Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Time". The posts will be more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical than instructional. No time management tips planned, but you never know with A to Z.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Facebook Friends

Aquaman along with the other prominent charact...
Aquaman along with the other prominent characters from Super Friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         I've been working on getting my A to Z posts finished up before the start of the 2016 Challenge.  This is the opening week!  The first post will be this coming Friday.  To complicate things for me it looks like I've been called away for that first week so it will slow me down considerably keeping up with blog visiting.  Yikes! It's going to be a frantic start for me.

          Also on that opening day I'll have a Battle of the Bands post that will open up my April Theme Series of Manhattan.   I'll be featuring a song that I like a lot and I hope you'll like it too.   And two fantastic versions as well.  So I hope you'll join me and vote on that Battle.

Facebook Friends

        Recently I received an odd message on Facebook.  Now, I'm well aware that some of you avoid Facebook and I can respect that.  Personally I'm mainly there to keep up with family members and certain other folks.  I don't read that much on Facebook and don't visit that much.

          However in the case of the message that was addressed specifically to me, it came to my attention from an email notification.  I'm not sure how those Facebook messages work or who can see them, but this particular one showed up in my regular stream of postings.   My first wife saw my response to the message and joked about it which led to a bit of banter between us.  A blogger who is a Facebook friend joined in the repartee with a bon mot of her own so I guess some people could see  the original declaration of disassociation.

          The message said something like, "I see you like ( _____ ).   I'm going to unfriend you."  I won't say what was in the blank or who the sender was because that's not the real point of the irony in this story.

          I pondered the message a moment then it came to me that actually I don't even know this person--not in my physical world.  I think I know a little about this person just from what this person writes online. There are photos of the person online, but I can only assume the photos are the person in question--it's not a thing that I actually know.

         Most of us in the blogging community probably refer to each other as friends if we frequently visit each other.  It's a different kind of friendship though.  When I've actually met someone face to face and got to know them or maybe talk to them on the phone now and then or have an ongoing back and forth written correspondence then maybe those are more like friends.  Friendships are on different levels and mean different things.

          To actively make an announced effort that another person is unfriending me seems weird and ironic for sure.  The person could have just quietly without any fanfare clicked whatever one needs to do in order to disconnect contact with me.  Or better yet they could have sent me a longer message or an email to let me know why they were bothered.

         To stop being "friends" because of something another person likes seems peculiar to me in a way.  To my knowledge I'm not even sure the other person got the information from anything I said--certainly not on Facebook.   Maybe on Twitter since I do say some random stuff there sometimes.

          It doesn't matter all that much to me.  The unfriending or shunning process on social media just struck me as something curious and even interesting.  Surely media researchers and psychologists have done or are doing studies on this topic.  It's the new age of developing friendships.

         I don't think social media friends will ever adequately replace friends that I can sit down to talk with in person. On the other hand it's nice to have you readers as my friends.  I hope you don't ever unfriend me.

         Have you ever been "unfriended" on a social media site?  If so, how did you feel about it?  Do you have friends that you do things with in your physical life?    What are some things you like to do with friends?





Monday, March 21, 2016

A Very Unexpected Outcome (BOTB Results)


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        For my A to Z Theme Reveal post please click here.   I do hope you will also check out the current post found below.

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Unexpected Battle of the Bands Results



       My most recent Battle of the Bands post featured two different songs by two different artists and also served as my introduction to my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge theme for 2016.  Each song presented different points of view of visitors from other countries who come to Manhattan for the first time.  A number of voters expressed some degree of displeasure with the songs though I liked them quite well.  This is not a new occurrence for me so I've gotten used to people who disagree with music that I think is enjoyable.  As usual it all comes down to taste and probably to a great extent, giving something new a chance to settle into the pleasure center of the mind.   C'est la vie.

       Before going into this Battle I anticipated that there might be a lopsided victory in the contest results, but it did not go in the direction I had expected.    I fully expected Prefab Sprout to be the big winner in this match since the Bollywood tune was more techno sounding.   I was somewhat surprised to see the votes coming in the opposite way.   I would have never predicted the trouncing that occurred in this round.  The tune "Manhattan" from the film English Vinglish ended up with a decisive win.  Though Prefab Sprout pulled into a decent second toward the end of the voting.

       The Bollywood tune was very entertaining to me which is why I decided to use it.  And it helped create a nice blog theme when combined with Prefab Sprout's "Hey, Manhattan!".    I will admit that I went into this contest with extreme prejudice in favor of Prefab Sprout which is my pick in this match-up.  

       Prefab Sprout has been a favorite group of mine since 1987 when I read an interview with the members of U2.  A couple of them cited this group with the odd name as their favorite band so I decided to check them out.  With a sound that is in some ways comparable to Steely Dan, their first two albums blew me away with slick arrangements and a unique sound.  In my opinion they are one of the best bands of the 80's.  

        The band's front man Paddy McAloon is highly regarded as one of the great songwriters of the modern pop era.  Using Jimmy Webb and Brian Wilson as his greatest songwriting influences, I think that he has matched their efforts if not taken his craft to a higher level.  His melodies can be a fascinating mix of styles with slick stylish arrangements.  Often dealing with spiritual issues and life circumstance, his lyrics are intelligent yet easy to understand and spiked with wit and irony. 

        Many of the Battle voters commented on the schlocky TV show theme sound to "Hey, Manhattan!", but I do believe this was of purposeful intent regarding the subject matter.  Since the song initially starts out talking about the glitter and glitz of the city the "soundtrack" of this story deserves that theatrical sound often associated with New York.   As the song story begins to consider the JFK assassination and the homeless in Manhattan, the music plays in ironic contrast, yet leaves the listener with a sense of hopeful happiness as the song fades with shimmering strings and a pop-jazzy trumpet.  The reality of what is juxtaposed against the unreality of the music creates a kind of cool image in my mind.

         Sometimes it takes a bit of listening to songs before most of us can really get into what is being done.  Prefab Sprout hit me the right way when I first heard them.   On the other had there were some like myself who initially thought Bob Dylan or Tom Waits were bad singers singing weird songs.   Eventually I gave them a chance and got what they were about.   In these Battles we don't always get the full perspective of an artist and miss the coolness of what the blogger presenting the Battle heard in the artist.   Maybe that's what happened in this Battle of mine.  Then again, maybe my taste and that of all the other many Prefab Sprout fans throughout the world is just way different than most of you who voted.  

Final Vote Tally:

English Vinglish               17

Prefab Sprout                    10

More from the Sprout

For those who might be interested in a sampling of other Prefab Sprout tunes I offer three of them here.   I'll start with the biggest chart hit they had which, as is often the case, is also one of their most trite sounding songs.

Prefab Sprout  "The King of Rock n Roll"  (1988)



An Anecdote: 

From a party given by Paul McCartney comes the following story told by Sprout front man Paddy McAloon:

"At one point Paul introduced me to the drummer of the Crickets, and he told the guy, 'You may have heard this guy's song.' And Paul started singing the chorus. And I said, 'I'm not sure that record did us any good, because it's taken as a sort of kiddie record.' And McCartney said, 'Yeah, Paddy, I suppose that song's your "My Ding-a-ling."'"
From Rolling Stone Paddy McAloon: The Last Pop Genius



Prefab Sprout "When Love Breaks Down"  (1984)




Prefab Sprout "The Sound of Crying" (1992)




          My next Battle of the Bands post will coincide with the opening day of the 2016 Blogging from A to Z on Friday April 1st.    In April it will be all Manhattan all month including both BOTB posts.

          What are some artists that you didn't care for at first but began to like them as you listened more?   Do you tend to listen much to lyrics?    If you're doing the A to Z, are you ready for April?







Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#atozchallenge Theme Reveal: The Manhattan Project (#BOTB)




        The seventh annual Blogging from A to Z April Challenge will be here in a couple of weeks.  One of the popular traditions of the Challenge has been the A to Z Theme Reveal in which participants can tell what their theme for April will be.   A theme is not required, but many have decided that a theme makes their posts more cohesive for the month as well as easier to write. Once again I'll be using a theme for my Challenge posts.   I'm revealing my theme a bit early because the theme is tied in with Battle of the Bands as I am about to explain.  The official Theme Reveal will be on Monday March 21st.

The Manhattan Project

       My theme of The Manhattan Project is not about the development of the atomic bomb during World War 2, though I will include something about the atomic bomb story at sometime during the month.  The theme title is in reference to the name "Manhattan" and what it might make us think of when we hear it.  I will be using ideas that readers suggested in my post What Does "Manhattan" Say to You? as well as some of my own observations.  

        This theme came about after I had noticed that a number of songs that I was considering for future Battle of the Bands match-ups had to do with Manhattan.  Suddenly it came to me that I could do a series of Battle posts with this theme and it might be interesting to center my entire A to Z theme on the topic of Manhattan and some of the things that come to mind when we think of the word.

        During April I'll be presenting posts related to travel, people, history, food, and more.  Then of course there will be two Battle of the Band posts with songs related to Manhattan.  This theme reveal post is coming earlier than the official Theme Reveal day because I'm tying it in with my March 15th Battle of the Bands post.  I hope you'll enjoy this post as a preview of some things to come--and I hope you'll be with me throughout the month of April for The Manhattan Project.

Battle of the Bands

       Battle of the Bands is the blogging event hosted by Far Away Series and  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.



Clinton Cerejo & Bianca Gomes  "Manhattan"  (2012)

      Many songs can be found that are called "Manhattan" or that have the word "Manhattan" somewhere in the title.  This one comes from the award-winning and highly popular Bollywood film English Vinglish.   At times sounding almost like a litany of product placement, the song depicts the exuberance and wonderment of Indian visitors to the world famous city--a place of such diversity that even those from faraway places can feel like they belong.  The video below provides a short version of the song with a clip from the film.   If you'd like, you can hear the complete longer version of the song by clicking here.  I think this upbeat techno song is a lot of fun and somewhat revealing in how visitors from other cultures see the city.






Prefab Sprout "Hey Manhattan!"  (1988)

        This song presents another view of a foreigner's first visit to the big city of Manhattan.  "Hey Manhattan!" is based on British songwriter Paddy McAloon's initial visit to the Big Apple.   Having received acclaim for his music and his band's recordings in Europe, McAloon came to Manhattan with big expectations of fame and fortune.  At first, filled with hope and dreams, he is dazzled by the myth of Manhattan--the famous people who have walked the streets and the stories he has heard about the city.   After a few days the glitter fades as he realizes the darker side of U.S. history and sees city streets where the rich, the poor, and everybody are all mingled in a complexity of dreams and reality.   The Who's guitarist Pete Townshend plays acoustic guitar on this cut.         





Time to Vote!

        The vote is in your hands for this Battle.  Let us know what you think about these versions. There must be one that you prefer over the other.  Come on and play along!   If you're visiting a Battle of the Bands post for the first time then let me briefly explain.  Give each song version a fair listen to decide which one you prefer over the other.  If you don't like either then at least tell us which recording was least innocuous to you. This comes down to your preference and it's as easy as that.

     Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
  
J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers

NovelBrews

Be ReInVintaged

eViL pOp TaRt



Results on Monday March 21st
      
      Vote today and then come back on Monday March 21st to see if your favorite won.  Watch this blog between then and now to see if anything else is happening.   I have a lot to say, but I am undecided whether or not to say it here.  Many people get offended or upset if they hear something with which they disagree and I don't want to upset any snowflakes.

         Do you have your A to Z Theme ready?   Have you been to Manhattan?   If so what were your expectations and were those expectations fulfilled?




Friday, March 11, 2016

Music and Words Award (#MWA)





music-and-words-award-jpg
        I've been given the Music and Words Award by Michele from Angels Bark which is one of  the great blogs that participate in the bimonthly Battle of the Bands event.   The Music & Words Award was created by blogger, Miss Andi, to acknowledge and link people who love music so much that they blog about it. She gives out 5 awards each Friday. The purpose is to feature great music blogs from all over the world and artists from all genres.

Once the award is accepted, there are five steps:

1.  Link back to the person who nominated you
2.  Answer the questions with words AND music
3.   Pass the award on to 5 bloggers who inspire you with their posts about music
4.  Tag your post with #MWA, for Music & Words Award so that we can all find you down the line
5.  Quote these 5 steps and the award icon in your post. You can display the icon on your sidebar as well.


Q1: What does music mean to you?

        Aside from the aural and mental pleasure derived from listening to the sounds of music, for me music is about connections.    Music connects me to the artists who perform it, the composers who create it, and all of the other listeners who listen and enjoy just as I do.  Like a time machine, music can transport me to places in my own memories as well into the lives of others and history itself.  I can go around the world listening to music or I go into my own mind.  Music can connect me to emotional states, modes of thought, or physical action.   The listeners and the players of the music are connected by the music as David Crosby and his musical friends state in this song:




Q2: What is your first music-related memory?

        My earliest memories of music are most related to my parents performing their juggling act.  My father was always looking for the best songs to use in performances.  He would buy the musical scores for songs he wanted to use since in the 1950's there was usually a live band backing them and he wanted them to play what he wanted to hear behind the juggling act.   He would also buy the records with the songs so he could practice to the music that he expected the live band to play.  In case he didn't have the band, he'd have a recording with the songs to play during the show.  Those juggling songs are ingrained in my memory.

          Here is the song my father opened his act with:





Q3: What was the first album you’ve purchased yourself?

         In early adolescence I was interested in monsters and beach music.   The two genres coalesced in a series of albums recorded under the auspices of Frankie Stein and his Ghouls.  They were cheap albums, therefore with my limited funds affordable for me.  A few of these were probably my first album purchases if memory serves me correctly.  I bought them for the covers and the musical concept since I had no idea what they actually sounded like.  Filled with horror sound effects and acceptable musicianship, they got plenty of play on my turntable.  Eventually I realized that a lot of the songs appeared more than once on the album series, but with different song titles.  Oh well, it didn't matter all that much to me.

          Here is one example of the cover art and one song example--listen if you dare:

     





Q4: What was the latest music you purchased? (No online streaming or free downloads, I’m talking about cash here!)
       


Product Details        I haven't bought much music in the past many years--not because I didn't want to, but due to budgetary constrictions.   Besides that I don't listen to as much music as I used to.  However I couldn't resist a purchase last summer when my youngest daughter took me to a New Jersey record store that had a large selection of used vinyl.  She had gotten into vintage vinyl which I thought was pretty cool.  So I started perusing the bins as she did the same and I came upon a pristine copy of Good Rats...Live At Last, an album that I had once owned on a cassette that had long ago been eaten by a player in one of my past vans.  I consider this to be among the finest live albums ever so I had to buy this vinyl copy.   I'd actually been looking for it on CD for quite some time--not an easy thing to find.     Now I have the album.   And someday maybe I'll hook up my old turntable so I can listen to it.  But at least I do have the album.

       To my knowledge there are no direct cuts from this album available on YouTube, but here is a studio recording of the song that Good Rats uses to showcase the band members:





Q5: Which song did you listen to last? (No cheating, come out with the dirty pleasures!)

        Lately most of the songs I listen to are due to Battle of the Bands posts on my blog or the blogs of other participants.  Prior to composing this current post or outside of any of my own BOTB posts, I think the most recent song I listened to was Jackie Gleason and his Orchestra playing "Melancholy Serenade" which was the theme song from Jackie Gleason's television variety show.  I was listening to this after voting on the most recent BOTB post by John Holton.

         Here is "Melancholy Serenade":





          Those are my answers and now for the part that might get me in trouble.   At the moment I can't think of five bloggers to pass this on to who haven't received it already.  Of course, if you haven't received this yet then feel free to use it and if you want you can credit my blog.  Sorry if I sound lazy, but that's why I usually don't do these award things anymore.  This was about music though and how can I resist music?

          Have you done this music exercise yet on your own blog?   How often do you listen to music for the specific purpose of listening to music?    Do you still buy music?











Monday, March 7, 2016

An Encounter with Celebrity & BOTB results


The Question of the Month

The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I answer a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants. 

Here is the question for March:

Have you ever met an idol/influence/someone you really admire? How did it go?”

       Over the years,  having worked extensively in the world of show business, I've met many widely known celebrities as well as niche celebrities who were notable mostly to a specific group of people.  I've never been one to be overly wowed by the concept of celebrity so I've often tended to avoid too much interaction with well known people.  Also, along with being innately shy, I often feel awkward when given an opportunity to make contact with a celebrity in that I don't want to bother them.

       If there were a purpose in a celebrity wanting to meet with me then that would be one thing.  But for me to reach out for little other purpose than to meet a celebrity in passing or have a photo op or anything of that nature, that's something I'd be likely not to do.


On Time
On Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       One of my biggest celebrity encounters (read more about it here) was with rock star Mark Farner.   For those not in touch with the giants of the 1970's rock scene, Farner was lead singer and guitarist for the hugely popular group Grand Funk Railroad.  The meeting happened because I promoted a concert in 1988 with Farner and his band as the headline act.  Of course I met him!  And what a nice guy he was.  

        Farner was working as a solo artist at the time I hired him and his band.  He had embarked upon a new career as a contemporary Christian artist and was successful in that field of music as well, though nowhere like he was with Grand Funk.  He and I had dinner together the night of the show and it was a great time of discussion between us.  I was impressed by his humility and gentle demeanor.  I wish we could have had longer to visit that evening, but he had a set to perform and I had a concert to oversee.   Farner closed the show with a powerful line-up of songs.   His fans, including me, were not disappointed that night.

          After the crowds had gone and the equipment was loaded, Farner said his farewell to me and climbed aboard the tour bus with his band to depart that night.   The meeting was a memorable one for me and my time together with Mark Farner left me with a very favorable impression of a man who had been a rock icon and still wielded the legacy that is his part of music history.


Battle of the Bands Results



       My most recent Battle was centered around the Leonard Cohen song The Future.  Before going in I had sensed that this might be a tough call as Cohen's songs are not always appreciated by everyone.  This song in particular is bleak and strange, but it's song that I happen to like a great deal.

       Either contestant was fine by me.   I thought the driving version presented by the Beggars was outstanding, but I also enjoyed the quirky version done by Glittering Kingdom.   I found myself listening to both versions repeatedly over the past few weeks, enjoying each one for its own merits--I felt the versions both had merit.

        In the end though my preference leaned more toward Glittering Kingdom.  For one thing I thought the live outdoor performance recording was excellent.  It would have been executed in a far more polished fashion if done in the studio, but the way it was done in the video was far more impressive to me.  The ladies are unique and talented.    With a nod of appreciation to Beggars, my vote goes to Glittering Kingdom.

Final Vote Tally:

Beggars                         22

Glittering Kingdom      14


Something Big Ahead!

          My next Battle will be the start of series of Battles related to my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge theme.   On March 15th I will be introducing my April theme with an appropriately themed music Battle.  Later, in April, I will have two more Battles also related to my A to Z theme.  I'll provide more details and the story behind the theme in my March 15th post.  If you haven't signed up for the April event you might want to reconsider if you've decided against doing it.  If you don't know what I'm talking about please visit The A to Z Blog for more information.

         There will be more between now and my next Battle--maybe a bit of controversy along with a lighter post with a musical theme.  Nothing has been written yet so I can't tell you exactly what will happen, but I think something will happen.  And if it doesn't then just be here for my next Battle of the Bands post on March 15th.  

          Were you a fan of Grand Funk Railroad?    Are you a Leonard Cohen fan?   Do you dread when someone uses a Cohen song for a BOTB post?


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Future (#BOTB)


     For those looking for my #ISWG post please visit When Does the Fantasy Chase Away Readers?, but don't forget to vote on the Battle of the Bands that you find below.



                Battle of the Bands

     Battle of the Bands is the blogging event hosted by Far Away Series and  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.



The Future Is Coming

       In an election year many will be thinking of the future.  Of course we all can't help but think of the future in our own lives.  The future is serious stuff, but it can be fun too.  Before we get to the song let me mention one future topic that a number of bloggers are thinking of--Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

         There's likely not a reader of this blog who doesn't know about the    A to Z Challenge that has been occurring every April for the past 6 years.  Yes, can you believe it!  This year will be the seventh year of the Challenge and I'm hoping that you will be joining us again.

          My post today is a lead-in to this year's Challenge.   The song I've chosen provides a hint about one of my song picks for April.  Thinking about the future I'll say now that my next Battle of the Bands post on March 15th will be the announcement for my April A to Z theme.  I think my next three Battles are special as one post will lead to another.   If you want to join in the April fun then please visit Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

"The Future"

        I first heard the Leonard Cohen song "The Future" during the closing credits of the 1994 Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers.   With prophetic lyrics sung over a driving rock beat the song captured my attention.  In my opinion it's rock and roll Cohen at his best.  The song has been covered by a number of artists.  If you'd like to hear the original version by Leonard Cohen you can click this link.  I've chosen not to embed the video here to discourage anyone from voting on Cohen's version.

         And now for the contestants:      

Beggars  "The Future"  (2008)

       Not too much that I could find about this group other than they released their cover of "The Future" on the London based Heavenly Recordings label.  I like the drive of this version.   





Glittering Kingdom "The Future"  (2014)

     I didn't find too much specific information about the group, but it seems it is a sort of super group comprised of artists who are active in the Vancouver, BC music scene.  A very talented group of ladies from whom I'd like to hear more.  I found this version to be innovative with a unique video to go with it.






Time to Vote!

        The future holds the winner of this Battle, but the choosing is in your hands.  Let us know what you think about these versions. There must be one that you prefer over the other.  For me it's a tough choice.   If you're visiting a Battle of the Bands post for the first time then let me briefly explain.  Please give each song version a fair listen to decide which one you prefer over the other.  If you don't like either then at least tell us which recording was least innocuous to you. This comes down to your preference and it's as easy as that.

     Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
  
J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers

NovelBrews

Be ReInVintaged



Results on Monday March 7th
      
        Cast your vote now so you don't forget!   Maybe another post or two will appear between then and now, but I'll definitely be back on the 7th with the voting results.   My blogging has become a bit unpredictable of late so be ready for some surprises.  My brain can end up in some strange places sometimes.  But you probably know that already.

         Do you plan much for your future?    Do you think about your future?   Do you care about your future?