Friday Fives – how the man keeps you down!

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Are you a good worker?

How do you mean?  Like… am I good at what I do?  Am I as productive as I could be?  I’ll answer both, but I remain suspicious of your motives.  The answers are yes, and no.

Ok, since you brought this up, I have a whole rant that has been building in my head for years.  I wanted it to be its own piece, but it ended up being boring and preachy.  Here is said rant >

The right/Republicans/conservatives (call them whatever you want) have this mythological fantasy of the working class.  They say that Americans WANT to work.  They said all these great masses of hard American workers needs only thing – the Govt off their back.  The philosophy of the right is to get government out of the way of the great proletariat working class so they can succeed on their own.

I have worked long enough to tell you I don’t think there really is this huge hulking mass of people eager to be successful on their own terms but can’t because of government interference.  It’s a great idea, and I just love it.  Unfortunately, human nature kicks in.  People are working, very simply, because they have to.  It doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, and it doesn’t mean we don’t take pride in our work.  If American productivity is suffering, it is because of human nature – laziness and sloth and self interest.  This isn’t even an American problem… it is simply human nature.

Here is where it gets sinister.  In the guise of helping the ‘poor and struggling working class’, the conservatives want to strip away govt regulation of everything.  If not to benefit the working class, then who is it for?  So corporations can run amok with pollution, and no regard for labor laws.  This movement means that not only is the government not looking out for you, but they are making it easier for your boss to screw you.  They have an answer to this, too.

It’s known as ‘trickle down economics’.  By letting your boss only pay you minimum wage, and skirt all matter of regulations, he gets to make much more money.  With all that money, he can employ more people, right?  And he can afford to go to the movies, which is good for the local economy at the movie theater.  And he can afford to do out to nice dinners, which is good for the restaurant economy, and the parking valet economy.  And he can afford to pay you more, so that you can do all those nice things that also help the economy.  A rising tide lifts all boats, right?  Except… it doesn’t work.  We have learned that the rich just pocket the net difference and don’t do shit for those below them.  This is why while the rich keep getting richer, the wages for middle class working Americans haven’t moved in 40 years.

All these shortcuts for business owners DOES help the business owners, that is true.  However, the business owners are, by definition, not the working class.  They are the bourgeois (pronounced boozh-wah), which means ‘the owners of the means of production’.  The actual worker bees… doing the actual work… they are the ‘proletariat’.  Of course, this is a simplified explanation of a very complex issue.  Just know that odds are, you are probably getting screwed.  The conservatives not only aren’t helping you, they are actively working against you.   Even worse?  They are so good at messaging and manipulating that they get people to vote against their own self interest.

If the right really wanted to do something for the working class… how about getting rid of the onerous effective 45% tax on overtime?  What good is making time and a half when the government takes half?

Let’s say you make $10 an hour.  You have a chance to pick up another 8 hour shift.  Great!  You will be making $15 an hour!  Not so much.  After taxes, you are only making $8.25 an hour.  It’s explained better here, but the net result is why bother working OT?  Why kill yourself and what little free time you have to make LESS than your regular hourly rate.  THAT is someone could make a real difference in American productively and American quality of life.  Make working overtime actually worth it.

Know what else ‘they’ do?  They tax unemployment.   Every job you have ever legally worked at, you pay into unemployment.  Your employer matches it.  Both of you have no choice, and that is a good thing.  The idea is this is a safety net in case you lose your job through no fault of your own.  I have been laid off a couple of times, and I have received unemployment benefits.  It truly is a blessing and a lifeline.  I sure was pissed, though, when I found it being taxed.  Why are you taking a chunk of my money now?  When I need it so bad?  It is only half of what I was getting paid to work, and I paid into this my whole life… with my earnings… and the Fed gets a cut?  That is how you kick a man while he is down.

I can’t tell you the Democrats are going to save you.  All evidence proves they are just as corrupt.  However, if we have any chance it is with them.  Yes, the Dems put lots of rules in place.  Too many.  However, they are the ones who make sure your rivers don’t catch on fire, and that you can breathe good air and have drinking water.  They are the ones that make sure you get vacation, sick time, leave time, days off.  Like unions, most Dems in power have become as corrupt as the powers they are fighting.  However… they/we remain on the right side of history.

*** whew.  that came out of nowhere!  It is also why it took me an extra day to get these out.  Once I started that rant above, I just kept going and going.  Obviously this is stuff I am passionate about.

 What do you carry?

Always?  A leatherman, my keys, and my cell phone.  I don’t even leave to get the mail without a leatherman.  Let me add this – I firmly believe you have never have enough lights and knives.  Know what else is super cool about the Leatherman?  It’s an American company.   Even better?  It is their name!  The company was started in 1983 by Tim Leatherman.  With a name like that, dude was bound for greatness!  or… gay porn.  Still, what a cool story.  Now, you will see zillions of ‘multi-tools’, as the industry calls them.  Like kleenex and band aids and jello before him… we simply call them all ‘leatheman’ now.  Btw, mine is a real Leatherman, comrade.  Thanks, Tim!

Do you know your neighbors?

Know them?  I LOVE them.  I have gotten very close with our neighbors in the last few years.  They are all wonderful and amazing people, and I am thankful.  I live way out of town, down a dirt road.  No stop lights or streetlights or anything.  Not even city water.  So, we are a bit isolated.  This means are neighbors are even more valuable.  Also, having such wonderful neighbors when you live out in the country is wildly practical.  To go drinking in town is just too far, and then certainly unsafe to drive home.   So, instead, we save our money and drink at each others houses.  Here is what I mean by remote; let’s say I am going two houses over… we drive.

Where do you like to go for a day trip?

If I have the time?  Into the mountains.  Luckily, being in Denver, we are just about an hour drive from being deep into the woods of the Rocky Mountains.  It’s pretty great here.

What is at your feet?

dogs.  Weird thing, though… it’s your dogs.  please come get them.  We have enough, already.

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Friday Fives – the age of fire edition

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Do you consider yourself young, old or middle aged?

Middle aged.  Mentally, I feel young.  Not ‘young at heart’, just young  curious, easily amused, quick with a complement and a stupid story (Spinach pie, anyone?) and always wanting to understand more.  Enjoy being wrong, if it leads to more or better knowledge.  Body-wise… middle aged for sure.  It’s a piece of this, this body. I shouldn’t say that, I am blessed with all my senses and gifted in other areas.  BUT… my back and knees are that of an 80 year old ex marathon runner.  Trust me, there are MUCH bigger struggles in the world than a middle class white who has an ouchie back.  My problems are admittedly first world, white person problems.

Like everyone on earth, what I wouldn’t give to have my knowledge and capabilities and compassion but into a 20 year old body.   What’s that amazing Bob Seger line?  “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then“.

When you think of your parents at your current age, did you consider them older than dirt?

 Oh, of course.  I assumed they were omniscient… not just in ways or money and knowledge, but in insight.  Mom’s pretty much know everything.  ANY time you feel you got one over on your mom… I can assure you that you did not.  I used to sneak out at night to do this dumb stuff.   I could go right out my window to get out, and not have to walk through the house.  years and years and later, my mom finally told me she knew all this stuff.  Every Friday night about 6 beers, a pack of shitty ciggies, and a roll of toilet paper would disappear.  I thought I was so clever!

On that note, she found ciggies in one of my jackets when I was a teen.  I gave her the old ‘not mine, holding it for a friend’.  She lectured me on smoking and said it was stupid and deadly and no way to go through life.  She wasn’t being a hypocrit, either.  At the time, she was a smoker, too.  Her feedback was genuine and well founded.  A few months later she came in and woke me up and asked me for a ciggie.  I gave the the same line “how could I?  I told you I don’t smoke.  Those were Joe Rockwell’s.  She said “listen you little shit, I do all the laundry and cleaning and I know you smoke.  We’ll talk about this later, but right now please give me a cigarette, since you stole all my packs!”  Can’t argue with that, so I did.

What were you really into when you were a kid?

I’ll assume we are basically talking single digits:  soccer.  I LOVED playing soccer, and played it every day for years and years.  Now, I don’t even watch.  Also, bicycles.  I loved my bike, it was total freedom.  I could go to the school, the fort, the library, Alaska.  That is what I told my mom, anyway.  Mostly, me and a pal just hung out at our super cool fort we build in the corner of an abandoned lot.  It was every cliché you know of regarding boys forts.;  Constructed with found wood and sticks, made water proof by large palm fronts, and then just enough junk around it to make it look either abandoned, or a serial killer hop stop.   We would steal and drink my moms’ shitty cigarettes (Virginia Slims.  Gross! And steal and drink her shitty beer (Hams, mostly)

Also, fire.  I loved fire when I was a kid.  Total pyro.  Me and a pal, who we will call ‘Sean’ pioneered a simple manner for spontaneous combustion.  Seriously!  See, if you take a teaspoon of redacted and add it to a teaspoon of redacted… then you just wait.  Nothing happens initially.  After almost exactly 20 minutes, a small flame would emerge.  You only needed a beer bottle cap’s worth.  We would take this bottle cap with the mixture and set it in a mailbox late at night.  Then, you get out of site and wait.  Have a good view, and an exit point well planned out that took you discreetly away from the scene.  Since every street in Phx has an alley, that would be out escape.  This compound is so frighteningly easy and cheap to make that I won’t publish it here, ever.  You’ll shoot you eye out, kid.

After about 20 minutes, a small flame emerges about the size of a big lighter.  With the cherry bomb wick sitting just an inch above, mailbox goes BOOM.  No one gets hurt, mind you.  When you make the mailbox go boom, you now have about 20 houses looking out their windows for these little hoodlums, but we were nowhere to be found.  We were slowly backing out of alleys, and back in out fort long before cops showed up.

LISTEN!  I am not proud of this, and would never do it now.  If you take a steel tennis ball can (don’t use a soda can, the aluminum just melts)… well you take now about a cup of redacted and a cup of redacted (same ingredients) it makes a flame about 6 feet high.  We didn’t build bombs with this, EVER.  We never put the contents under pressure.  That is how you lose a hand.  You can easily find these two ingredients anywhere, and the purchase of them raises no eyebrows.  Yeah, we had fun.  Again, I am not proud of these things, but I was just being a boy

Lastly, on that note, a science text book taught us how to make gunpowder.  It was easy.  If I remember correctly (and I am not googling here, just working off memory) it was saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal.  How does a ten year old get pure sulfur?  I will tell you this, since it had nothing to do with the compound mentioned above.  You go to a garden store and buy stump remover.  Stump remover is (or was 30 years ago) 95% pure sulfur.  Again, never made a bomb (which would mean sealing both ends… you could do this with $1 worth of PVC.  Nope, never hurt anyone.  Just stupid kid stuff that I wisely and thankfully outgrew, just like drugs.  I’m over it, and hope you are, too.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

Brian S.  Won’t say his last name out of respect for the family.  We were extremely close at all times, when we were kids.  One week his family went on vacation out of state.  A horrible, horrible accident happened and he was killed on a small motor scooter.  He was about 8, maybe.  His family rented everyone scooters.  They all kept safe to the right shoulder.  At some point, Brian got ahead of his family and went to turn around.  Since he was on the shoulder, we couldn’t turn right.  So, he turned left, which put him into traffic.  The driver had no time to react and accidentally hit him on the scooter.  Worst part of all of that is their huge family watched all this happened in front of them.

How did I find out?  Our psycho neighbors had horrible kids.  HORRIBLE.  Not things like blowing up mailboxes, but lighting cats on fire type of psycho.  I was biking home and one of their daughters, let’s call her the cunt who ruined my childhood, yelled at me that day after school as I was riding by “hey, your best friend is dead.  Got killed by a car”  I didn’t think much of it, but was a little shaken.  I got home and asked my parents and they had already been informed.  They sat me down and told me what happened.  Do you see why I called that gal a ‘cunt’?  Go ahead and google my site.  See if I have EVER used that word, ever.  I haven’t, and I shan’t.  I have too much love for women and people in general.  That girl, though, was a raging cunt and all my life I only waited for her to die.  Who tells someone something like that?  Especially just in passing?  That Hohn bitch, that’s who!  Sorry you had to see that, but his death I have never recovered from.

Man, for someone who claims to be full of joy and peace and love, I sure complain a lot.  Is this the overbearing liberal rage people hate about us libs?  Well, at least our complaints and concerns are very real.  On the right, I don’t value their outrage, because it feels manufactured.  I swear, I am nice and mostly very happy.  i don’t plan or write these questions, I just give honest feedback.  My answers are written immediately and in real time.  It’s not like I read the questions over and then think on it.  I could, but I am too lazy.  Plus, I like my writing to be conversational.  When you read me, I want it to feel like you are on the porch with me chatting.

What do you bring with you everywhere you go?

A Leatherman***, first and foremost.  Literally don’t leave the house without one.  Second, assuming I have my truck with me, is a rubber mallet.  People will tell you the most important think you can have is a heart, or smarts, or a loving family.  Those are nice, and I have those things, but a good rubber mallet is invaluable.  Especially with 5 acres to manage.

*** did you know Leatherman isn’t just the name of a tool, but the name of the guy who invented it.  Tim Leatherman, and they are still made in the US.  I mean, with a name like ‘Leatherman’, how was that guy not bound for greatness?  Do don’t buy those aftermarket copies, like Gerber.  Get your shit well made, in the US, my a family business.

Really, you need one.  I have 3.  One on my at all times, one in my truck, and one if the wifey’s car.  You can see all this online, but here is what mine has, to give you an idea how awesome they are:

  • scissors
  • belt clip (that is just before I open it)
  • needle-nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • phillips screwdriver
  • flathead screwdriver
  • can opener
  • bottle opener
  • pocket knife w.serrated base.
  • file

mine is called the Wingman, and it was $40 at wally world.

Leatherman is a brand of multitools and knives made by Leatherman Tool Group of Portland, Oregon, US. The company was founded in July 1983 by Timothy S. Leatherman