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.

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

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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.

A Year of Travel and Adventure

Starting about a year ago, I strapped in to one hell of a roller coaster. The last 12 months, from October 2015 to now, have been jam packed full of events. The past year has been tiring, fun, stressful, fast paced, and all around excellent.

Louisiana – The Adventure Begins

The adventures began last October when my longtime friends TJ and Jessica invited Jenny and me on a week long trip to Louisiana with them. They were flying out there for vacation, but also to take their engagement photos in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The trip was a blast from day one. Our flights landed within about an hour of each other so coordinating was super easy. It was late and we needed to catch some sleep to springboard into the rest of the trip. We all hopped in a rental – some all-wheel drive Infiniti sports sedan – and tore our way through the middle of Louisiana to our first destination of the Pelican State.

As you may or may not know, drive-thru daiquiri shops are a real thing in Louisiana and other parts of the south, so when in Rome! Another regional quirk I noticed was Dollar General stores, which appear to be to Louisiana, what Starbucks is to California – there’s one every quarter mile.

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Our first morning we woke up bright and early and went on a swamp boat tour. A must-do if you’ve never gone. Our guide had the coolest accent, and was a pro at handling that thing. He could drift around a bend and manage to get our 6 foot wide swamp boat through a water gate with just inches to spare without breaking a sweat. He told us all about the nutria rat problem, we saw tons of gators, and even had a three foot Chinese tuna jump into our boat and smack TJ in the face. It was awesome.

Our next stop was New Orleans. On our drive in, we turned on suitable playlist on Spotify and stumbled on the comical and tragic song, Senor El Gato! We had a beautiful suite just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. I wish I’d had my Fitbit then because god knows I must have walked several marathons up and down the French Quarter alone in search of voodoo shops, bottomless Hurricanes, the perfect masque, and restaurants to fill TJs insatiable hunger for OYSTERRRRRRSS!!!!!

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After a couple days in the city we ventured out of the concrete jungle and into the bayou. We drove 140 miles from our hotel in the French Quarter all the way to Avery Island to visit the Mc. Ilhenny Co. aka the Tabasco factory. I may very well be addicted to Tabasco sauce so I couldn’t very well visit Tabasco’s home state without knocking on their door. We went on the Tabasco food tour, which I HIGHLY recommend. Your first meal is in the official Tabasco restaurant, and from there we hopped in a tour van with our trusty guide and drove to several parishes to try the best cuisine the region had to offer. Gumbo, jambalaya, cracklins, shrimp etouffee, boudin, andouille.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much, and so well.

Rounding out the trip was a visit to a Halloween haunted attraction, the Garden District, several small museums, several visits to Café Du Monde, a fine dining experience at The Bourbon House, the worst comedy show I have ever been to, and dozens of amazing restaurants.

I Bought my First Home

All the while I was in Louisiana getting fat and drunk, I was also in escrow. Now, whether it’s an omen or not is beyond me but I will always remember the day I closed escrow because it was on November, Friday the 13th.

This wasn’t my first real estate, but it was my first home, meaning I planned to actually live there and not have it be solely an investment property. I love my house. Earlier that spring I had been on the house hunt and ran into a series of duds and lemons. After a failed, painstaking negotiation with a previous seller, I gave the search a rest for a while. I am so glad I did because the home I ended up buying was one I had been eyeballing a year earlier. My good friend Mark Wayman saw that the sellers had lowered the price, and a couple months later it was mine.

Three little cabins on two lots, about 100 feet from and with a view of the lake, beautiful scenery all around, on a heavily treed lot. Top to bottom, I love my new home and getting the keys was one of the coolest, most exhilarating things ever.

It’s been great having friends and family come up to visit, drinking some cider and playing board games.

Georgia, and Wedding # 1

Back to South I go. Just days after I bought my house I was jet setting again, this time to the Peach State and the land of red soil for my cousin’s wedding. I don’t know what it is about the South but it’s awesome. We landed early in the morning. The Atlanta airport is a train wreck. It’s massive, and it seems like not a soul who works there knows where to find anything. Four employees pointed us in the opposite direction to the rental car lot, but fifth times a charm!

The drive from Atlanta to our destination was rainy for the first couple hours. I never knew just how big of a city Atlanta was, but there was traffic before the sun came up.

Once the sun rose it became abundantly clear how beautiful the state is. Trees, trees, and more trees as far as the eye could see. Which wasn’t that far since so many dang trees obstructed your view. I marveled at the undertaking it must have been to clear a path of trees across the state to make room for highways stretching hundreds of miles. Must have been enough lumber to last a life time, and yet couldn’t have even been a drop in the bucket.

Just like in Louisiana, there were Dollar General stores evvvvverywhere in Georgia. So at this point I am guessing this is a Southern thing.

My aunt and uncle live on this 140+ acre lot in what to me felt like the middle of nowhere. In the summers they have this big Christian summer camp complete with human hamster balls, giant water slides, a lake, baseball, capture the flag, RC planes, and some absolutely legit laser tag that looked more professional than the MILES gear we used in ROTC. Unfortunately I didn’t get to partake in these festivities but people in the South really know how to have a good time.

I did however go hunting for the first time, and that was a whole other experience itself. Read “My First Hunting Trip” to read more about that. One of our first nights in town there were hurricane warnings, flash flood warnings, and parts the town we were in had even lost power. Coming from the desert that is San Diego, a hurricane was a fun experience to cross off the bucket list. Jenny and I stayed in a summer camp bungalow in the middle of the woods, away from our relatives, which made it all the more interesting.

Georgia also has some amazing chain restaurants that I would love to have back home, including Waffle House (where believe it or not I had a bomb ass Philly cheese steak), Zaxby’s, and the Cracker Barrel store/restaurant. And if you want the largest menu of milkshakes ever, you have to find yourself a Steak ‘n Shake. Damn the south has some good eats.

Georgia was a beautiful state and I would love to go back!

Two Weeks in Ohio

October was Louisiana. November was Georgia. Now fast forward to December where I spent the first half of the month in Ohio! This time it was for a business trip for Nationwide (is on your siiiidddde). Christmas time if my favorite time of the year so I was a little bummed to miss out on a couple Christmas parties and all the festivities that go with it. But Nationwide spares no expense and they own their home hotel (yes, Nationwide Insurance owns their own hotel in Ohio) which was dressed to the nines in holiday splendor. This place was very nice. It had a sort of colonial feel to it, and the entire place was adorned with holly, and the hallways and lobbies all filled with Christmas music. Each lobby had a decked out Christmas tree, and a quaint seating area with a 24/7 fire place.

I cannot speak on behalf of Ohio, but Nationwide sure knows how to cook up some grub. We had access to a dining area and every day got breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we’re not talking some lame ‘continental breakfast’ where you are starving after your meal. This place’s breakfast would put 94th Aero Squadron to shame. If there wasn’t a waffle station, there was an omelet station, or a crepe station. And that’s the breakfast. No joke, I think I gained 10 pounds on that trip.

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Ohio in December is f***ing cold. Remember, I’m from San Diego and have experienced a hot Christmas. Here I was inappropriately dressed for 30 degree weather, with heavy winds. My group consisted of people from neighboring states including New York, who had a laugh or two at my expense. Joe, thanks for letting me borrow your jacket buddy.

On my trip to Ohio I did a lot of good, professional tips regarding the insurance industry. But that pales in comparison to the awesome people I met on the trip. There was a ton of good food, great people, excessive drinking, boisterous laughing, and a hilarious late night, boozed conversations.

Back to San Diego!

It felt like I hadn’t been home in forever. Between all the trips out of state, hours of flying in a crammed seat, it was great to finally be back home. But December was half way over and Christmas was fast approaching so it was time to make up for lost time with interest. The day after I landed I whisked Jenny off and we bought a fake Christmas tree. Only the Charlie Brown trees were left, but we got a screaming deal on the display model – Walmart knocked off like $100. Score! I went all out with ornaments, stockings, holly, decorations, and all around Christmasness. For the next two weeks my house smelled like pine and cinnamon.

I also have an inner Martha Stewart that comes out around Christmas time and not to brag, but my decorations dominated. See pics!

Snowboarding in Big Bear

At this point, I’ve owned my house for over a month and haven’t been there once due to my chaotic schedule so Jenny and I had to set aside time to retreat to Big Bear and escape the hustle and bustle. Here’s a photo of us in front of the “Sold” sign, which I insisted my real estate agent keep up until after I had a chance to take a picture in front of it. Thanks Mark!

Hawaii

New Years came and went, and before we knew it April was here and I was jet setting yet again to another state, this time to Hawaii.

Hawaii was a blast. I had been to the state before, but only to Kauia, which felt like the Palm Springs of the Pacific because it was almost all old people and retirees. This time around we went to O’ahu and stayed in Wai Ki Ki.

Not that I normally get home sick, but when I landed in O’ahu it felt a lot like being back home in San Diego. At the time we went, the weather was absolutely perfect. Mid-80’s, super low humidity, clear skies, with only the occasional rain, usually before we woke up. Basically, perfect San Diego weather.

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Just like San Diego, O’ahu has half a dozen military bases. Tons of beaches. Lots of beautiful hiking. Snorkeling. A tourist city. It used to be part of a foreign country (the Nation of Hawaii vs Mexico), and the native population still has a huge cultural impact on the city. Every other street and community in San Diego is Spanish, and on this Pacific Island every other street was Hawaiian. I felt right at home in this city. Heck, they even had a Costco! It was like someone carved San Diego out with a knife and threw it into the middle of the Pacific.

Hawaii was just too much to fit into this blog, so I’ll put more about it later.

A Summer of Weddings

The summer of 2016 was the summer of weddings for me. I went to three weddings in three months, and was in one of them. I also went to two bachelor parties.

Bachelor Party # 1

was for my friend Brett, in April. There were a lot of faces I hadn’t seen in a long time, or seldom get to see now that adult life has taken over. It was great to catch up with old friends. We spent a couple days in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but one particularly funny moment was when we were hanging out in an outdoor jacuzzi when it started dumping rain. I mean pouring! I’ve never seen fifty people in bathing suits running so fast and looking so pathetic, including myself. Anders, the road trip was a lot of fun man.

Wedding # 2

was my high school buddy TJ and his now wife Jessica! Despite having been sunny the entire week prior, mother nature decided to pull a fast one and make it rain the day before the wedding. Again I was ill equipped. Thinking “oh, it’ll be sunny!” I brought surf trunks and not much warm to wear besides by suit. Luckily Big 5 has a Dickies jacket on sale, and would you believe it, liberal Santa Barbara’s Big 5 actually had no shortage of 22LR on sale? Naturally I had to buy some.

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The wedding took place in beautiful Santa Barbara in this awesome sort of Spanish villa in the middle of an open air plaza. It was super simple but incredibly fun and the weather cleared up just in time for the main event! The pre-wedding, ceremony, and rehearsal were all in the same plaza which made travel arrangements a cinch. Those who know me know that I’m not much of a dancer, but I danced my ass off at that wedding. TJ and Jessica, you guys had an awesome wedding, and who doesn’t appreciate an open bar?! You have some really cool friends, and I still need to check out your new digs!

Wedding # 3

Was for my college friend Brett and his now wife, Adriana. Besides being a ring bearer when I was four or so, this was my first time actually being in a wedding and it was a cool experience. Prior to the wedding the groom’s party had a photo shoot, and I might say, we nailed it. Taking a limo to the wedding was baller, and Brett I appreciate the custom beer mug! The scene was beautiful at Admiral Kidd conference center on base, and again, it was great to see so many old faces I hadn’t seen in years.

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Over the Line

Literally the day after Brett’s wedding I was up at 4:45 AM to get ready for Over the Line on Fiesta Island. While this isn’t a wedding or a bachelor party, it was just one more spice thrown into the mix that has been my last 12 months. You can read more about my OTL experience here.

Bachelor Party # 2

Was for my cousin Cortlen in July. Damn, this was a fun trip! Basically, we all went camping and white water rafting up outside of Sacramento in the American River (middle fork). Half of the people there were my cousins so it felt like an extended family reunion.

The drive up there and back down was long, but I had some awesome company. I picked up my cousin Kevin from Long Beach and the two of us headed up North on our adventure in the ‘X-star’. Kevin’s a Hillary supporter but we won’t hold that against him! He was an awesome road trip buddy and damn I don’t think I have laughed that hard my entire life.

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We went on some awesome hikes and found a little creek with a natural bridge created by a fallen tree, just like in the movies. There was beer pong, camping, knife and hatchet throwing competitions, exploding beer cans, and we almost saw some Hatfield and McCoy business go down between two of the ‘resident campers’.

Rafting was another story altogether! You’d have to do it for yourself to get it, but it was a lot of fun rafting with my cousins and we have some cool pics to show of it.

Anthony, you did a great job orchestrating the entire trip.

Wedding # 4

Was for my cousin Cortlen. This time the wedding was all the way up on Monterey. Another long haul back on the road, this time in the Subie. The ceremony was at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and had a beautiful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur Coast. The view, magnifique! It’d been a year since I was in Monterey and I had forgotten the natural beauty of the area.

The ceremony was quick and beautiful, and Cortlen and Ally, I am so happy for you guys! Sorry we couldn’t chat more but I know there were a ton of guests you had to make the rounds to.

We spent the first night at a hotel, and the second night at a VRBO type thing with some relatives and that’s where the fun was. We had the staples of any good time, good food, good company, and good alcohol. I learned Mexican dominoes and another game I really enjoyed called Linkee. Imagine “Taboo”, but with a twist. My sister and I were on the same team, Team Awesome, and naturally we were victorious.

The ride down was a lot of fun. My mom, dad, brother and sister drove up together and the six of us hop scotched on the way south at a number of wineries and wine tasting rooms including Eberle winery and a tour of their massive, underground wine cave.

In the last 12 months I have done a lot. At one point I had been to six states in six months. At other point I had been to three weddings in three months. In total I have been to four weddings, been in one wedding, been to two bachelor parties, and traveled lord knows how many tens of thousands of miles by foot, car, boat, and plane. I’ve bought a home (three homes actually!). I’ve made some amazing new friends and reconnected with dozens of old friends and relatives I hadn’t seen in ages. I’ve eaten some amazing food, drank some incredible wine, and brewed some good beer. I feel like I have made great strides professionally, personally, and physically.

I truly am blessed to have such amazing friends, and such an amazing family. Growing older doesn’t come without it’s downfalls, and one that I’ve grappled with for the past couple years has been the difficulty in keeping up with friends and family as we all grow older and get stuck in the rhythm of our daily grinds. But growing older is also a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy. While I have lost contact with a number of friends over the years, it makes me appreciate all the more the relationships that are still very much alive.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am excited for them, and equally excited to see what 2017 and the next 12 months have in store for Jenny and me.

To all of my amazing friends out there, you know who you are. Thank you for being a part of my life, and Jenny’s life. For all the great memories, all the fun stories, all the late nights, and early mornings. For all the long drives, and funny moments gone in an instant. For all the good food, good drinks, and good times, I am incredibly grateful.

I love you all and am happy to have you in my life.

The US Postal Service Sucks

People talk shit about everything. Go on yelp and there is usually no shortage of bad reviews about every business under the sun. Well for most of my life the USPS has actually done a pretty decent job. I’ve very rarely ever had problems with sending or receiving mail.

However in the past three weeks I’ve experienced quite a few problems with the USPS. I don’t know if this is a temporary set back because of internal changes, or if it’s always been shitty and I somehow managed to skate by without any problems all this time.

Returned Mail

In the past week alone, I have had five separate people tell me that mail they sent to me was returned back to them. In each case the the sender emailed me a photo of the returned mail and I was able to verify that they had my name/business name correct, and my mailing address correct, along with proper postage.  FIVE times.

Black Hole Mail

About two weeks ago I placed two orders from the same online vendor within 3 days of each other. The vendor confirmed both orders had been shipped out.

I got one delivered on Monday, September 19.

It has now been a week, and the second package is not yet here. It is entered the USPS black hole of mail.

Torn Open Mail

In the past month, I have had three separate pieces of mail that were torn open. Not open, like as if my the hands of another person rifling through my mail. I mean TORN open as if by a machine, maybe one of their processing machines.

One of them looks like the envelop was run through a paper shredder and then saved at the last minute. The envelop and the contents of the envelop were torn in half. The USPS had to repackage the envelop and contents within a plastic pouch. One of the ‘packages’ had shreds of the document mailed to me, as well as pieces of a personal check that was not intended for me – meaning someone else’ mail also got torn in half, and not knowing which documents/pieces of documents went to who, the USPS gave me someone  else’ check.

The check was unreadable so I cannot ascertain who was supposed to have received it, but someone else out there got half a check they won’t be able to deposit.

Employees that barely speak English

The icing on the cake today was that I came to the office and had three voicemails/emails from over the weekend from various people concerned about the undelivered mail they got bounced back to them.

1 times a fluke, and maybe even 2, but 5 times in about a week is a fucking epidemic. So I called the USPS to bring the issue up. I requested the call back service as opposed to waiting on hold for 45 minutes like the queue said it would be.

To their credit I did get a call back within about an hour, but the laughable aspect of it was that the employee clearly didn’t speak English very well. We are a country of immigrants and English is understandably not everyone’s first language. But it does seem prudent to me that the USPS and other government agencies would hire people who speak the de facto official language of the country.

Go home USPS, you’re drunk.

Childhood Animal Drawings and Sketches

I used to draw A LOT when I was younger. Rough sketches, finished drawings, pastels, chalk, charcoal, paint. I just loved it. I was digging through some old notepads that were buried in my garage and found some old art work from circa 1998-1999. Several of these are of pets I had as a kid, including Hazey, Getty (the German Shepherd I had years before Major), Kody, Pearl, and Lilly. Thanks for viewing!

 

Internet of Stings

I’ll be 100% honest that sometimes I really contemplate whether or not I should write a blog or talk about a certain issue because of the blow back I’ll get. I consider myself a pretty outspoken person or at least I once was, meaning I would just say what came to mind and not really give a damn what people thought. It’s still true today I supposed, but to a lesser extent.

By no means am I a professional blogger. I do this as a sort of hobby and I’ll be lucky if seven people actually read this blog entry. Maybe I’ve mellowed out a bit. Maybe I don’t have time. Or maybe I’ve learned that people can just be really fucking vicious to others for no particularly good reason, and I’m not particularly fond of being on the receiving end of the viciousness.

It’s almost as if certain people get off on making it known that “I think you’re a total idiot and let me tell you why!” Their lives revolve around shooting other people down when they get that cloud 9 going. Take the scenic route of any article on any media outlet website and direct yourself to the comments section. Find some political post your friend posted on Facebook and look at the comments. You want to see hate? The shit people say to each other in the comments section of the internet is pure horror. It doesn’t seem to matter the subject either. Politics and religion are bound to brew up some good old fashioned shit storms. Sports too. But it seems as if everything is such a controversy. Go to a hiking website, a medical website, a work out website, a diet forum, pick a card any card.

The internet isn’t some abstract thing. It’s literally just a bunch of computers tied together and the shit people say online is just the same crazy shit they think to themselves. It just makes it easier for them to spread their thoughts to more people, over a wider area than they could do by say… posting fliers at the local bus stop.

There is something very peculiar about the internet and the way people behave on it though. I feel like in real life (ie, when not staring at a screen) almost any two people can get along. I feel like online, any two people can become the worst versions of themselves and verbally rip each other to pieces. Interestingly it’s not the viewpoints that surprise me (though, admittedly some people do think and say some crazzzzzzzy stuff), but rather how quickly a civil conversation and devolve into a verbal pissing match.

Headline reads “Man Loses Hand in Garbage Disposal” and just give it a few minutes for someone to say “what an idiot, he must have voted for ______” even though it’s not remotely political. And they’re off! Before you know it, people are being the worst of themselves, spending hours and hours of their finite lives trying to verbally skewer their online (and often unknown) opponent.

I’m not saying the internet invented stupidity or rudeness, or that it even amplifies it. The internet just exposed the stupidity, incivility, and vanity that already exists in all of us. This isn’t even so much a blog about the internet, as much as it is how my blogging and internet surfing experiences have led me to see just how much hostility people harbor towards others in general.

Everything is quick to become an us-v-them situation. Whites vs blacks. Democrats vs Republicans. Football vs soccer. Rich vs poor. My team vs your team. My preference vs your preference. God forbid you enjoy different food than I do, fucker. I really do love people. I pity them. And to an extent I fear them. But I love them. And again, I feel like any two people, two individuals, can get along. But man, when we’re in groups, we can be monsters. There’s some kind of inverse correlation between the combined IQ of the members of a group, and their exhibited intelligence.

We’re so quick to hate each other. To insult each other. To name call, belittle, and argue with each other. We just have to get our jabs in. Leave no disagreeable opinion unopposed. We’ll tear into a complete stranger. Worse… we’ll tear into someone we know and care about. This isn’t directed at any one specifically. Observe and report, and this was just the inevitable reporting byproduct of years of observing. All the calamity in the news and on social media lately prompted this. The hostility at one point veering me away from having an online presence as I know it has for others. I was very surprised that following some of my recent posts, a good number of friends privately messaged me with their thoughts and input (all civil, thank you!) perhaps because they didn’t want to get tangled up in the online brawl that happens all too often.

I don’t have a proposal. I don’t have a point I’m slowly working towards. No moral to the story. I don’t have a goal for writing this other than to vent my frustrations. A long winded sigh of relief, in a sense.

I know I don’t write as frequently as I should, and my writing aint exactly Oscar Wilde, so give yourself a nice pat on the back if you’ve read this far. Thank you for hearing me out and thank you for continuing to read my blog. And for the occasional verbal spar.

Colin Kaepernick is… not necessarily unpatriotic

You’ve no doubt seen the deadlines lately. Long story short Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand up during the National Anthem because reasons and now everyone is in a big stink over it. I say reasons instead of actually providing a description because I don’t want to misrepresent what it is CK is protesting or oversimplify his thoughts on the issue. I’m not too big on the whole BLM thing so I would probably do it a disservice, but if I had to sum it up, he’s protesting police brutality and systemic oppression of black people in America.

People are calling him unpatriotic, and calling for him to be kicked off the team, and demanding things from the NFL, and the laundry list of usual demands that Americans of all stripes are quick to shout out over every single perceived slight.

People got mad when that crazy BLM supporter killed a bunch of police officers, and rightfully so. It was horrible.

People get mad when BLM supporters riot in the streets and burn shit down and vandalize communities because it’s idiotic and destructive.

People get mad when BLM supporters shut down a free way to make a point like they did on the 15 freeway in San Diego just a few weeks ago.

But Kaepernick didn’t do any of this. He didn’t kill anyone, didn’t injure anyone, didn’t destroy any property, and didn’t inconvenience anyone. He didn’t stand on a flag, burn a flag, defile a flag. He didn’t even hang one upside down. All he did was… well, nothing. He’s getting flak for not doing something. All the stupid shit BLM and cohorts have done in the past year or so that pisses everyone off – Kaepernick didn’t do.

So I honestly feel like this is people grasping at straws, trying to make something out of nothing. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not on the BLM bandwagon, but let’s be real here. This fervor over Kaepernick is about frustration over not being able to silence dissenting opinions and actions.

It’s easy to dismiss BLM and it’s supporters when they do stupid shit like the burn down buildings. But it’s much harder to brush it aside when they aren’t being unruly. It’s as if people thought that the only way BLM could possibly get attention to their cause was to act like idiots, and now someone comes along and doesn’t do anything illegal or violent and still manages to draw attention to the issue on a national level. Touché. Kaepernick scored a hit and there really isn’t anything to be said about it. Nothing legitimate anyway.

In the absence of any complaints of merit, Colin’s critics have gone with the low blow insult of being unpatriotic. The left has their own list of low blow, cry wolf insults like accusing someone of being racist, or homophobic, or a bigot, or xenophobic. I’ve heard it all, been called it all. And the right has just dusted off their nuclear insult, the brand of being unpatriotic. Easy to hurl, hard to catch, it’s the perfect weapon of choice as a last ditch effort when all else has failed.

The objective of such an insult isn’t to get Kaepernick to find a more constructive way of expressing his opinions. At this point, it’s intended to just shut him up. The proof is in the pudding. He’s a quarterback for an NFL team, so now people are demanding he be fired so that they can take away his podium to silence him on an issue they hope to sweep under the rug quietly.

To many, the National Anthem, or the American Flag are symbols of America. But before we get mad about this, lets stop and thing about what these things really symbolize, and what Colin is protesting.

I won’t go all philosophical on you. I’ll go literal on you. America isn’t just one thing. America is a million things. American is the country. America is the people. America is the land. America is the government. America is our senators and congressmen. America is our president. America is the constitution. America is our military. America is our tax payers. America is our culture. And America is our systems. See what I mean?

I love our troops, I love our police and firefighters, but I sure don’t have many nice words for the people on Capitol Hill.

I love our constitution, but I don’t have an IRS flag waving in my front yard.

When you look at it from a different angle, it’s easy to see how you can love this country so much, but also be fed up by certain parts of it.

Anyone who says that Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the armed services is being disingenuous because you know for fact that’s not what he meant. He has a very specific grievance against once aspect of this great country and he protested in the most polite, effective way he could think to do. I don’t advocate for BLM but if anyone can name even one way he could have expressed his feelings as effectively that wouldn’t have pissed everyone and their mom off, I would honestly be interested in hearing it. I mean really. What would you have the guy do? Something entirely useless like change his Facebook profile picture and share an angry post? Write a blog? Tweet something?

My dad served in the military for 20 years. Three of my grandpas served in the military and fought in several wars. I have an uncle in the Border Patrol. I have countless friends, and childhood mentors who were in the service. If I honestly thought that what Kaepernick did was an offense to those loved ones of mine, I wouldn’t be defending him. But here I am.

I’m not gonna offer up some moral equivalency argument “well if you think that’s unpatriotic, then you should be even more upset about the blah blah blah statistic from wikipedia blah blah”. Because again, I don’t entirely see eye to eye with Kaepernick on the issue he’s protesting, so I’m not defending his position of protest, just defending the way he’s protesting.

Let me share with you a true story. A couple years ago I was driving through my neighborhood as part of my then regular route, and I saw an American flag waving from a flag pole… upside down. I thought it was weird and it certainly caught my attention. I drove by the house again the next day, and the flag was still upside down. Day after day I drive past this house and each day, the flag is upside down. But at night, the flag is taken down and the pole sits idle and bare.

Finally after about a week, I was curious so rather than drive past the house, this time I drove to it. I parked my car and walked up the driveway towards the front door of a very pretty house in this nice, serine suburban neighborhood.  A car was parked in the driveway with a Marine Corp sticker on the back window. Odd. I knock on the door and sure enough someone answers. The door slowly opens to reveal a senior freakin’ citizen. Not the 22 year old, zulu plug adorned college kid with a Che Guevara t-shirt I would have suspected. No, it was some 70 year old white guy in khakis and a tucked in polo shirt. I ask the guy what’s up with the flag and if he knew that it was upside down. He explains that he was unhappy with the direction the country was going in, and had turned the flag upside down as a sign of protest. He told me about having served in the Marines, and we chatted for about 10 minutes about politics and things we’d heard about on the news. Hmm. Here was this old, white, conservative, veteran, male hanging the flag upside down in a conservative neighborhood as a sign of distress for the condition of our country. Who would have thought? I thanked him for his time, (naturally handed him a business card,) and went on about my way and that was that.

It never once occurred to me this man was unpatriotic or hated America or was disrespecting the police or our armed forces. And I don’t see how what Colin Kaepernick did the other day was any different.

Sane rantings from an insane dude.