Sep 25

My purpose on this blog is never really to piss anyone off.  Oh, I know I come across as bitter and cynical at times, mostly because I’m pretty bitter and cynical at times.  Life is not fair, and life is less fair when one is short, fat, not overly bright, and ugly.  I know we are all made in God’s image, but I think I may have been made in the image of His big toe.  I know that God loves us for who we are and not what we look like or how smart we are, but I just have a feeling things would be a little easier if I looked more like Brad Pitt and less like God’s big toe.  So, yeah, my outlook and attitude need to change and whatnot, but I really do not set out to piss anyone off… except for maybe a county commissioner or two… jokingly… on occasion.

I received an email almost 2 months ago from someone who was upset by one of my posts.  She was upset about my attitude towards residents of Gering, NE.  I actually like most residents in Gering that I have met.  I feel that some of them may be a little closed-minded, but they are entitled to their opinions… and I am entitled to mine.  The lady who sent me the email was upset about a post I had written on the night Teresa Scanlan (a local gal) won the Miss America Pageant.

On that night, I watched a number of disagreements develop online about where Ms Scanlan was actually from.  Residents of Scottsbluff were claiming she was from Scottsbluff which infuriated residents of Gering.  Instead of just being proud of a local young person achieving such a prestigious accomplishment, they were bickering about who should get to claim her.  It was anal, so I wrote a post about it.  I poked fun at both Scottsbluff and Gering residents.  That post resulted, almost two years later, in me receiving the following in my inbox:

On Mon, 5 Aug 2013 13:54:22 -0600
Name…: Xxx Xxxxx
Email..: xxxxxx@xxxxx.com

 Subject: Your attitude toward Gering

Wow, I was interested in reviewing Teresa Scanlon s reign as Miss
Nebraska and Miss America and pulled up your blog. You
put down Gering residents this way and wonder why Gering is not eager to
merge with Scottsbluff? You’ve bolstered the case for why it will never
happen with your snarky attitude. Gering has SO much going for it
compared to out-sized opinion of itself that Scottsbluff has.
Scottsbluff has serious issues both economically, socially and educationally that Gering 
avoid by choosing to live here. As a former longtime teacher in Scottsbluff, I would
go into bankruptcy before sending any of my children and now grandchildren
to school there! The only reason Teresa transferred to Scottsbluff
High for her final year is that they could offer her more of the courses she
needed to graduate early…nothing more. She has grown up in Gering, attended
church and made friends there throughout her growing up years.

Finally, I like the fact that someone wishing to contact you has to identify
themselves, but we have no idea who you are.
>
> Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64;
> Trident/6.0)
—–
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG – www.avg.com
Version: 10.0.1432 / Virus Database: 3211/6070 – Release Date: 08/11/13

Okay, so this former school teacher had a lot of points to make.  I didn’t take anything she wrote too personally.  She was, after all, apparently just venting at me.  Venting is mostly what I do in my blog.  I understand the need.  However, after reading her rant over several times, I decided I needed to give her a response.  I replied with the following:

 

Xxx,

Thank you for your email. I’m sorry you were offended by my blog. If you read the post about Teresa and where is she from and this is the post your email is referring to, you must have read it with blinders on. I made fun of both Scottsbluff and Gering residents. You seem to think I am from Scottsbluff. I am not. I am originally from another state. I have lived in both Scottsbluff and Gering in my almost 20 years in the panhandle. I currently live in Terrytown. I noticed several things in your email that didn’t seem quite right.

My snarky attitude is mine alone. To say that the reasons the two communities won’t merge are bolstered by my snarkiness seems, to be honest, snarky. You say that Scottsbluff has an outsized opinion of itself. The town? I didn’t know towns had opinions. Are you referring to the people of the town? You seem to feel that everyone in Scottsbluff is one in the same, but I don’t think that is probably true. You are entitled to your opinion, however, as am I. Apparently you don’t have any friends or family on the other side of the river.

You also say that “Scottsbluff has serious issues both economically, socially and educationally that Gering avoid by choosing to live here.”  First of all, you list three issues, so your use of the word “both” is not correct. And you were a school teacher, correct? In Scottsbluff? And you no longer teach there? Well, I think that will probably help Scottsbluff with some of its “educational issues”. In addition to the incorrect use of the word “both”, the sentence doesn’t make any sense. Gering can’t choose to live anywhere. Gering is a municipality and has no free will… or thoughts… or anything. The residents of Gering can make choices, if that is what you meant. You really like to pit Gering and Scottsbluff against one another as if there really weren’t people involved, at least that is the tone I get from your email.

You honestly would go into bankruptcy before letting your children or grandchildren go to school in Scottsbluff? I would never say anything like that about our local schools… not in seriousness. Both Scottsbluff and Gering schools are staffed by local teachers who, for the most part, care about our children and our childrens’ futures. I wouldn’t hesitate to send my children to either school system. I mean, I understand the good-natured rivalry between Scottsbluff and Gering, but to say that you would declare bankruptcy before sending anyone from your family to one or the other…
this is exactly the kind of attitude that exists between certain members of both communities (and it does seem to be more prevalent in Gering) that drives me nuts.

The entire purpose of the blog post I wrote about Teresa winning Miss America was to show that, on a great occasion for the state of Nebraska, we should be proud of an outstanding accomplishment from a local young person.
Immediately after she won, I saw several huge arguments on Facebook about whether she is from Scottsbluff or Gering. I thought that was silly. I thought we could all be proud for her, not because of exactly which city she is from, but because she is from our state and, more specifically, our area. Thank you for taking the time to send me an email letting me know that she is actually from Gering and that Scottsbluff sucks. I had no idea anyone from Gering would have that attitude? What a surprise. You have opened my eyes…

Rich

I replied to Xxx’s email within a day or two of receiving hers back at the beginning of August.  I have yet to receive a response…

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Aug 05

I’m having a hard time blogging as of late. Nothing much is striking me as funny. I’ve got a post I’ve been working on about Castle Rock Construction out of Minnesota (that did some hail damage repair for us last year… and into this year), but there is nothing funny about the crappy experience Castle Rock provided.  That post serves more as a warning.  I’ve also got posts partially completed about soccer as a sport, defining a successful career, and great free things in a bad economy.  I also took an awesome trip with the family to Mexico that I should probably blog about, but that holiday ended as most do… with going back to work… and there is nothing funny about going back to work.

I returned to work after almost two weeks off today.  As anyone who reads this blog knows, I hate work. My attitude sucks when it comes to work. It’s not where I work or the job itself (at least not 100%), it’s just that working any job sucks.  So, since my vacation was supposed to “revitalize” me, I thought I would try heading back to work with a new attitude.  In an effort to make this happen, I spent Sunday evening before returning to work reading Fish! A Proven Way To Boost Morale and Improve Results… I mean, it’s proven, right?

Okay, I’m not going to do a book review here. The book was stupid.  Much like Who Moved My Cheese, this crapfest was a silly little fictional story that makes it seem like adapting to change and changing your attitude is something easy that anyone can do… and your life will be much better for the effort.  The numbskulls who write these books need to spend a few weeks working in the real world with real customers before they write this nonsense.

Anywho, I decide I’m going to have a positive attitude.  Yep, just like that. That’s how easy it’s supposed to be. I’m going to look at the positive in every situation that comes up.  And I go to work… on a Monday… after being away from the office for almost two weeks. I don’t know who is stupider: me or the authors of this insipid book.

Now, please realize that these books are not really written to help anyone.  Motivational business books are written solely for the purpose of making the authors a lot of money. Since the advice found in most of these books is worthless, the only way the authors can make bank is to make the books attractive to managers and executives who are too lazy to really work with morale issues in their companies and are looking for an easy “fix”.  The people in charge need to say:

“Hey, we need to implement changes for, or get more results out of, our drones and we really don’t want to pay them more to make that happen… so we need some cute little book that will make them want to work harder for us for the same money (or at times less than) they are currently making.  Pick up a couple hundred copies of Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results and make it mandatory reading for the worker bees…

Then, the authors make bank and write supplemental books to their original book that are even cheesier than the original, like Fishing with Boys! A Proven Way To Make Your Preschool Boy Not Pee All Over the Toilet Seat. I knew all of this going into my new Monday morning positive attitude approach, but I figured it was still worth a shot. Something needs to change. My attitude may be the answer.

So, I get to work with my sparkling positive attitude. First thing, I get employees telling me about all of the stuff that went wrong while I was gone. I inform them that I am working on a new, positive attitude and have no need for their negative “facts”.

Then, the phone rings and a longtime customer that I have done many special things for to make their service work beyond what they paid for cancels service. They are going with a competitor that I don’t care for much at all.  But that’s okay… right? I mean, I have this whole new positive attitude thing going on, right?

And then a customer calls in and asks for a “manager”… which I guess would be me. Anytime, as a manager, you have a coworker say, “Can you take this call? They want to speak to a manager,” you know it’s not going to be fun. So I take the call and the person is upset that they haven’t heard back from tech support and they left a message over two hours ago on a Monday where the techs are dealing with all of the messages from over the weekend and this wait time is unacceptable and their service isn’t working and they need something done right this minute and no they don’t want to talk to a tech that boat has sailed and I need to get someone out there right NOW! So, I book a service call… for Wednesday… which is the soonest I have someone available… and the positive attitude that I started the day with slit its wrists during the call. It’s about half way through the work day and my negative, pessimistic attitude is giving my positive attitude a really scathing eulogy before cremating it and scattering its ashes to the hostile, unrelenting panhandle wind.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. Maybe Tuesday is a better day to try a positive attitude…

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Aug 05

I wrote this almost 2 weeks ago while on a plane. I thought I had published it but apparently did not.  So now here it is for… whatever…

Just because I can, I whipped out my Note 2 and started working on a post on a plane traveling sonewhere between 500 and 600 miles per hour up in the clouds.  The family and I are heading to some resort somewhere south of Cancun and I hate flying, so to occupy sone time I’m doing this…

As the turbulence bounces us around and my youngest squeals about how the bouncing is his favorite part and I think about how horrible it would be to plunge to our deaths in this stupid cigar-shaped death trap, we are headed for a relaxing 6-day all inclusive stay at the White Sands Grand Palladium Resort. Of course, I have an aisle seat, so everybody and thier freaking dog bumps my shoulder as they hustle to the the lavatory at the back of the plane.

I hate flying!

Crap.  I think we are descending.  You know, most plane crashes happen during take-off and landing.  We survived getting into the air. Now we just have to wait and see if we can survive the landing.

I hate flying!

If the pilot can safely get this heap on the ground,  the family and I should have a nice holiday. I like saying holiday instead of vacation because it sounds British and those Brits got it going on…  you know, when it comes to holidays and, like, fish and chips…

Crap, more turbulence.

I hate flying!

Jun 10

The Union Bar in Gering Nebraska has its own little claim to fame: the Diet Burger.  The Nebraska Beef Council holds a “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest every year.  The Diet Burger was one of  five finalists for this year’s coveted top spot.  Needless to say, it didn’t win, but still… a burger recognized as great in a state where cows are more populous than people has got to be good, right?

A tradition that my boys and I have is to go camping for a night somewhere local to give the wife a night with the house to herself.  We haven’t been able to do this for the last couple of years, but this year we just made it happen.  We planned on camping at a local campground on Friday night, cooking out that night.  Then, our big plan was to go to The Union for lunch the following day to try us one of these Diet Burgers.  I’m a big burger fan and am at a loss for anything other than chain and fast food burgers around these parts.   I haven’t had any burgers locally that have made me say to myself, “Wow, beef really is better in Nebraska.”

At first, my boys were a little hesitant going to a “bar” for lunch, but I had them so psyched up to try one of these burgers that I think it could have been served in an alley on East Overland and they would have been willing to go.  See, the Diet Burger is supposed to be a pound of beef and a pound of bacon mushed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, right?  Sounded like the perfect thing to split with the boys on the one “cheat day” I allow myself away from my stinking diet.

So, the boys and I camp Friday night.  We have a good time.  We do a little geocaching, we play with our new puppy (who joined us on our trip), we ate some campfire stuff, we played us a little UNO, and we talked about how cool eating that Diet Burger was going to be.  The next day, we pack up camp and head to The Union to top-off our adventure.

Now I was especially excited.  I have a lot of people who know me who complain that I never write about anything positive in this here blog.  They say stuff like, “Why can’t you focus on the positive” and “There are lots of good things around here to write about.”  So, I’m excited that I am finally going to be able to write about something in a positive light in the good old panhandle of Nebraska.   I’ve never actually seen one of these Diet Burgers, but I was imagining a monstrosity of meat and cheese just oozing with goodness.  I couldn’t wait to get a picture or two of the behemoth and attach them to my stellar review of the burger.  I haven’t been this excited about much of anything in the panhandle of Nebraska since… well… ever.

The boys and I stroll into The Union and take a small table by the front window.  Our waitress is a cute little blond gal with short shorts and a pleasant smile.  “What can I get you guys?” she asks.

I don’t even hesitate.  “We’ll take a Diet Burger,” I say, my mouth already starting to collect drool with which to help the feast of beef and pork that I am soon going to be devouring slide down my gullet.

The waitress got kind of a wrinkly look on her face and said “Oooh,” and I knew my dreams were about to come crashing down around me in small piles that somehow resembled mutilated unicorns.

“We don’t serve those on Saturdays.”

Suddenly, with her face all scrunched up, little blondie with the short shorts wasn’t so cute anymore.

She points to a little list of like 10 bar-food-type appetizer items.  “This is our Saturday menu.”

“Well…” I start, looking at both of my boys who, like me, are visibly fighting the onslaught of tears on the verge of exploding from their eyes, “… we really wanted the Diet Burger.”

“Sorry,” says blondie.

“Okay,” I said as I started to get up from the table.  “I guess we’ll go somewhere else.”

The boys and I got up and, stepping around the small piles of blood and unicorn guts, made our way out of The Union.  “Gering sucks,” I said to the boys as we climbed back into our car.  “You know, if Gering would merge with Scottsbluff, The stupid Union would serve Diet Burgers on Saturday.”

See, now I will never have a Diet Burger.  The Union pissed me off, and the ability to forgive isn’t my strongest trait.  It is completely within The Union’s rights as a small business in the USA to serve what they want when they want.  Maybe the Saturday lunch crowd (which may not exist… there were like two drunk dudes sitting at the bar — and that’s it — while we were there at right after noon) doesn’t deserve this “famous” local treat.  The Diet Burger is no longer “famous” to me… it’s dead. See, I also have rights… like the right to never set foot in there again.

We drove into Scottsbluff and went to the Original Submarine Sandwich Shop located in Route 66 Mart.  We got some 4″ subs, which are served on Saturdays, and although they weren’t as flavorful as I’m sure the Diet Burger would have been, they were seasoned with the extra saltiness of our tears…

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Jun 03

Have you ever tried to lose weight?  I have, but  I love the taste of good food too much and I despise anything that makes me too sweaty.  Needless to say, the loss of weight has never been easy for me.  Why is it that all of the goals that have a positive impact on your life are so stinking hard and take so much stinking work?  Every… single… one.  Being a good parent is hard and takes work.  Relationships are hard and take work.  Making money is hard and takes work.  Just getting through an average day isn’t exactly a walk in the park.  And being healthy is absolutely sucktastic.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”  Why exactly in the hell do we quote this man?   If your life is full of effort, pain, and difficulty, you are to be envied.  What is the purpose of living a life like this?  What joy can be found in a life like this?  I guess if the effort, pain, and difficulty result in some sort of reward, there is a silver lining.  Silver is overrated.  I want my lining to be gold.

Life would be so much easier if you could just eat whatever you wanted with no negative consequences.  Why isn’t life like that?  Why does everything that tastes good have to be bad for you?  Why can’t turnips cause cancer and aged cheddar cheese lower your cholesterol?

There is going to be some healthy jerk who reads this and thinks something like, “Oh, nothing tastes better than fresh arugula sautéed in olive oil with organic pine nuts and a touch of sea salt!”  This person has never tasted bacon.

There are those who say that our bodies crave “junk” (i.e. good food) because that is what they are used to eating.  If we would just change our habits, we would come to love the taste of fresh greens and other low fat crap which are really what our bodies crave… our bodies just don’t know it.

… uh, sure…

Then why did almost all native people risk their lives in the pursuit of wild game?  I’m sure there were all kinds of leafy greens that could have been gathered with minimal risk of death.  They wanted meat!  They wanted roasted meat and charred meat and raw meat.  They wanted to bite into the still beating heart of their latest kill!

“The fat of the land” refers to the best part of something… because fat rules!  I don’t remember reading anywhere in the Bible, “And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the brussel sprouts of the field.”

And then there is the whole “eating in moderation” train of thought.  Eating in moderation is all good and well if you don’t mind walking around hungry all of the flipping time.  I hate being hungry.

Of course the whole secret to losing weight is taking in less calories than you burn.  Exercise helps burn calories.  So, in theory, if I could just exercise all of the time, I could probably eat whatever I wanted.  But I can’t exercise all of the time.  First of all, exercise sucks.  It’s hard and it makes me tired.  Second of all, even if exercise didn’t suck, there is no way I can do it all of the time.  Why?  Because I have to work a job to make the money to buy the food to put in my mouth to intake the calories that need to be burned by the exercise that lay in the house that Jack built… or something like that.

Needless to say, I’m trying to lose weight.  At a mere 5’7″, 200 pounds puts me on the verge of obesity.  Once I can actually call myself obese, I am left with no choice but to pitch a tent in the sporting goods department and live out the rest of my life at the local Walmart.  I don’t want to live in Walmart, thus the weight loss regimen.  I’ve been “dieting” for almost a month.  The pounds are very, very, very slowly coming off.  I track my caloric intake, I track the calories burned through exercise, and I constantly crave a bacon double cheeseburger.  Losing weight sucks…   and I wrote “pitch a tent”… heh heh heh…

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May 18

… yeah, I know. I’m a dude. What in the hell am I doing going to Cosmo for advice on anything. I blame Google.

I’m trying to turn over a new leaf, you know?  I’m trying to be more positive at work.  We have some new people and I’m trying to not let my negativity rub off on the new people.  I figure if I can make it through the next 9 years, I can leave the panhandle of Nebraska in the dust… FOREVER.  I just need to make it through the next 9 years.

As I point out regularly, working sucks.  When you are at work, you are not doing the things you want to do… you are doing what someone else wants you to do.  Such is life.  It sucks, but what are you going to do.  You have to pay your bills somehow.  You have to have money for the scant time you do have to do the things you want to do.  Ahhh… the American Dream of we, the faithful sheep of the USA.  Spend your good years toiling and consuming so that when you are old and decrepit and have nothing much physically or mentally left to offer others, then you can take a year or two to yourself… before you kick the bucket.

So with my obvious new-found positive outlook, I went searching the Internet for ideas on how to make going to work more enjoyable.

And Google directed me to Cosmo

And I should have known better than to even read the first sentence…

I’d love to copy the entire Cosmo post here and rip it apart piece by piece, but I believe that would be some sort of violation of something, and I’m sure Cosmo‘s lawyers are a little better than my lawyer… or they would be if I had a lawyer…

I apologize in advance for the following, but here is the link to the Cosmo article, “8 Ways to Make Your Job Suck Less”, by Anna Davies.

Now, if you’ll notice from the first piece of advice from this list of “8 Ways to Make Your Job Suck Less” that this article isn’t really written for anyone with testicals.  Maybe some women (and, I suppose, dudes… maybe…) can make their day brighter with a bouquet of pretty flowers, but that doesn’t do squat for me.

Item 2 is (if you read it, you know I crap you not) “Suck Up a Little.”  O…M…G… I remember that class from college: “How to Suck Up to Your Superior to Get Ahead at Work.” How could I have forgotten this simple rule that is so well respected by employees the world over?  Everyone loves a good suck-up, right?  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard something like, “Man, Jenny is such a good suck-up. I wish I could suck up more like her.  She is destined for greatness with that sucking ability of hers!”

Items numbered 3, 5, 7 & 8 are sexting, playing Angry Birds, watching YouTube videos, and planning a vacation.  Half of the stinking list of things to do at work to make your job suck less are pretty much, “Don’t do your job”!  That’s just freaking BRILLIANT!  Why hadn’t I thought of that?  If I don’t do my job while I’m at my job, maybe my job won’t suck!  MY MIND HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY BLOWN!!!  Pure genius…

Item 4 is to spend more time outside of work with your “office BFFs.”  Dear Lord… “office BFFs.”  Are we really supposed to have “office BFFs?”  I’m all for getting along with coworkers, and I even like a couple of mine, but if I ever refer to anyone that I work with as an “office BFF”, I want someone to promise to shoot me dead.  I already know which one of my office BFFs I can count on to make sure that happens…

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May 11

How does one go about planning for the future?  I’ve tried doing some planning, but it all seems like such a waste of time. Things never work out the way you want them to, and life always gets thrown into the mix and screws everything up… like stupid “fix-it” tickets that you have 5 days to get taken care of that involve probably hundreds of dollars worth of electrical work on your vehicle that you can’t afford… stinking Scottsbluff police…

Planning small things isn’t such a big deal.  Planning a birthday party or a weekend trip or something like that is pretty doable.  I’m talking about the major plans like retirement or future career direction or where you would like to live.  I know that there are people who successfully plan for such things; I’m just not one of them.  There are those who say it is all in God’s hands and to trust in God.  I don’t disagree about the God’s hands part, but I don’t think God is going to pay my mortgage.  I don’t think God is going to make sure my electricity doesn’t get shut off because I quit my job.  God doesn’t take care of “fix-it” tickets… although I’m hoping some prayers for a certain police officer getting a random plague of locusts will go answered.  God has never led me to believe that I can just quit my job and lead the life I would like.  If this life didn’t contain vast amounts of major suckage, why would we turn our eyes toward heaven?

I tried to plan for my future by going to college.  I went to college, I got good grades, and I got a job. I wanted to make a lot of money, but I have never made a lot of money.  The only reason I went to college was to get a job that pays a lot of money.

Period.

I will never have a job that pays a lot of money.  Different people have different definitions for “lot of money”.  I have mine, and I will never see it (and it probably isn’t as much as you may be thinking).  In hindsight, I would not have focused on money.  In hindsight, I would have focused on doing something that utilizes my inherent talents and skills… something like… uh… okay, so I don’t have any inherent talents and skills.  Planning sucks.

I’ve tried planning for various other things, including retirement.  Retirement planning is kind of a joke.  If you don’t start enforcing a plan right when you get in the workforce, it’s too late.  I know there are people who are able to do it later in life and find some success… but those people are either making more money than me or are willing to sacrifice more than me.  I don’t have a big issue sacrificing, but while my kids are still around the house, I am willing to sacrifice less.  Kids are expensive.  Worth it?  Of course.  But expensive none the less.

Recently, I was talking with a couple of friends at a high school soccer game and we started talking about life after all of the kids are out of the house.  Interestingly enough, one of the friends said she and her husband plan on traveling around the country after the kids are gone.  You know, just kind of moving from town to town, getting jobs that pay enough just to get by.  The other friend said he and his wife plan on doing something similar, but more of a retirement-type thing.  Get out and see the world.  This point is probably where I made my mistake.  I started thinking and planning which are two things I don’t do very well, especially together.

Retirement has always been very important to me (just not important enough to completely quit living in the here and now, which seems to pretty much be what it takes at my income level).  I hate working.  I hate the way life is laid out.  I hate the fact that you spend most of your waking hours working at a job in order to pay for everything.  Call me lazy, call me whatever you want, but I hate working.  Now, I helped a young man with his Eagle Scout project a couple of weeks ago and it was actual physical work.  I didn’t mind it at all.  In fact, I enjoyed myself.  I do various household and community projects. I volunteer for BSA and at my church.  I do stuff, and I don’t hate doing stuff that involves “work”.  So I don’t really think I’m lazy.  I just hate working for a paycheck.  I understand that there are lots of people out there who would love to have a job and I can hear the tiny chorus of voices saying, “Be thankful you have a job!”  I didn’t say that I’m not thankful I have a job… but I still hate working for a paycheck.  Thus, retirement has always been like a stupid dangling carrot that urges me to get out of bed every morning.  I really don’t think I will ever be able to retire… at least not fully:

  • I started too late.
  • I dipped into those funds at one point for something I probably shouldn’t have.
  • I can’t contribute as much as I would like at this point.
  • Most success that the stock market has seen recently has eluded me.

Okay, so working until I die is sounding more and more like the reality of my situation.

That sucks.

That really, really sucks.

So, back to the conversation I had with my friends at the soccer game that involved the thinking and the planning.  As long as I’m going to have to work up until my death, I want to travel and see stuff and try to get a little enjoyment out of the whole situation.  The wife and I have discussed it and she agrees that, once the boys are out of school, selling much of our belongings and going transient sounds like a doable plan.  You know, move up to Estes Park for a year and work at the shops up there.  Spend a summer working in Yellowstone…. or maybe a year or two.  Spend a year or two working in Key West!  Just travel… and get little jobs with little responsibility and little stress in places we would really like to live!  Try out different areas.  Make enough to pay the monthly bills.  Retirement isn’t an option, so why stress about it?  See the US (or maybe even the world) and just get by.

When I mentioned the “goat farm” idea to the wife, she was less than enthusiastic.  The whole “see the country” plan she seems to be on board with.  And in a mere 9 years, both of the boys will be out of high school… so although it is a little further away than I would like, it’s not an eternity.  I don’t wish my children’s childhoods away, but they are slipping by without any prompting from me.  Might as well have something to look forward to at the horrible time when the nest is empty.

The problem now rests with the fact that I am planning for the future.  Whenever I plan for the future, stuff seems to get in the way.  Therefore, stuff will probably get in the way of the plan to travel once the kids are on their own.  It’s like I’ve jinxed myself by thinking about it!

Damn it!

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Mar 07

Everyone has his or her own version of the “American Dream” tucked away somewhere in the nether-regions of her or his subconscious.  Our personal versions of the “American Dream” are part of what motivates us to get out of bed every morning and live life.

Little Johnny wants to grow up and get married and have a family and own a home and be a fireman so he can spend his life saving the lives of others.  Then Little Johnny wants to retire and travel and enjoy his final years.

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Little Suzie wants to grow up and get married and have a family and own a home and be a doctor so she can spend her life saving the lives of others.  Then Little Suzie wants to retire and travel and enjoy her final years.

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Little Barack and Little George wanted to grow up to be politicians so they could meddle in people’s lives and screw over a country.

Everyone has a dream.  Some people realize that dream, and the rest of us learn to settle.

Settling sucks.

Little Adventurer Rich wanted to grow up and get married and have a family and own a home and be a something-that-makes-a-lot-of-money-and-helps-a-lot-of-people-but-isn’t-dangerous-or-doesn’t-involve-sticking-his-hands-in-other-people’s-guts.  Then Little Adventurer Rich wanted to retire and travel and enjoy his final years.

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Little Adventurer Rich got a cold slap across the face as a wake-up call.  When you decide to grow roots in rural Nebraska, there is no such thing as a job where you can make a lot of money.  If you don’t get the job that pays a lot of money, the retirement and travel associated with the retirement become pipe dreams.

I’m thankful for the marriage and the family and the house.  The rest of my “American Dream” is things I will need to learn to live without.  Well, I guess those things are already lacking, so I won’t need to learn to live without them… I need to learn that I will never have them.  It’s called “settling”.

As I cruise through this ever-increasingly difficult mid-life crisis, things start to fall into perspective.  I’m not the kind of guy who wants a fancy sports car or a token 20-something-year-old mistress to help realize unfulfilled dreams.  I’m happy driving crappy used cars (even considering getting a minivan).  My wife is my only link to sanity.  If I lost her, I would lose all bearing on life.  So, I’ll keep my 40-something-year-old model.  Besides, the only 20-something-year-olds interested in old farts like me are after gold, and my veins are full of nothing but pyrite and cholesterol.

So, since I’m not looking for the typical remedies for my ills, I’ve been trying to figure out how to become less miserable.  I look in the mirror and this old guy looks back at me, with his gray hairs and his frown lines, and I start to get pissed off at him.  He looks so much older than I feel.  Why didn’t he do something with his life?  Why couldn’t he have been better looking or more self-confident?  Why didn’t he take advantage of opportunities that I’m sure were available to him (yet, strangely enough, neither he nor I can think of any)?  Why has he let me down?  Ooh, sometimes I just want to throttle that loser in the mirror.  He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would ever be successful.  He looks like a stupid goat farmer…

… goat farmer…

…GOAT FARMER!

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OH…EM…GEE!  I look like a goat farmer!  A stupid goat farmer!  Being a goat farmer would be AWESOME!  No stupid customer problems! No stupid technology! Just lots and lots of goats!  You feed them, you breed them, you take care of them, maybe you milk them, then you kill them and you eat them. Maybe you sell them.  Maybe you sell the milk or sell the meat.  Maybe you hire them out to breed with someone else’s goats.

OH… EM… GEE! I could be a GOAT PIMP!

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If not goats, maybe ostrich, or rabbit, or some other semi-exotic meat that people are willing to buy.  I wouldn’t make my riches being an exotic meat farmer, but being out on a farm, working with my hands, being responsible for only my own actions and relying only on my own efforts… I may not be able to retire, but I wouldn’t want to gouge my brains out through my ear holes before going to a “job” every day, so it is something I could see myself doing until I finally snap and they end up throwing me in a loony bin!

Maybe my family wouldn’t be able to have some of the things we have now, like satellite television or cell phones or Internet or new clothes or gas for the used cars or, you know, food to eat other than goat… but it would all be worth it!  If you can’t make it to the top of the food chain doing something you hate, crawl to the bottom of the food chain raising goats!

Now, I just need some land and a shack to live in.  I’m sure I can pick up some land on the cheap in Nebraska, right?  And I’ll need some starter goats.  Do they sell starter goat kits?  Never mind, I’ll Google it later… while I still have Internet :)  And I just need to convince my family that we would be better off without all of the stupid “conveniences” or modern life. I’ll never be able to provide for my family in the ways I dreamed as a kid, so it’s time to change the dream!

Little Adventurer Rich wants to grow up and get married and have a family and own a home and sell that home and buy a goat farm and raise goats!   Then Little Adventurer Rich wants to lose his mind and get locked up in a “facility” with lots of padded rooms where he will enjoy his final years dreaming of his goats…

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Finally, a dream I may be able to accomplish…

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Feb 12

“Did you follow-up with that customer?”

“Yeah… I sent him an email.”

***Really?***

“Hey, did you talk to Larry about getting his numbers up?”

“Yeah, I detailed it in an email.”

*** Right!***

“Hey, you missed the meeting! Didn’t you get my email?”

“No, I never received an email from you.”

Email sucks… period.

Email serves two purposes:

  • The first purpose is to”communicate” with a customer, co-worker, friend, etc. who you really don’t want to deal with.  You really don’t want to take any kind of personal responsibility for whatever the situation is, so you shoot an email off to someone .
  • The second purpose is to cover your ass in the event that someone accuses you of abdicating your responsibility.  “I didn’t drop the ball on the Smith project. I sent an email…” And I bet you have a copy of that sent email in some file or folder proving you didn’t drop the ball.

Email sucks.

Have you ever taken some time off… you know, like, say, a weekend, and you come back to work and have a stinking pile of email to go through?  In addition to trying to get some actual work done, you know, like attending meetings and stuff, you have to find the time to sift through a buttload of mindless email.  And usually about 5% of the email has anything at all to do with you.  And then, because you are trying to get through the email, most of which is of absolutely no interest to you, you actually miss an email where, at the very end of an email written by someone who is trying to be Shakespeare writing Hamlet or something, you miss something that does pertain to you.  And then the Shakespeare wanna-be follows up with an email asking why you didn’t follow up on his original email… which you didn’t know really had anything to do with you because your mind started to numb-over in the fifth paragraph and you didn’t make it to the end and actually discover that there was some instruction for you at the end of the email.  And you act like you don’t know what Shakespeare is talking about (because you don’t know what Shakespeare is talking about), and Shakespeare says, “It was in my email!”

Email sucks.  Have I mentioned that yet?

Email used to be great.  Man, the jokes I used to get forwarded to me were hilarious! Oh how I’d laugh at the recycled Little Johnnie jokes. The Bill Clinton Jokes never got old — he just made it way too easy, you know, with the cigars and the “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” and the Hilary…

Now, I’m so busy using stupid email for “work” that I don’t even take the time to read the funny forwards; they go straight in the trash.  Email as a joke delivery system was one thing.  Email used as a method of actually conducting serious business… well… sucks.

The only nice thing about email is you can say you never received the email.  Abdication of personal responsibility on both ends…

And don’t even get me started on the constantly ringing phones.  Does anyone ever call a business without a problem that needs to be resolved? They are paying a bill because not paying the bill is a problem. They need new service because not having service poses a problem.  They have a problem with the service… these are the most funnest of all!  Problems, problems, problems, all day long.  Hey, I got problems of my own! What makes you think I want to deal with your stupid problems… oh yeah… it’s my job.  Jobs, email, and especially jobs with email… you know where this is going…

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Dec 28

Since finding myself living in Nebraska, I’ve felt a touch of compassionate empathy for those poor folks involved in the tourism industry in Nebraska.  I mean, we are a world in search of adventure.  Nebraska is no grand adventure.

Life is actually usually pretty boring, if we sit back and think about it.  I remember, after going to see the latest installment in the Spider-Man big screen adaptation behemoth, my teen-aged son saying to me, “Man, being Spider-Man would be cool, huh?  I mean, after watching Spider-Man, real life seems kind of boring.”   Yes, boy, I thought, real life seems kind of boring.  And he is a teenager.  Just wait until you are an adult, with bills and responsibilities and a job, which if you are like 70% (and I believe this percentage may be a little low) of the population, you will hate. That’s why people get lost in television series about zombies and movie franchises about vampires and book series about young wizards, that’s why people get all tied up in “a galaxy far, far away” — because real life is boring.  That’s why grown men and women lose themselves in the utter ridiculousness of “sport fandom” — because our lives are pretty boring, so we need to live vicariously through people who we view as having “exciting lives.”  So, when we go to spend our hard-earned and hard-saved  vacation money (or rack up credit card bills we have no intention of actually paying off in our lifetimes), we are searching for some relaxation, some adventure, and getting away from our boring lives. Why would anyone in his or her right mind search out wind, allergens, the smell of feedlots, and the miles and miles of mind-numbing cornfields of Nebraska as a place to spend their vacation dollars?  Nebraska is a place you pass through on your way to somewhere that has something to offer.   No one in his or her right mind…

My thoughts are often with those poor folks who have jobs that require the promotion of Nebraska as a tourist destination.  Talk about some of the hardest jobs in America.  I’m actually surprised that Dirty Jobs hasn’t featured Nebraska Tourism in its spotlight…

Mike Rowe walks into the State Tourism office in Lincoln.  He is immediately greeted by a weary young woman who welcomes him with a weak, sweaty handshake.

Mike: Well, this looks like an office job.  It can’t be that bad.

Woman: Yeah, it’s an office job.

Mike: So, what do you guys and gals do here?

Woman: We try to convince people to spend their vacation dollars in Nebraska.

Mike (rolling up his sleeves): Well, Nebraska can’t be that bad.  What are some of the things in the state that people would want to come see?

Woman: … Kool-Aid was invented here…

Mike: Okay, that’s a start.  And we have a museum for that?

Woman: Well, no.  There is a display for Kool-Aid in a museum in Hastings, but no stand-alone museum.

Mike: … okay… what else we got!

Woman: We have corn, and cows.  Growing is big here.  We grow corn and meat and beans and stuff.

Mike (hamming it up, winking at the camera): How about pot?  Could we promote pot?  Some states are legalizing it!

Woman: The state is about 99.7% Republican…

Mike (coughing): … okay… uh… celebrities?  Any living celebrities people would want to visit the home towns of?

Woman: … Larry the Cable Guy…

Mike (tearing off his microphone and yelling at his producer): Nebraska?  Who in the hells idea was this?  They are FIRED!  We are out of here…

Woman (weeping): … Oh please, God, don’t leave me!  Are you hiring… anything… somebody has to wash the crap off your clothes after you crawl out of the sewers… I’ll do that…

Okay, Nebraska tourism might be too much for even Dirty Jobs.

Now, with Nebraska tourism being on my mind more than not, I am constantly looking for ways to help those poor folks involved in the industry.  So, when I came across a small article in the local Star-Herald newspaper, my grand plan began to formulate.  Nebraska might not be the logical choice for people in their right minds… but what about nutjobs and whackos?  We might be the place for those folks, and there are a lot of those folks… and they have money too.

The article in the Star-Herald was about a vampire in Serbia.  Now, you may be asking yourself why a small newspaper in Scottsbluff, Nebraska is carrying a story about a vampire in Serbia.  Well, it’s Nebraska.  Not much happens here, but there are pages to fill.  Now, from what I could glean from the story, the locals don’t really believe there is a vampire on the loose in Serbia.  The locals are just playing up the sensational story for — you guessed it — potential tourism dollars.  The residents of Zarozje, Serbia, want the nutjobs and the whackos to come spend their hard-earned vacation money in search of the elusive vampire.  This will probably work.  People go to Transylvania because of Dracula.  People visit the Loch Ness in hopes of spying the monster.  Weirdos and psychos head to the Pacific Northwest with the intend of snapping a picture of Bigfoot.  Now, if only the good folks of Nebraska had something freakish going for them… other than the freakishly boring everyday stuff…

Now, I’m thumbing through another edition of the Star-Herald and I see a piece on Stephen King giving a speech at the University of Massachusetts… and the Golden Tourism plan is devised for the great state of Nebraska!

Stephen King has used Nebraska in a few of his stories.  Children of the Corn takes place in and around the fictitious town of Gatlin, which would be somewhere in the western part of the state near the real-life Hemingford.  The real-life Hemingford is the namesake for Stephen King’s Hemingford Home, which was the residence of  Abigail Freeman in The Stand.  Hemingford Home is also where Wilfred James killed and was haunted by his wife in 1922.  Stephen King doesn’t seem to have a problem imagining strange things transpiring in Nebraska.  We should SELL THAT!  Screw vampires!  Screw hairy guys with big feet!  We’re talking killer children in the cornfields!  All of a sudden, those stupid cornfields seem to be more than a source for allergy issues.  Guys murder their wifes and bury them in old wells around here, folks: come and SEE IT!  Come to Nebraska and try not to get caught up in the ultimate battle between good and evil!  Try to keep your SOUL!

Oh man, this is tourism gold.  I mean, you walk into the local Walmart at an hour of any given day and about half of the dudes walking around look like they could have potentially buried their wives in wells.  Nebraska could be the freak-out capital of the world.  Farmers could have mazes going through their cornfields and hire some of the local illegals to chase tourist with machetes.  There could be bloody body parts scattered along the trails. The whole state could become like the worlds largest haunted house!  People would come from near and far to be freaked-out in Nebraska.  Oh sure, the new breed of tourist this campaign would bring in might not be the most mentally sound of people, but money all burns the same, right?

And I even have the new state slogan.  Screw “The Good Life”, because we don’t want to mislead people with false advertising.  Our new slogan would be:

Nebraska:  Something’s Just Not Quite Right…

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