The Poor Get Poorer: Quick Preview

For a long time I have wanted to write a blog titled “The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer, and Why” which would focus on exactly that. I don’t care to make this specific post into a full fledged blog today, but I am currently working on a more lengthy, detailed, and most importantly helpful post on this in the background.

Working in the finance industry certainly gives me an interesting perspective into the inner workings on personal finance. What I mean by this is the small, itty bitty decisions people like you and me make every day, every hour, which impact our financial well being.

We can talk economics all day long but even on a micro scale, economics is still a macro issue. We could debate and fight and bicker and argue but no matter your view on economics or government fiscal policy no single piece of legislation would have any significant, lasting, or even immediate impact on anyone’s financial status.  Ultimately, none of those debates really matter.

What I’ve found is that the biggest factor that plays into peoples financial health, so to speak, are the tiny decisions they make on a daily basis. We’re always going to have those outlier data points such as kids born into super rich families or those born in a dumpster with one eye and a tail. But if you show me 20 people who are struggling, I can show 17 of those same people who are struggling because of a series of shitty financial decision making.

This isn’t my way of berating anyone. A lot of the people who make bad decisions don’t know they are making them. And importantly, a lot of the decisions they make which adversely affect their financial health aren’t always immediately presented as financial in nature, or they don’t suspect it will have any immediate financial consequence, if at all.

The spark for this random post on a Thursday evening was one of my clients. I have literally thousands of clients. I interact with dozens a day, hundreds per week. I have seen it all. Filthy rich, to flithy poor. Incredibly intelligent to “aw, bless your heart”.

Today I had a very nice client contact me. She was concerned about the price of her insurance going up, as we all are. So I dug into her car insurance to see what the deal was. How dare her rates go up! Rates have been going on steadily across the state thanks to all you texting-and-drivers out there, so it’s not uncommon for someone’s rates to seemingly go up for “no reason”.

Well that wasn’t the case. A couple months ago back in August she had a suspension on her license which in California pretty much is a death blow to your insurability. The reason for the suspension was a “failure to appear” which just means that she got a ticket, didn’t pay the ticket (or contest it), and now the California DMV dinged her driving record. She basically got a ticket and did nothing.

Now, she probably thought that by not paying the ticket, she was saving the $300-450 the ticket costs. (Speeding tickets were $360 in California circa 2016 are are probably higher now. Carpool tickets were $481 circa 2014.)

Unfortunately, she didn’t realize the financial consequences of not paying the ticket. Even if the government never gets a dime from her for that ticket, she’s still going to pay handsomely for it, and in fact, will pay much more.

In this particular clients case, her insurance is $685 every six months. Her insurance renews in a couple days, and because of the suspension, her new premium will be $974. Let’s do some math. All things held the same, her insurance is going up $289 every six months. Score, right? Wrong. Suspensions, tickets, and accidents stay on your records for 36 months, or in insurance terms, about 6 renewals. This means that this suspension will ultimately cost her $1,734 over the next three years just from increased insurance premiums.

And this specific client doesn’t even have an expensive account. She’s driving an 11 year old car, with the state minimum liability limits. If she owned a new car, or had decent limits, or had multiple cars, you could very easily take that increased premium and double it. She rents, and probably thinks it’s okay to have the coverage she has, but if she was a homeowner or someone who for security reasons needed to have good coverage, this one little suspension would have ended up costing them close to three grand.

Let that sink in for just a second. THREE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.

I’m not blowing smoke. This is all legit. The numbers are real. I see this day in and day out. This sweet girl turned what was probably a $400 ticket into a $1700 problem. Had she known about all of this I have no doubt that she would have made a different decision. But we have a huge population of people who don’t know the financial consequences of their actions. And this was a relatively minor mistake. Unless she took traffic school, this ticket is invariably going to end up on her driving record as well, and she’ll get docked for that as well. More money.

What about paying her other bills late? Late fees. Cancellation fees. Reinstatement fees. Utility shut off fees. Utility start up fees. All real things, all tied to real expenses businesses have to pay for when such instances occur. Internal estimates from some of my companies say that when all is said and done, it can cost anywhere from $5 to $7 for them to mail documents to a client. So that $10 cancellation fee you got that you thought was bullshit? Think again.

The point I am trying to drive home here is this. Everything is a financial decision. The car you buy, the state, city, neighborhood, and even the specific house you live in. The food you eat. Whether or not you have a baby. Your lifestyle choices. I drink Coca Cola and recently had a $1,300 root canal, after dental insurance. You bet your ass I wish I could have gone back and not drank sugary beverages and spared myself the time, physical pain, and money. of getting my damn teeth fixed.

But bodily health issues aside, the one common denominator that I see with people who are financially unhealthy, is that they fail to get in front of their finances. They carry over credit card balances. They let checks bounce. They get eaten alive by the aforementioned fees. Those $10 “pain in the ass” fees as small as they are individually, will amass into financial colon cancer if unattended.

But the single greatest litmus test between the rich and the poor is which side of interest you fall on. Are you earning interest, or paying interest? Here’s a hint: Banks make interest on your money by lending it out to others via mortgages. You pay interest on your mortgage, car loan, student loan, and credit cards. It’s not just interest. It’s dividends, residuals, royalties. Those little tiny (or in the case of mortgages) not so tiny sums of money that over years, over decades, are the difference between one socioeconomic bracket, and the one three brackets over.

That’s it for today. Just remember, every thing you do is a financial decision. If financial independence and strength is important to you, decide wisely.

Baby Bear Cabin Renovations 2017

I am incredibly excited about the the recent renovations to one of my cabins up in Big Bear, and very pleased with how everything turned out. In late 2015 I bought several cozy cabins in Big Bear Lake, CA and while all they are all awesome in their own way, some needed a little bit of tender loving care to bring them into the 21st century.

After a couple weeks of renovations, many one day trips up to Bear and back, and several dozen trips to hardware store, the immediate work is done. And while there is always something more to do, I am proud to show off “Baby Bear 2017”.

It was a journey. When I bought the home, this unit was tenant occupied and she owned a cat. The place was a wreck. There was cat fur everywhere and traces of kitty litter all over the bedroom and bathroom. The lighting was outdated and the room was very dark. Several floor lamps were required to illuminate the living area and even then it was reminiscent of a mausoleum. The kitchen had a 7 foot ceiling so head space was at a minimum. A drop down room divider prevented light from the living room from breaking into the kitchen, which made the cooking area incredibly dark as well. The kitchen had an all-in-one sink/oven/stove/refrigerator/freeze that I think had been there since the 1960’s if not earlier. Amazingly, this antique still worked, but it was not efficient, and was more suitable for elves than humans. Cabinetry and storage was sparse, and counter top space was non-existent.

We gutted the kitchen entirely. We took it down to the studs and put up new dry wall with a fresh coat of paint. I hauled lightly used cabinets from a kitchen demo a homeowner in La Mesa was doing. For $200 I got an entire kitchen worth of cabinets, almost sink, faucet and garbage disposal, and brand new cabinet stainless steel hardware. Left over tiles from my bathroom remodel in San Diego that had been taking up space in my garage for a decade became the new counter top and back splash, and left over grout from our winter 2016 kitchen remodel helped as well.

The all-in-one appliance was replaced with the new sink, open box but new studio sized gas stove/oven combo, and a studio sized fridge/freezer combo. It still needs a microwave but for the time being, the appliances are almost good to go.

The drop down room divider was removed. It’s amazing the difference that extra 12 inches of unencumbered space has on the brightness of the kitchen. The kitchen is now replete with pots, pans, utensils, glasses and dining ware as well as miscellaneous kitchen nick-knacks like pizza cutters and ice cream scoopers.

The old, cat tainted green carpet was ripped out and replaced with new wood laminate flooring which extends from the living room into the kitchen. This one feature made the whole home brighter even before tinkering with the actual light fixtures. Carpet absorbed light, while the floor reflects it. It makes the room feel more spacious as well.

A new ceiling light/fan combo was mounted high on the ceiling to help illuminate the entire room, which it does nicely. The fan will help circulate the heat in the winter, and the cool air in the stuff.

Jenny replaced some of the older curtains with newer, lighter ones which again brightened up the room. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this cabin was dark before the renovations. It would have felt like medieval living.

The old linens, pillows, blankets, towels and throws, were replaced with new, lively ones, complete with new mattress and pillow protectors. And we stocked the restroom with nice, thick Charmin toilet paper, none of that cheap single ply for our vacationers!

Several drafts around windows and doors were sealed, and sealed well. Remember, Big Bear days can get down to 30, and Big Bear nights can get down to single digits, so retaining heat is just as important as producing it. A little bit of caulk, foam sealer, and rubber tube gaskets goes a long way. This home is now air tight.

Last but most importantly is the home got a great scrub down. New stuff and niceties won’t last long if things are maintained and even a home complete with top of the line everything can be an utter dump if not clean. Cobwebs be damned! This place is spic and span now.

Am I happy? Absolutely?

Is there more to be done? Always. I do have a laundry list of things I would like to eventually do like insulate the floor and crawlspace, and re-floor the deck. But the immediate future holds a futon sleeper and double pane windows. But for now, I am very pleased with how it all turned out and am looking forward to putting this bad boy to work in 2017.

Our New Kitchen

It’s been several months and there have been a few bumps along the way but our kitchen remodel is finally done! (well… about 99.9% done) I am very happy with how it all turned out and wanted to share it with everyone.

The first thing to note is that our plans for the kitchen completely changed just before we started the demolition process. We were originally going for a Mediterranean / Tuscan sort of look but at the 11th hour ended up changing directions for a more contemporary look. Cream colored cabinets and marble counter tops were supplanted by a slate and gray tone. Copper, bronze, and cast iron adornments were replaced with stainless steel and brushed nickel. I was initially nervous about the new direction but it all came together rather nicely and now that have it, I wouldn’t change it!

See some photos of what we originally had in mind.

Our Old Kitchen

Prior to the remodel we had a galley kitchen. It was long, narrow, and while it was a good size it made the house feel very compartmentalized and closed off. We had aging (15+ year old) appliances and an oven that didn’t even work. We had a white vinyl laminate over particle board countertop which would permanently stain if you accidentally spilled some ketchup or coffee. The laminate was coming apart at the edges and keeping everything clean was become a hassle. The kitchen cabinets and drawers had not been touched since the 60’s when the house was built and reaching items in the back was the usual pain it had always been – unload every pot and kettle just to get that one sauce pan in the back.

The Demolition and Remodel

There was definitely some trial and error involved in the process. The first thing I would recommend is to have just one chief, or one point of contact for those doing the work, and those doing the hiring. If you are going to have multiple workers or groups of workers performing various tasks/jobs, make sure to assign a lead contact or general contractor for the project, or make sure you are ready to juggle the project yourself.

Some tasks can be completed concurrently (meaning at the same time). Other tasks must be complete consecutively. Proper planning is important, but more important is constant communication with those involved. The goal is to keep the ball constantly moving down the field. The best way to do this is to set expectations and deadlines. If the first step is delayed, that sets back step 2, 3, 4, etc.

Our New Kitchen

Now on to the fun stuff! Our new kitchen is squared away and with a few small exceptions, it is completely done.

Island with Raised Bar

The biggest change all of our friends have noticed is that we got rid of the galley kitchen by knocking out the wall and turning it into a pony wall, and essentially turning half the galley into a sort of island/peninsula. This has really opened up not just the kitchen but the adjoining living room. You know how the kids these days love the open floor plan. On its own, this brightens up the whole house by letting light from various room’s and windows pass into other parts of the house which the walls would normally obstruct. The island and raised bar will also make it great for entertaining. I am excited to have a Christmas or New Year’s Party and see how it all unfolds.

New Appliances

A lot of our older appliances were on their last leg. Our fridge worked but was very loud and (no joke) had pad locks on it from back in college. In my defense, I put the locks on the fridge because I caught someone I didn’t know eating my milk and Oreos. Our sink was small, our oven didn’t even work, and I’m pretty sure the kitchen ceiling light was haunted.

We have a new barn style sink with matching faucet and suction cup sponge holder. The sink came with an elevated ‘drain grill’ which makes it so much easier to prepare food and wash dishes. Our new fridge has an ice maker which I thought was the dumbest thing in the world until I first used it and now I love it. The focal piece of the kitchen is the new stove-oven combo and the accompanying range hood. Our ‘stoven’ is stainless steel with front located controls so you don’t have to reach across a pot of boiling water to turn off the alarm. What I love is that the grill itself is cast iron and just feels super durable. It’ll never scratch or appear dirty, and its two piece design makes clean up breeze. The oven also has a small storage area underneath for pans and cookie sheets.

Hidden Everything

Back in college my friend Brett and I had an ongoing civil war about where the toaster should go. I insisted it stay on the counter, and he would hide it in a cabinet when not in use. Brett would love our new set up which includes an appliance garage for our microwave. Accessible when you need it. Hidden when you don’t. We also have a pull out spice rack next to the stove, and massive pull out drawers for all of our heavy pots and pans. No more digging in the back and clanking heavy items together to get that one pot/pan/lid/skillet. Our trashcan is also neatly hidden in what looks like a normal drawer, and he has a new buddy – a recycle bin! This is huge for me because we recycle more than we throw away and this will save me hourly trips to the recycle bin we had in the garage.

Our old kitchen had those long, industrial style tube lights. They were horrible and always flickered. Turning on the lights in the middle of the night for a glass of water resembled a horror movie strobe light scene. We now have six recessed canned lights and new, energy efficient LED bulbs. They turn on in an instant, are dimmable, and don’t look like those ugly squiggly ones that were all the rage a decade ago.

With the exception of our GFI outlet, all of our kitchen outlets have two USB ports for charging cell phones and other modern devices like tablets, speakers, etc. Being ‘prepper minded’ we also put USB outlets in three cupboards so that we could charge things like emergency flashlights and radios without being an eye sore. Costco also had some nifty night lights on sale, which go well with our kitchen and living room.

Highlights of our new kitchen

Contemporary look

  • Stainless steel, glass, and slate color palette
  • Extra large floor tiles with thin, darker grout
  • Open floor plan with raised bar and floating range hood
  • Permanent wall was replaced with pony wall, and covered in wood textured wall tile for easy cleanup

Modern touch

  • Industrial faucet
  • Ultra-quiet garbage disposal
  • GFI outlet
  • USB outlets
  • Appliance garage
  • Slide out spice rack
  • Stainless Steel appliances, including sink, faucet, fridge, oven/stove, dishwasher
  • Stainless Steel hardware an accents, including handles, knobs, outlet and light switch covers, door stops, and countertop accessories

Ounce of prevention

  • GFI outlet
  • Shelf liner for all shelves and drawers
  • Under sink “floor mat” to prevent any spills and leaks from damaging the cabinets
  • Fridge door stops
  • Cabinet door stops
  • Slow-close doors and drawers, and drawer bumpers

Final Words

I was getting a little frustrated at the length of time the project took, but with everything said and done I am extremely satisfied with the results. The new kitchen looks gorgeous and I use it much more often than I did previously. It’s great being able to cook on the stove and see in to the back yard. Or just to be in the kitchen and have it not feel like a crypt.

The new counter tops don’t stain like our old vinyl ones, and that combined with the counter to ceiling stone backsplash, stone counter, stone bar, wall tile on the bar, and sealed grout, everything makes for a much easier clean up post-cooking. We’ve had a few people over for random shindigs and everyone seems to like it.

So far, smudging on the stainless steel hasn’t been a problem, but time will tell.

Our stove, oven, sink, faucet, and garbage disposal are beasts and I think they’ll stand the test of time. The fridge I feel has been under used, and we haven’t used our dishwasher even once in the ~4 weeks the kitchen has been done, so lord knows if it even works.

Jenny naturally had to put everything is a completely different place than it was before and after a month I still have trouble remembering where things are. WHERE’S MY SNACK PACK?!

I’m very happy we got it done, I’m thrilled with the outcome, and hopefully we can have more friends and family over to help us break it in!

See all the finished kitchen (and fireplace) photos below.

Trump Voters, Don’t Get Survivor’s Guilt

The election is over, but I still have plenty left to say.

For the most part it feels as if the two halves of the country just got done kicking the snot out of each other. After a long, hard fought battle, Team Trump has emerged victorious. We won the fight. And now it seems as though many Trump voters have taken on a sort of survivor’s guilt. We’ll don’t. Don’t feel bad for winning.

Just a few days ago I wrote this blog about gloating just a little. And just yesterday I wrote another blog about how in spite of the difference of opinion, we are still one country. But don’t mistake what I said in “We Are Still America”. I am not sorry that Trump won. I am not sorry that I voted for him. I am a little bit disheartened that so many people have reacted to the results so critically.

In light of the five day long consecutive violent protests from Democrats, and on the continued outpouring of anti-Trump doomsday rhetoric reporting from the left media, many on the right are wondering, was it worth it? Yes. Yes, it was.

Let’s play a little game here and put ourselves back in the election cycle. Let us dig up all the grievances and concerns people had against Trump and really dissect it now that we are removed from the fog of political war.

Concern: Was a Trump victory worth it in light of the protests?

Yes, yes it was!

Back in May 2016 I wrote a blog about a Trump rally I had been to on May 27. That rally in San Diego did have its fair share of anti-Trump protestors. But relative to protests in other parts of the country like Los Angeles, or Albuquerque, ours was child splay. Elsewhere in the nation, Clinton and Sanders supporters were attacking men, women, and children. They were burning down cop cars. Vandalizing random cars, businesses, and homes that just happened to be in their path. They littered, and left a scene comparable to a war torn nation in their wake. And of course what would a Democrat led protest be without attacking law enforcement? In light of all this nonsense I joked: If this how anti-Trumpers are behaving when the primaries are still going on, imagine what they’d do if Trump became the Republican nominee. Better yet, imagine what they would do if he won the election

Well… now we know. Act like a bunch of little whiny bitches.

These are the people we beat. These are the people who would be determining the path of our country had they won.

And who is to say it would have turned out any different if another Republican had won, say, Ted Cruz? Democrats are not protesting because Trump won. They are protesting because Clinton lost, and for that we cannot be apologetic. Raiders fans are incapable of losing (or winning for that matter) a football game without stabbing at least three people. Does this mean every other team should forfeit the game to avoid the tantrum that follows their defeat? Of course not.

Grievance: Trump Isn’t Presidential Enough

I heard this one a lot. “He doesn’t have the temperament of a president” “He doesn’t act presidential” “He’s hot headed”. So if you were to swallow what the liberals are feeding you, they’d have us believe that if only Trump had been more presidential, that might have changed their minds. Really? Maybe they would have disliked him a little less, but would it have been enough to make them vote for him?

No.

Remember back in 2012 when Mitt Romney ran for president? That guy was as presidential as it got. Romney was practically Mr. Presidential. The guy never cussed, never drank, never did drugs, never spoke ill of someone else. He had been married once to the same woman forever. He was clean shaven, well groomed, well spoken, and it looks as though he had been born in a suit and tie. He was a red governor in a historically blue state so clearly he could play well with others. Any yet Romney lost by a hell of a greater margin than Trump won by. Mitt Romney’s cool and calm demeanor, his business aptitude, his politeness, his charm, his temperament, none of it fucking mattered to Democrats in 2012. Why would it matter now? Democrats say they want someone more presidential and they got it with Romney and they laughed him out of town by a landslide. Don’t feel bad about how Trump behaved. It was a tactical move to get elected, and it worked.

Retrospect: Democrats say they liked John Kasich

Louis C.K., one of the least funny comedians ever, went on some tirade about how he really liked John Kasich. John Kasich is A-OK. Oh, John Kasich, he’s just the bee’s knees. You Republicans really ought to get behind this guy. That’s probably the only funny thing Louis CK has ever said because no one else seemed to like Kasich. Here is a clip from the New York Times with the final primary delegate count of the four last standing Republican candidates.

2016-republican-primary-results

Remember Marco Rubio, the guy who no one that you knew voted for in the primaries? Well Kasich got less delegates than him. In fact, the only state he managed to take a majority in was his home state of Ohio. So let me get this straight. Louis CK wanted Republicans to put our three legged horse in the race of a life time? Yeah, no shit. I bet he did. Because had we supported Kasich, the general electoral map would have looked like a naked Smurf wearing red gloves.

Electoral map of the 2016 presidential election if John Kasich was the Republican nominee.
Electoral map of the 2016 presidential election if John Kasich was the Republican nominee.

Grievance: Trump was supported by racists

And? We cannot help who we are supported by. Trump denounced the support he got from the KKK in the 2016 election and he denounced Donald Duke back in 2000 well before he had any formal political ambitions, but Democrats seemed to have forgotten that.

Democrats also only consider white racists. They don’t consider black racists, or Hispanic racists, or pretty much the fact that everyone, including non-whites, is capable of racism.

Never mind all of this garbage being propagated on Twitter and social media calling for white genocide, raping white women, and killing police officers.

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/07/08/black-lives-matter-supporters-celebrate-police-deaths-twitter/

These are the people who support BLM and of the two candidates, which do you think they voted for? So if we’re going to go down the path of judging a candidate by their supporters, can we at least not be hypocrites?

For all the allegations of Trumps supporters being old, white, straight, Christian males, how many non-white people do you know that voted for Trump? How many blacks, Hispanics, Asians? How many Jews, Catholics, an atheists? My experiences may be anecdotal, but I do know people from all of these camps that voted for Trump. People I know firsthand, that I went to school with, worked with, including myself.

Trump won three times as many black votes as Romney did in 2012. He won more Hispanics that Romney did. He won more young voters than Romney did. In fact, I think the only category he slipped in was a 1 point drop in the white women vote from Romney.

For Republicans this may very well be the first step in a long awaited paradigm shift the party has needed, towards a more diverse constituency.

My Advice: Republicans, grow some balls

Conservatives out there, we did it! But in spite of our victory, some still seemed unsure of their victory. Like a Chargers lead in the first half, we keep wondering if we’re going to choke and throw the game in the 4th quarter. Some of my friends are acting like Eeyore in spite of this amazing victory. “Do you really think he can do it?” Yeah, I do. I wouldn’t have voted for the guy if I didn’t think he could deliver, and neither would you.

We won the presidency. We have a majority in the house and senate. Within a few short months, we’ll get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. By this time next year we’ll have virtual control of all three branches of government; executive, legislative, and judicial.

So why be so timid? We won, act like it. Grow some balls. I’m not professional poker player but one thing I know is that when you’re the big stack, the chip leader at the table, you make big moves to knock out the competition or you’ll get chipped away piece by piece in a battle of attrition and eventually lose. We have two years minimum to get what we want done with minimal interference from Democrats.

Now is not the time to stall at the start line. Now is the time to sprint for the finish line and not look back. If we don’t do a political blitz now on issues like gun rights, we’ll assuredly cede them to Democrats forever.

This election was the culmination of decades of Republicans caving on issues of importance. We allowed Democrats and liberals to control the vernacular, the terminology, and the narrative. When you control the language, you control the ideas. When the term ‘progressive’ is used exclusively to define leftist ideas, regardless of how shitty they are, you become indoctrinated into thinking anything else is wrong. Republicans have held on tenaciously in an echo chamber of liberal bullshit for decades, and despite retaining their sanity, some are on the edge of losing their spine. They’re war torn and battle broken. We’ve heard so much liberal media bullshit and propaganda for so long that we’ve started to commiserate with it, even if we don’t out right believe it.

Liberals haven’t shown an ounce of restraint pushing their agenda, and imposing their views on everyone else. From gun rights, to punitive taxation, death penalties, to how much soda you can buy, what kind of cars you can drive, or fast food restaurants giving toys with kid’s meals. Liberal high school principals have suspended students for wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. In my hometown of San Diego, liberals have vehemently been against the Mount Soledad cross even after a private organization bought the land the cross was on from the government. It’s not that they didn’t want the cross on public property, it’s that they didn’t want the cross to be featured prominently anywhere. The fuckery must end. And Trump is the one to end it. Liberals haven’t been shy about pushing their politics, and neither should we.

Don’t let the liberal media win by succumbing. Be resolute. Have the courage of your convictions. And grow some fucking balls.

After the Storm

The storm will pass. The skies will clear. The protestors will eventually empty the streets when their bosses finally call them and say “Dude, I know you aren’t sick. I saw you throwing rocks at police on CNN last night. Get your ass to work or you’re fired.”

Republicans, keep your heads down like we do. Keep up the good work making sure the cogs of society continue to turn. Good job not meeting stupidity with stupidity by counter protesting, that would only inflame the situation.

This fire will burn out on its own so long as the media doesn’t continue to put fire on it.

Do not feel bad that we won. Do not stomp swinging now that we’ve knocked out Clinton. Keep up the fight and don’t let up!

We Are Still America

This isn’t a gloat piece. This isn’t a puff piece. This is from the heart. From my heart. I know these are tumultuous times. Divisive times. But just stomach through this. This wasn’t written for one person, one party, one side. This is for everyone.

For years I avoided the news. I would try to keep up with certain local news, but the media at large was always so negative. The world, it seemed, was also going to hell. Crime, corruption, politics, wars, traffic, accidents, and generally just people being horrible to one another. Add on top of that the occasional natural disaster, disease, localized catastrophic event or pollution. I eventually cut cables entirely, and would avoid the news like the plague. It’s not that I didn’t want to know what was going on or that I thought it was nothing but propaganda. I’m sure a lot of it was. But I would hear and read about these horrible things happening around the world, of which I had virtually no control, only to get saddened, angry, stressed, and dismayed. It cannot possibly be good for ones health to be surrounded by that kind of negativity, all the time.

The election cycle didn’t change the news too much. Still incredibly negative. But social media has certainly changed or at least I finally noticed it change during this most recent election cycle. Social media is also something that for years I have tried to actively avoid but I couldn’t resist the allure of Facebook these past couple months as the political season heated up and finally culminated in the election. As I scroll through Facebook what I see bothers me more than what used to bother me when I used to watch the news: Rampant negativity. But instead of coming from a handful of news networks, this negativity was coming from dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people.

There are a lot of scared people out there. Worried and fearful. Afraid that the sky around them will start falling. As far as they are concerned, there was a tectonic shift beneath their feet.

It takes a lot to genuinely upset me. Namely watching Disney’s Fox and the Hound. But the one sure thing that gets me is the idea or presence of hopelessness. That someone can be so downtrodden that there is no light at the end of their tunnel. No path out of perdition. As I see the posts of friends and family members hurting right now, it breaks my heart. It truly does.

I get that there are concerns about a spike in racism, or sexism, or any other ism. That there is or will be a spike in hatred, or bigotry. There isn’t. And there won’t be. This may not come as much solace from someone who voted for Trump, but it just might. Maybe a little.

Listen, I don’t hate gays. I don’t hate women. I don’t hate Mexicans (I’m half). I don’t hate non-whites, or Muslims. I don’t hate the poor. I don’t hate people on government subsidies. There are a couple billion people in this world and I maybe hate one person, and no, it’s not Hilary Clinton.

The assholes out there were assholes before November 8th. The racists out there were already racists. Those inclined to burn down buildings and vandalize police cars weren’t born on November 9th. Some people are just shitty, and they don’t need a very good reason to shit all over everything and everyone else. To the people out there whose candidate of choice didn’t win, I feel for you. I really do. But I want to reassure you that the sky isn’t going to fall. You are not less safe now than you were on November 7th.

We need to remember that most people don’t wake up wondering how they can make other peoples’ lives miserable. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, we wish for the same things. Health, food on our plate, a roof over our head, a safe neighborhood for our children, all children, to play in. We want jobs, pride of workmanship, good communities, and good schools. We want the next generation to have a better life than we had. I don’t think it matters who you voted for, we can agree that we want the same things, it’s just that no two of us can agree on the best way for everyone to accomplish these things. But just because we can’t agree, doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Trump won the election. He didn’t win the country. This country is still all of ours. It belongs to each of us, even those who feel disenfranchised, ignored, abandoned, or marginalized.

For all the squabbles, and bitter disagreements, we are still America. One America. Sink or swim, fail or fly, whatever we do we’re going to do it together. The person in the cubicle next to you that voted for the other candidate, they are still human. They were a decent human being before the election and they are the same person now that the election is over.

Thanksgiving is coming up and hopefully you have a large, loving family or group of friends to spend the holiday with. Some of those people you may not have seen in a very long time. Don’t botch the holidays over an election. Don’t lose a friend or sour a family event because of a political grievance.

I have my opinions but this specific post is not going to be me telling you how to think, or what to think. This isn’t a political op ed. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, socialist, green, independent, or if you voted for Trump or Clinton or wrote in Mickey Mouse. United, we truly do stand, and divided we will most certainly fall. Each one of us is a tiny red, white, or blue thread in the fabric of this great flag, and if we start tearing apart at the seams this entire thing will fall apart. Lets not allow that to happen.

flag-unravel

Fret not. Even if I disagree with you, I still want the best for you. We are still America.

Trump Won, and I’m gloating just a little

Ordinarily I would not gloat about Trump winning. No, really. I’m not usually a sore loser or a sore winner. But I’ve taken a lot of shit from people, friends and family and strangers alike this election cycle because of the candidate, and even the party I supported.

I’ve never referred to a candidate by one of those monikers like Obummer, McSame, McLame, McBush, Killery, Hitlery, etc but certain people just couldn’t help themselves when posting on my wall about Drumpf, Dump, and Cheeto, whatever that means.

I’ve never messed with anyone’s property because of a political sticker. Never peeled it off, never put a sticker over it, never keyed their car. Nada, zilch. I had my Trump yard sign vandalized twice. Someone came on to my property, my home, to disrespect and intimidate me out of supporting a candidate. Is that not voter intimidation on a micro scale? And it’s happened across the country, people getting their signs stolen, their car set on fire because they had a Trump sticker, getting pulled out of their cars and attacked because of a Trump sticker. At the insistence of my girlfriend, and parents, I removed my sign because I didn’t want to risk someone doing something malicious to me, my property, or worse yet, someone I cared about.

I’ve never threatened to leave this country if someone I didn’t like got elected. But I can’t even count how many friends and family members I’ve seen say or hint at this, of course, always democrats. And I’ve seen celebrities say the same thing, of course, always democrats.

I’ve never insulted someone for their political opinions. I have challenged them, sure. I have argued, and debated, and for unknown reasons wasted hours of my life writing nauseatingly long responses on social media that no one probably read. But I have not insulted them. I have not said anything akin to “wow I can’t believe you would vote for Hilary, I just thought so much better of you than that”. But I have had dozens of people insult me in this election cycle, not just alluding or insinuating, but calling me racist, sexist, xenophobic, bigoted, et al. The usual democrat fare. I had one ‘friend’ comment on a blog I shared “I always tell people there are some smart Trump supporters out there” when I posted something he actually agreed with me on that wasn’t even Trump related, basically making it known that in the dozen years I’ve known this person he thought I was a idiot, and that prior to me writing some random blog, he thought all Trump supporters were idiots.

I’ve never trolled anyone because of their political beliefs. But I have had select people systematically troll my social media just so they can shit on every political or opinionated thing I post regarding this election cycle. These people are nowhere to be found when I post a picture of my dog, or a beautiful scene while hiking, or share a photo or blog post about a vacation I took to Hawaii. These people don’t even bother to wish me happy birthday. These trolls are all but non-existent when I post neutral, non-political things. But I can’t take a fucking shit without these trolls commenting on how bad it smells. I can’t post a selfie with my Trump shirt without them shitting all over it, making fun of it with sarcastic, underhanded comments if not out right insults or provocations. The moment I posted something “pro Trump”, I was lambasted, insulted, mocked, and bombarded with a mile long counter post about why I’m basically a human piece of shit.

I’ve never threatened to unfriend someone because of the candidate or party they support. But I have seen about a dozen friends on social media claim they would, and each and every one of them were democrat. One even unfriended me. And I am certain one chose not to do business with me when they learned of my political standing.

I’ve never cried because my candidate won, or lost. But last night before the results were even finalized, I scrolled down my feed and saw about 6 or 7 friends of mine talking about how sad they were, and how they cried, and how they are terrified, and the whole sob fest. I didn’t cry when Obama won, TWICE, and has royally fucked over a ton of people I know, yours truly included. Trump hasn’t even done anything yet except win. He hasn’t even been sworn in. But cry if and when his policies result in your fucking health insurance premiums quadrupling in 5 years. Cry when you lose your job because the entire industry no longer exists. When something tangible happens that adversely affects your life, then maybe you can cry and I’ll give a shit.

I’ve said for years, and especially the last year and a half, that the media is full of shit, and the polls are full of shit. And it turns out I was right.

So I have been threatened. I have been insulted. I have been trolled. I have been marginalized. I have been unfriended. I have been mocked. And you know what? I am gonna fucking gloat a little bit. Because I put up with alllllll that shit, and won. Trump put up with much more than that, and he still won. The mainstream media was against him. The democrat and republican establishment were against him. Celebrities were against him. Democrats would burn down cop cars and buildings and threaten and attack people with toddlers, and women, and the elderly just because Trump was giving a nearby speech or hosting a rally.

So you know what.

Trump won. Ha, ha, HA. IN YOUR FACE. Donald Drumpf won. The Cheeto won. This guy you’ve been shitting on for a year just took the wind right out of your sails. You threw everything you had at him and he juggernauted his way through like champ. And I am thoroughly enjoying watching all these rude people I’ve been seeing the last year eat their words.

President Trump. Get comfortable hearing those words because you’re going to be hearing them a lot for the next 4 years. 48 long months. One thousand four hundred and sixty excruciatingly long days.

So please forgive the shit eating grin on my face.

And if you still plan on leaving America, give me a call. I’ll help you pack.

Sane rantings from an insane dude.