Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Getting Berned"

Ok, I know I'm not supposed to talk about politics but I also know I don't care. So there's that. I can't help myself and, besides, I do what I want. So there's also that, I reckon. 
Politics keeps looming up on the horizon and there's this thousand year old guy running for president. More and more people seem to be liking what he's saying. I think that's a testament to our society of entitlement and our abysmal education system. 

See, here's problem number one. He's a socialist. "Hurray!", you say? Nay. This is bad. 
First off, let's look at socialism at its roots. Society working together for a common goal and advancement. Sound good? Sure, if everyone in that society is willing to work. Uh oh! We've already hit our first hurdle. There's a bunch of people in our society who are more than happy to sit home and live off the rest of us. Well, shit. How does that work? Only the ones who WANT to work do so and everyone else keeps getting a free ride? 
Socialism, in theory, works. But only with creatures that don't have basic human greed and laziness. If we were a bunch of bees, sure, right on. Ants, they've got it figured out. But every organism in those society actually WORK! Humans aren't ants or bees. 

Next up, "free health care and free college education". Huzzah! "Free". Such a magical word to anyone who doesn't understand THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS "FREE"! 
Look, let's start with health care. Doctors need to be paid. Medicines cost money. Surgeries. Every aspect of health care has a cost. So if no one is paying for it, how do those expenses get paid? Oh, the costs go down? Probably. Along with the quality. Hey, doofus, we ALL pay for it. Well, those that work do. It's called taxes. No problem, we will just raise taxes to cover the costs. So much for "free". The working guy just starts paying more taxes. Buh-bye "free". 

Free college sound great? Sure. Everyone gets to go to college. The schools will need more teachers. Cha-Ching. Only now the tuition that supports these schools either A) goes away or B) is paid for with tax money. Guess who gets taxed more now? The ones who work. You know, the ones having to work more now to take home what they were making before. 
Of course THOSE people will be so busy working to compensate for the increased taxes that THEY won't be able to go to that "free" college. They'll be busy trying to keep supporting their families instead. 
Since tuition drops but the need for teachers increases, the teachers will have to make less money. Like they make a lot now? So there goes the quality of education. That's alright, our educational system sucks in America anyway. 
There's a plus, though, right? Everyone can get degrees. So the guys who can get higher wages now for earning a degree, make sure you lock that wage in now. See, when everyone can get a degree then having one makes you no more qualified as anyone else. The value of a degree essentially becomes that of a diploma. "Look at me, I've got a college degree! I can earn more now!" Fat chance. Everyone has a degree now; you're nothing special. 
Oh, you got a teaching degree but you can barely read and write? Good, you can become a college teacher now. You've got the degree after all. 
And, let's face it, not everyone who CAN go to college SHOULD. Look at that stupid "no child left behind" crap. All they did was dumb everything down so everyone moves ahead. They didn't raise the level of education; they just lowered the difficulty of tests. So everyone can "feel good". 

So then you'll have people becoming doctors who really shouldn't. That's alright, they'll just work for less since doctors won't be able to make as much once health care is "free". So, again, there goes your quality of health care. "Billy isn't too bright but he can be a doctor now." Great plan. 
People already don't apply themselves as much as they can in the free public school system what makes you think they'll be any more compelled to give it their all at a free college? It's not like they're worried about wasting their money. It's a self-defeating cycle. 

Besides, we already have a system in place for free college. A couple of them actually. The first one is pretty simple: fucking APPLY yourself and get a scholarship. I was offered one to art school in my early 20's but didn't take it. It's not that hard to get them really. 
Second option: it's called the G.I. Bill. Serve your country. EARN your college. If your country handing you "free" stuff that others have earned doesn't bother you but applying yourself or actually earning it for yourself bothers you... You don't fucking DESERVE it. 

Oh, what's that, he plans to tax a ludicrous amount to those who make over $250,000? Well that should work out well. The harder you work to gain wealth, the more you're penalized for it. Good plan. Way to keep people from trying to reach their full potential. 
Here's the solution to that: you take a job paying $150,000 so you can take home the same amount as those making $250,000. So you run out of those quarter million dollar jobs. No one wants them and they're all making less and keeping more now. Brilliant. You've successfully run off the high earners. Oh, they'll still be there... Just working from a different country. Genius move! Way to take the money out of the economy. 
You see where this is going yet? It defeats the purpose of a degree, drives people to make less money and you've still got people living off those that are left working. 
Degree or not, you still need people to stock shelves and run registers. Oh, we will just have to pay them more because of their degrees. Sure. So let's raise wages everywhere. Great plan. So the cost of goods goes up so companies can afford higher wages. Yay! Everything costs more now! So you're right back to the same cost/income ratio. Except now all the highest paying jobs pay less. 
So here's the simplest solution: flat tax. Get rid of income taxes. And, for the love of God, quit giving tax "refunds" to people who don't work. How the HELL do these people get "refunds" when they never paid in?! That's ridiculous. It's like feeding bears then wondering why they're in your neighborhood. 
A simple flat tax doesn't penalize success. Apex fucking predators and we cater to the weak and unmotivated. Pathetic. 

Socialism has PROVEN itself NOT to work in every human society. Yet Americans somehow think moving in that direction is the way to go. Because they hear the word "free". They hear "redistribution of wealth". They don't realize that if you tax the wealthy into poverty you're removing the incentive to succeed. Why succeed if you're gonna get punished. Let's make the upper middle class the top tier and shift every class down one from there. Way to create more "lower income" families. 
That's the America we've created though. People want something for nothing and politicians are promising it to them. You know, politicians who don't have to worry about the rules they make because they weasel their way into immunity. The people who are already living off the system will continue to vote for politicians who promise they won't have to go out and work. 

Now I've heard people use Canada as an example of the system "working". Sure, sounds great. Wait. How much is a tank of gas in Canada? How high is the cost of living? And where do the wealthier people of Canada go for medical care? That's odd. Speaking with a few Canadians I've heard that the ones who can afford it come to America for some aspects of health care. Both because of the quality and because of the wait up there for certain procedures. So where are they going to go once we adopt their system that's so "awesome"? You'd think if it was that awesome they wouldn't need to come here to get stuff done. Funny how they never use The Soviet Union as a good example of how socialism works. Wait... Oh yeah.. It DOESN'T. 

"But...but...Bernie Sanders is going to make everything equal." Screw you and your equal. I work hard for what I have and I EARN what I get. You want shit, go out and earn it and quit looking for ways to get handouts. I don't want the ambitious and motivated people to be unfairly penalized. I want the UNmotivated to be penalized. Natural selection. 
Look at every socialist country. Health care and education aren't very good. Economically they fail. Humans are too greedy for money and power on one end of the spectrum. On the other end, people are lazy and unmotivated. If we were bees, ants, robots or some shit...maybe. But we aren't. 

Ole Bernie is a "democratic socialist" though. Oh, well thanks for that distinction. That means we VOTE for the people who screw us. Guess what, we already do. 
I have no problem if you believe in socialism and "redistribution of wealth". Have at it. Mail me your money, go ahead. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

"Trashing Manners"

I used to get "a talking to" for what was deemed "making a scene." You know, when I'd call people out for their general assholery. I'd be told it's not polite to do that. It's not good manners to point out when people are doing wrong. Apparently it's just more polite to whisper behind their backs that they're fucktards. Me, I'd rather we just get it out in the open, address the issue and move on. 
I've often argued that if no one points out that someone is doing something wrong then how are they to know. "Well it's not your place to tell them" was the rote response. Oh, ok, so who's place is it? "I don't know but it's not yours". So general anarchy is fine because no one can ever correct things? Sounds like a stupid plan to me. 
I do try to do things the right way. I try to be polite, I really do. But sometimes these jackalopes just make that impossible. Like what happened today. "Polite" was my first course. When that didn't work I had to let the beast out again. The beast likes it when he gets to come out and play. 

See, I was laying in my bunk with the side door open for ventilation. I don't have air conditioning and, even if I did, I usually don't run my truck and waste fuel like that. It's bad on your motor and I spent a lot of money making mine run perfect. So I'm laying there just minding my own business and talking on the phone to my buddy, Chris. 
A US Xpress truck was parked next to me here at the Pilot. Suddenly, their passenger door opens up and a big black trash bag hits the ground. Eh, no worries, I'm sure they're just doing a little spring cleaning. 
After about an hour of this trash bag lying in the sun next to my open door it starts to smell. Wow, that was quick. So I do the polite thing, I go up front and see someone sitting in the passenger seat of that truck. He's just oblivious to the world it seems. 
So I sit there and start motioning until I get his attention. Down goes his window. "Yeah?" That's how he starts the conversation. Man, I hate the laziness implied with "yeah". It just grates on my nerves. But I stay polite. "Excuse me, driver, are you guys going to throw that in a trash can? It kinda smells and my bunk door is open." See? Polite, right?

"Yeah. I'll get it later. I think it's just some bottles and stuff."  Ok. So we cleared that up. He's going to pick up his litter. Mission accomplished. We can all go back to happy lives. 
Only that didn't happen. I'm still just chatting away with Chris when I see the truck start to drive off about 20 minutes later. I'm in the phone with him, "those bastards just drove off and left their trash! Wait, they're turning left so that means they're going around to the fuel island." At this Pilot that's the only place for a truck to go if they turn left. Unless they're going for a scenic drive on back roads. So Chris was all "well, dammit driver, that wasn't nice of them. I hate litter bugs. Whatcha gonna do?" He's laughing about now because he knows me well enough to know what's coming next. 

"Oh, don't worry Chris, I'm about to bring him a present" as I'm putting on shoes and shirt. Yes, you know I grabbed that bag of trash and went for a walk. Yes, I could easily have just taken it over to a trash can and been done with it. But that's just not who I am. This dude blatantly left his trash behind. And he'd lied to me. That's makes it personal. Very little pisses me off quicker than being lied to. Lying is the basest form of disrespect. Wanna piss me off? Lie to me. 
I stroll over to the fuel islands and there's Mr U Sux standing there at the fuel island. "Excuse me, driver, you forgot your trash. Since you promised you were going to throw it away I assume it slipped your mind." And I dropped the bag next to him. This dude just stared at me like I grew a second head. Yes, fucktard, I'm talking to you. Of course, I didn't say that. Not polite to call people names and shit. 
"Well that's not mine. My co driver threw it out there. It's his trash." Seriously, now you're going to split hairs over whose trash it is?! "Ok. Well then you should have your co driver come throw it away for you. It's not polite to litter. Plus, it just makes the rest of us look bad too." You should've seen the look on this guy's face. I don't think he actually expected me to bring his garbage back to him. "Who are you anyway, asshole, the parking lot police? Why don't YOU throw it away if it bothers you so much?" 
Oh no. We're going to have THIS discussion now, eh? "I'll tell you who I am, Sparky. I'm the guy who's going to beat you with your own bag of trash then call US Xpress to explain to them why I did it. THAT'S who I am. I don't give a rat's ass if YOU throw it away or your codriver does but one of you nasty bastards is going to throw your trash in a trash can before you drive off again. Any questions? No? Thought not."  (Allow me to state here, I'm not a big guy. I stand 5'11" and I weigh in at 230 give or take. But attitude matters. Most of the time it's about psychological advantage. Some people don't scare easy; I don't scare at all in a one-on-one.) I waited for a response but I think I had just caused the guy to have a stroke or something. He just stood there all open-mouthed staring at the trash bag. Although Mr Nastyass just stood there for a second looking dumbfounded, I'm not dumb enough to say something like that and NOT make sure he's in my peripheral vision as I walk away. But turning to walk away is the universal "I dare you" sign. Most people only grow a set of balls when your back is to them. I figured I'd go grab a milk real quick and come back to see if my words echoed through the dude's head sufficiently. The whole time, of course, Chris was on the phone. So I'm talking to him as I start walking back past the store. He's in my ear laughing his ass off because he knows that of which I'm capable. I can even hear him almost praying the guy does something stupid.
As I'm walking and stewing I turn the corner and there's the store manager who's hearing me vent to Chris about these guys. So now the manager is asking me what's going on. I explain what happened and he gave me a fist bump as he's laughing. Then he figured he'd saunter out to the fuel islands to make sure there was no trash on the ground. Looky there, all trash bags had been thrown away. Including the one I'd dropped at that driver's feet. 

Look, I tried to be polite. I tried not to make a big scene. But all you nasty asshats out there... Clean up after yourselves. It's not that difficult, I promise. I promise you, though, if you just drop that shit in the parking lot someone just might get the urge to feed it to you. 
Here's the thing: some people will do what's right when no one is looking. Other people will only do what's right when they're shamed into it. It's about character and integrity to me. Granted, people of "good character" won't step up. They'll just mumble behind your back and to other people. People like me, people who apparently just don't care what everyone thinks of them, we will be the ones who ultimately make a change. 
It's one thing to bitch about change behind closed doors but America didn't win its freedom because we asked politely. Those guys stood up and made a damn scene. If you want to make a difference then you've gotta be willing to kick up a little dust. 

So, at long last, I'm back people! The beast is loose and wandering the country again. You never know, he may be coming to a town near you... 

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Too Stuffed"

Possessions. Materialistic things. "Stuff". It's amazing how these can drive people sometimes. Equally astounding is how human nature compels many people to give up intangibles in their quest for that "stuff". This post isn't designed to entertain you, it's designed to make you think. 
I used to post things that were for just that purpose. "Time to Rethink Time" was one of those early ones. Then I got away from it for some reason. Now I think it's time to sit back and share with you guys again the real discussions. If you're looking to laugh today then avert thine eyes. The rest of you....let's take a journey through the looking glass into society, shall we? 

Someone once said to me that it's not about finding the perfect love but about loving an imperfect person perfectly. I thought that was a sweet sentiment at the time. Then, of course, she left because she felt I couldn't provide her the lifestyle she wanted. Hey, Alanis, THAT'S irony. Unfortunately, money and stuff motivates most of us. 

So that "stuff" that drives many of us, what is it really? Earlier today I had a nice conversation with a female friend of mine whose name I shall leave simply as "C" for this post. During the course of the conversation she said "Lol. Good guys always get stepped on. Maybe you should write about this. Seriously. Women suffer from the grass is always greener syndrome. Nothing is ever good enough. Not sure why we are that way."  

Wow. A female who can admit there's an inequity here. Fascinating, right? So I responded "Because everyone thinks they deserve better. Humans are greedy creatures. They always want more. More anything. 
More "stuff" more attention more money. Just "more"....anything"

Turns out C actually feels that women are the worst offenders. (I promise you, folks, I'm not making this up.) As a guy I'd like to agree. But I can't. I don't think either gender is worse than the other. Men are just as bad about it. I can't say affairs are gender specific because that takes two people. Neither gender is more at fault. Humans. That's who I blame. Just humans in general with our greed and egocentric nature. 
In time these people who give up happiness in search of "better happiness" may realize their mistakes and learn to try to make do with what they're left with when they run out of options. Then they'll regret that they don't have what they could've had. They'll feel "stuck" because of it. 
It's a vicious cycle. Times have changed and this is how people are now. 

Someone once said to me "if it's broke, you fix it. People shouldn't break covenants or families"... (For the record here, I love that word "covenant" and it's biblical connotations) 

Ah...but there you encounter your problem. See, how can a broken society full of broken people NOT break things? We break promises, break ourselves and each other on a regular basis in search of that "better deal". We break shit; that's just what we do. Why do you think everything we buy comes with warranties and you can't buy love or happiness. Our society has been taught to look for better. They've been taught that they're "entitled" to what they've not earned of their own merit. 
Greed is the way of modern man. What we want we take by force if necessary. What we have we destroy. It's become engrained in our very psyche. Enough is never enough. 

We want more, we humans. We search for the better deal but fail to see that in the end what seemed "better" at first glance may not be. I've dated women who have "better dealed" me. Some more than once. That makes me a fool, right? Maybe. Maybe not. 

Hell, I'm guilty of it. I've "better dealed" people. Especially when I was in my late 20's and early 30's. Why? Because I was dumb. I was making more money than I had any business making at that age. I lived for the moment chartering fishing boats, taking off to New Orleans, Las Vegas or wherever for sometimes weeks at a time and paying way more than was probably necessary for hotels and bed and breakfasts there, just living like a fool. "Stuff" was more important to me than people were, than relationships were. And, ultimately, I lost everything and had to start over. By myself because I'd chosen "stuff" over people. I've had to start over a couple of times. The difference? I learned to value people more than "stuff" after that first fall from grace. 
I learned that value is subjective. I started giving freely of what I had even when what I had was meager. As a result, the next time I fell the fall was shorter. And, instead of just having trinkets I ended up having to sell, I had people who stood next to me. They provided me strength. They provided support even when my pride wouldn't let me ask for it. Because "stuff" has price tags but love, friendship and loyalty...those are beyond value. They're priceless. 

It's not the tangibles that matter to me in a relationship. I don't enter into one wondering what's in it for me. Nor do I care what the other party brings to the table. Too often people take for granted what's brought to the table. Not often enough do they recognize the importance of the fact someone is willing to even join them at that table. 

You can have your possessions, your trinkets and all your highly valued worldly possessions if that's what makes you happy. However, in the end you may be left alone at the table to admire them by yourself. Your shiny "stuff" will all you have to keep you company. When you're old and bent you'll have your baubles but no one to help you stand to admire them. 
In the end we humans are consumers. We consume everything we can. You see it on the news, in the papers, everywhere. People choosing "stuff"... Cars, houses, money, tangibles over meaningful relationships and love. We are the ultimate consumers. As such humans value prizes over all else. The irony in that is that in the pursuit of material happiness too many people consume the one thing that can truly enrich them for the rest of their lives. 

See...Life is what we make of it. 
Some people are "glass is half empty" people. Some are "glass is half full." 
Me, I know that air actually has matter and weight. Therefore...the glass is always full. The only thing that changes is the air to liquid ratio. Even a glass that appears to be empty is full of air. Breathe it in and make the best of it. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Grog All Lit Up"

The other night I stopped in Walcott, IA for the night. Huge mistake. See, that's the largest truck stop in the world. It's big, it's beautiful and it's full of trucker stuff. Trucker stuff is pretty. Shiny chrome, lights, accessories we don't need, some I wanted and didn't even know what they were for. 
There's a chrome and light section on one side. They've got a couple of fancy show trucks over there and I was drawn like a moth to flame. So was Grog. 
I've spent a LOT of money on making my truck run extremely well. There are faster, more powerful trucks than mine but very very few of them, I assure you. After nearly 3 years and tens of thousands of dollars spent on performance upgrades it's time to start working on the cosmetics. 

"Ooohhh. Stars! Grog want to see! Looks like fire but no hurt when touch. Grog must have this!"  Easy, killer, let's just look around a bit. We can come back to this section later. Oh, and those are called lights doofus. 
"No! Grog want look at these tall shiny things. Look, Grog can see himself in them. So shiny!" Yeah yeah. Those are exhaust pipes. Look, let's go get something to eat first. It's been a long day. "No! Grog no eat until Grog see more light/stars! Wait. Grog smell Taco Bell. Can we eat and look at same time?" Dude. This stuff will be here afterward. C'mon. Please. Our stomach is growling. People are starting to stare and point. We sound like a gassy water buffalo. Food first, toys later. Geez. 

"Grog let you order food but we better come back for light stars. Grog want see more." Yes. We can shop after we eat. It's bad to shop on an empty stomach, it makes you buy stuff you don't need. 
"Hmpf. Grog need light stars even if Grog not hungry. You get light stars or I no let you sleep." Hey, idiot, they're just called lights. No star. Just lights. And quit rocking back and forth while you're looking. 

As it turns out Taco Bell was actually underwhelming this time. Grog had been right, we needed to shop a little. So we headed back downstairs and that inner caveman made a beeline for the most expensive stuff he could find. (I don't know why they call it a beeline. Every see how bees give directions? It's like they've got epilepsy.) 

Mentally elbowing Grog aside a minute, I approach the salesman. "Excuse me, sir. I'm interested in some exhaust pipes. I want to put straight pipes on. I think 7 inch will do." So he takes me for a little walk to show me the "Lincoln chrome" pipes. Triple dipped in chrome, rustproof and eternally shiny. Hhmm. $675 per pipe, per side. Plus the elbows for $411 per side. Hmm, indeed. 
Grog was positively glowing by then. I'm sure it was him that was tapping his feet in excitement. We were like a fat kid in a donut factory. 
"Um. I'll also need a resonator. (That goes under the truck and serves as a muffler of sorts since I won't have one on each pipe anymore). And I suppose I'll have to get new clamps and flex tube?" As it turns out, it'll take 5 weeks to have the new pipes delivered to my house. After a few measurements we aren't sure if the new, larger elbows will work so we order pipes that'll fit the old ones. 

As I hand the guy cash Grog is nearly ready to faint. I went in for Taco Bell and just spent $3,200 on new exhaust parts. Eh. Spend it on the truck or get taxed on it. I'm fine with this choice. 
From here, though, things got bad. Grog was pulling me back over to the lights. They had a new thing where I can put lights on my straps that hold my fuel tanks. The display truck had two straps per tank. My truck has three straps per tank. Gotta decorate them all though, right? 
"Grog want this. Truck look better with light sta...lights. Can we put lights tonight? Pleeeease?" No. Not tonight. Did you not just see what I just laid out for your stupid exhaust pipes? 
"Truck will sound like wooly mammoth farting though, right? Truck will sound like Sabretooth roar? Then this is good. Keep puny car things away from Truck." Yes. Yes it certainly will. You know we're gonna give someone a heart attack with this thing now, right? (For the record here, we've enhanced the performance so much that my truck is already significantly louder than it was before though we've not done any work to the exhaust. With a resonator and straight pipes, especially bigger ones, it's gonna be loud. And beefy. That translates into 'sexy' in trucker speak).
"When heart attacks them they will look to Truck to save them." No. That's not how that works at all. Heart attacks are bad. Control yourself, Grog.

That monkey man simply shrugged his shoulders at me and said "you buy lights now." Nooo. I just told you. One project at a time. We will make a list and do one thing at a time. We were supposed to put new floors and cabinets in until we decided to stop in HERE like idiots. "Ugh. Grog no like you right now." Yeah, join the club. You'll get your lights eventually. Don't you want the air conditioner fixed? 
"No. Grog ride with windows down and listen to Truck. I don't get lights, you don't get cold air." It's always a battle of wills with this guy. It's even harder when we both want the same thing but I've gotta be practical. You think your inner teenager is bad? Try dealing with this bonehead for a while. 

So we made our list. By "we" I mean "I" because he was stuck staring at LED's and shit. Thankfully, I had a minute to think by myself. I'm not much of a "list" person so this was going to be hard enough already. 

Ok. Here goes. Wait until the pipes come in and do the work myself to save a grand or so. Because I'm still miserly. Then fix the air conditioning so it works. Not for comfort but for humidity control. Go out to Texas and get cedar floors and cabinets put in. (I've gotta remember to go over the measurements on the cabinets with that guy). Then put on a new bumper. Order the one with lights to make Grog happy. Get turn signals put on the edges. More lights for Grog. 
Then order the full fenders. I found some nice fiberglass ones I really like. Turns out I've got expensive taste though. Oh look, that seat looks really nice. Oooh. Memory foam too. It's like a hundred tiny Asians massaging my butt. Must have it. That's going on the list. 

The list just kept getting longer. Especially with Grog still staring at lights. He doesn't know it yet but I'm going to order him a bunch of them. The guys at the counter were real excited about handing me 2 catalogs, their cards and a bunch of points on my loyalty card. I'm thinking they're looking forward to more of this loyalty. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Dealing With The Devil"

My GPS is possessed by the devil. I'm sure of it. And this particular devil is female (like I didn't already know that. Bobby Boucher's mama told us that). This particular female devil hates me. 
She's always fussing at me. She's always telling me how lost I am. It's like being married. Except I can mute her. Oh how I would've loved that feature at many times in the past 20+ years. Just as I'm sure that's been said about me. Fair is fair.  

If not possessed then it's at least designed by the Illuminati. What, you thought I forgot about those guys? Not bloody likely. Not when I've got a GPS as proof of their existence!
See, this piece of electronics just looooves the toll roads. And it clearly has no concept of the law. That or, as I said, it just effing hates me. No way can this be accidental or caused by solar flares or that phantom "global warming". 

What's worse is that our reliance on these electronic deviants is so strong. I'll call a shipper or receiver for directions and they'll give me the address. "Well I have your address. What I need is directions. I need to know how to get there." 
They'll almost invariably respond with "well just type the address into your GPS." I usually just tell them I don't have one. Partly because the damn thing is virtually useless for actual directions. It normally does a great job of tracking my mileage through each state though so that's a plus. 

Then the fun starts. "I don't know how to get here..." How the hell do people not know how to get to work?! The devil GPS, I bet. "Well, sir, I'm curious. Before GPSes, what directions would you give people? I'll just use those."
Unfortunately, most of the time I have to give up trying to get useful information out of these guys and wing it, hoping my GPS isn't being full-on retarded that day. It'll have me turning down back streets, alleyways, through someone's back yard, hopping fences and skirting pools. It's insane. "Turn left now", that female computer tells me as I'm looking at a road I wouldn't take a bicycle on. 'I think not, dumbass. I'm gonna stay on this here paved road thank you very much.' 
"Recalculating" recalculate away, psycho. "Turn left in 600 feet." Nope. Ain't gonna do it. That looks like the back of a restaurant. "Recalculating". Go ahead. I'm gonna ignore you anyway. Is there actually a MAP in there or are you using The Force you daft twit?! 
"Recalculating". Of course. "Turn left in 1 mile". Not if there's not an actual ROAD there. Do you somehow think I'm in a hot air balloon or something?! 
"Recalculating". Aaarrgggh! I HATE you. Shut up already! You don't know what you're doing! Let ME drive for a little while!

I'm pretty sure that internally this thing has Eeyore's voice mumbling "no one ever listens to me. Nobody likes me. I might as well not be here." And it'd be right. 
Especially when it comes time to choose a route involving a highway. You know what this stupid machine does? Look, here's proof of the Illuminati's existence right here...

I can be 6 miles from a nice, big highway that goes precisely in the direction I want. My GPS will try to route me through 20 miles of back road goat trails to get me to a highway that has a toll road. If I try heading towards that free one Little Miss GPS loses her electronic mind. "Make a U turn whenever possible.." Are you kidding me?! Is this a friggin Fiat?! I'm in an 18 wheeler you idiot. I'm not just gonna 'whip a Uey' because you say so! Now, if there's hot wings or lasagna involved we can negotiate. Then I give it a slow blink and keep going. 

Six miles later I'm getting on the highway and my GPS is brooding noisily. "I still say you should've gone my way. Why don't you ever do what I tell you? You don't love me do you? Why'd you even bother to buy me if you're just going to ignore my directions? That's kinda what I'm here for ya know..." Only instead of those words I get "recalculating" every time I pass an exit. 
Yeah, it's a love/hate relationship with my GPS. Makes me feel comfortable. We love to hate each other, just like any normal relationship. She nags, she complains, she tries to control me... We haven't set a wedding date but I'm sure if she were human we'd be talking about it. Then she'd try to get me lost on the way to the church. 

Fortunately, however, I spent a long time driving a truck before I finally gave in and got a GPS. So I learned what is clearly now a lost art: I can read a map. Rand McNally sells big ole giant road atlases fairly inexpensively and I get a new one every 6 or 7 years. No point buying a new one every year, they don't generally relocate highways. 
Using this road map I can plan my route from coast to coast and happily ignore my electronic navigator. Mercifully. Now I'm not saying it's always useless. There are times she's good at directions. However, I can't just follow it blindly or I'll end up in places I can't get out of. Especially if there's a toll booth around. I'm fairly certain that if I always followed her directions I'd end up stuck in an alley with a toll ticket in my hand and there'd be mechanical maniacal laughter from atop my dash. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

"First I Run Zen I Walk"

Ya know, sometimes I feel like no matter what I say or do it's gonna be the dead opposite of "right". There are days I'm surprised I'm not putting my shoes on the wrong feet or I've gotta double and triple check that I'm wearing clothes before I leave the house. 
I've had a lot of those days lately. Probably some byproduct of cutting back on hot wings or something. Whatever it is, it's annoying. It needs to stop or I'm going to end up doing something stupid like forgetting to get my coffee in the morning. Who are we kidding, I'll never forget my beloved coffee. That sweet nectar of life. 

What I have done, instead, is learn to set reminders on my phone. Just little notes to myself to keep things in order. They usually go like "step one: look around. Everything seem clear? Yes? Then you're wearing your contacts. No glasses today. 
Step two: is everything fuzzy? Yes? Are you wearing glasses? Yes? Then you've still got your contacts in. Take your glasses off, idiot. If it's fuzzy and you don't have your glasses on then put them on. No contacts today." I had to set that one when I realized i kept trying to wear glasses while I had my contacts in. Almost panicked thinking my vision got worse overnight. 
Another little note to myself involved making sure my shoes matched. Thought I was limping until I realized I was wearing a running shoe on one foot and a high top on the other. Fortunately I caught it before getting out in public. That would've been embarrassing. Good times. 

I guess I've had a lot on my mind lately. Or nothing at all. Sometimes it's a fine line I reckon. Obviously, I've not been overly bright lately. I thought of getting a pet monkey to help dress me or something. 
So what do I do when I can't focus? I work out. I push myself harder. I run farther. At home that's not a big deal; I've got a stationary running machine. I just get on it and go like I'm on a hamster wheel until I can't move. 

That pet monkey would've come in handy last night. He could've reminded me I'm not at home. Out here on the road running to exhaustion has consequences. Just little ones like "which way did I run when I left the truck stop? How many turns did I make? Where in the blue hell AM I?" 
I thought I was going to have to call a cab to find my way back to the truck stop. My legs felt like I had molten lava running through my veins. Just standing was becoming painful. Walking back God knows how far to the truck stop seemed an impossible task. There was definitely not going to be any jumping rope when I got back. Yes, I jump rope as goofy as that sounds. 

So I google mapped my way back to that good ole trucker haven. 6 miles. Seriously?! I didn't feel like walking 6 blocks much less 6 miles. And I suddenly had a craving for hot wings. 
On the long, long journey back to my truck I reflected on a few things. See, here recently I did something very atypical. I lost my cool on someone. Yes, usually I'm kinda sarcastic and snarky but this time I went off in anger. 

It takes quite a lot to get me to unload on someone like that and it's actually extremely rare that I do. When I do, however, I let loose in epic fashion. Even I was stunned and surprised by how venomous my words were. It's not something I'm proud of but I suppose it was a long time coming. 
The magnitude of my anger was such that I even went to see a therapist to figure out what the hell happened. I was supposed to do phone sessions with her once a week but it's ended up being 2-3 times a week so far. Mostly because I want someone to talk to. Not to feel better. Not even that I need counseling. Just boredom. Hell, the diagnosis was "you got mad. People get mad when they've been mistreated. You're officially 'human'. And it sounds as though SHE'S the one in serious need of counseling." I just call now because it's boring and lonely out here. At $90 a pop it'd be cheaper just to take up drinking I suppose. 

As it turns out the good doctor seems to think the guilt of having lost my temper and hurting someone I care about is normal. Apparently, however, me finally snapping was understandable. (I'll point out here that she did say she was impressed with my patience in waiting a year to actually come undone). But here's the deal, folks, losing my temper gained me nothing. 
Yes, I was in a very emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship for a year. I was on the receiving end of things if you can believe that. It almost sounds absurd even to me. But I learned a few things. 

One of my friends recently told me he knew what a challenge I'd dealt with. My response was that fighting a great white with your bare hands, that's a challenge. Traveling to the moon in a hot air balloon, that's a challenge. This woman wasn't a challenge, she was a life lesson. One that destroys your emotional and psychological equilibrium. 
And there's the lesson, guys. You can't let someone do that to you. You can't let them keep putting you down. Especially not when they're doing it right in front of their family and friends right in front of you. You can't believe someone like that loves you. If they clearly can't respect you then they certainly can't love you. 

I've listened to people talk about their abusive spouses and wondered why they'd stay with someone like that. I've wondered why they'd believe the tears and the "I'm sorry, I'll change". Now I understand. You get used to it. The abuse and misery becomes comfortable. 
In the end of it one of the things she'd said was that she can't be with someone who doesn't respect themselves. Internally I scoffed. Of course I respect myself. But then I thought about it. Allowing her to disrespect, mock and belittle me on a nearly daily basis wasn't very self-respecting either. 

Why am I telling you all this? Do I feel like a victim? No. I'm no victim. I allowed it to happen. Repeatedly I'd mentioned the lack of respect and repeatedly it was talked around. But don't let it build up, guys. Just walk away. 
If you're with someone and you hear them talk badly about all of their friends, think about what they're probably telling them about you. If they're bad mouthing you to their family right in front of you when you're meeting that family for the first time...walk away. 

I've said this in other posts and I'll say it again: none of us is in a position to judge anyone else. None of us. 

Don't let anyone devalue you. Don't let anyone treat you like you're not good enough. As was my case, don't accept it when the person you're with says "I'm out of your league". I call bullshit. When they tell you "you're poor white trash and I deserve better", call bullshit.
We all know that if there's one thing I hate most it's double standards. So how I put up with many of the things I put up with I can only chalk up to the fact I had actually become addicted to the smell of bullshit. Maybe I should trade my trailer again and start hauling livestock. 

If someone you're with tells you they deserve better than you then the odds are you are the one who deserves better. Better treatment. Don't let anyone make you feel inadequate. Oh, I could go on here and do a "compare and contrast" of her life against mine but that's not what this is about. 
Sadly, I do regret losing my temper. I do regret that things ended in a fashion where we can't be friends. Yes, I've tried to make amends and stipulate mea culpa on going off the way I finally did. Yes, I do regret that she hates me now. I do believe that she did care at one point in her own twisted way. And I did care about her. I loved her deeply at one point. But I've gotta care about me more. 

We all do it. Some people get so used to being unhappy that they fear the absence of it. I was the same way. I talked to Molly for 4-6 hours nearly every day for over a year. 
It becomes addictive when it's good. But it's like being a junkie. You enjoy the high so much, no matter how brief it is, that you don't see the damage it's doing to you. 
These people, these drugs of the heart, become a need. Become enablers. They enjoy that they have this control over you. They feed off the love you give them. But it's all false love. It''s like the high is what you love. 
Once the lows start to become more frequent, once you start to see the person they are underneath then things start to unravel. The euphoria becomes shorter and the addiction starts to consume you. You take the abuse just so you can have even a hope of the high you used to have.

You can't fix a cycle. A cycle is precisely's an unending loop. The only way to "fix" a cycle is to break it. 

When Molly and I got back together last year she asked me why she does what she does. I told her back then that this has become a pattern of behavior for her and the only way to fix it is to break that pattern. And I thought she'd finally done that. I thought the cycle was over. Then I saw it start again in August. And we started fighting shortly thereafter. 

Neither YOU nor I can break THEIR pattern of behavior. All we can do is determine to break our own. 

If you've been down this road before, like me, and you start to see these same behaviors in your partner, address them. But be prepared to walk away. You've gotta love yourself more than you love that sweet pain.

My Zen Thought for the day is this: don't let ANYONE determine your value. Ever. If someone can't appreciate what they have in you, walk away.