Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Personal Discovery'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Product Groups

  • Widgets

Forums

  • Objectivist Living Corner Office
    • Purpose of Objectivist Living and Legal Stuff (please read)
    • Selective Index and Updates
    • Tech Support / IPB Help Desk
    • Links
    • Web Stuff and Other Tech Issues (not OL specific)
  • Objectivist Philosophy
    • About Objectivism
    • 1 - Metaphysics
    • 2 - Epistemology
    • 3 - Ethics
    • 4 - Politics
    • 5 - Aesthetics
  • Objectivist Living
    • Meet and Greet
    • Objectivist Living Room
    • Art Gallery
    • Articles
    • Creative Writing
    • Writing Techniques
    • Persuasion Techniques
    • Psychology
    • Parenting
    • Humor - OL LOLOLOLOL
    • The Library
    • Quotes
    • Romance Room
    • Movies and Entertainment
    • Music
    • News and Interesting Articles
    • Events and Happenings
    • Tips for Everyday Living
    • Inky's Room
    • The Kitchen
    • Science & Mathematics
    • Sports and Recreation
    • Stumping in the Backyard
  • Objectivist Living Den
    • The Objectivist Living Den
    • Offers from OL Members
    • The Culture of Reason Center Corner
    • The Objectivist Living Boutique
  • Corners of Insight
    • Roger Bissell Corner
    • Stephen Boydstun Corner
    • Barbara Branden Corner
    • Nathaniel Branden Corner
    • Robert Campbell Corner
    • Ed Hudgins Corner
    • David Kelley Corner
    • Chris Sciabarra Corner
    • George H. Smith Corner
    • Corners of Further Insight
    • TAS Corner
    • ARI Corner
  • Outer Limits

Calendars

  • Objectivist Living Community Calendar
  • Self-Esteem Every Day

Blogs

  • Kat's Blog
  • wanderlustig
  • Hussein El-Gohary's Blog
  • CLASSical Liberalism
  • Ted Keer' Blog
  • RaviKissoon's Blog
  • hbar24's Blog
  • brucemajors' Blog
  • Ross Barlow's Blog
  • James Heaps-Nelson's Blog
  • Matus1976's Blog
  • X
  • Tee-Jay's Blog
  • Jeff Kremer's Blog
  • Mark Weiss' Blog
  • Etisoppa's Blog
  • Friends and Foes
  • neale's Blog
  • Better Living Thru Blogging!
  • Chris Grieb's Blog
  • Gay TOC
  • Sandra Rice's Blog
  • novus-vir's Blog
  • Neil Parille's Blog
  • Jody Gomez's Blog
  • George Donnelly
  • plnchannel
  • F L Light's Blog
  • Donovan A's Blog
  • Julian's Writings
  • Aspberger's World
  • The Naturalist
  • Broader than Measurement Omission
  • The Melinda's Blog
  • Benevolist Ponderings
  • Shane's Blog
  • On Creative Writing (Chrys Jordan)
  • Think's Blog
  • Kate Herrick's Blog
  • Rich Engle's Blog
  • thelema's Blog
  • cyber bullying
  • Shane's Blog
  • x
  • Mary Lee Harsha's Blog
  • Mary Lee Harsha's Blog
  • George H. Smith's Blog
  • Jim Henderson's Blog
  • Mike Hansen's Blog
  • Bruce's Blogations
  • Prometheus Fire
  • equality72521's Blog
  • Sum Ergo Cogitabo's Blog
  • Robert Bumbalough's Blog
  • Troll reads Atlas
  • dustt's Blog
  • dustt's Blog
  • Closed
  • Tim Hopkins' Blog
  • Objectivism 401
  • PDS' Blog
  • PDS' Blog
  • Rich Engle's Beyond Even Bat Country
  • Negative Meat Popsicle's Blog
  • politics and education
  • J.S. McGowan's Blog
  • Aeternitas
  • Shrinkiatrist
  • AnarchObjectivist
  • Brant Gaede's Blog

Categories

  • Articles

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


AIM


MSN


Website URL


ICQ


Yahoo


Jabber


Skype


Location


Interests


Full Name


Description


Articles


Favorite Music, Artworks, Movies, Shows, etc.

Found 15 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Jan 7 2007, 03:01 AM Very recently, I put my name in the hat, so to speak, to have a chance to bid on a video shoot and production job, working for the bicentennial committee of a nearby town. The project was to be an historical video about the town and would be broadcast on PBS and possibly some local television stations. This would involve interviewing some of the oldest residents of the town, who could recall things, historically, that were not contemporary knowledge, in addition to shooting footage of landmarks. A large percentage would simply be interviews and people describing the history, what their ancestors who settled the town, did, in a sort of anecdotal format. The budget for this video was $40,000. Being as I was both camera operator, lighting technical specialist and video editor, I stood to take home a substantial portion of that budget. We only needed a friendly “people person” to conduct the interviews and perhaps a director who could choreograph the overall timing and pace of the program. Things were looking pretty good for a while. The potential client, a woman who had formed the bicentennial commission, stated that she felt my qualifications were super-adequate for this project and was impressed with my demo reel (mostly footage of a symphony orchestra and possibly some footage from some other small projects I had worked on). For a couple of months, she said that they were in the process of putting together the funding and scheduling interviews and gaining permissions to shoot in various locations. They had secured $40,000 from a sponsoring bank and things looked very good. Then very recently, I got my demo DVD back in the mail along with a letter, which basically stated that it was a hard choice to make, but choosing to reject a candidate (me) was what they had chosen to do, in favor of hiring a videographer from California, because their panel had liked what he had done with a video production he created on teen smoking. Needless to say, with an increasing financial crisis on my hands, and realizing that a few tens of thousands of dollars would provide needed relief from the ‘wolves at my door’, I was rather disappointed. But I began to wonder… what if my friend were correct—what if I were just a good “technician” but not a creative individual with vision and the ability to tell emotionally-moving stories with video? Perhaps the technically wonderful rendering of the Danbury Symphony Orchestra was fine, but didn’t provide the kind of whiz-bang emotional punch that potential clients want to see before they become clients. But this has been a “chicken or the egg” problem for nearly 20 years. Since 1987, I have been trying to get video production work. When I first started the first video business I ventured into, that year, I called up many small businesses. Twenty years later, the only video I’ve shot was a bunch of volunteer shoot events, mostly cultural dance, an international fashion show at Foxwood’s Resort and Casino, and a paid shoot of a wedding. I shot the New York International Auto Show in 2002 and thought I could make money selling the DVDs on eBay. I sold exactly two. For $1.99 each. And to get those two sales, I had to do a lot of relisting. That came at a price of about $25 in eBay listing fees over several months. What I’d really like to do is record symphony orchestras. I serve as webmaster for one such orchestra and a couple years ago, I made an earnest attempt to interest them in doing a video shoot. They were open to the idea, seeing as their 60th anniversary was coming up the following year. But there was a union involved, and all these copyright laws and that’s where things fell apart. We might be able to shoot certain parts, but perhaps not the soloists, as they had recording contracts in other parts of the world. The orchestra would have to vote on it, and then they would want a piece of the action, etc. I countered with “why don’t we just make a historical library video, not something for sale?” It met with opposition from everyone ranging from the stage manager to the orchestra chair. The following year, I got the bright idea to record a large church organ, so I called up the largest cathedral in Connecticut—the one that the great Berj Zamkochian had played several times in the early 1960s. Initially, this endeavor was looking promising. The then-assistant music director they had was enthusiastic about the idea and even invited me to the cathedral where he gave me a very close and personal demonstration of the Austin organ. It was a fascinating experience for me. Throughout the summer of that year, I was slowly trying to work out the details of some sort of recording session. What type of pieces would we include in the recital that would both compliment the instrument itself and be musically significant to record and release as a commercial CD? I spoke briefly with the music director, a rather cold-mannered gentleman from Argentina, who had spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe during his musical career. He had that cold indifference of someone from Romania or Russia. When the assistant music director resigned, I’d lost my one ally in this deal-making process, and it seems all interest was lost in doing the recording. I still want to do this, but perhaps I will have to find another church with comparable instrument and acoustics. I have been pursuing my dream career for decades now, but it seems that my stubborn stick-to-itiveness has only managed to run me into the poorhouse. To think, I could have been making a steady minimum-wage income at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, instead of doggedly pursuing my goals and dreams. It irks me so that it seems that for the bulk of people, the miserable work-a-day grind, under the constant looming threat of layoffs, is the only viable option for generating income. My wife wanted me to try SMC, an online marketing system where we’d put up a web site selling goods imported from China. But then, wouldn’t we be in competition with thousands of other people who bought into the same program? I didn’t see the point in throwing $350 at a startup with that company, and much more to get the merchant account/web site up and running and hiring a programmer to build the back end server stuff for us. After digging around Google, I found some people that were doing similar types of business, importing worthless trinkets from China and selling them online. One person said he made about $45/week in sales. No, not $4,500. Just $45. Not to mention the fact that I have no interest whatsoever in running an import sales business. So I’m left with the riddle to solve: I love building custom sound systems, recording acoustic music performances, shooting and editing video and creating 3D models and animating them. But so do 10,000 other people fifty years younger than me and with a lot more energy and ambition. What to do? It’s tough being a dinosaur in a modern age. But increasingly, I am beginning to realize that this is exactly the way things are. By the time I learn a new skill and acquire the money to obtain the tools to do the job well, ten years have passed and the entire market for the service I am just then ready to deliver with competence—is gone. Too little, too late. Not to self: Remember to put that on my tombstone.
  4. Dec 30 2006, 08:49 PM Being out in the field, in shopping malls, supermarkets and warehouse stores, I am frequently prospecting for people to join in the financial services business that I am in. People make business move, and so there is a strong emphasis on recruiting new people with a passion to break out of the dead-end job they’re in, but who are also motivated to achieve for themselves and their families. This past week has been increasingly frustrating though, as nearly every person that I have spoken to has handed me back my business card and said “no thanks”. It’s alarming, the number of near-minimum wage workers who are so indoctrinated in the school of thought that “this is it for me—this is all I can expect to do with my life” and who aren’t even of the mindset to consider stepping out of the mold and persuing their future financial goals in a big way. When I get my card handed back to me, I think, “this person is really stuck—they don’t get it and it’s sad that when they’re 65, they’ll probably still be working at a similar job”. Maybe one of those people will recall the day I handed them my business card and offered them an opportunity to change their life forever, and maybe they might be wondering if they had not been so stubborn and closed-minded, would they be relaxing on their own yacht now, instead of working a cash register and realizing that they will be doing so until they drop dead. It’s a challenge to break though such mindsets, when you have at best, maybe 15 seconds to make your pitch in a busy environment like a retail store. I’ve been with Primerica now for 8-1/2 months, and have been actively recruiting since July. That involved speaking with my friends, and talking to anyone that I come in contact with in business and at social events. We have solutions that many folks can use to their advantage, yet I have difficulty understanding why these folks are so unwilling to take a step that can put them on a path to being debt-free. One cashier lady I spoke with this evening said she was too poor for financial services. So I mentioned the business opportunity side of it and her response was that she works all the time at this checkout stand and has no time to do anything else. It becomes clear to me that such people are stuck in their familiar “comfort zone” and fear the unexpected, or the falsely-expected as part of changing the path they’re on. The pain of living in that rattrap aparment just isn’t quite bad enough to make a change and they don’t quite hate their job enough to summon the resolve to do something about it. This is the complacency trap that middle America is entrenched in. It’s tragic for two reasons: it makes my job of finding motivated people who believe that they can have a better life outside of a dead-end job much more difficult, and it has the obvious result that the majority of Americans are going to be trapped in the circle of poverty, as taxes, energy costs and inflation far outstrip their 2% annual wage increases. What do do about these people? Only a Dale Carnegie may know the answer…
  5. Dec 11 2006, 09:11 PM I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, in the process of trying to solve my income problems. I’ve run across a number of fascinating articles. Some of which are rather disheartening, others, conventional wisdom. I’ll discuss a bit about what I learned. Also, I have some theories about poverty, crime and drug abuse, and how people get that way. First, the statistics that are eye-openers: 69% of wealth is inherited. 4% of wealth is acquired through marriage. the remaining 27% is obtained through criminal activity. Less than 0.0000047% is attributed to real innovation or talent. Only about 380 people in America have obtained wealth through their own unborrowed vision. Most people with good ideas end up losing their idea to some huge company that steals it and doesn’t compensate them fairly, or at all. Since it costs about $1,500,000 to litigate a patent infringment suit, the small time inventor is left unable to protect his ideas. Often times, once the inventor does manage a suit, the company that has stolen the idea will make dozens or hundreds of times in profit, what the court will award the inventor in compensation. Another surpising statistic: 89% of the wealth obtained through crime was by government and corporate bigwigs. Senators and congressmen, CEOs, CFOs, etc. Only about 10.9% of wealth obtained through crime was by the “poster boys” of crime, the organized criminals, drug gangs, etc. Getting independantly wealthy is defined by having investment income that meets or exceeds your expenses. To have a modest investment income, you need to have a couple million dollars in income-producing investments. The barrier is to achieve enough income to produce that wealth. Most of the means to get rich are a matter of luck and as such, the odds very slim to none. The lottery, slot machines, even the stock market, or having a hit single on the top 40 charts. Or writing a best selling novel. But there are thousands of unpublished novelists for ever novelist who is published. And about one in five hundred novelists ever achieve wealth through writing. The practical approach to wealth has barriers too. That approach is to get a job paying over $100,000/year, and investing 20% of the earnings in high-yield investments for ten years. One article I read says that you will achieve $1,000,000 in value by doing that. The problem is that $100,000 jobs are hard to get. Especially if you cannot afford to pay for the education that many of them require. Doctor, lawyer, architect, etc. Not to mention that it helps if your talents and natural interests lie in a field where there is money to be made. Many people are trapped in poverty because that’s the way things shake out, statistically. Society makes life harder for the poor by design. The IRS in fact audits the working poor far more stringently than the wealthy. Some wealthy can get away with “tax cheating” and the IRS looks the other way—the richer the tax evader, the more the IRS leaves them alone. This is what I read. Take it with a grain of salt. But in many areas of life, the law seems to present problems for the poor. In New Jersey, for instance, many poor cannot afford auto insurance, so they take their chances and drive to work without it, until they get caught and their license is suspended. Then things snowball into a downward spiral and they either become homeless, or resort to criminal activity to put bread on the table. America is one of the hardest-working nations in the world. We work more hours, have less vacation time and have less job security that most of the European nations, according to another study I read across several money-specific magazines. We also carry close to 7 trillion dollars in credit card debt. An alarming number of families are buying groceries on credit these days because they lack the cash to feed their families. Still more people are working and collecting welfare because they remain below the poverty level. Many people cannot afford the things that make life worth living. Their existence becomes a drudge, working 2-3 jobs, commuting, fighting traffic, road rage, late for work because of accident delays, bad work environment, demanding bosses, ever more demands placed on a decreasing number of employees, demanding more productivity, while incomes decrease, spending power decreases and standard of living falls to levels far below where America was in the 1950s. People can only take so much of that existence. Children see their parents rarely, and when they do, they’re always exhausted, angry or worried about finances. The rest of the time, they’re pressured to study hard so they can have the lifestyle their parents have. What lifestyle? It hardly surprises me that in this world, where the government has us all tied up as economic slaves, when we’re too poor to afford a decent place to live, and the things that affirm that life is worth living, that when base existence is a living hell, those kids resort to escapes from this hell through narcotics. If life were worth living, there would be no need for escape in the form of altered consciousness through artificial means. Poor kids huff pain fumes, glue, etc. The kids with connections get the pot, heroin and cocaine. The more ambitious ones become career criminals, stealing and defrauding to obtain the cash to support their habits. Much of this is tragic, because a better growing up environment would alleviate the need to use drugs to achieve relief from the hellish existence of poverty. Many of us already believe that government is largely to blame for a lot of the problems that poverty is a part of. But free enterprise is no guarantee that the less gifted will succeed well enough to live comfortably. However, if the government’s burden on people were not so great as it is today, I think even the less gifted will be able to live comfortably on what they are capable of earning. I knew a Romanian businessman who did a spreadsheet in 1987, which was a very deep analysis of the cost of taxation and inflation as taxation, on the average American at that time. His calculations included not only the obvious overt taxes, but also the taxes passed to consumers by business, the hidden taxes that show up in the form of government fees and mandatory auto insurance, inflation as a tax, taxes on utilities, etc., and his spreadsheet concluded that the total tax rate on all Americans is about 92%. No wonder people earning $100,000 annual salaries are racking up debt just to buy basic necessities, such as a home. They have only about $8000 of discretionary income! I got to thinking that if there were no taxes at all, millions of Americans would be able to live a prosperous lifestyle. Even on $17,000 a year of wages, one could afford to buy a basic home for cash in ten years, if one saved aggressively and lived an austere lifestyle during that savings period. Live on $2000-3000 and bank the other $14,000 in high yield investments. If there were no taxes to pay. However, the reality of it is that one may be paying $15,000/year in property taxes to their town government, plus about 40% of their salary income in federal, state and local taxes, and social insecurity and unemployment taxes. Then the taxes on everything we buy and use add up substantially. Finally, inflation robs us of our buying power, so that by the time we save any money, it’s value is less than it was when saving began. That $170,000 home is now $495,000. Kinda’ puts the carrot on the stick just a little too far away now, doesn’t it? An interesting anecdote was related to me the other day at a Primerica training session. We had a rep from MetLife give a talk on a certain kind of annuity that our companies teamed up to create, and he was talking about the influence of inflation on retirement funds. He related this story and I’ll paraphrase it as follows: Thirty years ago, his parents bought a home for $38,000. Last year, he bought a new pickup truck for $42,000. Today, a starter home like his parents’ now goes for $250,000 at the least. Projecting this trend thirty years into the future, he predicted that a Honda Civic, if they’re making such a car by then, will cost $250,000 and a new starter home? He didn’t say, but if I do the quick math… $4,500,000? So if you’re retiring in thirty years, having a couple million saved up by then is pocket change. Enough to buy a car, but not much else. Better to have ten or fifteen million dollars by age 65, because you’re all going to need that much in the economy of that decade. As for me, my personal financial needs assessement says I have to put aside $5500/month for my retirement, if I bump my retirement off another 20 years past when I actually retired, and pretend I’ve stepped back into a time machine. One thing I have been gaining awareness of is the power of compounded interest. Primerica’s training has taught me a lot about how fast money grows in various investments, and from what I can see, if you have a normal income of say, $60,000 annual, you should be able to invest 20% of that and accumulate a small fortune in 20-30 years. Part of the trick is to manage taxes carefully, and there are numerous strategies for this. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a good paying job. Some of us work in factories, or the local Wal-Mart, of at gas stations working the cash register. Some of us shovel pig dung on a farm for minimum wage. Even if the home has no mortgage, just trying to keep up with the taxes on such wages is a losing battle. And these scenarios are best-case—barring any accidents, illness or other unforseen tragedies that could bankrupt one. Most American middle class families, according to one of the major news organizations, are one paycheck away from foreclosure or eviction. There is a rising tide of middle class families who are spending their first night in a homeless shelter because the breadwinner was laid off from his job. It’s not just bums, emotionally ill and drug addicts anymore. Our whole society is so hooked on credit, with the average family carrying $8500 in credit card debt, $160,000 in mortgage debt, and some really unfortunate souls who got suckered into A.R.M.s which are now resetting this year to, often double the minimum payments. Lots of folks were sold a bill of goods when these first appeared and it looked like the holy grail for middle class folks wanting that dream home. “Wow, you mean I can borrow $500,000 for just $480/month? Sign me up!” Fools. Anyone with basic math skills could have figured out there was a big, dead, stinking rat in this loan concept. Interestingly, the resetting ARMs coincide nicely with the new, stricter bankruptcy laws. The lenders sure knew what they were doing, this time. So there are these get rich schemes all over the Internet. Anything that looks good is a scam. There are even “front” web sites that act like independent review sites, reviewing “get rich quick” schemes. There is this one I discovered that claims to have tried 37 different scams and found two of them to be legit. So I checked out the two that the writer claimed worked for him. Checked the BBB. Found multiple complaints about lack of response, no refunds, etc., when the product didn’t generate any results. Then I checked the domain registration info for both the referrer site and the site being referred to. Both the same registrar. Probably setup as a clever new scheme. After all, you would trust a guy who’s tried 37 different work-at-home programs and found only two that worked for him, right? I smelled this rat from a block away though, and my findings about the domain owners bore out my hunch. A clever new ploy. Watch out for these referral sites when you see them. So where am I going with all of this? My research indicates that there is no easy way to get rich. But if you have a very good job and live an austere life for 10-20 years, you can set aside enough money that you can eventually live off the investment income. The trick is to find that good job. In a world of $12-15K/year jobs, for many without the fancy credentials, those $100K jobs are the stuff of legends and fantasies—they just don’t happen. It boils down pretty much to this: if you were born to a rich family and your parents put you through college, then give them a big kiss. Your Phd., BS., or other degree is your ticket to the good income, income that is sufficient to allow you to pay your basic expenses while saving for retirement at the same time. If you were born into a poor family, you’d better have good stamina, the ability to work two or three jobs and go to night school with just 3-4 hours a night of sleep, and do it without suffering a breakdown that could land you in the hospital or worse, in a fatal car crash because you dozed at the wrong time. If you can’t manage that kind of lifestyle for 6-10 years in a row, then your best bet is to hope you get lucky, and get a job better than your education deserves, or start your own business and hope you have a marketable skill or idea. Because you aren’t going to get past the room in a boarding house full of Hispanics on your lowly technician job or working at the 7-Eleven. I actually had a longtime friend who was stuck in this very situation and let me tell you, it is very frustrating. When layoffs started happening, once he hit 50+ years of age, he could not find a job anymore. So he took one with a brother-in-law who was in the mob. They were running some shady operation and he was hired as their IT guy, in charge of the network of trading/investment computers. He knew something wasn’t quite right with the organization, but he was desparate for any work he could find and took it. For a year, he made a bare living, but then one day the feds showed up. Busted. Big trucks, computers, desks, books and records, all hauled off. Even the telephones. I felt badly for him. But he just didn’t have a good set of circumstances to work with. As for me, I’ve always tried to avoid organized crime as a source of income. It just doesn’t pay in the long run. I’ve had offers to drive a truck to North Carolina for $10,000 cash. There have been times when I was tempted to take the offer, but the possibility of a long prison sentence and a felony record was a worse outcome than having to live with no electricity and telephones for a year, so I chose to bear the latter and consider myself fortunate to still have my freedom. It’s tough to remain moral in this world, where the government, by the design of its justice system, almost encourages criminal activity as a means of getting ahead. But for some reason, I never felt comfortable with setting up a fraudulent internet scam, becoming a spammer, or committing other nefarious acts with financial gain as the motive. Perhaps I’ve been too moral all these years, but at least I can enter the homeless shelter with a clear conscience.
  6. Nov 5 2006, 11:57 PM About twenty years ago, there was a movie by the title Winter of Our Discontent, starring Donald Sutherland, among others. It’s title always stuck in my head, as did the grey, dreary winter images of the film’s cinematography, and whenever I have a series of economic or life downturns in November, that title comes to my mind. This November seems to be shaping up along these lines, despite my concerted efforts at positive thinking. My wife calls it “trials”; that I am being tested. November is a month where physically and emotionally, I am in a natural state of decline, probably due to the shorter daylight hours, the cold temperatures, the reduction in outdoor exercise, as well as the leaving behind of summer and its wonderful comfort and warmth. In addition to the seasonal aspects leading to more challenges in keeping a positive mental outlook, there are a number of “bombshells” that were dropped on me this month. Two of my main radio clients have terminated their contracts with me, one by simply refusing to pay invoices since July and another by having their accounts payable person inform me that they were cancelling our contract relationship, effective a month ago. Hello? What kind of business etiquette is that? There are proper ways to break a contract and there are, well, not so proper ways. At any rate now, I have to find a way to deal with the sudden financial mess this has caused, as it effectively means I’m out of the radio business now. Unemployed. Between assignments. Whatever you want to call it. Meanwhile, my Primerica business has yet to earn me an income. I have not been able to generate any successful leads through cold-calling so far. But now with the loss of income from my prior career, I won’t have the funds to allocate for advertizing. I was planning to run some newspaper and radio ads, both offering services as well as to announce that our office is hiring and to join our team. Commission-only sales is hard. Coach Williams may have been correct about the motivational power of such a commission structure, but he sure didn’t build the system to work for people who find themselves out in the cold market. Meanwhile, I’ve paid some licensing fees, and am currently paying to maintain a toll-free phone number for the new business. Oh well, I guess I’ll have some more tax writeoffs. Art Williams extoles the virtues of “warm market” networking, citing that Primerica attracts a better quality breed of representatives because no strangers get hired—all new reps have been recruited from family relationships, close friends, friends and family of clients who give us these referrals upon successful completion of service to them, etc. I can see how that works out nicely—if you have family—or friends. But what about the 0.02% of the population who are misanthropic xenophobes, who live a reclusive life? Not so great. We have real challenges. At the moment, from where I’m standing, I feel somewhat like the mountain climber who, standing at the base of Mount Everest, watches as the fog slowly clears, to reveal the full height of the obstacle before me. I have many thousands of cold calls to make, probably, before I find that one recruit who will make things happen in my business. It may be hundreds more calls before I find a family that will listen long enough for me to raise their awareness of how insecure their financial future might be, and how I can fix that. It is a task that develops mental toughness. I’m being reduced to a mere telemarketer, as the old saying goes “if it quacks like a duck…” and so I am now in the most disrespected profession known to man. But I will steel myself for the onslaught of abuse, hangups, disinterested recipients and answering machines, as I intend to give this three years to succeed, just as that couple from Ecuador did. (By the way, they made $108,000 last month.) If he could start off from a homeless immigrant and achieve that income, then I should be able to, right? Being on the cusp of this event, I’m getting a glimpse of a boundary between the successful and the dropouts. That boundary is buried deep into difficult mental territory. One has to go through a lot of suffering, yet never waiver in commitment to succeed, if one is to cross that demarcation line over to the side of success. I see it everyday: people succeeding in the business. Today, we had an annual mandatory compliance meeting. About 180 people packed the office. I knew things were out of the ordinary when I could not find a parking space in any of the lots surrounding the complex. I had to park in an adjacent lot behind another business and walk ¼ mile to the office this morning. But I realized how large an organization my Regional Vice President built. Eleven years ago, he was a part timer, just testing the waters in Primerica. Everyone came to this meeting, because it’s the one time of the year when a rep can be let go, ousted from the company if one misses this mandatory compliance session. It consisted of 3-1/2 hours of training on the latest federal laws regarding several aspects of doing business with the public. Normally, we get about 1/3 as many serious devotees attending regular training meetings each week. But the numbers are growing. It would be a very elaborate scam, if it were such. But on a scale this big, such a scam could not escape the law—at least I don’t believe so. There is a whole lot of success going on here, it can’t be proven otherwise. I just need to get my share of it. But I am also reminded that most of these people have big families, lots of friends and in general are very sociable and open. Which brings me back to telemarketing: the punishment I receive for not being a “nice guy” when I was younger—for not making a lot of friends. And the other part of it is timing: Had I gotten into the organization when I was younger, the business relationship would have been a lot more effective. The reality is: I am who I am. I have to work with that fact. It’s going to take a lot more effort than first thought. I will experience some lean times. I may even lose my home and end up prospecting while homeless. I hope that my situation doesn’t become that dire, but I have to be honest and realize that the situation is quite serious now. It’s time to get going.
  7. Oct 27 2006, 03:52 PM I just finished watching a DVD video called "The Secret". It is a documentary about a secret, known by all the great, successful men throughout history, a secret because the average wage slave doesn't know about it. The topic I am about to discuss is metaphysical and has some grounding in quantum physics. I am writing about the Law of Attraction. It is the primary secret of success. It embodies visualizing what you want, and aligning yourself in harmony with the universe to cause events to occur which lead to the attainment of that goal. The process of visualization is essential to the attainment of a goal. If you don’t have a dream and a clear vision of what you want to achieve or gain, you won’t get there. Visualizing where you want to be in a certain amount of time is the first step. Dating all the way back to the when I saw and wanted the very first component which went into the current day sound system, a Spectro Acoustics 210 Equalizer, I took home the sales brochure from the music store and pinned it to my wall. Every day, I looked at that picture and visualized it as being mine in the near future. It was a lot of money for me at the time and I had to work hard to afford it, but eventually, that vision lead to the manifestation of concrete reality. Thoughts are things. Our thoughts lead to very tangible things. Our thinking attracts whole chains of events. Visualization is the beginning of that thought process. My vision for Bass Pig (back then, just a real cool stereo system) was evolving over time. I remember way back when, a time when I thought it would be grand to have a couple of top of the line Heathkit speaker systems and a Heathkit AA-1640 power amplifier. My rig at the time was a pair of home-brew tube amps with push pull 6L6’s, driven by a Fisher TX200 amplifier with the preamp circuit tapped to drive the separate tube units. Hey, my friends thought it was pretty cool, but I wanted more. I began to look at industrial professional speakers in a music store that sold a lot of PA equipment. Electro-Voice had just introduced the 15L, 15B, and 18B series woofers. They were pretty “killer” stuff back in those days. So I saved my pennies and visualized them as mine. I ate, drank, and slept with my mind focused on having a pair of those bad boys in my livingroom. And in time, with enough overtime work, I was able to afford them. It was almost an obsession. You have to want something badly enough to attract them to you. Throw out all negative thoughts. Each negative thought attracts bad things. You have to believe that the goal is attainable, but to the Law of Attraction, like Yoda in the original Star Wars movie, “size matters not.” The size of your dreams and goals does not matter. If you truly want to attain whatever that goal may be, and you are totally committed to making it happen, it is attainable. The universe will accommodate you. All you have to do is ask. There will be good and not so good days. Everyone has their off days. Those days you work, but on the good days, you work with passion, toward your goal. This is the essential key to wealth and the achievement of any goal you might imagine. So why does this work? Quantum physics explains that our thoughts affect particles. The observer observing an experiment, affects the experiment based on his thoughts. If an experiment involves determining whether light is a stream of particles, or a waves of energy, the observer’s beliefs and thoughts about which theory is correct will determine whether the experiment yields one theory or the other. What this means is that we are all connected to one big energy field in the universe. Our thoughts are far more important, and influential, than we are normally taught to understand. Conventional thinking says that it’s impossible for one’s mind to have an external effect on events. But a couple of examples come to mind which seem to back up the the external influence theory: you’re riding your bike when all of a sudden you get a preminition that that kid down the block is going to ride his Big Wheel into your path, causing you to have to brake abruptly. The next thing you know, the kid cuts you off, you apply the brakes and go end over end, landing on your back with the bike on top of you (this actually happened to me). Or you’re driving down a deserted country road and you see a few deer around, and you think one of them might run out in front of you, and almost before you’ve finished the thought, a deer darts out right in front of the car, with no room to stop and you hit that deer. These are examples of negative thought processess attracting negative results. Now the process works for positive results too, although man tends to like to dwell on negative things for some strange reason, so more often than not in life, negative events dominate a lot of people’s lives. People who talk and think about illness a lot tend to be ill themselves. People who are obsessed with how devastating their debts and financial woes are, tend to attract even more debts and loss of income. It is too easy to dwell in the negative stuff. The key to success is to consciously reject every negative thought that comes to mind, and focus on the positive, stay focused on your goals and think about them –visualize them constantly. Put up a “vision board” –a bulleting board where you pin up photos of the things you want to achieve –whether it be a new home, a nice car, or.. a better subwoofer. Whatever it is, learn to become obsessed with your positive goals and dreams. This stuff works. I’ve felt it happen in my own life and I’ve had some amazing things happen, which, the odds of which happening were, now that I look back on them, very slim. And if I had been thinking negative about them, I would not have achieved them, because I would have been asking the universe to give me failure instead of success. At an earlier time in my life, when my parents were both alive, there was a lot of negativity in the air. They were both "students of Objectivism" and as such, very much grounded in conventional reality. They had illnesses and struggled to live with this condition upon their lives, but were unable to visualize themselves well and fulfilled. Instead, they were so grounded in the reality and relied on doctors for help with their physical problems, that they got worse and worse. Mother became profoundly depressed. In fact, when Ayn Rand passed away on March 6, 1982, she lost all hope for the world and her personal condition took a nosedive. She spent the next few years in and out of hospitals and died a few years later. Father was devastated by this, and never regained his former enthusiasm for life. Instead, he dwelled on the lack of money, the bills and the property taxes. All that negativity eventually gave him cancer, in the form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He died in the hospital, three days after the diagnosis was told to him. Once, wrote in the forums here that I had wondered if Objectivism had poisoned me. I have come to suspect that there are aspects of metaphysical reality that go beyond the sharply-defined scope of Objectivism. The philosophy is a good guide for dealing with everyday living situations, but I am starting to suspect that our minds play a more significant role in reality than we first thought. My mother was so strictly Objectivist that Dad could not enjoy having friends over to the house for dinner. She would give everyone the third degree and practically grill them, figuratively, about their premises, and if they were religious--watch out--sparks were going to fly! I remember one of my dad's invited guests was so upset by her attacks that he got up and fled the house! Mom's adherense to strict rules of Objective thinking made her unable to consider that her mind was a part of the universe and that quantum physics were involved in her thought processes influencing her health. I do believe that her grounding in Objectivism made her so unhappy with the realization that the world would never be that Utopia that she desired, that it drove her to insanity. It took me decades to consider anything beyond Objectivism's basic principles, which are based on the premise that existence is all that our senses perceive and nothing more, to consider some of the ideas of quantum physics and the role of the observer as part of the experiment. Another example is Schrödinger's cat, a thought experiment conducted by the German scientist of that name, in which the observer somehow influences the results of the experiment on a subatomic level. My life didn't really start to take off in terms of achievements, until both my parents were gone. As horrible as that sounds, the removal of their negative thinking from my life enabled me to plan my own life that much more deliberately and with much greater success. I remember when I went to go visit my future wife in the Philippines many years ago, we had been writing and were pen pals and I never imagined prior to that time that a lovely lady like that would be writing to me. And when she asked me to visit her, despite my circumstances, I broke down a whole lot of mental barriers and chose to have faith and get on that plane. I could have given myself a hundred reasons not to go, but something was telling me that I must go. And when those fears and negative feelings crept up, I reminded myself of the good feelings of communicating with this lovely lady and I pulled myself through and kept the visions positive. Some of my friends quietly thought I was crazy, going to a foreign country in the Third World, to go and meet God-knows whom or what. I never let those thoughts of what might happen bad enter my head for more than a nanosecond. I instead focused on the belief and faith that my future fiancee and later wife was true to her word and that she would be there at the airport to greet me. And, well, the rest is history. We’ve been happily married for quite some time and have a lovely daughter who is the apply of my eye. There is a limit to what I can write in this short space, but I wanted to get these thoughts down here now, in the event that they might resonate with someone who happens to come across this page one day. Thoughts are things. Think about that. The mind is powerful and dangerous if used improperly –or it has the capacity to make your dreams and goals happen. It’s up to you.
  8. Oct 22 2006, 09:11 PM (Cross-posted from my Blog at www.basspig.com) A close friend of mine celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday; his wife had invited myself and a number of other close friends to a surprise party. The requirement was to bring a "homemade" card. Knowing that most of my cards were cheesy, I had to think long and hard about it. And then I realized that a cartoon theme might just have the right flavor for my friend's sense of humor. I'm not a big comic strip fan, but there was one that ran in the 1980s that frequently tickled my funny bone: Gary Larson's "The Far Side". His ideas were off-beat, original and very bizarre, and often required some thought to "get it." Some of them were downright hilarious. So I settled on doing a cartoon in the style of Gary Larson. I had to spend a few evenings at the kitchen table, sketching caricatures while having my dinner or my late coffee break, and I found that for me, it was not all that difficult to capture the "essence" of a Larson-style character. So realizing this after a few sketches, I had to come up with a theme. My friend owns many of the FM stations in New England, so the card would be a radio theme of some sort. But what, exactly? I mulled over a few ideas and the first ones were weak. But then I started to think like Gary Larson, and go into Way Out Land. That's when it hit me: What if radio stations existed 65 million years ago? For the answer to that question, have a look at the cartoon: http://www.aamserver.dnsalias.com/basspig/...-Cartoon-v1.gif Comments welcome.
  9. Oct 16 2006, 02:32 PM Although this is a story that I had heard about a few weeks ago, yesterday, while I was at the Primerica Leadership training in New Haven, CT (something we reps attend every 3 months), the story came to life in a very intimate way, when it was told in front of the group of 1,000-plus people that were there Saturday, Oct 14th. On October 1st, 2006, a family of five was traveling on the Long Island Expressway and for some reason their minivan veered off the highway and collided with a tree, causing the front vehicle to become engulfed in flames. A passing motorist notified police, just a mile down the road. When officers arrived at the scene, the children could be heard screaming and crying, in the back of the van. Officers used their tools to break a window and free the children, two of whom were still in their car seats, while the oldest child had her seatbelt on. They managed to save the children, but the fire was too intense for them to get close enough to the parents, Arturo Lopez, 29 and Christina Guardado, 30, who were in the driver and passenger seats. They perished in the fire. Just a few weeks earlier, Glen Paganinni, a Division Leader representative from Primerica Financial Services, was trying to convince the father of this family to replace their $27,000 'Whole Life' policy with a $1,000,000 Term Life policy, citing that if something happened to him, the original policy was severely underfunded and that the cash value would go back to the company upon payout of the death benefit. Mr. Lopez finally agreed and the policy was prepared. In the few weeks that the paperwork had gone to the parent company for processing, it was determined that Mr. Lopez had a medical condition which would cause the policy to be rated (this is an industry term which means that the policy premiums had to be adjusted, or perhaps that the applicant was found uninsurable due to the seriousness of the medical problem) and possibly he would not be insurable. Before the policy could be delivered, the October 1st fatal accident occured. From a legal perspective, Primerica had no obligation to pay this claim. The policy had not been delivered to the client and there were issues with the client's health that needed adjustments to the policy. However, the company chose to pay the claim, in the full amount of both parents' policy death benefits ($1,000,000). In my opinion, they went above and beyond their legal obligations. To hear Glen speak about this whole situation as it unfolded, was a moving experience and a tribute to the good that is still within some of Corporate America. People like to say that corporations are evil and will take people's money and screw them over, but the ethical integrity of Primerica is one of the factors that attracted me to this company. I joined this company because I believe in their philosophy--which is to help the middle class get out of debt, protect their income and retire wealthy. The Leadership Training I attend every three months is not just a chance to walk across a stage and shake hands with many successful Primericans (some of whom are former celebrities, like Warren Powers, who played for the Denver Broncos and was a superbowl star), but to learn of real instances where the company went the extra mile to take care of its clients. And the company takes care of the people who are the grass roots force of independant reps who get the word of these products and services out. I am an independant rep. I made a choice to join because I believe in what the company stands for and for how they reward us handsomely for our hard work and dedication to our clients. When I personally hear about stories like this one with the orphaned kids, and how this company stuck it out, rather than take the attitude of 'screw the customer, it's all about the profits" of today's majority of big corporations, I realized I made the right decision to join Primerica. Few people have what it takes to be successful, but I am going to give it my best, because it's worth it. For me, and my family. I joined because I see it as the only realistic opportunity to earn a great income. Yes, there are obstacles, but nearly all of them are internal to my personality and part of Primerica training is learning to overcome those obstacles. A lot of people hate Primerica, especially those employed in the ripoff insurance companies that are still screwing people with deceptive practices, and when I posted this story in another forum yesterday, the forum's software had automatically trashcanned it before it got posted, probably because it contained the name Primerica. So this story will live on in my blog. And this is why I am working with this company. "Friends don't let friends retire broke."
  10. Oct 8 2006, 03:20 AM Following the general downturn of the radio industry with respect to RF engineers who work in the field, I am faced with the possibility of a forced career change. One of the things that plagues me with the radio industry is the relatively low hourly wage that clients consider "fair". My published rate is $65, however, I charge clients retained by referral just $50. Despite this modest rate, quite a few clients are indicating that the rate is more than they want to pay. I have lost about 30% of my assignments over this issue. Now consider the context of different industries: A plumber gets over $100/hr to fix a leaky faucet or unstop a toilet. Usually, the client is not a multi-million dollar enterprise, but a homeowner, struggling to make ends meet. And the leaky faucet won't prevent them from earning an income, as most people's jobs are performed outside of the bathroom. Now consider my job: I work for clients who have millions of dollars in physical and market assets. An hour of down time (off the air) can literally cost them thousands of dollars in lost ad revenue. These stations have much deeper pockets than the homeowner, yet they are unwilling to pay a rate half that of a plumber's. The comparison seems to suggest that there is an inequality here. I do important work, often under life-threatening conditions. This means that I sometimes have to work in close proximity to 10,000 volts, or perhaps climb a radio tower to troubleshoot a problem. Often in the heat of an emergency, in bad weather. The plumber generally operates in much less dangerous circumstances. There are a couple of engineers in my general market area who are religious and set their rates altruistically. As such, my rate is $10-15 higher than theirs. And they get most of the business. I usually do reasonably well when there's a new station being built, or a station moving to a new building needs new studios constructed, but this happens infrequently. Another factor is that modern broadcast equipment is so reliable that the owners develop the attitude that it must not really need regular preventative maintenance either. In the old days of radio, each station had a full-time engineer. Today, the large cluster groups have one engineer who is responsible for a half dozen station facilities in a geographical region. I'm a bottom-feeder--that is, I work for the independent stations which are not corporate-owned. These usually are the non profit classical stations, and many AM daytime stations located in urban areas. Some of these stations are doing quite well, having discovered the power of selling blocks of time to independent programmers (mostly Caribbean in my experience). The snort story is that I had a negative business profit last year of about $3,000. I spent more than I took in. I'll admit that part of the reason for this was reduced hours of work due to an intense home repair project that is about halfway through the 8-year estimated timeframe that I laid out. Even so, client calls for service dropped precipitously in 2004 and have been flat through this year. I was ready for a change, and an opportunity fell into my lap in mid-June. An old co-worker I used to know before I retired from the corporate world in the mid 1980s, bumped into me at an ethnic function that my wife attends every year. He mentioned that he was starting a new business in financial services "helping people get out of debt and retire rich." I didn't think the work fit the man's personality, but that's what he told me. We eventually get together, both of us and our Filipina wives (it seems just about every middle aged to retired guy is married to a Filipina these days) for dinner at my house. The next day, his wife calls my wife and invites us to some sort of 'career overview'. Since it's only 4 miles from the house and the time of day is reasonable, we both decided to attend to find out what possible opportunity would be presented. When I first got to the event, I entered a room full of about 30-40 people. There was a projector in the room and everyone wore nametags. I was asked to sign a roster and put on a nametag. We took our seats and listened to a presentation. At first, my mind was going "MLM, MLM, let's walk out." But as the presentation progressed, I could clearly see that this was quite a different situation and the services and products the company offered were a great benefit to the minimally-educated (financially) middle class family. The compensation system was not like an MLM, but like real estate. I liked that. The presenter posted checks for all to see from his last month's personal income from this business. He showed an income of $68,000. I was skeptical, but becoming somewhat optimistic that this large corporation was going about business legitimately. By the end of the presentation, I was pretty much convinced that we should get involved as a business partner and I indicated as such on a blue card they handed out with some questions about the opportunity and whether the viewers thought there was anything that interested them. I'll say this: it's a good business, but there's a major challenge to overcome before the new entry can partake in this gravy train: you need to recruit a decent number of people and build your own team of trained reps. You get promoted for every X number of hires. With each promotion, the commission percentage increases substantially. What they have the new person do is come up with a 'builder's list' of contacts--people whom the new trainee/rep will use to bootstrap his/her business. It starts with calling up friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers--anyone that will listen to a 15-minute presentation about the business opportunity. Many people do quite well in this. It's amazing how many people the average person knows, and how large most families are, or how geographically close these families may be. Ethnic groups do especially well due to close-knit community traditions. When it came to me, I figured it would be reasonably easy to interest a couple of my friends. I have no living relatives left and my wife's relatives are in California and the Philippines, so my options were limited. What with me being a misanthropic reclusive most of my life, I made few friends (and with the advent of the internet bulletin boards, quite a few enemies). But the few friends I do have are either not in the right market, being old, retired, or just too darned business saavy to need the type of financial services we offer to more 'average' families, so I quickly found myself out of names to call up. Which is the death of many new hires in our industry. Usually, once wasted, these new hires drift off, stop coming to the meetings and are lost. I chose to stick it out. I read about an Ecuadoran couple who basically made almost nothing for the first 3 years they were involved with the firm. They were new immigrants in 1995. This year, they were recognized as top income earners, having earned $150,000 that month in personal income and having hired about 250 people themselves. I set these people as my model. I realized that success in this biz would take time and that I should not expect instant wealth and become despondent when it doesn't happen. I went on to go to school to study for my life insurance license. I passed the test a couple weeks ago. The license app is pending with the state. Meanwhile, I get the brilliant idea to try a job search database. I look up Monster.com and am dismayed to find out it costs a couple of grand to buy limited access to a few hundred names for 2 weeks. I look at some competing sites and find similar costs. Those are out. So I talk to my trainer. He suggests going to the state-run job search sites. A lot of Googling and I find Jobsearch.org and I create and account. I can browse 600,000 resumes. "This is great!" I remember thinking. Only problem was that the contact info and names were blocked "not approved to view". The next day, I attempt to login to the site and my username is no longer recognized "user does not exist". I end up creating the same account all over again. Same situation--can't browse the contact info. Can browse the resumes--heck there are 2500 people interested in sales and insurance just in the town where our main office is! But I can't reach these people. I write an e-mail to the admin of the site asking why the contact info is not available. I get a response the next day to the effect that you have to wait three days for approval and it helps to have a tax ID number and an unemployement tax ID. The following day, I find my account deleted again, so I sign up for a third time. I'm realizing that three days will never pass if the account keeps vanishing ever 24 hours, so I write the admin and inform him that the accounts are disappearing a day after signing up. I'm waiting for a response. I approached our Regional Vice President at the meeting, about this tax ID requirement for registering. He quickly informed me that 'because you're in your own business, there is none." And he further stated that it's against the rules that we agree to when we signed our independant business application, to call up on resumes. What a blow that was! I had high hopes that by sheer volume of calls, I could build my team. Now I was stuck approaching total strangers in public--many of whom are not looking for a new job. I got this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, realizing I had invested hundreds of dollars in the business app, training and my toll-free business line, and was in too deep to just quit. Meanwhile, my trainer and I spent a day at a gas station, conducting a bogus survey, that leads into asking people if they are interested in earning extra money, part time. It was quite uncomfortable for me. I kept thinking about how scary I must look--I mean, here's this big, strapping guy approaching you while you're pumping gas into your vehicle--what does he want? I'd walk up to whomever was just starting the filling process and greet them and ask them if they would mind taking a quick survey 'about the local economy'. Most said no thanks. But out of an afternoon of approaching people, I got four that answered my questions. Three gave phone numbers. One was a salesman himself, but he gave only a postal address. When I got to my office the next evening to make the followup calls, two of the numbers were wrong numbers, no such person exists at the number. The fourth answered and seemed interested, if mildly. I read my script, invited the woman to the 'career overview' and gave her directions and an address. I even called her the night before the overview, just to make sure that she had not forgotten. The day of the overview comes, but the guest never shows, and never calls to say that she couldn't make it. So I hung around for 45 minutes after the meeting, talking to a woman who happened to be in my insurance training class. She too, was waiting for her invited guests, who never showed up. We compared notes about our attempts to recruit family, friends, relatives.. her story was not too surprising, as several of the people she had contacted had already been contacted by another person from the same company. One was even working for the company under a person who was her upline! I too had found the some of the people I spoke with in public had been through the business and quit, stating "it was too intense". So here it is, today, and I'm somewhat defocused on my goal because of the realization that I won't have a database of 600,000 job seeekers to call on and present the opportunity. The electric bill hasn't been paid in three months. The dentist, not since March. My radio business has pretty much evaporated, and I'm pretty much up against the corner, realizing that this opportunity is really all I've got. So I'm not giving up just yet. But I feel tired now and want to sleep. Maybe I'll feel better about it in the morning...
  11. Oct 5 2006, 11:47 PM This is about carpentry, struggling against poverty, and being in a positon where one's back is against the wall and slowly prevailing, little by little. It is about an ongoing project that I started in earnest in 2003. I live in a house that, a few short years ago was fit for condemnation and demolition. Having gotten married late in life, to an Asian, we returned to the US and the situation was, fortunately, not too much of a shock for her. And American woman would have taken one look at the house and filed for divorce. With a baby on the way, I had to do something. A few estimates from contractors were evidence that they had better things to work on, and financing it would have been out of the question. The house was not even suitable as collateral for a mortgage. Lacking any alternatives, I realized I had to do this work myself. So I surveyed the situation and figured out a way to break the job down into more manageable projects. My first project was to rebuild the bathroom. The ceiling had partially collapsed and was being held up by large sheets of plastic and some 2x4s propped under various sections. There was a family of squirrels living in that ceiling, and every fall, we could hear them mating and in February, the babies would be born and more little squirrels would run around up there. For years, I tried trapping them, shooing them away, and even shooting them when they came out for air. I tried rhodent repellant deviced, drilled holes and injected everything from moth crystals to bleach and nothing worked. The darned animals just kept coming back and dug further and further, making holes in the already termite and water damaged joists, until much of the roof was unsafe. In April 2003, I began renovation on that bathroom. I tore down the sheetrock and yanked out the beams, most of which were rotted beyond belief. Since there was no non-rotten part of the house to attach new joists to, I decided to build a floating frame and worked from there. I used pressure treated lumber this time, anticipating that we live in an area that is subject to various kinds of attack on wood. The next thing was to rebuild the wall. The east wall was on the leeward side of the flat "shed roof", and there was no overhang, so it became ao waterfall whenever it rained. When I tore off the sheetrock, I found no studs left in the wall. Instead, there was a layer of mulch and leaves--the remains of studs that rotted. The only thing holding the wall together was the Transite fireproof exterior siding. I carefull and surgically removed a section of wall at a time and rebuilt it, but before I could do that, I had to rebuild the floor! The outer couple of feet of the entire floor was so badly water damaged from both the leaks and the toilet leaks that had occured over the past forty years had rotted both the subflooring and underlayment and the joists! I had to rebuild a new frame of joists and put down all new flooring before I could rebuild the wall. That room was largely rebuilt in about a year. It was only 10x10'. We put in new cabinetry and sink, but kept the deluxe toilet and bathtub, adding a new set of fiberglass walls and a glass shower door. The following year, I had to set to work in turning the second bedroom into something suitable for my daughter. It was next to the bathroom, on the same east-facing side of the house, with no overhang. Again, the situation was a disaster. That room was so bad that the windows had fallen out of their frames! The wall studs on the east side had also turned to mulch and were nowhere to be found. The roof had been leaking so bad that it would just flood the floor, seep through and flood the basement. The room's heating system froze one winter and the pipe ruptured, necessitating my cutting the pipes to that room and sweat soldering caps onto the feed pipes in the basement. The room had been deteriorating for decades and was uninhabited since 1999. As such, I had sealed it off. Opening the door to that room was like opening the door to outdoors, except that it smelled awful from the mold, feces and urine of squirrels and whatever other animals lived there. In April 2004, we had Amanda, during which time, I was working hard on the rebuilding of this second bedroom. The process was much like the bathroom, only it was a corner room, so it had two external walls and on the east side was a chimney I had to contend with. I had to work fast with certain parts of the project. I started rebuilding the floor, after knocking down the wall, both on the 2nd floor and below, down to the basement level. The reason for this was that the supporting walls on the floor below were also rotten and had to be rebuilt. I tore everything down to the foundation that spring. The side of the house reminded me of a bombed out hotel in Beirut--the entire side, from basement to upper floor, was open to the outdoors. I rebuilt the frame of the first floor in about 2 weeks and got it sheathed and tarpapered. Then I worked on rebuilding the floor upstairs in the bedroom. Once the floor joists were replaced, I was able to build a new wall. I had to rebuild the entire east wall and most of the north wall. Then came the scary part: the roof. I watched the weather forecasts for a while, looking for a string of sunny days. I was pretty lucky that year. I had a week of clear weather and it was between two hurricanes that were tracking up the coast, so I was under the pressure of urgency to work fast. I spent about a day and a half tearing down the old, rotten roof, while trying to avoid being crushed by falling sections of it as I made it collapse, a section at a time. Once the old roof was clear, and I was staring at the sky above, I knew I had to work quickly, and I started installing the new joists, cutting and notching them as needed, and fitting them into place. The first one is always tough, because there is nothing to support it laterally. Subsequent joists were easier. I built the new roof, got it sheathed and got asphalt, 30lb felt, more asphalt and 90lb mineral roll roofing installed, all in about a week. It was a grueling job! As the place closed up, I moved on to installing windows, insulating and sheetrocking, as well as electrical wiring. The final touch was engineered flooring, after painting. By November 2004, the room was ready to move in and my daughter was so happy to have her own room finally. I felt that I was over my head with the larger rooms and contacted many contractors for estimates. I got few responses, but only one contractor actually gave a rough estimate of $170,000 to rebuild the roof. That pretty much made my decision. 2005 saw the finishing of the exterior siding for that section and this year, 2006, I chose to undertake the most expansive and difficult renovation task yet: the dining room, kitchen and part of the livingroom roof. This was a total of about 456 sq ft of roof that had to be gutted, new joists installed and completely rebuilt. In April of 2006, I started the first step with my two fingers: I pushed against the east wall in the old dining room. It fell outward in a big, terrible crash. Suddenly, I had a 12' long side of the house with a view of nature. The scaffolding was built and I set out to rebuild a new wall. But before I could, I had to rebuild the floor joists and the supporting systems. Then I attacked the rebuilding of the wall. However, the weather was not in my favor. April saw continous rain for 27 days, with only brief letups every 3-4 days. I was working with my power tools wrapped in plastic, to prevent the waterfall (this was again on the east side of the roof where the water runs off) that was falling on me from shorting out the motor of my drill and saws. In about 3 weeks, I had rebuilt the floor and a new wall. Next came the roof. This time, I purchased a special order size tarp of 20x40' to cover the section of roof that I was planning to rebuild. Little did I know that I would end up rebuilding about twice that area! The corner was the most complex. It used a diagonal carrying beam, and joists met up with it at perpendicular angles. Plus the roof was pitched at a slight angle, so I had some complexities to deal with. I chose to visualize the entire project in CAD first, so I made some drawings in 3D and observed things from various angles, making plans as I went along. Once I had a plan in place, I unfolded the huge tarp and covered the area to be removed. This work began in mid May. It was still raining. In fact, it rained for the entire month of May, except for the Memorial Day weekend. By this point, I was somewhat alarmed at the amount of rain and was thinking that something was wrong with the climate lately. But I had work to do and developed a "damn the torpedos!" attitude toward the weather, which had me working even in the raging of thunderstorms. I began demolishing the old roof and that started with pulling down sheetrock. Boy did I find some weird stuff! The eastern end was full of brown powder from the plywood above and joists--termites or carpenter ants had been busy for decades! It seemed that if I didn't get a shovelful of powder falling on my head when removing a piece of sheetrock, it would be an ant colony being revealed, with a theatrical horror quantity of swarming ants, startled by the sudden exposure to daylight, scattering from the scene. I took about two weeks to demolish the corner, including carrying beam of 19' length. In the following week, I built a new carrying beam in-place, and started putting in joists in their perpendicular directions on either side of the diagonal beam. I extended the beam beyond original design, to create an overhang that we never had, so that the east wall would not be under a waterfall. As I was tearing up the roof, I found one small section that was not rotten. Apparently asphalt had been applied directly to the plywood, and even though the layers of roofing on top of it were soaking wet, the plywood was pristine in that area. That would confirm my hunch that pre-coating all the roof sheathing with asphalt roof cement would be a good hedge against a failure of the roofing materials above it. By late June, I had gotten almost to the halfway point with removing and replacing joists, and that's when the apocolyptic thunderstorm--the strongest, most intense I had seen in over 20 years--hit. Within two minutes, about 70 gallons of water had accumulated in the tarp between a large 4' gap in the joists old & new. It sagged like some huge elephant belly, hanging between the rafters. The dining room floor was just below it. And below the dining room floor was a recording/television studio with my life savings of investment in equipment, computers and hardware. For a short time, I struggled with trying to lift this balloon of water and push it out above my head. It was utterly futile. I then tried poking a hole and letting the water drain. But it was under so much pressure that it came out like a firehose with a narrow jet of water. I raced to the kitchen and grabbed the largest pot I could find and put it under the jetting water. After dumping several pots full, I realized that even though the rain had tapered off, it was still collecting faster than I could drain it. It was about this time that the whole thing gave way. Instantly, I had 70+ gallons of water on the dining room floor! Luckily, a section of the floor on the overhang was not completely closed up, so I grabbed a broom and swept frantically, like a deranged madman, with broad and wild strokes, trying to move that water over to the gap where it could drain to the outside. In less than five minutes, I had the majority of the water out of there, and started up a leaf blower and an industrial shop vac. I had lots of air moving and between the sucking up of water with the wetvac and the 200 mph air flow from the blower, the floor was drying up in a couple of hours' time. Fortunately, I had moved fast enough and the floor had a good enough seal that no water came into the studio on the first floor. For the next month or so, would be fighting rain, by placing plywood sheets to span the gaps in joists and keep the tarp from caving in. But that storm came up quickly and with a ferocity that I had not expected. The summer dragged on. June was rainy, July was rainy, but August saw the first string of sunny days. The removal and replacement of joists was slow, taking about two days per joist, because these 16' long beams were also supporting kitchen cabinets near the other end of their length. There were five joists that directly supported box structures onto which hanging cabinets were bolted. I had to rig up a support under the island of cabinets and unbolt the lag bolts from the ceiling joists before removing that particular joist. This slowed things way down. The project dragged on and I was becoming tired of it. That was much of July. By August, I had gotten past that and had made it up to the west entranceway wall. I had been following up with sheathing and had gotten a close friend to help for a day with getting started with the toughest part of the sheathing. Eventually the whole dining area was closed to the weather, so I installed the new window unit that I had purchased for that area. Work had to continue along the outside where the roof overhanged the deck. And more so, it had to continue north--there were six 18' joists over the kitchen that were so rotten they were beyond help. I spent a week and a half removing and replacing these joists. Then I spend a few more weeks insulating, bracing and sheathing and finally applying waterproof roofing materials as before with the rest of the roof. I worked my way toward the western side, toward where the existing joists were in better shape and where the sheathing was still intact. Much of the weather work done, I focused on getting insulation, vapor barrier and RF shielding (we are next to a 50,000 watt FM station and cellular sites) installed and then had a 'sheetrock party' and invited two friends who had helped me on Amanda's room. Plastering and taping followed and finally, painting. My wife and I picked out a nice chandelier and had the painting done in time for installation. Last week, I put down marble in front of the entrance, and we put down a hardwood bamboo floor over the rest of the dining room. I had to rent a pnuematic floor nailer and a compressor, as hand nailing proved to be glacially slow. With the proper tools, we had the floor installed in about 5 hours. The room looks beautiful now and we have the peace of mind that it is structurally so overbuilt that it is about as solid as concrete, but not nearly as brittle. And our daugher, Amanda, loves to play on the floor in there now. There is much more work to be done on this house, but this year was the most monumental achievement so far. I thought I had bit off too big a piece, but somehow, with a will of iron, I prevailed!
  12. Apr 19 2005, 04:47 AM Last Friday night (4/15), I attended a dress rehearsal of a regional symphony orchestra. I was there for the purpose of preparing for the early stages of a possible recording contract; ie., getting familiar with the venue, the orchestra and the politics of it all. This particular night, the orchestra was preparing for a performance of La Traviata in concert form. I sat in the middle of the front row of an otherwise nearly empty theater of 2000 seats, with nothing but my notepad and a pen, assiduously taking notes, sketching diagrams of the stage and noting possible microphone and camera locations. Now and then, I would get a curious glance from the conductor, the tenor soloist and some of the violinists and cellists who were closest to the front of the stage. Little did they know that I was there on a mission to provide them a gift of incomparable value, pending my doing a superb job of negotiating the deal. I will have to negotiate a deal with my best powers of conveying the concept of mutual benefit. This is a union orchestra. As such, I have to sell them on the concept that my recording will benefit them in numerous ways. I had some brief conversations with a staff person for this orchestra, along with some lengthier e-mails, where I proposed some ideas and she quickly shot them down. I see that there are some restrictive limitations that I will have to find a way to negotiate my way out of, in order to make this project the success that it ought to be. Getting back to the rehearsal, it was an uplifting experience. The orchestra was only rehearsing, but each time they played a phrase, or started from a particular bar, they played like a well-oiled machine, with precision and effortless finesse. The orchestra sounded like a fine classical recording--note perfect, no sour notes, not a glitch in the tempo. In one break, the conductor was explaining to the horn section how he wanted a certain staccato style of playing and with a bit more emphasis on certain bars. He didn't use much technical terminology, but instead made sounds to imitate what he wanted the horn players to do. I found that rather amusing. There were three vocal soloists in this opera: a baritone, tenor and a soprano. All were excellent, although I could tell who was familiar and who was not familiar with the music. The rehearsal started at 7:30pm and ended on the dot of 10:30pm, when the conductor thanked the players. All during this time, I had walked the auditorium looking for electrical outlets (there were none), and determining best locations for camera angles. The theater is in an old building, but it had recently been renovated and was in nearly pristine condition. The acoustics were very good. I found my way up to the balconey and walked the width of it, glancing at the stage and imagining what kind of lens would best get the shots. Then I returned to the main floor and went back to my seat, scribbled some more notes on my pad and continued to watch the busy hive of people during intermission. Each session was about an hour and fifteen minutes. I note that 90-minute tapes will be a tight fit and that any unmanned cameras will have to be started up a few minutes in advance of the show. The orchestra chair announced the 4-minute warning before the next session was to start. I found my liason contact person and she asked me what I thought of the orchestra and venue so far. I expressed positive impressions and that I had come up with some ideas on where to place cameras and microphones. She introduced me to the stage manager, and he suggested a possible position for a camera to cover the conductor, and that the stage set had a trap door that could be opened for this purpose. Time was short and the orchestra was about to begin, so I went back to the center, but this time the third row. I wanted to get a better sense of the sound from further back, as the front row had too much separation from the soloists on the left and right sides of the stage. Third row, center, was much better, sounding more like stereo. If I had my druthers, this is where I'd place the 'microphone tree' (I coined the term because the framework of the support mechanism holds five microphones for 5-channel surround sound and as such, looks a little bit like a mechanical tree). In reality, given the extremely tight requirements and restrictions, I have a hunch that they won't allow such a contraption in the important real estate of the third row. I'll most likely end up with eight microphones in an arc surrounding the conductor's podium. That would be a more intimate sound, but not like the sound the audience would hear. The orchestra played as they worked on more sections of the piece. It was a nice, pleasing sound, not very loud, but not too soft either. It was drier than one would hear in a recording, but very smooth and detailed. And the different sounds coming from various directions across the stage made for a fascinating sonic experience. I noted that cellos can play in much higher ranges of scale than I had assumed til now. I thought they sounded rather like violas than cellos at times. And then there were the voices. The tenor had amazing room-filling volume. Amazing, I thought.. there is no amplification, but this man's voice projected almost as if hundreds of watts of amplification were assisting it. Actually, all three vocalists were something extraordinary. The rehearsal and 10:30pm came all too quickly. But the memory of the music and the uplifting nature of seeing scores of musicians perform their magic together, demonstrated one of the highest levels of civilization. Here was man doing his finest accomplishments in the world of esthetics. The musicians were all people that had worked hard for many years to achieve their level of skill. And yet they played with such ease as to belie their effort, their playng seeming as natural as breathing is to any living creature. By the end of the night, and on the drive home, I felt energized, uplifted. Classical music, performed live, by virtuosic-level musicians is a unique and valuable experience. Seeing a concert of this variety is something that every intelligent human being owes himself. It is the expression of man's highest values.
  13. mweiss

    "state Of Fear"

    Apr 9 2005, 03:58 AM I just finished reading State of Fear by Michael Crichton. The book impressed me to a degree. By proxy, he proceeds to demolish the entire fraud of the environmental movement, exposing it for what it is: an apparent means of making a few leaders of the movment rich, while pretending to be doing something noble for humanity. The story had a few moments where "suspension of disbelief" was stretched a bit thin, but overall, he did a very adequate job of building suspense, mystery and resolution. The story initializes with several related but separate events going on with the purchase of technology, as well as the murders of certain scientists. There are good guys and bad guys in this story, as well as a character who goes through an awakening, reluctant at first, but rather commited to change as a result of direct confrontation with the enemies he was supposed to be defending. A picture of how private groups form, accumulate funding and go into action without much government oversight is painted. The groups described in this book are eco-terrorists to the extreme. All throughout, there are characters who, even when presented with the evidence, continue to evade the truth and demonstrate the Catholic version of faith in their cause--a blind following without testing the veracity of the principles they are fighting for. One gets to witness the evils of evasion in pure black & white in this novel. And Crichton backs up his assertions with non-fictional charts from the USGS, NASA and other government and private climate monitoring agencies. The footnotes are real, the story is fictional, which makes for quite an interesting experience. I found myself pausing several times to ponder the charts and think about what a sham this global warming claim is. I also found some nice quotes from time to time. I will have to skim through and write them down. Definately a worthwhile read. Keep an eye on a character named Kenner. He's the objective one in this story. There are others too, but he is the spearhead that works methodically and tirelessly to unravel the mysteries of the eco terrorists plans.
  14. Mar 30 2005, 12:08 AM I went to the dentist today to have a long-needed root canal done. This is part of a series of things I am doing to get myself physically feeling better. The mind, in order to function well, must be supported by a body that is functioning well. I've had trouble with a certain back molar for a few years now. It usually flared up twice a year, but it was becoming more frequent this year, so I decided it is time. My dentist is probably on of the best around. He's actually quite rational. We have had conversations about politics. He dislikes socialism and could cite me examples of how Canada's socialized medicine is an utter failure. I've spoken Objectivist ideas to him in the past and again today. He doesn't disagree, but listens and sometimes agrees. There is hope for this man. He's not only an excellent and focused practitioner of his trade, but he also is compassionate and genuinely cares about his patients. I remember my first visit to his office, on the referal of a longtime friend: my tooth emergency came in the middle of a snowstorm. I called my new dentist, and he stayed after work to take care of my emergency, even though he did not know me well as a patient. I make it my first priority among creditors, to pay him first. He does amazing work. Within his field, he is highly rational, focused and innovative. Yes, an innovative dentist. What do I mean by that? I mean that he is never satisfied with the status quo methods. He strudies new techniques constantly. He finds ways to do the job better, in fewer visits and with less pain for the patient. In contrast to my former dentist (who must have had a contempt for his patients, for his methods involved tools of torture and excuses for not using anesthesia in areas where he lacked the ability.) This was my second root canal by my current dentist. I had one by another dentist ten years ago. That one lived up to the horrible image of what a root canal can be. The two that my current dentist performed were nearly painless. At the slightest signal of discomfort, he would shift tactics, determine whether it was the file he was using, or whether it was time to add more anesthesia to the root pulp. And the work would progress and I could hear the file grinding in the canal, but felt nothing. One the whole, the most discomfort was keeping my mouth wide open for an hour and trying not to choke on my own saliva. Hardly anything one could call pain. So I am done with phase one. I go back for a post next week, and maybe a crown, when I can afford it. Second random thought: It would be relatively easy to turn Anthem into a movie. Being a short story, and the nature of it not involving costly effects, all we'd need is a location that fits the visual imagery of the novel, and a group of dedicated actors. This movie could be shot with digital video. I know how to do this. I know how to edit, and how to author it into a DVD. It would be a fascinating project. Of course the logistics would be another story.
  15. mweiss

    Anthem

    March 29 2005 The last time I read Anthem was the autumn of 1968. I did not fully understand it then, as I was much younger and had less context by which to reference the work. Tonight, it was my intention to continue reading a Michael Crichton book that I had just purchased, however, thinking about how I might introduce my wife to Objectivism in a series of small, pleasant steps, I went to my Sacred Books, which I keep in a place out of reach of all but myself, at the top of the bookcases. I took inventory of the books which I have read so long ago, the books written by the hand of Ayn Rand. And thee it was, Anthem. I thought, "this would be simple to read" (for my wife's first language is not English) and it is a story that she could comprehend. I stood there, in front of the bookcases, intending to skim through Anthem and refresh my memory a bit. That was many hours ago. For I have fallen again to the almost mystical power of Miss Rand's writing. I read the book in its entirety, while standing there. Yes, I was standing. It did not matter. I was too engaged in the story to think about the status of my body, it's position, or any discomfort I might have felt from standing for many hours. I read the novel, and became completely absorbed in it once again, this time with the conceptual ability of an adult mind, which allowed me to experience the novel in a manner that I had not experienced it when I was much younger and possessed less wisdom. The wording of the last two chapters of Anthem struck me as the most eloquent words I can remember reading. More elegant and graceful than any scripture I have read, more meaningful and fundamental than any poetry I have read. The words had the immediacy of innocent discovery--of Truth. They were simple. Axiomatic. Their beauty was in their directness, unadulterated by meaningless fluff so often found in "great" works of literature. There is no longer any question in my mind as to the greatness of literary work by Ayn Rand. I have always been in awe of her philosophy, but now, in my elder years, I am in awe of her way of expressing ideas.