November 30, 2007

A Few Hang-Ups

Today's discussion was going to be a sequel of sorts to the rant about layabouts sponging off us. That will have to wait because I want to talk about some hang-ups I have. And I'm naming names.

Try to follow this. I'll tell this story the best that I can, and hope that I remember all the pertinent details myself.

Since I'm not a fan of cell phones (and long-term commitments), I did not get one until I absolutely had to. The Agency insisted, so I relented and got a Tracfone pay-as-you-go plan. I felt cheated, and went to a similar company called Simple Freedom. They were all right, but suddenly, I had been given up to another company. (It's kind of like going to bed as a CIA operative and waking up working for the NSA. I hate when that happens.) The company I was given to was Verizon Wireless Prepaid.

Well, the price was adequate, but I felt short-changed. Other people had Tracfones, and were pleased with their service; they did not have the difficulties that I had experienced. The other day, I switched from Verizon Wireless Prepaid to Tracfone.

I "ported" my number, since I'd had it a few years and my contacts were familiar with it. Who needs to learn a new number if you don't need to? Tracfone botched the job and gave me a great deal of grief for a few hours, but they got it done, finally, and the service was working.

A few days later (yesterday), my home land line was not working. HUH? The message was that it was now a Verizon Wireless number. Well, my number was a Verizon number, never a VW number (there I go with abbreviations again).

I called Verizon. An order to cancel had been placed. I told them in no uncertain (and vaguely menacing terms) that nobody ordered a cancel, I was not changing providers, etc. They told me to call VW, who had control of the number.

So I called VW. They said that it wasn't their problem, they didn't have the number, to have Verizon fix it. I have to admit here that one sweetie at VW was doing her best to have it fixed, but the Verizon department that she was working with had closed for the day, and she would resume the next day.

I called Verizon. The representative that I was supposed to contact never answered, so I started over and insisted on a supervisor. I eventually talked to Etienne (and got her phone number, giggity giggity!) and she worked on it. She got other departments and technicians involved. She insisted that everything was lined up on their end, and Verizon Wireless had control. The proof was that the message I received when I called my own number was from VW.

Back to VW. They had me talk to other departments about my "inadvertent port" issue (also called "slamming"), highly frowned upon by the Feds. It was released.

My new girlfriend Etienne called me and said that the problem was resolved. Later, another of the technicians followed up. Finally, good news.

So, that was my twenty one hours of hassle and anxiety.

How are things with you?

November 15, 2007

Black E-mailed

Edit: New images added and some editing 8-16-2011

There are some things you ought to know. This old cowboy (well, cowboy at heart) is a caring sort. Sometimes I'm dreadful at showing it, and I get thoughtless or maybe even selfish at times. But I try to be compassionate.

Some of us take exception to being blackmailed with e-mail "forward this if you care" messages, and also the "share this and you'll be blessed" stuff. Do not want! / Cornfreak
Lately, I've been getting blackmailed by e-mail (hence the title of this piece). No, the sender doesn't intend any harm. These are the letters that say, "I've been thinking of you. You're one of my many friends and I'm sending this to show I care", etc. (It often has a cute poem and pictures of teddy bears or something.) The blackmail part is at the end: "Send this to everyone you know and care about, especially the one who sent this to you. If you don't send this on, then you are evil, lonely, heartless, and will burn in Hell."

The same threat comes in some of those useless petition letters that have good intentions, but demean your character if you don't participate by forwarding it. This kind of nonsense is also on social media.

I have news for you: I don't send those back to the sender. Why? Because it's a lousy test of love and loyalty, and I don't cotton to being tested like that. Worse, if you're measuring how much you're cared about by how many e-mails you get back, I think there's something wrong in your cabeza. If I like the message I received, I'll trim it up by taking out the "FW: FW: FW: MESSAGE ATTACHED" clutter and the hundred other names on the recipients list, and I'll also take out the threat (or condition) at the end. Sometimes I'll leave on a suggestion that people "pass this on", though.

Another "threat" is the promise that, if I send this to a certain number of people, I'll receive blessings or a miracle. Uh, yeah, sure. Ain't buying that, neither. Copy, edit, and paste time, if I like it.

But if you send me something that requires sending back, don't set yourself up for disappointment if I don't comply and clutter up bandwidth. And don't think I don't care because of my lack of response.

You may want to save the URL for this message and send it to people who send you those black e-mail messages. Just a thought.

November 7, 2007

Do You Show It?

This discussion is more for the men, but I think women can get something out of it as well.

"Bond, I've always tried to teach you two things", said Q. "First, never let them see you bleed."
"And the second?"
"Always have an escape plan."

Although it is wise advice for the spy world, we're going to look at it and expand on it.

"Gosh, Uncle Bob, are you a spy?"

Let's just say that I've had some dealings with, uh, unsavory characters in my time. And some of them still owe me favors. Youse guys payin' attention? (Sometimes you have to talk that way so that they understand you.)

Never let them see you bleed.
Right. If you're wounded, the bad guys will be even more ready to charge in and finish you off. And you can't show your weaknesses. How does that work for daily living? In the business world, you can't let your competition see that you're wounded or vulnerable. That also applies to office politics.

It also applies to daily dealings. If someone hurts you, don't show it. That just signals them that they got to you, and they're ready to do it again. Worse, they'll tell your enemies and the party really gets interesting — for them. Clam up about it. If someone's taking verbal shots at you, one way to diffuse it is to laugh it off. Better yet, go along with the joke and show you're a good guy:

"Say, Bill, you're really clumsy today. Are you always that way?"
"You should have seen me trying to get a job on the bomb squad!"

Now, this doesn't apply to family relationships, necessarily, and not to a "significant other" (it's mostly for dealing with enemies). Nobody likes the "silent treatment", or having to guess what's wrong. The true aspect here is not to lash out in anger. Think about it for a while, decide if it's important in the first place. If it is, then you can go back to the person in question during a quieter moment and say, "That thing you said yesterday really bothered me." Much better than whining. Nobody likes a whiner. Capice?

Always have an escape plan.
Great for the espionage world, useful for us peasants. If you have a plan, have another to fall back on if the first one goes down in flames. That means learning things and branching out. I've always believed in learning at least a little about many things, like Leonardo DaVinci did. That knowledge gives you something to make plans with. Go into situations armed with knowledge. Be prepared, like a Boy Scout is supposed to be. Bring supplies, documents, support, whatever.

Sometimes you do need to "get out". I'm not talking about relationships, necessarily, unless you've thoroughly examined your heart and your head. What are your options? What do you feel? Take it slow, brothers and sisters. You may need to get out of a bad job. Is your résumé up to date? Are you checking for opportunities? I know when to bail out when the cops are watching, that's another escape plan. Even better, have sense enough to leave things alone that will harm you or those you care about.

I get hurt quite often. No point in whining or showing it. Sure, I do show it, sometimes. Trust is rare and slow for me, but I can let some things out to friends. (I'll talk about trust another time.)

So, I'll leave you to ponder the advice that Q gave to Bond. Meditate on it.

October 19, 2007

Let Them Save Face

Today's lesson is about people skills. No, it's not a long discussion. But it's important.

There is a custom in Japanese culture that involves "saving face". (I have been told that my face is not worth saving, but this is about a cultural thing, not literal or physical.) Essentially, it's about keeping your dignity. I'm not going to discuss the details of this cultual bit, but borrow from the idea (just like I do with Buddhism).

In day-to-day dealings, we can irritate people very easily (they don't have a grasp of what is in the previous Weblog, it seems). But if we try to be a bit mindful of our approach, we can ruffle fewer feathers. We can let people save face and keep their dignity, especially in front of others. Heck, I've had bosses that do not require formal address, but in front of "company", I would be a bit more formal and even use "sir" or whatever was appropriate. Didn't cost me anything to do.

Here are some tips:

  • Give an ego stroke if you want to inform or correct someone. F'rinstance, "You probably already know this, but..."
  • Choose your battles. Why be superior-minded and correct someone when it's not important?
  • Choose your timing. Don't correct someone in public if you can help it. Events may dictate otherwise, however.
  • Sympathize. "Yes, I did (or thought) the same thing".
  • Reduce your own dignity. After all, maybe you are making a mistake. "I thought the weather forecast said..." See that bit of doubt? You're not insisting and being superior. And your graciousness will make an impression.
  • Try to work in a bit of humor. Don't be so doggone serious, Sigmund.
  • Be gentle. That one sums up a great deal, since you're not insisting on your superiority, willing to defer (or even learn), offers sympathy.
  • Pay attention. Make sure you're understanding what they're saying, and the situation.
  • Patience. You can figure that one out for yourself. Capice?
  • Be willing to learn. This fits in with reducing your own dignity; they may know something you don't know.

Hope this helps you add an element of class to your life.

October 17, 2007

Ungrateful Expectations

Sometimes it seems to take forever to learn things. And sometimes, we learn things in a relatively short time but it takes many years to master them.

I learned something important from a therapist. (Yeah, I had a therapist for clinical depression. It was good enough for Tony Soprano, so get over it.) This involves expectations, and what "should" be. He was fond of the Albert Ellis school of psychology, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. I don't agree with everything (I think the man's an atheist, for example), but a great deal of it makes sense.

Suppose I go into a shop. Normally, I expect professionalism and courtesy. But suppose this guy is having a bad day, and he's rude. He shouldn't be rude, he should treat me right. Isn't that awful? No, it's not. I get angry because I'm expecting something I'm not getting. Instead, I should accept the fact that it's a little thing. The world isn't going to cave in because he treats me like a cafone. Just dropping that expectation helps reduce the blood pressure and stress levels.

That dummy broad is touching up her makeup and talking on the cell phone while driving. She shouldn't be doing that, it's awful. No, she shouldn't. Drive around her or something, or tough it out. Again, no reason to get excited. Even the "dummy broad" judgment on her is an emotional investment that you're expending.

Some weird guy in the restaurant shouldn't be staring at me... OK, you work this example out for yourself.

We change what we can, sure. Certain injustices should be pointed out and rallied against, but the little day-to-day annoyances that cause us suffering can simply be acknowledged ("he was rude"), the emotions dealt with ("I don't like that") and be realistic ("I can try again, or find another shop"). One fellow used to say to me, "It ain't nothing but a thang".

"It is what it is", as the saying goes, and sometimes it's a useful saying. Something shouldn't happen, but guess what? It happened. We can't expect behavior from people. I made some really stupid mistakes expecting people to act or react in certain ways, putting those expectations on them and making them guess or perceive what I wanted. When I was able to realize what I was doing and really look at it, I saw the folly of my ways and dropped them. But I'm still learning, since emotions are not logical. They can be trained to respond to reason, however.

Interestingly enough, the Ellis approach, which is taking rational control of your emotions and your own choices, is also compatible with Buddhism. I do not accept all of Buddhism (I do have an immortal soul, Jesus did indeed bodily rise from the dead, etc.), but I have learned a great deal from it. One of the best things I got from it, and can mostly agree with (I don't see conflict with most religions in this, in fact) is a .pdf booklet on the Four Noble Truths.

You don't have to like something. But it's up to you how much fretting you're going to do. You can even influence just how depressed you're going to get over something happening that you don't like. Change it if you can, live with it otherwise. (In "Doctor Who", the Fourth Doctor said, "What can't be cured must be endured".)

But first, decide how much emotional energy you want to expend. Is it worth it? Start with the small stuff, even that helps the stress levels.

October 6, 2007

Man Bad, Woman Good

Buona Sera, class. Your not-so-humble professor has been under the weather. And irritable. And lethargic. Maybe a remedy would be to write something. And this one is going to irritate some people. Sorry, but I tell the truth as I see it. If you don't like this one, the next posting will probably be quite different. I have a track record of that.
Lately, I've been hearing the feminazi propaganda that comes down to "Woman good, man bad". You're heard it: "Girls grow up into women, boys grow into bigger boys"; men are the cause of all the evil in the world, control the wealth, destroy everything good, constantly think about sex, blather, blather, blather. That's why we should have voted for Hillary Clinton. (I had to backspace to remove my expletives just then.)

The good news is that not all women feel this way. In fact, women point out that feminists are fakes. Saying that women are better than men is a discrimination in itself! And there's a great deal of that sediment — I mean, sentiment
— in the world. I wonder if part of the problem is that these women not only hate men, but are afraid of being real women?

The worst part is when the feminazis want to castrate all men and make us all like women. Then everything would be freakin' peachy. Dream on. They'd be sorry.

This mindset is causing some men to rebel, even forming men's groups to combat the predatory female (a vicious creature that I'll describe some other time). The problem is that these guys have been so burned that they think all women are predatory. Not so, Zeke. But if you knew my ex...
I'd like to point out some things. The first one is the obvious: men and women are different. John Gray has some truth on this, but I can't endorse it wholeheartedly. Some, yes.

I won't apologize for being male, for being sexual, for being a problem-solver whenever possible, for being chemically and physiologically different, for having more linear thought processes, for being less complicated. It's part of being a man. Capice?

"Well, men start wars".
No, people start wars. Through the ages, women have been more than willing to fight and spy for their causes. And I've seen plenty of catfights, and spiteful women who were only grown up on the outside, not the inside. And the ones that love power, like Jezebel who controlled Ahab so she could get the throne. Or Eva Braun, who didn't seem to object to Hitler's methods. Men love power and strive to attain it, and women like it too; if they can't get it, they'll get next to it.

"Men control the wealth of the world and women are oppressed."
Sure, there is a wage gap in some instances, but that is because of priorities. Otherwise, get over yourself, Sunshine. I have bad news: some of the wealthiest people in the world are women, and that number is increasing. Especially in the USA. (You know the USA? People want to sneak into the country because of the opportunities. Or it's the first place that oppressed people choose for refuge.) And this "women are oppressed"'re cute when you're playing the victim card, you know that?

"But men destroy!"
Yeah, yeah. So do women. And both genders create.
Now here's something for the guys: Stop feeding the stereotypes! Jeff Foxworthy and friends have some cute stories and are great comedians. Also, The King of Queens and Tim Allen's Home Improvement had some fun moments. Guess what, Studley? They're not models for life! They are entertainment. Oh, and there are plenty of self-indulgent songs out there. They're not guidelines for your life, either.
Too many guys are guys, and not real men. Yeah, you heard me. And guess what? Aside from the loud feminazis and the liberal media, it turns out that a woman wants a real man. Not a wimp. Sure, be in touch with your feelings and sensitive to hers, but stop overdoing it. And none of this "metrosexual" crap, thank God that's over.

The slob image has got to go. How about trying to emulate James Bond a little bit? (I'm not sure about the Daniel Craig image, they're re-writing the character.) He had class. So did John Steed, but not many people in the US know about The Avengers. Besides, John Steed was a bit foppish. But classy.

Guess what? I think the Cartwrights on Bonanza, those rugged, robust he-men, had a different kind of class. They had a good work ethic, integrity... almost brings tears to my eyes that those positive role models don't exist on television or in movies anymore. Men could learn from some of the positive media images from days gone by.

Irritation note: I like the bumper sticker that says, "Stop calling women 'babes', chicks hate that."
OK, both genders are angry with me. My work for this session is done. Arrivederci.

Addendum 6-26-2008: Edited and tweaked for clarity.


September 23, 2007

I'm Sweet on You

Buon giorno. How's it going, Cupcake? Actually, I have to pass on the cupcakes. And the Milky Way bars. And the brownies...

You see, yours truly has Type 2 Diabetes. Don't run away,
you're not going to catch it, especially through a computer screen. They call it a "disease", but it's nothing I caught or can give away. "Condition" is a much better expression.

Here's something ironic: the place I work had a bake sale, proceeds to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Guess what? They weren't selling anything that a diabetic can have!

I'm interested in a couple of things. One is to sort of sound a warning so that other people don't develop this condition. The other is to offer some advice. (And I'm more than willing to receive advice as well!)

Everything in moderation.

"Gosh, Bob, how did you lose twenty pounds in just a few months?"

Intelligent question! First off, losing the tonnage is an important part of managing diabetes. My doctor illustrated it like a building. Your system is putting out energy for a single-level, and I've turned it into a multi-level, and it's not working. Also, the sugar thing is corrosive; that's why they had me go to an eye doctor as one of my first requirements. I've had friends and relatives lose vision, limbs, kidney function and their lives to diabetes. It has to be caught early and controlled before it becomes a hell-on-earth condition.

"Enough of that. Get on with it!"

OK, don't get your panties in a bunch.

They put me on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Diet? Well, sort of. But a "diet" in the common sense is a guaranteed failure. What is needed is a lifestyle change and deliberate choices. I'm supposed to have 45 carbohydrates with each major meal. Those cans of mini-ravioli are poison. Nobody should eat that stuff. A serving is supposed to be half a can, but I have been known to eat an entire can as a side dish. Read the label. One can has about 90 carbs. That puts a dent in your day, doesn't it?

Always read the label! And you can't just read the carbs, you have to add the sugars. "Oh, look, 23 carbs." Yeah, and 25 sugars. That number 48 is something to give you serious second thoughts.

Diabetics have known for years things that other nutritionists are coming around to realize: eat several smaller meals a day, not just three big ones.

After choosing what I want my totals to add up to, I start the day with cereal or oatmeal, milk, my vitamins and medications. To get some protein in there, I put in a scoop of whey protein. On weekends, I take the time to have eggs (wow, almost no carbs or sugars!) and cheese.

My mid-morning snack during the week is one hard-boiled egg and a yogurt (read the label). Mini-meals and snacks are important so the blood glucose level can remain consistent (for everyone, not just diabetics), and so you don't get the munchies so bad that you trash the eating program.

Lately, I've been having a Slim-Fast with a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Low-carb bread, sugar-free jelly. Read the labels on you foods.

Some nifty low-carb low-sugar crackers for another snack, and/or a handful of almonds. (Love those almonds, there's fiber in them to offset the carbs.) Beef jerky is fun, too, if your teeth can take it, but the sodium is high, so be careful.

Supper is a basic balanced thing with meat, veggies, potatoes. The basic guideline on portions is the size of your fist, or what will fit in your hand.

Listen, I've found that, after a while, your stomach will adjust. When I've gotten carried away and had extras of something really groovy, I get very uncomfortable later. Slow down, eat a decent portion, and let your system catch up and realize that it's been fed.

Later in the evening, I have problems. More almonds, maybe. Cheese and crackers, but lately, I've been botching the carbs on that. When I mess up, I can adjust for it at the next meal — or even do it if eating anything sizable that day.

It's time for the list again, gang!

  • Read the labels!
  • Never skip meals, your system thinks it's starving and converts the next food to fat. Especially breakfast, it fires up your metabolism for the entire day.
  • Keep track of the carbs for each meal and for the entire day.
  • Don't beat yourself up if you miss it, try harder tomorrow. Or adjust for it later today.
  • Eat consistently, with balanced meals. Don't skip, don't pig.
  • You'll have to read elsewhere for this, but it's true: regular patterns are essential for survival. Regular eating, sleeping and exercise habits are powerful medicine. Not only for diabetes, but other ailments. I've read things on psychology for years, and I guarantee that good diet, exercise and sleep habits will straighten out many of your psychotic episodes and mood swings.
  • Read the labels!
  • Do research. And check out how fiber will help offset the carb intake.
  • Alternative, healthy snacks are available. A veggie platter with Italian dressing is good eatin'. 
  • Don't whine, realize you have to make lifestyle changes to survive.
  • Read the labels!
There's another vitally important point to be made here: carbohydrates are not your enemy. They are your fuel. But we take in too many of them, and some of us cannot convert them efficiently. More than one nutritionist has told me that the Atkins diet is junk, and even dangerous. Yes, more protein and fewer carbs. But let's not get carried away.

I know this is longer than usual, but it's important. I hope some of you will take proactive action now and develop good habits while you can so this doesn't happen to you. Sure, I miss the candies sometimes. But I've found alternatives to take the sting out of it, or even indulge in moderation.

September 17, 2007

What Do You Have In Your Head?

Frankly, too many people have horse apples for brains. Why do you think that is? To misuse a verse in the book of Proverbs, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he". What are you putting into your head? Crap? Well, plants need fertilizer to grow with, but your mind is not a plant.

My father was fond of saying that your mind is a garden. Plant thought seeds, water them and see what grows. If you plant good seeds, you get good results. The opposite is true as well.

I tend to think that the mind is more like a computer. Any programmer knows that a computer is only as good as its input, which is GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Also, you need to have good programming in the first place, or even the best input will give bad results. Too many software vendors do not test their products thoroughly and rush it to market, and then have to issue patches and revisions.

A simple way to show this is when you use a search engine. If you want to know the annual rainfall of Monterosso al Mare, you do a search for that, not for meteoric dust levels in Antarctica, capice? If the search engine is poorly programmed, you get bad results.

If you want to know how to think properly, you have to have good input. And you need good programming. What does that come down to? Fill your head with good thoughts, positive things, reasonable input, logic.

What's that on the television? Death, destruction, rampant sex — hey, quit watching my TV! Then check your attitude when you walk away. One-sided, biased news broadcasts? No wonder you think like a mindless sheep! Music about death, hate, suicide? Downer. (You already know how I feel about rap "music", that's the most negative and hateful nonsense I know of.) And music is extremely powerful, because of the repetition and concentration. What are you friends like? Do they uplift you, or are they negative people that bring you down, psychic vampires that sap your energy?

My advice to you is to break away. Get decent input so you can have control over your mental processes. (It only follows that your emotions will be influenced as well.) Branch out. Meditate on good things, on truth, on balance. You'll see and feel the difference. See for yourself.

September 12, 2007

You Have a Reputation

Addendum 11-06-2008: I usually put these addendums at the end, but this one is perfect for what I'm saying. Rush Limbaugh gave away a car to a caller on his show. He did it on a whim. Now, get this. When the people showed up at the lot, they were allowed to have the car before Limbaugh's money had reached them! They knew his word and his reputation!

Buona Sera.
I'm fine, thanks. Hope you're well. This thing has been burning in me and I can't wait to get it written and posted.

What is a reputation? It's how people think of you, especially groups. Companies and things in general have a good reputation. Have you ever filled out a registration card for a product you purchased and seen a box under "what influenced your decision" that says, "Acme Corp. reputation"? The company is confident that the word on the street about them is good enough to make you buy something of theirs.

Reputations often come about because of personal experience. I can tell you some names... these people have to be verified before I'll believe a word they say. Also, I detest the Panasonic company. I've had too many bad products, and the company did not honor their contracts with me, so I've stopped buying their products no matter how nice they look.

It takes a long time to build a good reputation. Unfortunately, the world is so negatively-minded, that it doesn't take long to destroy one. People think of the Watergate scandal when you mention Richard Nixon, but forget the good things that he accomplished.

You have a reputation, you know. Hopefully, it's a good one. (Girls who have a bad one should call me.) But how did you get this reputation? Like I said (are you paying attention?), it comes from experience and observation. And then it gets told to other people. One of my favorite illustrations of this comes from the movie "Thunderball". James Bond, his boss and another man were having a conference. They look at a picture. Bond says, "I saw him the other day". The other guy says, "Impossible! He's dead!" The boss, M, says, "If 007 says he saw him, then he saw him." Bond had a reputation for doing his job well, and the boss knew he was reliable and thorough.

I had a reputation at one job that built up over the years. My attendance was excellent, and I was usually at least fifteen minutes early. If I was not early, I was "late" in my own time and co-workers began to wonder if something was wrong. Instead, they had to settle for me being actually on time instead of the personal time-table that I had established. Are you following this, or should I slow down?

How can you build up your own reputation?
  • Be consistent
  • Be reliable
  • Be honest
  • Be a man or woman of your word, above all else
  • Be aware of what's going on around you
Be consistent.Even in traffic, consistency is essential; crashes don't happen very often because someone knew it was going to happen, it was the unexpected, the inconsistent, that caused it. Save spontaneity for times that other people are not relying on you to get something accomplished, or to stay safe.
Be reliable. Show up to work on time every day. Call if you're going to be late or can't make it. But those had better be the exceptions: "Bob isn't coming in today. There must be something exceptional happening." Kids, do your homework, and do it well. Making a promise or commitment? Don't just say it to sound good, only say it if you can follow through. Are you forgetful? Write it down! Be someone that people can count on.
Be honest.What good is a liar? When you lie, not only are you taking away someone's ability to make a choice with the truth, you're insulting them. When you lie about who or what you are, you're also lying to yourself that you're not good enough, so you have to make yourself look better. And frankly, excuses are forms of lies. If you mess up, say so. If there's a good reason, say so. But if you're constantly making excuses for your foul-ups, who will believe you when you have a good reason for missing an appointment or paying back that money you owe me?

Be a man or woman of your word. It's a part of reliability and honesty. Your word is often all you have. Keep it shined up. Don't make a promise you can't or won't keep. "I'll try" should not be something you frequently say. Can you do it, or not? Then say so. Or, if you need time, say that as well. Keep your promises. I know people that make promises, and you're shaking in your boots because you know you're in deep excrement because they have reputations for keeping their promises. Or, "Roxie promised me..." That means it will happen. If not, there's an exceptional reason. Capice? You should read that again, I think it's very important. Guys, this is important. I can't tell you why it is, but I honestly feel that it is extremely important for us to keep our word. Oh, and never lie to a woman. You'll regret it.

Be aware of what's going on around you. That in itself is a good reputation to gain. If you're paying attention, you know what promises you can and cannot make, what choices to make, when to simply shut the hell up and listen.

Make yourself a good reputation, and keep it. Keep your word. A man that doesn't keep his word isn't much of a man. And a man needs his reputation if he wants to succeed and be respected.

Well, I feel better now. I hope someone gets something out of this. It's important, you know. Click here if you want to review the article on how to get organized; this will be an aid to keeping your word.

September 7, 2007

Will You Listen to Yourself?

Buon Giorno, Class. Yours truly is a bit bothered about something. I don't like the way people beat themselves up. (Now, some people do need a beating, but I know people that will take care of that.) I'm talking about "put-downs", "badmouthing", "talking smack" (do people really say that one?). I'm not saying that everyone is a freaking bit of sliced sunshine in the midst of darkness, but there's no reason to tear down what you do have.

One popular expression that I hear is, "Stupid me!" Dreadful. I'm all for admitting when you screwed up; I admit it before other people can point it out to me whenever possible. How about saying, "I messed up", or even, "Oops" instead?

There's a difference between the event and the person. "I am stupid" is much different than "I did something stupid". For one thing, you're making an excuse. You're saying, in a way, "Don't expect much of me because I can't understand things. Here comes the 'Tard Wagon, I have to go lick windows now." But when you say that you fouled something up, then fine, you admit to the event or situation. You're not limiting yourself, and you're not demeaning yourself in someone else's eyes.

But I believe that the greater problem is the human mind. It can be powerful when used properly. Treat it right. That includes what you say about yourself. It was pointed out to me that YOU are the first person that you will believe. Your subconscious is paying attention and recording things, and if you keep putting yourself down, guess what? You're going to live down to what you've conditioned yourself to believe. Do you follow this, Cupcake? If not, read it over a few times, it's important. I don't like it when good people hurt themselves, and that's what happens.

OK, short class today. Time for recess.

August 7, 2007

The Illegal Rant Continues

Buon giorno. I'm still worked up about the illegal immigration issue (Part 1 is here). E-mails like the ones my brother sent me get me going again. So, this session is a cheat. Not my own work, but it reflects my sentiments and also pulls together things I've read and heard in other places. But I did put some work into the links. Groovy, huh? Even groovier is that an upcoming Weblog will tie into the cheapness of labor issue.

Do me a favor, though, willya? I just added some links to document some of the claims (I won't do all your work for you, though. Some of it's simply common sense, and things you can see with your own eyes). When you check out some of the links, open them in a new browser window or tab. That way, it's easier to find your way back here and finish the article. And maybe read its companion piece. OK, as my buddy Duke Nukem says, "Let's rock!"


Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about? Let's be honest.

  • * Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage

  • * Consumers don't want expensive produce

  • * Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs

But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth, a farce, and a lie ~ there is no such thing as "cheap labor."

Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or $6.00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200, free.

  • * He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent
  • * He qualifies for food stamps
  • * He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care
  • * His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school
  • * He requires bilingual teachers and books
  • * He qualifies for relief from high energy bills
  • * If they are or become aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare.
All of this is at that taxpayer's expense. He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance. Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material. He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills and his. The American taxpayers also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.

Bank of un-America is giving them credit cards. And guess who pays for defaulted credit debt? Yep, you and me. As soon as I get that thing paid off, I'm canceling it. What language is in your wallet?

Cheap labor? Yeah, right! Wake up, People!

Have A Nice Day, amigos.

July 24, 2007

Press One for English

Buona sera. How are things going? Good, I hope.

Enough of this happy banter. I'm irritated, and I want to tell the world. Today's topic is something that everyone seems to be writing and talking about, and I want to go on record as well. It's a very American subject, but I wonder how many other countries feel the way I do.

Said topic is illegal immigration. Yeah, I know, so what.

I'll tell you "so what". I'm really fed up with a number of issues here. One is the attitude of some bleeding-heart Americans that say, "The poor dears are fleeing an oppressive regime, we should give them sanctuary." That's a planter full of turd blossoms! Any idea how many people want to get into the USA in the first place? They have their reasons, too. What, we should just let anyone wander in that doesn't like his homeland? Get real.

"Gosh, Bob, why should you care, anyway?"
I'll tell you why. First, the borders are wide open and any terrorist can sneak in. Both the north and the south, but we don't have an infestation of Canadians trying to sneak in and create hundreds of Little Canadas in the US.

All borders should be controlled, but the southern one controlled more.

Hey, did you know that there are many Mexicans that think they are entitled to our land? They think we stole it from them. I don't care what they think. If it was in a war a long, long time ago, get over it. Or how about this: how about if you give your land back to the Aztecs, Mayans and other natives that Spain took land from? Or for that matter, trace the land ownership back even further, the natives of the Americas were having wars and taking land from each other for generations. How far back do you want to go to find the "true" owners of this hemisphere? Maybe the Inuits?

Draw the line, get over it, it's ancient history. Really.

But bad attitudes are here, brought by people that snuck into the country. Sounds a bit unsafe to me, having people hating and resenting us, sneaking in and living here.

And don't give me that nonsense about them "doing jobs that Americans won't do", either. Did you ever see the show "Dirty Jobs"? News flash: it's full of Americans, not illegals, doing stuff that I'm too posh to do myself, and most people are too soft or prissy to do, either. But they're legal people.

Another thing I'm fed up with is the belief that "they're participating in the economy". Yeah, sure they are. Big time. But it's the economy of Mexico that they participate in, not the American economy. They don't spend money in American any more than they have to. They send the bulk of the money back to relatives there. The Illegals in the US are a tremendous boost to the Mexican economy.

I don't want to hear any of that excrement about them wanting to be citizens, have jobs, etc. (
That's the kind of thing that my pet mindless sheep would say.) Sure, many do want to work and become Americans. But we're paying the bills for Illegals to be in our prisons and dealing with the crimes that they commit. Most don’t want to become citizens. And many make America into the “bad guy”. If we’re so terrible, why do you want to come here? And do what, make the US into another huge slum like Mexico?
If someone wants to come here and work, fine. As long as the do it legally. (I saw T-shirts for sale supporting illegal Irish immigrants. I don't want them here, either! Or anyone else that sneaks in.) Now please pay attention: I'm not anti-immigrant, or anti-Mexican. I want the borders controlled so we can get people here that want to contribute to our society. Capice?

But why should they respect our laws, when we don't do it ourselves? Freaking cheapskate employers that don't want to pay a good wage for a job will hire the wetbacks who think it's a raise because of the economy back home. (Hint: want better wages and living conditions? Do it the American way, vote or do something for political change. Power to the people and all that.)

The government doesn't do anything significant to prosecute or deport the illegals. I'm furious at both major political parties at this point, and senators (is it any wonder that the root word for "senate" is the same root word for "senile"?) and congressmen should be voted out. Watch the stronzos, hold them accountable.

Build walls to keep them out? Well, either that or kick up the border patrols several notches, enforce the existing laws (yes, I know I'm repeating myself). Walls are reputed to work in other countries, so maybe they'll work here.

What do we do with the millions of wetbacks that are here? First, let's stop the flood, OK? Then we'll tackle that other issue. This article is long enough as it is.

We don't have time to deal with how we pay their upkeep with medical bills, and how emergency rooms have had to close down because of all the Illegals they've had to treat and not get paid for.

Here's your apathy: crybabies want to let people into the country, but by doing so, they're hurting our own economy and social structure. They don't care. Politicians who refuse to do anything about the flood of Illegals get re-elected, that really makes sense. This apathy is killing us.

Did you learn anything, class? How about not to be a bleeding-heart crybaby liberal around me because I'll give you facts that you don't like? You’ll also see how truth can be considered hate speech; whiners (sheep) are gonna have a field day with this one. Good lessons, huh? Now excuse me, I'm on my way out to get an order of nachos.

I highly recommend this video. It's fun. Hope you have high-speed Internet, though. If you don't, it'll take a while to load. Click here.

July 1, 2007

Getting Organized for Mental Health

Edited 10-18-2009

Buona Sera.
Time to jump right in. The spacing in this article is annoying and I can't get it to do what I want, so we'll all have to deal with it.

Yours truly has to deal with depression. No, everybody gets the blues. I mean, as a diagnosed condition. (I went off the medication because I got fed up with it.) It's a struggle, and some days tend to be worse than others (obviously). Anyway, on those days, I have to go about my business on "autopilot". That's my term for doing things automatically, out of routine, just so I can function.

Have you ever seen that poster with a group of animals lounging around and the caption, "We gotta get organized"? That was my high school class motto. But it became more profound for me as time went on. Getting organized is not only a powerful stress buster, but an aid to relieving depression. And I'll take all of those that I can get.

One thing I have to say right now: This is for people that actually have the intelligence and integrity to do things for themselves. If you have to go crying to Mommy to do things for you, or someone else to hold your hand because you're incapable of living the basics of life, then fine, read and forget. But you won't have any sense of accomplishment because you did it yourself. Sorry, gang, laziness and selfishness are "buttons" of mine.

I put the alarm clock out of reach so I can't shut it off out of reflex, and have to get up. (It's a stress point to oversleep and be late for work or an appointment, yes?) Clothes are picked out and laid out the night before, the shower towel is hanging in its place and ready, breakfast is planned, meds and vitamins are in the day's container and handy — you get the idea.

OK, so I've shown you my basic plan for getting out and about. It centers on a basic routine that I can perform while still waking up.

"But what about things that change in the day, Uncle Bob?"

I'm glad you asked. We have things to do, people to see, tasks to accomplish, evidence to hide, birthday cards to send, whatever. Things feel like they're piling up and get overwhelming, and I have to resist the temptation to play games on the computer and let it all slide. Well, not so much now since I attained some degree of organization in my life. Wish I’d known this stuff years ago!

Let me interrupt myself a moment and say that I got a surprising bit of help out of the book How to Live the James Bond Lifestyle. I got it as a novelty item, and it turns out that it's a powerful self-help book. I took things from there, mixed it with my own so Paul Kyriazi won't recognize his own work. Hey, Paul! Want a cut of the profits from this post? If I ever get one red cent, I'll let you know.

First of all, you need some kind of work station to call your own. Even if it's a section of a desk (an entire desk, even a small one, would be better). Keep it clear from useless clutter and dedicate it to your goals, long and short term. It's your work station.

As for organizing details, you absolutely need a calendar. A portable one is important to have with you so you can make appointments "on the road" as well as one at your workstation. Every day, you need to make sure that they "agree" (my PDA "synchronizes" its own with the one on the computer). There is a portable option for Mozilla Sunbird so you can put it on your flash drive and take it with you if you want. Another computer calendar option is Google Calendar, so you can see it whenever you have Web access. If you're really into it, you can set up Sunbird to work with Google Calendar and other applications. I haven't bothered, though.

Your list of "tasks" gets the same treatment.

There are two approaches to handling information and details: Written and digital. Actually, a combination of the two is best. Some people use a paper and folio organizer system. These can get expensive, but have categories for everything. But they're bulky. And available to prying eyes if you set one down.

You see, I'm a strong proponent of the PDA, Personal Digital Assistant. No, not the twenty dollar one at Walley World, either. Those start out nicely, but break quickly. And I don't recommend spending five hundred on a super-high-tech system that "does it all". Mine is two hundred dollars, and that's a big expense for me (they go for less, but I wanted the color screen and music player). It has reminders (and alarms), address books (that can hold thousands of entries), calculators, the all-important calendar and more. It gets the information backed up on a bigger computer and/or a "card" that fits in a slot. It's got size going for it, easy to carry. Plus, security in case you lose it or set it down. Very convenient if you use it synchronized to a computer. Edit: It's getting worn out, and I'm going more toward the calendar sync system, it's available online, at work, at home.

Both paper and digital organizers have similar systems, so you do what's best for yourself. Even if it's a stack of junior sized legal pads. But the most important point, whatever system you use, is to get a system and be consistent. In one way or another, write it down. Whatever "it" is. So, make sure you have pens and pencils in a container at your workstation, even if you store them in a coffee cup. Moving up to an actual office-type pencil container feels kind of classy, so when you have a couple of dollars to spare, you may want to do that.

Special note: Write stuff down, again. Even if it is some kind of thought that is buzzing in your head like a trapped gnat. Little thoughts of things you want to do later, or look up, anything that distracts you and takes away your mental energy should be written down so it can be dealt with later. Then you can transfer it onto your "tasks" or "to do" list later on. That is,
anything that gets scratched out on a piece of paper, in a pocket notebook or on a napkin needs to be examined, put on the calendar(s) and lists. When it's safely recorded, discard the scrap so you don't wonder about it later and waste time finding out that yes, I did write it down after all.

Do you have all of your addresses and numbers for contacts in one place, or do you have to search for each number? Get them together and save the time and aggravation of doing a search. Sure, have divisions and categories for poker buddies, church guilds, business acquaintances, people that owe you money, whatever. But there's no good reason to have one list in the kitchen, another in the living room, still another under the bed, etc. Keep them together in a divider on your desk ("work station") or in your desk drawer. (If you have a sooper-sekrit list of your lovers, f'rinstance, you're on your own to hide it and keep track of it. But the PDA does have categories and privacy settings.)

One note about tasks: Have due dates. How often do things get done that don't have a due date? Not very often. Sure, some things have to be a bit vague (I'm working on a long-term project that gets done a little at a time, such as this article), but it's better to have some kind of accountability to yourself for the bulk of it.

"So what's the big deal? Why all the details?"

The details are what drag many of us down. I've had a sense of pride and accomplishment checking tasks off, or making correct appointments that I don't have to reschedule later because I forgot about a conflict, or forgot to go in the first place. No more panic about getting a payment in on time, either. It eases the mind.

For that matter, check out a "Bill Payer" system at your bank or Credit Union. That makes for a few less recurring checks to write, and you're more certain of getting things on time. Just check it each time a bill comes in, because those people get sneaky and change the due dates. Tricky weasels want those extra grotzits that they tack on if you're late... and I cut down on the stress by getting it right ahead of time. See how this organization stuff can work?

When you're organized, you don't waste time and energy getting frazzled and trying to get things together. Your new habit is checking the "books" for what's due for today or this week, and then going for it.This very article was on my "to-do" list for today. It was a busy weekend, but productive and things got done. They're off my mind.

You know, it's like something a stand-up comic said about spending money on off-brands: If I spend less on some stuff, I have more money to buy other stuff. Hey, if I spend less time getting prepared to do things, I have more time to actually do the things. And if I have less depression or aggravation over all, isn't that best of all?

Let's get organized. Hope this did you some good, class.

Added 12-23-2007: Very useful link here.

Subscribe in a reader