Does it ever end

When I retired from the Military, years ago, I tried to fight my way into the workforce. Already near 40, I found myself interviewing with little kids 15 years my junior. It was tough. Finding work proved to be difficult, and I was losing out to much younger, far less capable kids whose maturity level was less than the Privates I led into combat situations.

So I went to school. Got my BS in business, and tried again. Nope, still not enough, so I stayed in school and got an MBA. Summa Cum Laud. 3.98 GPA. Of course, by now I am over 40, and despite laws that did not allow for age discrimination, it was rampant in the workforce.

I finally landed an entry position in a major Financial firm. The pay was good, the work stressful, and the hours reasonable. But to advance, you had to take tests. For those of you who are not into the World of Finance, it is not like other jobs where you come in, get to work, and hope for a long and healthy career. Nope. You have to be licensed. Every step of the way. One license allows you to do one thing, another allows you to do something totally different, even though doing one crosses into the path of the other as a matter of rule. So the tests keep coming – Series 6, Series 63, Series 7, Series 66, Series 24..and who knows after that. Theses tests are VERY expensive (some in the comma range), and are very, very difficult. They require hours of studying. Hours you do not have because you are working 10-12 hour days, and trying to maintain a healthy home life. And if you pass one, your reward? More work, and in many cases, for no additional pay, certainly not enough to justify the effort (for you business enthusiasts, your ROI sucks on this one). Your other reward? Another test. Harder than the last one.

So what did I do? I stopped caring. I stopped taking the tests. It seemed like it was never enough. No matter what block you checked, there was another block left blank. The entire way. I felt like I was digging a hole in loose sand. And for whose benefit? The Company’s or mine? I was now in my 50’s, making management age prohibitive, and my attitude was leaning away from enthusiastic toward “go fuck yourself”.

So, after talking to my wife, I opted to quit. Cold Turkey, and we opened our own business – a bakery. Best decision I could have made. The work was hard, the hours long, and building a brand can be depressing…but it was ours, and 100% of the work was for us. We did that for a few years, finally letting it go when my cancer required to much time at the hospital.

I am now retired. Cupcake has just a few more years before she can retire. But what I have learned? There is a point where enough is enough, and I have reached that part of my life.

Lessons lost

I have seen lots of stories about September 11, and that we should remember the events and lives lost.Yes we should, but that is only ONE thing that needs to be remembered. The other is how this came about:

The hijackers infiltrated our communities, and embedded themselves in our neighborhoods, lives, and culture. Many of them were perfect neighbors, and participated in barbecues, Halloween, and Christmas activities. They endeared themselves to the American way of life. They joined the PTA and coached soccer teams.

And then they flew two planes full of people into the trade center, a third into the Pentagon, and a fourth into the ground, all full of OUR citizens.

It is happening all over again. Lesson failed. We are being told to be tolerant. Not all Muslims are bad. Do not group them all into the terrorist category. Some are our neighbors, pillars of our communities. They go to school plays, bake sales, and pot luck meals.

So they are okay right up until the set off an explosive in your local shopping plaza.

I spent two decades in the Army as an Intelligence Analyst, specializing in Terrorist and Clan Order of Battle. I Have been in their world, collecting intelligence. Face to face. Eye to eye. Culture to culture. I trust not one. Not a single, breathing Muslim, Sunni or Shia.

If you do, then you fail to remember the cause of September 11th, recalling only the result. That is sad. Because they are in your neighborhood already.

The extended Library

One of my followers is having to use makeshift shelves for her books. I just want her to know we (by we I mean me, not cupcake) have a problem letting any of my books go. Cupcake is an avid reader, out reading me 3:1, but uses the library. Not me. I have to own the damn thing. In hard back. And keep it for eternity. So the search for placement goes on….

Search Engine Choice

My choice of search engine is DuckDuckGo. They do not monitor, track, or store your browsing habits. It is the only search engine that allows for browsing privacy. Google Does not like them. Firefox does not like them. Internet Explorer does not like them.

Since I am a PC guy, and not Apple, my OS is Windows, which uses Internet Explorer. I disabled it. Since many apps are Alphabet owned, they want you to use Google. I do not. Problem is, they are constantly trying to force me to use one of these browsers. Sometimes they are tricky, embedding the requirement in small font when you go to a new URL, other times, they come right and say they are switching you, and sometimes they just do it without notification. We have figured out each game, and are getting really efficient at reestablishing DuckDuckGo as our search engine.

I bring this up because my favorite go to website for sports is CBSsports.com. I hate ESPN. Been going to CBS for years. Suddenly, I get this pop-up that says

“You are not getting full enjoyment from CBS Sports! In order to unlock new features, you need to change your browser. Click here to change to XXXXXXXXX”

Ummmm….Nope. Guess I might have to change over to ABC Sports.

I wish they would just leave me alone.

One Star

If I may, I would like to do a review of YELP itself, and I give it one star. Here is why –

It is pretty much worthless because I no longer trust the integrity of the sight.

When it first started, it was so busy building it’s platform, it did not take the time to vet, or to create an algorithm that vetted “false” reviews. In the beginning it did not need it, but as the sight grew in popularity, they did nothing to stop the false narrative reviews. Why should they? They were growing and had no desire to curb that growth.

So today, even if they are trying to verify, the damage is done. I cannot trust the reviews. None. Certainly not the one-star as they may be competitor sabotage. Certainly not the 5 star, as they are product creations. Now, they realize this, so I believe they are “planting” 4-star and 2-star. Either way, the integrity is lost and cannot be recovered. Some of the reviews actually tell you they were provided the product free so that they could review. Sure. I am going to trust that review, just like I trust the weatherman when he says “beautiful day” as the rain hits my driveway.

I can also tell you this, I never review. I bet lots of people never review. Partly because I keep my own mental log of “good” and “shitty” products, and partly because I have no desire to “create an account” and set myself up for endless spam. So maybe a product is really good and the 13 million people that think that got better things to do than log onto YELP and say “Damn, this product is awesome (or shitty, depending on the angle)”.

If I buy a product and it is shitty, I can take it back for a refund and buy an alternate product. Store return polices are very relaxed these days, many being “no questions asked”. That is the only review I need. I have bought one-star products that turned out to be just fine, and 5-star products that failed to live up to expectations.

I also know that in many cases, the problem is the stupidity of the user. Actually. My experience tells me that is the case nearly all the time. I used to look for patterns (the same complaint from multiple people), but now the only common thread I seem to find anymore is “user is a dumb-ass””.

Are you kidding me?

I took this photo quickly at a local CVS. Not really sure this is legal. I am guessing not. If there is money to be lost, it should not be the customers, nor should the customer be FORCED to make a donation to ANYTHING through the purchase. Has anyone else come across this?

CVS

 

Portland vs Tampa

Last night a B-L-M rally was scheduled for 5:30 PM on a major intersection near our home (maybe 2 miles). Now anybody not living under a mossy rock and not so far left knows what has been happening at these ‘rallies”, and this was expected to be no different. So, the public was warned to avoid this intersection at the designated hour.

Guess what?

Nobody showed up. No rally. Fizzle out. No road blockage. No firecrackers, thrown bottles, or police cars turned over.

In the meantime, Portland had its 93rd day of rioting. Hmmm.. Wonder what the difference is? I know. Do you?

Collateral Damage

We have this store near us called “Smart Shopper”.  Kind of like a scratch and dent on steroids. They buy massive amounts of leftover stock (food, mostly), draw it in by the pallet, and sell it at a steep discount. We have bought cases of Perrier for a dollar…that kind of steep discount.

Now, you have to be safe about it, because a lot of the stuff is right at its “best if used by” date, but much of it is not.  We have gotten protein Bars by the case for under $4.00 that still had a year left on their expiration…but I digress.

Here is the damaging part – Because of Covid, and supply shortages, there is no overstock for him to buy. Add in competition (like Big Lots and Ollie’s), and the pickings are slim. He has had no new inventory for at least a month, and as a result will lose repeat customers.

I went in today, scouted for new stuff, came up empty, and will likely not return again until this panic is long a distant memory, and we were weekly shoppers there. Just to point out that I am not alone, I was only one of three people shopping, and the place is usually pretty crowded.

Hope the place recovers. If not, another large vacancy in an already dying plaza.

Weight of a Grape

Okay all you amateur Freudians, figure this dream out…

I was in a grocery store looking to buy grapes. I had read a few articles about how “testing” the grapes could be considered stealing, because if every shopper “tested” a grape, the store could be out several pounds a day. So I am cautious about eating one. But why should I have to buy a pound only to go home and find out they are bitter or bland?

So in this dream, I grabbed a single grape and took it up to the cashier. Stood in line (yes, 6 feet apart and with a mask – even in my dreams -for all you Covid phobics). Anyway, when it became my turn, I handed the cashier the grape, and ask that she please weigh it so that I could pay the proper amount before I tested it. She was dumbfounded. Her scales could not weigh a single grape. After a few exchanged words (pleasant words), she went and got her manager. Well, she did not know what to do either, so she said charge him a penny. I said no, I needed to know it’s EXACT cost. If they were going to charge people with shoplifting a single grape, the courts would require a “value” of that grape. so I need the EXACT cost.

That is when things got a little uglier, so they called over security. He did not know what to do either. We were all just standing there, me being obstinate and demanding to know what one grape cost…when I woke up.

Anybody else ever have this dream?