Decide For Yourself

After the president’s January 2016 State of the Union address, people were having him sign autographs on the way out the door. He complied with the look of indifference that is typically seen on rock stars leaving the arena to the applause of their adoring fans. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t recall seeing that before from any previous administration. It struck me as “cheap.”  Maybe I’m too provincial, but it just seemed beneath anyone who occupies such a distinguished office. But Bill Clinton already set a new low there and this is a different era, a different time, but should an “Obama signature item” really turn up on eBay someday? I don’t think it should. But who am I to say?

Celebrity Opinions

When a tragedy occurs in the news, it is now commonplace to show how celebrities reacted.  A series of tweets and posted texts always follows. Sometimes the reporter says the world is “devastated” and that “an outpouring of emotion” came from the celebrity world. The celebrities in many of these instances seemingly paused the program they were watching, reached for their phone and typed, “RIP Big Man. Devastated beyond words.” Then they go back to their program. I’m thinking “devastated” is not the same term it once was either. But, again--is it my place to say so?

A Big Deal

I’ve got a buddy that lived across the hall from me in my first 2 years of college. We used to enjoy the Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh football rivalry through the years and even now, 35 years later I know when I am watching my Browns play his Steelers he is right there, eyes fixed on the game, somewhere in the world.  We can go months without speaking and the Steelers will intercept and I’ll type in “lucky catch” to his address. Within 10 seconds I’ll get a message back with something like, “Hey that’s all talent, baby.” Recently when Pittsburgh seemed to be closing in on a Conference Championship I hammered in some quick message and he immediately returned a response. As the snow fell out my window, I mentioned the harsh Cleveland weather and asked if he was basking in the Texas heat where he lives. “I’m in a pub in Oslo, Norway,” he wrote. “My company has an office out here.” I sat there remembering how he and I were both obliged to call mom (collect) on Sunday nights from college for the weekly update. Now college dorms don’t even come with phones. Yeah, OK dude--Oslo, Norway. To me, that’s a pretty big deal. Others may not think so, but I do.

Talks Too Much

Earlier this month, I saw Stephen Hawking was making some more predictions about the future and his doomsday advice about how we are going to demonize ourselves by seeking so many shortcuts and conveniences. He, the ultimate scientific mind shames people for their forward-looking curiosities yet these very things are the foundations of his celebrity. And how easy is it to sit and say that in 100 years, his words will come true? Who will be around to remember his claims? But we clamor to hear him speak and his words are reported every time he takes the stage. More talk from more celebrity pontificators. I don’t think he’s any more fact-based than most tailgaters who call radio sports talk shows. “We’re taking the title this year, Ernie, I guarantee it!” I think Hawking should just go VIP away. To me he’s just another outspoken egotist that has read his own press too long; but that’s just my opinion.

Form Your Own Opinion

So if you look back at the last four paragraphs I clearly have opinions about each topic yet I leave you with the notion that I may have an opinion but it is only MY opinion. The rest of the world is entitled to their opinion. But that’s not how the rest of the world reacts or what the world has to say anymore. Print journalism, television ads, radio commercials; all of these are TELLING us how we should feel these days. They almost trick us into reacting the way they tell us we should. I thought about how it got that way and I think it came with the advent of blogging and tweeting and forums that allowed people to take the stage and spout their opinions. While talk radio and “call-in” shows that were big in the 60s and 70s indeed provided a similar stage, there was always a host of the show that could insure fairness and balance to the comments made. Now, anyone who can type can make their opinions known and practically insist on being heard. It’s different. It’s pompous. It's ”yellow journalism” at its finest pure form. Decades ago, William Randolph Hearst was putting a newspaper dynasty together and he told his reporters, “Don’t give stories of ‘dog bites man!’ I want ‘‘man bites dog!’” That germ of an idea, sensationalism in all things, seems to be the absolute mantra of the common “instant journalist” today. You know what’s missing? Simple respect. Respect for the freedom of others to think as they please and make decisions for themselves.

So please folks, fight for independent thought and teach your kids the same. You don’t need ancient Chinese herbs or jacked-up aerobics from drill sergeants to lose weight; exercise more and eat less.

You don’t need tried-and-true “methods” and books on understanding your children to make them excel and lead a good life; spend time with them and be honest about their needs.

You don’t need flat screen this and wireless that to get a decent signal in your house called television. I still have one old Zenith in my house (now with an adapter) that takes forever to warm up and when it does the reds are real rosy and the greens look fresh from the Emerald City but I like it like that.  Reminds me of the days my dad would say “the tube is going” and we’d pull a couple bulbs out of the back of the set and take them to the hardware store to test whether or not they were still good. Usually wind up getting an ice cream, couple screws to repair the screen door and maybe a can of shoe polish to get my Sunday shoes shined up for Easter mass. We’d talk to Mr. Griffin and he’d be sure to tell me to say hello to my mom and sisters and we’d go home, put the television back together and if I was lucky, I’d hear the familiar ping/pang of popcorn popping against the steel lid of the pan while mom cooked up a batch of her famously buttered corn.

It’s just my opinion, but that was awesome.

Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at