Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alma Mater Calling

I received a phone call from my Alma mater a couple of nights ago.

The caller graciously as he could (considering his wage and status as a temporary telemarketer) conveyed a congratulatory message written for him on his computer's monitor, slightly above the din of clattering worn computer keys and the muffled voices of his cohorts.

The university wanted donations from its alumni.

"Look buddy," I said, "it must be rough but I have to say this. I'm still waiting for my initial investment to pay off. Still waiting for those high-dollar corporate recruiters to show up who are looking for professionals."

Sure there were the job fairs with the usual suspects looking for clerks, typists, sales persons, and the one idiot who tries to do it all until he or she gets burned out, blows a circuit and winds up working for tips at Deja Vu.

I'm with a Temp agency making minimum wage. I did the telemarketing job twenty years ago.

"Oh, uh, well, I'm sorry to hear that..." he said. He went off script and it sent him over the cliff of improvisation into the stuttering scrub.

"No problem, I got the same message you did from the temp agency, but I decided to ignore it. I'd be you right now if I picked up that phone. We probably work for the same company."

Then I apologized for taking his time because I knew that he had a minimum quota of calls to reach that night. I wonder if he was also a graduate from the University of Illinois?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

All about me

Today I weigh 295.5 pounds.
In 2002 I weighed 318 pounds.
In 2003 I weighed 240 pounds, from working hard at Lowes, but the trade off was constant pain in my knees and numbness in my shoulders and fingers.

I'm 43 now. The effort to lose weight hardly seems worth it anymore. I have no children to take care of, so it really doesn't matter. In reality, my living relatives stand to barely break even on my funeral expeses.

I don't want a traditional funeral. I want to be food for an oak tree. Bury me without a protective casket or crypt at the foot of an oak tree or plant a mature tree directly over my grave.

We're supposed to become part of the eco system after we perish, not seal away our collections of minerals and organic nutrients from nature. That wouldn't be fair. Besides, nature gets to us anyway. it just takes longer.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Day-Job Hunt

I've been applying for jobs for the last few days. I'm a little impatient and anxious about hearing back for interviews, but I imagine employers these days must have huge stacks of applications on their desks.

I would really like to have my own business, but what? Video production? Graphic Design? Anyone need business cards, a logo, or retouched photo? How would you like to get your first website off the ground?

Who couldn't do that? At least I didn't try to invest in "Desktop Publishing" when I thought I could actually make a living at it. Everybody does it now.

I bide my time now doing economic research. For example, I compiled a database from the Illinois Department of Employment Services and the Census Bureau. They already have them, but they have them published in a way that makes it difficult to find out certain information.

There was one set of data that contained employment information about the types of jobs, their tax reference codes, and the number of employees in those jobs at the time the survey was taken.

Then another set had the tax reference codes, the types of jobs, and the actual salaries and wages for those jobs.

Why were they kept separate? You can draw your own conclusions, but when I combined them in a Microsoft Access Database and ran the numbers in a pivot chart, I was amazed to find a massive discrepancy of income for Sangamon County.

So now I can determine the distribution of wealth and the dominant type of employment in Sangamon County.

It was tedious, but satisfying in its own way. I'll keep practicing with Microsoft Excel and Access by compiling crime statistics from Police Beat, and employment statistics from the Classifieds of the Illinois State Journal Register.

Employment statistics like the turnaround rate of employers and types of positions. That should be very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Senators, Representatives on Summer Break

Our U.S. Senators and Congressmen are on their August break. You might see them around your district. We, the people expected change after the 2006 election, and the rumors going around are that the Democrats have rolled over and have not been effective since they have become a majority.

But, we, the people rolled over. We only gave the Democrats a simple majority, not an overriding majority. For the Democrats to be effective against the onslaught of warmongering predatory capitalists, an overriding majority is needed, a better than two-thirds majority that can override a Presidential veto or some other arcane parliamentary procedure.

So we have nothing to complain about but our own inability to elect an effective majority of legislators different from those who dominated our government for the last six years.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No time for myself.

I've scattered my opinions across more than eight blogs not only here at Blogger, but also at Myspace, Friendfinder, Facebook, and many more. I can only refer you to as the main entry point.

As for myself, I graduated at UIS last week. It looks like my assignment through Express Personnel is winding down and I don't know if I want to take the summer off or get another assignment. If they don't have anything for me right away I might spend more time working on my websites and designing fliers and T-Shirts for my Freethinker friends.

I looked for work in the mainstream media, but most of the mainstream outlets are hemorrhaging subscribers and advertisers who are turning toward the Internet to find customers. Unfortunately, or I should say fortunately for myself, they are trying to apply old marketing strategies on the Internet. The result would be like simply transplanting a person from an office space into outer space, in a business suit instead of an astronaut suit.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Another C-SPAN Weekend

As I'm watching a repeat of Tuesday's FBI Senate Oversight Committee hearing, I'm struck by the lack of partisanship that was demonstrated by Senators Spector, Leahey, Hatch and Feinstein as they interrogated FBI Director Mueller about recent instances of the FBI overstepping boundaries of Civil Liberties.

The Senators were all very direct, concise, and professional, leaving very little room for personal opinions and disparaging innuendo of political opponents sitting on the committee. I could say there were no verbal shots fired between any of the committee members and I was very impressed. There were noted disagreements, but they were all within the range of proper debate procedural etiquette.

On the other hand, at the Congressional Oversight hearing of the General Services Administration (GSA), questions were partially directed to the witnesses, but the bulk of the hearing consisted of partisan criticism and insulting innuendo that basically soiled the overall reputation of the House of Representatives.

FBI Director Mueller was shockingly proactive and honest in his responses. Not only did he immediately accept responsibility for the actions of those for whom he is responsible, he noted directly where the missteps took place

Senator Grassley laid all his cards on the table. He brought up the fact that a conversation between a white supremacist group and a middle-eastern terror suspect was illegally recorded, and then later covered up the fact that they recorded it. He also brought up that a special agent blew the whistle on illegal activities in the bureau and was subsequently retaliated against.

In the end, though, Senator Grassley was courteous and respectful toward the Director. Director Mueller in the end said that all the information obtained by the FBI was legal, but that it was just the "vehicle" used to obtain the information that was questionable.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The lonlely hours

Two in the morning is a dark time. I somehow manage to wake up at that time most nights.

Television gives me a terrible headache but I can’t sleep. I don’t want to think about anything, but inevitably I think about losing everything when I lost my job in June of 2001.

People I thought were my friends completely abandoned me. They avoided me like the plague. They’ll do that if they think you need them. If that’s what friends do, then I guess I was terribly misinformed by the Bible.

So anyway, it’s about two hours before the newspaper hits the porch, and another two to three hours after that until sunrise. I turn on the radio and listen to National Public Radio ( (NPR) on our local public broadcasting station.

NPR broadcasts the BBC ( radio overnight and follows with Morning Edition. The news one hears from these sources is often avoided or distorted by other U.S. News outlets, so it’s interesting to listen and then compare with local news to find the dissemblance.

Now I’m going to bed earlier because I finally found legitimacy on the airwaves in the middle of the night. The drone of news from around the world at first put me back to sleep right away, but I began to see local consequences of the global events reported by the BBC.

These late night broadcasts inspired me to start new websites; and, the latter which was registered this morning and is not up yet.

So sometimes I fall asleep right away, and other times I’m enthralled by what I hear. Like this morning for instance, there was a report about American pension plans (they call schemes) that bought too many mortgages from lenders, not realizing that the mortgages were the new precarious flexible rate, interest only mortgages.

Too many blue chip funds on Wall Street are teetering on financial foundations infused by mortgages that were sold to people who can’t afford to make payments; and during a time gas prices are going back up.

But on the local news, we hear that the economy is doing just fine.

I’m glad I have no 401K or investments.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An early unlikely education

When I was growing up in Springfield, I went to a school in District 186. This was back in the 1970's. There was still racial tension from desegregation a decade earlier, and the great White Flight out of town created a terrible school funding situation that lingered for at least twenty years.

Public school was terrible. I often pretended I was sick just to stay home because I hated it so much. During the day I would watch PBS and there was a program that at first seemed extraordinarily boring. After watching a few episodes something clicked inside my head.

It was a program on PBS that taught Latin. Words were dissected into their components and their meanings were explained. I became fascinated. It literally opened a whole new avenue, widened the lane – so to speak. Comprehension became much easier for me. No thanks to public school education in District 186.

So, if your children aren’t feeling well and don’t want to go to school, always have educational programming available for them, like Latin. It’s always good to learn a language used by the medical and legal profession.

I’ve been trying to find the name of that old program on PBS, but have yet to receive a response. I think it was called something like “Wordsmith.” If you remember it, please leave a response.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

In My Previous Life: Credit

I found a job with a Temp agency. I’m currently on my first assignment and everything appears to be going well. But still, I’m just a temp. At least I’ll go out in the ‘Recycle’ bin instead of the ‘Trash’ bin where the full and part time employees go when they get laid-off.

I wound up in a corporate trash heap back in 2001 and never recovered. It doesn’t look too promising anymore either. Because I worked in a media outlet, I was under the mistaken impression that working in the mass media meant job security. Instead of our jobs getting out-sourced like tech jobs, our jobs were consolidated by media mergers.

Technically, I’m one of the new suburban homeless, a 42 year-old living in my mother’s house. She doesn’t mind because she can travel with the comfort of knowing I’m watching her house and the pets.

Still, I suffer the humility of my situation. I miss my independence. In this culture we are measured by what we have. It’s a sad, pathetic way to judge someone, but it’s a fact of life in our industrial plutocracy.

I once had my own house full of things on an acre of land. I thought I had a good job. I thought I was set for life. That kind of thinking is dangerous.

I began to accept credit card debt as a fact of life. Getting away with only making a minimum payment month after month was keeping my mind off of the total debt. My monthly minimum payments gradually crept up from around $12 to $40 and I didn’t notice it because of “Creeping Normalcy.”

Creeping Normalcy is what creditors count on most for their profits. They count on us to not turn the page and read the fine print on the back of our bills. Tiny obscure fees began to appear for less than one dollar. The tiny obscure fees would sit there unchanged for about six months, or longer, and then they would start to gradually increase.

I got rid of all of my credit cards in July of 2002. I sold my house, paid them off, cut them up, and never saw or used any again. I now only have a checking account. Money trickles in every now and then and I can keep my phone and my car insurance. If I’m lucky I can get some gas for my car.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Job hunting

I’ve been looking for work. Any work. I’m a college graduate. It should be easy, right? I keep my eyes and ears to the media, hoping to find something. Then I see statistics that show more high school graduates are working than college graduates.

How is that? That's easy! College graduates are not supposed to be looking for jobs. They are supposed to be making jobs. So, why are college students complaining about not finding work?

Evidently, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem, the General Requirements Curriculum. The big picture was completely missed. A plan was never formulated. In my case it’s easy because I got an Associate degree somewhere else and transferred credits, so I couldn’t even declare a minor.

My education was fractured by circumstances engineered by a capitalist society with no vision of long-term consequences, only greed at the top.

So now we have a large number of college graduates who don’t know entrepreneurship. They just try to look for work. This has been going on for a long time in the U.S. And guess what.

We have been creating our own terrorists. We have sent far too many foreign-exchange students out into the world without the crucial information needed to actually make work instead of complaining about not finding a job.

It's far too easy for zealots with money to take advantage of so many people who know just enough to make a bomb, but not enough to start a company making better mousetraps.

Here in the U.S. it's manageable because we have such a powerful and intrusive law enforcement system, and the culture is so homogeneous that volatile social cohesion is limited to urban street gangs.

Some high school teachers have caught on to this and are teaching entrepreneurship in the K-12 levels. It's too little too late because of one major obstacle, tenure.

Gee, it took me this long to figure it out? I'm in really bad shape. But at least I can see the candle in the distant window. Now I just have to find my way around the dark fjord of capitalist influence.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Emotional Entrepreneurs

For too long I silently stood by and watched as religion conscripted followers with threats of damnation, and blamed natural disasters on “sinners” to create a fictitious adversary for the purpose of congregational cohesion. The problem with that method is that the congregation begins to point at outsiders as the cause of natural disasters, and thus begins the intolerance.

In a documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel, a little boy from a village destroyed by a tsunami said that a priest told him it was because of sin that his whole village washed away. This is just one example of how religion works to redirects rage and anger away from natural or accidental causes, toward other people.

One particularly disturbing tactic of religious cohesion and dependence is creating the notion that faith is measured by the number of children you have. A Spanish teacher from El Salvador said his uncle’s family was doing well economically, until his sister who was a Nun told his uncle he should have more children. Consequently they fell deep into poverty.

You shouldn’t take credit for being a good steward of the poor when you’re responsible for telling them that birth control is a sin, and then persuading them to overpopulate and finally become dependent on you for support.

Pointing the finger at strangers and blaming them for your group’s own problems is the work of Emotional Entrepreneurs; people who feed off of your fear to keep you as a follower.

So I can neither concede to, nor placate emotional entrepreneurs and religious dogma that reinforces its own power by taking advantage of uninformed people. Is that intolerant enough for you?

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Illusion of Need

Is Need an illusion? How much do you really need what you have?

I just found out from my mother that as a baby, I was diagnosed as possibly having "celiac" (sometimes spelled coeliac) disorder, which is like an allergic reaction to proteins in cereals and wheat products.

I was never supposed to eat any wheat products because they caused irritation and damage to the small intestine. So I recently stopped eating bread and processed wheat products; that means no cookies, crackers, pretzels, pizza, cake, cereal, etc.

What does this have to do with the illusion of need? The key to discovering what you really need is in self-deprivation. You can see reality when you find yourself deprived of things possessed by other people. Then you begin to rationalize your position by thinking that you don’t need those things, and finally, through research, you discover that you really never needed them.

I began to wonder why I ate bread in the first place. Then I began to wonder why I ate anything that was processed or even cooked. I've been on a semi-vegetarian diet for a while and I began to realize that I don't even use a microwave oven anymore, and I can get a couple of day's worth of meals for myself for less than five dollars at Aldi's.

My first three weeks adjusting to raw vegetables were difficult and it would have been alot easier had I known that all my life I should not have been eating bread. I never felt better in my whole life now that I'm off the bread. I can’t believe how much money I save too.

Do you hate vegetables? Why do you hate vegetables? Nobody told you they were bad for you, but you know that kids hate vegetables. How did you learn that? From someone else’s behavior, perhaps from watching someone’s behavior towards vegetables on television?

The illusion is the assumption that we need something we really don’t need. Like restaurants.

What would we do without restaurants? Would we completely lose our social network? What else is there to do besides go to church? Go to a restaurant? Maybe that explains why western civilization has an obesity crisis; because we are so easily persuaded.

Did you meet your best friends at TGI Friday’s? It would seem that TGI Friday’s is the place to go to meet people, at least that’s what they show in some of their commercials. When was the last time you got up from your table at a restaurant and decided to make friends with a total stranger? Do you know anyone who did?

How about that car stereo with the giant sub-woofers in the trunk? Did it become the magic friend-making box you dreamed it would?