Friday, September 17, 2010

Staying on theme today...

Full-time Facebook poster. Someone get this guy hired!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's about Pirates

The beauty of the Facebook is all the great posts I see everyday. I may only have 90 some odd friends on here, but you all are a pretty interesting and insightful bunch. Many of my blogs have started with a kernel of a post or a message from there and then I turn it into a bowl of popcorn. Feel free to pour on the syrupy movie butter sauce and salten that sumabitch up. See my popcorn has attitude.

A lot of my posts have been pretty emotional and intense so I want to liven it up, and yet I'm still in a self-induced fog from my little weekend/day sojourn of self-pity but I'm getting over myself. I had a good day yesterday fishing with some buddies on the river. I watched Remy almost reel in a salmon in front of a jet boat audience. Instead it tore off his line. The fish got away. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good the bait is, or how strong the line. Sometimes a fish just won't be caught. It doesn't matter if the stars align and you are supposed to entertain the crowd of senior citizens on a jet boat. Regardless I think they got a kick out of the four of us out fishing. Remy with his hat looked like Huckleberry Finn. With the beers and Joey's vodka (or rubbing alcohol) he was consuming and me and Sam with some beer bottles we looked like four pirates on a trip through Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. I guess it's fitting that we are truly almost pirates waiting for a ship, bounty, or job. Sam's line was classic as he yelled out to the white haired boaters, "This is what unemployment looks like!" They laughed and applauded. All we needed was the music..Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me.

I think it would be easier to live the life of a pirate sometimes then the lives we live now. The fresh open air, and the high seas. Singing songs and drinking rum. The gold, the diamonds, and whatever else pirates found. Sure there was scurvy and madness and all the immoral pirate activities: murder, rape, pillaging, etc. I guess those are non-starters. But I know for sure that it was more of a democracy on those ships then the one we are currently living in now. At least you knew what a pirate stood for. He did his stabbing in the front. Literally, he stabbed you. Nowadays all the stabbing comes from behind, covert like, with a smile. I guess pirates held blades to the back of men while they walked the planks so maybe they did stab in the back too. There goes that theory. You can't even trust pirates.

I don't know who makes the decisions anymore. We can't look at the President. They lost power a long time ago. Congress also does not wield any. It's all back office maneuvering, corporate board rooms, private parties, and islands in Georgia circa 1910. All of these places that created the systems that we live in today. Nobody has any authority over anything. No one can make a final decision. They have to get upper management, more upper management, HR, ER, OR, and JR.. Ewing, yeah he's even involved and if there is oil and money involved what a great pirate he'd have been. He'd have ate Blackbeard's liver for dinner.

Speaking of Pirates, how the hell does a baseball team in Pittsburgh get the nickname Pirates? Was there some ship that settled in Pittsburgh I was unaware of? Most teams have some semblance of accuracy to their names. But the Pirates in Pittsburgh? And besides they are horrible! They haven't been to the playoffs in 18 years. I don't think they've had a winning season in that long either. They completely deserve to be stripped of their name. The should be called the Pittsburgh Praying Mantis's. No way do they deserve to call themselves Pirates. There would have been a mutiny on that ship 15 years ago. They are just sailing around in dead last every year looking for treasure in their backyard swimming pool, what a depressing baseball team. They make me look forward to the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball season.

I know one thing about pirates, I wouldn't have had a background check to worry about. There would be no passing the buck and making excuses. No wrangling for answers. Don't like the policy? "Well we got a piece of wood for you to balance on, on the side of the boat, come check it out." Fine, I get that. Real simple. Why can't all of our answers be that simple?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The solo journey

The only thing better than stream of conscious writing is stream of conscious intoxicated writing, so here we go. On with the show. I am appreciative of my friends who have been with me through these trying times. I am definitely experiencing some technical difficulties.

I walked home from downtown M-ville tonight and it wasn't even half bad. In fact I think I broke my all-time record, and yet there was no trophy waiting for me here. What a sham. I feel like I've been in some kind of comatose state. Maybe that is because of the type of job I was in. By the way, to the people I haven't shared with that follow the blog, I was exterminated, er, i mean terminated by the corporate machine on Friday. It seems my background check came back unclean with some old school "misdemeanor" info from several years ago. I'm still battling with them because of the ridiculousness of the reasoning, but I'm also resigned to accept the fact that this is how the machine works nowadays. There is no reason, it just is. It's statistical analysis. I wish I was better in math. Oh well.

When I look at our society now I wonder if great artists would even survive. Could Hemingway make it in today's world? What about Michelangelo? I doubt it. It it a quick fix, quick decision society. If Michelangelo requested extra time to paint the Sistine Chapel TMZ would have already painted him a fraud and his genius would be shelved for a faster painter who could get the job done. There is no appreciation for the process anymore. The process is quickly, the artistic qualities, not so important. Even the authors we read are not exactly writing classics. They write novels that can be consumed in a few sittings. There is no way that War and Peace would get published today. Nor anyway that if Leo Tolstoy lived today he would write it. Why dive into a 1225 page novel when a 100-125 page screenplay can net you millions? No one would commit to that. It would be masochistic in today's society. Then it was genius. Most of us would not even read a book of that magnitude and I'm not ashamed to say I am one of them.

Am I bitter about life? Absolutely. I am a good person. I've made some mistakes, sure. Am I perfect? Of course not. Did I get my heart smashed into a million pieces? I did. My ex says I wasn't committed to her, but I took her to Europe. I'll admit I did not appreciate her as much as I should have and probably took her for granted, but I loved her tremendously and it has been a very difficult transition back to being single. I would have married her, contrary to her beliefs, but I understand that is all hindsight. I was a loner for so long in my life and isolated from relationships, I probably wasn't the best boyfriend. I also understand that age is a huge factor.

It is very hard being 33 and single. I know that people my age with children and in marriages may wish for their "freedom" but it comes at a cost too. The grass is not always greener. When you reach my age you think longer about what didn't work in your life. The mistakes, the poor decisions, the times you were wronged. They are highlighted maybe more so then at 23. Because you know there is a time limit. I want children. I want to play ball with my son or daughter. I want to experience a full life, not just the single one. There is an appreciation for life that I don't understand. I see that on my friends Facebook posts. Their pride for their children. I don't have that. I hope I will one day.

Anyways, this stream of intoxicated writing concept is sobering. I lost my buzz! I realize that I'm still young. I know I have time to achieve things. I just know that I'm ready for something more than what I'm living. Good night or good morning my friends.

The absurdity of it all

Well ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the summit of our civilization and are descending into the abyss. It's called the information era. Who are you really? Well I can't tell you from a face to face introduction, let me get some background reports on you though then we'll really know. You are no longer a face and a body. You are no longer a voice and a soul. You are what the computer says you are. Doesn't matter if it's right, doesn't matter if it's accurate, you are what the computer says you are.

Don't like that? Don't believe me? Check it out. A 58 year old woman has to PROVE she is alive because the computers are determined she is deceased. The Alabama woman was denied a safe deposit box at a bank because it reported her social was reporting deceased. She checked with the Social Security department but they showed she was alive and kicking it. Her friend had her apply for credit to test that out.. she was denied..11 times. All 11 rejection letter were vague and indicated they were unable to verify her social. When her card was denied at a retailer and a clerk called to verify she called the cops, thinking this woman was an identity theft criminal. Cops let her go because her driver's license ID matched her card. We soon will not have that luxury of photo ID, because it seems soon, that won't make a difference.

We are numbers: FICO, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. We are records, valid, invalid, no difference. The computer says so. The computer is never wrong. There are more credit collectors calling the wrong people than ever before. Information gathered leads them to the wrong person and harassing calls meant for one person get put through to you. Do they care? No, the computer led them here. It has to be accurate. Jobs now require intense background screenings. Third party companies not even affiliated with your employer determine your ability for employment. These same companies can't divulge information to the company that hires you due to privacy laws. Yet the company that hires you pays your paycheck. The third party company is in some warehouse in Florida running our corporate machine. I don't blame them, they are just doing what the computer tells them to.

We are told to monitor our credit reports. We order them online to check every item that may affect our ability to borrow. But the lenders can just change the rules. What was eligible three months (or even three days ago) won't matter in three weeks, more likely months, when the invalid item reporting is cleared. It is amazing how quickly information appears erroneously and how difficult it is to remove that. How can we be right when the computer is wrong? What's going on? It must be that we are lying! Not to mention all the identity theft that is rampant and exposing our information online, and ordering one of these online credit reports only leads to more potential victimization in the future.

We can't even dispute things face to face. Our word is meaningless. If we don't go online to file this dispute, forget it. You can sit on hold but no one you speak to can solve anything. They are merely puppets to the machines that sit in front of them. Reasonable thoughts and sensible decision making are no longer even options. We type those into a computer system and they will determine what our decision should be. "System generated" is the new catchphrase. System generated results, all decisions are system generated, the leads are system generated, all the votes are system generated. What is this system? And who is generating them? The computer in front of us?

Our economy is system generated. Stock numbers that are meaningless and have no value to reality determine whether or not you are hired or fired. Whether you get that pay increase you deserve or whether you are forced to take a cut. Numbers controlled by more numbers; inflated, real, no difference. They show up in the computer, they must be accurate. By the time we figure out they were wrong, it won't matter anyways.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vinny and Don

Don Draper reflecting over an Old Fashioned

Sunday nights are my oasis. If I had a horrible week (and I did) or if I had a great week (and I did not) I can count on Sundays letting me escape into another place. My two favorite shows are on Sundays. The first is Entourage and the other show is Mad Men. Both have great writing, but completely different textures of it. Tonight's Mad Men was so good I watched it twice. Entourage's season finale was more of a melt down. There are similarities between Vinny Chase and Don Draper though, they always get the women! They may screw it up with them, they may self destruct, but they do pull themselves together. Don is certainly more of the loner, the introspective type that can seem to live in a melancholy state of mind. Yet he makes that state look so cool. While Vinny just enjoys the ride and it doesn't seem like depth is his strongest attribute.

Something about the tone and the writing just makes Mad Men linger longer in my head. While Entourage is a kick, I don't think about it long afterwards. While episodes and scenes of Mad Men can stick with me days and weeks later. Maybe it is because I can relate to the challenges and the growth that Don goes through. His line tonight about "wanting more but once you get it longing for what you had" is priceless to me and probably rings true to most everyone. It seems every episode this season has resonated to me somehow. This one made me want to get back to the gym and start swimming again. It was a quiet and optimistic episode tonight and a message I definitely needed. Life is complex and while we may seem to feel like we are on top of the world or we've hit our stride life has a way of changing. We can be on the bottom just as quickly as we were on the top. It's how we respond and treat ourselves and others around us that determines where we will stay.

I'm in a transition again. The next few days will determine a lot in the direction of my life. It is an interesting time. The events that unfolded last week have redirected me again. This whole year has been a year of growth and redirection. Do I make different decisions in my life? Do I listen to the lessons? Or do I fall back into my old routine? There is no easy road anymore. Not sure if there ever was, but I know now that I can't expect to coast to get what I want. I have to throw myself out there, throw my passion out there. If it fails, and I'm not good enough at least I cannot fault myself the try. I can only commit to going full force and not accepting anything less than that.

Peaks and valleys is the world we live in. There are mountains we scale and canyons we fall into. There are oceans we can sail and lakes we can only swim. Sometimes our car runs out of gas while we are in the middle of nowhere. Other times we ride in a bus full of all of our family and friends and the music never seems to end. We can't control everything that turns up, good, bad, tragic, heartbreaking. We can control how long we stay there. I don't want to forget. All of this is meaningful. All of this has purpose.