Saturday, March 26, 2016

Building a social media empire.

I don't know about you, but I am constantly amazed by some of the stuff I see on social media. Don't get me wrong, social media is great, but c'mon...... I don't really care if you had good Mexican food for lunch. Or, the fact that someone in China has a dog that can sing.

 I bet I'm not alone in this.

Most of you who are linked to me on Facebook or Instagram may have noticed that I have recently started posting . (or maybe you haven't, or maybe you don't give a crap either way).  Even though I've had a Facebook account for 5 years or so, I hardly ever logged on until recently.  Well, that all changed a couple of months ago.

It all started last year, when I bought a new Traeger smoker.  I wanted to learn how to smoke different kinds of meats, so I found myself watching a lot of videos on YouTube. I was immediately amazed at how much stuff people put out there. I was really amazed.

Then, late last year, I was researching new credit card offers to find out which one would give me the most points, and I found myself once again on YouTube. I was shocked at how many people were out there appearing to be authorities on the subject of credit cards.  One video that stood out, was of a young twenty-something, appearing in front of his computer camera with a bed sheet hanging behind him as a backdrop.  He was talking about the current best credit card offers.

My first thought, was " How did this guy even get a credit card?", but then I looked down at his number of views and was amazed that he had over 250,000!  Then, he mentioned in his video, that if we clicked on the link in his video, the credit card company would pay him in free miles.

Then it hit me. If these people can have a social media presence, so can I! I mean after all, I've got stuff to talk about. It might be that know one cares, but what the heck? I'll throw it out there anyway.

So, with the help of my son Evan, we have created the KnowingJackSquat channel on YouTube.

It is all part of my new found hobby, of teaching myself how to build a social media presence. All of you who are already linked to me, have had to deal with some lame postings. For that, I am sorry. I promise, that as I continue to learn, posting with be a little less lame. I appreciate your patience. :)

If you get a moment, please check out our first posting on our YouTube channel. The link is below. And  please subscribe. I promise we will post some interesting stuff in the future.

Go here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLQtKWmmRj8

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Still Life 2016

So, I've been reading a lot about how the cell phone has basically taken the place of cameras for the average person. Obviously, people still use cameras, but for everyday shots, the cell phone works well.

I was talking to my wife the other day about how technology has evolved in the past 20 years. I remember about 15 years ago, when I got a cell phone that had a camera. I thought "who is gonna use a camera on a cell phone?".  Well obviously, I was wrong. I also remember when texting became popular. I thought it was the dumbest idea. Well, I was wrong there too.

It's a good thing that I'm not a financial advisor......

Lately, I've been reading a few blogs about travel technology. Basically, a lot of the travel bloggers I follow, talk about what technology items work best for them when they travel. I was interested to find out, that a lot of these folks use only a cell phone for taking pictures for their blogs.

In another article I read, they were discussing how the average person uses only a fraction of the capabilities of their modern phone. Especially, when it comes to the camera. Most people (me included), just leave their setting on Auto.

You know, if you carry an Iphone, or a higher end Android, the capabilities of those cameras are amazing. If you take the time to adjust the settings, you can get some really good photos.

Well, I was inspired.  Below you will see the results of my inspiration. My wife looked at me a little strangely when I started taking pictures of our fruit bowls, but that's really nothing new, because my wife looks at me that way fairly often when I get inspired.

All of the photos were taken with my cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

I call my collection "Nick's Still Life 2016".  Feast your eyes....... (I'm sure you are excited...LOL)






Sunday, March 20, 2016

One year ago today....

Do you ever stop and think about how fast time goes by?  Boy, I do!

A year goes so fast.  Can you remember what you were doing a year ago today?  Well, I can because my wife reminded me that this time last year, we were spending our first day in Turkey, on what would be one of our most memorable trips we've ever taken.

Turkey is a feast for the eyes and the senses. Part Europe, part Asia. Ultra modern, yet ancient.

Crazy trip!   Below are some photos from Turkey 2015.

First  morning in Istanbul. View from breakfast  in hotel. Hagia Sophia.


The Blue Mosque. First night in Istanbul

Across the Bosphorus Straight on the Asia side of Istanbul

The library at Ephesus

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

The cave town of Goreme. Homes are built in to hills

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Everyone needs to take a break

So, it's been a while since I posted here. You know why? Because my family and I took a little holiday! Woo hoo!

We didn't go away for long, just a four night get away. We spent a couple of nights visiting friends in Atlanta, then shot over to Savannah for a couple of nights. It was nice, and everyone had a good time.

What I realized yesterday, when I got back behind my desk, is how nice it is to get away.  Just a few days can help you forget about the mundane activities of your typical work week.  I started thinking about an article I read a few weeks ago, about how over 70% of American workers fail to use all of their vacation days each year.  That's not good. People need a break.

Then yesterday, I read that Denmark was ranked as the happiest country on earth in the 2016 "World Happiness Report". Actually all of the Scandinavian countries were ranked in the top ten.  Seven of the top ten are in Europe. The U.S. was ranked 13th in the "Happiness Rankings".

There are a lot of factors that go into measuring the "happiness" of countries, but I can tell you one reason why all of those European countries are in the top ten, it's because they get a lot of time off.

If you pay any attention to politics, you've probably heard the term "European Socialism". Well, that refers to a lot of things, like high taxes, government healthcare,  and government welfare.  All countries in Europe have some form of this type government. Now personally, I'm not a fan of these big governments, but one thing they do allow for, is for people to have a lot of time off.

In my work as a recruiter, a lot of my time is spent negotiating employment offers to potential employees. It never fails, that the subject of paid vacation comes up. I'm always amazed at how little vacation time is offered. Two weeks is a standard for vacation time in the US.  Sometimes, we negotiate for three weeks, and on the rare occasion four weeks.  Did you know that in Europe, and many other countries around the world, six weeks is a minimum?

People need to take a break. Just a few days here and there can really help to reduce stress, and ultimately make employees more productive.  

There you have it. My two cents.


Below are some of my pics from Savannah









Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's not about the destination. (Part 2)

If you read my last post, I told a story about a trip I took with my dad when I was younger.  Basically, I talked about how it wasn't the destination, but the trip there, that gave me lifelong memories.

To expand on that, I wanted to talk about my philosophy on good travel. As I mentioned, travel to me is not about the destination, but more about the experience. If you really love to travel like I do, it really doesn't matter where you go. If there's a chance for me to go somewhere I've never been, chances are, I'm going.  Why not?

Now, I know that there are a lot of folks out there that will pick a specific destination, then spend weeks or months planning every minute of their trip. They know where they are going to sleep, they know which restaurants they are going to try, they know which museums they are going to visit, etc... There is nothing wrong with that. That's just not me.

To me, if I have every moment planned before I get there, I feel like I'm missing half of the travel experience. Yes, I will have a hotel booked and ready for when I get off the plane. And, I will have a hotel reserved for the night before I fly home. Usually, I will book hotels in cities where I know we will be during my trip, but as far as anything else, I prefer to wing it. I love to arrive in a new city, head out the door and explore.

If you go to Paris for example, of course you should visit the main sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but those aren't the reasons I want to visit a city like Paris. I want to visit for the food, the wine, the culture. I want to take the Metro to a random part of the city and just walk down the street, or step into a cafe and people watch.  Again, travel is about the experience.

There is a national radio talk show host named Clark Howard, that I've listened to for more than 20 years. Before he was a talk show host, he was a travel agent. His philosophy on travel is " find the best deal,  then pick a reason to go".  Basically, if you haven't been all over the world already, just see what the best deals are, buy it then go.

I've always loved that philosophy. He's all about the deal, which is a great way to save money on travel. I'm not saying that if you've always dreamed of going to London, don't go unless there is a deal. Absolutely, you should go.  What I'm saying (and so is Clark Howard), if you really love to travel for the experience, find a deal and go. You will not be disappointed, unless you pick a trip to North Korea or Baghdad. (I hear the food is bad...haha)

One of my favorite sites is www.Travelzoo.com. Every week, they take the 20 best deals from travel companies and blast them out to you. There are always interesting places on there. I've booked a few over the past few years.

So, I've just laid some more knowledge on you. I hope it was helpful.


Here's a woman making our lunch in the middle of Turkey. It's all about the experience.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It's not about the destination.

Ok, first post in a week!. This blogging gig is hard.

So, I want to talk about travel as being about the experience, not the destination.

When I was growing up, we really didn't travel. Yes, once or twice a year, we would drive to the beach. My parents raised horses, so many weekends were spent going to horse shows. Most of our "travel", was to places like Eufaula, Alabama, where we would stay in luxury resorts like the Motel 6. And yes, they would leave the light on for us.

One of my favorite experiences during those times, came when I was thirteen years old.  My dad was competing to be in the "Top 10" in the US for a certain division on the Cutting Horse circuit. (don't ask what a "Cutting" horse is, that's another story).

It was a Thursday night, and my dad came into my room and asked if I wanted to ride with him to Roanoke, VA the next day to a horse show. Of course I said yes, because any chance to hang with just my dad, was a good thing. So, we left Friday afternoon after school and headed out for VA. At the time we were living in the Atlanta area, so it was supposed to be about an 8 hour ride.

It was February, it was cold, and unfortunately for us, our newer truck was in the shop. We had to take the "barn truck".  Understand, that the barn truck was not a looker. It was a beat up truck that was used just around the farm and wasn't really meant for public display, much less the public highway system.  Did I mention that the barn truck had no heat ? Also, did I mention that the sliding window in the back wouldn't close all the way, so there was a constant breeze of cold air coming in?

There we were, riding down the road, wearing our down-filled coats, hats, and our thermal underwear, on our way to VA. (remember, February, no heat) As we cruised down the road, trying to talk to each other over the loudness of the barn truck (did I mention it was missing the muffler?) , I would listen to my dad's stories about this and that. My dad loved to tell stories. Of course, as a thirteen year old boy, all of your dad's stories were interesting.

About 8 pm or so, when we crossed into North Carolina, it started snowing. We turned on the radio to listen to the weather. Hey guess what? There was a winter storm warning in effect for North Carolina and Virginia. Now it was getting interesting. It was dark, it was snowing, we had no heat, and we still had 2 hours to go.  I started thinking about my history classes, and the story of the lost colony at Roanoke. Remember that?

Long story short, we made it there alive, and had a good weekend.

The only reason I mention this story, is to talk about travel as an experience rather than a destination. Since my dad passed in 2014, I've thought about that experience often. It's a great memory for me. And, that's what travel is supposed to be.

I'm going to talk more about this subject tomorrow.  Thanks for listening.



Saturday, February 27, 2016

We need to get out more...

Ok, let me first say, that I'm an American, and I love the United States.

But, c'mon people!! We need to get out more. We need to see other parts of the world. And no, I'm not talking about going to the caribbean on a Disney cruise, that doesn't count. I'm talking about getting on a plane and going somewhere new. (not that there's anything wrong with Mickey)

If I were to ask you " What percentage of Americans hold a valid passport? ", what would you say?
60% 70% 80%... how about less than 40%!! That is sad.


As of 2015, only 38% of Americans held a valid passport. That's not good.

Ok, I've heard the argument a thousand times..... " The U.S. is huge, there is so much to see, why would I want to go anywhere else?"

Here is my answer to that lame argument:

For the most part, the US is a homogenous society. We are very similar all over the country. We speak the same language, we eat the same foods, we watch the same TV shows.  Yes, there are exceptions to everything, regional foods, dialects etc....

But the truth is, I can go to a Walmart or a McDonalds in Seattle, Washington, then fly across the country to Miami, Florida and go to the same places, and have the same crappy experience. By the way, did I mentioned that I hate Walmart?  www.peopleofwalmart.com

Most Americans love pasta. Wouldn't it be awesome to go to Italy and eat some REAL pasta? Americans love beer. Wouldn't it be awesome to go to the Czech Republic and drink what is often called the best beer in the world?

Bottom line, we Americans are very proud of our country, and we should be. But, sometimes to realize how good we have it, we need to get out and visit other countries, experience other foods, and hear other languages. I would bet that if you did, you would enjoy it! And you would learn something.

If you haven't figured out by now, traveling is what I really love. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to me at knowingjacksquat@gmail.com.

I've got my passport!  Do you?



(Please excuse the photo. I was trying to grow a beard. I realize that I look like a jihadist)