A new schedule…

I’ve got one more delivery in the morning then I’m taking some time off… Finally. It’s just a few days but hopefully I’ll be able to take some time by the beach… Oh and find a place to live…

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Sleepy news…

My day in paradise sucks about now. Stuck in the middle of Arizona during crazy random thunderstorms and downpours. I get to head back to Southern California tomorrow though and I’m hoping to take a few days off to clear my head.

I just deleted many paragraphs of this blog because I’m a broken record right now. I think I need to write more about yoga pants because months after my set of blogs about them, I still get a fair number of hits from search engine results sending people to my page about yoga pants. It’s crazy.

If the internet wasn’t already flooded with yoga-pant tribute sites I’d consider capitalizing on that concept.

We need a revolution. 2012 was a disappointment. Pot legalization is getting old. The wars in the middle east are about as productive as well, nothing really. Race equality is still at unrest but it’s old news. Miley Cyrus resembles the general direction that pop culture is headed but it’s the farthest thing from a revolution.

How about something real? Something big! Like a new civilization being formed. A currency that is derived from goods and service rendered instead of speculation. A system of community support without taking away from reward for hard work. A set of covenants that members would abide by for the good of the society, not for financial gain for any one party.

I’m simply tired right now. The news is disappointing lately and I think it’s time we got woken up.

Unplaylisted…

On my drive today from Bakersfield to Southeast Los Angeles onward to Lake Havasu I heard a song… Damnit… It reminded me of someone that I can’t figure out how to get out of my head. A much as I got the feeling that I wish I could save the song for someone who appreciates me, I don’t want to ever forget the memories I had with this person.

Our lives can be summed up in a playlist of sorts. You know the feeling. A song takes you back in time and reminds you of someone special or maybe just an event or a period in your life. On my drive today I actually heard quite a few. I guess no one here really cares what songs go to which memory except for maybe the people that it reminds me of.

‘Drops of Jupiter’-Lori
‘White Wedding’-Daniel
‘I’m Yours’-Ame
‘Piece of Shit Car’-Erek
‘Truly Madly Deeply’-Richelle
‘Hallelujah’-Sarah J
‘Melt’-Sarah the Dancer
‘Call Me Al’-When I was a kid and life was good
‘Honkin’ on Bobo’ by Aerosmith – On a C-130 middle of the night somewhere in the Middle East…
‘Gin and Juice’ (the country version) – Chris
‘The Broken Road’ -Tara

… I could spend all night listing them… It’s awesome to reflect… But I’ll stop for now…

Not only can we plug a song in to almost every aspect of our life, we can transport our minds back to a place and time that we might absolutely be in love with.

I heard another song on the radio… It had no special memory for me but its been one of the favorites over the years. ‘Twilight Serenade’ by Jason Myles Gross. I even have it in my personal music collection. Truth is, it’s not playlisted yet. Maybe it’s number will come up in my life someday. There’s a lot of other songs out there that are waiting in the wings for new memories to come up.

I highly doubt that any of the songs I listed above will be my wedding song (haha, me married) or even the one played at my funeral. I can say I’m pretty excited to hear the new stuff that is going to attach itself to a special part of my life.

Now if only I could sing…

Dispatch…

A few years back I drove a taxi-cab on the weekends for some extra cash. It’s on the top twenty list of weird things I’ve tried out in my life and it taught me a piece of an important lesson. Well, actually it taught me a few. Don’t trust a freshly twenty one year old kid who finds himself abandoned by his friends at the bar. Chances are, they’ll stiff ya. If someone is being a dick, go really slow and take the long way around. And don’t stop the meter at red lights.

The outfit I worked for ended up being a bit of a sleeze-shop. Taxis and Tours was the name, out of Suquamish, WA. When I first started it was actually a cool deal. There was a really nice lady in the dispatching office that helped out and directed me where to go to get some really good fare paying passengers. Any questions, I’d call her up and I was good to go. The next weekend I was told that her coworker quit so one of the other drivers was going to take over dispatch while she was off. Cool right…? Dispatch would ultimately tell us what part of town to stay in so we could maximize passengers and maintain fairness so we weren’t roaming in someone else’s territory. If a customer called in needing a cab they’d get the closest cabbie to go pick them up and that was about it. I noticed that when this other guy was dispatching, I never ever got calls for pick ups yet he was always giving me ‘hot tips’ on where to go sit and wait for fares. Hmmm….

A few weeks into this, money slowly waning away from lack of fares, I was called over to a parking lot to meet up with another cabbie. I pull up and the weirdest thing… the guy that was dispatching was sitting in another cab. He was dispatching remotely. Meaning when someone called in and needed a cab he took it. Why would he give a fare to someone else unless he absolutely couldn’t do it? Actually he did pass off fares to others. Like picking up disabled people that needed a five dollar ride to the corner bus stop. How the hell was I supposed to make any money? It all made sense. I quit the next day. This was straight up bullshit. The way the company worked is that you would ‘rent’ the cab each shift and pay for the gas. Everything else was money in the bank. I barely made enough to break even when he was dispatching, which as it turned out was most of the shifts that I was working.

On a less dramatic scenario, I’m driving trucks with a little more efficient of a dispatching system. Not by much though. I can’t complain about the money or opportunity with this interim job, but there’s a pattern to an important life anomaly. I get paid by the mile yet I have to factor in DOT rules about how long I can be on the road as well as the times I can pick up and deliver to customers. Add in the time it takes those customers to load their product and any equipment deficiencies eat away at extremely valuable time that could be time spent spinning the wheels down the road. We are in a perpetual tug of war between ‘be safe!’, ‘be on time’, and ‘don’t go over your DOT hours.’ Though the dispatchers and planners pay little attention to what’s actually going in with the drivers. I’m turn, for example, I was stuck in the middle of nowhere for four days since they couldn’t seem to plan ahead and get me another load when my driving hours came available again. Hurumph…

The thing I’m getting to here is the amount of our lives that are run by the dispatchers. The middle men. The snotty receptionists that screen what the boss hears. The paper pusher who works on ‘their’ time and ultimately only cares about ‘their’ paycheck and work/life balance. We all have them in our lives. You want to buy a house? You have to muddle your way through a plethora of gatekeepers. Buy a car? See your doctor? Call a technical support hotline? These people are all dispatchers. You only have a certain amount of leverage to get something accomplished. Just like I can only say so much out here on the road. If I bitch and complain about conditions, all they’re going to do is put me to the back of the list… They are the ones who make or break us. It’s a funny power trip that people coincidently acquire when they are put in these positions.

I think this is an untapped region of importance for success. When I considered opening another restaurant this last year I was looking at some real estate. I spoke with one of the agents and he was trying his hardest to sell me on a strip mall that hasn’t been leased out since it was built three years ago. I said I’d like to talk to the property owner and work something out. I would go to Bellevue to have a meeting with Andy Chen and see what could be worked out. Great! Until this sleezeball agent says I need to fill out a credit report before Andy will meet with me. I asked him, ‘you’re kidding me right?’ No kidding around. Mr. Chen was straight business and he didn’t want any riff-raff coming in trying to swindle him into a bum deal. My switch got turned off real quick… It wasn’t about my credit, it was the principle. I’m not going to do any sort of business with a person who thinks so highly of themselves that a simple meeting with them requires scrutiny from a credit check.

As much as I despise ‘money’ and what it does to people and societies, it is a necessary evil. It’s something we have to deal with. Truth is, unless we have a ton of social influence or ‘money’, we are going to be subjected to the crazy dispatchers that ultimately direct our lives where they see fit. Try walking into a car dealership saying you’re going to pay cash for a car. Wow! How the tables turn. Ask for financing or show any sort of financial weakness and they will drag you through the ringer. Even with good credit, they still have an upper hand. I contemplated buying a newer car a few weeks ago but not spending more than eight thousand. The salesman initially started out asking me what kind of payments I wanted to be making and what kind of down payment. I just wanted to see the particular car I was looking at. He would not shut up about the money aspect. I said ‘Look man, I’m going to pay cash when I find the right deal. I want to actually see what you have to offer.’ His attitude turned me off from not only buying anything from him, but to put off the idea of buying anything all together for now.

I can deal with authority. I can deal with being lower on the totem pole. What I can’t seem to come to accept is being shrugged off by some know-it-all middle man, or dispatcher, deciding what I need or don’t need in life. And this is becoming the real motivation for continuing school. It’s not about knowledge, it’s about leverage.

Holding on…

I was listening to my latest audiobook “What the Dog Saw” and there was an interesting section about late bloomers. He mentioned that it took Mark Twain almost ten years to finish “Huckleberry Finn” and that he had quit and restarted the project probably hundreds of times before he got it right.

First of all, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction essays. Excellent read.

The point of this topic got to me a bit today. I’ve been criticized by people about my dilettantism and how I can’t stay committed to one thing. I start to second guess myself when I start pursuing a lifestyle that is laid out for people unlike me. Looking for jobs as a career, meeting the right person, pursuing my passions… I get lost in the uncomfortableness of it all. It’s not me. I’ve been living the first part of my adult life trying to find the direction I need to go. I have a pretty darn good idea where it needs to go but I need to come to terms with it.

Is it ok for someone in their thirties or even forties to still be searching for the life that wakes them up? Absofrigginlutely. Hell, it doesn’t matter if you’re up to your nineties. If we stop experiencing what this life has to offer, what’s the point? If we live life for others’ expectations, what’s the point?

I may or may not accomplish the kind of life I want, and some ‘Biff Tannen’ is going to come along and try and poke fun at me saying he told me so if my plan goes to shit. But what happened in Back to the Future when they went forward in time? Biff wasn’t quite the man he projected himself to be.

I’m plugging along, fighting against necessary evils and irrational expectations. I’m holding on to something inside me that is keeping me going. Maybe I can chock it up to being a late bloomer?

Ass Gasket…

If any of you have seen the movie ‘Mr. Bean’ you’ll know what I mean when I talk about the scene where he goes into the bathroom and tries to dry off his crotch area with the hand blow dryers. Funny thing, that happened to me years ago. I was in the Auburn Supermall when like most normal people I had to use the restroom. That day I was wearing khaki colored slacks, tucked in shirt, etc etc. When I went to wash my hands the damn faucet had some issues and sprayed water directly below the belt. It wasn’t just a drop or two, it was a gush of water. Obviously I couldn’t walk out of the mall restroom with the appearance that I don’t know how to unzip my fly to use the toilet so I did what any man would do. I air humped the blow dryer. It was about chest high and all I could really do was thrust my pelvis into the airstream. Of course men of all ages walked in and surprisingly it seemed as if they completely understood. There was no crazy awkwardness. A few minutes later, all was well and the only consequence was that the girl I was with thought I might have had to drop a hefty deuce given the time I was in there.

Today, I was reminded of a struggle I have with a lot of people. A LOT. I went in to a truck stop restroom to partake in some morning rituals. As crazy as it sounds, [some] trucks stops are meticulously maintained yet I will always use an ass gasket or strips of paper to protect my ass-ets… Well, I went through the trouble of tearing one out of the dispenser, broke the perforations and carefully set in place over the porcelain donut of relief. I turned around to prepare for the mission at hand and the damn automatic flush obliterated my handiwork… Swoosh, the ass gasket was gone. Are you kidding me? Do you realize how much of a pain in the ass those things are to get out and set into place?

Finally, I was sitting there checking some Facebook and Twitter feeds when it hit me. It wasn’t the food either. I’ve been eating quite healthy lately. What struck me as funny is I get the same frustrating feeling with people all the time. Whether I call a technical support line, talk to a girl or even pass time conversing with a random stranger there is something I find in common. People either jump to conclusions too soon or they don’t let me get my ‘deuce’-cents in.

This idea goes back to people being generally self-centered. We all want to be correct in our own skin. I get it. But sometimes we have to humble ourselves, take a chill pill and don’t pull the trigger too soon. I play both sides of the coin here. Sometimes I get antsy and jump to conclusions as well. The lesson I learned this morning in the stall of a Love’s travel plaza is that sometimes we have to slow down and take a deep breath. Let things happen and when shit doesn’t work as expected, laugh about it and lay another ass gasket down.

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Gravel…

This blog may or may not get me in trouble one day. As I was dabbling in some resume writing today along with this peculiar site called ‘LinkedIn’ I was confronted with odd feelings of hesitation. What if a future employer or client sees my entries? I don’t look as refined and polished as many people out there. I don’t have fancy organizational affiliations or easy to describe abilities and accomplishments. I write candid and sometimes offensive personal essays. To formalize my experience and professional history is like caking on the wrong colored make-up for a trip to Wal-Mart.

All those cool words to emphasize my skills and abilities seem out of place. “Implemented and administered organizational framework developing cross-sector relations…” How about I just say I built a business from the ground up while busting my ass throughout the entire process. I learned from trial and error and drove myself to exhaustion because I worked so damn hard. I did everything from hiring and firing employees to filing taxes to scrubbing the grease out of the kitchen hood. I’m damn good at what I do and though I don’t have formal education, with a little time and life learned problem solving skills, I can run circles around others… Until I realize I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. My business didn’t fail. It’s still open actually. What failed is the fire that was ignited in my soul by irrational motivations.

I don’t want to build relationships with people that can’t understand that I am in fact a human being and as much as I would like to have a spotless reputation and impeccable track record in life, it just isn’t that way. Been there, done that, had the t-shirt made by an employees mom. All the other things I have done amount up to being nothing more than a jack of all trades. To some it’s a degrading quality to have. To others it’s endearing. I like to lean towards being the Renaissance Man. I have a lot of work to go however. I still want to travel, compete in a ballroom competition, build a house, build more businesses, meet a few thousand more people, and experience life as the way it was meant to be lived.

I will do my best to portray an air of professionalism when I need to but I don’t want to hide the grease on my face and the calloused hands in which I offer up to others. I’ve seen death, I’ve seen war, I’ve felt love, I’ve felt betrayal time and time again. I know what it’s like to be alone in a sea of superficial life. I have an undying love for the concept of respect and even more respect for the ones who have stood by my side. I also have the ever increasing strength to walk away from anything and anyone that does nothing to support who I am. I may seem timid and unsure at times but its not for sheer lack of confidence in myself. Sometimes it’s for lack of confidence in the words and advice I’ve received as gold.

Just as with any venture I’ve participated in, the end of anything specific has never meant resignation or throwing in the towel to my goals and dreams. A strange as it might sound it doesn’t even mean I’m a flight risk. When I find myself in the company of others who make it very apparent that my presence is of no consequence to their existence, I check out. If I had a greater personal reason for staying in the military I would have. If I had a desire to stay in the town which my restaurant was in I might have kept at it. My current plethora of activities is a move in which I feel confident in. It’s more than revisiting rogue accomplishments and cool stories to tell. Right now it’s about laying a bit more of a solid foundation for something better.

Here’s to driving on in light of judgment and ridicule. Here’s to standing tall in the face of professional inquisitions from individuals and institutions that derive power from holding the fate of others lives in their hands. This is not a show of rebellion, it is a show of solidarity. I want to live for something more than a profit and the bottom line. The path I’m leading may seem a bit rocky but have you noticed what they lay down first when they are re-paving a highway?

Move…

Sometimes we just have to move on from the life we know when there is nothing left. There are a lot of people out there that have no idea what I’m talking about. Things have fallen into place for them without much effort. It’s nothing bad, just the way it is. You live a standard childhood, get out of school and maybe go to college. Life may have ups and downs but you manage to make it through and maybe even find someone special along the way. You don’t have the experience of being down to your last and final resource. No matter how ‘hard’ things are, a lot of people have some sort of last resort within reach. I think of people who go to jail and always have someone to bail them out. If I went to jail, I honestly don’t know who I would call to get me out. If anything I would feel like an imposition on just about everyone I know so I’d probably just call QVC and talk to an operator for a while.

I’ve become slightly comfortable scraping by in life. Money isn’t the issue, it’s my purpose. I’ve done so many different things in my life, but I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. If I had a steady career, two story house, dog in the backyard and a picket fence would I feel more complete? Probably not. I think I’d still want to move on. A part of my life has been missing for so long and I’m really trying to get it back.

I’m tired of superficial friendships. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong somewhere. I’m tired of being tired for no reason. I’m tired of finding myself always back in the same spot time and time again. My next big move will be unpublished in print and face to face with others. I’ve decided to do something a bit different and instead of saying I will and possibly not doing it, I’m going to do it and write about it later. Kinda like my decision to go to flight school…

Plagiarism and ignorance…

In “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about a case of plagiarism and how the author that was plagiarized chose not to go forth with charges as his material was used in a play. There was hard evidence that the content was ‘stolen’ and used almost verbatim. I’m paraphrasing the exact story here mainly because I’m too lazy to go look it up again, and the details are ultimately irrelevant to my topic. Anyways, the author of these one-liners and gems that couldn’t have arisen from the public domain were being used in a fairly popular play. People said, “go after them! You deserve credit!” But he chose the higher road. He realized that his material would never had made it out if it weren’t for someone plagiarizing his work. It’s a concept such as freeware that is distributed by upcoming programmers who are simply trying to make a name for themselves. A long as the evidence is there that you produced something unique before anyone else you can eventually substantiate a claim later on if you really felt the desire.

Imitation is sometimes called the sincerest form of flattery. So is plagiarism to a certain degree. While taking college courses, plagiarism was about as strong of an offense as robbing a bank. Zero tolerance! Ok, I get it… We have to cite our sources and give credit where credit is due but in some aspects how much intellectual property can one person really own? Like the news today that a salon in Everett, WA is being pressured by Absolut Vodka to change their name from Absolut Hair (or something like that). Are you kidding me? Is this hair salon taking business from the vodka company? if anything, let it be free advertisement. This blog isn’t about traditional plagiarism however.

I was listening to an interview today on NPR with Bradley Manning’s defense attorney. Aside from this whole gender identity crises he/she is having, I came to a conclusion about something. He is not guilty of aiding the enemy, nor treason, nor derelict of duties. He is guilty of plagiarism. In fact, so is Edward Snowden. And more than likely most of the other famous government whistleblowers who ended up being punished for their actions.

Short of hardcore conspiracy theorists, it’s really easy to assume that certain things happen within the government and its agencies. Before Manning, it was merely ‘assumed’ without hard evidence that there was a huge lack of morality going on in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Pundits could rant about it and journalists could gamble on rogue sources but they were ultimately safe in reporting such assumptions.

Is the government watching you? Before Snowden we could only assume so from the cases of the ‘probablies’ over time. No one had the hard evidence or the balls to say it was happening, at least in the US. There was a report that Cisco is laying off workers because of the effect of these revelations about the government using their networking equipment to spy on virtually everyone. This is where ‘ignorance’ fits in to my title. I can tell you first hand, it is and always has been, amazingly easy to tap into the lines of communication provided by any source. Snowden has not ‘revealed’ anything that we shouldn’t have already known. He simply plagiarized the government.

Manning and Snowden tapped into one of the darkest corners of humanity in my opinion. Privy and greed. Even though they cited their sources very well, the government as an entity felt betrayed. There is a belief on the hill that it is not up to the governed to make choices to overstep the power given to the ones who are proclaiming to be ‘in charge.’ They took excerpts from government operations and made them very public. No government panel got together and decided how to release the information. There was no filter in which ‘shock and awe’ could be averted. What was revealed was the reality of what happens. It’s like the English major using Orwell’s 1984 in a research paper, fully cited, but still being chastised for making it known what was really going on.

I’ve always had a problem with people (and organizations) expressing their desire to be privy to certain bits of information. It’s a tool of power just as the fat cats use insider trading. You think it doesn’t happen? Maybe we just need another Snowden or Manning to show the hard evidence. Until then, it’s all speculation and the ones who are in power and control of this information are like the bully on the block who steals everyone’s lunch money and threatens to beat them up if they tell anyone. If everyone catches on to the bullies game, he loses his edge. If everyone catches on to the government’s game, it’ll lose it’s edge as well. And we need the government right? Right?

By the people for the people right? Does that even mean anything anymore? We can’t do anything without being affected in some shape or form by the government. Do I really need to list the examples? We are no longer free. We are simply free to move about the cabin until the man up front says to sit down, shut up and buckle your seatbelt. Thing is, we as humans are not on a perpetual plane flight so why the hell are we being treated like we are?

(Oh, and the picture below is from the Washington Post Website. Giving credit where credit is due.)

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