Jan 26

I am, I think, probably the poorest sport of a sore loser that I know. And it’s not just with stuff I lose at (which would entail a list far too long to list here). My sportsmanship sucks at all levels of losing. I’m a very gracious winner, but if I or my family or even people I don’t know but I have associated with on some level lose, I’m a pissed off cry baby waiting to cause a scene.

I mean, I was at the YMCA the other night and I was on an elliptical with a little TV attached. I was jamming to my MP3 player and I decided to put ESPN on the TV just to have something to watch other than my feet going round and round on the elliptical. There’s a college basketball game on, so I decide I’ll watch.  Now, I couldn’t give two craps about most college or professional sports.  A bunch of people with height and skills that I could never possess playing games that could lead to lucrative careers… playing games… while I struggle to make ends meet and try to face the fact that I will work a job making less in a year than most professional basketball players make in about half a week.  And I will work a job until the day I die.  And I start to hope for that day just so I won’t have to work a job anymore.  And that is depressing.  And I’m getting off topic…

So the teams playing are Florida and Tennessee.  I could care less about either of those teams.  I didn’t have a horse in that race.  So, how did I decide who I was going to root for?  Well, Tennessee is losing by about 14 points.  And Tennessee isn’t ranked.  Florida is ranked #6, so I decide I’m going to root for the underdog.  And you see, this is how I usually end up on the losing side of stuff.  When  one is predisposed to root for the underdog, one is going to face a lot of disappointment.  Underdogs are underdogs for a reason: they have less likelihood of winning because they aren’t as good as the favorite.  So, Florida starts to pull away.  Before you know it, Florida is ahead by over 20 points.  And I’m starting to get pissed.  I’m seeing smug looks on all of the Florida player’s faces.  The Florida coach is starting to look like an arrogant jackass.  I’m starting to see Florida getting away with fouls that aren’t getting called.  And Florida is suddenly up by 30 points and the game is over and I’m completely pissed off.  I hate the state of Florida and everyone associated with the state of Florida and I vow to do everything in my power, which is quite limited, to destroy everything associated with Florida… all because of a stupid college basketball game that I didn’t give two craps about before I started watching it…

I am a very poor sport.

My oldest kid played in an indoor soccer tournament a couple of weekends ago in Rapid City.  The family and I went to watch.  And for everyone of the three games that my kid’s team played and lost, I sat there acquiring a major disdain for Rapid City, South Dakota.  As our team would get further and further down in the score, I would become increasingly annoyed with the parents of the winning teams.  How dare they cheer for their kids!  How dare they encourage their players!  Whose bright idea was it for all of the parents for both teams to sit together?!?  Is someone just trying to make my life miserable?!?

Now, I honestly am a rational adult.  I know that those parents have every right to cheer for their teams.  I know that good parents encourage their children whether they win or lose.  I’m just not that good of a parent.  I want my kid and his friends to win.  Of course, they have to play better than the team they are playing against or that won’t happen, but when in the heat of the battle, I don’t think reasonably.  When in the heat of battle, all I can think about is how I want my kid to win.  If he can win at soccer, maybe he can win at life.  If he wins at life, maybe he will end up with a good paying job that he actually enjoys in a place that he likes living.  In other words, I don’t want my kid to end up like his old man.  I’ve lost a lot in my life and I have learned from those losses.  You know what I have learned from losing?  I’ve learned that losing sucks.  Period.  Sure, you win some and you lose some, but losing still sucks.  There is no redemption in losing.  You lose and then you work hard to improve and if you still lose after working hard and improving, give up and do something else.  Because losing sucks.  There is absolutely nothing you can do to make losing not suck, so avoid losing.  I know this isn’t possible, but it is a worthy pursuit.

My younger son plays in a kids basketball league at the YMCA.  His team played this past weekend, and his team lost.  These are 9 and 10-year-old kids.  And as my kid’s team is losing, I’m looking at the 9 and 10-year-olds on the other team and I start to dislike them immensely.  I dislike their smug little smiles and their cocky attitudes as they score more points.  Of course, their smiles aren’t really smug and their attitudes aren’t cocky, but it sure seemed like they were as they were kicking my kid’s team’s butts!  If my kid loses at 9 and 10-year-old basketball at the YMCA, he may be destined for a crappy existence in someplace like Scottsbluff, NE where he would have to work for over 100 years to make what the average professional basketball player makes in one year… and I want more for my kids than that…

See, I think of my current misery associated with life in the panhandle of Nebraska as being a direct result of the many loses and failures I have experienced over the course of my life. Because I am a loser, I am here.  If I were a winner, I would be living elsewhere doing something else and being paid exceptionally well to do it.  Currently, if I were to become fed up with my job and were to search for something else, what would I do? Maybe I could sell farm equipment; that sounds pretty rewarding, doesn’t it?  I could work at the sugar factory; there’s a dream come true!  I could maybe make slightly over minimum wage at Walmart; that would lead to my praying for God to strike me dead every working minute of every working day…

You see, winners don’t have to consider an entry-level job at Walmart as a real possibility for earning a living.  Real winners don’t even have to shop at Walmart.  So I’m a poor sport… I’m a sore loser… especially when it comes to my kids.  I want my kids to have completely Walmart-free futures…

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Nov 13

Is anyone going to argue with that?  How can they?  Getting old sucks and, the really crappy thing is, there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it.  As long as you are alive, you will get older.  And no matter how well you take care of yourself, time will not be kind to you.  Your once supple young body will become a fragile hindrance to a joyful life.  No one can really avoid aging, and aging means you will get old (at least older than you were).

 

I went on a camping trip recently with a bunch of scouts.  One of the other adults on the campout took some pictures and posted them on Facebook.  In one of the pictures, there was some old piece of crap holding my coffee mug and wearing my jacket?  When did this SOB sneak into my tent and steal my stuff?  Then I realized, the old SOB was me… I wanted to cry.  Is that really what I look like to others?  I’m even more hideous than I originally suspected!  Was I always like this?

So I went looking at some pictures of me when I was younger.  I found the following:

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Yes, I was a goober.  Yes, I was a dork.  This picture was taken when I was most likely a sophomore in high school.  I was around 15-years-old.  I was the age my oldest son is now.  Even though I was a tool, look at how young I appeared!  My smile was sincere, my freckles were fresh, my eyes sparkled.  I looked like the kind of guy who would be fun to hang out with.  I could see me being friends with this guy.  He seems to have a certain amount of, oh, I don’t know, joy?

… and then I go back to the recent picture of me on the camp out…

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This is what 44 looks like, boys and girls. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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There doesn’t appear to be any joy in this face.  The smile seems forced, only there because someone is shoving a camera in his face.  The freckles have long since faded into the abyss of age.  The eyes are sunken, dead, no sign of spark.  It almost appears that someone, at some point, may have smacked him in the face with a shovel a few times.  Wrinkles everywhere.  His eyes are strangely off, again going back to the smacked with a shovel theory.  This does not look like someone I would want to hang out with.  This looks like someone who is going to start every conversation with, “Back in my day…”  Good gravy, how did this happen to me?  When did I become this !?!

Life.

Life did this to me.

You can sugar coat it any way you want, but life tends to… well… suck the life right out of you.  Those wrinkles aren’t from smiling too much.  The eyes aren’t dead because of some deeper gained understanding of some critical knowledge.  The beard isn’t gray because of some sort of wisdom nonsense.  I look the way I do because life takes a toll.  Dreams aren’t realized and goals aren’t met and hairs go gray and wrinkles appear.  You start to be more realistic about what you are actually going to accomplish with your life and your eyes lose most of their sparkle.  You swear that you are never going to look as old as the people that you thought of as old when you were young, and some jerk hits you in the face repeatedly with a shovel…

Life’s tough, kiddos.  Enjoy your youth while you have it.  Do the right things with it…

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”

Ecclesiastes 12:1 (NKJV)

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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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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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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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Jul 22

Last summer, the family and I went on a cruise for our summer vacation.  It took almost 3 years of scrimping and saving to accumulate enough money to go on this cruise.  It was an awesome experience and we had a good time.  However, since we went on the expensive cruise last summer, our plans for this summer’s vacation are a little less… well, less.

I had really hoped that by the time I reached my forties, I would be in a financial position to be able to take a decent vacation every summer.  Life and the panhandle of Nebraska had different plans for me, and we have to save up for a decent vacation every two or three years.  But, with our oldest son entering high school this fall and our youngest not really that far behind, we want to do something fun over the summer to create some memories before the boys are all grown up and far away from the panhandle leading their own successful lives.

This summer, for our family vacation, we are going camping.  Camping vacations are kind of our go-to vacation during the summers where we are saving up for a real vacation.  Now, we have been camping in Yellowstone National Park and Tetons National Park in Wyoming.  We have been camping in Estes Park, Colorado.   This summer, we thought we might do something different than a beautiful mountain retreat.  This summer, we are going camping near… Omaha.

Okay, we really didn’t plan on going to Omaha on purpose… not really.  The oldest boy is in this AYSO soccer thing and the one tournament that it looked like he would actually be able to participate in was in North Platte, NE the same week we were planning our vacation.  We still wanted to take a vacation, but we wanted the boy to be able to play in this tournament, so we decided to go camping in Mahoney State Park outside of Omaha.  We figured we could visit the Omaha Zoo and whatnot and stop in North Platte on our way back so the kid could get his soccer on.

Well, it turns out that the oldest boy’s age group didn’t have enough kids that could go to North Platte… that and the fact that they didn’t really have a coach.  I, being Johnny on the spot, already had made non-refundable reservations at Mahoney, so it looks like eastern Nebraska is our destination for this summer’s vacation.

Omaha…

Nebraska…

Does anyone really take a vacation in stinking Omaha?!?  Well, Adventurer Rich and his family are.  We’re trend setters like that.  Oh, who am I kidding…

Okay, so I’m sure we will have a good time on our vacation.  Any time spent with the family is fun… until the boys start fighting… and I lose it and yell at everyone… but there will be good moments.  Still, a vacation in Omaha seems a bit oxymoron-ish, but it is what it is.  It is an eye-opening exclamation that I need to make more money.

So, Adventurer Rich is looking for a way to make some additional income. I need to do something so the family and I can take real vacations every summer.  I’ve thought about delivering pizzas in the evening or something like that, but I’d like to make more money doing something that doesn’t completely suck.  I’ve tried a couple of different multi-level marketing things, and I just don’t have what it takes to be successful with those (people who are successful with MLM seem, to me, to be a touch annoying).  I don’t mind making people mad, but I really don’t want to annoy anyone…

I’ve messed around on Mechanical Turk, and the work there is kind of fun, but I really need to make more than a couple of bucks an hour or it’s really not worth my time doing it.  I’ve thought about writing articles for eHow or about.com, but I don’t really  know enough about anything to be able to write any articles that would benefit anyone.  “How to Put Your Walmart Shopping Cart in the Cart Corral, You Flipping Moron” probably wouldn’t get a lot of hits and, thus, would not really be a money maker.

sigh

Well, I’ll keep thinking on it.  Something will come to me, I hope.  In the meantime, I need to go pack.  Omaha awaits…

sigh

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Jun 12

I’m on a hunger strike!  I have been on a hunger strike since yesterday.  The last time I actually ate anything was Sunday evening, and it is currently Tuesday evening.  I am approaching the 48-hour mark.  I felt a little light-headed last night. Tonight, I’m feeling okay.

Why, you may ask, am I on a hunger strike?  Well, I figure I’m going to do the hunger-strike thing until Nebraska quits sucking.  In other words, I’m going to starve to death.

Last year, about this time, I posted about my experiences with the wonderfully craptastic County of Scotts Bluff.  See, the county commissioners and the county assessor are in cahoots and regularly pull random property valuations out of their asses in order to charge more for property taxes for the abused residents of Scotts Bluff County.  Last year, my taxes inexplicably went up.  I filed a formal protest and appeared before the county commissioners.  I intelligently stated my case and was quickly talked-down to and brushed off.  I wrote a post about my experience last year.

Well, last year’s increase was like 2%.  I filed my protest, appeared before the commissioners, was shot down and humiliated, and wrote a blog post about my experience.  This year, the jackwads at the county decided to increase the value of my property by 6%.  SIX FREAKING PERCENT! How can they keep doing this?

They can keep doing this because they are government — and government sucks!  All forms of government suck, which is why I can’t understand liberals.  Liberals want more government.  Liberals think the government (through more taxation of those who work for what they have) should take care of those in need (those who don’t work for what they have).  Screw that noise!  I used to be a conservative… until along came Bush Jr.  Seems to me Bush Jr. talked a good conservative game, and his tax cuts seemed like the conservative thing to do… then he created all of these billions of dollars in debt with all of these stinking bail outs.  Bush Jr. was nothing more than a liberal in a Texan’s clothing.

All politicians suck.  Period.  There is not one person who is serving in politics who is doing it for 100% the right reasons.  Every politician alive is doing it for:

  • Money
  • Power
  • Influence
  • Personal agenda
  • Attaching his/her name to a legacy

People will disagree, but people are idiots.  There is not a politician alive who is serving for the good of all people.  There is not a politician alive who truly puts the best interest of whatever he/she is representing (country, state, city, county) based on his/her actions.  These jerkwads always have an agenda.  These jerkwads are always looking to help either themselves or help whatever constituent provided the most kickbacks.  I hate politicians.  And Scotts Bluff county commissioners are politicians.

So, let’s see, what new and great things are happening around Scotts Bluff County that would justify a 6% increase in my home’s value (and, of course, the obligatory tax increase associated with that hike):

  • New employers with great new high-paying jobs?  Hell no!  Walmart may be hiring…  The only people making good money are people in the medical field and trust-funders.  Even teaching is considered a good paying job in the craphandle.
  • New amenities?  Are you kidding?  I suspect the newest round of tax-gouging is just to maintain the infrastructure at its current level.  I guess there may be a new drug dealer in the trailer park in my neighborhood.  Drug dealers = idiot drivers looking to score = a not very safe neighborhood for my kids to play. Yeah, increase the valuation of my property based on that…
  • Strong existing economy?  I don’t think so.  Gering recently had a new grocery store open, which replaces the grocery store that Walmart drove out of town years ago.  I don’t know how long that new store in Gering will stay open, but if it were publicly traded, I wouldn’t buy its stock.  In just the last couple of months, our local bookstore (Copperfield) has gone out of business, as has a pottery store downtown (Create Away).  JC Penney recently announced they will be closing their store in our joke of a half-dead mall.  I know about businesses closing.  Closing businesses don’t seem to be the kind of indicator that point toward the kind of strong economy that would justify a 6% increase in a property’s value, does it?
  • The county figured out a way to block the wind, filter the allergens, get rid of the feedlot/sugar beet smells, or make the stinking old Germans drive faster?  Of course not.

The pile of crap that falls from some county administrator’s mouth and gets printed in the local newspaper is that we aren’t being hit as hard by the housing crash as the rest of the country.  We don’t have the big rises in real estate, and we don’t have the big crashes in real estate.

Really?!?

Yeah, I guess if my property value is increasing with me making no improvements to my property, it would be hard to say the market here is crashing.  Stupid Nebraska.

I know, I know… I should be happy that the value of my property is increasing.  A small part of me is happy.  The rest of me is afraid that (if the local economy continues to sucktastically slide, and my wages remain stagnant while the cost of everything — property taxes included — continues to rise) I will find myself in the near future not able to afford my stinking house.  That thought pisses me off beyond all comprehension.

So, I am not eating.  I am not eating as a way to protest the suckiness that is Nebraska. I am not eating to showcase my displeasure in the idiots who run stuff around here.  I figure I will probably make it about 2 to 3 weeks.  And I will happily die knowing that my tombstone will read:

Here Lies Adventurer Rich.

He Died Because Nebraska Sucked…

The Life Right Out of Him!

Oooh, what’s that smell?  Is that chocolate chip cookies?  Damn it, I think the wife made chocolate chip cookies!  She knows I’m on a hunger strike!  Can she not stand behind just one of my attempts to show my displeasure at life in Nebraska?!?  DAMN IT!!!

Crap…

I’m gonna go get me a cookie.  Then, it’s off to McDonalds and its dollar menu… ’cause that’s what we have here for affordable fast food that allows me to STILL PAY MY FREAKING PROPERTY TAXES…

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Jan 24
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There will be random pictures of geeky tech nerd chicks throughout this post. Scientific studies prove men are more likely to read a blog post if there are pictures of sexy geek-chicks associated with it... or, at least I am more likely to read a blog post if there is a picture of a sexy geek-chick associated with it...

I used to be kind of a techie geek.  I liked the newest tech-toys and the hippest websites.  When I worked at Alltel, I was all about the newest, coolest phones.  I was one of the guys that the customers would come to so they could transfer all of their saved crap on their old phone to their new phone (because we didn’t have fancy machines that did that automatically), or set custom MP3 ringtones on phones that weren’t supposed to be able to have custom ringtones, or whatever other crap needed to be done that took a lot of time but didn’t generate any commission.  Also, friends and family, because I worked at a cell phone store, thought I was the be-all, end-all to tech greatness.  I liked being a go-to geek.  Then I started doing actual tech support, and everything changed.

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Nothing says geek like a Stormtrooper chick...

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I also used to love to read.  I loved being taken away to a life that actually contained adventure by having my imagination stoked by a master wordsmith.  Holding a book, turning the pages, feeling its heft in my hands, knowing that someone had taken months of their time creating this tale just for me… reading was awesome.  I always dreamed of being one of those wordsmiths, creating those tales just for that individual who chose to be carried away by my musings.  I dreamed of having a mass of paper bound together and full of my words with my name embossed on the cover underneath a catchy, deep title like: Whereas Whispers the Will of our Souls, or, Arnklot, Last of the Vampyre Clan of Tillystone. All dreams must come to an end.
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Supergirl wannabe... how nerdy is that?

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The wife used to be pretty technologically ignorant.  She was anti-smartphone because they were too “fancy”, and she didn’t feel she would ever use all of the “fancy” Internet features on a smartphone.  Still, I was able to convince her to go into a Droid, and she has never looked back.  Her next step was a Kindle.  I was actually against the Kindle (this was after I stopped working at Alltel, and technology had started to lose its appeal to me).

“Books are books, and they can’t be replaced by a stupid e-reader,” I would tell her.

“I still love books,” the wife would say, “it’s just nice to have a whole library in one easy-to-carry device.”

“That’s crap,” I would logically disagree.  “Kindles are stupid.  Only babies have Kindles!”

Whatever,” the wife would say, usually rolling her eyes.
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Glasses are uber-tech-geeky...

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So the wife got her a Kindle and started getting fancy electronic books.  They were much less expensive than the good old paper books, and she soon had a decent sized collection of crappy e-books on her Kindle.  I was disgusted.

I started to notice that more and more “experts” were predicting the slow demise of the paper book.  Digital books were predicted to be the wave of the future.  I disagreed.

“Who is going to take the time to write a book if they have to sell them on Amazon for 99¢?” I would inquire.

“There are writers out there who have become millionaires selling books on Amazon,” the wife would argue.  “These writer’s would have never even received an offer from a traditional publisher.”

“But, without a traditional publisher, how do you get a paper book made?” I asked.

“Well, they don’t have paper books made,” the wife said.  “They are all digital.”

“That’s stupid,” I would conclude.  “Only baby writers don’t have paper books.”

More eye rolling always followed.  The wife likes to roll her eyes.

Before I knew it, the wife was getting involved in all kinds of reading crap.  She got all wrapped up in Goodreads, and there she found new Facebook discussion groups and whatnot.  She learned more ways to get enjoyment out of her stupid Kindle.  She actually was fast becoming an expert on e-readers and e-books in general.

This past Christmas, both of my boys and the wife all got Kindle Fires.  Now, all three of them are supporting making authors struggle more by buying e-books instead of the good old traditional paper books.  How in the crap are you supposed to get a signed copy of an e-book?  You can’t, that’s how!  Stupid Kindle.  Stupid Amazon.  Stupid Nook.  Stupid Barnes & Noble (whose brick and mortar stores are on the verge of extinction thanks to stupid e-readers).

The wife was recently talking about how e-reader experts will probably be in pretty high demand in the near future.  Traditional bookstores, libraries, and even many businesses will have a need for an on-staff e-reader expert.  That sounds like a job I would like.  That seems like a job the wife has positioned herself for.  Stupid technology.  After dealing with tech crap all day at work, the last thing in the world I want to do is submerge myself in technology after hours.  I watch stupid scary movies or find some other mind-killing activity to help me get to sleep: things that in no way will help me transition into a fun job (if there is such a thing).
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All Orientals are tech-geeky, right?

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I don’t really read much anymore.  I used to read because I thought reading might be a good way to improve my writing skills.  Now, I have given up on my dream being a writer.  I won’t have my name embossed on the cover of a stinking Kindle, and nobody is going to let me sign their stupid Nook.  Selling e-books for 99¢ isn’t going to lead to a full-time gig (… at least not with any of the hogwash I would end up writing), and who in his or her right mind would write seriously just for fun (I have this stinking blog for that).

Technology kills dreams.  Technology erodes real human contact.  Technology is destroying the world.  My wife is now the technology expert in our house.  And although I work with stupid Internet technology all day, I am thankful that, technologically, I’m an idiot…

Normally, I would end my post here with this profound thought, but I’m feeling kind of bad.  Here I have written a kind of stupid post (yeah, so what’s new?) and interlaced it with attractive women with a more-than-necessary amount of skin showing for the sole purpose of getting guys to stay on my site longer and increase my stats.  I may be a little geekier than I let on.  This is not fair to the women who visit my blog: the wife and my sister.  In order to make amends, I offer the following for the ladies:

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ooh la la, can anyone say "hottie"?

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Beefcake City!

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Finally, that Oriental-thing goes both ways, doesn't it, ladies? :)

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Sep 28

Are you an optimist?  Do you like to look on the bright side?  Do you see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty?  Do you tend to tell friends who are going through hard times things like, “Don’t worry, things will get better,” or, “Smile, at least things can’t get any worse”?  I’m sorry, but things don’t always “get better,” and things can always “get worse.”  In fact, I recommend that if you are going through hard times, you should not only not expect things to get better… but plan on them getting worse!  I’m a pessimist, and I’m proud of it.

Being a pessimist isn’t always easy.  Sometimes, we too let a little bit of hope crowd its way into our daily lives.  However, once that hope is shattered by the lead bullet of reality (hollow-point-style), we are quickly reminded why we chose to be a pessimist in the first place.  That’s right, I wrote “chose”, because being a pessimist or an optimist is initially a choice.  Over the course of a lifetime, different experiences form our attitudes and opinions, and we can chose how to experience those… well… experiences.  My belief is that most of us start out pretty naturally optimistic.  Our parents take care of us.  We always have food in our tummies.  When we get a boo-boo, there is someone to kiss it.  Santa Claus is going to bring those presents.  The tooth fairy leaves some pocket change for our lost teeth. Our friends are going to be happy to see us after a summer apart when school starts in the fall.  When we make a mistake, an apology is all that it is going to take to make things all better again.  And then reality sets in.  Over the summer, maybe we put on a little weight and now have a belly (yes… I’m a fatty), or maybe we developed a case of acne.

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Rich as a kid...

Don't call me "pizza face"... that just makes me hungry for pizza!

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Our friends may still be happy to see us, but they are making fun of us as well.  The reunion with those friends we hadn’t seen over the summer isn’t as enjoyable as we had imagined it would be.  Or maybe we studied really hard for that final exam and believed we were going to ace it… and then we barely pass because the stupid teacher made it an essay test instead of multiple choice… and she didn’t care for the way we worded our answers… and our GPA plummeted.  Or maybe you ask that nice, pretty fellow-junior girl to the prom, and she tells you that she won’t go with you because she is expecting that tall, popular, good looking senior boy to ask her.  Or perhaps you apply for that dream job only to be told that you aren’t as outgoing as the person needed to fill the position… and that stupid optimism leads to more hurt and pain than necessary if we had just been more realistic in our expectations.  We slowly learn that pessimism is synonymous with avoiding pain.

My belief is that people who have more positive experiences in life tend to be more optimistic.  For people whom life isn’t quite as “fair”, pessimism is the road more often chosen.  There are those who would argue that optimists attract more positivity because of their optimism, but I would disagree.  I believe an optimist is more optimistic because, through physical appearance, family wealth, station in life, or plain and simple luck, they tend to have more positive experiences.  Of course this is not all inclusive, nor is it, in my strange little belief system, a steadfast rule.  There are people who have a picture-perfect life who tend to be pretty negative, and there are people whom life has completely screwed who are able to keep their chins up… but these are the exceptions and not the rules.    However, as a basic, general rule, I believe I am right.

It always kills me when the pretty person who comes from the upper-middle class family says stuff like, “If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything,” or, “I don’t understand negative people…”  Of course you don’t understand negative people!  It’s easy to have sky-high self-esteem when the masses in general find you attractive and you and your family aren’t worrying about how they are going to pay for your college.  The world population in general treats people it finds attractive different than it treats the rest of us.  Don’t believe me?  A middle-aged, overweight woman in a muumuu is broken down on the side of the road.

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Pessimist

Please, won't someone help me? My belly has fallen and it can't get up!

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Along that same stretch of road, a twenty-something of better-than-average appearance wearing short-shorts is broken down as well.

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Optimist

Do you really think she is going to have any trouble getting free roadside assistance?

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Who do you think is going have more offers of help from passersby (and I’m guessing that this would be consistently higher for both men and women stopping).   Which one of these stranded ladies do you think tends to be more optimist… and rightfully so.  Nobody said that life was going to be fair… but it seems to be less unfair when you’re good looking (or so it seems from a relatively unattractive person’s viewpoint).

Let’s move on to success.  Who do you think is going to have a better shot at a career in sales: an attractive gentleman who has a aura of financial success

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Dude

Buy from me... because I obviously make a lot of money doing this.

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… or the poor, ugly schmoe who, based on appearances, you would be afraid to leave your small children in a room alone with.

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Perv

Hey... I got some candy in my left-front pocket. Why don't you reach in there and grab yourself a little piece!

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Which of these gentlemen do you believe would be more optimistic?  Of course it’s the rich-looking dude… that’s how life works.  This is why the wealthy constantly find themselves on the cover of the local newspaper.  There are articles about how this rich person is doing this, and that rich person is doing that.  One local rich guy is going to be on TV on the Speed channel because he is rich and has fancy cars.  Do you think this guy is more of an optimist or pessimist?  I, on the other hand, am not rich (well, I am “Rich”… I’m just not “rich”… stupid name).  I’ve never been on the cover of the local newspaper, even though I did write a relatively funny article about technology one time.  I work relatively hard and have what I consider to be a strong work ethic.  In my 42-years of life, I have never once called in sick to a job.  I’d have to be puking my guts out with a brain-searing fever to consider calling in sick.  Luckily, I don’t get sick very often.  When I do get sick, I have never felt that I was sick enough to not be of some value to my employer.  Want to know what my years of working through my mild illnesses has garnered me?  Absolutely NOTHING… except boiling my blood pressure whenever I have to take-up the slack of someone who has called in sick.  And the pessimism simmers below the surface all the while… eroding my hope and will into the darkest abyss.

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Dark Abyss

Don't know what this exactly has to do with the "darkest abyss," I just love this picture. Goth stuff is cool...

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Pessimism is a defense mechanism.  Like I stated earlier, we all pretty much start out as optimists.  It’s only after (usually) years of unmet expectations and irreconcilable defeats that we develop our pessimism.  When you expect a positive outcome, and that outcome is negative instead of positive, it hurts.  A few of these defeats are natural and build character… or something psychobabblish like that.  After a few, the pain involved with the disappointment of failure becomes more powerful than any character-building gains you may receive.  We begin to expect the worst.  In most situations, the pessimist is the voice of restraint (or, as I like to think of it, “reason”); the one who has thought-out all of the possible negative outcomes to any given process or procedure.  The pessimist isn’t prone to “dream”, because “dreams” in the past have meant painful disappointment.  To refrain from hope is to avoid the torture interwoven with that hope’s demise.  And guess what… every once in awhile, things don’t turn out as poorly as we expected they would… and that is a gracious surprise!  Like around 17-years ago when I asked my wife to marry me.  Do you think I had any hope that she would say yes?  Of course not!  I expected a resounding “NO WAY”, and then I would have been free to get on with my miserable life.  However, she surprised me by saying “yes” and it was a pleasant surprise indeed.  If I had actually been expecting it and she had said yes, it wouldn’t have been a surprise, nor would it have meant as much.  So, by avoiding the optimistic risk-taking that so often ends in failure and despair, we actually glean a gleam of happiness when our negativity is proven wrong.  It is better to be wrong and happy about being wrong than it is to be wrong amongst the shattered remains of a precious dream.  Pessimists don’t dream much.

The problem with being a pessimist is that we don’t dream much.  Sometimes, in order to find some sort of value in this life, we need to dream.  Often, after decades of having giving-up on all dreams, the pessimist forgets how to dream.  This isn’t necessarily bad, since dreams so often lead to disappointment.  However, at times, the pessimist may find that a dream is something he or she may want to work towards making come true.  We used to have the choice to be optimistic or pessimistic in any given situation.  After so much time passing with pessimism working so well for us, we forget how to be positive.  We forget how to believe in ourselves or others.  We still have a choice, but we have forgotten how or lost the tools necessary to follow a dream with a positive attitude.  We can’t see the glass as half-full.  We don’t really even see it as half-empty anymore.  Now, we believe that because the glass isn’t full to the brim, it’s not even worth drinking… and through our stubbornness we run the risk of dehydration.  The choice is still there, but the pain that used to be experienced by being an optimist has reached legendary proportions in our memories, and it is a very difficult choice to make.  So, we usually continue along in our pessimistic ways with the occasional happy surprise of being wrong.  And we hate optimists.

We are all equal in the eyes of God, and He loves us all equally as His children.  Sometimes, I’m sure, He has to wonder what exactly we are thinking when we do stupid stuff, but He still loves us.

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Jesus has a sense of humor
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However, in the eyes of man, the pretty people with the money rule and find themselves with the self-confidence necessary to be optimistic on a day-to-day basis… which leads to less misery in this realm.  I wish I had been born with good looks and money, but I’m afraid I posses neither.  My only hope for a touch of optimism while here on earth is the coming zombie apocalypse.  My hope is that when the zombies attack, they will go for the rich, pretty people first.  It’s only fair that those who have had people falling all over them because of their looks and wealth in this life also have the brain-starved zombies falling all over them during the apocalypse.

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Die, optimist!

Die, optimist... DIE!

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Then again… nobody said life was fair…

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Sep 21

I am subscribed to receive Seth Godin’s blog posts via email.  For those not in the know, Seth is one of the most respected marketing gurus alive and kicking today.  He is the founder of Squidoo, a best-selling author, a sought-after speaker, beautifully bald, and he gives out a plethora of free, useful marketing (and life) philosophy every day via his blog.

Seth seldom promotes himself or his products via his blog.  Occasionally, he will plug a new book he has written or provide a link to where tickets can be purchased to his latest training/speaking/learning/brainstorming session (which are always out of my price-range… unless I could talk the wife into taking out a second mortgage on our home).  I’ve never monetarily supported Seth Godin, but a friend gave me a copy of one of his books (Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?) and it was worth the read.  Seth predicts a future work world that is quickly coming to fruition (it really is pretty much already here); a world where just doing what you’ve been trained to do (work hard and do what you’re told) does not lead to any sort of success.  Of course, the “new” success means you have to go outside of your comfort zone and become indispensable in the world in some way, shape or manner… so I know there ain’t no success in my future.  Also, Seth preaches that one should do his or her “art” to be fulfilled and become indispensable, and he claims that you can find “art” in working a job… so I have some basic philosophical differences with Mr. Godin.  Of course, Mr. Godin is well respected, has thousands of followers, and is independently wealthy.  I get no respect, write a blog that my dad and a couple of friends read, and scrape by.  Whose outlook you want to subscribe to is up to you.

So anyway, I don’t feel the need to support Seth Godin.  He does pretty well without my help.  When he blogs about his latest book or seminar, I just chuckle to myself and delete that email.  I likes me the free advice.

Today, I get an email with Seth’s newest post.  It’s about his newest book, We Are All Weird, and I was about to send this little sucker right to my deleted items folder when I noticed a couple of phrases:

“limited number in stock”

“no plans to reprint”

Hold the phone… back that station wagon up, Betty Lou!  Did I just read, “Limited edition book by a best-selling author that may some day be worth MILLIONS of dollars”?  Seth sells millions of books, and he is only actually printing 11,000 copies of this one.  So I’m immediately IMing my wife to see if we can squeeze about $17 out of our budget, and she says we can.  So, before you can say “sucker”, I’ve secured one of the 11,000 copies of Seth’s newest book.

Seth is also of the belief that paper books will become a thing of the past.  He is most likely correct.   The release of this newest book has unlimited availability in it’s digital format.  Is Seth Godin trying to hasten the decline of the paper book?  I believe he is.

I don’t read digital books.  I don’t believe in digital books.  I believe that digital books will continue to trend for the next several years… until the zombie apocalypse!  How are you going to charge your Kindle when there isn’t any electricity, Joe Bob?  How are you going to get to that PDF when you can’t turn your computer on, Sally Sue?  There will be millions of copies of books on digital storage devices that will be completely useless without power of some sort.  Meanwhile, I’ll have my library of paper books that I can read at my leisure in between foraging for food and beheading zombies.   Hahaha… take that, Kindle freak!  Besides, there is nothing in the world like spending an afternoon browsing a book store; it may be the most relaxing experience on the planet.  Plus, books smell good… you know, that dead tree and glue smell.

Seth is obviously smart.  Many of his followers (or “Tribe”, as he refers to them), I’m sure, subscribe to his opinion that digital is better.  Those people will buy the Kindle edition of his new book and be completely happy.  I, on the other hand, would have never purchased this book in its digital format.  I would have not purchased this book if I knew that I could check out a copy at the local library a few months from now if the desire struck me.  Throw “limited availability” out there, and all of a sudden I’m interested.  Make it seem like this is my only chance to own this bad boy in a format I would read, and suddenly I’m forking over 17 bucks for it.

I’m a sucker.  I’m sure the book will be great.  I’m sure it will be chock-full of great insight and advice (which I will probably never apply to my life).  Maybe I’ll even review the book on this blog once I finish it.  I am feeling, however, a little used… a little taken advantage of.  Maybe it’s just a touch of buyer’s remorse.  Or maybe it’s the fact that a master of the art of marketing just went fishing… and the taste of blood and metal from the hook and lead from the sinker is still fresh in my mouth.

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