Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Haven't been posting much lately. Hardly surprising... this is largely a garden and plant blog. And this is hardly the time of year for gardening or plants... I look outside and all I see is brown grass and the occasional mudhole. Not much to talk about it that arena.

That, and I've been working extra to make up for the paychecks I missed when the engine needed replace, shortly followed by the power steering pump burning out. There are some bills that have gone unpaid, and the only way to get the money is to work extra, so there we are.

Considering the current state of affairs... it's certainly easy to see why this title jumped out at me from the bookshelf... "The Freedom Manifesto" How to free yourself from Anxiety, fear, mortgages, money, guilt, debt, government, boredom, supermarkets, bills, melencholy, pain, depression, work and waste.

This little mini-tome, written by Tom Hodgkinson, has been providing me with some valuable insights into things... and while I can't say I agree with everything he has to say, there's certainly enough valid points for me to seriously have some thinking going on.

But a lot of it boils down to this... We, as a society, tend to overspend. The basic workers life goes pretty much like this. We go to work so that we can earn money to pay our rent or mortgage. We work over time usually at a job we don't particularly like, with people we don't particularly like, and for bosses we don't particularly like. When we get home, we are so physically exhausted that we sit in front of a TV and watch something that's moderately entertaining, while being periodically blasted with advertisements that are informing us all about things that we need to buy to make our life easier or better and which we will have to go further into debt to buy. And it doesn't end. We keep going to the job to pay for the stuff we keep buying in the hopes that we will be happy and we never seem to get there, and the only people that seem to benefit from all this are the 2 percent of the human beings that control all the wealth... and quite frankly, they don't seem to happy if you look close enough.

There are two ways out of this. One is to deprive yourself of everything while you work and amass a huge amount of money, then one day, you will have enough money to be able to not worry about it.

Or two... stop buying things that you don't need, simply because somebody out there says that you do need them.

His contention is that your time is better spent doing things a simpler way.

I'll probably go with the latter... but quite frankly, I probably was leaning that way anyway... For instance, I don't posses an I-pod. Can't really see the reason for one. When I'm driving I'm concentrating on the road, listening to the dispatch radio and my GPS. I'm certainly don't have the extra attention for anything else. When I'm shopping, I've managed to get in and out of the market for years without listening to my favorite song, and when I'm at home, I have a CD player or even a radio. Who needs it?

I do not have twitter. I can't imagine that anybody out there cares that I'm pulling into Ennis TX to deliver a load of whatever, and I have enough experience with twitter to know that 99 percent of what comes over it, I don't care about. Honestly, I was once at dinner with a friend when we were subjected to the announcement that someone elses baby had just had it's first "Poopy diaper!" While this may, or may not, be a milestone for the child and something Mommy wants to celebrate, I, quite frankly, don't give a damn.

I'd do without the cell phone if I could, but I do use it for work. And I text more than I call my friends, because it cost less than the minutes... but even that has it's limits for me. This morning, I turned the phone off. I figured I'd turn it on if I needed to make a call. This happened about 1 pm. So, I turned the phone on, called the customer to arrange his delivery... and within 15 minutes I was besieged by about a half dozen texts asking if I was all right.

It seems that if you can't be located at the blink of an eye, everyone assumes you're comatose or something. I'm pretty sure that as recently as 5 years ago, I had friends that I saw once a week, and didn't talk to between those times. And I never assumed they'd lost consciousness.

I'm pretty sure that human beings have, historically, gone for very long extended periods of time without speaking or texting every few minutes. My own mother was an Army wife, based in Germany, and when Dad went on manuevers for periods of one to three months, I'm sure she worried. But she didn't panic. Instead, she packed up the kid and jumped on a train and visitied Bavaria, or Munich or basically she did something on her own, and when he came back they no doubt had long talks about their seperate times... face to face talks. Over dinner. Without some thing bleeping at them and interupting.

So... for the next few weeks... I'm going to be re-prioritizing.

I'm certainly not going to take Mr. Hodgkinson's suggestions and quit my job, move to a shack in the country and grow all my own food. And, if I'm honest, I don't think he expects anybody to go quite that far... But what I will be doing is this.

I will no longer spend $1.50 on a cup of convienence store coffee when I can certainly make a cup of coffee at home to take with me in the truck.

I will not spend $6 ot $8 a day for fast food lunch, when I can pack a weeks worth of lunches at home for the amount one of those bad-for-me barely food meals costs.

I will not spend $1.29 for a bottle of water when I can buy a case of the things for less than $5, and actual tap water is free... (I don't care what what the health freaks say, I've never heard of anybody who died of tap-water induced cancer.)

With the money that I save on lunches... I will be more than able to pay for my after church lunches with my friends, and still have plenty of money left over.

And I'm looking for other ways to avoid spending money. It's not exactly Puritanical thrift... it's just that I don't see why I should spend money on things that aren't good for me or I don't need or enjoy, when I can save the money and do things that are good for me, that I do need, and that I do enjoy.

And there we are.

And now to another subject.


Yes, it's a strange addiction, this social networking. But it's also infuriating, in it's way.

1) People... it's not a private diary! Please, please, please don't tell me the intimate details of your love life, or drag any fights you're having with a significant other, complete with graphic details of what they were doing when you caught them in bed with whoever. REALY. Especially when a quick look at our mutal friends list tells me that our Pastor can read this too... And our pastor DOES read our facebook posts... honest...

2) You do not work for MTV and you are not a Video Disk Jockey. And even if you were, I can not think of any thing that would induce me to look at a video of the latest single from a group of people that call themselves "The Vagina Divers" Never heard them... never hope to. OK?

3) Fine. You found an abandoned puppy and you're trying to find it a home. That's cool. However, in the last week, you have found 3 abandoned puppies, 2 full grown dogs and innumerable kittens, and now your posts are not only about finding them new homes, but are filled with pleas for money to buy animal food and veterinary care. All of which is laced with much hand wringing and wailing about these helpless innocent victims of society and how we are obligated to help them, and quite frankly if you, and several other people out there devoted half this amount of time, energy and money to alieviating human suffering, the world would be a much more pleasant place to live in.

And now... I'm gonna see if I can get off this soap box without breaking my neck...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Just a little rant...

We're expecting our first snow of the year in Dallas - Ft. Worth this evening. Usually we get it a bit sooner, but then again, there have been a few years where not a single flake fell. The newsmen, in their typical panicky level, are telling me that the storm will start with rain and then turn to snow. as much as two to five inches of the stuff... which means that there will be a layer of ice under the pretty white powder.

Now, I realize northerners will find this a bit of a yawn. But the truth is that southerners don't know how to drive on it.

I actually do. I drove in Illinois over a few winters, but I am a little out of practice. But even if I did want to try it, NOBODY ELSE ON THE ROAD CAN DRIVE ON IT. It honestly doesn't matter if I can drive a straight line when there's likely to be a chevy sedan plummeting towards you at any moment.

Whether or not I go to church tomorrow depends on what happens in the weather tonight. It's quite likely that I will be reading the first chapters of a friends writing project that was sent to me via e-mail. Even though I have been published in magazines (not that you can tell from this stream-of-consciousness posting I do here) I am a much better editor than writer, so occasionally friends will forward something to me to look over. There's a 66 page chapter that I've actually scanned the first three pages of and found some major grammar problems with. That and it seems to be Chick-lit. Not my favorite genre. But there's a few intriguing themes presented, and it doesn't actually look that bad for a first draft. There's something to work with here.

But authors, especially first-time authors, can be touchy. They tend to think of their work like a baby. You really have to be careful of what you say. Consequently, an editors notes to the writer are often more subtle and creative that the novel they're working with.

I should also add that I had a really bad day at the flea market.

One of our dealers got into an attitude flinging contest with a former dealer who had dropped by, and for some unknown reason they decided to do this at the front counter, beside my cash register. And for some other reason they decided the I would be the perfect person to mediate this little drama.

Unfortunately after about five minutes, it boiled down to every sentence that began with "Well, I think..." or "Well, she said... " was met with me blurting... "DON'T CARE."

Really, I wouldn't even let either finish a statement. I just started barking before they got it out of their mouth.

Which means they both bounced their little selves to the back and lodged a complaint with the manager. And when she came to the front for a little talk with me... she got "DON'T CARE."

Fortunately, she had a pretty good idea what was going on and basically told them that my job was customer service, not group therapy... and they both bounced out the door, their fight forgotten and now united in a huff.

and I... "DON'T CARE."

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

Again, no photographs.

It may be a good thing....

Anyway, myself and two of the church guys decided to spend New Years Eve at L's house in Mineral Wells... a mere 67 miles from my house, and I had to work New Years Day at the flea market, so I would just spend the night there and drive to work from Mineral Wells. OK.

So we had an OK time. We played dominoes. We played scrabble. We watched movies.

L & H drank beer. (we're a drinking, cussing kinda church... anything but holier-than-thou) I was drinking Mikes Hard Lemonade, because I never could choke down beer and I wasn't up to vodka. But nobody got drunk, we were just chilling.

L's parents, who live on the same block also stopped by, I think they wanted to get a look at the guys that their son has been hanging around at church, just to make sure we didn't have pentagrams tattooed on our foreheads or something.

Anyway they are one of those country style couples that you don't see much of anymore. They talk at the same time as the other, carrying on completely different conversations and you're supposed to keep up with both of them. And they're both about as deaf as a stump.

L's father wanted to discuss his days in the navy, and was telling a rather amusing anecdote about a rather drunken trip to Juarez, Mexico when his mother broke off from discussing the merits of various cornbread recipes and shouted... "Why don't you tell them about the green stamps?" Of course, this interjection didn't warrant so much as a eye blink and he continued his stream on consciousness...

"THE GREEN STAMPS. Oh you wouldn't tell them about THAT would you now?" and something along those lines several times through.

And he continued despite it all until she finally just couldn't take it any more and finally blurted out, "He was in a Mexican bordello, and he was trying to buy a prostitute with green stamps!"

At that point, L's father stood up with full military posture and announced, "It was nice meeting you boys, but I think it's high time we moved along and let you have your fun..." and marched out the door.

H & I were both about rolling on the floor, laughing so much it hurt, and L was saying, "Y'all, don't make fun of my parents!"

Make fun of them? Hell, I wanna adopt them.

So, after the ball dropped, I went to sleep and woke up in plenty of time to get to work, and since I didn't wanna bang around a strange kitchen making coffee, I said to myself, "Self, why don't you just stop and get one of those jumbo coffee's from 7-11 or Racetrack or someplace on the way in... you got plenty of time."

So off I go, and stop at the first convenience store I see, and they haven't got any brewed. Neither did the next. Or the next. And they're looking at me like I'm requesting caviar.

It's 8 AM, on January the 1st, after a very large percentage of the population has been intoxicated, and nobody has any blasted coffee!

It wasn't until I got to Weatherford, about 17 miles down the road to Ft. Worth, that I finally walked into a convenience store that has one of those giant walls with a dozen coffee dispensers, and one, count them.... one... of those blasted coffee machines actually had hot coffee in it.

I swear, I could have scored heroin easier.

Finally got some caffeine in my system, and got to work, and it was actually a decent day.

And one of these days, I'm going to actually post that I had a boring uneventful week and everybody who reads my blog will have an aneurysm.