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Double Disappointment Day

Coming back from lunch, I got behind a vehicle that had me shaking my head.  Later on, I thought I should probably write about it.  Not that I had anything poignant to say, but I think I felt challenged to talk about it without being overtly offensive.

So, I’m talking about trucks.  The big full-size trucks that are the truest expression of American life.  You know… I’m not a fan.  I understand their purpose and I know some people need a truck to manifest that purpose.  I don’t think everyone needs one.  I think many people love the image of being a truck owner, which to me is a shame, because I hold truck owners in very low regard.  Why do I?  Well, part of it is what I just mentioned – you don’t need the capabilities of a truck, but you want to portray that you need it and do “truck stuff” all the time.  And part of it is a bully posture – you want to be the biggest thing on the road.  And with that personality, I immediately equate it with low intelligence and lower social… um… capabilities?

I can’t paint everyone with this paintbrush, but we all know people who have a few coats of this on already.  And I’m not below making assumptions based on outward appearances.  There’s little harm in doing so, because people are projecting the image that they want to be seen.  Right?

Back to the story.  So I saw a truck at lunch, and when I wanted to use a picture of it from my dashcam in this post, I was bummed to find out my dashcam only saves about half an hour of video.  By the time I got home, the video was long overwritten. (Mental note, buy a bigger SD card).  So that was the first disappointment.  The second was when I searched the internet for something similar and discovered it is “a thing”.

So, to anti-climatically get to the point, this is what was hanging out in front of me at a long stop light:  a dead deer mural.


Mine wasn’t that exact one.  But I shouldn’t be surprised, there’s plenty of variations.


So… I said something earlier about social something.  I grew up in a hunting city in a hunting county in a hunting state.  I get it.  Some people like hunting.  But, coupled with the “look at me” you naturally have with the truck, do you really need to advertise that you want to kill things 365 days a year?  Do you need to foist that desire on some (or many) people who may not share the love of your bloody hobbies? 

And you may really be a hunter.  It’s quite possible.  But let’s be truly honest here.  That mural on the back of your vehicle is a fantasy.  You wish you could bag a buck that big.  It’s a dream.  You may have done it in the past.  Maybe, just maybe.  Not everyone can get a trophy kill.

But that’s not what all truck people fantasize about.  My search for dead deers included other tailgate murals.


And don’t worry.  There’s plenty of variations on that, too.  Just in case you wanted to be different.


So maybe this has become a triple disappointment day.

Now I don’t mean to be really sloppy with the paintbrush here, but the paint only seems to be sticking on one type of vehicle.  There’s a certain subset of people out there that have a predilection or even a desire to offend other people.  And the go-to vehicle for those types of people is… the American full-size truck.


Just Your Everyday Millionaire

There’s rich, filthy rich, and everyday rich.  Today I faced the worst of the bunch, everyday rich.  The key indicator?  The boat.  Yeah, around here you see a lot of boats.  There are a bunch.  But there’s boats and there’s big boats.  And in the realm of big boats, there’s certain strata of features and functionality, of which people prefer or defer.

Anyway, it’s after lunch and I need to refuel my car.  WaWa is packed.  I try to drive around the pumps and I can’t because a massive truck towing a massive boat is blocking the driveway.  So I turn around and take the pump behind him.  One of the owner’s 3 teen kids/assistants comes over and say they need the room to back out when they’re done fueling.  Fucking fine. 

I drive around the gas banks and take the pump on the other side of the big-ass boat.  I get out and one of the teens says “we’ll be done in a minute.”  What?  I look up (at least 6 feet over me) and without thinking, just exclaim, “holy shit!”  They’re filling this stupid boat with TWO pumps at the same time!  One of the pumps was supposed to be mine.  True to their word, it only took about a minute to finish up with my pump and as I fueled up, they blocked off traffic, backed the whole disaster up and got the shitshow out on the road.

The whole experience to me was stupid.  A truck and boat that large should have been filled at the dock, instead of a public gas station.  But, they would argue, it’s so expensive at the dock!  Hold on, there, poor boy.  You have three teenage sons.  The truck towing your boat is at least $60k.  The boat is easily $500k.  Even the trailer it’s on is probably $20k.  You just filled it from two pumps with non-ethanol fuel.  I don’t know anything about your living situation, but I can assume you have at least a four bedroom house with room for a truck and boat and trailer.  I’m doing pretty well for myself, but I couldn’t afford any of those things.

So, when you take your massive boat to WaWa and inconvenience all the normal people for a while to save a proportionally small amount of money and waste a bunch of everyone’s time, including your own, well, that deserves a middle finger or two.  Because you’re only playing rich. 

Maybe you’re leveraged out the ass and hoping the next recession doesn’t come along for a while.  Maybe it’s 2008 all over again and you HELOC’d your house to death since home prices have recovered.  But you still haven’t found out what it’s like to be rich.  You don’t understand time is money.  If you did, you would realize the time you’ve spent fueling your own mega-boat is a net loss for you.  Leave the WaWa alone for the poor people who have to put non-ethanol fuel in gas cans for their pathetic little boats.

The Way It Is

Recently, I was at a thrift shop, shopping for CDs, and I picked up Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is album.  I’ve heard the title track plenty of times on the radio, but I’ve never really listened to it.  When I did, I was disgusted to hear that the song has the same 4-beat drum machine pattern playing through the entire song: four and a half minutes.  No rhythm changes, no drum fills, no cymbals, nothing.  Just the same beat.  You can almost imagine Bruce playing the intro, then reaching over and pressing Start on the drum machine.  The song even fades out since there’s no programmed drum ending.

Absolutely horrible.  And that song was a hit!

But, that’s not what this post is about, even if the message of the song is somewhat relevant.  This morning, I was reading a news story about a police officer shooting an armed suspect during what may have been a standoff.  The details of the situation aren’t important.  I was struck by the reporting of the story.  When I finished reading, I had the thought, “was the guy black?”  I went back and re-read it and there was no mention of the suspect’s race.  Huh.

Well, we can probably assume he was white, then.  But that made me wonder, why do news stories always indicate the race of the people involved when they aren’t white?  The person’s race has nothing to do with the story unless it involves race, and sometimes, not even then.

This reminds me of a time I was reading a local newspaper from my hometown area.  I had moved away a long time ago and come to the understanding of how prejudiced that tiny area was.  The story was more or less, “Police are investigating a report of an assault on a white female by a black male that occurred late Friday night.”  Take out “white” and “black” and the story is still accurate, but doesn’t stir up any racial biases. 

There’s a natural tendency for people to call out differences.  Like if you give directions, you reference places that are different and easily identifiable.  I think this has something to do with the fact that we crave novelty.  But to specify a person’s race in a news story is almost saying, “this person is different and easily identifiable.”  And I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t work the other direction, too.  In black culture magazines, they probably use “white” a lot, because it’s different than the “normal”, their majority black readership.  I honestly don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised, nor would I be offended.

What I’m trying to say is what is being treated as a detail is not a detail unless it is a detail.  For example, in that news story from my old hometown, the man’s identity is known, so his race is irrelevant.  That would be different than “Police are asking for help finding a man involved in a fight yesterday at The Local bar.  The man is white and balding, and referred to himself as Chuck.”  That’s something you need to know in order to take action.

So, as an exercise for all of us, next time you read a news story, look for the race card being played, say to yourself, “that’s not necessary”, and self-censor it.  See if the story reads just as well without those details.

Check, Please

There’s a recently-born phase that is cast about as an insult, “Check yourself” which is meant to convey to the target that they are essentially, out of touch.  There’s a whole deeper meaning to the phrase that involves class warfare and the modern caste system, so using this phrase is really a lot harsher than it may initially sound.

“Check yourself” infuriates me.  And when I get mad, I get very mocking.  And when I get really mocking, I go redneck.  Think of an exaggerated version of Larry the Cable Guy (if that’s possible).  I don’t do stand-up comedy, but if I did, I would totally do this routine, despite the fact that it absolutely destroys my voice when I’m doing it.

Anyway, the idea that a person must tell another to “check their privilege” is reserved for people who a) have privilege and b) know what privilege is and c) know who should have it and d) believe they know who is affected by it.  None of these apply to rednecks (in the Blue Collar comedy definition).  They’re just simple folk who don’t want to get involved in the business of telling other people what they should be doing. 

So I came up with a Blue Collar routine, in the format of “Git ‘er dun”, “Here’s your sign” and “You might be a redneck”.  The premise being, what if a redneck heard about the phrase “Check yourself” and didn’t understand it (because they don’t have that concept), but wanted to make use of it because it was hip.  Thus we get:

Check yerself!
You might have shit yourself with that fart.

Check yerself!
Your shoelaces are untied!

Check yerself!
Make sure your balls aren’t stuck to the inside of your leg.

Check yerself!
Your hat is on backwards.

Check yerself!
You’re walking where the dog likes to shit.

Check yerself!
You got boogers hangin’.

Check yerself!
Your truck ain’t high enough for that road.

And that’s all I could come up with on my drive home.  It’s enough to start with, and it’s enough to take my mind off the stupidity of people trying to shame other people for what they have, either through their own work or worse, by simply being born that way.

Welcome To The Executives

If you are a company executive, sometimes, life is really good.  Obviously there is such a broad range of what constitutes being an executive, but when I’m using the term, I’m using it as a company person who is living and leeching off the company.  Someone who is more concerned about what they are getting out of any deal than anything else.  Someone who negotiates their employment to their sole advantage, because if the company can’t afford them, they’ll just move on to the next one.  You get the idea.

So, if you are one of these persons, you want to make sure you are being taken care of and you want to be sure you are extracting the most from any business trip.  I recently booked a couple-night stay at what I would consider an expensive resort.  But if you’re an executive, that’s not a concern.  It’s a business expense, so you want to make sure you are getting the best for the company’s money. 

Naturally, you are a member of the hotel’s rewards program, so you can get extra personal benefits from the company’s money.  Now here’s where it gets a little perverse.

This particular resort has add-ons that you can make to your stay, like included breakfast, or bike rentals.  But they also have some other interesting add-ons.  You can purchase, for a per-night cost, extra rewards points.  Now, why would a normal person willingly pay more (and we’re not talking a little more, try $144/night) for the same stay, just to get reward points, which are literally a fraction of a normal dollar for redemption.  $144 per night for three nights gets you 5000 extra points.

It’s crazy.  But… what if it’s not your money you’re spending?  Hmmmm. What if it’s just another business expense listed under Travel-Lodging?  How nice would life get then?  And what if you’re an executive – pretty much anyone who has seniority over the expense person in Accounting.  Who is he or she going to complain to?  Your boss?  Your boss would pat you on the back for such an awesome idea!

The Same And Different

Last night, I got the strange urge to play the keyboard.  Although my posts make me sound like it’s something I do all the time or it’s something that I’m constantly re-inspiring myself to do, the truth is, I don’t play all that much.

So, when I sat down, I kind of bopped around wondering what I should play and if there was anything I could still remember.  Then it started coming back to me again.  And I played and I kept on playing.  As would be expected, my stamina wasn’t all that great and my accuracy on the notes was a little faulty, but for the most part, my hands went where they should have.

Today, I played a little more.  I guess my hands got a little sore from the workout last night because I couldn’t play as much.  But while I was playing, I did my little daydreaming about being a rock star (or some kind of star).  I thought about how my technique was crap and how I may get criticism for how “poorly” I play.

But then the realization dawned on me that some of the most innovative players were not formally trained and had a style of playing that was unconventional.  Why should I be any different.  In fact, I might say that it would require a personal technique in order to play in an unheard fashion.  And it would make it harder for someone to imitate you.  You would have your unique sound because it’s done with a playing style only you know.

And that naturally made me think outside the world of music at how having your own style for everything is important.  It’s not good to be exactly like the crowd, but you do need to have some “accessibility.”  I’ve heard a lot of music that doesn’t sit right with me and I’ve seen a lot of people that just don’t sit right with me as well.  Maybe people should strive to be unique and accessible.  Although lately, I think that some people are taking the individualism stuff a little too far.

And, as an off-topic aside, playing keyboards yesterday and today made a significant change in my typing: faster and more accurate.  I had been lamenting lately how bad my typing was becoming because I could barely type a sentence without having a typo.  I’d be constantly stopping and correcting things and it was slowing me down drastically.  I think I may have just found a solution for this.  That’s a happy discovery.

Welcome To The Jungle Gym

I’ve had a very strong feeling that 2015 is going to be a good year.  And the proof just keeps mounting.  One of the things you have to always manage is a sense of gratitude for what you have.  You have to stay realistic and remember that not everyone is successful – for a multitude of reasons.

The reason for this post is that my girlfriend recently entered the white-collar world for the first time.  She got the job for two reasons, both of which are very important for seekers.  First, she made it a priority to know more than anyone else in her desired profession.  I encouraged professional certifications instead of a generic college degree.  Second, she networked heavily.  She volunteered when she could and offered assistance for whatever event she was available.  To tweak an oft-used bemoaning, it is both what you know and who you know.

I went through the same stuff many years ago, but at the time, I didn’t have the same perspective that I have now.  I am able to look at my girlfriend’s situation and see how crazy it is when you become a professional.  I mean, everything changes.  One day you’re wondering what days you’ll be working next week and then, bam, you have a solid work schedule.  You used to share a break room with all your co-workers, now, here’s your office.  You used to pore over offerings from ObamaCare trying to find one that was good enough for what you could afford, now, here’s your company health plan.  And here’s membership to a credit union, and here’s your vehicle you’ll use during work, and here’s enough money to live on.

It’s probably overwhelming for anyone that’s in that transition, and for an outside observer, it can be shocking to a degree as well.  What got me was that it was almost like winning a lottery.  Don’t get me wrong, there was no luck involved here.  It was earned through a lot of study and honest self-promotion.  My background thought was for all the others that haven’t gotten there yet.  Maybe they don’t know enough yet, maybe they don’t know or haven’t impressed the right people to fight on their behalf.  You just can’t show up and say, “I’ll take that job.”

So to everyone that is searching, know what you want, know it inside and out, and find the people who can get you there.

Hew Manity

There’s a word for it.  Words don’t mean a thing.  There’s a name for it.  Names make all the difference in the world.
– Give Me Back My Name, Talking Heads, Little Creatures

Last night, I went tumbling down the Tumblr rabbit hole and I feel much the worse for it.  A couple months ago, a Tumblr user had made an inflammatory post that had had an indirect effect on me.  Wanting to understand why something like this would happen, I did a bunch of research.  I was unprepared for what I would see and read.  I learned that there is an entirely different vocabulary and mentality in the Tumblr subculture, which I feel has some real negative consequence.

To begin, the post that started this all is part of the SJW culture. SJW means “social justice warrior”, aka, morality police.  This in itself is troubling because morality is a cultural norm, which is why sometimes we are offended by foreign cultures while they find their behavior perfectly acceptable.  An SJW’s mission is to attack things they find offensive.

While researching the profiles of the people involved in the attack, I came across so many acronyms and terms that I had never heard of and that made absolutely no sense.  I had to resort to Urban Dictionary for many of them.  Sometimes they were terms that were repurposed, which ironically, is something that is offensive to this subculture.  They derisively call it “appropriation”.  So when they come up with a term to try and legitimatize their problems, they’re empowered, then that term is used by people who seemingly don’t deserve to use it and they’re victimized again.

That’s my first issue.  The next problem is the creation or promotion of terms to eliminate the concept of “normal”.  For example, if you are male and you dress like a male and act like a male, you are “cisgendered”.  If that seems confusing, just realize this term is the opposite of “transgendered”.  The term “cisgendered” has never needed to be used before (outside of psychology), because that was considered “normal”.  But in this subculture, you are expected to explain yourself as such because… well, because I guess it’s not enough to not say it at all and make that assumption.

Finally, a couple of words that are setting off my bullshit detector.  These are words that you will see used excessively in this subculture and not used anywhere else: Privilege and Identify.  In short, Identify (or “identify as”) means how you see yourself, which may be different from how you appear to be.  You may look like a man but see yourself as a woman.  This is different from being gay or being transsexual.  This simply means that when you say, “I identify as a woman,” you are demanding of the people that interact with you to completely disregard your appearance and behave as if you are a woman.  Then, Privilege is a term that is assigned to people who are unaware that they have it better than other people.  Typically, it is an insult and the intention is to make someone feel guilty or ashamed that their life is better.

I think I can summarize my anger at all of this together.  For as long as there have been cultures, there has been a discrimination against those that are “different”.  This new subculture is attempting to reverse that and stigmatize being “normal” (whatever “normal” is in their viewpoint).  This is such an ass-backwards way of trying to invoke change.  They should be trying to advance the acceptance of “different”.  And personally, I thought we were well on our way to that until I started this research.

As an addendum, I need to point out that this whole concept of “normal” and “different” is relative and is being perverted by those who want to treat it as an absolute.  No one can escape being different since every human is different in some way.  However, everyone has the power to determine how being different affects their relationships with others.  Demanding that others accept you how you want to be accepted is not acceptable; that’s being an asshole.


‘Tis the season to be homeless, or so it seems.  I’ll start by saying I’m ambivalent about homeless people.  I really don’t think there is a solution to it, much less a solution to those that actually desire to be homeless and live off of charity.  My reaction to homelessness would be, in D&D terms, chaotic neutral.  but anyway, the stories…

Case 1: The GF and I are out driving and stop at an intersection.  There is a woman wearing the standard-issue safety vest for panhandlers.  Joking around, I commented, “nice butt,”  the GF commented, “nice phone in the back pocket.”  But joking aside, the GF is a lot more generous and tolerant of panhandlers than I.  She will regularly offer a drink or a snack if she has one available.  I infrequently do that.

Anyway, to get to the point, the woman turned around and it was a person that my GF knew from her job.  Knew pretty well, in fact.  That changed a lot and not in the way it might sound.  This woman would show up nearly every day totally drunk and just be belligerent all day.  This is not someone you want to give money to, because it goes to one thing.

Case 2: I’m pulling in to a restaurant for lunch and a vagrant is in the lot.  I leave the car running and pretend to be busy with something inside.  Undeterred, he comes over and is happily gesturing at my car.  Yeah it’s a nice car.  I give him a thumbs up through the window hoping he’ll continue on.  Nope.  He continues gesturing and finally I roll down my window.

The guy is deaf, for real or not.  Signing some stuff, pointing and making noises.  I have no idea what he wants.  He eventually hands me a piece of paper with his pitch pre-written on it.  He’s deaf; he can’t hear or understand what I say; he wants money for McDonalds.  Sigh.  I give him $5 and tell him to enjoy his meal.  He seems extremely grateful.

Case 3: I’m leaving a restaurant and a guy is in the lot with a bike.  “What kind of car is that?”  “It’s a Miata.”  “A what?”  “A Miata.”  “Hold on I can’t hear you.”  He comes closer as I realize what I’ve gotten myself into.  “A what?”  “A Mee Ahh TA”.  “Oh!  That’s a beautiful car.  Must be very expensive.  Never seen one like that before.”

Trapped, I am.  “I just want to fuckin’ say something.  I want to fuckin’ thank you for acknowledging my existence.  All these other people just fuckin’ fly away.  They don’t even say anything.”  And it goes on like that.  It’s cold and drizzling outside and I’m not a fan of that situation either.  So to end the conversation, I say “you know, you really need to find shelter.”  And at that moment, I thought, “God damn it.  Why did I have to say that.”  I get more story, about his mom, who loves him.  I see him trying to figure out how to use whatever I’ve said to work in some kind of pitch, a pitch that will be full of profanity, certainly.   He points at an overpass and says how he has slept there for 5 days. (That’s his shelter, he says). 

I figure, ok, we’re going to do this, huh?  So I asked, “why do you do that?”  He was caught off guard. I said, “I know there’s shelter here in town.  Why don’t you go there?”  Well, he had to think quickly for that. “eeehhhhh, those shelters…. they’re not… nice.  They have bed bugs.  It’s not good.”  And I was getting ready to tell him it had to be better than a bridge when he commented, “he’s eyeing me up.”  I asked, huh? and he said “the cop over there.”  Then I hear behind my car, “Excuse me, would you mind coming over here and talking with me?”

The vagrant walks over and I shut my car.  I’m going to take my opportunity to get out of this.  I look in my mirror and no I’m not.  I’m blocked in by the police.  And… another car shows up.  I catch little bits of their conversation: “You from around here?”  “You have any weapons on you?”  “You said some things that worry me.  Are you going to get violent with me?” Oh boy.

So, the officers don’t find any reason to detain him and let him go.  So I’m going to just finish this up and get home.  I do the nice, dumb thing.  As he walks by the car to get his bike, I offer him a can of Coke.  I want that to be the end and I’ll go.  Nope.

More conversation ensues.  I finally tell him that he needs to clean up his presentation, stop swearing so much, and better things will happen to him.  I have to put the car in gear and start moving for him to get the hint.  I think he stroked the hood of my car as I backed away.

So there’s three recent interactions with the homeless and vagrant within a couple of weeks.  Where it goes from here, I can’t be sure.

Hard Times

The last couple weeks have been difficult for me and have resulted in me performing a reassessment of society.

First, I have learned that intolerance, prejudice, and hypocrisy make up a holy trinity.  When someone publicly attacks you for something that they find offensive, and then pins a label on you that can’t be proven, you have little defense.  You can try to be rational with them, you can try to argue with them, you can try to dismiss them, but you cannot win.

Second, I learned that everything in life must be treated like open-heart surgery.  You get one chance to do anything and if you don’t do it the correct way and do it perfectly, you are an utter failure.  This is especially true when you are doing the work you have done all your life.

Now, I will say that these are not things I believe, only things that I perceive right now.  It’s going to be a while to recover from these latest blows to my faith in civilization.