All-Star weekend is the perfect time for the league to get fans excited for the upcoming playoffs, hopefully in the coming years they will expand this event to reach a larger fan base.
Today is Valentine’s Day, a day many people observe in order to show their love. This day is celebrated by many, and scorned by others, but why are people so enamored with the idea of this day? Why do people need to use this one day to think about love? I understand the social merits of celebrating this day with a significant other, but I think love should be shown year round with small acts and trinkets. Valentine’s Day should not be the only day you dote on your loved ones, love should be shown everyday. Valentine’s Day is also famous for the amount of people who hate the day with little reasoning behind it, I am most annoyed with Valentine’s Day “haters.” I know some people have had terrible relationships, but why wait until the one day that some choose to actually show affection to release your stream of bitterness. I blame social media for giving these individuals a platform to air their displeasure under the guise of repelling the flood of affectionate postings they see. Everyone should take the time to express appreciation for the ones they love everyday, limiting love to one day a year is one of the reasons love is losing its meaning. Happy Valentine’s Day, and to those who don’t celebrate it, cheer up, it’s still Saturday.
It is freezing outside, and today I managed to stand outside in below zero temperatures waiting for something that never came. My brother’s favorite show was in town, so he wanted to be part of the studio audience. In order to get in, fans needed to get there early and hope to make the cut. I made the decision to accompany him, and while we did get to the location early enough, we ended up standing outside in the cold for three hours, and left with nothing more than frozen toes. As I was standing outside trying to keep warm, I started thinking about the people who had no escape from the cold. It is blistering cold, and for whatever reason there are homeless people all over New York City who are sleeping outside. I sometimes wonder if the shelters are really all completely full, or if some individuals would rather face the weather on their own, it is really not the weather to be outside. I would love to see the city make better efforts to reach out to the homeless in this weather, but I am aware that some people do not want the help. I have actually met some homeless people who do not want to live in shelters due to certain regulations, I find it absurd that a person would put their life in jeopardy just to satisfy their pride, but it may also be the reason they are in that situation. It is impossible to keep warm without constant motion in below zero temperature, so if you find yourself out there in the cold, please try and stay warm. Also try to buy a hot chocolate for one of the homeless individuals who may need the extra help.
What determines human expectation, and why are some people’s standards so high? If you have ever seen the reaction of a truly needy person who received a gift you will notice they show an extremely honest form of gratitude, these individuals cherish the gifts they are given more so than someone of “privilege.” People are most grateful for gifts they don’t expect, and even more for gifts they don’t believe they deserve. It is now common for people to expect gifts for Christmas, for their birthday, and for other milestones, it has become so common that many individuals will actually get upset if they are not given the gift they feel they deserve. It is funny how in this day and age an item freely given without having to ask has become a “deserved” item. A gift by definition is something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation, if a gift needs no compensation then it should not be expected as a compensation for growing a year older or making an achievement. I understand how a child’s birthday can be more of a celebration for the parents than it is for the child, but I feel like an effort needs to be made to taper expectation in some instances. I am not against giving gifts for special occasions, but I hope in the future when I have children, they are always grateful for what they are given no matter how much they have.
Over the past few days the famous NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams, has been heavily scrutinized for claims he has made about his time in the Middle East. He stated a chopper he was riding in was hit by enemy fire, and forced to make a crash landing. Williams’ claims were disputed by an individual who was present at the time of his tour in Iraq, but that is not the only issue. Williams actually recounted the story multiple times over the last ten years, only once stating he was not in the chopper that was hit. As a Nightly News anchor, Williams is in a position that requires the trust of his viewers, and while I usually take any news broadcast with a grain of salt, it is much harder to try and believe someone who is caught in a lie. Many people have stated it is very likely that Williams simply misremembered the stressful details of his time in Iraq, I find that explanation understandable, but the fact that he has changed the story over the years does hurt that idea. Ever since the probe began into the helicopter story, many other reports by Williams have been called into question, completely damaging his credibility. Brian Williams has been put on a six month suspension by the network as punishment for his reporting, but I wonder if that is really enough. Will a six month hiatus fix his credibility? I think Williams should use this six months to clear his name, instead of being away from the camera, I feel he should take many interviews and reestablish himself as the trusted newsman millions allowed into their homes every night. While he cannot take back what he said, Williams has the chance to explain himself, and apologize for the discrepancies in his reporting. I am sure he will be able to return to a news desk, but it is how he takes his punishment that will determine how the nation receives him upon his return.
Today I read a blog post that was basically bashing children’s books of the past. One of the books that stuck out to me was, The Giving Tree, and since I have not read that book in a while I decided to check it out once more to see what this guy was complaining about. The Giving Tree is a sweet story about a tree that loves a child, and is willing to give itself for the child’s happiness. In the story the child grows older and increasingly more materialistic, he begins asking for more from the tree. He asks for things the tree cannot provide him with, but the tree still manages to get the boy what he needs. No matter how old the man gets the tree still sees him as a young child and is always happy to see him, and eager to play with him. The tree in this story reminds me of a good parent, while growing up kids go through many phases and changes, they ask their parents for everything, while giving them less time as they grow. Parents in turn give their children what they can and are happy with the child’s happiness, meanwhile the children rarely see the sacrifice, they just see a tree willing to give all it has to them. The writer of the blog, who is a parent, labeled the book as an “introduction to codependency,” since he feels it is detrimental to give everything you are to your child. I see that blogger as a jaded adult and basically a reflection of the child in the book, taking for granted what he has been given as a child and wanting more, I don’t want to speculate too much but I am sure he would give his life for his children. The gentleman who wrote that blog needs to stop looking at children’s books from an adult point of view. The message of The Giving Tree is perfect for a child, its message is to not take what you have for granted because it will not last forever.
Today is National Pizza Day! And while I don’t know who appointed pizza a day I am grateful that others share my affinity for pizza. I grew up in New York City, the home of the slice, and while I have eaten pizza in many forms and in many countries, I can confidently say New York pizza is the best pizza I have eaten. New York pizza is known for having a thin soft crust, but not too thin, with light sauce and plentiful toppings. I also love deep dish pizza, but since I have never had an “authentic” deep dish pizza from Chicago, I can’t really speak on how it stacks up to its New York brother but I can say it’s not real pizza. Deep dish pizza, while delicious, and packing enough carbs and toppings to feed a small nation, is more of a pasta or soufflé really. I know I am fully writing out of New York bias when I say this, but pizza needs to be foldable, and eatable with bare hands. If I need a fork to eat my pizza neatly, then I have failed my city. As it gets warmer I plan to take a pizza tour of New York City, I estimate roughly 9 pizza shops in my neighborhood alone so it will take a while. I hope to soon be able to head out to Chicago for a deep dish but for now, I will enjoy national pizza day here, in New York “Pizza” City.