On The Big Blue Bin

I shouldn’t tell you this because it makes me sound, well, terribly insecure. I am, but that’s beside the point. The point is to leave you marveling at how manly I am, combined with a deep sensitive side. Stay tuned for the end of the post and videos of monster trucks, tattoos,  blowing stuff up, and American eagles flying majestically over the latest Tough Mudder run.

This week I had two friends make me feel really bad about myself. They didn’t mean to (refer back to insecurity). The first incident followed the horrible running decision from my last post. My friend seemed to truly enjoy the run (no, I don’t understand that) and commented on her feelings upon reaching the summit. One of the things she said was how thankful she was that she had two arms and legs that work and how grateful she was that she could do something like this. At the time the only thoughts I had were #1: beer, #2: I’m never doing this again, and #3: beer.

It wasn’t until later that I reflected and realized that, holly crap I’m pretty damn insensitive. Of course she’s right. I’m sure there were folks in that race that trained most of the year, overcame incredible obstacles, and just finishing was probably a significant milestone for them. Meanwhile I’m writing a snarky post complaining that I didn’t do as well as I wanted and I should probably put more effort into it next time (no, there won’t be a next time). We’re all one horrible cement truck accident away from wishing we could run a race. I should be damn grateful that at my age I still can participate.

The second incident occurred over a dinner conversation. Somehow talk drifted towards garbage and I casually dropped the anti-green bombshell – no, I don’t recycle. After an uncomfortable silence, my friend called me out on my statement and said “why?” I briefly contemplated tales of old war wounds, presidential dispensations, we live in a recycle-free zone, my busy schedule… but quickly came to my senses and ‘fessed up. The answer is that I’m too lazy to sort it and I already take out the garbage too many times every week. Uh yeah, that sounds as lame writing it as it did saying it.

Sadly, I spoke the truth. I really am that shallow. I actually searched “does recycling really work” to see if I could make myself feel better. While there are a number of arguments you could try and make, at the end of the day recycling is a few less things that end up in a landfill. And that’s a good thing. Oh, but the cost!! Err, I looked that up too. In my town, even if I was to add a second recycle cart it’s only an additional .54 cents per month. Dammit, I hate when I can’t be right all the time.

Does this mean there’s going to be a fundamental shift in my outlook? Have I completely given in to the North End, crunchy granola, hippie, 420 celebrating, Tibetan prayer flag, and save the whales lifestyle? Probably not. But I do think I need to be a little more appreciative of what I have. And if I can make a few small differences here and there, why not? I am officially making one of the two garbage bins under the sink a “recycle” bin. We’ll see where it goes, but don’t hold your breath for the hemp clothing and compost bin.

As promised, in no particular order:

egale

Monster trucks  (I tried, but I just can’t do it. Too close to pro bass fishing and “jorts + mullets)

U.S. Marines blowing shit up  (warning, might be disturbing for those who don’t really understand what “stopping ISIS” actually means)

It doesn’t fit me, but I’m fascinated with day of the dead tattoos. (Dia De Los Muertos if you’re not from pigs-knuckle Arkansas. Apologies to any of our southern brothers that actually live in Arkansas. If you’re a reader and live in Arkansas, on purpose… well, I’m sorry. Don’t know what else to say)water

The Tough Mudder. (Relegated to the same waste bin as running races. Never again. Interferes with drinking beer)

On Moments Of Truth

The moment of truth. A turning point. That defining moment. The red pill or the blue? Beer or bourbon? A salad or fries? Jimi Hendrix or… wait, never mind. Hendrix is always the answer. For many people there comes a point in time where you reach a place that inspires you to decide that you don’t want to continue down the same pzig-Ziglar-motivation-quotes-2ath you’ve been on. If I was a motivated guy, this is where I’d insert the inspirational quote from Zig Ziglar and declare that things will be different from now on.

Uh, that’s not really my style. Although, I did have one of those moments yesterday. I’d foolishly signed up for a running race that I’d done before. Except I was lazy and I didn’t train for it. I probably gained did gain weight between sign-up and race day. I assumed that, like when I was 20, I could just show up and get ‘er done. Uh, nope. It was pretty ugly. As I lumbered uphill like a pregnant walrus, it became clear that I can no longer deny reality. I’ve gotten old, fat, and frighteningly out of shape. I was passed by people who, if I saw them on the street, I’d think to myself “there’s a walking heart attack”. I was passed by people in their 70’s who looked like they were going to keel over at any moment. I survived and finished, but it was a humbling day.

I woke up this morning determined to change and to seize this opportunity to improve myself. I vowed to be the like ‘theRock and post my 4am daily workout on the Instagrams. I will be a paleo god and laugh at those fools eating gluten and sugar. I will be pure! I will fuel the engine with nothing but locally sourced fresh food kissed with mermaid tears and love. I will embrace Grok and become a crossfit machine. Then I thought about pancakes and wondered when the new pizza place down the street will open.

I’m not sure if I have it in me to change my habits. I like the idea of it. It’s the doing part that’s a challenge. It’s hard to say what path I’m going to take. I did win the weight loss challenge of ’14. I’ve also managed to put all that weight back on, plus some, by sitting in a chair fairly continuously for a year and a half. Which me is going to emerge come Monday morning? Will it be the motivated and disciplined troutdog or the fat lazy trout taking the path of least resistance?

Realistically, any clear thinking person knows that our actions should be based upon preparations for the zombie apocalypse. And what is Columbus’s rule # 1? Cardio. So there you have it. It’s the 4am wake-up and go time for me. Then again, there’s the merits of being well-armed, don’t be afraid to use your ammunition and rule #2 – the double tap. Go ahead and hand me those pancakes.

Tallahassee: Are you fucking with me?

Columbus: Uh, no. You should actually limber up as well. Especially if we’re going down that hill. It is very important.

Tallahassee: I don’t believe in it. You ever see a lion limber up before it takes down a gazelle?

Winning Hearts And Minds

This morning I was procrastinating. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me – I could win awards with my ability to procrastinate. Anyway, in my effort to avoid doing something actually useful I was catching up on Tay and Microsoft’s PR disaster. You have to marvel at the blind naivety of the folks who didn’t put any sort of filters in place. Anyone who’s been on the internet for more than about fifteen minutes could have predicted what was going to happen. The interwebs are full of trolls.

Moving on I found a post of pictures of office workers who had their food stolen out of the fridge. That’s some funny stuff right there. Then I started thinking about it. It’s happened to most of us. Your lunch goes missing from the break room fridge. Someone microwaves some nasty smelling three day old fish or fermenting eel, turning the entire third floor into a hazmat zone. What the hell is wrong with these people? What’s worse is that these are your coworkers, people you know, not some random stranger on the street.

The interesting part is that every single one of us would claim that our circle of friends and acquaintances would never do such a thing. It seems like every other posting on theFacebook is some inspirational quote about peace, love, rising above the negativity, and really good fried tofu recipes. Meanwhile it took less than 24 hours to shut down Tay with a barrage of some of the most vile stuff you can imagine – for no reason other than the amusement of trolls. Someone is out there committing this asshatery and it’s not just evil-doers.

I suspect there’s a whole lot of people out there leading a double life. They post the cute Easter meme on Pinterest, then leave their dog poop in the middle of the trail for someone else to deal with (or sidewalk if you’re a civilized New Yorker or Parisian). Someone is throwing all that garbage out the car window to collect on the side of the freeway. Enough of us are watching the Kardashians and Maury Povich that their ratings keep them going strong. Drive on any California freeway and the sheer number of asshole motorists will turn any Bernie Sanders voter into a seething road rage maniac… who will then go into the office and donate money because Sally’s niece is in the hospital and post a few adorable puppy pictures to their Instagram.

I’d like to believe that because of our opposable thumbs and ability to appreciate Ansel Adams, we can rise above negativity and mean people. I think the reality is that we’re one zombie apocalypse, water, food, or bourbon shortage away from survival of the fittest. When Amazon goes dark and you can’t get your selfie stick v.7 shipped the next day, I suspect our societal cohesion will disappear in a hurry.in-case-of-zombies-attack-break-glass-shotgun-apocalypse-now-meme

What does all this mean? I’m not sure. I don’t think it has to be depressing. Go appreciate some art. Get outside and see some nature. Try not to be a complete jerk to your fellow man. Pay it forward. Oh, and stock up on bourbon, toilet paper, and 12 gage double-ought buckshot.

On Adventure. Or Lack Thereof.

I am a fraud. To use the vernacular of my 80’s upbringing – I’m a total poser, dude. I’m an armchair adventurer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fully in the Walter Mitty category. I do occasionally go outside and do stuff. But it’s happening less and less often. What’s more telling is that I’m starting to feel more apprehension about activities than I ever did before. My fear of getting hurt, or failing, and the unknown are starting to creep into my head far too frequently lately.

What I’m discovering about myself is that I really, really, like the idea of being adventurous. It’s the doing part that I don’t follow up with. The other day over dinner with some friends we talked about all the things we’d like to do this summer. I was happy to jabber on about road trips, backcountry motorcycle expeditions, climbing and mountaineering, and spur of the moment mountain bike rides. After the drinks wear off, I know that the possibility of my actually doing any of those things isn’t super high.

I’m not sure why that is. Some of it is just laziness. A rolling stone and moss and whatnot. I’ve been gathering a fair amount of moss these days. A lot of it is just caution. I’ve noticed that at the climbing gym, once I’m five or six feet in the air I’m very reluctant to try a move because of a fear of falling. It’s not like I’m going to get hurt. I’d be falling on a soft crash pad. Worse case I get the wind knocked out of me. So why am I so afraid? It must be a facet of getting old.

What gets into my head is that I really want to do these adventures. I can easily spend all day reading about adventure trips and free spirited folks who just do things. Americans have always been enamored with the antihero. The folks who just get stuff done and go out and make adventures happen. Shane McConkey, Jimmy Chin, Cheryl Strayed, Alastair Humphreys, Hank Patterson. These folks decide to do something and just go make it happen. Granted it didn’t always turn out so well for all of them, but they did what they wanted to do. I fear I’m turning into that kid in the commercial who calls his grandma on the phone in the next room for another grape soda.

I’ll spend two hours on the ADV forum following some guy’s two week motorcycle trip across the backcountry dirt roads of Idaho and tell myself, dammit I’m doing that. But that would mean getting the motorcycle running again and buying some more gear. And it’s kinda cold out right now. And I’m directionally challenged so what if I got really lost, or what if the bike stopped running and I got stuck? Besides there’s a couple of episodes of Walking Dead I haven’t caught up on and there’s some yardwork that needs doing. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll think about it again.

I think I’m one of those people who always needs a guide. Someone who takes me by the hand and says we’re going to go do this, and here’s what you need, and here’s how it’s going to work. Once I do it I’m golden. I’ve skied for years at my local mountain without exploring some areas that I knew were there, but didn’t know if they were above my ability or if I’d get lost. This season I finally put on my big boy pants and followed a friend to these places. Now that I’ve seen them and they’re not the unknown I’m happily exploring every off-piste area I can find. Why was I so worried about exploring them before?

Is there a moral to this rambling? Doubtful. I think it’s mostly an internal pep-talk to convince myself to go do stuff and that I don’t always need a “guide”. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll end up with a good story to tell. Then again there’s a bag of chips in the cupboard and 24 hours of political coverage to watch. And I hear there’s a threat of rain today. Time to catch up on my Instagram feed of adventurers and amazing photos.

Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

On Weight Loss. And Banana Hammocks

So, I recently lost some weight.  Not “oh my god did you have gastric bypass surgery” amounts, but enough that’s its noticeable.  It started after an Easter meal.  Everyone was loosening belts and groaning about how full they were.  This led to the inevitable mutterings of “damn, I’ve got to get in shape/lose a few pounds/get ready for summer”.  Someone joked that they should try to get on that Biggest Loser show.  You can guess what happened next… “hey, why don’t we do one of those biggest loser contests ourselves?!”  Start and end dates are set, entrance fees and weigh-in criteria created, and a winners prize is defined.  A line in the sand is drawn and off we go.

With clothes on, probably nobody would call me fat.  My face gets kinda full and my upper body isn’t quite in proportion with my little toothpick legs.  However, lurking underneath my stylish hipster outfits was a BMI of 27.  Man-boobs drifting towards support-worthy.  A spare tire that actually qualifies as a tire.  I had the consistency of Jell-O or one of those Tempur-Pedic mattresses.  It sorta looks firm, but touch it and it’s surprisingly soft and jiggly.  Are you getting turned on yet?  Never mind, don’t answer that.

Anyway to make a long story short, much of that is gone.  Not completely. There’s still plenty of work to do.  It’s a little disturbing how vain you can get once you start feeling better about yourself.  I don’t leave the house now without just the right pair of skinny jeans, Justin Bieber belt, and enough product in my hair to trap pigeons.  Now that the excess adipose tissue is gone, I’ve discovered that I was born with a shockingly complete lack of muscle tone.  I’ve purchased a Jane Fonda Thighmaster and a ShakeWeight from craigslist and am working on rectifying this genetic injustice.

Completely unrelated to the start of the weight loss contest, I enrolled in a nutrition class.  This, combined with the fact that A) I lost weight, and B) I read the Intranet, makes me extremely qualified to advise you on weight loss strategies.  Here are a few tips from chapter 113 of my upcoming autobiography:

  • Ice cream, pie, soda, and massive piles of steak nachos are not part of any diet.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no magic combination of pills or “toning” exercises that will counteract that number of calories.
  • I ate about 1500 calories a day.  Yes you need to keep track.  Life’s a bitch like that sometimes.
  • There are no “free” days.  It’s simple physics. To lose weight you have to burn more than you take in.  Exceed your calorie target and it will either take you longer to reach your goal or you’ll need to run a marathon to break even.
  • Lots of protein, frightening amounts of steamed vegetables, and saturated fat.
  • Water. Lots of water. Get used to peeing. Often.
  • Exercise. Not just stroll on the treadmill while reading a book “exercise”, but real work.  Like you might barf up a lung levels of work.  Not what you wanted to hear. Sorry ’bout that.
  • Get the ab toning “flex belt” http://www.theflexbelt.com/  It’s a miracle device. Builds abs of steel without working out. Trust me, would I lie?

With an upcoming trip to a Mexican beach, it’s time to go shop for a bathing suit for my newly svelte self.  One last tip guys (apologies to any European friends), unless you’re swimming competitively, a speedo is not ok.  Yo, pasty white British dudes – only about 1% of the male population has the body to legitimately wear a banana hammock. You’re not one of them.  A real man wears jorts.

I Ride A Pink Bike

Yesterday I was able to go on a mountain bike ride for the first time in months. Way up here in the frozen north, winter tends to interrupt such activities. Ok, not exactly frozen… we get snow a couple of times a winter. But it does get cold which makes my nose run. Perhaps growing up in a temperate climate has diluted my hearty Swedish genes somewhat?  Anyway, the point is that the trails get too muddy to ride if you’re the responsible type.  Since I’m a rule follower I did my part and sat in a chair for three months, moving as little as possible.

Shockingly, this did terrible things to my once meager fitness level.  And as I near the half-century mark, nothing depresses me more than people older than me who are in better shape.  So of course, there I was on my first real ride in months, huffing, puffing, wheezing like an old inner tube with a leak as I climbed up a trail I flew up last summer.  And by flew I mean I rode it without stopping.  And once outrode a twelve-year-old girl to the top (a high point in my career).  Struggling with my climb I heard bikes coming up behind me.  I did what comes naturally and pretended to have a mechanical issue so I could stop and let them by.

Three old coots (at least ten years older than me) went by at near race speed, carrying on a conversation, going uphill faster than I normally go down. A devastating blow to my already fragile ego.  Once they were gone I climbed back on the bike and slogged my way up. And sure enough as I got towards the top, the three old dudes were up there stopped and chatting away.  With the last hundred yards in full view of my audience, I pushed myself to the red zone.  A tactical mistake, as once you’re in the red zone you need oxygen… and it’s really hard to suck in your gut and pretend you’re not breathing hard when your brain is screaming for O2.  I think I got a little light-headed at that point.

After giving the traditional ‘bro nod and “hey, ‘sup?” (also known as the urban white dude greeting), I made some lame comment about taking too much time off during the offseason.  The obvious leader of this group of geriatric fitness freaks looked at me and actually said something very profound.  “Well”, he said, “nothings free. You gotta earn your beers.”  With that they mounted up, said have a good ride, and off they went.

I spent the rest of my ride thinking about what this Bodhi Zafa of cycling had told me.  He’s right.  Earn your beers (or chips ‘n salsa, cake, or tasty Cheez It’s snack treats) by going out and playing hard.  I used to do that. We all did when we were younger.  Why do we stop?  How did “working out” become a chore that had to be done rather than something fun we did?bike

A hundred years ago I used to be that way. It was hard to get me off my bike back then.  I must have had an attachment to it, as twenty-  eight years later I still ride that same bike on my daily commute.  A 1985 Miyata 912.  A reasonably high-end bike at the time.  It saw a little racing and a lot of road miles.  And yes, it had a black and pink paint scheme.  Super popular for the eighties.  Not so much for a number of years.  Now… I get a lot of compliments on it.  What was old is new again.

Today is another beautiful day.  Time to go out and earn a few beers.

Twinkies And Gray Hair

I’m heading to a Mexican beach in about nine weeks. This is a good thing. It also means going shirtless. That is a slightly uncomfortable thing. As a guy I’m not particularly vain, but I’ve never been very fond of how I look between the neck and the knees. I’m happy with my calves. I guess the ankles too. The rest not so much. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly fat. Just sort of… squishy around the middle.

The problem is food. I love to eat. Be forwarned – don’t get between me and good BBQ. Or cheese. I’ve seen plenty of Bruce Lee movies and can scare the hell out of you with my Jeet Kune Do warrior yell. The only thing that saves me from being four hundred pounds with cankles is that I’m pretty darn active. Between daily mountain biking, running, and wicked Gears of War battles on the XBox, I burn a ton of calories. Unfortunately all that does is let me maintain my sexy Stay-Puft abs. I never actually get less squishy (de-squishy?).

I figure I need to drop fifteen pounds to not feel like I need to wear a support garment. That means roughly two pounds a week. I’ll need to burn 5,800 calories a week. Just under 900 a day. That seems do-able. The problem will be limiting the calories needed for basic sustenance to just the minimum. Probably somewhere around 1,800-2,000.

Which brings me to Twinkies. 160 calories and a shelf life that doesn’t expire. I figured I could eat ten a day. And coffee. Can’t live without coffee. 1600 calories and plenty of sugar to keep me fueled. I was just about to head to Costco to pick up a pallet when I saw on snopes.com that it’s a myth. Twinkies only have a shelf life of 25 days. What a cruel joke! My pallet-load would go bad before I could consume all that sweet goodness. If I’m already going to have to go to the grocery store more frequently, I might as well buy vegetables or something. Sigh.

This is going to be a struggle. Worth it though – who doesn’t like to see a middle-aged guy strutting around the pool convinced everyone thinks he’s twenty years younger? I did discover a new batch of gray hair the other day. Going to have to deal with that. Grecian-Formula for Men and we’re practically John Travolta. Wait, that’s a hairpiece, so bad example. I’m sure you get the point.

I’ll start the diet tomorrow. Or maybe on Monday. Never start a diet on the weekend. I should probably find that swim-shirt just in case.

Goodbye, California

Been a long time coming, but the day is finally here. Tomorrow I pack up my stuff and leave California. I won’t say I’m leaving forever – I already left once and never thought I’d come back, but this time the odds are not in the formerly golden states favor. Why? Two reasons; cost of living and lifestyle. For 2011 the ACCRA cost of living index has my city, San Jose, as the 6th most expensive place to live in the country. A very average 30+ year old track home in a decent school district goes for north of $700k. Property tax is 1.25%, so it’s not unusual to be paying $8-10 thousand dollars a year just in tax. Sales tax is 8.25% and projected to increase in 2012. San Jose has experienced a decade of budget deficits with no real hope of turning that around. Analysts put the overall California budget deficit for 2012 at $13 billion. 17 of the top 25 most expensive cities for gas prices are in California (thank you special-blend gasoline!). It’s a grim picture that’s only going to get worse. The state and cities have only one real option to increase revenue – raise every possible tax and fee they can get away with.

Money is certainly not the only reason to leave. Basic quality of life plays a huge role… and more so the older I get. The irony of living in the bay area is that, on paper, it offers everything you could want. An hour to the beach or the culture of San Francisco. Four hours to the mountains and fantastic skiing or hiking in Tahoe. Marin is the birthplace of mountain biking. Beautiful weather. So what’s the problem? People. Lots and lots of people. My work commute was routinely an hour-plus of stop-and-go, bumper to bumper traffic to go less than 20 miles. Leave for Tahoe on a Friday any later than 3pm and your four-hour drive becomes an eight-hour traffic nightmare. Don’t even think of heading to the beach on a sunny weekend day unless you want to leave super early in the morning to have a chance at finding parking, etc… Enjoy camping? State park reservations sell out six months to a year in advance.

As for mountain biking, bureaucracy, lawsuits, and powerful hiking lobbies rule the roost. In my local area there are, count-em, five different park agencies that control the trails. Each with different rules, regulations, and parking fees. Many popular trails sport rangers with radar guns who give tickets for exceeding trail speed limits. California, land of legislation.

Even with all the negative, it’s still hard to go. It is a beautiful place. Leaving family and friends is hard. Social media makes it much easier to stay in touch these days, but it’s certainly not the same as popping in for a weekend barbecue or bike ride with friends. I was born here. My roots are here. I remember when much of the Santa Clara valley was still apricot orchards. I remember surfing at the ‘hook before they put the concrete access stairs in. I remember $21 lift tickets at Sierra Ski Ranch and Kirkwood. Sleeping in my car in the parking lot to get first tracks in the morning. I’ve lived in 10+ places in the valley and watched them all change. Change that’s neither good nor bad – just different. Let’s just say that in many of those places, english is no longer the primary language. It’s the nature of our world these days. My sister the teacher would probably argue that my garbled prose barely qualifies as english, so I guess it all works out.

I first left California eighteen years or so ago, positive we’d never come back. A couple of states and six years later we found our way back. Fast forward twelve years and it’s time to head for greener pastures and new adventures. I’ll save the where for future postings. Suffice it to say that I leave with mixed emotions. Sad and happy at the same time. Nervous about the new direction and adventure, but brimming with excitement as well.

One thing I do know – you only go around in this life once and I’m not going to wait around dreaming of what could be. There’s no guarantee of a tomorrow in our contracts!

How Comes Jamaica Full Of So Much Screwface

How comes Jamaica full of so much screwface
Same time mi lift mi head to the sky
And a tear drop fall from mi eye

Look pon di gully side
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at that hungry child
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at the school weh deh youth dem go fi get dem education
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at the conditions of our police stations
Do you see anything fi smile bout

From “Morgan Heritage – Nothing to smile about

Where’s the beach resort?

I can’t afford the cool new jeans I want. I hate my car but don’t qualify for a loan for that new Cadillac Escalade. My job sucks and all my friends make way more money than me. My house is only 2,000 square feet and there’s just not enough room. I just can’t face all the traffic and crowds at the mall. I just don’t have the energy to go for a walk or make it to the gym. Seriously? The amount of complaining and whining here in the US about first world problems is nauseating.

If you live in the United States and are relatively healthy, not disabled, and have an IQ higher than a garden snail, stop bitching about your problems and start enjoying life. It’s short, we only go around once (apologies to my Tibetan Buddhist friends), and you never know what’s waiting for you around the corner.

In 2010, in the United States, the poverty threshold for one person under 65 was $11,344 (annual income). This does not include the value of food stamps, earned income tax credits, rent subsidies, etc… I’m sure you’ve seen the stories – many of the “poor” in the US have more than one TV, air conditioning, and two cars. Just this morning I read that the US spends $1.6 billon providing free cell phones to low income folks. Does it suck to be on that end of the income spectrum? Yep. Been there, done that. Spent part of my childhood on food stamps, welfare, and rarely getting the newest/cool clothes for school.

There is more opportunity in this country than anywhere else in the world. Does that mean everyone will succeed? Nope. But even what we consider low income is a standard of living that much of the world would fall on their knees for. The official poverty line for India is $12 a month. 40% of Ethiopia’s population is below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Why am I and my family/friends so much more well off than those folks? For no reason other than in life’s lottery we were fortunate enough to be born in the US. No skill. No ingenuity. Not a well-managed 401K. Just luck of the draw that we were born here and not Zimbabwe.

So… stop your complaining and excuses and go do something many folks on this planet aren’t lucky enough to have a chance to do. Enjoy life.