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Bringing Back Caveat Emptor

In high school, I was taught a couple Latin words that I've somehow managed to remember for the past twenty years:

Caveat emptor - buyer beware.

Caveat emptor is the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

It's about personal responsibility. If you buy the wrong item or a poor quality item, that is your fault. You made a poor decision - deal with it. The incentive for sellers to not rip people off is that selling is probably their livelihood. Too many unhappy customers will put a seller out of business. This keeps buyers and sellers in check. The system has worked for a long time.

eBay changed all that. If the buyers are afraid to purchase items on eBay, eBay and their PayPal subsidiary don't make money. These companies don't care about the buyers or the sellers as long as they are transacting. They also know that the sellers are likely to continue selling, despite the risks. As such, they have turned the tables on sellers.

Caveat vendit - seller beware.

Simply put, the seller gets screwed if there is a problem. PayPal gives the money back to the buyer, and the seller often doesn't even get their item returned. This eliminates the fear of purchasing from strangers online. Unfortunately, buyers are free to swap broken items for functional items, file fraudulent PayPal chargebacks, and employ numerous other scams. eBay and PayPal will side with the buyer nearly every time.

This is similar to the perils of running an online business that accepts credit cards. A certain percentage of customers are going to scam them by filing fraudulent chargebacks, and businesses must factor this when setting their profit margins. It is considered a cost of doing business.

Many sellers on eBay are not businesses; they are individuals selling a rare, old, or unique item that cannot easily be replaced. If somebody is selling an Earthbound Super Nintendo game cartridge or a Black Lotus card from Magic: the Gathering, they probably cannot recover their money or replace the item if the buyer rips them off. It is no longer a cost of doing business, it's plain robbery.

There is nothing to keep buyers in check. It is not even possible to leave negative feedback for buyers anymore, so sellers are forced to enter their transactions blindly with no knowledge of a buyer's true reputation. Anything that might prevent people from transacting doesn't jive with eBay's business model.

Fortunately, I have a solution that will keep buyers honest without preventing them from transacting. A new take on buyer beware. It's called PainPal.

Sellers can opt to give PainPal a percentage of their selling price on any eBay transaction. Whether or not a seller paid PainPal is kept hidden from the buyer. In the event that the buyer scams the seller, PainPal will send goons to the buyer's house and beat the crap out of them.

Problem solved?

Sexes and Allies

I recently received an email inviting me to join NMU ALLIES. ALLIES is a group on campus that shows support for a subset of the population. Specifically, the Bee Gees, the Elles, and the Tease.

My initial thoughts: "Cool! Some of my co-workers are members and have a decal displayed on their office windows. Maybe I should do the same." Then I continued reading and something made me pause.

Decals are issued ONLY to individual members, not departments or offices, so that GLBT people can be assured of support and confidentiality from the person displaying the decal.


Support and confidentiality? That's part of my job. For everybody. It doesn't matter which combination of colors, ethnicities, beliefs, sexual preferences, genders, and gender identifications come to me for help. If the help they are requesting falls within my job duties, I will help them. If not, I will direct them to somebody who can.

I'm left wondering why I should display a decal advertising that I'll treat a subset of the population the same as everybody else? I've asked around a bit, and received great answers like, "It really helps!" and "That's just how things are now." Thanks.

Furthermore, why don't other subsets of the population need me to display a decal? Gamers? They've always been outcasts. Straight white people who shave their heads and hate differences? They're not welcome when they come to town. Italians? They face ridicule and stereotypes just for having cool names and awesome food. There are so many different people that there wouldn't be enough window space if everybody had a decal, so why does this one group need one?

Can anybody give me a logical explanation?

Little Things That Kill

During the past couple months, I became familiar with the intensive care unit at Marquette General Hospital. Fortunately for me, I was not the guest of honor; I was merely visiting. Unfortunately, my father-in-law has been having a really tough time there, and he was recently flown to a more advanced hospital. Any prayers, magic spells, or other rituals you may wish to perform for his benefit would surely be appreciated.

My father-in-law's situation has been a roller coaster of happiness, disappointment, fear, relief, tears, joy, nausea, exhaustion, and near-death experiences. At one especially bad point in this process, I found myself surrounded by crying family members watching an unconscious man's chest rising and falling in time with the attached ventilator, and he was expected to die within the hour. I hated everything about the situation. The looming death, the overwhelming sadness, the sounds of the machines, the smell of the room, the tangle of tubes, wires, and hoses, the fatigue, and the tension. It's times like this when I find it useful to focus on smaller things, and ignore peripheral sights and thoughts for a bit.

A nurse was kind enough to bring me some water. I focused on that. I tasted it. I adjusted the height of the straw. I tipped the cup from hand to hand, feeling it's weight shift as the fluid sloshed around. I inhaled the cup's smell. I ran my fingers over the surface, squeezed gently, and noted it's texture and rigidity. Then I asked myself: Why the fuck are they using styrofoam?

Environmental concerns aside, styrofoam is not good. It's widely known that hot liquids leech dangerous chemicals from styrofoam containers. Being a hospital, you would think they wouldn't expose their visitors, employees, and/or patients to harmful substances. Before you point out that I was safe because my drink was cold, I'd like to mention that the styrofoam cups were kept next to the coffee dispenser; they were intended to hold hot liquids. Furthermore, I drink a lot of water, and this water had a very distinct taste: It tasted like water that was in a styrofoam cup. Don't believe the PR man from the styrofoam cup factory; that stuff contaminates any drink, hot or cold.




After we endured several hours of collective agony, my father-in-law's vital signs improved and the visiting family members left the room for a break. I threw away most of my poisoned water and fell asleep in a waiting lounge. When I opened my eyes hours later, everybody was talking about getting breakfast. Wide awake, I began imagining all of the choices: Sweetwater? Donckers? A&M Cafe? Coachlight? Jeffries? Cue sound of record scratching. We were going to eat in the hospital cafeteria.

The hospital cafeteria was about what I expected. A bunch of nationally advertised pre-packaged highly processed junk foods, and a few bits of real food scattered about. Still, I tried to make the most of the situation. I picked up a bag of Sun Chips. They are believed to be healthy because they are baked rather than fried. Regardless of their nutritional merits, the bag was marked as a three-serving bag. Now, why would they do that? Smaller single-serving bags are available. How many people have the knowledge, willpower, and foresight to eat 1/3 of the bag, seal it up, and finish it in two more eating sessions on subsequent days? Pretty much nobody.

There were bags of peanuts near the chips. Frito-Lay brand. Once again, 3-serving bags instead of the smaller single-serving bags. I've actually had these peanuts before. They are ridiculously salty. In fact, they're coated in some additional oil that allows more salt to stick to the peanuts. I passed soda machines, ill-looking danishes, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, butter substitutes, highly sweetened Kellogg's cereals, and bagels with cream cheese. Now, I love a cream-cheesed bagel as much as anybody, but this all just sounds like an organ failure starter kit.

I eventually saw some freshly made foods. There was a vat of putrid looking oatmeal that was crusty on top and mushy on the inside. An Egg McMuffin buffet where you could scoop some limp egg mixture onto an english muffin and combine it with the soggy bacon and sausage that was glistening beneath heat lamps. I finally settled upon a fruit cup that contained grapes, pineapple, and melons. They were pretty flavorless, but it was something.

Perhaps I sound like a food snob, but you have to remember that this is a hospital. The choices were mostly unhealthy or disgusting. They were displaying a blatant disregard for what they fed people, and they were making it difficult for somebody to eat a healthy meal. Doesn't the hospital employ nutritionists? Shouldn't they poke their heads in and say something? Why would the hospital have so many unhealthy choices and low food standards in their cafeteria? The answer might be too obvious: It's good for business.




Speaking of business, Duke LifePoint now owns Marquette General Hospital. They also bought Bell Memorial Hospital in Ishpeming. In fact, hospitals are being bought up all over the country, almost as if the system was set up to force financial ruin upon hospitals. (Cities are facing the same problem.) It seems like a few people are going to own most of the hospitals in this country before long. What if those few people aren't looking out for our interests? I've heard nothing good from people inside MGH. Lots of outsourcing and a lowering of standards. Will decent health care be completely taken away from the working class?

Just something to think about. Think about it really hard if you see your local hospital's former owners living the good life after cashing out and leaving the fate of your community's health care in the hands of a greedy few. Those people betrayed you. Don't invite them to your parties, don't let your children befriend their children, and don't let their tires hold air. They fucked you bad, and they'll be long gone before you fully realize it.




Speaking of fucked, how does a person with planned meals, constant surveillance, and continual care by doctors and nurses spend a month in a hospital and leave the place severely malnourished? How is somebody who needs improvements in their heart and kidneys supposed to grow stronger if the kidneys are struggling to keep up with the body's eating it's own muscle tissue to stay alive? How is that person's heart supposed to grow stronger under these circumstances? Call me unimpressed. I hope the new location is better.

Worthless Heroes

I've got an amazing collection of interpersonal interactions that I could have handled better, but I'm usually the only victim of my stupidity. Feeling foolish, being ridiculed, missing opportunities to make new friends, etc. However, one incident recently resurfaced in my memory where others were potentially harmed due to my social shortcomings.

This story takes place half my lifetime ago. I was 18 or 19, in or around my first or second year in college. It was 1996, so people didn't generally have cell phones to bail themselves out of trouble. Anyway, Scott, Todd, and I were standing around my car joking, laughing, and having fun in front of Todd's place on Bluff Street. I was still extremely shy and nearly incapable of speaking to girls, so, of course, some girls appeared and started talking to us. Damsels in distress it turned out.

"Hi, you guys seem cool," followed by introductions.

"A couple guys brought us to the house over there, but they're refusing to bring us home and they're being total assholes."

"How are they being assholes?"

"They... they're just being assholes. They're crazy!"

"They're taking their clothes off and chasing us around the house."

"We had to get out of there."

Instead of asking the obvious question, I froze up while Todd made some throwaway remarks and the girls uncomfortably shifted about looking anxious. I eventually came to my senses, looked at Scott, looked at the car, and looked back at Scott. We nodded to each other. I reached into my pocket and nervously jingled my keys while trying to formulate the essential inquiry: May we offer you a ride?

"Do... um... would...?"

"Hey! What are you doing over there," yelled two shirtless hulking brutes fast approaching.

"Sorry, we have to go back before you guys get hurt," said one girl as they turned and ran.

"What did you tell them about us?"

"Nothing, we were just saying hi," assured the more talkative of the girls as she placed a hand on him to halt the advance.

"Come on, let's go back inside."

The two guys scowled at us for a moment, then slowly turned back.

I looked from my car keys to the two girls reluctantly walking into the house with those animals and felt pretty terrible. We discussed the event. Todd's attitude was basically, "Who gives a fuck?" Scott and I agreed that we really screwed up, but surprise, shyness, and slow wits delayed our tongues. Either one of us could have and should have spoken up sooner offering a ride to safety.

The Sex Trade

We're living in a sex famine. There's more than enough food growing on the sex farm, but most of it is rotting away inside human warehouses while others are famished. This is how it happens:

"Alice, do you have any sex for me?"
"I'm sorry Sandor, but Bill has exclusive rights to all of my sex minerals."

"Wayne! We should sex again sometime?"
"Stacy, you're mental, our sex contract has expired!"

"Amber, I'm thirsty, can I have a sip of your sex?"
"Sorry Adam, but I only have enough sex for the hockey team. Thanks for helping me with my homework though!"

"Ben, I'm in the end zone, pass me a sex!"
"Hayden, I'll lose my house if it's intercepted!"

"Myra, do you have any sex you could spare?"
"No Elias, God will damn me to hell if I don't keep all of my sex until marriage."

"Nick, that was a great lecture! Could I interest you in a sex?"
"Sorry Adrian, even if you weren't nuts, you're still my student."

"Vivian, could I buy some of your extra sex?"
"No Edward, sex is a controlled substance and it's illegal to distribute"

"Jordan, when you're done with that yo-yo would you and Xavier like to trade sex with me?"
"I don't know, Amy, I might be attacked and dismembered by Neo Nazis."

"Dolores, can I interest you in a sex?"
"Sorry Humbert, but that is grossly inappropriate considering our ages."

"Todd, I want to sex after we finish this pizza!"
"Can't do that Paris, there are diseases going around."

"Cersei, might we sex in this abandoned tower?"
"Jamie, you're my brother. Think of the children!"

"Tyler, got any sex, or is this like that testicular thing?"
"Marla, you're not worth my time. I'm twice the man you'll ever be."

"Sarah, could I study some of your sex?"
"Sorry Gil, that's against department policy."

"Frodo, might I interest you in an exchange of sex?"
"Sorry Galadriel, this ring has bound the fate of my sex to another."

"Justine, might we sex in an unusual way?"
"No Alphonse, you could go to prison for that!"

"Gee Ernie, why can't I have a sex for my birthday?"
"Sorry Burt, our careers would be ruined if that got out."

"Hester, can't we sex once in a while?"
"Arthur, no. Letterman jackets are not yet in style."

"Ennis, can't you move here so we can share some sex?"
"Jack, that's the wrong brand. Our families would disown us."

"Jenny, can we make sex like a box of chocolates?"
"Sorry Forrest, but people will say I'm a slut if I give away any more sex."

Sex, as a commodity, has been deliberately kept scarce in our society.


The Four Basic Laws of Supply and Demand


  1. If demand increases and supply remains unchanged, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.

  2. If demand decreases and supply remains unchanged, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.

  3. If demand remains unchanged and supply increases, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.

  4. If demand remains unchanged and supply decreases, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.



Sex itself is naturally quite plentiful. Everybody has a vast quantity of sex which they can dispense. However, as demonstrated in the examples above, we are burdened by a plethora of social rules governing and restricting the flow of sex. I'm not saying all of those rules should be abolished, but this excess of restrictions has created a shortage. Sex is horded. There is an unequal distribution of sex. Some receive plenty while others receive none. This shortage, like every shortage, is used to generate profit.

How does a church make their money? Donations from church-goers. Why do people go to church? To be absolved of their sins. What are the sins? Sex. Why do people become nuns? Sexual fear and frustration. What is a priest hearing about in the confessional booths? Sex. A church profits when people are made to feel guilty about sex.

What's on TV? Sex. What do many TV programs create a demand for? Sex. What are you not likely to get while glued to the TV? Sex. Who pays for the television programs? Advertisers. What are the advertisers selling? Sex. Buy this product and people will find you more attractive. Buy that item and you will be offered more sex. People wouldn't buy that overpriced junk if sex was readily available.

Humankind is frightened, ashamed, and discouraged from obeying one of their most natural instincts. Instead of something to be shared and enjoyed by everyone, sex is portrayed as a reason to fight, hate, and ostracize. Something that should unify has been turned into a weapon that divides. Meanwhile, the people who came up with these rules are breaking every one of them and laughing all the way to the bank.

Who creates these rules to limit the supply of sex? Who pushes out media to increase the demand for sex? Who does everything suggested above and then some?

The Aristocrats.

Having a Ball

For those who are out of state or oblivious, Michigan recently repealed the law requiring a helmet on a motorcycle. I had this conversation with a co-worker today:

Co: I'm still not used to seeing people without helmets on motorcycles.

Me: A lot of people prefer that.

Co: They should have the freedom, but I would not make that choice.

Me: Understood. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think freedom should only apply to things they agree with.

Co: I guess I would skip a helmet if I was running to the store for milk.

Me: I hear bikers enjoy feeling the breeze through their hair.

Co: I'd like to feel the breeze on my balls.

Me: Maybe try a kilt? That's probably the closest you can get without being arrested.

Co: Wearing a kilt on a motorcycle would be interesting.

Me: Your balls would be bouncing on the seat.

Co: Hot.

Me: Lift up the kilt, and it would look like a lottery drawing.

Show and Tell

My friend Laurie visited in December to bake cookies, and it became my duty to entertain her six-year-old daughter. I don't consider this a bad thing; I like children, believe they are the future, and want some of my own, but I have very little recent experience interacting with them.

I took the easy route. I went to my wall-of-video-games-that-looked-interesting-but-I-never-had-time-to-play, and tore the plastic off Super Paper Mario; henceforth SPM. I believed this game would be age-appropriate in terms of both content and game complexity. SPM plays like a 2D Super Mario Bros. game, but allows you to switch to a 3D perspective. This is either a clever idea implemented poorly, or a poor idea implemented appropriately.

Despite the concept's apparent potential, it boils down to this: Play 2D Super Mario Bros. Reach a dead end. Switch to 3D. Bypass obstacle. Return to 2D. Perhaps it gets more involved in later stages. The 2D sections I played were dull and uninspired. The 3D sections weren't any better, suffering from poor controls and a perspective that made it difficult to do basic things like jump on enemies.

If that wasn't enough, SPM is also a Role-Playing Game. RPG is a genre I sometimes love, but they are too often allowed to be absolute shit because, regardless of quality, fans will play them to see their favorite characters. I could make a game where people play leap-frog while holding a vibrating controller in their ass, and it would be successful as long as it was a Final Fantasy crossover featuring a gay love triangle between Cloud, Cecil, and Donald Duck mixed with lots of level grinding and cross dressing. I could be rich if somebody hadn't already made Kingdom Hearts.

In the case of SPM, the RPG elements resulted in you and the enemies having hit-points which necessitated stomping on basic enemies multiple times, and you could take countless hits and still clear a stage. Instead of excitement and tension, this game is about tedium and sloppy play. Even worse was all the talking. Blah blah blah. You'd have to read six paragraphs of crap to get a door unlocked, and there were minutes of bad-guy banter before each stage.

The talking wasn't a big deal at first. I've played many modern games where the developers add "depth" by having everybody talk too much. They weren't so cruel as to deny me the courtesy of a skip button, so I might have clicked through it without complaint. Then something happened.

That six-year-old girl, remember her? She asked me to read the writing aloud. I tried to paraphrase because most of the dialogue was long-winded nothingness or sounded like innuendo. "The black void is exchanging implied potty humor with the talking turtle?" Having to take it all in, the writing soon reached a level of stupidity I could not ignore.

I walked across a desert, found a temple, and went inside. Then the game narrated as I will paraphrase now: "Mario crossed the desert and went into the temple."

NO FUCKING SHIT! I just spend the last fifteen minutes crossing the desert so I could reach the temple. Did they really need to tell me this?




One thing that separates video game stories from book stories is that portions, preferably all, of a video game story can be told through the gameplay. One thing every writing instructor will say is "Show, don't tell." When I walked across the desert and entered the temple, that became a part of this particular princess-rescuing tale. It was shown. If telling is worse than showing, showing AND telling must be the ultimate literary crime. Did they think, perhaps, that somebody playing this game would not be cognizant of their actions?

I later realized that SPM showing and telling the story is a lot like reality TV.




Sara watches a video of her boyfriend Billy fucking all three of her sisters. Sara walks up to Billy and slaps him. Sara runs away crying. The scene is shown. Then there is an aside where Sara is crying and tells the camera, "I am sad because my boyfriend Billy had sex with all three of my sisters and posted the video on YouTube! I clicked dislike! I am mad at him for cheating on me, so I slapped him!" Well, duh.

Another reality show might have people bidding on storage units so they can resell the items for profit. It is entertaining to see what sorts of items are in these storage units. Unfortunately, half of the show is asides where people say things like, "I came to this auction so I could bid on stuff and win! Yeah!" Thanks, now I know why people attend auctions. After the auctions, it gets even better, "I'm sad because I bid on those items and did not win," or, "I am glad I won the auction instead of that other person!"

I'm not sure if the purpose of these asides is to pad a 30 minute show into a full hour for ad revenue, to cover for the character's inability to properly act and show emotion, to satisfy a public demand for cry porn, or because they think their viewers are dumb and cannot guess a character's mood and motivation without being explicitly told. Whichever reason is most correct, it doesn't say much for this form of entertainment, and I was disappointed to see a similar storytelling style in SPM.




To continue the theme of restating the obvious: Super Paper Mario sucks. Do not buy it.

Triple Header

I like to remain at my desk at work in the early morning because I am rather frightened of the ghosts, hobos, and mannequins shuffling about the building. That's why I tried to ignore the doorbell on Tuesday. Somebody else usually opens the door anyway. Minutes later, it rang three times in rapid succession. I was the only person in the building, and, recalling the furious winds outside, I ran to open the employee entrance.

As fate would have it, I slipped on the stairs. Having just come out of winter, I used one of my anti-falling ice tactics. I hopped. The intent here is that a small hop when slipping gives me a chance to re-plant my feet and not fall on my ass. The reality is that the staircase has a low ceiling in the very spot where I happened to be, and this maneuver resulted in a very painful head injury.

At my other job on Wednesday, I mentioned that I smashed my head on a ceiling. Their response shocked me. "I have no idea how you could smash your head on a ceiling," and "Were you on a trampoline or something?" I was surprised by this reaction because, for me, smashing my head on structures above me was about as common as falling into rivers. Here are two more:




Grandparent's house. A doorway conceals a staircase to the second floor. I am small, young, and grew up in a one-story home so this fascinates me. I jump off the first step to the floor. Whee! I jump off the second step to the floor. Yay! Repeat until I am on the fifth step and jump. Smash my head on the top of the door frame. Done playing.




Help Desk on campus. A girl I knew, Jenny Davis, needed help in a classroom. As usual, instead of walking all the way around the desk and all the way back, I leap out the window into the hallway where the classrooms are located. This particular day, however, somebody did not roll the metal window all the way up. It was about 16 inches lower than usual. Head, pain, etc. "Yeah, I'm alright!"

While following her to the classroom, I reach up with my left hand and it comes away red. Not good. I could feel dampness spreading across my scalp. Fortunately, the tasks she needed help with could be completed quickly with my right hand on the mouse. I kept my left hand hidden, got into a bathroom, and made myself presentable enough to complete my shift.




I landed (and remained) on my feet in all three stories.

Another Try

INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE

It's 2012. Not sure how a whole month slipped by already. If time keeps moving this fast, I'll be dead before long.

*clink*

CREDITS: 01

PRESS START TO CONTINUE

3…
2…
1…

*sigh*

*doodely doo*




CHOOSE A CHARACTER

Who do I want to be this year? Last year was not one of my favorites. It went by too quickly. I don't feel like I lived enough. Too much work. Didn't keep up on my hobbies very well. Didn't keep up on my health very well. Didn't do enough memorable things, and the memorable things I did do barely seem like they actually happened. Who knows, maybe this feeling is just a result of my memory having gone to shit these past few years?

I can't actually change who I am, just what I do. Anything I accomplish from this point forward has do be done with my current body, complete with all of my merits and flaws.

I also can't make people like me. I've spent a lot of time in the past worrying about losing touch with old friends, and getting frustrated with people who can't ever seem to find time for me. Well, I'm done with that.

I respect myself too much to beg people for their friendship. I reached out to everybody I wanted to remain in touch with last year. The ones who ignored me can all fuck off.

Becoming a hermit and periodically purging my Facebook Friends list is more interesting to me now. I'm done questioning how others perceive my worth. I'm me and I only care how much I value myself.

*doodely doo*




SELECT A STAGE

This is something I do need to change. I'm sitting in a room full of junk in an apartment that is too small and poorly maintained. I want to get into a house this year. That is #1 on the list of goals for this year. In the meantime, I want to stop living like I'm trying out for the next season of Hoarders and get things in order. Bring a pile of junk to goodwill. Sell another pile of junk on eBay. Vacuum more than once per month.

I don't know how I let things get this way. I need to manage my time better, and devote some time every day to improving my situation. Put myself in a better place.

*doodely doo*




PREPARE FOR BATTLE

I spent January attempting to fight against the former version of myself using a rough guide I wrote up for myself and started implementing in December. I'll list the items and say a little about each.


STAGE 1 - EAT OUT LESS

Original plan: "I will bring my own lunch to work more often. Eating out is capped at a max of once per week. No Exceptions!"

Benefits: Save money, and eat healthier.

Problems: Not sure if the food I prepare myself is less expensive or healthier, but at least I know what's in it.

I quickly realized this will not work. If I eat out for lunch with my co-workers once per week, I would never get to eat out with Deb, so I modified this to allow me to eat one lunch and one dinner out per week. Ideally, I will not use the maximum allowance.

"Hey! Awesome that you're in town, I haven't seen you in years! What? No, I don't want to go to Border Grill with you, I had pizza yesterday."

In the event of friends visiting from out of town, I will allow exceptions to avoid awkwardly rude situations.




STAGE 2 - BUY A HOUSE

Benefits: Money goes to something I own rather than into a constantly increasing rent payment. More space for stuff. A place to potentially raise children.

This is pretty straightforward. We're actually talking to a bank on Tuesday, and would like to be out of this apartment shortly after the lease renews in May.




STAGE 3 - EXERCISE

Benefits: Health

This is tough with it being dark when I get home, and also storming or freezing half of the time. Regardless, I need to stop being soft and get out there. Hiking, snowshoeing, walking, running, climbing, or even sitting at home doing yoga, push ups, etc. I want to do something that could be classified exercise every day.




STAGE 4 - DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE EVERY DAY

The worst thing is when I work all day, come home and sit in front of the TV watching shows or playing video games all evening. Especially when this process is repeated several days in a row.

Ideally, I want to do something I can consider useful every day outside of work. Vacuum. Do the dishes. Write in my journal. Self-teach myself some new programming techniques, or work on a hobby project. Organize stuff so the place looks less like a natural disaster zone.

I've been keeping little pieces of paper in my wallet. Whenever I think of something that needs to be done, I write it down. After dinner, I'm not allowed to play video games until I perform at least one task on my list. This has been working well. I hope to keep it up.




STAGE 5 - LIMIT TIME SPENT PLAYING GAMES

Original Plan: "Use a timer. Exception: Playing games with company. Exception: Playing games that I might review."

Ideally, I want to enjoy my video games, but I don't want them to destroy my productivity. I find that setting a timer or not playing games until I perform an adequate number of useful tasks around the apartment works. I'd like to continue doing that.

Expanding on this, I have effectively banned myself from playing any kind of MMORPG. (Games like World of Warcraft) Those games are too slowly paced to ever be satisfying, but they do have the ability to addict me which results in days vanishing from my life. Never again. I now realize the genre is nothing but an elaborate Skinner Box, and I refuse to be their rat. (More on this in an upcoming entry.)

If I started reviewing video games for some blog or website, I would consider playing those games to be a productive activity, and not subject to this restriction. However, I recently passed on an opportunity to do just that, so maybe this is no longer relevant.




BONUS STAGE - LIMIT VIDEO GAME PURCHASES TO ONE PER MONTH

This might be tricky, but I really want to make it work. The benefits of doing this are that I will spend less money, possibly spend less time playing games, and get to spend more time with each game. The limitation will also force me to be more selective about the games I buy. I think it will be a good experiment, and I intend to stick with it.

I would also like to write about the game I choose each month and why I chose it.

Exception: Gifts received do not count.

Exception: Used or Downloadable games costing $5 or less do not count.

Exception: Games purchased or received for the purposes of reviewing or writing strategy guides do not count.




STAGE 6 - READ MORE OFTEN

I don't recall finishing any books in 2011, but I certainly started a lot of them. I'd like to read at least 4 nights per week. I think it's good for my brain, and I can't get all of my entertainment from pixels.




STAGE 7 - WRITE MORE OFTEN

As foreshadowed above, I'd like to write more in 2012. Maybe it will just be me writing for the crickets in this journal, or maybe I'll dedicate the time and energy to become a freelance writer for some video gaming site. Maybe I'll start a new blog on one subject or another. I have a lot of ideas.

I just feel like this is something that will be good for my brain.




STAGE 8 - SPEND LESS MONEY

Many previous topics already touch on this, but I want to save more of my earnings to be put towards that house I want. That means I can't walk into Barnes and Noble and leave with 5 books I'll never have time to read, or order 3 video games I'll never have time to play. I need to budget better, and get more enjoyment from the things I already have.

This is about saving money, but it is also about appreciating what I have and being less materialistic. I've been really bad with money the past few years. Just buying too much stuff. I want to stop.




STAGE 9 - GET RID OF JUNK

Essentially, I have a bunch of things waiting for Goodwill or eBay. They've been sitting here for months, if not years. I need to get off my butt and do it. I have a bunch of clothes that are too worn out to wear. I need to get rid of them. I have piles of old useless papers. I need to sort through everything and eliminate the trash.




STAGE 10 - DON'T WATCH TV SHOWS I DO NOT LIKE

This seems obvious, but I've often gotten sucked into stupid TV shows for several hours, and I always feel like I wasted part of my life when that happens. I usually have about 2-4 shows that I watch at any given time. I need to watch those and nothing else. I don't have problems with this on my own, but Deb likes to turn the TV on at random times. I'm not proud to admit that I often get angry with her for doing that.

I need to find a way to block out random shit TV in these situations.




TRUE LAST BOSS - WORK LESS

I need to work less this year. I need to spend more time living my life and less time building a comfortable life for my employers. I think 2011 felt so lackluster because I spent most of it working or tired.

This is hard. People are counting on me. I don't want to disappoint anybody, but I must learn to say NO before this year is over. I also need to bring home money to get the bills paid.

However, if I am successful with curbing my spending, perhaps I can work less AND have more money available. Maybe I can convince Deb to work less too, then I'll have somebody to spend that extra time with.

It's my life and I want it now!




EPILOGUE

That's what I want to do in 2012. A lot of these goals touch on similar subjects, and this could have probably been simplified down to one word:

Balance.

I figure I needed a version of this for the Too Long; Didn't Read crowd.

Sorry if the writing is a bit sloppy. I wanted to get this done and crossed off my list.




GAME OVER

If this goes well, I'll probably make a sequel.

Balls to the Wall

Bad news at work today. Holiday pay has been discontinued.

I learned this when I opened my paycheck and noticed that New Year's Day, the first paid holiday, was retroactively taken away from me. No warning. No chance to schedule my work differently so I could receive a full paycheck. Stealth removal of a promised employee benefit with no notice or explanation given.

Equally aggravating is the attitude of many co-workers. They grumbled a bit and forgot about it. Just rolling with the punches, reinforcing the owner's notion that they can pull bullshit like this and it will be totally okay. I suggested we all stop coming to work or speak our minds; do anything! Nobody could be bothered. Fifty employees and not a pair of balls outside my pants.

They believe slaves always lose; And this fear keeps them down.

The owner's reasoning was financial. Essentially, too much unsold inventory. None of the people who lost their holiday pay are responsible for purchasing inventory, but that doesn't really matter. The crux of the problem is how it was handled. Why couldn't this have been formally announced in advance?

Opening a paycheck is not the time for surprises. That is the time for getting exactly what is expected so bills can be paid, and it is important to know ahead of time if that number will be decreasing. The lack of consideration for the employees and the refusal to inform us directly is disgraceful.

We had hints of financial trouble, however. The annual Christmas feast was canceled. That's right, they didn't even buy dinner before they fucked us.

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caladon
caladon

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