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About mweiss

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  • Full Name
    Mark A Weiss
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    I'm in the middle of a career change right now. Have been in electronics for many years, then publishing/printing/prepress, then video production and finally radio engineering. Now struggling with a startup business as an independant representative with Primerica Financial Services.

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    New Milford, CT
  • Interests
    Music, graphics and animation, video production and editing, recording large symphony orchestras and pipe organs and discussing politics and philosophy, particularly the rational philosophy of Objectivism.

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  1. There's one more problem: rising property taxes. I have had no mortgage since 1966, but my taxes have gone from being one weekly paycheck to almost my entire annual income, even though I own the home free and clear (or thought I did, anyway). Aside from mortgaged folks, a lot of senior citizens will be seeing revaluations of 300% this year, despite the collapsed housing bubble, a paradoxical situation that seems almost like a mass land grab by municipalities, since few are in a position to pay triple the property taxes over last year. My taxes exceed the sum total of ALL other expenses, including food, heating oil, electric and telephone services. Property taxes are the hidden 'bomb' in the economy, set to go off next year, after this year's revaluations affect next year's tax bills. -
  2. There are times when the extremes that some Liberal left-wing individuals will resort to is just amazing. Case in point: 3 years ago, I partook in a forum thread about unruly children in restaurants. I merely commented that I too had had a feeding situation with my child that resulted in some mild, and appropriate for her age, corporal punishment. Well that didn't go over with one of the members in the thread, who proceeded to judge me as some maniac who goes around beating children to death. Literally. To read the guy's abusive writings about me is just shocking to people of Objectivist point of view, or even any Christian who follows their Bible as a child-rearing guide. I was eventually banned from that forum a few months later, and the thread was locked by a moderator, seeing the guy was totally out of control and off the cliff, to use the mod's own words. Fast forward to 2009, this week. I get an e-mailed invitation from the moderator of a new forum, intended for ex-members of the other forum. I lurked around for a couple of days and determined that it might be a good place to discuss politics, so I signed up and wrote an intro message. Two messages later, the crazy fellow that made inflammatory and direct assaults on my character for my parental point of view, posted that I am that "anti-tax nut and child abuser." I responded to correct the accusation, and the thread "went nuclear" from there. By the the 6th hour, the thread had grown to six pages, two individuals were making physical threats and the original instigator mentioned that he was a fetal medicine specialist (he's from Atlanta, GA). In that thread, he admitted to calling Child Protective Services in my home state in 2006, who did nothing, because I'd didn't do anything wrong or against the law. The other fellow that started chiming in with the physical threats was a person who admitted that his own dad tried to beat him to death with an iron and that he went into the US Marines with the intent to learn to kill, so he could serve justice on his drunken father when he got out. As any rational person can ascertain, both these individuals have psychological issues that are clouding their judgement. Things got so bad that the site owner deleted the thread, sensing that a defamation or worse type of lawsuit could be in the works. But the good doctor from Atlanta didn't stop there. The next day, I receive e-mail from the moderator of the new forum that I had been invited to, informing me of a 'wiki' type web site that now contained a page defaming my character and using abusive terms, without citing references or proof of any kind. Now whether I hit my child is beside the point. No question was raised about how hard or lightly the hit was, whether it left a mark or not, or what the exact circumstances were at the time. The instigator, whose identity I have positively identified through a series of hints he had dropped, and a 'wiki' entry on him, citing his real name, which lined up with a database of fetal medicine specialists in Atlanta, chose to assume that I was like all the low-life fathers down south whose abused children he saw daily in his practice. He'd written some of his experience which convinced me that after thirty years of seeing this stuff, it affected him emotionally to the extent where ALL dads who have ever slapped a child are monsters who will later kill their child and should be put away in prison and the key thrown away. He's got blinders on, he's declared war on me, and now he's stepped over the line of reason and now, the law, as it seems that internet stalking and harassment is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific circumstances of the incident. I have brought the matter to the attention of an Atlanta-based legal firm and the Atlanta Police. It should be interesting to see what happens. At the very least, I hope the police can talk some sense into this crazed doctor. Note to self: Never discuss your child in a public forum--there might be a psychotic doctor reading your comments.
  3. Just wanted to get the word out about that 'other' forum... For those of you who wonder why my presense on OOL is so rare in the past year, it’s because I’ve been put on Moderator Watch, which was sometime about a year ago. The individuals who initiated this action, David Veksler and David Odden, aledge that it is because I fail to use Reason in my posts. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a lot of whacky posts on OOL and they aren’t put on mod watch. So I sense something going on where I am selectively singled out. Now before you write me off as a looney, hear me out… A few years back, OOL was infected with some sort of computer virus. I found that my PC was infected after accessing the forums on OOL. I quickly alerted David Veksler as to the problem. To my surprise, he responded in an arrogant manner, asserting that I don’t know how to use a PC. I was quite taken aback that this sort of behavior would come from someone claiming to be an Objectivist. It wasn’t until months later, that I learned through other sources at OOL that one of the “skins” on OOL’s forum was indeed infected with some sort of adware virus. I was correct and David was a victim of his own hubris. I never got an apology from him for that attitude and false accusation. However, I never held it against him. Then sometime last year, there was some contraversial issue I was posting about, ‘could have been property taxes, but they put me on mod watch after that post and I never was reinstated since. That’s why you haven’t seen my posts in the past year. The truth is, about 70% of everything I posted was never allowed onto the forums. What I sense is an overall arrogance here among these young mods—heck, they’re just kids in college, or just graduated, still ‘wet behind the ears’ and very strongly idealistic. Perhaps they take Objectivism a little to evangelically. I can remember back a half century ago when I was like that, having freshly discovered O’ism after studying Christian Science under Mary Baker Eddy for many years. I can tell you that religion was on its last leg for me and Objectivism came along at an opportune time for me. It had “all the answers” or so I thought at the time. Ethically, I think it still does. Politically, it may be a little too simple a model of reality to fit the world as it is today. But I think we can still use the underlying principles of individual rights to improve the predicament of mankind today. Greenspan’s admission that his model for the economy may have been flawed may not be as much of a damnation of the former Fed Chairman as it is a simple fact of reality. Perhaps there are many nuances involved that the relatively monochromistic Objectivism does not address. Let me get back on track with my original point: I posted two more messages this week, and both went to the trash forum without ever being posted. One later became the topic of my last blog entry. The other was a question to the forum, asking if we really have solid, verifiable evidence to back up all of the indictments against presidential candidate Barack Obama. When I wrote the moderators to address my disappointment with their censorship of my posts, they banned me from posting. David Veksler wrote a snide, satirical reply that I found both arrogant and insulting. It was like he was writing to a dog—or something lower than a dog. That was the last straw. I have always supported the ARI view on Objectivism. That is why I refrained from getting too invested in other Objectivist forums that cater to Branden’s and David Kelly’s views. This incident changes things. I will move to those ‘other’ forums and perhaps find more of a level playing field. A few of the moderators here have such an elitist attitude that it’s beginning to become abrasive to me. The sneering, condescending attitudes that Mr. Veksler in particular have displayed are not what one would expect from Objectivists or students of Objectivism. What happened to the open discourse and discussion atmosphere that Objectivist groups I attended in the 1960s had? Has the internet changed people into the hostile attitudes they now possess? Has the moderator/poster hierarchy given some people power over others that they perhaps do not deserve? Gone is free and open discussion. On OOL, if they don’t like you for any reason, they can sit back and laugh as you write volumes of posts and they send most of those down the bit bucket. I tried hard to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep quiet about this internal matter, but now I am quite angry with my fellow “Objectivist” moderators. They’re acting like children with swords. This blog will probably be erased by the time they discover it, which is why I am backing it up and plan to post it on other Objectivist forums, but it should stand as a wake up call, that not all people purporting to be Objectivists are perfect and that moderators of such groups are not to be assumed as models of Objectivism. To their credit, David and David are fairly sharp in their Epistomology of Objectivism, but the way they practice Objectivism as a whole in the day to day operations of OOL leaves something to be desired. I told them that Objectivism cannot afford to be tossing out its constituents in the petty manner that they have done with me. I cited the ‘pedantic’ (there, David, did I spell it right this time?) tone of Yaron Brook’s rhetoric of late and how that shrill tone is not going to gain support of the masses who vote—it will only further alienate them. Objectivism needs a cool head and needs to couch their rhetoric in less offensive terms. I find this in my own efforts to argue Objectivist principles in economics and politics—the moment you’re perceived as shrill, pedantic and unable to listen to the other point of view—is the moment when the other side stops listening to you and writes you off as a looney. Objectivists would be shocked if they realized how many people consider us to be on the fringe end of looney. Our individualist thinking, say them, is akin to the Timothy McVeigh type of anti-social mindset. Strong accusation, but there it is—that is what some people think of us Objectivists. And therein lies part of the problem why we are but a few thousand across the nation, instead of a few tens of millions in our numbers and influence. This board just lost an ally, and it was totally with thanks to your top two moderators. Their action has caused me to rethink my views on Objectivism. If they are the product of it, then perhaps I’ve been overlooking some flaws. I don’t think Miss Rand would have acted that way, however. I think this is a matter of youth and the smugness that comes with youth and their new-found philosophy. When these boys grow up, give ‘em fifty years, then they’ll probably have a more well-rounded view of the world and perhaps they will see what I’m talking about. In the meantime, I am truly concerned for the rest of Objectivists and for the world, in the face of this menace called Statism. Objectivists need to band together in agreement, not waste resources on cutting off their legs. I am deeply disappointed in these two individuals. But I will find a better group—perhaps one with a more reasonable balance of ideas and less hubris.
  4. Worthless Individual, Round 4 Laure: Where did you get your information? Most of the online sites have wildly erroneous and out of date information. I stated, on one of these forums, I don’t recall if it was here or OOL, that the average annual property tax in this town is $15K, a figure which came from Mine are not quite that high, but still 8X higher than all of my other expenses COMBINED. All of my neighbors earn over $100K/year. In fact, citing the same source, the median income here is $130K. My neighbor to the east of me is ultra-wealthy—he owns the largest marina in the northeast, and he owns a manufacturing company and is a land developer. He is also a state assemblyman. Across from him is a day trader who works on Wall St and earns in excess of a million a year. Down the hill from me is the president of CBS Records, and a few hundred yards south of him is the home of Robin Leach, host of that “Rich & Famous” TV show in the ‘80s. Also on this edge of the lake is the CEO of a major toy manufacturer. This area wasn’t like this when we moved here 42 years ago—to escape rising property taxes and a sewer assessment in another town. I don’t qualify for the discount/relief until my back taxes are paid off. That’s one of the things built into our system that ensures that seniors can’t get the benefits and that the property ends up going to younger, wealthier people. But for a 77 year old woman who got bodily removed from her home when the town started getting serious about collecting ‘delinquent’ taxes, she ended up on the street—literally. There was a brief public outcry about that, but it was soon forgotten. The repair work is an enormous undertaking. I didn’t take enough pictures to really convey the various stages of transition. The photos can’t, at internet resolution, convey the nastiness—the filth and dirt, the dead squirrel carcasses, the animal feces and the partially-digested insulation and leaves and mulch that I found in place of studs in my east walls. I have a seemingly insurmountable amount more to do. I move slowly, and I have to think each step through, before I move the first piece of timber. Looking ahead is this spectre of removing a ‘penthouse’ that a deranged man built on top of the main roof. It has a roofline that is 17’ above the main roof surface. Taking that down by myself seems an insurmountable obstacle. But I think I have had a brainstorm this week, involving a 4-ton hydraulic jack and some iron pipe and capitalizing on the fact that much of that shack is starting to rot because it’s roof has been leaking for a number of years. So much to do, and so much uncertainty. Dodger: On some level, to find an answer that REACHES me on a level of consciousness that I’ve yet to achieve. Judith: Although I have mixed feelings about Branden now, knowing what I have read in recent years, your suggestion of those two book titles sounds like it could provide valuable insight into reframing my self-image. The one area where I am not in strong agreement with you is in regard to the Locke book. I think it’s an excellent book—he delivers on his intent, which is to categorize the traits of the successful business person. His book at least lets me understand where I stand and why I am a failure at everything I do. No ‘feel good’ book has done anything but waste words on plattitudes and vague concepts based on primacy of consciousness. I’m not using it to beat myself over the head—I want to find out how to become a successful business person, so I can finally get these taxes off my back and leave my wife and daughter with some money, instead of several years’ salary worth of tax debts. Yup, like the horses, I seem to be low on the pecking order. I felt that all through elementary school years. In fact, by age 7-8, I developed the concept that I was a “test model” of the human species, that was being tested for pain endurance. Even in the face of the threat of violent spankings from “Hitler” (that’s how I and my mother used to refer to my father, because he was German and outspoken against Jews) I could not control my behavior. It was like I was possessed of a demon that took control of my body and made me do things I knew to be those which would get me punished severely. I felt helpless, like a marionette forced to dance in the flames. The question is whether I WANT to change, or whether I fear change, or that to do such change, means jumping an “abyss”, and not knowing whether I’ll reach the other side (have enough intelligence to win it all back legitimately). Faced with a high percentage of uncertainty, I consider such change too risky a gamble, so I thrash around in the mode I’m in. At least that is the most honest appraisal of why I make the choices I make that I can come up with. This lack of energy has made me come up with a theory: that there is no such thing as “laziness”, but only people with particular physical energy limits that give them overwhelming urges to sit down and be sedentary. When I was attending Primerica training meetings, the RVP who ran the training is a skinny guy who moves like a jitterbug. He’s blooming with energy, and even though I had a sense that he was a bit of a shyster, I also realized he had so much energy and ambition, that he really WAS attaining the goals he discussed. The guy earns about $68K/month in sales, residuals, commissions and overrides. He doesn’t waste more than a minute with people in his downline who do not produce. He’s very focused. I took tons of notes at those sessions, and there was quite a bit of practical good advice. I learned a lot, but I still have not been able to apply it. For me, knowledge is strangely divorced from action. I cannot grasp specifically why, but it’s a muddled confusion of xenophobia, lack of faith in jumping the ‘abyss’ and a sluggish mind. And maybe other factors I cannot comprehend or detect. I have little faith in pharma. My mother spent the last years of her life on psychotropic drugs, prescribed by a hospital. They turned her into a zombie. Ever see a person on Thorazine? Scientists, no matter how brilliant, have only been experimenting with drugs for a few decades. Little is known about the longterm effects of these unnatural substances. I rely on my vitamin E to keep my arteries from hardening up, and C to keep me from aging. I take megadoses of vitamins. They’ve kept me alive longer than any of my now-deceased relatives. I realize there are quacks in naturopathic medicine as well as allopathic medicine. But I have a healthy fear of most commercial drugs. These mega conglomerates make billions on these drugs and they have salesmen that pressure doctors to use their drugs. Many times, patients get prescribed drugs that are the result of a salesman convincing a doctor, over lunch, that his company’s product will cure the patient, or alleviate some issue. I believe that illness is a distortion of the body’s normal function, brought about by toxins—toxic processed foods, air pollution, even stress. Often the cure is to stop assaulting the body with toxic garbage, like fast foods, processed foods, etc. I am frustrated that healthy food costs so much more than junk food. A $4 bag of carrots, vs. a 10-cent package of Ramen noodles. During my lean years, I lived on those noodles, 69-cent cans of Chef-Boy-R-Dee spaghetti & meatballs, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now I look at steaks in Costco… $47 for a piece of meat! (in a Brooklyn accent) Gimme f---in’ break! It’s cheaper to eat poorly, but then you end up needing the medical community to treat your ailments. And I do not want to live in a hospital room. Granted, doctors are good at putting you back together after a car crash, but I have less faith in their ability to fix heart disease by pumping you full of chemicals. I guess the home repair is my ‘magnum opus’. Thanks for the accolades. Young people have no concept of perspective, so they tend to be flippant about these matters. When you get old, you wake up each morning with the thought, “wow. I’m still here!” I still don’t know what death will bring. Objectivism has taught me that it’s just nothingness. But as I get older, I think it’s a tragedy for all the knowledge one gains to just… vanish. I guess that’s one reason why so many people believe in diety and afterlife. It gives purpose and hope that life is not futile. 90 years of hell and then, zero. Michael: To a degree, one may feel better about one’s situation through comparison with others. But I don’t like to compare with others. I like to compare with what level of comfort and freedom I expect from life. In my case, to be left alone by the government. Just let me be. Just let me live out my life of MY land. Leave me alone. My standard for happiness is internal, and will not be any different because I look at a few unfortunate souls. IOW, their circumstances don’t physically change my circumstances. Kori: Thank you for your admonishments. Youth is wasted on the young, and the young have a lot to learn before they can emphathize with the old. Ashleyparkerangel: I saw that video last year when someone linked to it in another forum. As unfortunate as it may seem, it doesn’t change my own reality one iota. Facing a SWAT team at your door is just as bad, whether you’ve seen a two-headed girl or not.
  5. Worthless Individual, Round 3 Starting with Judith: It is near-impossible to assess the extent of the psychological damage that the childhood abuse has had. Once self esteem (which I had little of to begin with) is damaged, it is nearly impossible to repair. As a note, when I was 7 years old, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I was conscious of my ugliness at an early age. A smart fellow would have found a way to capitalize on that ugliness (circus freak show, actor playing the devil, etc.) While I intellectually understand that what happened in the past is the past, emotionally, and with every fiber of my being, for lack of a better term, I am still xenophobic in a bad way. I’ve tried to work on that for forty some odd years, but my efforts have yielded little results. I still feel uncomfortable talking to strangers if there is not what I consider a ‘good reason’ to interrupt them. That’s what makes me so bad at walking up to people and recruiting them into Primerica. The problem with age is that when you finally know certain things you would do differently if you were young, it’s already too late. The body just doesn’t respond anymore. And the brain is starting to go now, and losing one’s mind is one of the scariest things one can experience. My grandmother suffered dimentia and my mother suffered from terrible anxiety attacks, which would eventually land her in a state mental facility, where she died, choking on her own vomit. Father was diagnosed psychotic. My aunt suffered a deformity that runs in the family, known as Treacher Collins Syndrome. I inherited a mixture of all these wonderful genetic endowments. I continue to fight for my life, and the right to live it, even though over half of what I take in goes straight to paying the tax burden on our domicile. And even so, it’s not enough for the town. We’ve only been paying the interest on the debt for the past 3 years. That’s right. I can’t think of a time, early in my life, when anyone believed in me, enough to give me a chance at something. As a child, I really didn’t have any dreams, except fuzzy ones like “I want a big house some day” or “I want to be president of my own company”. But I had no goals, no direction. Reading Edwin Locke’s “The Prime Movers” really put things in perspective for me. I had some implicit idea of why I failed, but he lays things out explicitly. In a table on page 58, I fit completely into the right column, under Passive, as opposed to the left column, Active. Particularly applicable to me are the following attributes: Remains concrete-bound, Acts emotionally (is wish focused), Focuses on the past & present, Sees parts only, Coasts on past learning, Accepts status quo (with regard to deciding that something I did is “good enough” and never asking “how can I do even better?” On page 65, Locke talks about “generalized efficacy”. He notes that some children have a penchant for achieving goals, attain values and seek independence. Others cling to their mother’s skirts. I was in the latter category. “Some children, when confronted by early adversity, decide they cannot handle it, become frightened, and self-pitying, and withdraw into themselves.” This was me to a tee. I still don’t know why I didn’t take the other tact, which was “Others, faced with the same threats, view them as a challenge to overcome and proceed to take action.” A possible contributing factor might be that my parents seemed to consider themselves as victims of circumstances (mom had Hepititis, Thalesemia Hetero Beta Minor, and in old age, severe hormonal imbalances leading to anxiety attacks; dad had ulcers, leading to pancreatic tumors, leading to acute lymphoblastic leukemia). They lost their first home in a potentially violent eviction confrontation with law enforcement, due to an unpaid sewer tax (sometimes being a registered gun owner has disadvantages because the police use inordinate force to carry out routine process serving). Circumstances always prevented them from achieving goals. Either it was poor health or a lack of money. They always had an excuse. Page 92 of Locke’s book addresses stamina, something I had very little of for my entire life. Even at age 15-19, my best years, I still found it quite uncomfortable to do any physical activity. I did a lot of manual labor, but it was always extremely painful because my body wanted to go sit down and relax, not dig a trench or hammer nails all day long. I remember when the family collectively inherited $1850 from my grandfather in the early 1960s, we used it to buy this land and we bought old barn lumber and stacked it in the yard and I spent a year pulling all the nails out of that lumber, getting it ready to use, while we excavated trenches for footings for a foundation and built forms and mixed cement and, using old Clorox bottles with the bottoms cut out as scoops, filled up the forms, with many thousands of scoops and many hundreds of cement mixer loads over the following year and into winter. The thing is, I grew up knowing the value of money, because we had so little of it, and I got a valuable skill of building, plumbing, electrical, masonry, etc., but these were torturous activities, and the only reason I bear through them is like the reason why one swims to shore after a shipwreck—to escape drowning. That does not mean I would take a job as a swimmer—or a carpenter. I do not work fast enough for professional employment. In fact, that was a number one complaint of most of my bosses. One revue that I still recall to this day, where I was a wireman in a factory, the boss wrote, “makes good first impression, but doesn’t wear well.” The reason is, I can only feign interest in a boring job for so long, before every cell in my body turns to revolting disgust and I can no longer motivate myself to bear that mental torture any longer. With all these experiences, you would think I would have found a way to put them all to good use, but I think, contrary to what my parents used to tell me, that I lack a certain kind of intelligence—the ability to identify reality in a way that enables me to see opportunities to capitalize on situations. I just see the problems, not creative solutions or opportunities. When left to think of a way around the problem, I just draw a blank and tune out. I’ve been like that since I can recall. Which is probably why I never moved past menial task jobs. I know things are possible—for someone. It just hasn’t quite happened for me. No one wants to hire an elderly man with the face of defeat. Some people, you can just look at their faces, and the lines and wrinkles of character—you can tell if they are downtrodden, sad, remorseful, or have had a productive and happy life, or if they have been preditors and ruthless carnivores of business. It’s all written in the lines and contours of the face. Brant: I haven’t been to a doctor in fifty years. I’ll admit that since both my parents died at the hands of doctors, I’m not very anxious to go see one. I may have cancer, diabetes, thyroid issues and god-knows-what in addition to the problems I can feel, such as the pain in my joints and the lumps all over my body. My wife keeps asking me to see one, so it’s a matter of finding a doctor that I trust. I already found a good dentist through a mutual friend 20 years ago. Perhaps I can find a doctor who isn’t pharma-happy. Matus 1976: I’m afraid you’re right about my highest priority. I’m a materialistic person—high tech gadgets are my subsitute for the sex I never enjoyed all my life. Now I’m too old to have any libido left. But I still enjoy the gadgets. I’ll explain the two types of happiness/unhappiness I experienced in my life: when I was living through my employment years, I was miserable. The term “desparately unhappy” fits my past job experience well. I had almost enough money to pay basic bills, a rented room in a boarding house and food. But I was miserable, and bored with my existence. My dreams and goals were unattainable. I knew I would never afford a house at that rate. I did work on a few inventions during these years. I was still a bit slow. I knew vacuum tubes well. That was my strong area, but the transistor was the big, new technology and I was slow to grasp, or even have curiousity about this new phase of electronics. I was more comfortable with the status quo—vacuum tubes, and I could build almost anything with tube circuits. But I was soon to be stymied by an even more critical failure: my inability to sell my ideas, to present a convincing business plan, to gain support from people who were in a position to help inventors. I struggled with several inventions throughout and in addition to my regular employment. On one hand, I suffered doing menial tasks for wages, and on the other, in the evenings, I worked on my electronic inventions. But my stamina just couldn’t handle both activities, and I overslept often and that cost me some of my jobs. How dare I try to rise above the status of my co-workers, right? Since my retirement and going freelance, I have enjoyed a sense of freedom and in that respect, I have found a level of happiness that I never experienced when I was in these prison-like employment situations. I am more relaxed, less tense, I drive the speed limit now (I used to be a very aggressive driver and often would speed to 120mph daily on my highway commute to work), my ulcers have stopped bothering me, the diarhrea has stopped and I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a cage, forced to endure uncomfortable environmental conditions, people I can’t stand (I got into a number of fights on the job, and I had a terrible temper) and work that was so boring that my mind was on the verge of going insane. That is all behind me. My ONLY problem is that I don’t take in enough to meet the demands of the tax man. If the government went away tomorrow, I’d be happy as a clam with that burden lifted from mey shoulders. I agree, there is nothing positive about setbacks. This house has been a collection of them. From the plumbing leaks that would spring up at the most inconvenient times, to the roof leaking when it rains, to having to deal with a backed up septic, to well pump problems and having to pull 220’ of pipe, and a submersible pump out of the casing and repair/replace parts, then put the whole thing back down the well, to dealing with this dreadful renovation project. I’ve put together a very inadequate photo portfolio of the house renovation that I started in 2003, here: But I must warn that it’s not pretty (except maybe the “after” photos) and there is just unbelieveable circumstances that photos can’t convey adequately. All I can say is there is nothing like dealing with the result of 40 years of termites, carpenter ants, squirrels, mice and water damage, over an entire roof, walls and into the floors in many instances. I can deal with the physical objects. Slowly, I am winning the battle against rot on this house. In four years, I expect, assuming my health holds up, to have completed the repairs to the roof and major walls. And maybe even to knock down a makeshift third floor (that we’re being taxed for as an extra 970 sq ft space!) I can deal with the physical. What I can’t deal with is the wholesale theft of 80% of my income by beaurocrats with guns. It’s gotten to a point where I don’t know what “working rationally” is anymore. Working for minimum wage in a retail store, and barely being able to pay my transportation costs to/from work, or spending my time working at something I enjoy, and not driving every day. Working on the house has had some benefits. But the first few weeks of the season are hellish. The nausea and vomiting that I go through when I first start doing any lifting in the heat, and the burning pain in my arms as I try to work over head, make for a very memorable discomfort that I carry with me into the next season. It’s been very difficult to get started this year, with the cold weather lasting into April and snow one day, rain the next and so on. Now that we finally have decent weather, I’m doing a little each day, to get started on the next leg of an incomprehensibly large task that has to be done. Raising a little girl and being a husband now cuts further into the time I can invest in the repairs, but the repairs cannot wait and the urgency to complete them before remaining leaks destroy the work I’ve already completed is a matter of protecting my vested interest. Although I symphathize with your own home repair issues, I have to qualify it with the fact that your problems are miniscule compared to mine. You’re repairs are only a day or two out of your life. Mine involve a decade of 12 hour days, working in dangerous conditions, breathing in mold, dust, animal feces, rotten wood that’s turned to dust, etc, all the while trying to be careful not to lose my balance and fall off the roof. I’ve had to gut this place and figure out how to keep the rain out of the house with no roof for several months out of the last four summers. If you don’t believe me, see the photos I linked to earlier. Yes, my wife calls me worthless, because not only can’t I bring in the money, but a lack of libido completes the picture. She’s right. And she’s about the best thing that’s happened to me all my life. I consider myself fortunate that she has stuck behind me for these past few years. Perhaps her taunting is not all such condemnation as just taunting as her way of trying to motivate me. As for filmography, I have no ideas. If someone tells me what they want me to shoot, I can do that, but when it comes to creating an idea from scratch, well, I never had that ability, going back to childhood. I drew a lot as a kid, but the neighbor’s kid could REALLY draw, like a professional cartoonist. He just could do it. No matter how hard I tried, I could not. I was like the example on page 64 of Locke’s “Prime Movers”—I studied algebra for years and failed consistently—I just could never grasp it, or most other mathematics beyond adding and multiplying numbers. It seems that when there are more than a certain number of elements to keep in my mind simultaneously, that I can no longer focus on the problem and I reach a limit to the complexity that I can deal with and master in algebra. I spend quite a bit of time in Maya, trying to make the animation of a vision that I first saw when I heard Marcel Dupré’s “Carillon” played on the organ. In 1982, I tried to film it with 8mm and by building clay models, but the infinite horizon effect of traveling over a vast planet was impossible to achieve with this method. In the late 80s, I had my first video camera and tried again, building larger sets on the studio floor, but that sense of distance wasn’t working. Then in 1995 I tried it with Caligari trueSpace, but the computer was much too slow, and trueSpace has a clunky UI that worked against me. The by 2004, I started working on it in Maya, but now I am stuck again, animating the oil rigs (there are 11 scenes in my ‘dream’ that I demarcated by different movements in the music and one scene has a one beat per measure back and forth rhythm that, to me, depicted visions of hundreds of oil wells pumping. So I worked on the oil well scene, building models of these rigs and trying to animate them using physics. But I ran into “interpenetration” errors and realized that I was way over my head and that modeling required much more knowledge on how to correctly construct a body so that it will interact with another object for reactive animation. I’ve been hacking away at this project for 25 years, only generating a few seconds of footage so far. Obviously, I’ve reached beyond my faculty here, but I’m a stubborn old fart, and enjoy these challenges—it’s what keeps the brain young. While I’m slowly getting rid of the things I haven’t used in five or more years, I’m turning that into cash that I can convert to things that I can use today. But if you’re asking me to consider giving up my passion for the things that have kept me from completely going off the deep end, it’s not going to happen, as long as I am breathing. It means too much to me, and it took me nearly forty years to achieve it, and I don’t have another forty years to try and rebuild it all over again. I don’t know if there is a solution for my dilemma. I’d be really fine if it weren’t for the robbers at my door (the taxes), because I can live on about $2000/year for my basic living expenses, including heat. Well, electricity has gone up so much that it’s become second only to taxes—I spent $4200 on electricity last year. I can always find ways to pay the bills, as I am basically debt-free (no credit, loans or mortgages). There is only this tax bill every year, and it’s getting bigger and bigger at a rate far greater than any increase in income. I’ve tried raising my engineering rates, but I lost my clients as people didn’t want to pay $50-60/hr to keep a multi million dollar operation on the air. Taxes rose, but I could not raise my rates enough to compensate and stay busy. As a good friend of mine, who makes his living doing consulting in Windows Presentation Foundation and .Net application development once observed about me, I make a terrible employee. I’m the type that can only flourish as an independent entrpreneur. He’s right. I don’t work well for others, in capacities that are not in my area of interest. It’s a curse. Many people can work these boring dead end jobs and be content for decades. I lack that ability. I suffer. And yes, I am proud that I didn’t contribute to Bush’s Oil War. Laure: Intellectually, I know this is right, but when it comes to practical steps, I’m concrete-bound and can’t fathom the first step. Bob Mac: Yes, that’s free enterprise. But being an employee is being low on the food chain, and that means you struggle and suffer a lot. I had enough suffering as a kid. But I was too stupid to find a way to endure the employment years. I trudged through half a century of employment suffering until my third suicide attempt landed me hospitalized and out of the loop for several years. Now I’m trying to do things MY way, because I worked all those years and didn’t have much to show for it. I didn’t advance because I wasn’t interested in the available work/jobs and I had to work in order to eat, but most of the jobs had little opportunity for growth anyway. There’s only so much a ditch digger can aspire to, if you know what I mean. Employers see a big guy whom they figure they can exploit as a bullyock. Too bad for them that my lack of energy prevented me from achieving the potential that they expected based on my size. As for income versus expenses, how can you drop $2000/year for food, heating, phones, electric (in 1999) any further? And how do you deal with the fact that you still had to pay a five figure tax bill the following year? When taxes are five times all my other expenses combined, that really burns me. It makes my blood boil. Now if I made a hundred grand a year, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much to write that $15K check every year. But for me, it represents several times my own personal expenses. More income would certainly help, but my traditional minimum wage-earning past has kept me in this cycle of poverty. Regarding the home repairs, as I mentioned earlier, I’m doing these repairs because of an emergency and a lack of help. It’s like swimming to shore after a shipwreck—it doesn’t mean I want to become a professional swimmer. Yes, I can do carpentry, but it takes me 2 weeks to do what a professional can do in a day. I’m simply not fast enough, nor can I work on ladders with my dizziness and tendency to black out from time to time. I’m really risking my life repairing this roof, as I’m not physically up to the task—but it’s either “do, or die” and do I “do”. Yes, I have been told I write well. Paradoxical for a person who could not read at all in the fourth grade, until my parents got me a phonics course (which would, years later, be outlawed in progressive education). I have three unfinished novels sitting on my hard drive. I’ve been working on them on and off since 1985. But I reached a point where I lost interest in what I was writing, and other pressing matters took the focus away. Journalist? With my personality? You’ve got to be kidding, right? I don’t know the first thing about it. I do know that reporters are pushy sons of B’s and that’s opposite my personality type. Reporters are “people persons” I am a reclusive xenophobe. Peter: The Danse Macabre took me three weeks of intensive effort to record. Someone with real talent could play it in 7:49 without making a single mistake. I did it for recreation and no other reason. It just turned out better than my other attempts and music. I have not heard of the piece you mentioned for organ. The title, yes, but not as an organ piece.
  6. I have to applaud your stance on self defense as well as your weapons savvy. Good argument on why shouldn't the public have the same weapons as the military! If the 2nd Amendment's purpose included the prevention of tyranny, then we are indeed under-weaponized today as a public. The military has tools and weapons that are not even made public. We have the potential of a really bad dictatorship gradually taking over, and once the public is riled up enough to revolt, the tremedous force of our military would be brought to bear, to utterly squash any rebellion. We have no more control over government, not without each citizen having a WMD of some sort that becomes the wildcard that the fed must reckon with. Great post, Judith!
  7. There is no ephinany here; there is only a slow series of realizations of how immoral, contradictory and self-serving, my life’s path has been. As usual, responding in order of posting: Laure: Yes, part venting, part hoping that some answer will resonate with my inner pshyche, causing me to have that ephinany that has so far eluded me. I don’t think of myself as a tax cheat. A conviction in a court of law does not pronounce moral reality. Not if the laws are made by evil men who steal from producers and give to non producers. I think that people who pay their taxes are tax fools. I hold all taxpayers responsible for the destruction of America; for empowering this monstrous government, for bringing about this uncontrolled spiraling of ever-expanding and ever more invasive despotic rule. I hold taxpayers responsible because they didn’t have the courage to say “enough is enough” and employ that which the Filipino people refer to in their country as “People’s Power.” This sad state of affairs is all the fault of people who sheepishly obey the orders of the government that should instead be the servant of the people—not the dictator and terrorist that our government has become. It is too late for America, and for the world. Do you not think that I have been to the assessor’s office to try and get my taxes reduced? I have. They knocked $200 off the valuation. And then a year later they tripled the valuation when a mass revaluation was done at the millenium. I got so angry that the police were sent to question me; they were concerned that I was going to shoot the assessor, as another elderly gent in NJ had done three weeks before. There is a fine line between trying to reduce an assessement, and bringing on an investigation by the building inspector, the EPA and the health department. I have to walk that line carefully. The assessor is only concerned with two things: square footage and prevailing property values in the area. Granted, it’s a nice area, not too far from shopping, and free from flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical plants and major pollution. I have had several real estate agents look at the place since 1998. None of them would list it. After I could not find a contractor who was willing to do the repairs, I embarked on an eight-year project of rebuilding the house myself. A truckload of migrant workers could have fixed this place up in a summer, but I’m working alone, living 160’lb pressure treated 2x12s on my shoulder, hauling them up a makeshift staircase, and then bringing each into position in a new framework for the roof. I replaced one joist every day and a half. Just loading and unloading these things and transporting them from Home Depot to the rooftop took most of a day and knocked me completely out. I took a drive to Florida in 2005, stopping in the Carolinas along the way. I didn’t care for any of the places down there. I was glad to return home. I consider myself fortunate to live in this particular area. The only issue is the leaking roof and the remainder of the repairs to be done, which requires me to knock down a third story structure that has 17’ high ceilings, making it a real challenge to demolish while keeping the rain out of the roof below. Like my father before me, I’m always alone against the elements. Only back then he had me to help him. I have no one to help me. Do you really think that if I can’t afford to pay property taxes with no mortgage payment, that I could somehow magically afford to pay rent? You don’t have a clear picture of the situation. Even to rent a halfway decent house, my wife would have to double her salary and I would have to earn as much as she does. But then we’d be minus daycare expenses for Amanda, and short on the rent. And when I did pay rent, I couldn’t keep a job. How do you think I ended up sleeping in my car? There was a period after I had my nervous breakdown where I was driving around looking for temp work in an unregistered, uninsured old clunker. I couldn’t afford insurance. I couldn’t even afford to put gas in the car one particular week. I had taken a temp job at Union Carbide, filing dockets for $4.50/hour. I was barely taking home more money than I spent on gas to commute to that job. One day, about 2/3 of the way to work, my car ran out of gas on the highway and the company canceled my contract because I didn’t show up that day. They hired a replacement immediately and by the time I was able to explain what happened, it was too late. I can’t explain to you what it means to be too tired to sleep normal hours. I sleep 12-14 hours a night. Any less than that and I feel tired when I’m up, I feel groggy, not alert, wanting to lie down. All the way back through childhood, I always had low energy. I was always too tired to participate in sports (also too slow mentally to pick up on what was happening in the game), and later, I was always tired on the job, wanting to sit and rest often, when I was supposed to be digging that ditch or assembling a product. The problem is that I am cursed with a desire for more than my meager abilities will afford me. I refused to accept my “lot in life” and resorted to shortcuts to get the things I wanted. You have no idea how devastating it is to be passed on by the opposite sex as you watch, 30, 40, 50 pass by and realize that you’re just a potbellied, bald, old man who may never find romance. So what do you do? You engage in materialism, because objects don’t reject you and they respond to your wishes and desire. Realizing that those things were pretty much out of reach, you live a bare subsistance lifestyle, forgoing outings, expensive TV dinners, and instead buying a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, and living on that all week. That’s how I made my meager wages add up, a little at a time. If it wasn’t for material objects to lift my spirit and provide affirmation that life on earth wasn’t total hell, I think I would not be here at all today. What else could a person with no looks, who pulled Ds and Fs in school, do later in life? I’m sorry if I’m not honest enough to be a good citizen and fund your corrupt government so it can grow even bigger, more corrupt and more invasive, until one day you’re either all forced to have a bloody revolution, or suffer in a dictatorship that controls every aspect of your children’s lives. I am who I am. I am not that strong that I can work fifty years in a dead end job without losing my mind. I guess I have too much belief in “a better lifestyle” than that, and sqeaking by in a rented slum apartment all my life until I die just was a scenario that was too sickening to bear. If I knew how to implement changing my psychology, I would have done it a long time ago. I think I’m just a dunce—I am very ignorant or unable to grasp certain concepts. Reading Ayn Rand has probably increased my IQ from that of a near-retarded person to almost average, but it hasn’t helped in every area. My communication skills are about my only asset. But that only gives people the impression that I’m smart. My experience has taught me that nothing could be farther from the truth. Brant: Very funny. Victor: Yes, Life IS too short. I need another 20-30 years to start over and achieve success. Life is too short to spend it fighting the government that is supposed to serve us, not to be our slave driver. Life is too short to spend it in economic slavery. You work, and the government takes most of it away in taxes. What a waste. The more you earn, the more they tax. Yes, I’ve had those moments of despair, where I think about the ultimate “big picture”—that one day the sun will turn supernova and burn the earth to a cinder and all human life will end long before that. I often wonder why bother living, if I’m going to die? But I also realize that thinking about such things is depressing, so I try to put that aside and enjoy the moment. Several years ago, I had a small ephiphany about happiness and the measure thereof: it’s a ratio of expectations to reality. The person with low expectations, who achieves more than he thought he would in life, is happy. The flip side of the coin is the person who has high hope, grand expectations, but is stymied at every turn and step of the way, and who fails to attain even the first small steps toward his goal, again and again. That is misery. I would very much like to overcome the obstacles that are stopping me from achieving wealth and the lifestyle I desire. But there’s only so many times I can get my hopes up. Reality is hitting me with strong signs every day, telling me that my days are numbered. The arthritis that makes it very painful for me to get out of bed, the cataracts that cloud my sight, the diminished mental capacity of my mental faculties, the pains in my chest whenever I exert myself—not to complain about my decrepit body, but to point out that my body is telling me to rest, but my desires are telling me that I have not yet achieved the things in life that I want. Since Objectivism has pretty much cleared my mind of any belief in an afterlife, I am all the more angry that I am being robbed of THIS life. My quest for happiness and its direction? Well, I did solve one problem, but going outside the country to find a dame that didn’t care what I looked like, or that I didn’t have much money. Even my meager existence looks good to a dame from a third world country. And we have a relationship based on love, not lust for the other person’s money or possessions. She is very patient with me and I sometimes think she is a gardian angel, but I know that’s silly from an O’ist viewpoint. But while I was busy repairing my home and trying to finally get my life on track in the 11th hour, the town was busy becoming greedy and devising ways to rape the homeowners of their life’s savings. Miss Rand’s quote is very nice, but it underscores the unpleasant reality of my own childhood. Mine was one of lack. Of being picked on and ganged up on by hoards of bullies. Of having no toys for Christmas. Of having little or no toys, period. Of parents that were ill and always fighting over money problems. They loved me, but I didn’t have ideal conditions either. In a way, it gave me appreciation for money, but as my friend tells me, it also made me covet money and fail to believe that I could achieve large amounts of money. It puts a cap on my belief in wealth-creating ability. That’s a nice quote by Mary Wollstonecraft. Purpose DOES quiet the mind. I have noted that when I have been working on my roof repairs for several weeks, and progress is being made, I do feel better than during the winter when I can’t work on it. My best piece of mind would be me, making a steady income from videography and sound recording. And I will doggedly try to gain that status, until I draw my last breath.
  8. A good business owner treats everyone as a "win-win" prospect. Traditional employment however, exists to pocket as much money as possible, while paying the employees as little as possible. I enjoyed not a single advancement or promotion throughout my employed years. I felt used, abused and taken advantage of.
  9. Once again, I’m responding individually in one post. Victor: I feel lots of guilt for taking shortcuts when I was younger. Looking back, I realize that I made a lot of evasive choices. I made those choices because, at the time, the one thing that I wanted, a certain type of romantic fulfillment, was beyond my reach. Forty years of constant rejection by the opposite sex does strange things to a man. I developed odd ways of coping with that. I became deeply materialistic. I’m afraid that’s not going away any time soon. This IS the Rants subforum, and, I guess you could say I’m venting my frustration. Maybe it’s a safety valve that prevents me from doing other less healthy actions in an irrational moment. It’s not intended to be a pity party. I’m not looking for your symphathy. I may be writing this tome to myself, as a way of crystalizing the problem. I’ve worked hard all my life—for others, making others rich, while I got used up like a dirty rag and tossed away. The problem is that I worked hard and not smart. I didn’t figure out how to leverage my position to a better position. I just languished and moved from one job to another. I think the reason why is because I have no natural talent that fits with any commercially-viable area. They say that a lot of success is luck—being in the right place, knowing the right people. I just never knew many people, much less people that could connect me to the right people. Co-workers hated me, as I was labeled the complainer. It was too hot, or someone was smoking and the smoke was bothering me, or someone was playing a radio and it was distracting me so I couldn’t get my work done. I had numerous problems getting along with people, and these people were mostly just the dregs of society, and in no position to connect me to any lucrative opportunities. Since I lacked the genius to make my own path out of that mess, that’s where I languished for half a century. I don’t even know how to formulate a question about any specific problem because I am overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of problems. It ranges from how do I knock down a third floor structure, when my legs aren’t steady enough to climb a ladder, to how to get good paying clients and find projects to do in videography, which is the one thing I am actually pretty good at. And hundreds of problems in between. So I just do a brain dump like this when I’m feeling particularly low. It got me practically banned from OOL last month. Sorry to burden you all with this. Yes, and you’re a good artist as you have real, tangible TALENT. I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. I have no imagination. My mind is about as dead as a vegetable. All those years working in manual labor jobs, bored so severely that my mind went into a vegetative state. That’s how I got through long 12 hour shifts, packing tampons in boxes, sweating and choking on paper dust. I became a zombie, mentally, just to keep up the job every day. I don’t know if talent is in-born, natural, or if someone or the environment you grew up in tought it to you, or made conditions favorable to developing that talent, but you have a gift and you’re fortunate. My gifts seem to be in areas that are either highly illegal, or just have no commercial value. I don’t see you as the enemy. I appreciate your frank, honest response. I would rather hear the truth, than the feel good cooings of a Liberal philanthropist. Brant: To live, one must want to live. To want to live, one must have a dream and a reasonable chance of achieving it. I stuck it out for many decades, working “shit” jobs. I saved what I could, but the wage was small, and the car broke down often, and most of my income went to transportation costs and paying off credit cards used to pay for emergency breakdown repairs. I was stuck in a cycle of struggling between trying to afford a working car and getting to work on time. When I did manage to get on top of the transportation problems, I focused on small, tangible dreams. Without the girlfriends, I spent my limited money instead on stereo equipment. But now, I want to do the impossible, which is to be successful in my own business. If I believed in the afterlife, I wouldn’t care how bad my life on earth was, since I’d have my sites set on serving God and going to Heaven. But we all know that what’s here now is IT. So I know my time is about up, I’m living on borrowed time, and I’m intending to enjoy what little I have left. I feel no guilt in that. Michael: I’ll check out the Ringer site. I read his books in the 80s, and recall “Looking Out for #1”. I still have that and one other book he wrote after that, in my library. Laure: The reality is, no ephiphany (financially) is happening, and although I keep hoping that I’ll find the work I love someday, I don’t believe there is any real financial relief coming. The fact is, working at Radio Shack or Wal-Mart isn’t bringing in enough to pay the bills. I need more income. And I tire easily now and need to rest frequently. I’m afraid I’m too set in my ways, and too selfish to let go of the “toys” as you call them (I consider them the objects that have kept my sanity all these years)—I’m just too set in my ways. I don’t want anything to do with social workers. They are child kidnappers and family destroyers, at the behest of the state. I would appreciate it if you don’t ever bring that up again. The problem with my little parcel of swampland is quite unique. They way the town valuates property is by square footage, and prevailing property values in the area. Since my neighbor built a mansion to the east of me, and to the west of me is a lake, with a 19-hole golf course and country club, and most of the houses going up around this immediate area are largely valued in the $600,000-$1M range, this “rush” has inflated my property value on paper, as far as the assessor is concerned. We bought this property for $1850, 42 years ago. I still think of it as being worth only a few thousand. The land is unimproved. The house, well, I’ve been told it’s the land value, minus demolition costs. Another person familiar with environmental laws, who’s aware of the situation that dad left behind as his legacy, stated that if I ever do manage to sell this hunk of land, that it would be in my best interest to move to a foreign country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US. And another reason why I won’t give up this place, is because I have so much blood, sweat and tears, so much raw physical effort into rebuilding the infrastructure, and I’ve ruined my health doing this, that I’m not going to throw away my investment. I’m not going to throw that away to go live in some section 8 housing with drug gangs roaming the neighborhood and shootings going on all night. The town is stubborn. And last December, they sold the tax liens to a corporation. I’ve refused their agent entry to the property, stating that I granted them no sale of this land and that they had bought into a government-backed fraud. That was followed by more visits from the police and quite a few reasoned, calm discussions with an investigator. I think they’re playing it very cool. Maybe they’re waiting for me to die, before they swoop in. Maybe they’ll storm the place some early morning and kill us all. But I’m too old to give in. And something tells me that they’re just not sure what to do about me. They’ve never encountered an “embattled farmer” before. Maybe my talks with them have enlightened them to some degree about morality of property ownership. But I no longer care about dying. This is America, damnit. The land of the free. And this is a war between Communists and free poeople. I’m not a tax cheat. I’m a revolutionary, fighting for American ideals, which we all have mostly forgotten. If it looks like there’s going to be a war, I’ll send the loved ones to live in California with their relatives and face my lion alone. Judith: Right you are. I may be waiting for the right combination of words to reach me, past my mental blockade. Or I may simply have no mental faculty left that’s efficacious enough to deal rationally with life. I’ve been told I belong in a rest home. Numerous times, I’ve been told to let go. But this house is who I am. It’s my identity, or rather, it protects all that is my identity. I don’t believe that integrity is at odds with social skills here. I still retain much of the “gunshy” behavior left behind from a childhood of trauma and abuse from peers. As I grew up, I became xenophobic. I’ve not been able to correct that probably incorrect core premise that “people are bad, people will hurt me if I look at them or talk to them”. What I have is a phobia of strangers. I know that in business, this can’t work this way. You’re right though. I used to say that as long as there’s life, there’s hope. If, by some unexpected miracle, I should be alive 10 years from now, I could be further ahead if I take certain steps now. It is a matter of faith. I have to believe that I’m going to buck statistics and live longer than my relatives did. My wife told me recently that I’m going to live to 120. I wish I could believe her, because I would suddenly feel that I have a second chance to have enough time to start over and build a new career. But in reality, people to want to pay the elderly a lot of money. We’re seen as passé, over the hill, useless people, who should be warehoused until we die. I have found that two interesting things happen as you age: you become wiser in a broad sense of knowledge, but you become stupider in practical areas. Kids are really smart today. They’re quick thinkers, quick to see relationships and identify problems and their solutions. I have difficulty with these practical situations and my mind is in a fog. I have frustrating problems with inability to remember things. That’s been going on for several years. I had a stroke in 1984 and another one in 1992. I lost some of my vision after that, but also my ability to remember short-term things. I spend 50 minutes out of each hour, trying to remember what it was I was planning to do. Then when I finally figure it out, I spend 8 minutes trying to implement a means of accomplishing that task and finally two minutes actually doing the task. It’s maddeningly frustrating. Thirty years ago, I had a pretty sharp mind, in terms of arguing philosphical matters. I was always arguing with people, because they were Socialists and I was always angered to hear them spout and spread their evil ideas. I spoke up, often in the workplace, and great arguments ensued. But I was dealing with closed-minded people. But I could recall enough of what I’d read to remember the arguments and responses to their arguments. Today, I read a chapter from a book, and an hour later I can’t remember what I read. All I know is that on the way out of this world, I’ll be singing Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”.
  10. Since so many of you have replied, I’ll try to respond in one concise reply. First, Brant: Yes, I agree, and gainful employment is what I have been seeking ever since retirement. But also emotionally-fulfilling employment, which has eluded me thus far. I admit, I’m not a good menial tasks person. I tire easily of such activity. And I don’t last long at most of these jobs, when younger, more energetic people are clamoring for the same job. These jobs are for kids in high school, not persons who have worked a whole lifetime and nothing to show for it. Yes, the house is weighing me down, but at least it’s MY house (at least I can believe that morally, even if not true under statute law). It sure beats paying a mortgage or rent, neither of which I could afford. Negative thinking arose out of a string of steady failures. Believe it or not, I once believed success and wealth were possible. But it’s been so many decades now, and since my parents lost their modest lifestyle in the Great Depression, I have no history of what it feels like not to be in poverty. Yes, I need to get on top of the taxes. I need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rolling. But I can’t even get a home repair loan. I am out of ideas (probably because I have almost no mental faculty working in this area) on how to rise above what seems insurmountable. Laure: It is obvious that I need to stop racking up taxes. A big income would solve that problem. No matter where I go, there is always the income problem. I could not afford rent for an apartment. The only reason I’m still living here is because there’s no mortgage. Since the town is slower to act on tax-delinquent property, I have been able to keep a roof over my head. And the police have visited me several times and I’ve made it clear that if they move on me, they’re going to have another Waco. I told them that if they want to steal my worthless little piece of property (worthless to any middle class buyer, that is), then they’re going to have to commit murder to steal it from me. We’re in a sort of unofficial standoff. I am happier than I would be in an apartment. I get very depressed and angry when I don’t have my outlet. It has been a substitute for love and romance for over 30 years, since I was chronically single and unable to find a date within US borders. I’ve grown so dependant on that crutch that even now, I can’t give it up. I would end my life if it were suddenly gone. What you’re suggesting involves the ‘chicken and egg syndrom’, because you have to have money and good credit to get an apartment and you have to have a LOT of money to get one in a city where there is quality work (assuming I wanted to throw away all that I am hanging onto now). And then I would be stressed out trying to come up with rent payments every month, and worried about finding/keeping a job. My past employment history is very checkered. I had problems with tardiness, low productivity, lack of interest in the work. And I won’t live in a city where I can’t carry a sidearm for personal protection. My closest friend keeps telling me to walk away from it, but I can’t. I’d be sleeping in my car if it weren’t for this house. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I can’t start from scratch again and live long enough to make it to a level of self-sufficiency and comfort. Lately, I’m having difficulty remembering things. I fear I may have the dreaded “A” disease. I could drop dead tomorrow. I could surprise everyone and live another 10-15 years or more. But for me, I’m done struggling. This is it. This is MY home and I’m staying put. Money buys safety from evil men (tax men), money buys food that lets you live healthy, money buys tangible goods that affirm that life is good and worth living. Without it, life is hell. No wonder poor people use drugs to escape reality. If it weren’t for the little utopia I’ve struggled 30 long years to create for myself in the basement, I too would be using drugs, or worse. David: Let me be clear about this: I consider myself a “student of Objectivism” not an Objectivist. I reserve the latter title for Miss Rand, Dr. Branden, Dr. Peikoff, and perhaps a few others who are the “godheads” of this philosophy. I’m not perfect. I only have an understanding of Objectivist politics, which made me see the gross injustices of taxation, the draft, eminent domain, etc. It’s partly because of Objectivism that I stopped filing income taxes in the 1970s. That was a big mistake, because they ruined me financially, and I’ve never quite recovered from it, but have developed an even deeper hatred of the federal government to the point where I wish them all to be put to death by boiling in oil. Yes, I made a lot of excuses in life. I lacked the patience of most people. I was taught that it was possible to attain wealth and riches. But when my meager employment failed to advance me and when I realized that my dream was impossibly far, I began to take shortcuts. I also spent my earlier years in great heartache. To lust after one woman after another, and be rejected by all, decade after decade, well, it also contributed to killing my zest for living. All I wanted back then was to be loved, to get married and have a normal life like everyone else. But then when too much time had passed, I became materialistic, both to make up for the lack of romance, and to make up for not having things when I was a kid growing up in the shadow of the Depression. I was always envious of the other kids, whose parent gave them allowances and enough money on field trips to buy things. Me, I had nothing as a kid. I played with rocks in the quarry pit next to my parents’ first home. I built model houses out of cardboard. I had no toys to play with as a kid. I had to make them myself. I guess over the years, I had a tendency to overcompensate. I never had friends. I wasn’t “hip” or popular. I was considered the homely ugly kid that no one wanted to play with. Later on, I found some social acceptance after building my first sound system. Then I met an audiophile years later who would blow me away (literally) with his sound system. And I was ‘poisoned’ by that experience. Like a drug addiction, I kepted building and adding more. I kept wanting more, and kept working and saving my pennies with the sole goal of getting more sound. It became my fixation—my psychosomatic obsession in life. Despite that, I have always lived very modestly. While the other kids bought Corvettes and wasted hundreds a week at bars and nightclubs, I lived on boiled noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wouldn’t buy clothes but once every 8-10 years. Often shopping in thrift stores for essential items. In fact, before I got married, my living expenses, not including taxes and auto insurance, were under $1850 a year. I never ate out at restaurants. I saved my money, all of it, toward the more tangible goals I had of building that sound system. I’ve lived well within modest means. The problem was that my income was so small that even modest living was unaffordable. Since the 1960s, I had wanted to be a typesetter—I dreamed of laying out newpaper pages and so on. I also dreamed of shooting movies on super 8 film. But I could never afford the equipment back then. But I found it easy to acquire people’s unwanted old radios from their cellars, and I collected a lot of electronic parts, and found I had a knack for electronics. I got some entry level jobs assembling electronics, but soon realized it wasn’t going to get me to my goal, and soon lost interest in that kind of work. In the 1970s, I realized I could build a radio transmitter. Then I launched an unlicensed radio station and enjoyed that activity because it was a multimedia-related presentation activity. I enjoyed presenting news and music to an unknown audience. But my audiophile interests caused me to see deficiencies in the equipment, so I refined and improved the designs, until one day in 1979, I realized they were comparable to commercial broadcast equipment in terms of quality. I was still working in a modem factory, having never advanced past a bench technician in all these decades, and I saw potential money in a possible product I might have in my radio gear designs. So I approached many people, and they referred me to other people, some of which were inventors. One gentlemen told me a cautionary story about an associate who had invented a type of propeller for aircraft, and how he’d went to one of the major airframe manufacturers with it, and how they stole it from him, boldly, right in front of him as he watched them talk about modifying the design. I finally contacted some patent attornies in 1982. I had, what I felt, was the beginnings of a really good invention for broadcasting. One that would bring back the dynamics and reduce the noise, by using control subcarriers to drive an expander amplifier in the receiver. I built a working prototype and wrote up fairly extensive technical documentation. I took that to a group of attornies who specialized in patent law and bringing products to market. They notarized and put on file copies of my paperwork, so there would be a record of it. But they said they could not help me, because of the extent of federal regulation. Although they felt my invention had some merit, they stated that by the time any federal agency would approve the concept for commercial use, they would not be around to receive their cut of the profits. So they would not assist me further. I next went to a slew of investors, writing everyone I could think of, or had read about in the paper—the wealthiest men in the world. Not even Rupert Murdoch saw any value in my invention. So no capital was obtained. The mid 1980s brought about the personal computer revolution. At first, I saw the word processing potential and the old 1960s bug hit me again about typesetting, this time on a PC. By the late 1980s, I had finally scraped together enough money to buy a closeout on a 8088-based PC and amber screen monitor. And I saved my money and eventually bought a copy of WordPerfect 4.2. And I enjoyed typing letters and printing them out on a daisy wheel printer. But things didn’t really get exciting until the first affordable laser printer became a part of my set of tools. Yes, now they were tools. With the laser printer, I could layout brochures and newsletters. So after mastering the software, I set out to get work. I went door to door to every business downtown in the two closest towns. I did land some work. Business cards and billheads for one furniture store owned by a woman, and some subcontracting work from another direct mail processing business in town, laying out newspaper circulars for a supermarket. The problem was that my costs of paying the printer pretty much equaled what I could charge for the typesetting. I worked for pennies an hour. The marketing firm eventually tried to stiff me when their own client didn’t pay them. I instituted my guerilla collections tactics, calling her boss, then the owner of the business, then her clients, and finally sueing her in small claims court, but then having to go so far as to call the Sheriff’s office and inquire as to what the remedies were once a judgement is defaulted on, and I relayed those to the firm in a FAX. The next day they paid off their debt with me, about $67. They had no integrity anyway. Oddly, they are still in business today, 20 years later. I’d had many ups and downs. The 1990s came, and with it, pressure to move into color prepress, as laser printers were becoming ubiquitous, and color was where the real graphic designers were making money. Through a mutual connection in the local computer club, I found a brochure catalog job for a small sports merchandising company out of Boca Raton, Florida. I pulled it off, miraculously, in CorelDraw 3, under Windows 3.0 and got the film separations right the first time. That was to be a lucky exception. The following year, a mutual friend of mine, and Japanese translator, got me in touch with a “leading” importer of anime in New York. On ‘spec’, I did up a sell sheet design for a new title they were going to release, a film about WWII Japan and two children who struggled and died in the aftermath. I saw the film, and had lots of inspiration to write the ad copy and design a different and unconvetional sell sheet. Up to now, all sell sheets were portrait orientation. Mine was laid out like a widescreen movie scene, with a scene from the movie full bleed across the page in a phantom halftone and the text laid on top of the image. Their production coordinator said it wouldn’t fly, but when we sat down in a meeting in their NYC office, the CEO liked it. And the production coordinator flipfloped and reversed his former opinion and went along with the CEO (brown-noser). I got that gig, and I worked myself hard and long to get it right. It was torturous, as I had just moved to Ventura Publisher for Windows, the first Windows version of this venerable DOS publishing software, and it had major problems handling graphics. Screen redraws literally took minutes. One can imagine how torturously slow the layout process went. But the problems carried into the film. I had many fights with the prepress service bureaus, because I’d output a file and the film would come out with missing elements, or the entire image rotated 90º, or some other unexpected errata. And it was a few hundred dollars and another day every time the film had to be redone. Eventually, QuarkXpress came to Windows and things got better. But at the same time, a new production coordinator took over, a Jewish woman who clearly did not want to get along with me. All she could do was find fault with my obviously superior work. While the other designers turned in work that contained images that were muddy and not color-corrected, and out of focus, I turned in layouts that had vivid images that were as sharp as possible for the source material they gave me to scan. But the new coordinator nit picked on really bizarre things that she should have known were the attributes of photo lithography. Eventually, she stopped sending me work, and ultimately, the CEO figured out that, instead of paying outside designers $1350 per sheet plus VHS sleeve design, he could hire $5/hr college students to work on Mac computers in-house. That was another strike against me: John hated PCs and only considered Macs to be real graphics computers. By the mid 1990s, that opportunity was dead. But a friend found a company looking for a PhotoShop designer to design faceplates for coupon dispensing kiosks. I interviewed and got the job. I thought I had finally come upon my lucky “big break”. The paychecks started rolling in and I was earning more in a single day, than I did at my old job in a full week. The job involved laying out color ads in PhotoShop, based on sketches on tissue paper that one of their staff designers made from interviews with clients. This worked well. Each morning, I’d drive the hour to Westport and pick up 8 or 10 jobs, drive back to the studio and crank out the work on my souped up 486-50 with a beta test graphics accelerator card, which gave me an almost unfair production advantage. Their staff of 3-4 designers cranked out about 12-15 faceplates a day. I, working alone, cranked out 10 a day and my quality was almost flawless. The assignments kept flowing and I began to believe that it would be possible for me to one day buy my own home. But then the paychecks started being late. Then not at all. Repeated requests to find out what the delays were were met by stonewalling. The typical excuses. “The Comptroller is in Rhode Island and can’t be reached,” and other excuses. One day, while waiting in their lobby to see the person that hired me about the day’s assignments, I noticed that a sheriff walked in and went to see the CEO. I had learned that he was getting divorced, so I shrugged it off as having no bearing on the company’s ability to pay. I had racked up $6400 in unpaid invoices by now, and was becoming concerned as 3 weeks had now passed without a check. Then they dropped the bombshell. I got a notice from some court, that they were filing for bankruptcy. This was the one time my guerilla tactics failed me. I knew that it was a Delaware corporation, so I called up the State of Delaware and told them I was calling from the state of Connecticut—apparently they thought I was literally calling from a state government, and they gave me the CEO’s home address and contact info without any further questions. Serendipity, I suppose, due to confusion in communication. So I wrote a demand letter to the CEO. He eventually called me. We had a 45 minute discussion. He told me he had $800 left to his name, as the divorce took everything. He explained that he tried to get a $500,000 bridge loan to keep the company afloat, but when K-mart pulled out, the whole house of cards toppled. Their clients? Mainly Bradlee’s and K-Mart. We all know what happened to them. My anger turned to compassion, and I wished him the best and ended my collection attempt. See? I’m not a monster after all. By the later half of the 1990s, I started up my unlicensed radio station again, which had been dormant for about 20 years. It started to become somewhat popular. Using AOL chat, people would IM me asking if this was a radio station, to which I’d reply affirmatively and tell them where on the dial to tune in. I had about a dozen known listeners who would e-mail the station. It was an all Japanese anime format. But I knew that exercising my 1st amendment rights and using Ayn Rand’s principle of taking a portion of unused, valueless spectrum and generating a useful RF signal gave me the moral right to use that spectrum. Broadcasting went on for several years. Eventually, a met another broadcaster who worked for the local radio station on AOL. We struck up a fast friendship (we both had clandestined radio interests in our spare time) and he introduced me to a radio station broker, who owns several stations in New England. He had been impressed with the quality of my audio, as heard on his FM receiver, 30 miles away, and one day a field trip was arranged for them to come to my place and see the operation. That led to my first engineering job in broadcasting. A legendary AM station in Mount Kisco was in need of an engineer, and this broker, using his reputation, recommended me. No one asked if I had even had a license. They just hired me as a contract engineer. This radio engineering business was the closest thing to lucrative, since the last graphic design client went bankrupt. I managed about $20/hr and commuted all over the place. A few more stations were added to my client list, thanks to this Liberal philanthropic gentleman, who also became a good friend to me. For a few years, I had fairly steady work. At least 1-2 days a week, and sometimes a studio construction project would happen and I’d be involved, in which case I’d work for 5 days a week. I was always glad when those projects finished, because the daily commute was wearing me down and I was so fatigued that getting up in the morning and staying awake on the long commutes was a difficult challenge. I can only thank the genius who invented the buzz lanes along the shoulders of our highways—I have dozed and drifted into the shoulder, only to have the loud BUZZ wake me up in time to avoid hitting the gardrail. But after 2002, radio work declined. The use of PCs and minidisc players replaced cart machines and turntables and with it, the regular maintenance. I was also growing tired of this kind of work. But it was a good 8 years, about the longest I have stuck with any job. Today, I realize that I need to be in a business where I’m in control, where I don’t have a daily commute, and where I’m doing activities that are refreshing, multimedia-related and utilize my full skillset in that field. For too long, I have worked in limited, narrow capacities, and boredom was the result. When I shot that orchestral concert, I was reminded in spades that I was alive and actually enjoying my work. I had not experienced that, ever, except maybe a little bit with the PhotoShop faceplate project, but it was probably the big income that caused me to think that I liked the grueling work and rush-rush schedule demands. Shooting the orchestra was, for me, almost relaxing and very therapeutic. I have been trying to break into video in stages, since 1987, because in parallel with my DTP activities, I had invested in, with money from a relative, a graphics workstation, based on a the first truecolor 24-bit graphics card from AT&T Labs. I had also purchased one, and then a year later, another used color video camera. Then a VTR, and a live effects switcher. I was into linear editing, and it was tedious, but I saw the potential, and knew that somehow, I had to get into this business. But the quality of the equipment wasn’t good enough then. Today is a different story. My finished work on DVD looks better than what comes in over digital TV broadcasts. It rivals many DVDs mastered from film. And it’s easy to compare things on a four foot screen, because every flaw sticks out with embarassing clarity. What’s crazy is that I now have the HDTV bug. I see the potential in HDV, and I have a silly ambition to somehow raise $60,000 so I can buy three HDV cameras, a new editing PC, and professional DVD authoring software for Blu-ray and HD DVD disc production. Yup, it’s that insatiable drive to own and control impressive new technology. I keep having this crazy belief that if I can produce the best looking and sounding product out there, that I should be able to get the work. But getting a job in a company that does this.. well the problem is that I don’t live in Los Angeles or Seattle. There is very little corporate anything around here. In fact, corporations have been fleeing Connecticut since 1989, due to bad government regulatory and tax policies. The only industry that is currently booming is the home construction industry. New houses are going up in alarming numbers. And yet, Connecticut bled 13,000 residents last year. Makes me wonder how long before housing construction goes bust, with no one moving into Connecticut… Phil: What can I say? I’ve no shame, and it would do me no good to be dishonest, so why not tell the whole story as it is, and risk the possibility that someone will come forth with a thought that resonates with me so strongly that it changes my psychology? I didn’t really work out of anything. After I lost my job and was forced into early retirement, due to a nervous breakdown/suicide attempt, I spent some time hospitalized and under therapy, which was ineffective. I was out of work so long that I became ineligable for SS benefits. And when my father passed on, I inherited the house, a real mess. He hadn’t been able to do much with it after mom died ten years earlier. I never would have been able to afford this place on my own. Ironically, I helped him to build it. And now I am completely rebuilding it, from the foundation up, as the foundation is the only thing that doesn’t need demolishing. But I moved from sleeping in my car to inhabiting this house again (yes, I was one of those losers who lived at home on and off ‘til I was 50) and finally having some creature comforts. And now I am effectively earning the right to this house, by virtue of having torn sections of it down, and completely rebuilding it, room by room. Too bad I’m not earning $$$. But the place is built on a wetland and there are things he buried in the back yard that I won’t discuss publicly, but which would come to light in any transfer of ownership with ensueing inspections and testing. I’ve looked into selling, a few years back when the taxes quadrupled, but was told that only a builder might consider it, but then some builders told me they would not gamble on this lot because Wetlands could deny them a building permit due to the fact that a pond and stream runs within 150’ of the farthest corner of this property, thus making 100% of the land unusable for building homes. So I gave up on any hope of selling and coming out with enough money to buy somewhere else. So I’m still here. There is SOME market for wedding videographers, but it is very competitive. The two wedding gigs I got were because of friends of my wife, and the first gig came after four years of me volunteering to tape Filipino cultural dances that my wife often participated in. We’d put the result on DVD-R media and do up a professional looking package and sell them for $12 each at the next meeting of the association. We’d sell 10-20 copies of Spring Dance every year, and when it came time for one of the families to wed their daughter, my wife knew them well enough to get an interview with them. I was able to sell them on my services, amazingly, and I had never shot a wedding before. They had seen my professional looking dance videos for four years though. When I got the gig, I scoured the internet, and studied sample videos by all the best wedding videographers—the guys that charged $10,000 per wedding shoot, and I distilled the basic ideas and implemented them into my own shooting and production. The end result turned out wonderful. The client was happy, I got paid, and then two years later, another friend of my wife’s is getting married and we used the first wedding DVD as an example of our work and they liked it and hired us for an upcoming July wedding. But we only know so many people. Weddings are a grueling business. It’s nerve-wracking because you have one chance to get it right, and you can’t be late, delayed, in a traffic accident or sick on the day of the wedding or you could be sued by the client. But I have been able to handle the first wedding, and I am confident I’ll do even better on the next one. But I’d love to shoot TV commercials. I think it would be fun to shoot a movie as well. I’ve been trying to do that for four years, but none of my friends want to be involved. So I have no actors or volunteers. I have some half-finished fiction novels that I’ve been working on since 1985, and one story that could potentially be a good film, but with no one showing interest in doing an indie film, and too many domestic urgencies to take care of, I have had to focus on videography that generates income. That’s why I applied at Crews-Control, because I saw a system in place whereby someone else lines up the gigs and I would be a subcontractor. But their requirements are steep and really only practical for people who have been able to study this in college and apprentice in a corporate environment and eventually get a job doing that. That would take a minimum of 15 years, assuming I had the fifty grand for tuition to get into school. I’d probably spend ten years saving up the money, then, 25 years later, I’d be most like long dead and forgotten. This is a career path for young people who are going to be alive and healthy for at least 20 more years. My personality has been a problem ever since childhood. Being a social outcast only made things worse as I got older. I’m frankly surprised I didn’t turn into an axe murderer, given the way things have gone over the years. My social interaction problem is one of awkwardness with meeting people in-person. They’re probably thinking “who’s this psycho, anyway?” I only do okay when a mutual friend introduces me. On my own, I have no credibility. I may not have several years to start at the bottom of this ladder. I should have started forty years ago, but I was too focused on my romantic failures back then. Now that my libido has all but vanished (the other reason my wife calls me “useless”), I really don’t care about that aspect of life today, but do have a fetish for high tech gear. And OWNING high tech gear. It’s never fun when the gear belongs to someone else. But here I stand today, realizing that I fucked up, absolutely and totally and, like playing a real lousy chess game, I stand, in check, with the enemy queen about to deal the final checkmate to me. I’m just a feeble old man now, and, despite my doggedness toward my impossible dream, reality tells me I’m so far past my prime that I really have no right to expect to do much more with my life. I’ve had my chance, and I blew it. My curse, in my younger years, was having the libido of a playboy, but not the social skills of one. Thanks for the good wishes. James: Lots of people hit a ‘rough patch’ in life. That’s normal. My whole life has been a ‘rough patch’ though. That’s where things depart from normal. I came from a poor family. We were forced out of one house by a sewer assessment my father could not afford. It was almost a year’s pay, and it was mandatory. We were escorted out of that house by a sheriff and some police, a whole bunch of them. That started me off early in life, with a healthy dislike for government. As I was starting to say, I was born in a poor family. We had no money for college. I had so many problems in school that I was expelled. I had learning difficulties, and extreme social problems. And I had to get a job when I turned 18 and from that day forward, I worked whatever job I could find. I’d worked many jobs, few of which I could stand for more than five years at one duty. I stagnated everywhere I worked. No promotions, no raises. I was desparately unhappy, physically uncomfortable (it was always too hot in these places) and the work was unfulfilling as it was completely unrelated to my interests. Like the song goes, “a rich man goes to college, and a poor man goes to work,” indeed. So no opportunity for me. With my basket case social skills, I was barely able to get a regular job, much less run a business. But that didn’t stop me from trying. Yes, like you, I had a lot of periods where I felt sick. I developed ulcers and a nervous condition that caused chronic diarhrea that went on for more than 20 years. It didn’t stop until I left the corporate rat race. My health immediately improved after I resigned from my last employment situation. The nervous condition abated and I was able to eat normally for the first time I can remember since childhood. I don’t want to ever give up that freedom; that stress was a living hell. If I didn’t have the property tax issue hanging over my head, I’d say I was doing pretty well. I don’t want a job. I want a fulfilling business venture. I’ve had my fill of working for others at starvation wages and no appreciation for my efforts. This whole ‘rant’ was triggered by a sinking feeling that I get whenever a prospect rejects me because I am not in their league. I guess it’s a culmination of many things all pressing me at once. My situation seems to recall a poem by Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
  11. What does it mean to be truly talentless? What does it mean to be so socially inept, that nearly every encounter with another human being results in the making of a new enemy, instead of a friend? What does it mean to be so uncreative as to not see any opportunity in failure? What does it mean when you read many books, but your fundamental approach to living remains unchanged? What does it mean to be a slow learner, to be always the last one to “get the joke”, to be unable to grasp mathematics, or how to diagram a sentence—despite years of receiving tutoring as an adult? What does it mean to be desparately unhappy with your “lot in life” as a manual laborer, or unskilled worker, since that is the only job you ever held because of your inability to get good grades in school? What does it mean to be born a “Vincent” but always try to cheat life and pretend to be a “Jerome” (referring to the movie Gattaca, in which successful positions in society depend on your genetics)? What does it mean to be a second-hander, because you’ve never had an original thought in your entire life, and always react to situations, rather than control them? What does it mean to read self-help books and realize that you are the person being described in those books as the person who cannot be successful? What does it mean when a person, so unsuccessful at anything of importance in modern society, is driven to cheat, steal and use deception to get a little of what he cannot get otherwise? To become a con artist, but a rather poor one? What does it mean to be such a failure, that even your past attempts at suicide were all failures? What does it mean to sink into deep depression when one’s best attempts to get honest work are rejected for not being “good enough” or not having enough experience in the realm of interest that the prospective hiring agency, or not having expensive enough equipment to meet some arbitrary standards of the hiring agency? What does it mean when one can’t earn enough money to pay the property taxes one’s own home? What does it mean to become homeless because no one would give you that first chance, or that opportunity to gain the experience decades ago that would give you the resume you needed today to get the gig you really wanted? What does it mean to be an old, slow learner, a dinosaur, cast aside by society, left to the Home of the Old and the Useless? What does it mean to wrest Heaven by force, to marry a foreign girl much younger than yourself, when no domestic girl would even date you for the past sixty years, but further, to bring a child into the world because you are so afraid of being the last link in your family lineage? What of that need to feel some vicarious sense of immortality through birthing a child, to carry on your bloodline? What does it mean when you can’t think your way out of a paper bag, much less the current mess you find yourself in now? When no cognitive activity has ever taken place in your brain for your entire lifetime? When you have not had an innovative or problem-solving idea in all your professional career, if you could call it that? What if your life is one, big, huge contradiction? You must earn money because you are being taxed. You need to eat. Your child needs to eat, needs toys, entertainment, social life, etc. But you, too, need tangible things that affirm that life is worth living, not a drudgery of economic slavery on multiple low-wage jobs just to keep the tax man from slaughtering you wholesale. You need to GAIN, to make PROGRESS, to ADVANCE. But what if all you can do is barely hang on? And all the while, you see the trend, that you will drown soon, because the debt tide is rising and your strength –your will to accomplish --is waning, due to a lifelong reinforcement of failure after failure. This is the blunt, frank and honest situation that I live with daily. It seems no matter how many books I read (currently reading “The Prime Movers” by Edwin Locke), I’m too set in my ways to grasp a way of changing in the concrete sense. I’m so concrete bound in fact that I think I’m as dumb as a brick. I can’t spot a trend, nor have a clue as to what to do about finding a market niche. I’m not happy bagging groceries at the local supermarket. I want and have always dreamed of a better life. A life of owning a big house, most any electronic gadget I can imagine, and being free to travel, pursue hobbies, write stories, play with high tech gadgets, etc. The reality is that in the 22 years since my retirement from the direct employment world, every attempt at a business venture has failed. In Locke’s book, he has a table of attributes, comparing the successful visionary to the concrete bound slug. As I read that table, I realized that I fit into every attribute on the right-hand column—the attributes of a slug, a non-producer. One who can’t see ahead and make rational predictions, who can’t see an opportunity in a setback, who can’t plan effectively or identify business reality accurately. I think that I may be so far from identifying reality that I am functionally and clinically insane. I live by my own rules. Unfortunately, doing so has had the side effect that I haven’t earned positive business gross income for the past three years. I suppose a rational person would happily stick it out at Wal-Mart every day, earning his minimum wage and paying his tax bill. But me, I want to enjoy the good life in my “golden years”, not face the reality that most seniors deal with by taking on jobs and shoving their pride and their dreams down some bottomless pit. I want to live the dream that I could never afford to live while I was still young and viable as a human being. When I do think about reality, I see the very real possibility that I will have a fatal heart attack while rebuilding this house, a project which has been going on for four years, and which I am about halfway through. Why in heck would I do the work myself anyway? I have no choice. Had I done nothing, the entire roof would have collapsed and we would have been forced to sleep in our car. Why not hire a contractor? Because of the few that even bothered to visit the site and estimate the job, I was told absurd figures of $170,000. So I do the work myself. But it doesn’t put money in my pocket, so it means that every day spent in this rebuilding emergency is a day I cannot earn money that can go toward the taxes. And it adds up really quick. In three years’ time, I’ve managed to rack up more in back taxes and interest and lien fees than I’ve earned in my entire lifetime. I remember when electricity cost a dollar or two a month, and gasolene was ten cents a gallon. Now I’m accumulating electric bills at a rate of $416/month and gasolene is $3.23 for regular now. But my income has only gone down. My last client relationship ended with a refusal to pay a contractual fee. I have since used my guerilla collection tactics on them and forced their owner, by blackmail, to pay off the contract, but that relationship is permanently destroyed. It was already destroyed when they chose to ignore me rather than honor their contract with me, so it’s no further loss anyway. But the ugliness of how it went, the methods I had to resort to in order to collect. I’m good at intimidating non-paying clients, but my methods are unfortunately, illegal, hence there is no practical business opportunity for me to make an honest living at collections either (not that I’d want to even start a business collecting for others). So what brought on this sour tirade? A culmination of things. The realization that I’m “worthless”. My wife even calls me that, verbatim. “Worthless.” Why? Because others in a position to hire me see no value in what I have to offer. People see no credibility in me, so my ability to sell them on anything is nil. That’s why I failed so utterly and completely at Primerica. And other businesses don’t trust a stranger. I’m trying to push really hard to break into the videography business. I’ve been trying to get into that business since 1987. So far, no corporation has given me a chance to prove my abilities, so I am still stuck with no portfolio and no resume. The “chicken and egg” syndrome. I learned recently that the only way to break into a field, such as movies, is to go to college. If you want to be a camera operator and work for a movie director, you need to go to film school and make friends with someone who is majoring in directing. Then, when you both graduate, if you played your cards well, you may have a good rapport with this director-major when he or she becomes a real movie director, and then you have a job. But that’s a very long path. In the 1980s, I was struggling to build a color prepress graphic design business. I wrote to every ad agency in the US, offering my services to design and layout advertizing. Every agency that responded (only 2% response rate) turned down my offer to work for them, stating that they have a full in-house art staff. Later, I approached ad agencies about producing TV commercials. Pretty much the same response—they don’t outsource because they have their own TV studios and produce everything themselves. Lately, several experiences I had have made it clear to me that my one area where I DO have some practical ability is in shooting, editing video, and authoring DVDs. At least in situations where I have full creative control. The problem was I’m the best-kept secret in my part of the world. No one knows I exist. Because I have no talent for winning friends and influencing people. My personality is, admittedly, that of a grouchy old man. I’m critical of people, thanks to Objectivism, and speak my mind without a soft elocution, or an ability to couch my words in cotton. So I wanted to push harder in the direction of video and sound, based on my ephiphany. Back in January, I read an article in Costco’s magazine that members get, and it featured an article on a small firm that hires contract videographers. “BINGO!” I thought. My problems with partnering up are solved by going to work for this firm. I wrote them in January, but they ignored my e-mail. My electronic receipt indicated that my mail had been deleted without being read. In reviewing my marketing efforts, I came across that e-mail again and so I resent it, with a foreword stating that I had sent this in January. I got a reply this time, but attached was a document of their requirements. It was impossible for all but the most well-established corporations to comply. They wanted 10 years of corporate experience, certain models of cameras that each cost more than a new BMW, solid references, and a demo reel of corporate shoots that won awards. None of which I have been able to manage in the preceding 20 years. Because no one would give me a foot in the door. How the heck are you supposed to acquire experience if no one will give you a contract? Forty years ago, people just said, “Be patient” and “do what you love and the money will come”. Today I sit here realizing that my hourglass is down to the last few grains of sand, and I still have no retirement fund, my wife literaly supports us, barely, on her meager subsistence wages, as I struggle to repair the house so it won’t fall down on top of us, and struggle with ways to make a living. I don’t want to die, leaving my wife and daughter with an astronomical tax debt. I don’t want to end up like Ed Brown, who is currently having a standoff, militia style, with the IRS and law enforcement. I think I want to be wealthy enough to have the things I want, and to be able to leave a comfortable lifestyle to my wife and daughter when I am gone. I don’t want to die like my father before me, with a debt larger than the sum total of all his lifetime earnings. I foolishly keep trying to find the right “gig”, so I can achieve psychological fulfillment as an entrepreneur, control over my own life, and efficacy from self-achievement. Decade after decade passes, and I look back and realize that I have not advanced by even one small increment. I must be mentally-retarded in order to be this inept at everything I do in the business world. In that sense it makes me a winner in terms of being the lowest of the losers… I am minisculy proud of one small achievement however: unlike my parents, I have not collected welfare.
  12. Frankly, this "global warming" is great. The warmer it is in winter, the less I depend on oil, which is rapidly becoming out of financial reach. So bring on the global warming. I want 70 degrees F in January. And February. And March...
  13. Thank you. It was inspired by a Spanish performance I saw on YouTube last year. I spent a whole week of evenings on it, tweaking the registrations, adding layers of MIDI controllers and patch changes to provide the wide range of tonal colors you hear in the finished production. Initially, I was trying to duplicate the Spanish performance, but about halfway through, I said to heck with that--I'm going to arrange it the way my mind's ear wanted to hear it--my vision of how it should sound. By the time I was done with it, I found myself actually ENJOYING the finished result. 'Glad you enjoyed it too.
  14. Having produced the organ soundtrack last week, loosely-based on the Lemare Transcription, I decided to put it on some of the video sites. I needed some visuals, so what better than to use images of the organ these samples were collected from. The sample set is sold as Post Organ Toolkit. I have tweaked and adjusted several of the samples for even more realistic performance. Played on the Kurzweil K2600RS, these sounds are incredible. Listen to the recording on a very high end set of loudspeakers, or a high end set of headphones and the experience is rich, sonorous and detailed. As so, we have this compilation of visuals, set to the music as I arranged and performed it: Camille Saint-saëns’ “Danse Macabre”: Enjoy!
  15. I fear for future generations of rational people, for the irrational populations are the ones multiplying at the fastest rate, and, yes, soon rational culture will be obliterated by sheer numbers. It was said on the radio last week, that the new Islamic goal is not the violent overthrow of America by terrorism, but the infiltration of its government by Islamic people, through the influx of large numbers of Islamic people. This is a war that will be won by attrition; American rationalists will be overtaken by Islamic fundamentalists. We see the trial balloons already, with inroads into our political system. Objectivists, more than any other group, need to multiply their numbers as fast as possible. While every one has a right to their own selfish interest, I see no harm in taking steps to ensure a ration world exists for our children.