Have you heard of Randy Pausch? How about “The Last Lecture”?
Randy was a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon and in September of 2007 he delivered what his final lecture that, in my opinion, is an absolute must see – it’s a discussion on life and achieving your childhood dreams. Considering that at the time he gave the speech he was aware that he was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, his perspectives on life are quite encouraging.
I won’t discredit the speech with an attempt at paraphrasing, just find 76 minutes of spare time and go check it out. You won’t regret it.
And I doubt anyone who’s been around here for any length of time would mistake me for one. Because I’m not a journalist and I’m not really held to any standards… well, I can pretty much say what I want to.
Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits!! (R.I.P.)
Uhm… yeah… like that. So anyway – while reading through a recent article on MSNBC I heard that old, familiar buzzing of my world-famous Bullshit Sensor. The article read as follows:
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama announced Thursday that he will help pay off Hillary Rodham Clinton’s more than $20 million debt, personally writing a check in a gesture meant to win over her top financial backers.
I underlined the part that set off the B.S.S. Like I said, I’m no journalist and there’s alot that I don’t know about the field, but I thought there was this ‘journalistic integrity’ thing that was supposed to prevent this kind of crap? Right?
If I’m not reading an editorial, or a blog (HA!), then my news report should be an objective relay of facts and nothing more. And if the Obamas didn’t announce that the check was being written in an attempt to win over Clinton’s financial backers, then the “journalist” is either guessing at motivation, or they’re subjecting me to their opinion.
Hey Associated Press, here’s a thought: when the facts of the story are help was needed and help was given, hows about you don’t set the tone in the first paragraph by pawning the gesture off as a measured publicity stunt?! But don’t worry, Journalist Person – I’m sure there will come a day when we all want to know what you think… and when we do we’ll come read YOUR blog!
I’ve been pretty lucky for the past few years – my rent increased at all… but that wasn’t always the case! A few years ago while living down in Florida I had the misfortune of watching my monthly payment increase anywhere from 60-95 dollars with each annual renewal. Also, during that time, the price of gasoline increased roughly a dollar per gallon… and at 12 miles-per-gallon, and if you want to know what THAT feels like just grab a handful of Short Curlys in a nice firm grasp and just yank as hard as you can.
Unnecessary and definitely uncool.
You’re right – my bad. I think being away for so long has made me a bit overeager? Sell the truck would be the conventional solution but maybe not when I already own it. Book value is maybe four grand and buying a new vehicle is going to mean taking on a new note. Even with the savings in gas expenses it would take years to begin to recoup any of it.
Anyways, all of this got me to thinking about the conceptual nature of how this financial stuff is supposed to work; and wondering if it’s really “supposed to work” at all? Let’s go back to the rent thing for a second. During those three years where my rent kept going up, let’s say I held down a job and maintained status quo… nothing special but not below average either. I could then reasonably look forward to the average run-of-the-mill, 3% annual increase right? That’s, of course, taking alot of ‘givens’ into account – such as the company I work for being in good enough financial standing that they’re actually giving out annual increases, but what the hell… let’s go wild.
So to fully flesh out this scenario, let’s say I’m earning an above average salary, ok? We’ll call it 50k per year just to simplify the math. At the end of one year that’s an additional $1,500 to my yearly base and then at the end of year two that’s an additional $1,545 – that’s a gain of $3,045 from year one to year three by having some good days and some bad days, not getting promoted and not getting canned. Now, before we get into some full-contact Buzzkill, I should mention that all of these are pre-tax numbers. Once you reduce that by the national average of 30.8% to pay taxes that leaves an average of about $1,050 per year, or $87.50 in take-home income each month.
And now to bring it full circle: back to the 12 mpg gas guzzler and the annual rent spikes. Eighty-seven dollars a month would set me just about even on that annual rent increase if the price of gas wasn’t continually on the rise… but it is. Or maybe I’d break even if I’d been good enough to warrant a four or five percent raise in that hypothetical scenario.
Whatever. Enough with the IF’s. You remember Ed? Remember that line he used to say? If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle! Enough with the damn IFs.
Right. So, again, how is all of this supposed to work? When you think if pulling even, financially or otherwise, you’re thinking of average, right? But even starting with an above-average salary the only way to break even is to be exceptional. I’m no numbers wizard and it’s quite possible that I’m missing something here but it seems to me that something in this system is broken.
Just to be clear – I’m not suggesting that our taxes should lowered because cutting into the profit margins just isn’t allowed… lower taxes would only mean that less gets done. Besides, many “civilized” nations actually charge a higher percentage than the U.S. does. What I want to understand is how does the average American citizen financially survive in our present conditions?
If I had a nickel for everytime someone asked me that question… well… I’d still be broke – but that’s not the point.
The point is I don’t really have a good answer for it. I thought I did. I stuck by it for months or years or whatever it’s been but the fact of the matter is that a friend asked me today and as I began reciting entry #28 in my handy Excuse Manual, my trusty Bullshit Sensor suddenly jumped clear off the charts!
Did you just call bullshit on yourself? Dude, you need help.
Yup… he’s back too.
So anyway – I don’t have a good answer for that and, my apologies to the local Fire Department, but I don’t have my Excuse Manual anymore either. It’s amazing how naked I feel without that thing.
Welcome back, everybody. See you soon!
I just couldn’t let this one go…
Brooke Astor died today at the age of 105. That’s right, one-hundred-and-five. As the heir to the Astor fortune, Brooke had a softspot for charity and gave millions of dollars to the New York Public Library, Bronx Zoo, and numerous other NYC hallmarks. In her time she was often quoted as saying that “Money is like manure, it should be spread around”, and that’s exactly what she did.
Among the family’s lesser known charities was The Astor Program for Gifted Children – a program that offered a premium education to some of the top academic performers in New York City’s public school system. I was entered into the program in 1980 which, as far as I can tell, was maybe five or six years after the Astor family had stopped funding the program — but I guess sometimes all you really need is a good foundation.
Despite inheriting many of my era’s top social, psychological, and economic excuses to grow up and become another heartbreaking statistic, I chose a different path. A path made available to me thanks to good parenting, passionate schoolteachers, and a hellacious drive to persevere; and on that second point it stands to reason that a fair amount of the credit for the happy, healthy, and reasonably successful person I’ve found a way to become is due to the opportunity afforded me as a child… because of the well-intentioned manure that was spread my way.
Thank you, Brooke. Rest well.
I once mentioned here that I'm likely the slowest eater on the face of the Earth. Typically when someone makes a statement of such extremity it's instantly assumed to be exaggeration but in this case it's really not – if I'm not the world's slowest I've got to be pretty damn close. It's never bothered me very much but slow eatin' ain't for everybody; there's occasionally going to be some peer pressure involved. Even when that pressure is unspoken, there'll be some seriously impatient looks thrown your way when the rest of your group is ready to grab the check and un-ass the table but you're still meandering around the edge of your plate.
I am eternally grateful that I was born with the sort of mutant genetics that grants me a high resilience to subtle coersion, guilt trips, and various other forms of emotional manipulation. Don't get me wrong – if we have to keep time I'll pick up the pace a bit so as not be the Single Most Inconsiderate Fucker Ever, but other than that I don't see any point in rushing it.
I know this is going to sound a little bit nuts so just go with me for a minute, ok? What if the foods you chose to eat, and the way you chose to eat those foods, were none of anybody's damn business? Sick, right? Hey, that's just how I doo's it; but this isn't about privacy, it's about finding those little ways to take your time and do what you damn well please.
Check the score. If you have have responsibilities, like a job or bills or anything like that, then somewhere, at some points in your day, you've got a clock hanging there and eyeballing you – just waiting for you to get a move on. It happens to all of us whether you have a punchcard or if you run your own business and have to be timely for your meetings with clients or investors, we've all got that clock just staring us down from time to time and there's nothing that can be done about that. That's what makes those rare moments, when the clock isn't looking, that much more special.
That's what those moments are. They're rare instances when you don't have think about your work or even be considerate of others feelings and you can do, or in this case eat, what you want and how you want and that's all there is to it. Eating surely isn't the only example of this but it's one of my favorites and therefore the first to come to my mind… and I'd love to hear what yours are too!
I generally try to keep my vices to a minimum and I've accepted that eating is going to be one of them. My selections are restricted, almost exclusively, to things that taste good to me because THIS thing is going to be MY thing. Of course, I'm not completely closed-minded about this; I'll at the very least entertain naysayers before rewarding their contrary opinions with complimentary bottles of Shut The Fuck Up.
I try to limit this thing to an area of my life where I can be all about me and still not be a selfish prick and I think I've done a reasonably good job of it but I'm not the only one. There's an entire Slow Down movement building up steam out there preaching the same goodness about recognizing and appreciating the irreplacable value of time, the ultimate commodity.
Do it, I urge you. Find something that you can do by yourself that makes you feel good, where you're not infringing upon anyone elses humanity, and just go at it. Take your sweet time and enjoy every second. Do it because you can, and because life is too short not to.
I wanna footrace against Tom Cruise. I’m serious. Have you ever watched any of his movies? Mission Impossible 3, War of the Worlds, all the way back to Risky Business… hell, you could probably just pick one at random and stand a legitimate chance of seeing him break out into some serious sprinting. Sometimes, like in MI:3, I could swear it’s a camera trick! Either way this guy can flat out book… and I think I can take him. He seems like a competitive, high-energy kind of guy and I think he’d be up for it.
Come on Tommy boy, I’m calling you out! I know you’re out there reading and checking my site daily for updates. Don’t duck me man! Just you and me, no witnesses, and I won’t tell anybody if I spank ya. Bring it on.
For awhile now some of the traffic that’s been coming to visit here has been netsurfers: somebody out there just riding the search engines and looking for something. From time to time I’ll see a visitor and the search term they were looking for and just wonder ‘how the hell did they get here‘; but other times it just seems to make sense. Today I had one of each:
Women givin other men head:
I’ve been thinking really hard about this one and I’m not sure how it happened. I know it’s highly unlikely but have I written something about blowjobs that I just forgot about??
Definition giving someone “the business”:
Ah yes, an easy one! “Giving him the business” is an expression I snatched out of pro football history. Back in 1986 during a game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills someone committed a rare kind of violent foul. The interesting twist here was that in a sport heralded for it’s harsh physicality, this play involved Buffalo’s quarterback! Of the dozens of different positions one can play in this game only three are granted any kind of significant protection by the rules of the game and quarterback is one of them.
It would have been the sweetest of irony if the quarterback, Jim Kelly, had been the one commiting the foul but poor Jim was on the receiving end. After being sacked (tackled to the ground),Marty Lyons, the Jets player, began repeatedly punching Jim in the head! Although it’s clearly against the rules there is no specific entry in the rulebook against “kicking that guy’s ass”, so the presiding referee expressed himself in the best way he knew how. He clicked on his mic and told the crowd this:
Hilarious. The line immediately became part of National Football League history. Why would I choose that for the name of the site? Because all in that one moment you have a curious, awkward, but funny mixture; one guy got mad (Lyons), one guy got hurt (Kelly), one guy was left utterly speechless (Dreith, the referee), but true to the old adage humor was in the eyes of the beholders.
Correction: As pointed out by a visitor in the comments area, my reference was a bit off. Marty Lyons wore number 93, not 99 as posted in the quotation I looked up. Number 99 was “the New York Sack Exchange”, aka Mark Gastineau.
Do you remember being a kid? Do you ever wish for those days when you could go out and play and when things didn’t go right you could call ‘Do Over’ and just make it all go away? This was one of those days.
I once wrote up a post about The Hero Factor and to tell you the truth, that whole thing could have been composed from personal experience. As proof of that I offer a happy little tale of a day when healthy things like rational judgment, and concern for my own safety somehow just managed to elude my grasp.
Once upon a time my formula for “friend” selection was far less complicated than the lengthy algebraic equation I use these days. If you go back far enough I’d consider you friend just for being there; and that’s what Mason was – he was just there. Now, in his defense, in the years following I found Mason to be a decent, upstanding guy, but on this one afternoon he was a straight up coward.
Me and Mase were two of the tallest kids in class for many years and back when you had to line up, shut up, and await further instructions, you were ordered to arrange yourselves in size order from shortest to tallest. We were seated side-by-side at the back of the classroom every year and whenever we’d get split into twos it was always me and Mason, those last two guys, working on class projects together.
You’re dragging this out again. Let’s GO!
OK! I’m quite possibly the slowest eater on planet Earth and 25 years ago this was still true – so by the time I finished my lunch everybody was out there already! So this one day I head out to the schoolyard and see a massive crowd standing around what appears to be some sort of brawl. As a child I’d always been taught to stay away from that scene because there was nothing good that could come of it but sometimes you can’t just hear it, you have to see it for yourself.
As I close in on the center of the crowd I see five guys having at it. One white and four black. When I get a little close I can make out a face – it’s Mason, and though fighting back vigorously, the four black guys are handing him a proper ass-kicking. I was absolutely enraged. Without hesitation and without consideration for consequence or safety, I put my head down and charged straight in there.
I made my way through the crowd as they were stomping him out and barreled into one of Mase’s assailants. Though extraordinarily slight of frame, I had very good speed and delivered a solid blow that floored him! “Back off!!”, I ordered.
You’re full of shit. You didn’t say that.
No, I really did. What can I say, I watched alot of TV when I was a kid! Anyway, the looks on those four guys faces was priceless. There I stood, between them and Mason, almost as big as the smallest of them and completely fearless. The crowd went silent. And then came the fist across my cheek…
Over what felt like the next three or four hours I got beaten like a drum. I took it like a champ and stayed on my feet and even got in a few decent punches of my own. If you’ve ever been rocked on the jaw real good you know how it wickedly time can get distorted afterwards. Your mind races and everything slows down and minutes can feel like hours. Amidst this one-sided melee I saw something that froze me.
Uh yeah. Just for the record: Freezing up is not a good thing when you’re getting jumped by four guys.
I saw Mason! Eye-to-eye! He was on his feet, looking relatively uninjured, and watching excitedly from among the crowd!!
That sonofabitch! He was fighting off four guys by himself while the rest of his so-called friends watched!? And when you came to help him he just walked off? He didn’t even go for help??? He just stood there!?
Yes he did. Just after that brief moment of bewilderment came yet another unpleasant wakeup call.
Got rocked upside the head again?
Yeah. But by then I had already switched gears mentally; I’d gone from running on instinct to actually thinking again. That’s why things slow down when you’re all amped up like that. Your brain disconnects and you just do what comes naturally. Thinking will slow up your reflexes. The good part was that I remembered I had been practicing karate, then delivered a beautiful kick that doubled over one of my attackers; the bad news is with my mind re-engaged, I got pummelled to the ground when I stopped to admire the results of that kick.
It didn’t take much longer after that for the school aides to arrive and break it up and though I took a few lumps there was no real harm done. It was literally a painful lesson to learn, but one that we all learn and I’m glad I got it out of the way early in life. In retrospect I regretted putting myself at risk to try and help Mason, but if that same kind of thing were to happen to one of my friends today I’d still charge right in there. I’ve just been far more selective since then about who gets to bear the title of “Friend”.
This morning there was a discussion on the radio about cheating in relationships. My usual game of dodgeball became rather involved today so I wasn't able to really focus in on the conversation but it went more or less like this:
Guy DJ: My girlfriend is pissed off at me.
Girl DJ: Why is that?
Guy DJ: Because she says I cheated on her.
Girl DJ: Why would she say something like that??
Guy DJ: Because I slept with someone else.
Girl DJ: Then she's right!! You did cheat on her!!
Guy DJ: No I didn't, she's only my girlfriend. It's not cheating until you're married.
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…
Knock it off. What are you so scared of anyway?
Ever hear of a can of worms? Does the name Pandora mean anything to you?
Whatever… let's just run this one and see where it goes. Ok – so this guy's point of argument is 'why is she getting all worked up if she's not my wife?', and his co-host's response to that is 'well duh! because you fucked somebody other than her!'.
Now, typically, in a battle-of-the-sexes, it's easier for me to see his side than it is to see her's but I'd have to call this one of those rare exceptions. Conceptually, 'cheating' is kinda like 'working'; it's definition is very much open to individual interpretation. The line could be drawn at touching or kissing or anywhere else, really. Depending on who you ask you'll hear answers ranging from 'emotional infidelity is committed by fantasizing about someone else'; whereas others will go so far as to say 'you can do what you want as long as you don't do it with anyone I know and I never have to hear about it', which is basically a variant of the 100-mile rule.
To be fair, we should leave polyamory out of this because, although you can still cheat in a polyamorous relationship, we're just not comparing apples to apples anymore. Besides that, the argument that sex is a natural act while marriage is just another invention is quite a compelling one that could take some time to sort out. Anyway, if you want to be technical you can go you your dictionary and look up "cheating" but don't expect to find anything useful there. With such a broad range of possible, yet valid, definitions it stands to reason that he has no way of knowing that his girlfriend would draw the line at penetration unless they'd discussed the topic first, right?
Yeah, but it's not gonna go down like that. If they haven't discussed it then the first time he cheats on her is kinda like a gimme because he didn't know better.
Ah yes, that ages old quip: It's better to ask forgiveness than permission. I love that line. In a get-it-done-at-all-costs scenario there's no question it's the right way of thinking but how often do we really, really find ourselves in that kind of predicament? This isn't about life or death, it's about getting your feels. When the action is the single most important thing then you're clearly better off doing it than filing a request for permission; but when the consequences to the action, in this case hurting someone important to you, outweighs the action itself then I'd advise carefully considering the cost of admission.
Yeah but none of that applies unless you get caught. And if 'the cost of admission' really is worth taking your chances then what?
Then do your thing. Whatever your thing may be, do your thing… 'cause above all else, you gotta be you.