January 29, 2008

Entitlement Mentality

Stand back. Stormbringer's thundering again, and lightning is shooting out of his eyes.

You remember a while back when I railed about welfare slobs. But one in particular keeps setting me off, and I'm going to use this insufferable creature as an example of my point.

Imagine being 25 years old and having no intention of getting a job. Not only that, but expecting to be taken care of. Her mother works extra jobs to pay her bills, and this bitch has no shame in watching the old girl work herself into an early grave. And she's collecting welfare, too. Expecting, as a right, to get handouts from the government and from other people.

Laziness creates more laziness, greed creates more greed. Funny how those things go together. This particular "person" will sponge and sponge off people, always looking for more. The money is free, not worked for (as in "job"), and she calls it "her" money, and doesn't want to spend "her" money on necessities, only on luxuries. Other people are expected to foot the bill for everything.

A new low: she gives her grandmother a sob story about not having money (which is a bloody lie), and cons her into giving her more money. Then, Miss Bitchley gets money, but will not tell Granny! No, let her give from her pension to the greedy, selfish slob. And get this: Granny bought some candy and forgot to take it home. Guess who ate it all? Selfish slob.

And the bum makes a pretense at going to college...yeah, right. Too stupid and lazy to get a real job. It's all a lie.

I get so furious I can hardly see straight. Somebody's gotta feel my fist of rage!

The bigger principle? When people are coddled and don't have to do something for themselves (and again, I'm not talking about genuine need, but laziness as a lifestyle), they come to expect things to be given to them. They're entitled to handouts; it's their right. Well, I have the right to be angry that my pocket is being picked.

Can we be honest here? Conservatives say, "This is the land of opportunity. You can make something of yourself!" The Liberals say, "You need me. Elect me to public office so I can give you money and make you love me."

But guess where that money comes from? The government.

Bzzzzz! Wrong answer, Hans. "The government" is the people. Taxes are raised so that lazy slobs can have handouts. I want to drive the rock and roll pain train up their joyfully bouncing buttocks.

Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I wrong to think that I'm being taken advantage of, not only by politicians, but welfare bums? Get a freakin' job! How are you ever going to have some self-respect?

And it never stops. Entitlement mentality keeps on taking and taking...

January 4, 2008

The Green Green Cash at Home

Buon giorno, girls and gorillas. Let's take a moment to say, "Happy Birthday" to Christina. She's there in the back, looking embarrassed. Give us a wave, Teenie. Thanks. Stop staring, Nicki. She's too young.

One thing that the boys and I know about is money. We like to get it more than give it, of course, but sometimes you have to part with it. Even though we have quite a bit of it, we don't like to part with any more than we have to.

Let me tell you about some stupid spending. Freakin' idiotic, really. I know a weasel that spends money like nobody's business. (Well, it's not her money, it's from the hardworking taxpayers or from sponging off her mother. That's why it's fun for her to spend it.) But for those of us who have to work for a living, we try to be careful with what we do with our cash.

Spend smart. Weasel girl doesn't do this. She loads the icebox with pre-packaged goodies and convenience foods that are not only unhealthy but very expensive. Sure, there's a time for convenience foods, but it's much more economical to buy a block of cheese, for instance, and cut it up, store it in small-serving plastic bags and then grab one to throw in your lunch on the way to work or school. The same with those dreadful "juice boxes". If you really have to pollute yourself with that stuff, get a big bottle and pour some into a small, portable bottle. Capice? The savings add up.

Resist the impulses. Sure, I like to buy a new gun on occasion. But I look at whether or not I really need it, the extras like the cost of ammo and a carrying case, etc. And do I need the pearl-handled revolver, really? Something a little plainer will work just as well. But if I do decide to be extravagant, I plan for a while, think things through, add the costs, and budget for it. Listen, if I buy something too quickly, I won't have money for something else later on. Can I live with that? Besides, something may go on sale.

Consider the off-brands. Go ahead, try the store brands. Little Weaselette refuses to buy anything but the name-brand stuff because it must be better. Wrong-o, Cupcake. I've found that off brands are often at least as good as the name brands, sometimes better. But you have to take a chance, try a few things. Sometimes, you'll find that a certain name brand is better for you and you can't do without it. Fine, you tried.

"But Uncle Bob, the doctor said I should use Motrin!" Shaddap! Think for a minute. He said that for name recognition. Most doctors don't tell their patients to use acetaminophen, but that's what Tylenol is. Doctors don't say ibuprofen, either, so they say Motrin or Advil. Listen, for a drug to be marketed generically, the law says that it has to be chemically identical to the name brand. I get acetaminophen and ibuprofen for half or even a quarter of the cost of the name brands. You just have to keep alert.

Don't be too cheap. I know, I know, it sounds like a contradiction to what I just said. The fact is that sometimes you have to pay more for something good. This whole thing is a learning experience. Or a game. Just keep at it and learn that there are some things you have to spend more to get because some stuff is made so cheaply that you'll wind up replacing it and spending more money in the long run. Use your judgement.

The bottom line is to think about what you're doing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to tell Nicki that he can't have Christina's e-mail address. Hey, Bastardo!

Addendum: The continuation of this article is about saving fuel and can be found here.

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!
Pixabay.com / 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.

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