boycott

I have found that the less time I spend on Facebook the happier I am. With the exception of animal videos and inspirational memes, there is not much on there that interests me anymore.

I used to love FB. I reconnected with friends from High School, made new friends through pages dedicated to my illness, found a group of mountain bikers that became real, genuine friends and I really do enjoy just knowing what people are up to. It makes me feel close to them. But in our hopelessly divided world, all of that is outweighed by the negativity and outright hostility we are showing towards each other as we continue to shout in Caps, defend our positions and flatly refuse to accept the viewpoints of those who don’t think as we do. When a tragedy strikes, it is a thousand times worse.

I don’t know if it was school or at home but I know I was taught by someone that we don’t have to agree with each other. That it is ok, even encouraged to have a different view than another, but always respect their right to feel the way they do. It is a human, dare I say American ideal. As Americans we pride ourselves on the origin of our great nation; the escape from political and religious oppression, the notion of governing ourselves and creating a document that can be amended in the event that society evolves and something the drafters of that document never anticipated arises. We shout from the rooftops that you can do and say anything you want in this great land of ours because we are free! Respect and intelligent discourse will always prevail.

Not anymore.

We are no longer the land of the free and the brave. We are now the land of the loud and closedminded. We don’t listen when others speak, instead, we are merely planning our next sentence. How can you learn anything if you don’t listen to another voice? If someone disagrees with us we get angry and hurl insults at them instead of debating them intelligently and calmly. To make matters worse, we have the attention span of a gnat. Instead of researching things and formulating an informed viewpoint, we believe everything we hear and see online.

I love the saying everyone is “entitled to their opinion”. Sorry, you are not. An opinion is formulated and arrived at by study, life experience, intelligence, and wisdom. To say that global warming is real, for example, there are actual statistics on both sides of the issue that can be used to support your “opinion” and a proper debate could then ensure. To say that it is the fault of aliens dressed as Joan Cusack trying to kill penguins because they hate Tuxedos is just a stupid statement. And there are plenty of those.
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But even if you do postulate nonsense or common sense, the vitriol towards others, only strengthened by “keyboard balls” is making me sick. The hatred being spewed back and forth as tragedies strike and everyone digs in for battle armed with a sling full of arrows of “Idiot”, “moron”, “shithead” and “snowflake” to be shot at anyone who has the nerve to not think like them is sickening.

I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care if you think guns shoot by themselves. I don’t care if you think the earth is flat. I don’t care that you think the president is responsible for an earthquake in Peru. Say something intelligent and be accepting of others or just put the keyboard down. Going on FB now just makes me sad and angry. There is some good content left but so much hatred.

I almost wish that grammatical and spelling errors, duck-faced selfies by women who are way too old to be doing them, vague posts fishing for sympathy or gratification and pictures of ugly feet on the beach were the only aggravating thing about FB. From now on, FB is something to scroll while I poop. A fitting finale for this post. Too bad I don’t have the poop emoji…

this could have been so much easier

One of the many things I enjoy about working again is that I was able to find something in my field of expertise. That is to say, anything involving the sale of something with wheels and a guy who sells it. I have done it all in the world of wheels from oil changes to repossessions and I love it all. When I began to help out my friend at his Powersports Finance company he soon found that there wasn’t a job in the building I couldn’t do (except accounting). Because I was to be part-time, he started me on some time-consuming projects that were taking too much time from his already overworked full-time crew. These tasks could be as simple as minor dealer issues, customer service calls or as complex as sorting out issues with local and state agencies. After cleaning up some small crises in my first week, he promoted me to a really fun one. I was to have a Motorcycle inspected and have a new Vehicle Identification Number assigned to it.

Having a new VIN# on a vehicle is a major ordeal. The entire history and pedigree of a vehicle are tracked by it. The state requires serious documentation from the owner in order to sign off on this task. As the lienholder, because we repossessed it, it is even harder. So I took my time to learn the exact process, what forms I needed to prove ownership, and what documentation I needed on hand to prove ownership. Over the course of the first week, I was able to gather all paperwork, pay all fees and gather all receipts and call for the appointment. Once the appointment was made at a local inspection station I would begin the process of coordinating how to get the motorcycle to them.

Between the initial attempt at making the appointment and actually completing it would take 2 weeks. It was a giant series of telephone tag and miscommunications (on the State Police’s part)until I was finally able to set the appointment for 10 AM Friday morning. time.

When Mike and I pulled in (Mike was helping me with the bike because it was very heavy) the trooper told us to park the trailer, unload the motorcycle and he would be right back. He then proceeded to get in his cruiser and drove off, after all of the efforts we had made to get there on time. He came back 15 minutes later with a cup of coffee. Mike was visibly pissed, I was containing myself for now.

Trooper Burns was a large, fit man with a grey buzzcut and a blank expression on his face. He began to ask me a series of questions that I had already answered, some of which weren’t even relevant. I kept my composure and explained my case again. Trooper Burns seemed to delight in being difficult but I stayed on point. At one point he told me to start the bike to prove that it runs, I told him there’s no need, it’s not a salvage inspection it’s a reassignment. He knew I had him and moved on. 15 more minutes of explaining our situation, how we came into possession and what we needed to be done he finally agreed to go online and do his due diligence. 30 minutes later he came out and said “This is the wrong bike”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“This is the wrong bike,” he said again.

I took a deep breath and patiently replied: “I heard that, please explain it to me”.Mike was facepalming in the background.

“This engine number is off of a bike recorded stolen in Florida. Can’t let you leave with it”. Now, this was not a completely unexpected turn of events but not ideal. We talked for a while about our options, what he was going to do next and when to contact him again. I went to shake his hand and he caught a glimpse of my Masonic ring. “I didn’t see that before…Good men the Masons. My brother and father both are members. I wish I saw that earlier I wouldn’t have given you such a hard time.”
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I paused, took a deep breath, and said,”Trooper Burns. As a Mason, I wouldn’t have needed to glimpse a ring in order to treat you decently. As a Mason, I would have been decent right out of the gate. This could really have been a whole lot easier”. I studied his face for a reaction, I think he understood me. “Show me the secret handshake,” he said as he smiled for the first time since we had met.

As Mike and I drove out of the lot, empty trailer and all he said “Brass Balls, man. You’ve got Brass Balls.”

“No, he knew I was right. He has a tough job and deals with a lot of assholes. What he didn’t recognize is that I’m not one of them. Now he knows.”

“So, tell me about this ring…”

 

 

 

 

 

A life of moderation

The other day a dear friend of mine posted on Facebook “thinking that a life of moderation is the way to go this year”. Several “likes” later I commented “Works for me”. Many would go on and agree with she and I. I can’t speak for their reasoning but as for myself, I live the simple life because I was forced into it. A year ago, I had a lot of stuff. Now I don’t. Apart from not having everyone together anymore, I am happier in many ways. I am free of the worry brought on by increasing costs of living and shrinking incomes. I don’t need to work more for a bigger house to find room for more stuff. More stuff that didn’t make me happy, didn’t fulfill me or give me any sense of lingering purpose, other than to live long enough to pay for it all. I never would have voluntarily given up my stuff because my family needed it. But now, I am free of it and looking for the real meaning in, not of, life.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Jim Carrey
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Jim Carrey turned a few heads when he made this comment. Some thought that he was mocking people with his wealth, that he was another rich celeb that wanted us to feel bad for the problems of the rich and famous. He wasn’t. He was simply pointing out that every thing in the world is not enough if you are not at peace with yourself. I am related to a walking and talking example of this.

When I first began dating my wife in the early 90’s I learned that her Aunt was married to a local Real Estate Mogul, nicknamed “The Condo King”. At the time we began dating the “King” had recently fallen from Grace. He was jailed for multiple counts of fraud, influence peddling etc., and sent to prison. Not before, nice guy that he was, he hid all of his money in his girlfriend’s name leaving his wife and 2 kids with little. The oldest son would go to jail soon after for working with Dad. It was a big shock for them but they would survive. They downgraded from living in an actual castle to a modest condo. The Aunt had a Real Estate license also so she could work. Little Suzie, whose Batmitzvah was a $50,000 event starring Debbie Gibson, painted her face white and hid in her room for a whole year in shame.

I met the aunt shortly after at a pool party. I knew the whole story of course but I had promised not to say anything. I was doing pretty well until the Aunt began to openly complain about being forced to drive a *gasp* Camry (a brand new one, mind you). This snotty snippet forced me to blurt out, “hey, tell you what, it’s a lot nicer than my car. Poor you.” I was promptly pinched hard enough to draw blood. Fuck her, I didn’t care. She was a snob, so elite she had no idea what the rest of the world lived like. All she cared about was money and without it, she was lost. For ten years this went on. Fortunately for them, she married another millionaire, the Princess daughter married a guy who owns 10 shopping malls and is part owner of the Miami Heat, and the son is now his own version of the “Condo King”. But are they happy? I think it’s all they know. They know that they were miserable without the money. Maybe that’s their “Happy”.

My favorite episode of The Twilight Zone is “A nice place to visit”. A petty criminal is shot by police while fleeing a crime scene. Visited by a man in a white suit and offered to go to a special place, he assumes he is going to Heaven. When he arrives, he finds that everything goes his way. He wins at gambling every time. When he flirts with a woman she falls for him. He wins at everything. It became so easy it was boring. He approached his friend in the white suit and said “I don’t belong in Heaven, see? I want to go to the other place.” The man in the white suit then delivers the whammy: “Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!”
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All of the stuff in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t provide quality. Only quality can create happiness.

Having everything I want is one thing. Wanting everything I have is entirely another. Sure, there are things that I want that I don’t have. But I don’t need anything. And when I do, the need will be different than before. I will likely want a smaller, more practical and maintainable model of whatever it is. Enough to satisfy the need, but not enough to be a slave to it.

I never reached the pinnacle of success financially, but I did do pretty well for a long time. I recognize that money is a necessity. I don’t fault or in any way resent those that have more than I. I can only speak for myself when I say that the quest for more always created less satisfaction and more aggravation. Once you’ve reached the peak of one mountain, you look for another, higher one. It never ends, that’s what Jim Carrey was speaking of.

I want an endless pile of Real, of Quality, and Genuine. Everything else is just stuff and I’ll take that in moderation. I’ll miss it less when it’s gone.