I received a very interesting comment on my post about some conservatives wanting to secede from the Union. The comment reads:
Author : Jon Smith (IP: 18.104.22.168 , cpe-76-181-154-219.columbus.res.rr.com)
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
URL : Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/22.214.171.124
I’m not sure if Mr.Smith is calling me an idiot or the conservatives idiots, but since he used the singular I’m going to assume it is the former.
The only thing I can think to say in response IS that, unlike many other negative comments I tend to get, it was clear, concise, grammatically correct, and spelled correctly, if a bit vague.
In any case, please keep the comments coming!
I’ve been terrible depressed, to the point sleeping 36 hours straight sometimes. Just getting up out of bed is a struggle, as it writing.
I’m able to write now with the help of a glass of wine and a couple of Xanax. It’s interesting because I just read an article about how being very tired or drunk allows artists to actually be more creative. This is no surprise. I think we need to enter a difference state of mind, to drop the barriers. It sure seem to work or me.
The other thing that really helps, at least for me, is music. Right now it’s The Beatles. I think the one that does it best for me is Pink Floyd, although I suspect that Bob Dylan would be pretty good too. Also Sting and The Flaming Lips.
In my last post I mentioned how I am out of work.
I had an exchange on FB today with an old friend. I’d shared a post supporting workers’ rights. Her response was:
“They” didnt take anything from u; it’s called a … paycheck! It’s a new day in a brilliantly rebounding economy that bends over backwards to help small business thrive. Go start one! The time is ripe! Hire someone off the burgeoning, I mean, shrinking unemplyment rolls. Be a role model; show the evil capitalist, free market business owner how it’s done. Have u ever written a paycheck for somone else? Do u have any idea what it takes to actually run a business? Sry, the incessant ‘Being Liberal’ whining is … incessant!
I was pretty hurt by this. As I said in my reply to her, I’ve worked hard all my life. I’ve been laid off several times, which has set me back financially each time. My real, effective, take home wages adjusted for cost of living are less now than 20 years. I’ve regularly put in 60+ hour weeks at salary, working hard for raises that never came (not for anyone, not just me), bonuses that were cut, and 401k and stock options that lost money. Not because of quirks of the economy or changing markets, but because of short term strategies by company execs who were trying to maximize their own and their stock holders returns in as short a time as possibly, while ignoring planning for long term growth. Such has been the High Tech, and many other industries of the past 20 years.
What really gets me about this is not that I’ve been forced to start all over again, looking for a job, starting at the bottom at another company, struggling to pay the rent, bills, and buy food and clothes for my kids. This stuff happens. I’ve been though it before, I’ll be ok.
What really bothers me is my friend’s attitude. The idea that I should be grateful for my paycheck (which I am), and not complain when I’m used, overworked, underpaid, and the thrown away. Go start a small business. Sure, let me go get those several thousand dollars I’ve stashed away to start one up. Oh wait. I had to use that to pay my rent and car payments and car insurance, and electric bill, and buy food after the last time I got laid off. And don’t forget those medical bills. You know, the ones on top of the $5,000 in premiums I paid last year. Oh, I got a kid with special needs who requires a $60 co-pay every week when he has to get therapy? Ah well, just be thankful I’ve got health insurance at all. What, the $400 a moth in prescription medication co-pays? No problem. Just write them off on my taxes. Maybe I’ll get an extra $1000 break this year.
I spent time two years ago where I put in 370 hours in overtime in just three months. I got no extra pay. I was never thanked for all the extra work. I didn’t get a raise or a promotion for saving my business group’s ass because of their poor planning and lack proper resources. What I got was a whopping 8 hours of comp time. Not even a atta-boy pat on the back. And that is par for the course for every high-tech company I’ve ever worked for.
So to be told that I should be grateful to my company for giving me a paycheck when they work me like a horse, pay a less than inflation pay raise every year (one company I worked for no one ever got a pay raise for 4 years. Given the rate of inflation, I lost several precent per year in income), makes me angry because it reeks of the “fuck you, you’re on your own; at least I have mine” attitude that has taken over at least 50% of the population. I didn’t build that? Maybe not, but we sure as fuck kept it running and made it work. Me and millions of other workers who did the real work that made the products and kept all the businesses going.
I’m appalled at the assumption that just because I am angry about how unfairly many American workers are being treated, that somehow that means that I think capitalism is evil. That is just knee-jerk, Faux News regurgitated bullshit. I’m all for capitalism, but I’m also for fairness. When a company lays off workers, but the officers of the companies walk away with their millions, and then are hailed in Forbes as paragons of business, that’s not capitalism, that’s unadulterated greed and a misplaced sense of where the real success of a business comes from: it’s workers.
But the real problem with her attitude is not the economical aspect. It is the human aspect. The implication is that I should just be grateful and STFU. This reeks of a sense of privilege and lack of compassion. And what makes it hurt all the more is that I knew her to be a kind, caring, gentle person. But that was a long time ago.
She claims she is a Christian. Well, I was raised a Christian; I spent most of my life as a devout Christian. I remember the stories of Jesus preaching kindness, forgiveness, mercy. I took joy in reading how he urged us to give to those in need. That if someone asks for your shirt, give him your cloak too. If you feed the poor, care for the sick, comfort those who are destitute, it is as if you were doing these things for him.
Where are the examples of these beautiful words? Where are they being put into practice? Certainly not here in America, at least not by the vocal, fundamental Christians who, like my friend, seem to have no problem dismissing those in need and who are struggling and suffering.
I spent years studying the New Testament before abandoning religion. Rarely do I see a self described Christian acting at all in a Christ like way. This is one of the main reasons I gave up on Christianity, and all religions. I saw that just believing didn’t make you better or moral. I’m not perfect, far from it. But I try hard, every day, to ease the suffering of anyone I meet. I work hard to support causes that help people who are in need. I don’t just say, well I have mine, go work for yours. I ask myself what can I do to help them help themselves. What can I give, even if only a kind word or action, to make their day just a little brighter. I put myself in their place and try to understand why they suffer and why they are where they are.
I’m no longer religious, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think some religious thought can’t be useful. There are lessons to be taught in most religions. So, for the Christians out there reading this, please remember what Jesus meant when he said that if you do these things (feeding, clothing, caring) to the least of you, you do them to him. But also remember that the reverse is also true: when you belittle, berate, insult, and cast aside those who are less fortunate than you, you do those things to him. If I learned anything profound from my priests, it was that.
That is empathy. It is compassion. And that is what is lacking in the words and actions of many of the pious, devout Christians that I hear about and know.
If there are any actual readers of this blog still out there, you have noticed that there hasn’t been much activity here lately, and for good reason.
I lost my job almost three weeks ago. I’ve been applying like crazy and I’ve had two interviews, one of which I didn’t get and the other I’m still waiting to hear about.
You would think I’d have more time to write, and I do. I also have plenty of ideas of things to write about as well. The thing is, with being bi-polar II, depression and anxiety go hand and hand. Needless to say, both have been playing havoc with my mood and my ability to focus.
My days have become a blur of several hours of job searches, filling out applications, etc., followed by some light house work, but mostly wandering from computer, to book, to TV, to just staring off into space, unable to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes.
I’ve written here before about depression and mental health. It can be debilitating and it is a daily struggle. At least I’m keeping up with the job searching and and meeting with recruiters. Unemployment is coming in and savings are covering a few months of rent and such. I’ll be ok, but at 52, age discrimination is becoming a real worry. Luckily, I’ve got a long and varied background in computer administration. Everything from desktops to the largest servers, and OS’s from Windows, to Unix, Linux, Solaris and AIX. Its a pretty broad, but also deep, background. Also, the job market is heating up. It is just a matter of time. Either than, or a career change. Ugh! I hear Walmart’s hiring (shudder).
We went shopping at the mall tonight, the whole family. The kids went off their way and the wife and I went ours.
After an hour or so, we met up with the kids at Hot Topic. My wife picked out a necklace, and the kids various clothing and halloween costumery. I found a pair of Batman earrings and a cool Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” t-shirt.
The clerk was a tall, thin, dark haired guy in his late 20′ or early 30′s, with cool tattoos up and down both arms.
As he was ringing me up, he mentioned that he really like the Floyd t-shirt. This lead us into a discussion about how much we both liked Pink Floyd. It came out in our discussion that his favorite Floyd album is “The Wall”. I told him of this great CD I’d just got of Pink Floyd playing the entire album live. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the name of the album.
We chatted for a few minutes more, as he rang us up, about how we both play guitar and practically worship David Gilmore.
After leaving the store, I suddenly remembered the name of the album. I told the family to that I’d catch up to them and hurried back to Hot Topic and told the clerk the name of the album, “Is There Anybody Out There”.
Their was a kid, maybe 18 or 19 standing by the counter, a kind of geeky looking guy with ear buds in his ears. Upon hearing my comment to the clerk, he immediately chimed in and said that there was a Pink Floyd DVD of the same concert (something I didn’t know).
I think I replied, “Wow! Awesome!” or something to that effect. The clerk thanked me, seemingly truly grateful that I’d returned to tell him the name of the CD. The young guy had already gone about his business of shopping.
As I hurried back to my family, I was struck that, for a moment, three strangers from three successive generations were all suddenly able to make a connection stemming from a shared love for the same music. It reminded me that music, perhaps more than any other of the arts, has the ability to transcend age, race, nationality, and language, and unite people in ways no philosophy or faith can.
So, in the interest of world peace and harmony, turn up the volume and rock on!
I saw an interesting TV commercial for a product called TagAway, which supposedly remove unsightly skin overgrowths (those icky lumps of skin that just seem to appear out of nowhere as we get older). The ironic thing about this product is that is is being sold as a Homeopathic remedy, but apparently contains actual ingredients. These include, “Thuja Occidentalis. Other ingredients include Cedar Leaf Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil” * What is ironic is that nowhere does it say anything about the X scale of the preparation. From what little I could find about TagAway, it would seem that it is a “real” product, not just water, like “real” homeopathic products (making it a fake homeopathic remedy (a redundant phrase if there ever was one!). I can’t verify much about TagAway’s real effects, except that you shouldn’t ingest it. Buyer beware.
What does this have to do with absinthe, you wonder? Both absinthe and TagAway contain Thujone. Although modern absinthe contains Thujone in very, very small amounts (less than 10 ppm), it is thought that traditional absinthe contained more Thujone and that it was Thujone that was responsible for the supposed hallucinatory properties of absinthe. It turns out that recent studies have shown that absinthe’s psychotropic effects are no different than that of regular alcoholic spirits. The other thing that TagAway and absinthe have in common is that they both contain ingredients from plants and herbs, although, as noted about, don’t drink TagAway (the skin dissolving properties of absinthe aren’t known, are far as I can tell).
What is really interesting about absinthe, at least to me, is that many authors and artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were regular drinkers of the stuff (there is a nice list of them here and here). They sang it’s praises and even wrote poems, stories, films, and painted paintings dedicated to it. There is a mystique and romance surrounding absinthe, something almost magical, from a vibrant and creative period of art history. If you are a writer or artist like myself, absinthe is very alluring and compelling.
Unfortunately, I have yet to try absinthe. After threading my way from fake homeopathy to absinthe across the silky web of the internet, I certainly intend to try it soon.