Saturday, July 14, 2018

Now it's time for change

It seems most of my life is spent waiting, for something or other. I'm good at it, in fact, but I'm tired. I'm tired of waiting. I've blown a few opportunities, it's true, but that can't be the end of it, can it?  

I'm waiting for a decent job. My requirements aren't all that out of control: I want a job that doesn't beat my ass into the ground and that pays $40k to $50k a year. I mean, in a day and age in which $220k per year is still upper Middle-Class, $40k isn't a whole lot to want, is it? But that type of job is like Bigfoot: I hear about them but I never see them myself. $40k a year would set me free. I'd be rich. I don't understand at all why I can't bag a job making that amount. Or better.

I'm waiting, again, for it to get cooler out. I hate heat, I don't operate well in it. I guess my Colorado beginnings set me up for California failure. And now, wouldn't you know it? I work outside exclusively. Hard, sweaty work. I miss editing, badly.

I'm waiting for a possible home loan to go through, to get approved, which will just put me into a different type of debt and allow my house to dangle in the uncomfortable winds of mortgage. But, I've had this fucker now for eight years and other than keeping me out of the elements and keeping living costs low, it hasn't done shit for me. Credit still sucks, don't qualify for shit, et cetera. At least this loan might happen. Then I can fix all the shit I've fucked up on it over the last eight years. Then the bulldogs can jack it all up again.

I'm waiting for my wife to learn how to save a few dollars. I've tried everything, from scare tactics to temper problems, and nothing works. She just doesn't understand how fun it is to sock dollars away and create a little savings. Maddening, is what it is, when I'm the only one trying at all.

I'm waiting for life to change for the better. I've been treading water too long and my arms are getting weak. I need a gentle nudge in another direction, a positive direction. If the shit storm hits now, I may as well just lie down in the street because I'm cooked. I need a little time, a few resources. The urge to just hop on the 10 East is growing stronger each day.  Just get on the freeway and drive. Keep gassing up, keep eating until the money runs out. I don't know what I'll do when I arrive at Empty Tankville, but it sure does sound exciting.  It sounds like something.  

God, I'm just waiting. I don't even feel in control. I'm the main actor in a Truman Show type setup, and the joke is very much on me. No matter what I try or what I learn, the same shit just keeps happening and I'm waiting for that to change.


Friday, March 30, 2018

It's time for people to smile, laugh!

I'm getting tired of the complaining going on in the world. So I'm going to complain about it.

Small people with small opinions and angry dispositions need to go the fuck away. Trump is president, guns still exist, some cops are bad, my truck doesn’t get good fuel mileage, and public schools suck. That bout cover it? Can we move on?

I don't even care what your stance on any of that is, either, honestly; just stop talking about it, for the love of God. As if Facebook and everywhere else isn’t enough, I stopped by the "Opinion" section of the local paper today, expecting to see posts about the small town I live in. There were like three. The vast majority are about Trump and guns.

Really, folks? I mean, of the millions of things you could be doing at any moment, you are sitting around fretting about the state of the world at all times? What a sad thought; what a sad life.

The other day I shared a picture on Facebook of a bumper jack and called it an AR-15. Wasn’t long before some uninformed angry person bit and went off the rails. People complain when they don't even know what they are complaining about. I'm sure it's been this way since the dawn of time, but the internet wasn't available during the dawn of time, so nobody had to listen to these mouth pieces rant on and on about things they can't begin to change and clearly don't comprehend.

Instead of reading biased news sites, why not go for a walk? Why not break out the ole fishing rod and relax a few hours? Why not listen to a song that makes you smile? Oh, because people don't seem to want to smile anymore. They don't want to laugh, or be positive in any way whatsoever. They want to read terrible articles and share them and then become involved in arguments online which last for 147 comments. Meanwhile, changing nobody's mind about anything.

You want change? Do something. Chuck cash at causes, go to marches, become a good cop and kill no unarmed people—I don't care, just do something besides share endless memes and slanted pieces on Facebook, saying how awful the world is today.

The internet is literally overflowing with information. You could watch a video on how a badger family lives. You could subscribe to a jokes page. You could teach yourself advanced mathematics. I'm serious, if you want it, it's out there.

It's pretty evident what people want. They want to be unhappy, which I find horribly somber. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

There are lots of writing scams out there

I need a job.

The place I had been working for two years closed its doors and I'm not getting paid. The trouble is, I'm older and I don't want just any ole job. I see there are pet groomer positions available, dishwashing, sales, front desk, maintenance, door-to-door solar peddling, and et cetera. But my love is English. Words. AP style. Specifically, fixing up strings of words to make them stronger.

And, if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good.

So of course I've been looking for editing positions. On craigslist, there are an amazing amount of ... well, I don't want to call them scams because I'm sure they will pay, but ... yeah, scams. There is one particular type of ad that's really getting under my skin:

Wanted: Staff writer / editor

Sounds good at first glance, until you read what's in the ad. They want one person, not two. This person is expected to write and edit their own work.

Well, no shit.

Look, that's a writer's job—at least, any writer who gives a hoot about how their stuff looks. By the time it hits the editor, which is supposed to be a second person with an entirely different skill set, the work is normally expected to be as polished as the writer can get it, whether he or she is writing articles, stories, opinion pieces, recipes, jokes, or instruction manuals.

The point is that these companies are getting away with paying one offensively low price for one person who is expected to do the job of two. And a good editor isn't cheap (nor is a good writer, for that matter, or they shouldn't be) so these people really have a racket going.

The biggest issue? Well, besides the fact that this poor writer is getting the shaft and that the company is completely ripping them off, the content won't be as strong as it could be. Likely, not even close.

There's a reason editors exist. It's because, although we as writers may make 10, 12, 20 passes at our own work, we are too close to it and therefore won't see a lot of issues we'd otherwise catch.

I guarantee you Stephen King, top New York Times columnists, recipe book writers and instruction manual writers all get edited before they go to final print.  OK, scratch the instruction manual writers; we've all seen how terrible most of those are.

But you get the point. The people placing these ads aren't looking for quality content. They aren't looking for stuff they can be proud of, and they aren't looking to pay a whole lot, trust me. They want a one-stop-shop where they can get wonderful research and great writing skills, and then they want to publish the piece directly because that writer also wears the editor's hat—and all for pennies on the word.

Oh, good grief no!

Don't do it. Don't even think about doing it. Please!

I know, I know, I can hear you saying that it'll look good on the resume, adds a notch to the ole writer's belt, gains you valuable experience.

No. It won't.

A future prospective employer is going to see all these content mills, these fly by night operations you've written for, and figure you just don't have the good sense to realize what the heck you are doing or what is going on.

Think of a mechanic who has a chest full of China tools from Harbor Freight and is willing to show them off to anyone and everyone. He'd say how shiny they are, how hard he'd worked to pick out just the right ones, and how he's all set to go.

But he isn't. He has what amounts to several hundred pounds of trash, and a good mechanic will know this and, furthermore, might even wonder what mental capacity issues the guy has.

It isn’t worth it.

We all have to start somewhere, I realize this. Did I ever write for content mills? Oh, you'd better believe I did. Am I proud of any of it? Not really.

And, by the way, my resume now says that I have had hundreds of articles in print online, mostly through now-defunct companies. I'm not trying to sticker my car windows with the fact I worked for Associated Content, Demand Studios, or Examiner. I'm just not.

If you are a writer, and you think you are a good one, skip these ads. Just move on and wait. You might need the money but honestly, is two or three cents per word worth your reputation?

Not even a little bit.

Write on!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jobs, man, what the hell?

You know, I got to thinking the other day, a lot of jobs today kind of suck. I remember when I was a boy, it seemed people got jobs and then stuck with them until they retired. That isn’t so any longer, for the vast majority of us, is it?

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I'll start right off by admitting that no, I'm do not have a Master's degree, and I'm not particularly talented in anything except for writing and event then, once the blinders come off, I'm seeing I'm likely mediocre at best when compared to the hard-hitters like Stephen King or Ray Bradbury or Clive Barker.

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As my new favorite saying goes, "I'm just smart enough to know I'm not smart enough."

Oh well, boo-hoo, whoa as me. This isn't a pity party, folks, I'm just being a little realistic. Take me out of the equation for a minute; I still don't know anyone but one guy who might retire from his actual job. One motherfucking guy. Do you realize how many people I know?  I'm sure more of my buddies have jobs they will or can retire from, but there's only one that I know for sure.

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Now, that being said, most my friends are fuckups and drunks, because that's the way I like it. But still, I know a lot of people who aren't and they struggle just the same as I do.

Each time I get a new gig I think to myself, oh boy, milk this one for all it's worth because I just know it's not going to be there long. And I'm always correct. 

AutoZone broke my heart, I'm not above admitting that. I saw a career there, even though the work itself wasn't necessarily glorious or always fun. I was good at what I did and they knew it. But reality sets in when I'm not even making one fucking dollar more than a brand new hire who may or may not know what a fuckin' battery is and I'd been there two years and was ASE certified. Get my drift? I had keys to the store and the combo to the safe, y'all, and I wasn't even a buck over minimum wage.

Jesus H. Pumpernickel Christ.

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I have another buddy who got his JD for law and then passed the bar and couldn't find work, literally for years. He finally gave up and went into business for himself. It took a long time, but he's finally making a respectable wage. But still, does this man have a retirement? Only the one he makes for himself. Another friend is a high-tech computer programmer web guy and, although he makes a hell of a living, he's not sure where he'll be working in five years I guarantee that.

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I finally found a wonderful gig editing full-time but they refused to hire me on and instead, kept me as freelance. This means I'm a 1099 employee, I pay taxes up the ass and am responsible for figuring all that out on my own. Which means you can take three to four dollars off my current rate and that's more like what I see come paycheck time.

Well, fuck.

Now the place has cut my hours by more than half, so I'm scrambling for work. I jumped through a thousand hoops and replaced the windshield in my F-150 and paid for a background check to get hired on by one driving/delivery place, who told me: You did it! You're in. Now sit tight and wait for us to announce that the Inland Empire program has been set in motion.

Well, fuck.

That was about $200 I didn’t need to spend on a job I can't fuckin' work.

I applied for an editing gig for a semi-local auto magazine, and I actually heard back! The ad said bennies, full-time, a Macbook, paid time off, the works. Know what I'm offered?  A few freelance articles. I just signed my W9 yesterday so that I can do more fucking taxes for another damn place. And it's slower than molasses, I haven't heard back from them at all and he said on the phone I'd be receiving a 1,500 word article.

Well, shit.

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What happened to the days when a company picked up employees, quality employees, with the full intention of taking them to the end of the race? Today, good writers get bumped in favor of ESL East Indians willing to whore themselves out for pennies. Today, good managers don't get paid for shit and completely incompetent, problem-creating employees stay on and on and on for decades.

Today, I think most of us had better become familiar with IRA and 401(k) accounts, and use them, because nobody is looking out for us. Our Golden Years happiness is solely up to us. More and more folks are being let loose one year, two years, three years from their retirement dates and that's bullshit, y'all. That's straight-up bullshit.

I encourage you to get a job with a big company and keep your head down for the duration. Don't stand out for any reason, be it good or otherwise. Do your time, look at the ground, collect your pay and slowly move through the ranks and, God willing, hopefully one day retire.

Stater Brothers is good, UPS and the USPS are probably great, and I imagine being a teacher is probably by far the best bang for the buck out there, but ya gotta be educated. I mean, what a gig! Three months off per year on top of your regularly scheduled vacation time, off work by like 3:30, don't work a single holiday no matter how miniscule and ridiculous, and once you get tenure, you'd have to show up naked and burn the school down to get fired.

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Shit. Gotta go, I have to clock in for 3.5 hours of editing writers who do not know that punctuation goes inside fucking quotation marks or that the word "president" isn't constantly capitalized, no matter what.

Well, fuck. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

People Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Today's rant, I believe, is going to be about how society seems to enjoy building morons up to the point of fame, but doesn't seem to care, by and large, about real talent. While I do understand this at some dim level, it's mostly a mystery to me and I'm not sure I'll ever fully process or accept this phenomenon.

Example One: Kimbo Slice

I mean, right? I guess I have an iron in this fire because I was watching his backyard brawls long before most people knew who he was. Years and years before. My buddies and I would gather round the monitor and watch this massive man go knuckles with some real, real tough-looking guys -- some of whom were much bigger than he was -- and just pulverize them, more often than not in a matter of seconds. He'd collect his money and get the fuck out.


Then he rose to fame when he decided to enter the MMA world. No, he didn't do so hot, but this guy was a largely untrained backyard brawler. Then he began taking lessons for the groundwork that would compliment his standup game, and so on. He was never taken very seriously, but that isn't the point; the point is that he had talent, worked hard, and achieved his goals.

Then in 2016, he just up and died. He was found to have heart and liver trouble. His 15 minutes of fame was over, he was a blip on the radar. Most probably don't even know he's dead. Hell, most might not know he ever lived. But what if the same thing had happened to a POS Kardashian, or Paris Hilton? Uproar. Panic in the streets. Twitter would break due to all the morons posting about how we'd lost a great.


Example Two: Aman Hambleton
I won't bore you with the details of this kid's chess career, but suffice it to say that he's worked very, very hard, is extremely smart and talented, and has changed lives along the way for the better. He went from master to International Master and now, finally, just a day or two ago, Grandmaster, in a very short period of time. We're talking about a monster at chess here, not a guy who signs onto a chess server now and again and is pretty damned good. Monster.

His current rating is 2501 -- 2500 is mandatory for the GM title. To put that into some perspective, I've been playing for 20 years and am around 1800-1900 strength. The average USCF rating is sub-1400. A lot of nerds are really proud of his real accomplishment, something that will change his life forever. Now he can make some respectable cash giving lessons and the like, on top of tourney purses that are surely coming his way in the near future.

Point is, who the hell besides chess nerds knows his name? Nobody, that's who. And that's fine, I'm not griping about that, per se. The trouble, for me, comes when a no-talent hack reality TV star gets pregnant or President Donald Trump says something, anything, that can be remotely taken as offensive, and literally millions of people go fuckin' nuts over the news. If this doesn't prove that the average person is an idiot, I don't know what would.

I could slap examples down all day, but I won't. I don't need to. Know why? Only three motherfuckers read my blog, and they all agree with me in the first place. Preaching to the choir ran its course for me a few years ago. Now I just don't care enough about any of it. I'm not changing minds, I'm not shedding light on something a total mouth breather is going to finally see and understand, and I'm not affecting change by being angry in front of my laptop.

Fuck you very much, society. I'd send a message to the average person here, but they don't read online, anyhow. Happy holidays, bitches.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lightening the Load...

My favorite word lately is "half," as in, "I want half this crap gone." 

I am going through a lightening process, like a snake shedding its skin. Oh, who am I kidding? It's more like a competition weightlifter throwing the bar to the ground just before it makes dust of every bone in his straining body.

I have had some of this stuff for far too long. Years. I'm not a hoarder, thankfully, but I'm still reluctant to throw a lot of stuff away. At least, I have been in the past. It's go time.

I bet this will come in handy someday! We all do it, and we all keep shit we shouldn't. The problem is that if we keep enough, the thing that will come in handy becomes buried under a hundred other things that will come in handy.

Now, after putting up with such nonsense for longer than I'm comfortable admitting, I'm going gung-ho with the trash bags. I've thrown more out in the last two weeks than I have in my lifetime.

And it feels good. Great, in fact.

I live in a small house. I do not have space to be a storage unit for crap I don’t need, don’t use, and won't need. Ever. It's one thing to actually keep a few things around that will come in handy, but some of the stuff I have held onto for years makes me question my sanity. Really.

Anyhow, I've big plans for my office, big plans for the garage (BIG!), big plans for the yard. And, unlike the old me, these plans are already in full force, happening now. Remember that old CCR song "Someday Never Comes"? 

Yeah, it doesn't. Someday is today. And today, I'd like some damned room, thanks.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Good Season!

How was your Christmas season? As those close to me already know, I'm really into this time of year. I love the weather (dear, how I love this weather!), I love Christmas, I love my January birthday, and I love the smell of chimneys and campfires everywhere.

The material stuff -- the things we receive -- come second but boy, I made out this year (again). Each season I'm surprised by the amount of good things I receive, especially because I'm not the best at giving ideas; at least, not giving reasonable ideas. Some of the things I want carry pretty hefty price tags. 

Anyhow, the point of this entry wasn’t to share what I got, but to share how I feel about it all, which is: good!

When you think about it, good is an odd word because it can mean quite a few things. Good can mean so-so, it can mean possessing a true heart, it can mean something positive, it can be a recognition of deeds done by someone else.

"I finally got my GED last year."


To me, this season is always good. As a person who runs very not naturally, the weather is good; longer nights are good, at least for a while; lights and cheery decorations are good; Christmas trees are most assuredly good -- oh, you get the idea.

I have a really good job, I have a good wife, I have good dogs and a good cat. I have a good car and a good house. I try to be a good person, but there's always room for improvement. I normally wish good on everyone, with a few notable exceptions we won't get into here.

Good. It's all good! 

I'll get it out there, right here and right now: I'm doing a resolution this year. Several, in fact.

Now it's time for change.

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Credit: Jar of Quotes