Word Salad – “Googlewhack”

Many of the younger generation don’t remember a time without the internet, and that’s very sad. I had recently started working at a computer company in the early 1990s when the internet became “commercially viable” (at least for us), and there were some very interesting things going on back in the early days.

When you’re bored at work, and you’ve got access to an internet search engine, you can waste lots of time searching for whatever info might suit your fancy. And luckily the internet is chock full of pages that provide exactly what you are looking for. But it wasn’t always that way.

Usually, your search will return numerous pages; so many, that you might want to narrow down your key words to help weed through all those pages that are vying for your attention. But what if you entered only 2 words and came up with only ONE web page? That’s a “Googlewhack”. There used to be a web site dedicated to listing Googlewhacks, but even now that has gone by the wayside.

It was fun, trying to out-search your co-workers who were also trying to out-search you. And back then, it was fairly easy, mostly because there weren’t billions and billions of web pages available. But now, even the term itself returns more web pages than anyone could possibly weed through. And when I publish this blog post, I’ll actually be adding to that sea of pages simply because search engines will read this post and file it away in their memory banks, waiting to serve it up for the next person who happens to wonder “WTF does that word mean??”…..

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Phil + Ronnie

Many years ago, I used to frequent one used record store in SoCal; and that’s where I’d find some great deals. Many of my favorite LPs, in near new condition for only a few bucks each. Every time I shopped there, I left with several, if not a dozen, at a time. And that’s how you fill out your record collection while staying on a budget.

One trip I found a copy of The Beatles “Let It Be” in excellent condition. When I was checking out, the cashier removed the record from the cover, to make sure it was the correct one (it was). He also looked closely at the inner groove area and then commented “You got a great deal!”. When I got back to my apartment, I looked at the inner groove and noticed “Phil + Ronnie” was faintly etched into the vinyl. I knew Phil Spector was The Beatles producer (at that time) and his wife was Ronnie from the singing trio called The Ronettes. I thought this was really cool, having their names on one of my favorite band’s last studio album. What I did not know is that there are 601 different variants of this record that have been made over the years and almost all of them have these words imprinted here.

I was reminded of this album find because Ronnie Spector passed away recently. I try to keep track of famous people as they pass away, mostly out of (morbid?) curiosity, but also because I don’t want to wonder “What ever happened to……”, only to find that person was long gone, and I hadn’t noticed (or cared enough to notice). Personally, I myself don’t want to pass away and not be noticed, but I digress.

Then I looked up Phil Spector and found that he had passed away last year and I had not noticed. I also knew he was in jail for killing Lana Clarkson, but I had not noticed he was serving his time at a California state prison in French Camp, Ca; which is literally one exit down the freeway from where I work.

Sadly, it seems that I’ve not been noticing a lot of things in life…..

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Money Walks, Bullshit Talks

It’s been said that anger can fuel positive motivation almost as good as pain, so if you’re angry about your finances, channel that anger into something positive.

3 years ago, my wife & I started a 2 year plan to get us free from our debts. Read that again before you try doing the math with your fingers. And much like other plans where more than one party is involved, this plan needed both of us to be in financial agreement if we were going to make it work.

But I digress.

At the beginning of 2021 I made it an absolute priority (for me) to work at paying off our credit card debt using the Debt Snowball method. It’s really quite simple and when followed as described, it can show results fast. And even if you don’t put 110% of your efforts into it, simply utilizing its basic idea will help you manage your finances.

So here’s how our revolving debt looked at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year.

The year had started with $21,543.19 in debt and it ended with $9,035.92 . That’s an average of only $1,000 per month that was paid off, but that’s a lot when you’re drowning in debt. It’s very tough trying to “stay the course” and keep working at paying the debts down, but the process does work. And it does take some time to actually see the snowball building; but it does, and you can see it.

There is no “magic bullet”, no one from the government bailed us out, and we didn’t blame the new president (or the previous one) for this accomplishment. This was all us.

2022 is looking bright too. The last credit card should be paid off by the end of February and I’m hoping the car payment will be gone by the end of May. This will open up our world to possibilities that have been long out of reach.

  • A trip back east to visit family & friends
  • Being able to afford car restoration parts ahead of time
  • Not having a financial burden sitting on our shoulders.

Life is looking good (for a change) !

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Were we abused?

This was the question that one of my sisters asked when we were talking on the phone recently. It caught me off guard, so I was dumbfounded, but then I stopped and actually gave the question a moment’s thought.

I’ve heard of other people who claimed, for whatever reason, to have been abused by their parents; only to later recant their claim, saying it was a “false memory”. This, obviously, can cause trauma not only in the person making the claim, but also in the parent that was falsely accused in the first place.

But it only took a moment to realize that we (my sisters and I) were not “abused”. Nope, our young lives were shaped by a force that was even more powerful and long lasting – We were poor.

And I’m not talking about the type of poor that everyone thinks of – abject poverty. Nope, I’m talking about lower-middle-class, can’t-afford-anything-beyond-the-basics, but-we-didn’t-know-we-were-poor type of poor.

We didn’t have all the extras that so many kids just assume come with life. You know those things – after school sports, scouting, lavish birthday parties, summer camp, senior trip, those things.

Our dad had trouble holding down a regular job, so in the early 1970s, our mom got a part-time job as a legal secretary. Then she got an offer for a full-time job, so she accepted and dad became “Mr. Mom” long before Michael Keaton got the starring role.

When my eldest sister was graduating high school (valedictorian !), my parents sold a small parcel of land that they had held on to for roughly 20 years. It was only 5/8th of an acre and it was located in some tiny desert city (Hisperia, I think), but it put $5,000 into my parent’s pockets, which they immediately allotted $1K per kid for their college fund. Not a lot of money by any measurement, but it was a lot better than nothing.

Our parents sold their (small) house and moved us into a HUGE townhouse; which many people did not realize was “section 8” (low income) housing. But it was in a better school district, and that was the main reason for the move. My parents sacrificed their dream of home ownership so their children could get a better education.

My sisters eventually used their college money to go to college while I used my college money to buy my first car. I would work my way through (community) college and even though I fell short of getting my AA degree (only 4 more classes!), I got the education I needed to apply in my workplace.

Fast forward many years and I was filing for divorce from my first wife. One of the stipulations in our “marriage settlement agreement” was that each of us would (separately) contribute $5k into an interest-bearing account to be used for our son’s college fund. In 2001 I sold one of my cars and part of the money funded my financial obligation towards that fund. BTW – his mother never put a dime away for her portion of the fund. But no worries, my son went through (community) college and still had 40% of my fund when he was done; which I gave to him in one lump sum. He’s got a good job now and is better off (financially) then I’ll probably ever be, so I must have done something right.

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Stratus, part 2

My daily driver, a 2001 Stratus R/T coupe, was in dire need for some new headlights. Unfortunately, these DO NOT exist in the aftermarket world, and the cross-platform car (Mitsubishi Eclipse) uses a completely different shape light, so converting to those is not an option either.

So what’s a car guy to do? Buy a parts car!

A friend of mine had bought this car soon after I had bought mine. It’s nearly identical but has more options than my car including a sunroof, leather interior and more power options. It’s the same 3.0 liter V6 and 5 speed trans as my car. And it’s also got a knocking engine (which makes it a perfect parts car).

I’m not sure what the plan is (long term) for this car, but for now, it’s the perfect donor for the lights and a few other items that my car needs.

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Don’t feed the pet …. peeves

Pet Peeve – noun…..”A particular and often continual annoyance; personal bugbear”.

There are some things that make me just shake my head and wonder how-the-FUCK did they not see this?

Every hotel room I’ve stayed in has the heater/AC unit directly under the windows, right where the curtains are, which always catch the air that’s supposed to be heating/cooling the room, not the window.


And since we’re talking about hotel rooms, why the hell does the temperature control switch from heat to A/C, then back to heat; just because it overshot the desired temperature setting I put on the thermostat? Can we blame the curtains or is it a conspiracy within the entire room?

Engines with oil filters that are mounted downward, thus *guaranteeing* that they make a huge mess every time you change the oil.

Being forced to throw away perfectly good parts just because some bean-counter said “Take it off inventory”. 

new_filters

Drivers that don’t know how to accelerate and merge when entering a freeway. Seriously dude, it’s called “the acceleration lane” for a reason.

Probably the same drivers that refuse to yield the left lane once they are in it. Whattdathink this is… NASCAR? You’re not drafting anyone, so move the hell over and let the faster cars go by. If I can pass you on the right, then you’re in the wrong damn lane!

May be an image of road and text

Airlines that load passengers from the front to the back. Does anyone at the airline study efficiency? Obviously not.

Airline passengers that block up the aisle, trying to get their luggage out of the overhead bin, meanwhile a line of folks with no luggage can’t get out. Come on people, let those with no luggage de-plane first, then you can struggle with that bag you were too lazy to check through in the first place.

A software company that advertises “Free software” (to fix whatever problem), yet the only thing free is the program download. If you actually want those features to work, then you gotta pay.

Restored cars that have body color showing through the grill openings. Everything behind the grille is supposed to be blacked out, including the radiator & support.


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The name of the game is …. profit margin

What happens when you have a company that is owned by an investment group and there’s a global health crisis? Guess what, they still want their Return On Investment Cash, no matter what.

The company I once worked for is owned by a larger group, who started out selling clothing; but over time had “diversified their portfolio” to now include building trucks, repairing diesel engines and being the local dealer for several industrial engine lines. It’s a far cry from selling shoes in Seattle, but having several income streams helps keep the money coming in from several directions.

Our parent company decided to keep us open during the pandemic under the guise of labeling us as “essential workers” because we also fix generators; and generators are part of the needed infrastructure that keeps the world moving. Sounds great until you realize there is no new work coming into the shop, because everyone else is off work. None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

Oh, but they still want us to justify our existence because we are paid hourly, at a rate I might remind them, that is just barely above the California minimum wage level for craftsmen in our business. There are but only so many times one can sweep & mop the entire shop before going stir crazy. If pushing a broom doesn’t sound interesting, there are work machines that can be waxed, air hoses that can be wiped down, and floor cracks that can be vacuumed. All because no one wants to admit that we don’t have any paying jobs to work on. And in the end, they closed the shop because, you guessed it, we were losing money.

Running a business as a “sole proprietor” is very different than running that same business as part of a larger investment portfolio. As a small business, it’s easy to take care of your employees by giving them ample benefits; but it’s also tough to provide those benefits because finances may be tight. As a bigger business, there are more employees, so trying to provide all with a suitable benefit package can be very costly. Health care is a big expense for both employer and employee alike and of course, health care providers reduce their coverages to help boost THEIR bottom lines, not yours.

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Milestones of mankind

There have been many “game-changers” in recorded historic time, simple principles and ideas that have evolved and advanced humanity. And like anything in life, these can be used for good or evil……

  • Self-awareness – Humans become self-aware at an early age and we think this is the one thing that separates us from other animals. One quick look around and you will see that many animals are self-aware, but they don’t act in a selfish manner. The difference here is “ego”, and it leads many people in the wrong direction.
  • Oral and written communications – The ability to communicate an idea from one person to another. It’s almost like being able to read that person’s mind, only after the fact. The ability to record data and ideas for future reference and by numerous other people. Even the simple grunts of a caveman were a big improvement over having nothing at all.
  • The wheel – This simple invention allows a payload to be moved. It makes life easier and reduces the level of manual labor that is needed to perform a task.
  • The lever – Much like the wheel, this simple invention allows for a greater payload to be lifted through the use of increased leverage.
  • Gunpowder – A simple chemical explosive that was invented in China during the 6th century. Some think that this invention was the beginning of the end for humanity, since its primary purpose has been to kill and destroy. But as I warned at the beginning, anything can be used for good or evil.
  • The scientific method – The absolute best way to investigate anything. Why would anyone guess at something when you can study and examine with precision and detail? And if someone else wants to replicate your work, they can use this method to find the same conclusions that you did. And if different conclusions are found, then you go “back to the drawing board” and reexamine your methods (and theirs) to see what went amiss. Constantly learning, improving, and developing.
  • The sailboat – Man’s ability to navigate the seas, giving him access to more of the planet.
  • Electricity – Used to illuminate the darkness, to power an almost unlimited number of gadgets that do so much for us all.
  • The industrial revolution – How else can we build so much stuff, with an ever-increasing amount of productivity? Machines do better, more consistent work and they don’t take breaks; so machines that make machines are helping develop the world around us at an ever-increasing rate.
  • Running water – One of the greatest commodities ever. You disagree? Turn off the water supply to your house and see how long you can survive without it.
  • Sanitation – This one goes hand-in-hand with running water. Just think about how bad the world would smell if we didn’t have this service.
  • The airplane – Much like the sailboat, the airplane allows man to travel great distances faster than ever before.
  • Radio & TV – Both of these communications mediums drastically improved communications.
  • The internet – Open and free sharing of information, ideas, and knowledge. But this also gives scammers unprecedented access to honest people.

Yet through all of time, one thing stays constant – man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.

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Resource Based Economy

I started to write this post many, many years ago; but I just could not find the exact words that I needed, to do it justice.

I would like to thank The Venus Project for providing this very succent explanation. (https://www.thevenusproject.com/resource-based-economy/)

I’ve also said (many times over the years) that Jacques Fresco was “the wise, old, grandfather that real life never afforded me“. Even today, we still have so much to learn from him.

A Global Holistic Solution: Resource Based Economy

Global problems faced by humanity today are impacting individuals and nations rapidly. Climate change, famine, war, epidemics of deadly diseases and environmental pollution contribute to the long list of global challenges we, as humans, need to promptly address before an eventual catastrophe swiftly becomes inevitable.

Regardless of political philosophy, religious beliefs, or social customs, all socio-economic systems ultimately depend upon natural resources, such as clean air and water, arable land, and the necessary technology and personnel to maintain a high standard of living.

Modern society has access to highly advanced technologies and can make available food, clothing, housing, medical care, a relevant educational system, and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy such as geothermal, solar, wind and tidal.

It is now possible to have everyone on Earth enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities that a prosperous civilization can provide. This can be accomplished through the intelligent and humane application of science and technology.

Individuals and interest groups are governed by laws that demand maximum profit where possible. These laws are inherent in the monetary system prevalent in most countries today – capitalism. The basic principles of capitalism demand exponential growth at all cost causing financial cataclysms such as the 1929s Great Depression in the United States and the recent financial crisis of 2007-08.

We are separated by borders and beliefs which make it impossible for us to arrive at relevant solutions while being divided ideologically. Most of our problems today are technical but we are still looking for solutions through political means. We need to accept that eliminating these global threats requires the employment of methodologies rather than personal opinions.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein

The Venus Project proposes a holistic approach with a global socio-economic system that utilizes the most current technological and scientific advances to provide the highest possible living standard for all people on Earth. The proposed system is called a Resource Based Economy. The term and meaning was coined by Jacque Fresco, the founder of The Venus Project.

In a Resource Based Economy all goods and services are available to all people without the need for means of exchange such as money, credits, barter or any other means. For this to be achieved, all resources must be declared as the common heritage of all Earth’s inhabitants. Equipped with the latest scientific and technological marvels, humankind could reach extremely high productivity levels and create an abundance of resources.

Resource Based Economy concerns itself with three main factors, namely Environmental, Technological and Human. We invite you to investigate further into these factors and discover more about The Venus Project and Resource Based Economy.

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2nd Monday this week

So last night the TV decided to become a radio (sound works but the picture does not). Wonderful, each big appliance treats you with defiance, until it finally falls apart. (Allan Sherman warned me of these things..)

Then this morning we had a meeting first thing, 8-oclock sharp. It’s not a good sign when there are 2 ladies from the HR department waiting in the meeting room, and for good reason – they are here to explain what a “RIF” (reduction in force) is and how it affects you and your co-workers. And as soon as their task was done, they were out the door.

It wasn’t that long ago I was the FNG at this shop. Now, almost 4 years later, I have to look for employment yet again. We’ve been given 60 days to empty out the building and my supervisor wants to get it done in 30.

I understand the reason why our parent company decided to close this branch (along with 2 other branches) – business had been slow and we crossed some “magic number” that they use to judge whether or not we’ve lost too much money. Nevermind that we’ve not had a decent salesman for the past 3 years. And also nevermind the fact that a large company has the ability to absorb a financial loss (because they still have other income streams), yet an unemployed employee probably does not have that ability. I understand the way businesses make financial decisions, but I don’t agree with capitalism as a way to run an economy.

But who am I to complain, right? The good news is that an even better job landed in my lap and the severance I got from being RIF’ed is paying off a shit-ton of credit cards.

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