Sep 25

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

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

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

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

 Subject: Your attitude toward Gering

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

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

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

 

Xxx,

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

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

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

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

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

Rich

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

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Nov 29

I turned ancient yesterday.

Truly ancient.

43.

Only 7 more years until I hit 50, but I really don’t count on living that long.  50 is way older than I ever imagined myself getting, and the thought of being a 50-year-old man holds no joy for me.  “50” reminds me of all of those fogies who think that you should automatically respect them for no reason other than the fact that they are old.  Just because cancer decided not to claim you yet doesn’t gain you my respect. I don’t want to be that fogey.

Anywho, along with marking my crawl toward death with another anniversary, yesterday was the day that my driver’s license expired.  I had been putting off going to get my license renewed because I have never… NEVER… had a completely positive experience in anything I have done at the Scotts Bluff County building in Gering. Whether it’s registering an automobile, or anything to do with my driver’s license, or protesting my property valuation in front of the county commissioners — it’s like the entire place is run on the foundation that you are going to leave pissed off; this is their goal.  And they will tell you that this is not their goal, but they lie.

Government employees have some of the best training in customer service of any profession… said no one… EVER!

So, three days ago, I put on my big boy pants and went down to the DMV in the county building for what I was sure would be a miserable, stresstastic experience.  I get in line and grab the paperwork to fill out. The other guys waiting in line are bitching about how much it sucks to have to deal with the DMV, but I try to ignore them and just concentrate on my paperwork. I don’t need anyone else to raise my stress level — I do a plenty good job of that myself.

Well, I get my paperwork filled out and come to the realization that the reason the other guys in line are complaining is the fact that the DMV’s computer system is down. They can’t do anything with their computer system down, and they have no ETA on when the computer system will be back up. So, I sit there for my lunch hour, hoping that the computer system will come back up, and it doesn’t. I go back to work feeling a little like I just wasted an entire lunch hour… and knowing I have to go back to the DMV…

… but I prepare.

I actually read over the “required forms” crap at the DMV before I leave so that I can make sure I have every stupid piece of paper that I am going to need to get out of there with no hassle, because that is usually where most of the issues at the Scotts Bluff County building come from.  You see, there are various hoops that have to be jumped through. Many of the hoops seem ridiculous, and many of the hoops are ridiculous. The hoops are what make any visit to the Scotts Bluff County building a major pain in the ass.  Well, the hoops and the hoopmasters.

Hoopmasters are the employees within the walls of the Scotts Bluff County building.  Many of the hoopmasters are so mired in rules and regulations that there ability to use common sense is turned off as soon as they walk through the doors of the building to begin their shifts.

One guy one time did such-and-such with a doohickey which caused issues for the county.  All of the “customers” of the county are criminals.  Therefore, a rule is implemented that no one can now use a doohicky, because everyone is out to screw the county and everyone must be blatantly treated like they are out to screw the county.  “We” (the residents of the county) are the “them” in the “us vs. them” that is how the hoopmasters view our relationship.

I have a different address than what appeared on my old license, so I need various proof of this in the form of various pieces of paper.  I make the necessary photocopies of all of the required pieces of paper in the morning before going to work so that I can use another lunch hour to get my license renewed.

When I arrived at work in the morning, I went online to once more check all of the required paperwork. I immediately called the wife and asked her to bring in the original forms that I had made copies of — because copies will not be accepted.  One of the forms was a recent credit card statement.

“But the part that you have to mail in with the payment is the only part of the statement that has your address on it,” said the wife.

“Yeah, but there is one that hasn’t been paid yet,” I said.

“But that one is in my stack of bills to be paid,” said the wife.

“I know, but I need it,” I said.

“But you’ll lose it, and then you will be making it harder for me to pay that bill,” said the wife.

“Yeah, I probably will, but I have a photocopy here that we can use to pay the bill if I do,” I said.

“Why can’t you use the copy you made?” asked the wife.

“DMV,” I said.

“Oh yeah, right,” said the wife, “one guy one time with the doohickey.”

“Exactly,” I said.

So, the wife brought me all of the necessary originals, and when my lunch break rolled around, I was all set to go. I had even taken a blank check so that I could pay with a check. The county treasurer accepts credit and debit cards, but they add on some stinking fee if you pay by that method.  You know, kind of like the cheap-ass gas station owners who charge an extra 3¢ per gallon if you’re using plastic.

Cheap-ass gas station owners and Scotts Bluff County, almost one in the same.

So I walk in expecting the worst, even though I feel like I am as prepared as I can be.  There is no line.  I take a number and a pleasant lady immediately asks what she can do to help me.  I tell her I need to renew my license.  I already have my form filled out, so she takes my form and my expiring license and sets to work typing into her computer.  She gets a little bit of a pained look and she glances at me from the corner of her eye.

“Uhm… it looks like your address has changed,” she said.

“Yep,” I said, and I handed her a pile of check deposit tickets, credit card statements, mortgage statements, utility bills and my most recent copy of Sports Illustrated.  Her pained look disappears and she digs through my pile until she finds two suitable forms of proof of address.

I look into the little eye tester dealie, she makes some notes, and I’m off and running to the treasurer to pay for my new license.  I AM STOKED!

I am so basking in the glory of having a pleasant experience at the Scotts Bluff County building that almost don’t understand the elderly lady who helps me at the treasurer’s office.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“How would you like to pay?” the elderly lady repeated.

“I don’t like to pay extra fees, so I brought a check,” I said.  I was almost giddy with how easy this was all going.

I fill out the check with the appropriate amount and hand it to the elderly lady.  This is the most fantastic experience I have ever had within the four walls of this building and I have never…

“I don’t think I can take this check,” says the elderly lady.

“…”

“It’s from out of county, and we can’t take out of county checks,” says the elderly lady as she points at the little homemade sign hanging on the back wall that reads:

NO OUT OF COUNTY CHECKS

“But I live in Gering,” I say.  “My address on the check is Gering. This county building is in Gering. Isn’t all of Gering in the same county?”

“It’s not your address,” says the elderly lady.  “Just a second…”

The elderly lady calls over a slightly-over-middle-aged lady (who I’m assuming is some kind of supervisor or something) and shows her my check.

“Yeah, we can’t take that,” says the slightly-over-middle-age lady, “it’s from out of county.”

“It’s from Western Heritage Credit Union,” I say.  “They have branches in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Gering.”

Now, I have banked at Western Heritage Credit Union since moving back to the craphandle of Nebraska in 2000.  Western Heritage Credit Union has been doing business in the craphandle for over 75 years, and has had a branch in Gering since at least 2000 (probably longer, I’m guessing).  Yes, their main office is in Alliance (a county over), but I bank at a local branch.  In fact, the local branch is less than 2 blocks from the Scotts Bluff County building.

“I’m sorry, the address under the bank on the check is Alliance,” says the slightly-over-middle-age lady, “and Alliance is in a different county.”

“But the branch I use is less than two blocks from here,” I say, my voice probably rising as I point to the south (the direction of the local branch).

The slightly-over-middle-age lady’s eyes start to get big and she thrusts her finger at the little homemade sign on the back wall.  You remember, the sign that read:

NO OUT OF COUNTY CHECKS

The sign looked like it was probably made on an inkjet printer and was printed on a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of printer paper.  The bold, capitalized lettering was in red.  The sign actually looked kind of junky, but now I was apparently supposed to bow down to the sign in all of its glory.

There is a Sign on the wall!  Yes, we made the Sign on an inkjet printer, but the Sign is all powerful!  There can be no arguing with the Sign!  Common sense cannot overrule the Sign!  The Sign has spoken!  Now, fall to your knees and worship the Sign!

I am left just staring in wonder at the fact that the slightly-over-middle-age lady felt that pointing at that stupid sign had some kind of meaning.  I guess I should make a sign.  I have an inkjet printer, I have 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper, and I can print in red.  And I have something to put on that sign.
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“You know,” started the slightly-over-middle-age lady, “one time there was one guy from out of the county with a doohickey…”

“NEVER MIND,” I’m pretty sure I may have shouted.  “I’LL PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD.”

“Well,” said the slightly-over-middle-age lady all indignantly.  “If you wouldn’t have gotten argumentative, I was just going to tell you that I was going to make an exception this one time.”

Argumentative?  All I did was interrupt her insipid story about why the stupid homemade sign was placed on the wall in the first place.  I wasn’t argumentative.  I was upset.  I was justifiably upset that they were refusing to take a check from a credit union with a branch that was less than a two minute walk from where I was sitting.  If she wanted to truly offer customer service, she wouldn’t have started her spiel about the “one guy” and his “doohickey” and she would have led with the “we’ll make an exception this one time” part.  You can’t get argumentative.  You aren’t even supposed to get upset.  They have signs all over the place threatening you with deputies and crap if you lose your temper in probably one of the few place on the face of the earth where losing your temper is guaranteed.

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Walking into the Scotts Bluff County building is like walking into the largest catch 22 of all time.

“I’LL PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD,” I say.  “I DON’T NEED YOUR EXCEPTION. I’LL PAY YOUR STUPID FEE AND USE MY CREDIT CARD.”

The slightly-over-middle-age lady turned and stormed off and I handed my debit card to the elderly lady who now refused to look me in the eyes.  She swiped my card and started doing her thing.

“Do you know your security code?” the elderly lady asked… AS SHE IS HOLDING MY CARD!

“No, I don’t,” I said.  “The security code has worn off, but you are holding the card.  You just swiped the card.  You don’t need my security code if you have swiped the card.”

“Yes, I do,” said the elderly lady.

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I give the elderly lady my Amazon Visa without saying a word.  I am looking around for an object sharp enough to slit my throat, but nothing appears to be within my reach.

Now, because the elderly lady swiped the card that I do not know the security card for, the machine does not seem to want to accept my Amazon Visa card.  The elderly lady is starting to look really nervous.  She keeps saying, “Oh my” with every button she pushes on the keyboard, and sweat is starting to pool in the wrinkles on her forehead.  She keeps looking around as if looking for help, but everyone has cleared my portion of the office.  I just sit there, staring at that stupid sign.

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After about 10 minutes, I believe a drop of sweat from the elderly lady’s forehead fell on the keyboard and shorted something out to the point that she could use my Amazon Visa.  She insincerely apologized for the wait, and I left without saying a word, the sign burning an image into my brain as I tried to keep my head from exploding…

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Here’s an idea!  How about instead of putting these flipping signs in every nook and cranny of your stinking building, instead of that, try training your employees to treat people in a manner where those people will not have such a strong desire to use abusive, threatening, or profane language!  Could we try that?  I know I sure in the hell wasn’t being treated in a courteous manner when the idiots in the treasurer’s office told me they couldn’t take a check from a bank that was two blocks away!  Could I have summoned a deputy to escort them from the premises for their noncourteous actions?  IS NONCOURTEOUS EVEN A WORD…

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Aug 25

I always get jealous of my kids this time of year.  They are off to school and have all kinds of new stuff start in their lives.  New classes, new teachers, new sports, new friends.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch of adulthood, I still get up every morning and go do what I do every stinking day.  Nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing offering much of a reason to get out of stinking bed.

“Oh, wait,” says the tiny little voice of optimism that reaches out from the deep recesses of my small mind.  “Maybe you’ll make some new friends today!”

“Yeah,” I remind that stinking voice, “I work in tech support.  I may meet a new person who is all pissed off because his or her Internet isn’t working.  Sounds like fun.”

“Uh… well… they’ll be happy if you help them with their problem,” says the diminishing voice.

“Because I did what I am paid to do,” I replied. “They aren’t going to want to invite me and the family over for supper because I did my job.”

“… well… you, uh… sometimes, you’re coworkers are fun to be around,” squeaks the voice.

“Yeah, maybe today someone will come up with a new and exciting excuse to call in and not be able to come to work, and I can stress out (because everything stresses me out) trying to figure out how to reschedule stuff or make up for the work that coworker was supposed to do,” I tell the voice.

“You’re hopeless,” says the voice as it crawls back into the murk of my mind, hidden from all conscious thought… just where I like it.

Other than the weekends and the occasional scheduled vacation, I don’t find myself looking forward to too much during the course of any given day.  Sometimes, I’m gifted a sporting event or a musical performance in the evening that makes the latter-half of a work day go by a little quicker.  Usually, though, life is routine.  For the kids, their lives are pretty routine as well, but their routines change from year to year and from season to season.  Life as an adult can be… well… pretty mundane.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only adult who feels this way.  I know this is one of the main reasons why I have changed jobs so many times: just to break up the mundane.  I also have a feeling this is why American Idol and Monday Night Football are so popular: most of us just don’t know how to find excitement in our lives, so we settle for the faux-excitement of vesting our emotions in the efforts of someone who is actually living what we perceive to be the excitement.  And for many of us, even most of the stuff we look forward to isn’t really so much about us as it is about our kids.  Going to a kid’s baseball game or a kid’s soccer tournament or a kid’s piano recital.  Once you’re old, you start to realize why people live vicariously through their children — because the life of an adult kinda sucks.  All the good stuff happens to the young.  Even the Bible agrees with me:

“Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
I find no pleasure in them’ ”— (Ecclesiastes 12-1)

Old age is the days of trouble when no pleasure is to be found.

So, in an effort to add something interesting to the monotony of adulthood, I decided this year to get myself a small game hunting license.  As a kid, I used to hunt all the time.  I grew up out in the country, and all of my friends lived in town, so I’d find myself on almost any given day out in the fields near our house shooting stuff.  I’d shoot rabbits and snakes and all kinds of critters.  As I grew older, I tried to shoot only things that could be utilized.  I’d kill jackrabbits and feed them to our dogs.  My blue healers loved fresh rabbit and weren’t quite fast enough to catch them on their own.  I’d kill cottontails and make my mom cook them (which happened about twice before she said “no more”), and then I learned to make the best rabbit jerky in the world.  I’d hunt sage grouse and pheasant and deer (all during the correct season, of course).  I enjoyed hunting, and I haven’t hunted since I moved to the No-Hunting-or-Trespassing capital of the United States — Nebraska.

I’ve scoped out a few of the extremely small public areas around the panhandle where hunting is allowed, and I plan on killing some stuff.  I plan on getting some rabbits and some squirrels and some doves and some crow and maybe even a pigeon or two and I’m going to eat them.  I got a smoker a couple of years ago for Father’s Day, and I’ve learned that EVERYTHING is good smoked.  Heck, if I run into any rattlesnakes or big old bull snakes, I may even throw them on the smoker.

The wife is, of course, disgusted with my plan, and the boys are terrified.  But, by golly, I’m gonna start filling our freezer with numerous small, rodent-like creatures.  I need to go back and re-hone my skills at being able to provide for my family with my own hands and some of the firearms collecting dust in the closet.  I need to reconnect with my primal self.  I need to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

… I need to find something more exciting than the anticipation of Sunday’s new Robot Chicken episode to look forward to each week…

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Jun 20

Jimmy John’s sucks, and residents of Terrytown and Gering, Nebraska need to boycott it.  (I wrote this intro sentence after I actually wrote the blog post because I’m working on my SEO :) )

A couple of days ago, the wife was looking for some fast food for supper.  It was one of those crazy hectic evenings where there really wasn’t a lot of time to cook.  She had a rough day and was looking to have something (other than the standard pizza) delivered.  “Hey,” she says to herself (because she talks to herself when she is losing her mind), “Jimmy John’s has good, relatively healthy food and they deliver!”

So, the wife calls Jimmy John’s, orders some grub, pays for said grub with a credit card, and then (thinking it strange that delivery was not offered) asked to have the order delivered.

“Uh, you live in Terrytown,” says the fast food genius on the other end of the line.

“Yeah,” says the wife.

“We don’t deliver out of Scottsbluff,” says the minimum-wage-earning superstar at Jimmy John’s.

“Huh?” says the wife.

“Yeah, we don’t deliver anything south of Beltline,” says my new favorite person in the whole entire world.

“But we’re only like 1 mile south of Beltline,” says the wife.

“Uh, you are gonna have to pick up your food,” says, I believe, Mr. Jimmy John himself, and can’t you just imagine him picking at a pimple as he’s talking?

So, the wife rubbed down the horses, pulled the irrigation line, pulled the milkers off the cows, rounded-up the sheep, put down our rabid family dog, pulled the fevered baby from his crib, loaded the crew into the sled and mushed the dogs all the way to Jimmy John’s.  Okay, that may be slightly exaggerated, but it was a pain in the ass.  Thanks for being a buttmunch company, Jimmy John’s!

Jimmy John’s does not deliver to Gering or Terrytown?!?  How have the noble citizens of Gering not taken to the streets en masse to demonstrate against this monstrosity?  How has this not made the cover of the Gering Citizen (a Gering-based tabloid that is pro-Gering… so extremely pro-Gering that its reporting often makes FOX News’ reporting on anything conservative and the Huffington Post‘s reporting on anything liberal actually seem fair and balanced), or at least the topic of a scathing editorial?  I cannot comprehend how one of the loud-mouthed, opinionated citizens of Gering (and Gering has a plethora of those) hasn’t started a boycott of some sort against the tom-fool shenanigans of Jimmy John’s!  Let me say that, as of this point in time, I shall lead the call for a boycott of the ridiculousness that is Jimmy John’s!

For those not from the panhandle of Nebraska, please let me explain the ridiculousness of that which I just wrote.  See, Scottsbluff and Gering are two communities separated by the North Platte River.  Terrytown is a village that occupies a sliver of land between Scottsbluff and Gering and is only a “village” at all because some guy named Terry with a lot of money wanted a town named after himself.  For all intensive purposes, these three municipalities are one community.
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Terrytown is so stinking small, it isn't even on this map...

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Most everyone in this area would agree with that except for the residents of Gering — they tend to be anal and think they are better than everyone “north of the river” (which is how they refer to the unwashed masses in Scottsbluff).

See, part of me blames the residents of Gering for the whole Jimmy John’s debacle.  If Gering would merge with Scottsbluff, we would become like the 7th largest “city” in Nebraska.  Instead, we are two puny little communities (three, if you count Terrytown… which no one does) who have issues attracting not only decent-paying employers (wanna work at Walmart, anyone?), but we have issues getting in amenities and businesses that many in the area would like to see come in (Red Lobster — the lower-middle class’s fancy seafood place).  If we were merged, I bet Jimmy John’s would deliver to Terrytown and Gering.

However, I’m not going to blame this one on Gering (mostly because I wouldn’t rule out a vehement Gering resident trying to murder me in my sleep).  I blame this one on the cheap-ass who owns the Jimmy John’s franchise.  I’m guessing one of two things is happening:

  1. The franchisee only bought the rights for the Scottsbluff zip code and is therefore contractually prohibited from delivering outside of the stated franchise area.  See, the franchisee doesn’t really care about the residents of Gering and Terrytown (whom I’m guessing provide a significant amount of business to the restaurant).  I guess the franchisee wouldn’t care if we all just stopped supporting the business?  I say we give it a try!
  2. The franchisee or management of the restaurant all come from an alternate reality where people in Scottsbluff look at people “south of the river” with the same contempt that Gering residents currently look at “northies” in our reality — because I could see some diphole actually opening a business in Gering and making deliveries to Gering only just to spite people from Scottsbluff.

It’s almost like the Hatfields and McCoys around here… except Gering is the Hatfields and they are out for blood, and Scottsbluff is the McCoys and they gave up on stupid, ego-driven feuds years ago.

I can almost guarantee that some ninny from Gering will read this post and think, “Adventurer Rich, as smart and well written as he is, just doesn’t understand the ramifications of a merger between Scottsbluff and Gering and how that merger would diminish the “voice” of the people of Gering.  Our opinions would be lost in the cacophony of noise coming from north of the river.  Not too mention the fiscal determent to our community and the … blah blah blah.  Come on, folks, we all (by choice or not) live in Nebraska.  Nobody gives a rat’s sittin’ spot about any of our voices.  The least we can do is try to come together with a unified voice so that we can all grow together.

Of course, I live in Terrytown.  Neither side of the river gives two cares about what Terrytownians (dibs — I claim credit for making that word up!!!) think.

Residents of Gering and fellow Terrytownians, let’s show the powers that be in the world of Jimmy John’s that we are not going to be subjected to their abuse.  I propose that all Gering and Terrytown residents refuse to purchase anything from that despicable restaurant until the day when we can have our orders delivered to our doorsteps.  All three worthless little communities making up the Tri-Cities of the panhandle of Nebraska deserve equality!!!

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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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Jun 01

I originally started writing this blog to capture my journey through turning 40 and the pain that journey entailed.  I wanted to, at least somewhat humorously, document how much turning 40 sucked.  Well, I turned 40, it did suck, and now here I am at 42 and things get no better.  People always say crap like, “Just give it time, things will get better,” or “At least things can’t get any worse.”  Well, I have come to a realization: people lie.  The only thing my future potentially holds is turning 50; I’m sure that will be a joy ride.

If you are down in the dumps or have a touch of the blues, people say ‘things will get better’ to prevent you from jumping off of a bridge or walking through the local Walmart with your hunting rifle a’blazing or something.  There is no real guarantee that anything is going to get any better.  In fact, things run a pretty substantial risk of getting worse.  Still, you should not jump off of a bridge or take out the entire population of a Walmart (believe it or not, there may actually a few good people in there).

When I start feeling down about the suckiness that life often dishes out, I blog.  It makes me feel better.  It might piss some people off, but then maybe they need to start their own blogs.  A small part of me has always thought that if I sit down and practice writing on a regular basis (i.e. blog), I might improve my writing skills to the level where I can actually making a living writing.

“Why would you want to make a living writing?” you may ask.

I don’t like dealing with people.  Any form of conflict stresses me out to a degree that I can barely function, and you cannot deal with people and avoid conflict.  What really amazes me are people who seem to thrive on conflict.  You know them, the people who can take a completely calm situation and turn it upside down by inserting a touch of drama… which always leads to conflict.  These people need to be locked away on their own island… hey, Total Drama Island!

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Good cartoon... I miss it :(

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I have not always been like this, but over the last several years, the degree of my anti-social thoughts and feelings has multiplied to the point that I really am pretty miserable a lot of the time.  This is mostly related to time when I am actually earning a living.  At home, and even in the occasional social setting, I am happy and pretty comfortable.  I have tried to think of a job where I would have very little personal contact with people in the realm of the method I use to earn an income, and writing seems to be an excellent choice.  There are additional choices, but none of them seem to fit quite right:

Methamphetamine Manufacturer

Oh sure, making the meth sounds like a great way to make a living.

*You can work at home.

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*You make a very high (no pun intended) return on investment.

*All of the simple instructions are easily accessible online.

*The only people you would have to deal with would be your dealers.

*I’ve seen some of the people who make this stuff… you don’t have to be a rocket scientist.

*You are making a product that is in demand and makes people feel better about their miserable lives.

However, if you really look at the consequences of making meth, you find that there may be some drawbacks.

*You can burn down your home.

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*Meth may make people feel better, but it has been discovered that it may not be good for them.

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*Apparently, making meth is illegal.

*The only people you would have to deal with would be your dealers.

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So… meth is out.

Pornography Actor

Okay, so you would have to deal with people, but I’m sure there wouldn’t be much conflict.  Even if there is conflict, who cares?.  Three words: female porn stars! This doesn’t sound like a bad choice…

And then reality sets in…

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CPAP

Yeah... no one is going to pay to see that...

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Crap!  I think the wife may have an issue with me being in porn… as would God.  Porn  is out.

Let’s see… what are some more jobs that would either be enjoyable or have limited conflict…

Bookstore Owner/Employee

I love books and used to think working in like a Barnes & Nobles would be a blast.  I mean, who in their right mind would be unhappy in a bookstore.  I used to think that way, until I saw some poor information booth employee at Barnes & Nobles get chewed up one side and down the other by some jerkwad who was bent out of shape because the store didn’t have a copy of some obscure philosophy book.  Jerkwad was upset that he would have to wait a couple of days for the store to get in a copy of Larry Fleitzerhinie’s Mans’ Walk on an Impartial Plain of Reason in the Twilight of the Mountains of Contradiction… or something like that.  “What kind of bookstore is this,” Jerkwad yelled.  Seriously… is there not a job on this planet where jerkwads are not present?  So the bookstore idea is out.

Working with Children

I used to work at Discovery Zone (a Chuck E. Cheese-like place with tubes and tunnels and ball pits and video games and birthday parties etc. etc. etc.).  One would think that a fun place like that would be reasonably stress free… but one would be wrong.  Parents become absolute imbeciles  when it comes to the happiness of their children… especially when they are paying for it.  And these imbeciles love to yell at whatever employee is closest to them when their child is for one second not having the ultimate in fun (like the kid just got reprimanded for biting another kid in the butt).

“You have no right to discipline my child, you minimum-wage piece of $@#&!”

Meanwhile, the parent of the child who was bitten is screaming, “You need to keep better control of the kids in here.  I should sue!”

Of course, neither of these parents say a word to each other… let’s just take it all out on the minimum-wage piece of $@#&!

So it is becoming relatively clear at this point that there is no such thing as an enjoyable job… or at least a job that is stress-free.  I understand that stress is supposed to be a good thing in small amounts because it helps us make decisions and whatnot… but I’m getting too old to deal with the stress crap anymore.  You know, if I had the money flowing in that I expected to be making in my “prime income-earning years”, the stress probably wouldn’t get to me as much.  Sounds silly, but it’s true.  If I was making six figures, I think my tolerance for all things stressful would be a little higher because I’d be able to put a sizable amount of that away for retirement and I’d have the knowledge that I would not have to deal with the crap forever.  However, given my current situation, I will be dealing with some sort of crap for every single workday for the rest of my natural life.

Go ahead, say it.  I know there is someone out there who is wanting to say it…

“Suck it up!  Quit your whining and do what you need to do!”

“Nobody ever said life was going to be fair, so shut your mouth and get busy working!”

“People who complain like you need to be thankful they aren’t a starving child in Africa!”

“If you worked as hard as you complained, you’d be making more money!”

“Quit feeling sorry for yourself!  We all gotta deal with it and you don’t hear us complaining, do you?”

Oh my… if I had a nickel for every time I was the recipient of one of these comments, I’d already be able to retire.  I have never stated that I am not thankful for what I have.  I just want more out of life than being a working stiff who begrudgingly works a job until the day he dies.  I think it is best stated by Drake in Nikki Minaj’s song Moment 4 Life:

I’m really tryna make it more than what it is, cuz everybody dies but not everybody lives!”

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Apparently, one needs to look like a pink blow-up doll to be living life right?!?

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Word!  … does anybody really say “word” anymore?  Yeah, probably not.  I’m kind of out of the loop.  I am 42, after all…

Good gravy – I’m quoting a Nikki Minaj song?!?   ‘Bout time to wrap this post up.

Anywho, writing is about the only job I can think of that would have the limited public contact necessary to eradicate a large portion of the work-related stress from my life.  Of course, I only enjoy writing as a way to bitch.  If I had to write how-to manuals or reviews of laundry soaps or something like that, writing would suck.

So, if anyone knows of a good writing gig that requires a whiny writer who loves to bitch, give me a shout out.  Word!

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Mar 18

What is the hardest job in the world?

Is it a rocket scientist — ensuring the trajectory of space bound thingies and other such sciencey stuff?

Is it a brain surgeon — holding all consciousness and memories (in essence, the entire “being”) of an individual between her fingers as she attempts to save a life?

Is it perhaps the President of the United States — deciding where to send our soldiers to die and who in our economy will suffer and how to make nice-nice with the rich and famous?

These are all good answers, but none are truly the hardest job in the world. The hardest job in the world recently had a vacancy, and it was recently filled.

Scotts Bluff County recently filled the hardest job in the world.  Congratulation to Brenda Leisy…
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holder of the hardest job in the world.  Brenda was hired by Scotts Bluff County as the county’s tourism director.

Tourism director: one who tries to get tourists to stop and spend their had earned money in our area by convincing said tourists that there is something worth stopping and spending money on here.  Like I already pointed out, this is (in my opinion) the hardest job in the world.

Scotts Bluff County has little to offer.  It’s kind of… what’s a nice way of putting this… boring here.  There are many who disagree with me, but I’m sticking to my personal guns on this.  There is nothing to do here.

“Oh, there’s a lot to do here!” scream the long-time residents who hate anyone speaking the truth about their beloved Nebraska.

“Like what?” someone may ask.

“Well… uh… you can go for a walk on the pathway by the river!” says the Nebraska-lover.

“I’ve done that before,” someone may say.

“Do it again,” says Nebraska-lover.

“Uh… why?” someone may ask.

“Maybe you’ll see a goose… or something,” says Nebraska-lover.

“I saw a goose the last time I walked the path,” someone may say.

“Well, go to the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument,” Nebrasaka-lover recommends.

“That’s fun to do about once every two or three years,” someone may say, “and I did that last summer.”

“Go fishing,” says Nebraska-lover.

“Fishing here sucks,” someone may say, “unless you like catching tiny trout and sunfish, which is all I ever catch.  I suck at fishing, thus I don’t really like fishing, and can you imagine trying to get my 8-year-old son to sit still long enough to catch a stinking blue gill?  Yeah, fishing isn’t for me.”

“There is good hunting,” says Nebraska-lover.

“No there’s not,” someone may say.  “All of the good hunting is on private land, and landowners here would rather shoot you than look at you.  You have to have some sort of backwater relationship with a landowner to access that landowner’s land, and I have no such relationships.  Hunting here sucks.”

“Well,” says Nebraska-lover, a hint of doubt becoming evident in her eyes, “there’s always… uh… what about a trek in the Wildcat Hills?”

“Oh yeah, a hike through sage brush and cactus,” someone may say, “with the seasonal threat of rattlesnakes and the ever-present threat of mountain lions.  Doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.  Besides, you keep mentioning all of these outdoor activities, and Scotts Bluff County is notoriously bad for allergens.  Spending time outside in the wind with snot running down my face and claw marks on my eyeballs from all of the scratching doesn’t sound very fun.”

“We have… uh… we have a mall,” Nebraska-lover says, as if she just remembered.

“Yeah, the mall,” someone may say.  “The mall here is about, what, 1/4 empty?  And it’s a small mall in the first place.  Walking around the mall is good for about 15 minutes of wasting time.”

“Our downtown business areas in Scottsbluff and Gering…” Nebraska-lover tries to say.

“… suck,” someone may finish.  “Parking downtown is horrible, there are very few shops that interest me or are within my price range, and very few of the downtown businesses have public restrooms, so you end up peeing in the freaking alley if you gotta go.  I have an 8-year-old boy.  My son now believes that it is acceptable to pee in an alley… which I’m sure is going to benefit him in his adulthood.  Thanks, downtown businesses!”

“Well… uh… we have… uh…” Nebraska-lover stammers, “we have a lot of bars and liquor stores.”

“Yes,” someone may say.  “Yes we do.”

“I could sure use a drink,” Nebraska-lover says.

“I’m buying,” someone may say.

There really isn’t much to do around here.  You have to keep your kids uber-involved in sports and other activities to keep them away from the drugs, alcohol and sex.  The teen-pregnancy rate in the area is high, as are the teen alcohol and drug usage rates.  Why?  Because there isn’t anything to do here.  Adult alcoholism and drug use also run rampant in Scotts Bluff County.  Why?  Because there isn’t anything to do here… and there are many adults who are trying to numb the pain of watching their hopes, dreams, and aspirations float down the North Platte River.

I know that in the past, the county’s tourism department has stressed how important it is for “front-line” employees (employees in low-paying jobs who actually deal with potential tourists) to present a positive, excited portrayal of the community to aid tourism.  This may be hard for a hung-over, pregnant teen to do while she is trying to figure out where she is going to score her next hit of meth.  The only positive thing many front-line employees can think about is how in the hell they are going to get out of here, so it may be hard to convince them to speak positively about their communities.  Front-line employees can’t figure out what to do with their free time, so how can they be expected to help tourists find something to do around here?

Congratulations once again to Brenda Leisy!  She has the hardest job in the world, and I wish her all of the luck I can muster.  She’s going to need it…

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Mar 09

There is an organization here in the wonderful panhandle of Nebraska called NEXT.  NEXT is a group of “young professionals” who have taken it upon themselves to be leaders in the community.  They have made it their job to promote the panhandle as a great place to live.  Good for them.

On their website, the folks at NEXT make some very clear statements as to what they are… and what they are not.  For example, NEXT is: “A group of the Panhandle’s future elite leaders, not the social elite.”  What a great statement… too bad it’s not true.  If you visit NEXT’s website and click on the “board” tab, you will see the leaders of this “leaders’ group”.  Judging from the last names of these leaders, the names of the businesses they work for, and the dates those businesses were established, I’m assuming three of the five board members have parents or grandparents who started successful businesses… and these kids are able to ride on those coattails.  Can you say “trust fund”?  The other two board members are pretty faces, and we all know that the pretty people have a higher likelihood of success than us normal (or, in my case, morbidly disgusting) people.

I am not saying that these people didn’t work hard to reach their current levels of success.  I don’t personally know any of them (we don’t hang in the same social circles — oh wait, I don’t have a social circle…)  All I’m saying is that, in my opinion, being a pretty person or having rich parents gives you quite an advantage over the rest of the population when it comes to future success.

So, the rich and the pretty… how in the hell is that not the social elite?  This is life in the panhandle: have parents or grandparents who were successful — or be pretty — and you have a shot at true success.  It takes money and/or looks to make it here…  which is why there are so many of us who can’t really make it.  The rest of us work to serve the social elite.  Maybe this isn’t a panhandle problem.  Maybe this is an American problem…

The rich and pretty of NEXT have made one of their goals to retain and encourage potential leaders (i.e. other rich and pretty people who either leave after 2-3 years because they think it sucks here… or don’t become involved in community leadership roles because they are too busy pushing their slaves to make them more money) to become active in the community by stressing “the great life that the Panhandle offers”.  Are they referring to the same panhandle that I live in?  Maybe there is another panhandle (one that deserves to be capitalized) that I’m not familiar with.  Or maybe if you are part of the social elite and have the rest of the community bowing down to serve you, life can be pretty good here.  Who knows?

Another of the statements made by NEXT is that they are “A group using a social platform to accomplish objectives, not a Saturday night social club.”  Really?  Again, looking at their website, the last few events listed were a “Mardi Gras” event in February of 2009, a “Peacocks and Potluck” event (at the zoo, I’m assuming) in May of 2009, and a “Comedy on the Rocks” event in June of 2010.  Those all sound an awful lot like “Saturday night social club” events to me… but what do I know; I’m not part of the social elite.

I think I need to start my own leadership group.  You know, a group for guys and gals who once thought they could find some measure of financial success but have come to realize that just ain’t going to happen.  We could get together on Saturday nights once every couple of months and sit around a keg of Old Milwaukee eating chicken wings and talking about how we can’t understand why we are all still living here.  We won’t be able to stay up late, however, because many of us will probably have to get up the next morning to go to work (because we will all be working at serving the social elite until the day we die).  We could charge all members a cover charge to cover the cheap beer and hot wings, and whatever is left over could be donated to a local charity… I’m thinking Habitat-for-the-Non-Social-Elite may be a good choice…

*****INTERESTING TIDBIT ALERT*****

You know the saying “piss poor”?  Do you know where this comes from?  In the olden days, apparently tanners used urine to tan hides.  If your family was poor, often the family would all pee in a collective pot to be taken and sold to the tanner.  Your family was “piss poor”.  Of course, if your family was super duper poor, you “wouldn’t have a pot to piss in”.

How do I know this is true?  I found it on the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is true, right?

I kind of wish tanners still used urine to tan hides.  Not that I would want to be “piss poor”, it would just be an easy way to make a little extra cash…

*****INTERESTING TIDBIT COMPLETE****

So, until I get my own leadership group together, I guess I’ll have to make do with making fun of the existing organizations.  You know what, though?  NEXT is at least doing something to try to make the panhandle a better place.  They even recently participated in an event that benefited Special Olympics, and I can’t dog on that.  I am, however,  skeptical of their motives because I believe they are mostly looking out for themselves.  They could give a crap-less how the ordinary citizens of the panhandle are doing (as long as they keep flipping burgers and mowing lawns and painting houses and controlling pests and collecting garbage or any job where some peon is available to be yelled at when the elite feel like yelling).  They want more rich, pretty people in the area to hang out with so they can defend themselves when the unruly, unclean masses finally rise up!  But still, they are doing something.  I have to give them credit for that.  People who sit around and bitch like me probably drive the elite absolutely insane… hahaha… and that’s why I do what I do :)

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Jan 14

We have this bathroom in our basement.  I love this room.  This room is where I go when I want to spend some quality time alone.  The wife has decorated our little downstairs bathroom with a “theme”.  The “theme” of this room is palm trees.
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I used to wonder how the lovely wife came up with the theme of palm trees for this particular room.  I suspected that Walmart had a  clearance rack of toilet-related materials and the only matching set the wife could find was palm trees. The wife claims the theme arrived in remembrance of our honeymoon almost 18 years ago in Cancun…
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… and the soft, warm breezes on the beach and the hint of lime in every shrimp quesadilla… or lobster taco… or 39 peso cheeseburger at McDonalds (seriously, every thing from Budweiser to bacon in Cancun has a hint of lime).  Whenever I inquire about the theme downstairs, the wife waxes nostalgic of a time right after she and I stood before a man of God, all our family, and most of of friends and proclaimed our undying love for each other.  Cancun for the wife and I was the whipped cream on the Hot Fudge Brownie Delight that is married life.  Remember when Dairy Queen used to sell Hot Fudge Brownie Delights?  These were the calorie-laden monstrosities that consisted of mountains of delectable soft-serve ice cream resting on plains of nut-covered chocolate brownies separated only by seemingly endless rivers of hot, steamy fudge… and then irresponsibly topped with the snow capped ridges of 100% dairy-and-sugar filled whipped cream.   The foundation of marriage is the brownies and ice cream and I do not for an instance regret any part of it… but our honeymoon was the whipped topping, full of fun and sweetness and decadence…
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… everything that convinces a man that he is settling down with the right woman to begin a life of work and responsibilities and children and STINKING FUNDRAISERS!!!  I digress…

So, anyway, I spend a large portion of my “free time” in our downstairs bathroom staring at the shower curtain that rests directly in front of the toilet.
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You may wonder to yourself, “now, what exactly could he be doing on the toilet for any measurable amount of time that would lead him to spend an inordinate amount of time staring at a shower  curtain?”  Well,  you may be slightly dented for asking such a question.  What goes in must come out, and I am sincerely sorry to point this out, but even Johnny Depp and Katy Perry spend time staring at the palm trees… if you know what I mean 😉

The wife dreams of tropical places when she and I discuss the wonderful places we would like to settle down once we figure out what we are going to do with the rest of our lives.  I, on the other hand, tend to lean more towards something more mountainous.
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Of course, both of us are open to the ideas of the other.  I would be almost as content in a bungalow on the beach, and she seems fine with the thought of fresh mountain air and fresh-caught trout with wild asparagus for supper a couple of nights a week.  One problem is that we don’t know quite how to get to either of these locals.  The second problem is that we live in Nebraska, which does have a scenery all its own, like this…
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… and this…
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… along with…
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and, occasionally even…
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… which leads to…
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… and ultimately…
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… but is about as far as you can get from either a tropical paradise or a scenic mountain retreat.

Living in either a tropical paradise or a mountain of solitude would require an income that currently surpasses us here where we actually have jobs, let alone in a remote location where jobs are few and far between.  I’d like to think that we would be able to use our retirement savings to get us to our dream location, but I would also like to think that I don’t look my age and that the tooth fairy pays out even more when the elderly loose their teeth.  All three of these wishes are pipe dreams.  I figure that the only way the wife and I are ever going to see our dreams come true is found in three simple words:

third world country.

Third world countries can be tropical, and third world countries can have mountains.  Third world countries are a lot cheaper to live in than the United States.  Help me, Third World Country… you’re my only hope!

I figure if the wife and I can save up a few thousand dollars, we should be able to move to some neato place like Guatemala or Somalia or, heck, I hear there are some good deals on property in Afghanistan right now.   Guatemala and Somalia both have some nice oceanfront property
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and Afghanistan is known for it’s mountainous regions.

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Heck, that’s where all the fugitive Taliban hide, right?
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For a few thousand dollars, we should be able to live like a king and queen!  Oh sure, there would be some language barriers, but I’m sure that any self-respecting country would teach English as a second language, right?  And even if they don’t, just think of the millions of Mexicans who migrate to the US who don’t speak a word of English.  The Mexicans get by just fine.  In fact, many companies and even our government bend over backwards to make sure our Spanish speaking friends don’t have to bother with learning English.  After all, on almost any telephone call you can always “apriete dos para español.”  As ass-backwards as the US is viewed by the rest of the world, I’m sure these third world countries have even better programs in place to make non-native tongue people feel welcome, right?  Of course they do.

There may be some other small hindrances, like decent health care, or a clean water supply, or a reliable food source.  And the fact that the wife and I are Christian may lead to a problem or two.  We may have to fend off the occasional suicide bomber or be weary of any Muslims with a big knife and a penchant for heads, but I’m sure it will be worth it to live in the type of surroundings that we dream of.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious we aren’t going to make those dreams come true in the US.

Ahh… so maybe our dreams really can come true.  Maybe there is some hope for our future outside of the good life that can only be found in Nebraska.  I mean, either dying a martyr at the hands of a radical Muslim, or staring at another corn field and watching another disappointing Husker football season.  At least the martyrdom would be on a beach… or in the mountains…

Well, that’s enough for now.  I had a big supper, and my daily fiber seems to be kicking in.  I have a date with some palm trees…
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Nov 30

I remember back to when I first moved to the panhandle of Nebraska way too many years ago. I remember all of the disgusting smells that should have warned me that I wasn’t going to like it here, smells that I ignored and have somewhat gotten used to. I remember complaining about those smells only to have one crusty old codger or another tell me not to complain. “Smells like money,” was the codgerly proclamation. I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. Money, from what little interaction I have with it here in the panhandle, smells of musty paper and cocaine. None of the things around the panhandle have what I consider to be the smell of money. I have people tell me that I need to appreciate the beauty of the panhandle. These are the same people who go around taking pictures of weeds and sunsets and crap and find beauty in these simple things. My observations tend to tilt in a little different direction, so I have tried to capture the stench of the panhandle through pictures. One of the first smells I had to adjust to was the smell of processing sugar beets.

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A sugar beet is a tuber-thingie that tastes like a potato. Apparently, through some magical chemical process, sugar can be drawn out of these bland wads of starch. I don’t know exactly how it is done, but I know it involves lime, a lot of heat, and the production of some major stink.

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Sugar beet is a major crop around these parts, and you can see the harvested beets in seemingly endless piles around the area.

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I remember the first time I inquired about this stench. “Smells like money,” I was told. I don’t remember ever opening up my wallet and being met with the smell of sun-ripened vomit, but I guess, to some, that’s what money smells like.  And, apparently, the smell of money is good for the environment, too.

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There is another smell that permeates the region from time to time.

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No, that’s dead possum.  Although it didn’t smell that much more unpleasant than what I’m referring to… and it does remind me of a series of unrelated pictures that I have on my phone. I think I’ll share them here.  In other words, here lies a totally unrelated sidetrack.  Stay tuned for more of the stench of the panhandle…

Okay, so last winter after one of my posts dogging on Nebraska, this guy comes up to me and says, “Why don’t you try to find the beauty in our area? Why can’t you be more like Katie Bradshaw?” Apparently, Katie recently moved here. She does a blog on her experiences (which are far different from mine), and she has major photo-taking abilities. Her blog actually landed her a position with one of the the local newspapers. I don’t have much in the way of photo-taking abilities, but I thought I would give it a shot.

I thought I could document the businesses that have gone under in our spectacular rural community.

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Problem is, this business is still open.  This business was a car wash, tanning salon, custom embroidery, restaurant, cocktail bar with a self-service dog wash.  No kidding, I couldn’t make something this ludicrous up.  Apparently, the rest of the business is doing great, they just had to close, you know, the restaurant part?!?

Then there are the plethora of these:

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During my younger days in Montana, I used to hunt… a lot.  Public land was everywhere, and finding a deer or an antelope or a pheasant or a grouse to take home and put in the freezer was easy.  In Nebraska, private land rules the range, and if you don’t know some crotchety old landowner, there is no reason to buy a hunting license.  Needless to say, even after 15+ years of living here, I don’t know any crotchety old landowners.

I could have focused on what we meager-wage-earners have to look forward to here in the panhandle…

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… but that would have just been plain-old depressing.

I’m going to throw this one in just because I think it’s cool.  It’s from a local tattoo shop and the outrage that it created was extraordinary.  It was free speech versus the anally uptight… and free speech won :)

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Wait a second!  What’s that beautiful dark figure in the awesomely artistic photograph I have taken below?

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Ah, the beauty of a winter’s night in the panhandle of Nebraska.  Is it a beautiful winter street flower? Is it a fairy from the tales of old?

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Yeah, no, it’s a dead cat. This stupid cat had been in the road by my house for like a week. Poor thing was hit by one of the speed-limit breaking residents of the trailer park up the road. I was going to dispose of it when I first saw it, but I figured there may be a little girl somewhere missing her lost kitty. I wanted the family to be able to find the cat for, you know, some closure. However, after a week, I was tired of looking at it and decided to scrape it’s frozen butt off the street and throw it gently place it in the trash receptacle. So, I scraped it and bagged it. Little did I realize that frozen cats are a little… pointy.

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So, I did what any good samaritan would have done… I double bagged it.

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Still pointy. If not so morbid, it’d almost be a bit funny… you know, how pointy that frozen cat was. Wouldn’t want to swing it around because you could put an eye out or something.

Anyway, so ended my attempt at capturing the beauty of the panhandle in pictures. I disposed of the cat properly, said a few words for the family who was probably still looking for her, and may have made a pointy-cat joke or two. Katie Bradshaw can keep her picture-taking ability.

Okay, so now we get back on-track to the smell of money that reminds me of roadkill.

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That’s right, the good old feedlots. When the breeze blows just right, you can get your face full of the smell of feedlot at any given time of the year. Summer seems to be best though.

“Smells like money!”

Seriously? Are you sure that smells like money?

“Yep, smells like money!”

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Smells like cow shit to me, but to each his own, I guess.

Finally, the third horse of the smells-like-money trifecta: the railroad.  In our little community, we have not one railroad line usurping the positive energy from our lives, but two monstrosities of greed and power to interfere with our daily being.  Stupid BNSF and Union Pacific.

“Don’t complain, ’cause it smells like money!”

But the railroads don’t really have a smell, do they.  I mean, that really doesn’t even make any sense…

“Shut up, whiny boy!  Smells like money!”

Okay, whatever.  The railroads apparently smell like money, too.  A few years ago here in the wonderful panhandle of Nebraska, BNSF smelled like benzine.  We got us a little national press coverage, and BNSF paid-off a lot of people to guarantee the prevention of future lawsuits.  Now, all is well.  I mean, there is the occasional child born with extra digits and whatnot, but we make them feel extra special… like one of the X-men.

“I’m gonna count your piggy toes… yes I am!  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13!  13 just means you’ve been blessed by the benzine, and your special… like Wolverine… except with extra piggy toes instead of super claws.  We’ll call you Piggy-Toe Man, and your foot stench will be extra powerful… because, you know, you have extra piggy toes…”

Ah, the joys of benzine.  They should put it in our water… you know, like fluoride.  ‘Cause I’m guessing benzine may actually be less toxic than fluoride…

The tragic thing is, you can actually get stopped by multiple trains at multiple crossings if you are traveling from one end of Scottsbluff to the opposite end of Gering.  That’s right, not only can you get stopped by both BNSF and UP trains, you can get stopped by more than one train at each crossing.  But you know what really sucks?  What really sucks is when BNSF decides to close multiple crossings in Scottsbluff for repairs… AT THE SAME TIME!  BNSF has like 6 crossings within the Scottsbluff city limits, and 4 of them are currently closed.

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Talk about throwing a major screw-up wrench in the daily lives of thousands of people.  What mongoloid idiot made that insane decision… and why did no one from the city do anything to alter those magnificently dubious plans?  City manager Rick Kuckkahn made a statement to local news outlet KNEB and he said he understood drivers’ frustrations.  Does he really?  Apparently BNSF has “extra people” in town, so the jobs can be completed quicker than normal.  Notice all of the people humping ass to get the work done in my pictures above?  Yeah, drive by any of the closed crossings and they all look pretty much the same.  And not only is there an apparent lack of urgency in completing the work necessary to re-open the crossings, now all of the trains creep through town at like a quarter of there normal speed.  Talk about some small town gridlock.  Mr. Kuckkahn said the closings were “unavoidable.”  Really, Rick, unavoidable?  The city manager has no say on not closing the majority of crossings in the town he manages?  I don’t think Rick Kuckkahn understands much of anything.  Smells like money to me.

I have come to a distinct conclusion after considering the various smells of money that permeate our community:  there may very well come a time when one must stop living in a community where one can smell the money and  move to a community where one can actually earn it.

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