Archive for the 'Life' Category

We are Big Brother

I really enjoyed an article I read recently from a blogger/writer I follow, Mitch Joel, called “Each of us is becoming our very own Big Brother” (the title as published by the Vancouver Sun).  The idea is something I think we have all become aware of, without fully realizing the implications.  I believe the original fear was that technology would advance such that we would no longer have the freedom to have our actions and discussions be our own, and that our government and corporations would find a way to convince us that by watching us they would be better able to protect and serve us.  Of course this Orwellian story made us all nervous and watchful, but now that we are in the future, well past 1984, it turns out that all you had to do was give people the means to share their own activities with the world and they would be happy to do so.  So here we are in 2012 and most of what people are up to is being posted by themselves and often with the help of their friends.  I think many people buy into the idea that sharing their stories and logging their activites is really just an online journal, but I think it does turn out that we have started opening ourselves up to the world in a similar way we may have thought would happen only subversively by Big Brother.  I am quite fascinated by the ironic twist in this story.  I too wouldn’t have imagined that we as people might surpass the information gathering/sharing efforts of the government and corporations so much that social databases have become some of the greater sources of information on people than their own records.  I admit to contributing to the documentation of my own life online via social sites and this blog, but with the understanding that I should do my best to present my good side since many people might see it and judge me by it.  Ultimately a positive spin is the intention of the content everyone shares about themelves, and although somewhat biased we still tell a lot about ourselves with the post frequency, content, friends, and interactions with other posts.  Of course some less than desirable information may get out about us even without the help of government and corporations who end up abiding by our rules about what they can share about us.  We might be better censors of our posts if we think about how much we really want anyone to know about us.  There are many of us with less to hide than others, but ultimately we all have secrets.  So as much advice has already been given about this topic by others, I would just add my recommendation that we think about how we manage the dissemination of our personal information, keeping in mind that we have the right to remain silent and if we choose to give up that right, we are responsible for what we decide to say and reveal.  Good luck to everyone in this new world.  I personally enjoy this knowledge sharing to an extent but I also think some people should think about who they really are before they continue down the road of potential oversharing.

Seattle Snow

Last week Seattle got hit with a pretty big snowstorm for our area, as sometimes happens about once a year.  I had to work from home the last half of the week because I couldn’t get my 2 wheel drive vehicles out of my neighborhood and I didn’t want to hike uphill a mile in the snow to catch a bus that would likely take forever to get me home after work.  Yeah, I know if you are reading this from parts of our country where snow is normal most of the year, you think we are pretty wimpy about snow.  But just think what it’s like for those of us who never have snow except maybe a few days a year.  We just aren’t used to it and are definitely not prepared for it.  Many people lost power during that week and some are still not back up and running, which is also pretty tough.  One year we had to go without power for three days and it was not fun.  It was cold and miserable.  So it is interesting here when it snows as it is mostly not received very well and causes a lot more trouble for the area than you might think it should.  Anyhow, we survived it well this year.  It was kind of nice avoiding the normal commute and just going to my couch and opening my laptop to work.  Not to mention avoiding all the usual after work errands of meetings or school or sports events.  It was a nice break and where snow is a bit of a novelty, it is kind of fun for a while.  Let’s be clear though.  I live in Seattle because of the milder climate and because I didn’t enjoy living in a place where it snowed all winter and I had to unbury my car every day before going to work and hope I didn’t crash during my commute (even with 4 wheel drive).  So, happy it is pretty much gone now and probably not coming back the rest of the winter.  And those who like snow don’t have to drive very far into the mountains to find it.  I’ll just be back at home if anyone needs me.

Our Country and its Defenders

On Veteran’s Day it seems appropriate to post a few of my thoughts about our country and those who protect our freedom and try to help bring freedom to others around the world.  Despite the many flaws within our political and economic systems, our country is still one of the great democracies of the world, providing its citizens a relatively stable and safe place to live, with many personal freedoms.  This is truly a great thing, something that all U.S. citizens should be very appreciative of.  However as the saying goes, “freedom isn’t free”, and I want to make sure to point out who we owe respect to for our country continuing to be a great place to live. 

The true defenders of our freedoms are the veterans of the armed forces.  Yes, certainly war is an ugly thing and not something to be glamorized.  It is also something that you could argue could have been avoided potentially in some cases.  Regardless of whether you personally agreed with every conflict our country engaged in, which is not the fault of our military, the fact is that our soldiers did not have a choice but to do their best in whatever situation they were placed.  And for this reason, we need to show them the utmost respect for the many sacrifices they made to be the defenders of our freedoms and that of others.  Yes, you could also argue that we shouldn’t have stepped into the conflict of others, but that is another political debate that is irrelevant to the reality of our veterans.  These are real people who signed up to make sure that we could enjoy as much peace as possible within our country.  And many of them did not live to enjoy the peaceful times they helped secure.  That is truly unfortunate.  Those of us who never had to step into the soldier’s shoes, we should always be grateful for these men and women who died in and survived these conflicts on our behalf.  

Today I hope all living veterans are having a nice day off from their everyday duties and getting a chance to enjoy their freedom.  I’m sure there are other soldiers who must continue to do their duty despite what day it is, and I am grateful for their vigilance.  In any case, I hope we all remember to show our respect to those living and dead veterans for their role in ensuring the relatively peaceful lives we enjoy today.  Hey, soldiers can only do so much to fix the many challenges we face as a society.  In times of peace, it is really the responsibility of the rest of us to try to help make our society a little better as we go, in honor of those who secured this privilege for us.

I also want to make a personal remark about my father, Bill Hagins, who himself served 12 years in our Air Force.  I am very proud of his service and his efforts both in and out of the military to remind everyone how lucky we truly are to be living in this country and to just be living.  He has seen much tragedy and personally experienced much hardship in his military service and it reminds me that those who survived need even more of our support and love.  It couldn’t have been easy and I hope that everyone thinks a little bit more about what it might have been like if you had to be in their shoes.  I know I’m very grateful others were able to serve on my behalf.

Seattle Auto Show 2011

I had a chance to run through the auto show this year (last week) and see all the latest cars.  There were some really nice ones, including the Lamborghini with the flat black finish, I hear also referred to as the stealth finish.  It is really cool as you can imagine but out of reach for most of us.  There was also a Lotus painted in a similar fashion if you wanted that cool look but didn’t quite have Lamborghini money.  I got some good pictures, so you can have a look and see what you think.  One of the surprise cars for me and my friends was the Hyundai Genesis coupe which was a nicely styled and affordable sporty car.  If I were single, because it is a coupe, and I was looking for something fun but not spendy, this might be the car for me.  They really did a nice job with this one.  Another surprise for me was the new Chevy Volt.  The exterior and interior is very modern and stylish.  This is another vehicle I could be tempted to buy since it includes a little more style along with the electric concept.  I liked the fact that Volkswagen tried to create a slightly more masculine Beetle with a lower profile but I think most men still aren’t going to be sold on it.  Especially with muscle cars like the new Camaro and the new Challenger and Charger making comebacks in the market, it would be hard to impress your buddies with a bug.

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Fun weekend

My last weekend was a lot of fun.  My company sponsored a golf tournament on Saturday and my team did really well for the mixed handicaps we had.  We took 3rd place behind some really good golfers so we were really happy about that.  Plus it was just a beautiful day and we just had fun trying to do our best and also making fun of our mistakes.  And then on Sunday I was able to go to a nice housewarming/BBQ one of my coworkers put on.  I ate too much unfortunately but the food was really good so at least I enjoyed myself at the time.  I just have to cut back this week to make up for it.

April Fool’s Day

I had a pretty fun April Fool’s Day, and I think my coworkers weren’t too annoyed by me in the end. I actually didn’t bug my family this year but directed my creativity towards work.

Some of my coworkers leave their similar looking laptops at their desks so I simply switched them around a little to make their morning interesting. It helps that I am one of the earliest in the office normally. Next I switched around some of their pedestal filing cabinets. That was a gag that only some noticed right away and most later on as the day went on. But the best prank of mine that day was the one I pulled on our CEO. Yeah, it was a little risky but I knew he would take it well because it was fairly innocuous.

My CEO happens to have his desk area near my team’s cubes, so it was a convenient prank. He has this really big stuffed gorilla sitting in a chair in his area. It seemed to me like an obvious target for my prank. So here is what I did. I took the gorilla and replaced it with a sign that read “Needed a change of scenery. Be back later. – Gil”. I didn’t know if the gorilla already had a name to our CEO, but I gave him one of my own making just for the joke. I then sat the gorilla at a cafeteria table located on the floor above us with a sign in front of him saying “Hi, I’m Gil! I belong to [CEO’s name] but I’m taking a break from his area today to come hang out with you. Please feel free to take a picture of yourself eating with me and send it to him since I’m sure he will miss me. P.S.: please don’t spill anything on me, thanks!”. Anyhow, the location of the gorilla was found out fairly quick within the company and communicated to the CEO. But he was good about the whole thing and let it go on as planned. The gag even took on a life of it’s own as others decided to take the gorilla around to other areas of the company. I found that even funnier. I’m hoping I get to see some of the photos later. Anyhow, I waited all day for them to have fun with this and to contemplate who might have pulled this prank, and then towards the end of the day I finally revealed myself to the CEO as the mastermind behind the simple prank. The CEO and his assistants were apparently really impressed by that gag and encouraged more fun like that in the future. Well I was very happy to find that my prank was received so well by the CEO and the few coworkers I also included in the knowledge behind that particular prank.

I also found out a very good prank was also pulled on our HR VP that day. Apparently she showed up to work and found a vey disturbing scene at her desk area. It apparently looked like someone had a lot of sexually related fun at her desk. I heard there were panties and beer cans and cigarette butts and the like that created quite a sordid scene. I heard she let out a bit of a scream as she discovered it. That sounded pretty funny but certainly was beyond what I would ever think of pulling on an HR VP, but I hear she found it pretty funny. She is a cool gal, so that was probably why someone, I assume her team, thought it might go over well.

Well, that was my day. Hope you had some fun too that day. I just happen to love having a little fun with people, especially on one of the few days designated for such silly fun. Feel free to share your stories or link to your own post on this topic. I’d love to hear about them.

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My father is a writer part 2

Well, he’s done it again.  Here is the link to my father’s second published book, State Trooper.  Way to go Dad!  I haven’t read it yet, but I have heard a lot of the details.  Should be a great read for anyone who likes a little suspense.

State Trooper bookcover


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Bill Hagins

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Denny Lee

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