Sep 10

If you were to judge this post based on the title, you’re probably thinking this is going to be me ranting about some crappy service I received from some crappy company that I need to vent about.  Wrong.  I am feeling the need to rant about crappy jobs in customer service, of which I have held my fair share.

You hear “business gurus” lament constantly about how poor customer service can destroy a company.  I do not disagree.  The gurus preach of the importance of customer service skills for every employee who could potentially come in any sort of contact with a customer or potential customer.  Amen!  The gurus don’t seem to understand why so many companies can’t provide quality customer service.  I think I can help answer this question with one word: money.

Oh, I know, money isn’t everything; job satisfaction isn’t reliant on money alone; there are numerous ways to motivate employees other than with money; blah… blah… blah.  The people who come up with these unrealistic views of the importance of money in employment have listened to the gurus for far too long!  Money is the reason that most people go to work every morning.  If you don’t believe me, think of it this way: if you won the lottery and would never have to work again for financial reasons, would you go to your current job every day and do it for free?  If you would, you are either a very lucky person who has found your calling and are able to utilize your inherent gifts and talents in a satisfying manner or… you’re an idiot.

So, back to customer service.  I am going to use my recent employment experience with an unnamed cellular telephone company for demonstrative purposes.  The unnamed cellular telephone company was Alltel.

For anyone who has ever had to wait in line at  a cell phone store to have an issue resolved, I feel for you.  For anyone who has had to wait in line at a cell phone store to have an issue resolved and then took out your frustration on the person who finally waits on you… go pound sand!  You have a problem; you would like that problem fixed; you’re mad because you’ve been in line for 45 minutes or so; so you yell at or cop an attitude with the person who you expect is going to fix your problem… seriously?!?  Remember, this person who you are yelling at has probably already had half-a-dozen other nincompoops yell at him or her and your yelling is getting pretty close to the straw that is going to break the camel’s back.  Do you want help or not?  If so, please remain calm and speak the way you would like to be spoken to.  If getting your problem resolved is not the true reason for your 45 minute wait in line and you really just want to yell at someone and make a donkey-butt out of yourself by causing a big scene to prove to everyone within a 4-block radius of the retail store exactly mad you really are… keep yelling, sap-sucker, ’cause when you finally finish your little tirade, you are most likely going to be told that your problem is unsolvable: “So sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to GO POUND SAND!”  And it’s not that your problem is really unsolvable… it’s just that  you have  caused such a commotion and made such an… uh, to put it in acceptable English/slang/cockney format… “arse” out of yourself that you are beyond help.  If your problem is actually fixed, a precedent is being set that people who throw a temper tantrum and behave like an arse get their way just to shut them up… and that is a precedent that is not going to be set.  Why, you may ask, is that precedent not going to be set?  Why will the squeaky wheel not get the grease?  What is going through the head of the customer service representative at that crucial moment when he or she makes that uber-important decision not to help you resolve your problem?  I can tell you in one succinct sentence exactly what is going through the mind of that representative: THEY DON”T PAY ME ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH THIS.  And Mr. and Ms. business guru, all of a sudden monetary reward is important to get people to perform in menial jobs!

“Well, if current employees won’t get the job done, fire them and hire people who will!”

While I put in my time at Alltel, the turnover rate was over 30%.  What that meant was that for every 10 people hired, more than 3 people quit… and this was at a time when Alltel was striving for aggressive growth!  Finding someone who is willing to deal with belligerent customers all day (and actually not making any real money unless selling to said belligerent customers) takes more than $8 to $12 dollars per hour, especially when the rules that are put in place to actually take care of a ripped-off customer are ignored by all levels of management from store management to regional management… and rules that actually benefit the customer are few and far between!  Let’s look at an example from my personal portfolio of the crappy-life files:

A friend was having trouble with his cell phone.  I had recently quit Alltel, but I was still the “go to” guy for friends’ and family’s cell phone questions.  The friend had trouble with his cell phone ever since he first got it.  He was on his third replacement phone (“replacement phones”, by the way, are often refurbished pieces of crap… as are “insurance” phones).  His original new phone and three refurbished phones all froze up.  He was about a two-weeks past his original one-year warranty, but he had received his last replacement less than a month previously.

I wasn’t a vast clearinghouse of knowledge for every rule and regulation of Alltel while I worked there.  However, I did know every policy and procedure that was beneficial to our customers as far as receiving a POS phone (and there were a lot of POS phones) and what extents could be gone to in an effort to make a pissed-off customer happy.  I explained to my friend that, although he was past the original one-year warranty on the phone, each replacement phone (exchange by mail phone, or XBM) came with it’s own warranty above and beyond the original manufacturers’ warranty.   It has been over three years since I worked at Alltel, so I don’t remember if that warranty was 30, 60 or 90 days, but I remember that my friend’s was well within the XBM warranty period.  I told him that, at the very least, he should be able to get another POS XBM phone.  However, since he and had been through three replacements, there was a “lemon policy” that the store manager could apply which would result in a brand-spanking new replacement phone of like value.  I told him to go to his local store, to be “nice”, not cause a big stink, and ask politely for the manager if the customer service rep wouldn’t help him. I stressed the “be nice.”

Well, he called me a couple of days later and told me that no one there was willing to help him.  The rep and manager who helped her both said that I didn’t know what I was talking about.  They told him that the XBM phones had no warranty of their own and since he was past his original warranty, he was out of luck.  Pretty much, he got a big, “Sorry, sucks to be you!”

I was furious!  I was ready to get on the phone with that stupid manager and give her a piece of my mind… and then I was going to call the district manager and let him know what had happened!  Then, in a flashback,  remembered what it was like to work at Alltel.

“Did you remain calm and stay nice?” I asked.

“Well… I started out nice.”

“That’s not what I asked,” I said.  “Did you remain calm and nice throughout the conversation?”

“Well… no… but they weren’t willing to help me!”

“Did you yell?” I asked.

“A little.”

“Did you personally attack the person helping you?” I asked.

“Well… she was being a bitch!”

Now, I know that this friend can be a little demanding as a customer.  He is the sort of person who will hold up a line at Walmart for 15 minutes arguing about a 25 cent perceived difference in the advertised price and the price that rings up at the register… even when he is wrong.

“Yeah, maybe I was wrong about that XBM policy thing,” I concluded.  I was not wrong.

When I worked at Alltel, I never screwed a customer just because they treated me like crap, and employees who did abuse their “power” really pissed me off.  However, I can think back to what it was like to be treated like complete garbage by an abusive customer.  It wasn’t fun… and I tend to blame most of my current stress-issues on the two years I spent at Alltel.  Every time I deal with just about any stranger in just about any potentially confrontational situation, I am braced for the worst… which is stressful.  I couldn’t handle it, so I quit (and remain scarred from the experience).  For those who can stick it out… if they need to screw-over the occasional asshole just to keep their sanity (and keep working there), more power to ’em.

By being the guy who always did everything in his power to take care of the customer, I developed a reputation as being the guy to go to if you had a problem.  People would wait an extra half-hour in line just to see me with their problems, which was fine.  The problem I had, with the Alltel gig being commission-based, was that those same people weren’t nearly as willing to wait for me when it came to making an actual commission-earning purchase… they went to the first available rep… and those were the straws that finally shattered the spine of the hump-backed mammal… because the money wasn’t there.  The district manager told me, when I informed him that I was quitting, that if I just stuck around for four or five more years, I would start to see that loyalty from the problem-solving start to turn into sales.  I told him that I would be dead of a heart attack before I would ever reap those benefits.

And you know what’s strange?  I really think that if the money had been significantly better, I wouldn’t have minded dealing with the crap quite as much.  It’s harder to get stressed about a situation when they actually are paying you enough to deal with it.

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May 24

In my last post, I pointed out how both high school and college graduates are often (usually) unrealistically optimistic. That’s me, destroyer of young dreams… but I only tell them for their own good.  Better to have no dreams or to know that your dreams are probably unachievable than to dream and have those dreams shredded and left on the compost pile of life.  Did I just quote Shakespeare?  Wasn’t that in Hamlet?  … maybe not…

I felt kind of bad for presenting the future of most of these graduates as the miserable abyss that, for most of them, their lives are going to become.  I wanted to make a modest attempt, in my own very special and unique way, at letting them know that everything is gonna be alright.  Here we go…

Sometimes, my family worries about the level of pessimism (or, as I like to think of it, “realism”) that I display on my blog.  I spoke to my dad on the phone shortly after he read the last graduation post. He seemed slightly concerned.

Dad:  “Son, I bet people who don’t really know you think you’re very bitter.”

Me:  “Ya think?”

Dad:  “You’re really not that bitter , are you?”

Me:  “I thought you knew me.”

Dad:  “I do, I just have a hard time believing you’re that bitter.”

Me:  “Yeah, me sometimes too.”

Dad:  “I mean… you’re really not that bitter… are you?”

Me:  “Not always.  Sometimes, I sleep.”

Dad:  “… oh…”

Hahaha!

Nothing says “good times” like making your parents believe that they somehow failed you in your childhood and your current level of life-misery is all their fault.  No worries, Dad.  All of my pessimism is self-induced.  Life has taught me that it often sucks without any help from you… although the short-gene that you have passed on to me hasn’t helped.  How was I ever supposed to live out my dream of playing in the NBA when I come from short European stock?  But, you just passed on what was passed to you, so not really your fault  (I don’t want to piss off my dad… he’s one of 3 people who read this blog regularly.)

Ok, back to encouraging high school graduates.  I think part of the problem I see with the whole free education system is that, by the time you are finished with it, you are still way too young to have a decent idea what you want to do with the rest of your life.  “I’m going to be a doctor” or “I’m going to be a lawyer” you may say if you are one of them real smarty-pants-types… or you actually have parents with enough cash to help you get through medical or law school.  But, do you really want to be a doctor?  Do you really want to be a lawyer?  You’re 18-years old.  How can you really know what you want to do with the rest of your life?

You can’t.

When you are 18-years-old, you know you want an attractive person of the opposite sex to pay attention to you, you know you like hanging out with your friends, and you know that you like to eat food that, a couple of  years in the future, is going to end up straight on either your gut or your butt; this is what you know about life.  I’m 41-years-old, and I only really figured out what would have been pretty cool to do with my life a few years ago… and by then it was too late.

For my college education, I went the business route.  4-years and a lot of money went to Montana State University and the Bozeman community while I earned a bachelor of science in marketing.  Now, I knew I could make more money if I chose something like engineering, but I always had issues with science.  I didn’t enjoy it, so why would I want to apply it to my career for the rest of my life?  Teaching sounded okay, but kids who took the teaching path seemed to be looking for the easy route.  Besides, teachers don’t make squat, right?  Business… no crappy science, and good money, right?  Oh, how wrong I was.

There needs to be a large disclaimer when someone enrolls in a business program at the university level.  That disclaimer would read:

This degree does not guarantee any kind of future success.  This degree will most likely lead to some crappy job in sales or retail management.  If sales and/or retail management aren’t what you are looking for, chose another program of study!

Of course, this disclaimer does not exist… until now.  I am warning you, if you get a business degree (unless it is very specialized, like accounting) you will most likely wind up as an assistant manager at Walmart or trying to sell computer software to companies that don’t need it and who cringe every time they see you come through the door.  This is a proven fact… well, I don’t have proof, but I’m pretty sure it’s true, which is almost the same as fact, isn’t it?

So, I went through college, got a crappy retail management job, and jumped from crappy job to crappy job every couple years.  A few years ago, I realized that an education in literature would be more up my alley.  I’ve always liked reading and writing.  Maybe that teaching thing wouldn’t have been so bad.  Besides, as crappy as I perceived teacher pay to be at the time I was making career decisions… in reality, I’d be making a hell of a lot more if I had been teaching for the past 20 years than I am now… and I’d have my summers off.  Hindsight… it’ll kick your ass every time.

A few years ago, I figured, heck, why not try pursuing something that would be a little better fit with my personality.  I enrolled in an online graduate program through Fort Hays State University in Kansas.  I was gonna get me a Master of Liberal Studies with an emphasis in English.

“What could you do with that?” you may have asked.  Well, boy howdy, I could have taught English at a community college.

“How does that pay?” you may have asked.

“Like crap,” would have been my response, but I was going through a brief period of insanity in my life where I thought maybe money wasn’t everything.

I enrolled, took a couple of classes, loved the classes, started to get a fresh perspective on life, and then reality smacked me upside the head.  First of all, I stopped working for a company that had a really good tuition reimbursement plan, and college classes are not cheap.  Second, I realized that taking these classes was interfering with family time (and my kids aren’t going to be around forever… they will get out of high school and, I’m assuming, move as far away from the panhandle of Nebraska as possible).  Third, I realized that the odds of getting an actual job teaching English at a community college were pretty slim, and, even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to support a family on that kind of crappy pay.

See, even a seasoned pessimist like me can let stinking dreams and hope and all of that other positive garbage creep back in every once in awhile.  I’m just glad that dream got smacked down before it grew too large.  I was in my mid-30s when that one snuck in.  I’m in my 40s now and any silly hope of getting an education that would lead to some sort of life-happiness is a thing of the past.  Once you get family obligations and mortgages and car loans piled on you and once you get accustomed to a certain quality of life and start thinking about the prospect of being able to retire some day, going backwards financially to make silly dreams come true becomes what it really was all along… a pipe dream.

So, you may be wondering how these words can be construed as “encouragement” for recent high school graduates.  I’m not exactly sure.  I guess my words of encouragement would have to be:

DON’T STRESS IT!

Don’t stress the fact that everyone expects you to plan out the rest of your life through the choices you make at age 18.  Plans change.  Dreams change.  Hopes change.  And most importantly… YOU change.  You will not be the same person at age 28 that you are at age 18, and 38 is going to make 28 look like a total stranger.  You will see the world differently, you will value different things, and your passions may change hundreds of times before you leave life in this realm.  Very few choices that don’t involve death are permanent, and any wound that doesn’t kill you will heal.  Scars are badges of effort,  and it takes effort to survive.  Whether you accomplish your goals or realize your dreams, or if you end up living the disappointing life of the average mortal, you will get some scars along the way.  Wear them with pride.  They show that you made the effort.

Now, if you end up bitter and pissed at the world like me, I’m thinking I’m probably going to be looking for a protege to take over this blog in about 20 years (if I ain’t dead by then).  If you are 18 now, you’ll be 38 then (which is how old I was when I started this bad boy) and we may have to get together and discuss you taking over old Happy Stinking Joy.  See, even when your dreams are dead, you may still have something to look forward to… or not…

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Mar 24

Ahhh… remember back to the days of your youth.  These were magical years where your future seemed so bright.  Remember?  From the end of August to mid-May, you learned and played sports and hung out with your friends all day.  But summer was when the true magic happened.  Summers were a seemingly endless period of long, hot days and cool, enchanted nights.  You could ride your bike with your friends day after day and it never got old.  As young boys, my friends and I would ride bikes and play catch and start a pick-up game of kickball of football and hike paths and climb trees and hang-out at our favorite stores (… uh… it was Fort Peck, Montana, so there was only one) and swim at the pool or at the lake and, as we got older, appreciate the way our rapidly-maturing female friends were filling out their bathing suits in spectacular new ways… and the summers seemed to last an eternity.

As we got older, some of us started getting summer jobs, and some of us got jobs year-round.  School got harder, and we had to start really thinking about our futures.  Then, college called to some of us, and some of us went straight to full-time, real-world work; but we still held tight to our dreams.  Those of us who went to college soon joined our working friends.  During these years, many of us fell in love, got married, started families; the dreams were still there.

Our kids started to grow up.  Soon, we could see our kids enjoying many of the same things we enjoyed in our youth, and we were starting to feel a little old.  The dreams were still hanging on, but we began to wonder how we were going to accomplish them with a full family life.  Oh well, maybe after the kids are grown and on their own.

Soon, we start living vicariously through our kids. Maybe we want our kid to be that great sports star we never were.  Or maybe we want our kid to be the genius we were never smart enough to be.  Or perhaps we want our kid to be the singer or actor or musician we never had the confidence to attempt to find within ourselves.  Our dreams migrate to the purgatory of our consciousness, awaiting the day when they will either realize the joyous fruition of heavenly accomplishment or be cast to the inescapable torment of hellish failure.  We start trying to help our children with their dreams, which are merely extensions of the dreams we had in our youth.  We start to realize that our age is actually catching up with us.

We become obnoxiously proud parents, praising the accomplishments of our children as if they were our own… often to the major annoyance of most other adults around us.  Soon, we find that other adults begin to avoid us because they really don’t care how good little Jimmy’s baseball team did… or how excellent little Susie’s dance recital went.  We become monsters who seem intent at driving everyone away from us… everyone except our families.  We scream at the umpires or referees at a game because their calls made our kid’s team lose.  We badmouth the teacher who doesn’t truly see our child’s intelligence.  We harbor ill-will toward the second-chair trumpet player who screwed up during the concert and made our first-chair child look bad.  We become bearers of vehement hate toward every single person or thing that interferes with our child’s success.  Our age is no longer catching up with us; it has caught us and is a driving force in our lives.

Our children, meanwhile, are oblivious.  They are focusing on having fun and creating their own dreams.

Soon, the kids are off to college or work, and we have the houses to ourselves again.  We are still focusing on the dreams of our kids.  We give career advice.  We warn them of the mistakes we made along the way.  We tell them what they should do to be happy, which is really what we should have done to be happy.  Our hindsight is, for the most part, ignored by our children.

Our kids are now adults, they are working full-time, many of them are happily married… and before you know it, we’re grandparents.  Our kids seem to have put their dreams on hold in an attempt to help their kids create new dreams.  Finally, there is time for us to focus on our dreams once again, so we search.  We search our consciousness for those dreams of our youth.  We search for the motivation to once again bring them to the front of our minds.  Funny thing is, when we search for our dreams, the smell of brimstone becomes overpowering, and just the thought of trying to accomplish those dreams makes us very tired.  We have moved beyond old and are now ancient.

Ahhh… it was nice to have dreams.  Too bad we never found the time or will to accomplish them.  What to do now?  Ooooh… looks like the grand kids could use some help with their dreams…

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Mar 18

I have really big plans for this blog.  Someday, I will make enough money with this blog that I can spend all of the time that I now devote to my job doing nothing more than bitching about stuff here all day.  You know what they say, do something you love, and it won’t really be “work”.  Well, bitching is about the only thing I do that I really enjoy, so this has to be the answer to my prayers… at some point… right?  Oh please, let it be so.

Okay, so to make money with a blog, you have to… uh… COME ON!  There has to be a way to make money with a blog! Every once in awhile, I put a link to something on Amazon on here.  I’m an Amazon Associate, which means I can get commission if someone clicks one of those links and actually buys something from Amazon.  I have been an Amazon Associate for about two years, and I have actually made some money doing it.  Of course, I haven’t seen any of that money yet.   Amazon won’t actually pay anything out until you have built up at least $10 in commission… and I haven’t hit that mark yet.  In another three or four years, I should get my first $10 check from Amazon.

$10

I’m stoked!

There is also Google Ads.  I could have a list of stupid links on the side of my blog with Google ads and I would get paid every time someone clicks one of those links.  Happy Stinking Joy doesn’t really have a lot of visitors, and, at this point, I’d rather have you stay and read my thoughts than get distracted by the ads on the side and leave my site.  Also, it would mess up my ultra-professional layout… or something.

I haven’t exactly had an onslaught of individual advertisers approaching me with bids for some of the precious real estate on my site.  I guess rant sites aren’t real popular with traditional advertisers.  Before I’m going to see any real revenue from this site, I’m going to have to get more than a handful of people coming here on a daily basis.

Most popular blogs seem to fall into a couple of categories, the first of which is the “expert” blogger.  You know, these are the Seth Godins of the world who share all kinds of free insight into crap that they are experts about.  Their whole ploy is to give you “free advice” to make you feel like a friend, and then they try to sell their books to you or try to talk you into hiring them to do consulting or speaking engagements.  Well, my forty-one-years of life have not exactly led me to become much of an expert at anything.  I know a little about a lot, but a lot about little.  I have been too busy chasing the next-step-up in middle-class pay to stay with any one company in any given field for more than a couple of years.  If your current promotions and pay increases aren’t getting you where you want to be: quit, and maybe the next job will take you where you want to go.  Of course, the next job never does.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of interesting people in many different fields, but I haven’t stuck around any of them long enough to actually have become an expert at anything.  I’m an expert bitcher, but companies aren’t going to hire me to give a “bitch seminar” to their workforce… at least not yet.  I figure if I pray about it long enough, God, if nothing else, will get tired of me asking and either give it to me just to shut me up or strike me dead…

Strike me Dead

… either of which would lead to no more Monday mornings dreading work.

The other major category of successful bloggers seems to be those who cover current events.  Whether it be Perez Hilton covering the latest embarrassments of the rich and famous, or any of the slew of Yahoo! bloggers covering the latest in world events; people who get the story first tend to get a following.  I think this may be the route I need to follow.  I need to get the hot stories first.  Of course, I live in Nebraska, so the celebrity fodder may be a little out of my grasp.

Miss America

Ooh… Ooh… Miss America is from my part of Nebraska, so I could dedicate my blog to digging up all of the crap I can to humiliate Miss America I did a little blog about Miss America right after she won and it was actually one of the most visited rants I have posted!  But… I have a pretty strong suspicion that Teresa Scanlan is almost as squeaky clean as you would think a Miss America should be. I bet she actually believes what she says she believes, and I don’t think that “Miss America thought about skipping church once because she was just too tired to go, but then she prayed about it and changed her mind” will draw a lot of visitors to my little site.

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So, I’ve got to find a way to get the latest and greatest news before anybody else.  This is a “must” if I ever want to make this thing my sugar daddy.  Okay, so here it goes:

Breaking news… Charlie Sheen has gone insane!  The impact was devastating.  Damages are estimated… oh, great, my kid just looked over my shoulder and informed me that this is old news.  Okay, I guess I need to find something a little more “hot”.

Alright, I just did a Google search for “breaking news” and I don’t think I’m going to be able to go this route.  It seems that all of the “news” sites already have the breaking news covered.  The news sites and a bunch of Twitter people.  I don’t tweet or chirp or cockadoodledoo… or whatever it is that those people do.  I’m not quite hip enough for that.  Besides, all I’d be able to add to the Twitter conversation would be unique things I’m experiencing.

“It’s windy in Nebraska… again!”

Windy Trees

See, it just doesn’t work.

Hmmm… I gotta figure something out.  Okay, I know, I could just make kind of creative news stories.  No, that wasn’t “make up news stories”, it was “make kind of creative news stories”.  There’s… uh… sort of a difference.

Breaking news…. There is a humongous oil leak in the… uh… Gulf of Istanbul.  Yeah, and it’s causing infertility in the… uh… Great Northern Spike-Backed Whale.  Oh, you should hear the sad song those poor whales are singing at this moment.  It would make you cry.

PETA

Okay... yeah... I don't know what Alicia Silverstone being a Vegetarian has to do with "funny whale oil leaks" either, but a Google image search came up with this. I love Google...

This just in… apparently the oil spill was caused by… uh… Miss America!  Yeah, that’s it!  Apparently Miss America was on a diplomatic mission to Alderan and she and her entourage accidentally knocked over a big oil thingie in the Gulf of Istanbul.  Anti-American sentiment is through the roof in the countries bordering the Gulf… and by Great Northern Spiked-Back Whale lovers around the world!  Check back to this site often for more of the latest…

This just may work 😉

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Jan 16

I always write about how nothing good comes from the panhandle of Nebraska. Apparently, my beliefs may not be 100% accurate.  On January 15, 2011, for the first time in history, Miss Nebraska was crowned Miss America.  Miss America is from Nebraska, and that is something kind of good.

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Teresa Scanlan,Miss Nebraska,Miss America,2011

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Teresa Scanlan was crowned Miss America in humble Las Vegas, Nevada at an understated ceremony viewed by a few people around the world on ABC.  Teresa Scanlan is 17-years-old (one of the youngest Miss Americas ever… and the youngest Miss Nebraska ever), plays Chopsticks on the piano like nobody’s business, fills out a bikini nicely (even if there isn’t much bikini there), looks extremely elegant in evening ware, and isn’t afraid to answer a politically-charged question with a politically-incorrect answer (and she still won?!?).  Teresa is intelligent, and her goals are not acting or a singing career or modeling.  Her goal is to find a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court… and I know that the Presidency of the U.S. is not something she sees as out of her reach.  Normally, I would scoff at a beauty-pageant winner stating that she may have her eyes on our nation’s highest office, but I have been following Teresa’s story for awhile now.  You know how some people seem to be able to actually accomplish the goals they set for themselves?  Well, Teresa is one of those people.  And the kicker is… Teresa is from the panhandle of Nebraska!  In fact, she probably lives less than a couple of miles from the humble abode I call home.  So, I guess not everything in the panhandle of Nebraska sucks.

Now, if you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that my blog posts that are completely without a complaint are few and far between.  In fact, this is my 75th post in about 1 1/2 years of blogging, and I think there have been like 3 posts without a complaint!  This post, I’m afraid, is not going to be the 4th.

In past posts, I have complained about the idiocy of Scottsbluff and Gering residents regarding the differentiation of the two communities.  Scottsbluff is proud to be Scottsbluff, and Gering is proud to be Gering.  The two small communities refuse to consolidate and become one rural powerhouse.  Instead, they remain separate in both government and attitude, and they remain two rural economic weaklings.  Gering residents especially are territorial and throw major whining fits whenever consolidation of the two communities is mentioned.  Gering, of course, is the smaller of the two communities (they don’t even have their own grocery store), and seems to be suffering from a touch of Napoleon complex.  My personal opinion is that the two communities should put aside their perceived differences, join economic forces, and become one.  With the combined talent and resources of the two communities, we could grow into the next Ft. Collins.  Or… we can stay separate, and things around this dump will never change.  Each community is already reliant on the other, and neither community will ever thrive without it’s neighbor.  Stop being neighbors and start being family!

Well, this division between these two communities was well presented after Teresa’s accomplishment tonight.  When I logged onto my Facebook account tonight, after the victory, the division was quite prevalent.  You see, Theresa lives in Gering, NE, but Teresa graduated from high school in Scottsbluff, NE.  Oh my!  Which community does she really claim?  She chose Scottsbluff as the place to complete her high school education, so she prefers Scottsbluff, right?  Oh, but she went to school in Gering, and she and her family live in Gering, so she is a Gering girl, right?  A common example of a Facebook thread is as follows:

Scottsbluff jerk’s status:  Congratulations to Scottsbluff’s own Teresa Scanlan!

Gering moron’s comment:  You realize she’s actually from Gering, right?

Scottsbluff: Well… she graduated from Scottsbluff High!

Gering:  Yeah… but she went to Gering schools too…

Scottsbluff: But she chose to graduate from Scottsbluff!

Gering: … but her family still lives in Gering.

blah… blah… blah…

Seriously… the most prestigious beauty-related award that a young woman in the United States can win… and she is from NEBRASKA, and not just Nebraska, but the PANHANDLE OF NEBRASKA… and you idiots have to argue about exactly which town she is from?!? What would Miss America think?!?

Well, I would guess that Miss America would say:

“I am proud of being from both Scottsbluff and Gering.  These two communities have every right to claim me as their own, because I love both and will continue to support both as I complete my duties as Miss America.  Scottsbluff: I will continue to shop your stores and eat at your restaurants and praise your school system!  Gering: I will… uh… I know there’s something… oh yeah… I will continue to sleep in your jurisdiction… when I’m not out doing Miss America stuff… promise!”

She is, after all, thinking of being President, so she has to learn to diplomatically lie…

Seriously…  Husker-football can’t win their way out of a wet paper bag and the Husker-girl’s volleyball choke in the tournament.  The most impressive thing to come out of Nebraska in the past few years is Teresa Scanlan… and us locals are arguing about where she is really from?!?  And people wonder why I bitch…

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Dec 09

In my last post, I kind of painted Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman as a dolt.  Let me rephrase that: Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman kind of painted himself as a dolt and I wrote about it.  I really didn’t have anything positive to say about good ol’ Dave.  After thinking about it, I decided that he did deserve a couple of props, so I am going to right that wrong right now!

Governor Dave made a lot of fun of The Star-Herald !  I like making fun of The Star-Herald myself, so I enjoyed Dave’s ribbing of our “local” paper!  However, Dave made a comment about The Star-Herald not being like The Omaha World-Herald, and I kind of tend to disagree.  The Star-Herald is owned by The  Omaha World-Herald and is a lot like its parent paper.  I want to emphasize that The Star-Herald has a local staff of reporters, marketers, and support personnel who are, for the most part, good, hard-working people who do a bang-up job!  However, just because you are owned by an Omaha company does not mean that you can charge Omaha prices.  Also, The Star-Herald does not seem to have a local paper “feel”… and I can’t quantify what I mean by that, it’s just the way it is.  So bravo, Governor Dave, for making fun of The Star-Herald !

Second props go to Governor Dave for his honoring of Western Nebraska Community College’s Lady Cougar volleyball team for bringing home a national championship at the NJCAA level!  Dave proclaimed December 3, 2010 as “Cougar Volleyball Day”.
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WNCC Cougar Volleyball,National Champions,NJCAA
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It’s pretty cool when little podunk Scottsbluff can claim a national anything, let alone a championship.  WNCC has a great athletics program, and I don’t think we local residents appreciate our student athletes as much as we could.  Great job, Cougar volleyballers… we are proud of you!

It would have been cool to see a little higher-profile coverage given to our local national champs in our local newspaper, but I think the Huskers played that weekend…

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Oct 24

UPDATE:  10/28/2010:  WE HAVE A WINNER… TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!!

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE INTRODUCTION AND INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING SCAVENGER HUNT!!!

INTRODUCTION:

The first ever Happy Stinking Joy Web Scavenger Hunt begins RIGHT NOW! The first (and only) prize is a t-shirt made with my semi-gay, semi-grotesque logo thrown on the front.  The t-shirt is available in a multitude of colors and sizes, including and limited to “white” and “X-large”.

The scavenger hunt is relatively simple. Further down in this post, you will find a list of 20 links to websites and questions regarding information that can be found on those websites. The first person to get me the correct answers to the questions I have asked will win the t-shirt. Pretty cool, huh?

INSTRUCTIONS:

Answers to the questions must be submitted via the “Tiny Contact Form” found on my website.  For example, if question #1 is “What color is red?” and question #2 is “What color is green?”, you would click on the links provided. When you scour the site and discover the answers to the questions, you would go to my “Tiny Contact Form”, type your name, your email address, and put “Scavenger Hunt” as the subject. In the message portion of the form, you would put something like the following:

“1. red” (’cause that’s the color of red)

“2. green” (’cause that’s the color of green)

…and so on and so forth, until you have answers to all of the questions. Some will be relatively easy and some will relatively hard.  Some of you may feel tempted to try to find answers to the questions at sites other than the sites found through the links provided: do so at your own risk! Although the answers on the sites I provide may be found in other places… or may be incorrect on the sites I provide… I am looking for very specific information from the sites provided, and only these answers will be correct for this scavenger hunt… period!  The first person who gets all of the correct answers submitted to me through my Tiny Contact Form wins the shirt. I will contact the winner via email to get his or her shipping address to ship the shirt to.  I will use the “time received” notification from my Outlook as the final determining time for awarding the prize. I reserve the right to eliminate any entry for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to: spelling errors, partially complete answers, and whatever else comes to mind now or later. Any owners, authors, or employees of any of the websites used in this scavenger hunt are ineligible from winning any prizes (but, feel free to participate in the hunt just for fun).  The winner agrees to let me publish his or her name and region of the country (for this scavenger hunt, I’m limiting it to residents of the United States only… international shipping isn’t something I’m interested in getting into at this point) on happystinkingjoy.com, and it would be cool if the winner would send me an email picture of him/herself wearing the shirt-prize to post as well, but I’m only requesting… not demanding…

I will list the results of the scavenger hunt within 48 hours of receiving the winning submission.  Thank you to everyone who is checking this out.  I hope you all have fun, and I wish you all the best of luck!

Okay, are we ready?  Let’s get set!  GO!!!

1. On this home school blog , there are some very useful product reviews… including one for The Handbook of Vintage Remedies. By what percentage is the immune system lowered by the intake of sugar products, and for up to how long?

2. Jokes are always fun, if not always funny. On this joke site , there is a bar joke about Sadar. He walks into a New York bar, listens to a conversation, and says something. What does he say? Yeah, I know… I don’t get it either :)

3. This NFL team sucks in almost every imaginable way, but they do have one thing going for them… and that thing involves pom poms 😉 The 2011 Swimsuit Calendar for these hotties was shot on location in Mexico; what is the name of the stretch of Mexican coastline where it was shot?

4. This website offers advice for the average schmo to gain control of his or her finances. Many people will testify as to the difference that this website and program have made in their financial lives. So, with that in mind, what did Pamela S. from Georgia find her credit rating at after implementing some of this program’s advice?

5. The poignant poem “Mullet Inspiration” by Jill and Nichole H. found at this site is not only a rhyming masterpiece (seriously, even though it doesn’t always make sense, it rhymes), but the love the narrator has for mullets cannot be denied. Since what year has the narrator been growing his/her mullet?

6. This bizarre site offers some interesting ways to look at life. The author of this site has some very stringent recommendations for a healthy diet. In fact, if you get your Chakras all in alignment and whatnot, you may not need actual food at all. The author of this sight states that there are humans living today who receive their sustenance entirely from what non-food? See, why couldn’t the person who wrote the Sadar joke have had a sense of humor like this?

7.  The site for our local library encourages visitors to become “friends of the library”.  How much would it cost an individual to have a lifetime membership as a “friend”?

8.  Who doesn’t think motorcycle racing is cool?  I think motorcycle racing is cool, and so does this site.  In fact, this site is so into motorcycle racing that it has an “Official Car”?!?  Really, I ain’t kidding!  What is the “Official Car” of this motorcycle racing site?

9. Ahh… a fellow blogger.  This site is funny (some of it is adult humor).  A depressed chick making her way through life, what could be funnier… except maybe a dude dealing with a mid-life crisis, but I digress.  Her family includes a dog named Coco.  What kind of dog is Coco?

10.  Who can’t get enough of LOLcats?  Yeah, I’ve had enough too.  However, there is a site that not only has the disgustingly cute LOLcat pictures, but it has some pretty cool merchandise available!  There’s this t-shirt… hahaha… about Pluto… hahaha… that starts, “Silly Pluto”… hahaha…  what is the rest of the saying on the shirt?

Alrighty, boys and girls, you’re half way home!  Time to relax, maybe take a breather.  That first half wasn’t so bad, now was it?  Ten down and ten to go, right?  Go grab a soda pop and a slice of cold pizza from the fridge… except there is probably someone who has already moved on… and YOU WANT THAT STUPID T-SHIRT… SO THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE!  GET YOUR BUTT MOVING, SOLDIER!  WHAT ARE YOU: A SPINELESS JELLYFISH, DRIFTING SLOWLY IN THE OCEAN WHILE LIFE & OPPORTUNITY PASS YOU BY… OR ARE YOU A TRUE ADVENTURER ?  BTW, the links may be a little more difficult to find in the second half of the hunt 😀

11.  This next website is by another fellow blogger… but she has only written a couple of posts and her site seems (thus far) to focus on the “stinking” part of life that I attempt to make fun of in my blog.  Check out this butterfly’s blog, because her inspiration to start her blog (which she needs to write in WAY more often) is AWESOME!  She writes of the blogger who inspired her to start her own blog, and she writes that he and his blog are full of “_____, _____ and _____”.  Surprisingly, none of the answers begin with “s” and end with “t”, but filling in the three blanks is the answer to this question.

12.  Okay, on to a musical siren’s site.  Okay, she isn’t really a siren in the “musical” sense (’cause her singing isn’t really that good)… more in the “seductress” sense of Greek mythology, but whatever!  Whoever said “blondes have more fun” hasn’t, apparently, checked-out many non-blondes!  On this site, you will discover that the singer is going to be in a fashion show on November 30th of this year.  What is the name of the sexy fashion show?  Double whammy… second part of the question: what is the location where will she be performing live on April 5, 2011 (it’s almost like my hometown).

13.  This movie was okay… just okay… but I feel some sort of personal connection to the main character… probably because I’m a major stud… or not.  What is the main character’s full name (first name, middle initial, and last name)?

14.  WOW… talk about an ADVENTURER ! This Nebraska entrepreneur (the husband of a husband-and-wife team) holds a world record for traveling over 5300 miles in 43 days using what mode of transportation (manufacturer and model are part of the answer)?

15. I had this site commented as a suggestion on my blog post asking for suggestions for websites to use in this scavenger hunt… or some other such confusing, seemingly run-on sentence.  When I first visited the site, I thought ‘Way too chickie and feminine for me to admit I had read it and found some meaningless tidbit of info to use in the hunt’… then I noticed Charlie.  Charlie is pretty cool.  The blogger/photographer/whatever wrote a post about Charlie and had a picture of him in a bath of light.  She made a very profound statement about Charlie.  She says that there is this pattern for beings like Charlie… you have to, from time to time, be there and welcome them with open arms.  ‘Cause the Charlies of the world tend to realize that they’re __________ again.  Fill in the blank.

16.  This site is pretty cool.  A coworker of mine is a co-owner of this site (in fact, almost all of my coworkers have their own websites… we work at an Internet company, so we’re kinda geeky like that… and 4 of my coworkers’ sites appear in this hunt).  One of the DJs conducted an interview with the lovely Joy Whitlock.  In that interview, Joy discusses the meaning of the word “beautiful”.  In the interview, Joy states that when she thinks of the word “beautiful”, she immediately thinks of _______.  Fill it in.

17.  This blogger, in one of his posts, touches discusses exactly how fast we need our Internet to be.  If you really think about it, the Internet speed we actually need to increase the quality of our lives isn’t nearly as fast as one may think.  In fact, according to this blogger (who uses as an example the world class broadband connections of South Korea), ultra-fast speeds often are little more than an enabler for online-gaming addition.  In South Korea, there may already be an entire generation of kids turning into ______ _______.  Fill in the blanks.

18.  I like short stories.  So, here we go.  This particular story is one of my all time favorites.  The answer will be in three parts, and you can just separate the answers with commas on my Tiny Contact Form.  For the Lottery, who assembled first?  Who is the oldest man in town?  Who selected “… a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands…”?

19.  People often ask me why I’m so hard on the Craphandle of Nebraska.  What is it about the Scottsbluff, NE area that drives me so absolutely nuts?  Well, anyone who spends a little time at Walmart will be injected with all of the negative energy that this place puts off.  Don’t want to visit Walmart, then stop in the local Verizon store when it first opens in the morning and count how many f*bombs you hear come from the mouths of people waiting in line.  Many people in this area seem to feel a sense of entitlement, and when they don’t get exactly what they want exactly when they want it, they want everyone within ear-shot to know exactly how upset they are.  That kind of negativity tends to rub off.  If the negative energy isn’t enough, there is the fact that wages aren’t exactly stellar… which probably leads to the negative energy flying off of so many of the residents here.  The organization that offers this website attempts (very poorly, in my opinion)  to bring new businesses to the Craphandle.  On this site, the economic development association provided some census-style data.  Included in this data is a snapshot of data from Scotts Bluff County.  According to the snapshot from 2008, what is the per capita income for the average resident in Scotts Bluff County.  If you are thinking that this number cannot be right, this figure is about half of what the average individual in the United States made in 2008 (according to http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm)  Also, from this same 2008 snapshot, which household income level finds the largest number of households resting in its range?  Yes, this is a two-part question with two answers… and yes, it is a shock anyone wants to call this place home.

20.  Best blog on the Internet… PERIOD… or not.  Man Toes seem to be an issue for this blogger.  What is the name of the restaurant where preppy-boy-freak-long-toe and Mr. 65+ almost ruined the consumption of World-Class pizza?

That’s it… that’s all!  Thanks for checking it out, and I hope you had fun :)

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Sep 28

Alrighty, kiddos, Adventurer Rich is looking for some help.  I have the gall to call myself “Adventurer” when I rarely, if ever, actually “adventure”.  Oh sure, I have my little adventures with Boy Scouts… and I consider my time spent amongst trailer folk at Walmart a semi-adventure… even daily life could be considered an “adventure (in “adventure’s” mildest form), but I never really truly “adventure”.  All of that is about to change…

I’m looking for your favorite websites.  You know, those wacky pages on the Internet that you visit on occasion (or daily… or every fifteen minutes…) looking for humor or advice or just a little escape.  I am not looking for social networking sites like Facebook or your E*Trade account or any site that requires a login to access.  I am looking for blogs and advice columns and fun places you like to visit.  I will visit these sites, pick the ones I like, chose random information from these sites, compile a list of links, post the links on this blog… and let the scavenger hunt begin!  It will be up to my loyal readers to follow the links, search the sites, find the information I am looking for, and return your answers to me  (seriously… this is gonna be a blast for all ten of you!)  There’s gonna be a prize and everything… don’t know what it will be yet, but I’m sure it will be relatively cheap and stupid… but YOU COULD WIN IT!!!  I won’t even charge you shipping to get it to you :)

So you’re wondering, “How can I help Adventurer Rich and submit my favorite website?”  Well, it’s all really easy.  Just comment on this post with a link to your favorite site.

1. At the top of the blog post, where it says “No Comments” or “6 Comments” or whatever, click on that link; this should automatically take you to the comments section of this post.  Under the incredibly long list of comments, you will find the section where you can “Leave a Reply”.

2. You will need to enter your name (please do not enter your real full name… ’cause it will be available to anyone and everyone on the Internet who ever happens to stumble across my site… enter your first name or a nickname or make up a really “cool” Internet name… like “Adventurer Rich”, but that’s already taken…)

3. You will have to enter your email address.  Please do enter your real, legitimate email address.  I will not sell or give away your address, but I may at some point use it to notify you of contest dates and such.  Your email address will only be accessible to me… and I’m relatively harmless…

4. Enter the website address of the site you would like me to check out.  If it’s your own site, SUPER COOL!  If it is the site of someone else, that’s pretty cool too:)

5. Please re-enter the address of the site you would like me to check out in the “message” section (this is the big box under the “website” box).  By putting this information in the message section of the site, everyone who visits my comments will be able to know your favorite site!  Also, please give me a very brief description of why I should visit the site (i.e. why you like it).

I have a few of my favorite sites in mind that I already plan on using for my scavenger hunt, but I need many more to make this challenging and fun :)  I have very few restrictions as to which sites I will or will not use, I just have to like it.  I do ask that the content of the site be PG-13 or cleaner.  There are a few young people who stumble across my site, and I don’t want to lead them into the world of porn and obscenity… I’ll leave that to Google.

I would like to have all recommendations entered by Saturday, October 2, 2010 at noon.  I will not consider any sites submitted after that date and time for this scavenger hunt.

One final way you can help out old Adventurer Rich is to hit the “Like” button at the bottom of this post if you have a Facebook account.  This will let all of your Facebook friends who are not my Facebook friends see this post and they too can contribute their sites!  I guess if you know how to “Digg This”, you could do that as well; I’ve just been too lazy to research a good plugin to add that feature to my site :)

Thanks for visiting my site… thanks for taking the time to read this post… and thanks for helping me start a true adventure :)

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Aug 10

I haven’t flown in a lot of years. I hate lines, I hate large groups of people, I hate being searched, I hate being presumed guilty until proven innocent, and I think hurling to my death from 2000 ft knowing survival is not gonna happen would be the absolute worst way to die. So, on the flight to St Louis for the WISPA Regional Meeting, I entered a sweaty, heart-poundy, semi-zombie trance state for an hour and a half, clutching the armrest on one side with both hands and quietly chanting, “We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die…”

Even stewardesses tend to avoid me on flights.

And then we landed. I was kind of hoping I’d see the Arch on the way in, but I didn’t. All I saw was the Missouri River flooding part of the city… and, let me tell you, it was kind of cool!

So, the boss and I get on a shuttle bus to the Renaissance Hotel, which we are staying at and where the conference is. Little do I realize at this point how close that hotel and I are about to become. I’m still under the illusion that I’m going to get to see the city… hahaha… foolish illusion.

Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis

So, we get into the hotel, check in, put our crap in the room (which I am sharing with the boss… and sharing hotels rooms with dudes makes me uncomfortable… but I know that my ability to explode eardrums with my snore will prevent any future sleeping arrangement similar to this), and go check out the conference area. There are already WISPA dudes working on putting together welcome packets and I am quickly recruited to help.  Stuffing packets turns into checking in attendees as they arrive turns in to many hours sitting at a stinking table in front of a stinking computer looking out a stinking window at a stinking fountain.

Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain

Oh, I know, “that’s a pretty cool fountain,” you may be saying to yourself. Yeah. it was… for about the first five hours staring at it.

So, we had arrived in St. Louis around noon and it was pretty much sitting at that table in the “prefunction area” (i.e. the hallway outside the concourses) until around 8 or 9 at night.

prefunction area

Around 7pm, a group of people talked one of the hotel shuttle drivers into a trip to go see the Gateway Arch (something they apparently don’t do, but for the right amount of tip…)… and I needed to man the WISPA table, so actually seeing the Arch wasn’t in the cards for this trip to St. Louis… maybe next time. It only took me 40 years to make it to St. Louis the first time… so maybe when I’m 80 (me, live to be eighty… hahaha) I may make it back to St. Louis to see that arch.

After a supper of what tasted very much like overcooked Freshetta pizzas at the meet-and-greet (which I enjoyed from the WISPA table while staring at the fountain)
Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain
I was finally allowed to shut down the WISPA table for the day.

Next morning, back to the WISPA table, checking people in, selling tickets, registering new members, selling shirts (yeah… selling shirts), and once again I have a lovely view for the day.
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Lunch rolls around, and all the WISPA dudes and attendees go to the 13th floor for lunch. Of course, I’m asked to man the WISPA table through lunch. I do, and lunch is brought to me… I think it was a bologna sandwich. So far, I’m loving St. Louis!

Lunch gets over and all of the WISPA members seem to be enjoying the meeting. Everyone is friendly and excited and, every once in awhile, someone goes all tech on me (apparently thinking that because I’m sitting at the WISPA table staring at the stinking fountain
I must be techie myself). I’m not very techie, so I smile and nod.

“You know, if the FCC would allow us access to portion of the white space spectrum, many of our current interference issues would fall by the way-side,” says the techie dude.

I smile.

“Just the thought of getting into that 3650 MHz spectrum makes my routing redirect, but in a positive way, if you know what I mean,” the techie laughs, nudging me with his elbow and winking.

I nod, having not the foggiest.

“Nice talking to ya, man,” says techie.  “Nice to find someone with a similar point of view.”

I smile and nod.

Evening rolls around, and one of the vendors at the meeting sponsors a supper for everyone.  Well, I, of course, am sitting at the WISPA table.  Everyone goes upstairs to the big feast.  I sit at the table looking at the fountain.
Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain
Around 7pm, when I finally shut down the WISPA table, I decide I’m gonna go for a walk. My boss warned me, “Uh, I don’t think this is the best area to go walking around in.”

“How bad can it be?” I glance at the fountain one more time
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… and I start on my walk.

Within a couple of blocks of the hotel, I notice that the neighborhood may be a little questionable.
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Still, I’m thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

As I continue, I notice that the neighborhood really isn’t getting any better
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“Well, if I can just find someplace to get something to eat, I’ll be fine.” I continue on my way when I notice these dudes strolling my way:
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Being completely homophobic, I quickly turn down a side street
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and I run into
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these guys:
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CRAP!
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Roofers! They are insisting that they “fix roof cheap, less than gringo, insurance will pay.” I tell them that I don’t even live in St. Louis, but it’s like they don’t understand English. So I run away and find myself down a dark alley. At the end of the alley I see:
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Killer clowns… seriously?!? St. Louis SUCKS!

Not wanting to mess with killer clowns in any way, shape or fashion, I quickly turn around and make my way back out of the alley. I’m not going to take on killer clowns. The odds of surviving a killer clown attack are like 1 in 900,000,000,000. A person has a much higher chance of winning the Lottery than he or she does of surviving a killer clown attack. I’m not that stupid.

As I’m leaving the killer clowns in my dust, I notice something in the shadows up ahead. It seems to be moving. As I get closer, it starts to emerge from the shadows. When I first see its face, I can’t believe what I am seeing. I freeze, a deer in the headlights, sure I am about to meet my ultimate doom. As It comes into full light, I scream the scream of a little girl being eaten alive by rats
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RUN AWAY!!!
I turn and run back at the killer clowns. They are about to pounce when they spy the monstrosity behind me. They, too, scream like little girls and fall in behind me as they retreat from certain doom.

I run and I run and I run until I find myself sitting at the base of the fountain outside the hotel.
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Okay, there may be a slight amount of exaggeration in my description of my escapade into St. Louis… slight… but it wasn’t very fun.  Stupid fountain never looked so good. I went in and up to my room. Ordered an Imo’s Pizza (a St. Louis classic, I’m told) and was very pleased with my supper choice. At least I got to try some real St. Louis style pizza while in St. Louis.

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Next day, another day at the WISPA table; another day staring at the fountain. This time, for lunch, there was no bologna sandwich. This time for lunch, there was nothing.

By the time the WISPA Regional Meeting started wrapping up in the late afternoon, I was starving. After we got everything cleaned up and everyone headed their separate ways, I snuck out of the hotel and went the opposite direction from which I had gone the night before. On the next block… Jack In The Box. I like trying places I’ve never eaten at when I travel, and I had never eaten at a Jack In The Box, so I did. Had me some Jack In The Box tacos… you know, the 2 for 99-cent kind.
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Jack In The Box taco,greasy,gross
Seriously, nastiest tacos ever. Deep-fried grossness with almost no filling. These are something I will never eat again.  What a disappointment.

Later that night, the boss told me a bunch of guys were meeting by the hotel pool and just kind of hanging out.  I decided to throw aside my loathing of St. Louis and try to hang out with these guys (and I don’t really like people, so I thought this would be a challenge).  I ended up having a pretty good time.  Before going to bed, I actually went outside and ran through that stinking fountain in front of the Renaissance Hotel (which is kind of supposed to be off limits).  I went to my room stinking like rancid pond water and feeling a bit of the sweet, sweet taste of revenge on that stinking fountain.

The next morning, the boss and I grabbed a ride to the airport, flew an excruciating flight back to Denver (my hands once again gripping the one armrest I had access to the entire flight), and came home.  I was glad to be back in the Craphole of Nebraska… ok, not really, but it was better than the killer clowns of St. Louis.

Overall, I am glad I went to St. Louis.  Did I see the Arch?  No.  Did I have a splendid time?  Did you see the picture of the anti-Christ Clinton?  Not really.  I did, however, gain a couple of insights.  First, I learned that the people (or really, person… Rick H :) ) who prepare for and  execute at these conferences are amazing individuals.  Everything at the 2010 WISPA Regional Meeting went pretty smoothly.  I wouldn’t say that it went off without a hitch, because there were a couple of hitches; but considering the amount of variables that could have worked against us… things went quite well.  Second, as technologically geeky as many of the participants at this conference were, it was utterly and completely cool to be surrounded by a bunch of men and women who are so passionate about what they do!  My biggest bitch on this blog is the fact that I can’t find and follow my passion.  Did I learn that wireless Internet is my passion?  Nope.  I did find, though, that there are really people out there who have a passion, follow that passion, and better the lives of those around them with their passion.  Most of these WISPs are not raking in bu-cu bucks.  They aren’t in it for the money.  They are in it because they believe all people have the right to access the wonderful world of the Internet at something faster than dial-up… and these people should not have to take out a second mortgage to be able to afford the service.  And there was serious passion.

My trip to St. Louis didn’t make me more passionate about anything.  My trip to St. Louis did, however, help me see that wireless Internet is something to be passionate about.  Seeing people with passion for something, whether it is a passion you can share or not, is good for the soul.  My trip to St. Louis enriched my soul.  Now, if only I could rid myself of the nightmares…

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RUN AWAY!!!

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Jul 06

I was having a little trouble going back to work today.  After a vacation or a holiday it’s always a struggle to go back to the day-to-day monotony of work-a-day life.  At work, I was doing a little venting to a wise coworker.

“Wouldn’t life be perfect if we could wake up every day and work at something we’re passionate about?” I asked.   “When you get a job working for someone else, you are most likely trying to turn someone else’s passion into your own.  Life would be so much easier and more fulfilling if we all worked on our own passion instead of trying to become passionate about someone else’s passion.”

The wise sage looked at me with a slight smile gracing the corners of his lips.  “We humans grow tired of things so rapidly,” his deep voice rumbled as he shook his head knowingly.  “If our passions were our means of earning a living, we would quickly grow tired of them and they would no longer be our passions.  By keeping our passions separate from our means of economic survival, we maintain the passion that is our passion and our lives retain their meaning.  After all, a job provides the sustenance we need to live… but a passion provides the fullness of heart and soul each of us need to live well.”

I looked at the wise sage and began to contemplate his wise words.  This man, with his hair half-way down his back but contained in the most majestic of ponytails, had a lot of time to contemplate the meaning of life.  This man… this 32 year-old hulk-of-a-man, lives in the basement of a house he shares with his brother and his… cat.  This man’s passion is World of Warcraft and conquering that online games world with his band of misfit brothers.  This man almost peed his pants when the new Mountain Dew Game Fuel (in tribute to World of Warcraft) came out… and he came close to punching me in the face when I told him I thought the “blue” tasted best (“Blue represents the pesky Alliance, a grouping of mere humans and their ilk, who are far inferior to the majestic, raging power of the Horde,” he had said to me in a raised voice with a fist at half mast.  “Ok, Dude, the red is better… take a pill,” I responded, not really thinking the red was better but not wanting to get into a debate, or  my butt kicked, over a stupid video game.)  This is the guy I’m taking advice from on the idea of following one’s passion?  This is the guy who, for one brief instant, I am considering a sage and one worthy of listening to?  I’m an idiot!

Man… coming back to work after a holiday can really SUCK!

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