mweiss

The Worthless Individual

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What does it mean to be truly talentless? What does it mean to be so socially inept, that nearly every encounter with another human being results in the making of a new enemy, instead of a friend?

What does it mean to be so uncreative as to not see any opportunity in failure? What does it mean when you read many books, but your fundamental approach to living remains unchanged?

What does it mean to be a slow learner, to be always the last one to “get the joke”, to be unable to grasp mathematics, or how to diagram a sentence—despite years of receiving tutoring as an adult?

What does it mean to be desparately unhappy with your “lot in life” as a manual laborer, or unskilled worker, since that is the only job you ever held because of your inability to get good grades in school?

What does it mean to be born a “Vincent” but always try to cheat life and pretend to be a “Jerome” (referring to the movie Gattaca, in which successful positions in society depend on your genetics)?

What does it mean to be a second-hander, because you’ve never had an original thought in your entire life, and always react to situations, rather than control them?

What does it mean to read self-help books and realize that you are the person being described in those books as the person who cannot be successful?

What does it mean when a person, so unsuccessful at anything of importance in modern society, is driven to cheat, steal and use deception to get a little of what he cannot get otherwise? To become a con artist, but a rather poor one?

What does it mean to be such a failure, that even your past attempts at suicide were all failures?

What does it mean to sink into deep depression when one’s best attempts to get honest work are rejected for not being “good enough” or not having enough experience in the realm of interest that the prospective hiring agency, or not having expensive enough equipment to meet some arbitrary standards of the hiring agency?

What does it mean when one can’t earn enough money to pay the property taxes one’s own home? What does it mean to become homeless because no one would give you that first chance, or that opportunity to gain the experience decades ago that would give you the resume you needed today to get the gig you really wanted?

What does it mean to be an old, slow learner, a dinosaur, cast aside by society, left to the Home of the Old and the Useless?

What does it mean to wrest Heaven by force, to marry a foreign girl much younger than yourself, when no domestic girl would even date you for the past sixty years, but further, to bring a child into the world because you are so afraid of being the last link in your family lineage? What of that need to feel some vicarious sense of immortality through birthing a child, to carry on your bloodline?

What does it mean when you can’t think your way out of a paper bag, much less the current mess you find yourself in now? When no cognitive activity has ever taken place in your brain for your entire lifetime? When you have not had an innovative or problem-solving idea in all your professional career, if you could call it that?

What if your life is one, big, huge contradiction? You must earn money because you are being taxed. You need to eat. Your child needs to eat, needs toys, entertainment, social life, etc. But you, too, need tangible things that affirm that life is worth living, not a drudgery of economic slavery on multiple low-wage jobs just to keep the tax man from slaughtering you wholesale. You need to GAIN, to make PROGRESS, to ADVANCE. But what if all you can do is barely hang on? And all the while, you see the trend, that you will drown soon, because the debt tide is rising and your strength –your will to accomplish --is waning, due to a lifelong reinforcement of failure after failure.

This is the blunt, frank and honest situation that I live with daily. It seems no matter how many books I read (currently reading “The Prime Movers” by Edwin Locke), I’m too set in my ways to grasp a way of changing in the concrete sense. I’m so concrete bound in fact that I think I’m as dumb as a brick.

I can’t spot a trend, nor have a clue as to what to do about finding a market niche. I’m not happy bagging groceries at the local supermarket. I want and have always dreamed of a better life. A life of owning a big house, most any electronic gadget I can imagine, and being free to travel, pursue hobbies, write stories, play with high tech gadgets, etc.

The reality is that in the 22 years since my retirement from the direct employment world, every attempt at a business venture has failed. In Locke’s book, he has a table of attributes, comparing the successful visionary to the concrete bound slug. As I read that table, I realized that I fit into every attribute on the right-hand column—the attributes of a slug, a non-producer. One who can’t see ahead and make rational predictions, who can’t see an opportunity in a setback, who can’t plan effectively or identify business reality accurately. I think that I may be so far from identifying reality that I am functionally and clinically insane.

I live by my own rules. Unfortunately, doing so has had the side effect that I haven’t earned positive business gross income for the past three years. I suppose a rational person would happily stick it out at Wal-Mart every day, earning his minimum wage and paying his tax bill. But me, I want to enjoy the good life in my “golden years”, not face the reality that most seniors deal with by taking on jobs and shoving their pride and their dreams down some bottomless pit. I want to live the dream that I could never afford to live while I was still young and viable as a human being.

When I do think about reality, I see the very real possibility that I will have a fatal heart attack while rebuilding this house, a project which has been going on for four years, and which I am about halfway through. Why in heck would I do the work myself anyway? I have no choice. Had I done nothing, the entire roof would have collapsed and we would have been forced to sleep in our car. Why not hire a contractor? Because of the few that even bothered to visit the site and estimate the job, I was told absurd figures of $170,000. So I do the work myself. But it doesn’t put money in my pocket, so it means that every day spent in this rebuilding emergency is a day I cannot earn money that can go toward the taxes. And it adds up really quick. In three years’ time, I’ve managed to rack up more in back taxes and interest and lien fees than I’ve earned in my entire lifetime.

I remember when electricity cost a dollar or two a month, and gasolene was ten cents a gallon. Now I’m accumulating electric bills at a rate of $416/month and gasolene is $3.23 for regular now. But my income has only gone down.

My last client relationship ended with a refusal to pay a contractual fee. I have since used my guerilla collection tactics on them and forced their owner, by blackmail, to pay off the contract, but that relationship is permanently destroyed. It was already destroyed when they chose to ignore me rather than honor their contract with me, so it’s no further loss anyway. But the ugliness of how it went, the methods I had to resort to in order to collect. I’m good at intimidating non-paying clients, but my methods are unfortunately, illegal, hence there is no practical business opportunity for me to make an honest living at collections either (not that I’d want to even start a business collecting for others).

So what brought on this sour tirade? A culmination of things. The realization that I’m “worthless”. My wife even calls me that, verbatim. “Worthless.” Why? Because others in a position to hire me see no value in what I have to offer. People see no credibility in me, so my ability to sell them on anything is nil. That’s why I failed so utterly and completely at Primerica. And other businesses don’t trust a stranger.

I’m trying to push really hard to break into the videography business. I’ve been trying to get into that business since 1987. So far, no corporation has given me a chance to prove my abilities, so I am still stuck with no portfolio and no resume. The “chicken and egg” syndrome.

I learned recently that the only way to break into a field, such as movies, is to go to college. If you want to be a camera operator and work for a movie director, you need to go to film school and make friends with someone who is majoring in directing. Then, when you both graduate, if you played your cards well, you may have a good rapport with this director-major when he or she becomes a real movie director, and then you have a job. But that’s a very long path.

In the 1980s, I was struggling to build a color prepress graphic design business. I wrote to every ad agency in the US, offering my services to design and layout advertizing. Every agency that responded (only 2% response rate) turned down my offer to work for them, stating that they have a full in-house art staff.

Later, I approached ad agencies about producing TV commercials. Pretty much the same response—they don’t outsource because they have their own TV studios and produce everything themselves.

Lately, several experiences I had have made it clear to me that my one area where I DO have some practical ability is in shooting, editing video, and authoring DVDs. At least in situations where I have full creative control.

The problem was I’m the best-kept secret in my part of the world. No one knows I exist. Because I have no talent for winning friends and influencing people. My personality is, admittedly, that of a grouchy old man. I’m critical of people, thanks to Objectivism, and speak my mind without a soft elocution, or an ability to couch my words in cotton.

So I wanted to push harder in the direction of video and sound, based on my ephiphany. Back in January, I read an article in Costco’s magazine that members get, and it featured an article on a small firm that hires contract videographers. “BINGO!” I thought. My problems with partnering up are solved by going to work for this firm. I wrote them in January, but they ignored my e-mail. My electronic receipt indicated that my mail had been deleted without being read.

In reviewing my marketing efforts, I came across that e-mail again and so I resent it, with a foreword stating that I had sent this in January. I got a reply this time, but attached was a document of their requirements. It was impossible for all but the most well-established corporations to comply.

They wanted 10 years of corporate experience, certain models of cameras that each cost more than a new BMW, solid references, and a demo reel of corporate shoots that won awards. None of which I have been able to manage in the preceding 20 years. Because no one would give me a foot in the door. How the heck are you supposed to acquire experience if no one will give you a contract?

Forty years ago, people just said, “Be patient” and “do what you love and the money will come”. Today I sit here realizing that my hourglass is down to the last few grains of sand, and I still have no retirement fund, my wife literaly supports us, barely, on her meager subsistence wages, as I struggle to repair the house so it won’t fall down on top of us, and struggle with ways to make a living. I don’t want to die, leaving my wife and daughter with an astronomical tax debt. I don’t want to end up like Ed Brown, who is currently having a standoff, militia style, with the IRS and law enforcement.

I think I want to be wealthy enough to have the things I want, and to be able to leave a comfortable lifestyle to my wife and daughter when I am gone. I don’t want to die like my father before me, with a debt larger than the sum total of all his lifetime earnings.

I foolishly keep trying to find the right “gig”, so I can achieve psychological fulfillment as an entrepreneur, control over my own life, and efficacy from self-achievement. Decade after decade passes, and I look back and realize that I have not advanced by even one small increment. I must be mentally-retarded in order to be this inept at everything I do in the business world. In that sense it makes me a winner in terms of being the lowest of the losers…

I am minisculy proud of one small achievement however: unlike my parents, I have not collected welfare. :unsure:

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Mark, you are being crushed by your house. If you can't pay your taxes it won't matter if you keep it from falling down. You can have gainful employment and work on the house on weekends.

Throw away that Locke book. Such garbage!

You are also being crushed by a truckload of negative thinking.

If you want to be successful in business you need some capital. That means getting that house off your back one way or another. You need to turn it into an asset by getting on top of your taxes. You need some wiggle room.

--Brant

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Mark, you need to stop accruing more property tax bills. Do whatever you need to do to make that happen. Sell the property if you can, or let it be foreclosed/condemned/whatever if you can't. Every day you stay in that house, you are racking up more taxes. Get out. Maybe you can subdivide the land and sell parts of it.

I believe you've implied before that you could never be happy living in an apartment, without all your stereo/electronics equipment. The question is, are you happy now?

I think you need to scale way back. Maybe declare bankruptcy, move to an apartment in a city where you can find a job in your field. It will be very difficult for you to freelance without any prior paid experience under your belt. You have the ability, your best bet is to try to find a job in your field, at whatever pay you can find, and work faithfully at it for a few years at least. Your wife is supporting you. Make it easier on her. The house is too big a burden; walk away from it. You are probably not going to make a lot of money. Money isn't everything; find a way to be happy without it. You've got a nice family at least.

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Well, Jeez, What do you say to such failure in life? Try and try again? Oh wait, you did that. Maybe instead of trying to go it on your own, as a graphics designer, maybe you could have gone to work for someone else to get the experience you needed to impress those in need of being so.

When things started getting, funancially, out of hand maybe you could have gotten a second job. Or maybe you should try living within your means.

It sounds to me like you went through life making excuses for yourself. Giving yourself more reasons to be a failure.

You called yourself an Objectivist. I am insulted. This essay doesn't sound like the words of an Objectivist. <_<

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> my one area where I DO have some practical ability is in shooting, editing video, and authoring DVDs. At least in situations where I have full creative control....No one knows I exist. ....grouchy...I’m critical of people, thanks to Objectivism, and speak my mind without a soft elocution, or an ability to couch my words in cotton. [Mark]

On your first point, you are -not- worthless...you have some professional failures and financial problems. Your post shows two great virtues: You are analytical and able to lay out your situation cearly and intellgently. And you are honest, able to look clearly at the unvarnished truth and at your own lacks or gaps and shortcomings.

Very few people do this, even Objectivists. It takes a certain courage.

(Also, I think you said something about having once been homeless and now you are not. That takes strength or effort to rise out of. Working on your house shows effort and non-laziness as does your constant looking for a chance to rise. Sometimes the greatest effort and determination is required to rise from the gutter to the sidewalk, not from the sidewalk to the penthouse.)

On your second point, I'm guessing that there is a market for people who know how to photograph and make copies or DVDs of birthdays, weddings, school graduations, school assemblies, etc. Like everything else you have to start small and local and do it for free the first couple times till you have a portfolio and can say you've already done it.

But you won't get much word of mouth or will get fired unless you deal with the third one. You have to smile and keep your mouth shut and say how pretty the kids look and the wedding dress at least until you have done the job. People have choices as to who they hire and if you are grouchy, cranky, critical of them...they will simply hire someone else. They didn't solicit your opinion and very few are as open or honest as you may well be...and so they won't tolerate hearing negativity from you..in words or in vibes. (Just control your anger or bitterness or whatever till you have left the workplace.)

The shooting and editing video after a few years may lead you in the direction you want. It soujnds like a potentially quite useful skill and the fact you -like- it is a point in its favor. Your age won't matter with too many people if you develop skills, and can point to some background acquired over a couple years.

Hope this helps! (Ignore the negative posters on this thread...so far almost all of the four posters so far on this thread are on your side and want to offer you some ideas and moral support).

My father had a saying about negativity: "keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole".

GOOD LUCK, MARK!

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> my one area where I DO have some practical ability is in shooting, editing video, and authoring DVDs. At least in situations where I have full creative control....No one knows I exist. ....grouchy...I’m critical of people, thanks to Objectivism, and speak my mind without a soft elocution, or an ability to couch my words in cotton. [Mark]

On your first point, you are -not- worthless...you have some professional failures and financial problems. Your post shows two great virtues: You are analytical and able to lay out your situation cearly and intellgently. And you are honest, able to look clearly at the unvarnished truth and at your own lacks or gaps and shortcomings.

Very few people do this, even Objectivists. It takes a certain courage.

(Also, I think you said something about having once been homeless and now you are not. That takes strength or effort to rise out of. Working on your house shows effort and non-laziness as does your constant looking for a chance to rise. Sometimes the greatest effort and determination is required to rise from the gutter to the sidewalk, not from the sidewalk to the penthouse.)

On your second point, I'm guessing that there is a market for people who know how to photograph and make copies or DVDs of birthdays, weddings, school graduations, school assemblies, etc. Like everything else you have to start small and local and do it for free the first couple times till you have a portfolio and can say you've already done it.

But you won't get much word of mouth or will get fired unless you deal with the third one. You have to smile and keep your mouth shut and say how pretty the kids look and the wedding dress at least until you have done the job. People have choices as to who they hire and if you are grouchy, cranky, critical of them...they will simply hire someone else. They didn't solicit your opinion and very few are as open or honest as you may well be...and so they won't tolerate hearing negativity from you..in words or in vibes. (Just control your anger or bitterness or whatever till you have left the workplace.)

The shooting and editing video after a few years may lead you in the direction you want. It soujnds like a potentially quite useful skill and the fact you -like- it is a point in its favor. Your age won't matter with too many people if you develop skills, and can point to some background acquired over a couple years.

Hope this helps! (Ignore the negative posters on this thread...so far almost all of the four posters so far on this thread are on your side and want to offer you some ideas and moral support).

My father had a saying about negativity: "keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole".

GOOD LUCK, MARK!

I echo Phil. I remember hitting a rough patch in my life after graduate school where I went about 15 months without a job. I had trained to be a bulk stock chemical\petroleum refining engineer. Up until that point I had done everything right, gotten straight A's in high school, gone to a top flight undergraduate engineering school, struggled through and gotten accepted to a good graduate school, invested grandparents' gift wisely so I could afford all that. Then I bumped up on the fact that the price of oil at that time (1996) was very low, nobody was hiring except for the top 10% of students or students with internships under their belt and I didn't have very good interviewing skills.

I ended up moving out to the San Francisco Bay Area, going to job placement center, Westech job fairs and realized almost all of the chemical engineering jobs at that time were in semiconductors, I spent days in the Stanford Bookstore and library learning about chemical vapor deposition and reworking my resume countless times to tailor to that industry. All in all I made about 6000 phone calls, 40 phone interviews and 17 onsite interviews before I landed my first job and it was the most educational experience of my life.

I went through periods where I was so worried that I vomited about twice a week and couldn't control some of my personal negative feelings, but Phil's right people don't care about that and will simply hire someone else. Sometimes I had to drive out to the beach or watch an uplifting movie to get into the frame of mind to get on the phone or do interviews. Also, in today's world people in interviews don't necessarily listen to what you say in an interview or sales pitch they simply look for a reason not to hire you or buy your product or service, don't give them that reason!! Good luck, Mark!!!

Jim

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Since so many of you have replied, I’ll try to respond in one concise reply.

First, Brant:

Yes, I agree, and gainful employment is what I have been seeking ever since retirement. But also emotionally-fulfilling employment, which has eluded me thus far. I admit, I’m not a good menial tasks person. I tire easily of such activity. And I don’t last long at most of these jobs, when younger, more energetic people are clamoring for the same job. These jobs are for kids in high school, not persons who have worked a whole lifetime and nothing to show for it.

Yes, the house is weighing me down, but at least it’s MY house (at least I can believe that morally, even if not true under statute law). It sure beats paying a mortgage or rent, neither of which I could afford.

Negative thinking arose out of a string of steady failures. Believe it or not, I once believed success and wealth were possible. But it’s been so many decades now, and since my parents lost their modest lifestyle in the Great Depression, I have no history of what it feels like not to be in poverty.

Yes, I need to get on top of the taxes. I need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rolling. But I can’t even get a home repair loan. I am out of ideas (probably because I have almost no mental faculty working in this area) on how to rise above what seems insurmountable.

Laure:

It is obvious that I need to stop racking up taxes. A big income would solve that problem.

No matter where I go, there is always the income problem. I could not afford rent for an apartment. The only reason I’m still living here is because there’s no mortgage. Since the town is slower to act on tax-delinquent property, I have been able to keep a roof over my head. And the police have visited me several times and I’ve made it clear that if they move on me, they’re going to have another Waco. I told them that if they want to steal my worthless little piece of property (worthless to any middle class buyer, that is), then they’re going to have to commit murder to steal it from me. We’re in a sort of unofficial standoff.

I am happier than I would be in an apartment. I get very depressed and angry when I don’t have my outlet. It has been a substitute for love and romance for over 30 years, since I was chronically single and unable to find a date within US borders. I’ve grown so dependant on that crutch that even now, I can’t give it up. I would end my life if it were suddenly gone.

What you’re suggesting involves the ‘chicken and egg syndrom’, because you have to have money and good credit to get an apartment and you have to have a LOT of money to get one in a city where there is quality work (assuming I wanted to throw away all that I am hanging onto now). And then I would be stressed out trying to come up with rent payments every month, and worried about finding/keeping a job. My past employment history is very checkered. I had problems with tardiness, low productivity, lack of interest in the work. And I won’t live in a city where I can’t carry a sidearm for personal protection.

My closest friend keeps telling me to walk away from it, but I can’t. I’d be sleeping in my car if it weren’t for this house. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I can’t start from scratch again and live long enough to make it to a level of self-sufficiency and comfort. Lately, I’m having difficulty remembering things. I fear I may have the dreaded “A” disease. I could drop dead tomorrow. I could surprise everyone and live another 10-15 years or more. But for me, I’m done struggling. This is it. This is MY home and I’m staying put.

Money buys safety from evil men (tax men), money buys food that lets you live healthy, money buys tangible goods that affirm that life is good and worth living. Without it, life is hell. No wonder poor people use drugs to escape reality. If it weren’t for the little utopia I’ve struggled 30 long years to create for myself in the basement, I too would be using drugs, or worse.

David:

Let me be clear about this: I consider myself a “student of Objectivism” not an Objectivist. I reserve the latter title for Miss Rand, Dr. Branden, Dr. Peikoff, and perhaps a few others who are the “godheads” of this philosophy. I’m not perfect. I only have an understanding of Objectivist politics, which made me see the gross injustices of taxation, the draft, eminent domain, etc. It’s partly because of Objectivism that I stopped filing income taxes in the 1970s. That was a big mistake, because they ruined me financially, and I’ve never quite recovered from it, but have developed an even deeper hatred of the federal government to the point where I wish them all to be put to death by boiling in oil.

Yes, I made a lot of excuses in life. I lacked the patience of most people. I was taught that it was possible to attain wealth and riches. But when my meager employment failed to advance me and when I realized that my dream was impossibly far, I began to take shortcuts. I also spent my earlier years in great heartache. To lust after one woman after another, and be rejected by all, decade after decade, well, it also contributed to killing my zest for living. All I wanted back then was to be loved, to get married and have a normal life like everyone else. But then when too much time had passed, I became materialistic, both to make up for the lack of romance, and to make up for not having things when I was a kid growing up in the shadow of the Depression.

I was always envious of the other kids, whose parent gave them allowances and enough money on field trips to buy things. Me, I had nothing as a kid. I played with rocks in the quarry pit next to my parents’ first home. I built model houses out of cardboard. I had no toys to play with as a kid. I had to make them myself. I guess over the years, I had a tendency to overcompensate. I never had friends. I wasn’t “hip” or popular. I was considered the homely ugly kid that no one wanted to play with. Later on, I found some social acceptance after building my first sound system. Then I met an audiophile years later who would blow me away (literally) with his sound system. And I was ‘poisoned’ by that experience. Like a drug addiction, I kepted building and adding more. I kept wanting more, and kept working and saving my pennies with the sole goal of getting more sound. It became my fixation—my psychosomatic obsession in life.

Despite that, I have always lived very modestly. While the other kids bought Corvettes and wasted hundreds a week at bars and nightclubs, I lived on boiled noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wouldn’t buy clothes but once every 8-10 years. Often shopping in thrift stores for essential items. In fact, before I got married, my living expenses, not including taxes and auto insurance, were under $1850 a year. I never ate out at restaurants. I saved my money, all of it, toward the more tangible goals I had of building that sound system.

I’ve lived well within modest means. The problem was that my income was so small that even modest living was unaffordable.

Since the 1960s, I had wanted to be a typesetter—I dreamed of laying out newpaper pages and so on. I also dreamed of shooting movies on super 8 film. But I could never afford the equipment back then. But I found it easy to acquire people’s unwanted old radios from their cellars, and I collected a lot of electronic parts, and found I had a knack for electronics. I got some entry level jobs assembling electronics, but soon realized it wasn’t going to get me to my goal, and soon lost interest in that kind of work.

In the 1970s, I realized I could build a radio transmitter. Then I launched an unlicensed radio station and enjoyed that activity because it was a multimedia-related presentation activity. I enjoyed presenting news and music to an unknown audience. But my audiophile interests caused me to see deficiencies in the equipment, so I refined and improved the designs, until one day in 1979, I realized they were comparable to commercial broadcast equipment in terms of quality.

I was still working in a modem factory, having never advanced past a bench technician in all these decades, and I saw potential money in a possible product I might have in my radio gear designs. So I approached many people, and they referred me to other people, some of which were inventors. One gentlemen told me a cautionary story about an associate who had invented a type of propeller for aircraft, and how he’d went to one of the major airframe manufacturers with it, and how they stole it from him, boldly, right in front of him as he watched them talk about modifying the design. I finally contacted some patent attornies in 1982. I had, what I felt, was the beginnings of a really good invention for broadcasting. One that would bring back the dynamics and reduce the noise, by using control subcarriers to drive an expander amplifier in the receiver. I built a working prototype and wrote up fairly extensive technical documentation. I took that to a group of attornies who specialized in patent law and bringing products to market. They notarized and put on file copies of my paperwork, so there would be a record of it. But they said they could not help me, because of the extent of federal regulation. Although they felt my invention had some merit, they stated that by the time any federal agency would approve the concept for commercial use, they would not be around to receive their cut of the profits. So they would not assist me further.

I next went to a slew of investors, writing everyone I could think of, or had read about in the paper—the wealthiest men in the world. Not even Rupert Murdoch saw any value in my invention. So no capital was obtained.

The mid 1980s brought about the personal computer revolution. At first, I saw the word processing potential and the old 1960s bug hit me again about typesetting, this time on a PC. By the late 1980s, I had finally scraped together enough money to buy a closeout on a 8088-based PC and amber screen monitor. And I saved my money and eventually bought a copy of WordPerfect 4.2. And I enjoyed typing letters and printing them out on a daisy wheel printer. But things didn’t really get exciting until the first affordable laser printer became a part of my set of tools. Yes, now they were tools. With the laser printer, I could layout brochures and newsletters. So after mastering the software, I set out to get work. I went door to door to every business downtown in the two closest towns. I did land some work. Business cards and billheads for one furniture store owned by a woman, and some subcontracting work from another direct mail processing business in town, laying out newspaper circulars for a supermarket.

The problem was that my costs of paying the printer pretty much equaled what I could charge for the typesetting. I worked for pennies an hour. The marketing firm eventually tried to stiff me when their own client didn’t pay them. I instituted my guerilla collections tactics, calling her boss, then the owner of the business, then her clients, and finally sueing her in small claims court, but then having to go so far as to call the Sheriff’s office and inquire as to what the remedies were once a judgement is defaulted on, and I relayed those to the firm in a FAX. The next day they paid off their debt with me, about $67. They had no integrity anyway. Oddly, they are still in business today, 20 years later.

I’d had many ups and downs. The 1990s came, and with it, pressure to move into color prepress, as laser printers were becoming ubiquitous, and color was where the real graphic designers were making money. Through a mutual connection in the local computer club, I found a brochure catalog job for a small sports merchandising company out of Boca Raton, Florida. I pulled it off, miraculously, in CorelDraw 3, under Windows 3.0 and got the film separations right the first time. That was to be a lucky exception.

The following year, a mutual friend of mine, and Japanese translator, got me in touch with a “leading” importer of anime in New York. On ‘spec’, I did up a sell sheet design for a new title they were going to release, a film about WWII Japan and two children who struggled and died in the aftermath. I saw the film, and had lots of inspiration to write the ad copy and design a different and unconvetional sell sheet. Up to now, all sell sheets were portrait orientation. Mine was laid out like a widescreen movie scene, with a scene from the movie full bleed across the page in a phantom halftone and the text laid on top of the image. Their production coordinator said it wouldn’t fly, but when we sat down in a meeting in their NYC office, the CEO liked it. And the production coordinator flipfloped and reversed his former opinion and went along with the CEO (brown-noser). I got that gig, and I worked myself hard and long to get it right. It was torturous, as I had just moved to Ventura Publisher for Windows, the first Windows version of this venerable DOS publishing software, and it had major problems handling graphics. Screen redraws literally took minutes. One can imagine how torturously slow the layout process went. But the problems carried into the film. I had many fights with the prepress service bureaus, because I’d output a file and the film would come out with missing elements, or the entire image rotated 90º, or some other unexpected errata. And it was a few hundred dollars and another day every time the film had to be redone.

Eventually, QuarkXpress came to Windows and things got better. But at the same time, a new production coordinator took over, a Jewish woman who clearly did not want to get along with me. All she could do was find fault with my obviously superior work. While the other designers turned in work that contained images that were muddy and not color-corrected, and out of focus, I turned in layouts that had vivid images that were as sharp as possible for the source material they gave me to scan. But the new coordinator nit picked on really bizarre things that she should have known were the attributes of photo lithography. Eventually, she stopped sending me work, and ultimately, the CEO figured out that, instead of paying outside designers $1350 per sheet plus VHS sleeve design, he could hire $5/hr college students to work on Mac computers in-house. That was another strike against me: John hated PCs and only considered Macs to be real graphics computers.

By the mid 1990s, that opportunity was dead. But a friend found a company looking for a PhotoShop designer to design faceplates for coupon dispensing kiosks. I interviewed and got the job. I thought I had finally come upon my lucky “big break”. The paychecks started rolling in and I was earning more in a single day, than I did at my old job in a full week. The job involved laying out color ads in PhotoShop, based on sketches on tissue paper that one of their staff designers made from interviews with clients. This worked well. Each morning, I’d drive the hour to Westport and pick up 8 or 10 jobs, drive back to the studio and crank out the work on my souped up 486-50 with a beta test graphics accelerator card, which gave me an almost unfair production advantage. Their staff of 3-4 designers cranked out about 12-15 faceplates a day. I, working alone, cranked out 10 a day and my quality was almost flawless. The assignments kept flowing and I began to believe that it would be possible for me to one day buy my own home.

But then the paychecks started being late. Then not at all. Repeated requests to find out what the delays were were met by stonewalling. The typical excuses. “The Comptroller is in Rhode Island and can’t be reached,” and other excuses. One day, while waiting in their lobby to see the person that hired me about the day’s assignments, I noticed that a sheriff walked in and went to see the CEO. I had learned that he was getting divorced, so I shrugged it off as having no bearing on the company’s ability to pay. I had racked up $6400 in unpaid invoices by now, and was becoming concerned as 3 weeks had now passed without a check. Then they dropped the bombshell. I got a notice from some court, that they were filing for bankruptcy. This was the one time my guerilla tactics failed me. I knew that it was a Delaware corporation, so I called up the State of Delaware and told them I was calling from the state of Connecticut—apparently they thought I was literally calling from a state government, and they gave me the CEO’s home address and contact info without any further questions. Serendipity, I suppose, due to confusion in communication. So I wrote a demand letter to the CEO. He eventually called me. We had a 45 minute discussion. He told me he had $800 left to his name, as the divorce took everything. He explained that he tried to get a $500,000 bridge loan to keep the company afloat, but when K-mart pulled out, the whole house of cards toppled. Their clients? Mainly Bradlee’s and K-Mart. We all know what happened to them. My anger turned to compassion, and I wished him the best and ended my collection attempt. See? I’m not a monster after all.

By the later half of the 1990s, I started up my unlicensed radio station again, which had been dormant for about 20 years. It started to become somewhat popular. Using AOL chat, people would IM me asking if this was a radio station, to which I’d reply affirmatively and tell them where on the dial to tune in. I had about a dozen known listeners who would e-mail the station. It was an all Japanese anime format.

But I knew that exercising my 1st amendment rights and using Ayn Rand’s principle of taking a portion of unused, valueless spectrum and generating a useful RF signal gave me the moral right to use that spectrum. Broadcasting went on for several years.

Eventually, a met another broadcaster who worked for the local radio station on AOL. We struck up a fast friendship (we both had clandestined radio interests in our spare time) and he introduced me to a radio station broker, who owns several stations in New England. He had been impressed with the quality of my audio, as heard on his FM receiver, 30 miles away, and one day a field trip was arranged for them to come to my place and see the operation. That led to my first engineering job in broadcasting. A legendary AM station in Mount Kisco was in need of an engineer, and this broker, using his reputation, recommended me. No one asked if I had even had a license. They just hired me as a contract engineer.

This radio engineering business was the closest thing to lucrative, since the last graphic design client went bankrupt. I managed about $20/hr and commuted all over the place. A few more stations were added to my client list, thanks to this Liberal philanthropic gentleman, who also became a good friend to me. For a few years, I had fairly steady work. At least 1-2 days a week, and sometimes a studio construction project would happen and I’d be involved, in which case I’d work for 5 days a week. I was always glad when those projects finished, because the daily commute was wearing me down and I was so fatigued that getting up in the morning and staying awake on the long commutes was a difficult challenge. I can only thank the genius who invented the buzz lanes along the shoulders of our highways—I have dozed and drifted into the shoulder, only to have the loud BUZZ wake me up in time to avoid hitting the gardrail.

But after 2002, radio work declined. The use of PCs and minidisc players replaced cart machines and turntables and with it, the regular maintenance. I was also growing tired of this kind of work. But it was a good 8 years, about the longest I have stuck with any job.

Today, I realize that I need to be in a business where I’m in control, where I don’t have a daily commute, and where I’m doing activities that are refreshing, multimedia-related and utilize my full skillset in that field. For too long, I have worked in limited, narrow capacities, and boredom was the result. When I shot that orchestral concert, I was reminded in spades that I was alive and actually enjoying my work. I had not experienced that, ever, except maybe a little bit with the PhotoShop faceplate project, but it was probably the big income that caused me to think that I liked the grueling work and rush-rush schedule demands. Shooting the orchestra was, for me, almost relaxing and very therapeutic.

I have been trying to break into video in stages, since 1987, because in parallel with my DTP activities, I had invested in, with money from a relative, a graphics workstation, based on a the first truecolor 24-bit graphics card from AT&T Labs. I had also purchased one, and then a year later, another used color video camera. Then a VTR, and a live effects switcher. I was into linear editing, and it was tedious, but I saw the potential, and knew that somehow, I had to get into this business. But the quality of the equipment wasn’t good enough then. Today is a different story. My finished work on DVD looks better than what comes in over digital TV broadcasts. It rivals many DVDs mastered from film. And it’s easy to compare things on a four foot screen, because every flaw sticks out with embarassing clarity.

What’s crazy is that I now have the HDTV bug. I see the potential in HDV, and I have a silly ambition to somehow raise $60,000 so I can buy three HDV cameras, a new editing PC, and professional DVD authoring software for Blu-ray and HD DVD disc production. Yup, it’s that insatiable drive to own and control impressive new technology. I keep having this crazy belief that if I can produce the best looking and sounding product out there, that I should be able to get the work.

But getting a job in a company that does this.. well the problem is that I don’t live in Los Angeles or Seattle. There is very little corporate anything around here. In fact, corporations have been fleeing Connecticut since 1989, due to bad government regulatory and tax policies. The only industry that is currently booming is the home construction industry. New houses are going up in alarming numbers. And yet, Connecticut bled 13,000 residents last year. Makes me wonder how long before housing construction goes bust, with no one moving into Connecticut…

Phil:

What can I say? I’ve no shame, and it would do me no good to be dishonest, so why not tell the whole story as it is, and risk the possibility that someone will come forth with a thought that resonates with me so strongly that it changes my psychology?

I didn’t really work out of anything. After I lost my job and was forced into early retirement, due to a nervous breakdown/suicide attempt, I spent some time hospitalized and under therapy, which was ineffective. I was out of work so long that I became ineligable for SS benefits. And when my father passed on, I inherited the house, a real mess. He hadn’t been able to do much with it after mom died ten years earlier. I never would have been able to afford this place on my own. Ironically, I helped him to build it. And now I am completely rebuilding it, from the foundation up, as the foundation is the only thing that doesn’t need demolishing. But I moved from sleeping in my car to inhabiting this house again (yes, I was one of those losers who lived at home on and off ‘til I was 50) and finally having some creature comforts. And now I am effectively earning the right to this house, by virtue of having torn sections of it down, and completely rebuilding it, room by room. Too bad I’m not earning $$$. But the place is built on a wetland and there are things he buried in the back yard that I won’t discuss publicly, but which would come to light in any transfer of ownership with ensueing inspections and testing. I’ve looked into selling, a few years back when the taxes quadrupled, but was told that only a builder might consider it, but then some builders told me they would not gamble on this lot because Wetlands could deny them a building permit due to the fact that a pond and stream runs within 150’ of the farthest corner of this property, thus making 100% of the land unusable for building homes. So I gave up on any hope of selling and coming out with enough money to buy somewhere else. So I’m still here.

There is SOME market for wedding videographers, but it is very competitive. The two wedding gigs I got were because of friends of my wife, and the first gig came after four years of me volunteering to tape Filipino cultural dances that my wife often participated in. We’d put the result on DVD-R media and do up a professional looking package and sell them for $12 each at the next meeting of the association. We’d sell 10-20 copies of Spring Dance every year, and when it came time for one of the families to wed their daughter, my wife knew them well enough to get an interview with them. I was able to sell them on my services, amazingly, and I had never shot a wedding before. They had seen my professional looking dance videos for four years though. When I got the gig, I scoured the internet, and studied sample videos by all the best wedding videographers—the guys that charged $10,000 per wedding shoot, and I distilled the basic ideas and implemented them into my own shooting and production. The end result turned out wonderful. The client was happy, I got paid, and then two years later, another friend of my wife’s is getting married and we used the first wedding DVD as an example of our work and they liked it and hired us for an upcoming July wedding. But we only know so many people. Weddings are a grueling business. It’s nerve-wracking because you have one chance to get it right, and you can’t be late, delayed, in a traffic accident or sick on the day of the wedding or you could be sued by the client. But I have been able to handle the first wedding, and I am confident I’ll do even better on the next one.

But I’d love to shoot TV commercials. I think it would be fun to shoot a movie as well. I’ve been trying to do that for four years, but none of my friends want to be involved. So I have no actors or volunteers. I have some half-finished fiction novels that I’ve been working on since 1985, and one story that could potentially be a good film, but with no one showing interest in doing an indie film, and too many domestic urgencies to take care of, I have had to focus on videography that generates income. That’s why I applied at Crews-Control, because I saw a system in place whereby someone else lines up the gigs and I would be a subcontractor. But their requirements are steep and really only practical for people who have been able to study this in college and apprentice in a corporate environment and eventually get a job doing that. That would take a minimum of 15 years, assuming I had the fifty grand for tuition to get into school. I’d probably spend ten years saving up the money, then, 25 years later, I’d be most like long dead and forgotten. This is a career path for young people who are going to be alive and healthy for at least 20 more years.

My personality has been a problem ever since childhood. Being a social outcast only made things worse as I got older. I’m frankly surprised I didn’t turn into an axe murderer, given the way things have gone over the years. My social interaction problem is one of awkwardness with meeting people in-person. They’re probably thinking “who’s this psycho, anyway?” I only do okay when a mutual friend introduces me. On my own, I have no credibility.

I may not have several years to start at the bottom of this ladder. I should have started forty years ago, but I was too focused on my romantic failures back then. Now that my libido has all but vanished (the other reason my wife calls me “useless”), I really don’t care about that aspect of life today, but do have a fetish for high tech gear. And OWNING high tech gear. It’s never fun when the gear belongs to someone else. But here I stand today, realizing that I fucked up, absolutely and totally and, like playing a real lousy chess game, I stand, in check, with the enemy queen about to deal the final checkmate to me. I’m just a feeble old man now, and, despite my doggedness toward my impossible dream, reality tells me I’m so far past my prime that I really have no right to expect to do much more with my life. I’ve had my chance, and I blew it.

My curse, in my younger years, was having the libido of a playboy, but not the social skills of one.

Thanks for the good wishes.

James:

Lots of people hit a ‘rough patch’ in life. That’s normal. My whole life has been a ‘rough patch’ though. That’s where things depart from normal. I came from a poor family. We were forced out of one house by a sewer assessment my father could not afford. It was almost a year’s pay, and it was mandatory. We were escorted out of that house by a sheriff and some police, a whole bunch of them. That started me off early in life, with a healthy dislike for government.

As I was starting to say, I was born in a poor family. We had no money for college. I had so many problems in school that I was expelled. I had learning difficulties, and extreme social problems. And I had to get a job when I turned 18 and from that day forward, I worked whatever job I could find. I’d worked many jobs, few of which I could stand for more than five years at one duty. I stagnated everywhere I worked. No promotions, no raises. I was desparately unhappy, physically uncomfortable (it was always too hot in these places) and the work was unfulfilling as it was completely unrelated to my interests.

Like the song goes, “a rich man goes to college, and a poor man goes to work,” indeed. So no opportunity for me. With my basket case social skills, I was barely able to get a regular job, much less run a business. But that didn’t stop me from trying. :)

Yes, like you, I had a lot of periods where I felt sick. I developed ulcers and a nervous condition that caused chronic diarhrea that went on for more than 20 years. It didn’t stop until I left the corporate rat race. My health immediately improved after I resigned from my last employment situation. The nervous condition abated and I was able to eat normally for the first time I can remember since childhood. I don’t want to ever give up that freedom; that stress was a living hell.

If I didn’t have the property tax issue hanging over my head, I’d say I was doing pretty well.

I don’t want a job. I want a fulfilling business venture. I’ve had my fill of working for others at starvation wages and no appreciation for my efforts.

This whole ‘rant’ was triggered by a sinking feeling that I get whenever a prospect rejects me because I am not in their league. I guess it’s a culmination of many things all pressing me at once.

My situation seems to recall a poem by Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.”

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Mark,

This post doesn’t sound like a man facing practical problems seeking to overcome them. It sounds like a man seeking out an excuse to not feel guilty for not doing what it takes to succeed at what he wants. You want an audience to applaud your self-pity. (And let’s not fool ourselves, self-pity is what this is). What else is one to conclude seeing posts that are lengthier than the OJ transcripts? I’ll interact with you, but I won’t pity you, or applaud your self-appointed victimhood. Like Roark, I don’t regard “pity” as a virtue. That’s the last thing one wants to feel for another human being, and it’s even further down the ladder what one would want from others. If you posted something seeking out practical advice on some specific *problem* genuinely seeking wisdom and counsel, that’s fine. This is a Soap Opera. Respect and admiration is where it’s at.

Fight for what you want; work hard and then even harder until you succeed at whatever it is you want. Now, I am not a Draconian fellow when it comes to others who are down and out, don’t get me wrong. We all feel depressed or blue once in a while. But at some point, we pick ourselves up and carry on. However, I am picking up here a habitual way of going about things leading to self-defeat. Don't let it happen. Please.

I won’t approve of passivity or self-pity, especially a passivity masquerading as a victim of circumstance or fate. It’s not coming from the man who picked one of the hardest gigs to succeed at: I’m a freaking visual artist. :shocked: I busted my ass and I could tell a shit load of sob stories—every one of them offering equal plausibility as to why I shouldn’t have succeeded. But I had an entirely different attitude and philosophy to the shit storms life offers us all: perseverance and fortitude.

Mark, I would be entirely disingenuous if I didn’t “talk straight” and I happen to take the issue of life’s ambitions seriously. Don’t see me as an enemy, speaking to you such as I am. But if you do, consider this: it is better—much better—to have a noble enemy than a pusillanimous friend.

-Victor

Edited by Victor Pross

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Since so many of you have replied, I’ll try to respond in one concise reply.

First, Brant:

Yes, I agree, and gainful employment is what I have been seeking ever since retirement. But also emotionally-fulfilling employment, which has eluded me thus far. I admit, I’m not a good menial tasks person. I tire easily of such activity. And I don’t last long at most of these jobs, when younger, more energetic people are clamoring for the same job. These jobs are for kids in high school, not persons who have worked a whole lifetime and nothing to show for it.

Yes, the house is weighing me down, but at least it’s MY house (at least I can believe that morally, even if not true under statute law). It sure beats paying a mortgage or rent, neither of which I could afford.

Negative thinking arose out of a string of steady failures. Believe it or not, I once believed success and wealth were possible. But it’s been so many decades now, and since my parents lost their modest lifestyle in the Great Depression, I have no history of what it feels like not to be in poverty.

Yes, I need to get on top of the taxes. I need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rolling. But I can’t even get a home repair loan. I am out of ideas (probably because I have almost no mental faculty working in this area) on how to rise above what seems insurmountable

If your higher priority is "emotionally-fulfilling employment," good luck.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Mark,

I have a small suggestion and it may not be worth a lot. Here is a link:

Robert Ringer

Ringer is about the closest thing to an Objectivist/libertarian self-help guru there is. He has an ezine called A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World and, on the site, you can sign up to receive it for free. Each issue takes about 10 minutes to read, if that.

In this ezine, Ringer often discusses self-defeating attitudes and traps, and things like how to organize your thinking and routines. He gives lots of practical advice on what to do when you can't see the forest for the trees. His whole focus is on thinking outside the box, but being successful. His own success is proof of the power of his ideas. He is the essence of the self-made man who rose from the ashes.

Ringer has an archive of past articles on his site, all free. The only drawback is that he is pretty aggressive about advertising his wares if you sign up for the ezine, but then again, why shouldn't he be?

I find this kind of literature sort of like a morning cup of coffee. It is not profound or earth-shattering, but it helps get the mental juices flowing in the right direction and kind of kicks off the day on a positive note. I am using "day" as a metaphor here because the ezine is not a daily one. But not being daily, it is also not an irritation to get grumpy over. It is a small drop of pleasure when it arrives.

Who knows? Maybe you will find something of value here. I know I do.

Michael

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Mark, if any of us knew a way to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars quickly, we would do it ourselves - we wouldn't give the idea away to you! Forget making a lot of money quickly; it is not going to happen.

You're hoping for an epiphany that's going to save you. I don't think there is one. The most solid advice you're going to get is to sell off your assets (yes, let go of your toys that you haven't really earned and can't afford to keep!), get out of the house, get a subsidized apartment, get a job - any job. Your response of "no, no, I could never do that" is not getting you anywhere.

I think you need a social worker. I know you are not the type who will listen to a social worker's advice and do what you are told, but I think it may be your only hope.

The one big question mark about your whole story is, why does the county think your property is worth so much (as indicated by the high taxes) and yet you think it is worthless? Work on getting this reconciled, and either you can get your taxes reduced to near-nothing, or you can sell your property for a substantial sum of money. You mention legal concerns regarding environmental issues. Well, whatever it is, you need to face up to it. Face reality; confront your problem head-on; accept the consequences. Whining about it not being fair is not helpful.

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Mark --

I don't hear self-pity in your words: I hear desperation and despair. You sound like you're in real trouble. Hang in there.

You talk about your lack of social skills as if it's a defect with which you were born and with which you're doomed to live forever. Some of what you say sounds as if you're hanging on to that as a badge of honor, so to speak -- as a form of integrity: not saying what you don't mean and pretending to feel what you don't feel. But there are ways of having social skills without giving up your integrity. These skills aren't something with which you're born: they're learned. And no matter how old you are, it's never too late to learn them. Think of it as a form of survival training, like learning how to shoot or fight. Animals that don't learn proper social skills rarely survive. You can learn these things. Trust me on this one. In fact, you can learn a lot about social skills by studying animal behavior.

You say you're running out of time and don't have time to start learning things now. Well, in five or ten or twenty years, you may be here anyway. If you start now, you'll have the benefit of having spent those years learning. The older you get, the faster time goes, and the faster the learning goes. And the older you get, the more benefit you have from previous learning, so you can apply that past learning to learning new things, so you may learn faster. Applying yourself to learning will put you in a better place five years from now than succumbing to despair.

You sound like you're in a really desperate financial situation, but you're putting all kinds of strings on what you are and are not willing to do. If I were in your situation, I'd do whatever I had to do to survive, whether or not it were fulfiling or exactly to my taste. Consider talking to someone who provides free financial advice to senior citizens (I assume you're over 55) and decide on a few major priorities, and be willing to let the rest go so you can keep your head above water. If you need to keep the house and the bass system as spiritual fuel, so be it; those are things you must decide. But you need money and income, period; don't give up or turn down a job because it's not exactly what you want.

Judith

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Once again, I’m responding individually in one post.

Victor:

I feel lots of guilt for taking shortcuts when I was younger. Looking back, I realize that I made a lot of evasive choices. I made those choices because, at the time, the one thing that I wanted, a certain type of romantic fulfillment, was beyond my reach. Forty years of constant rejection by the opposite sex does strange things to a man. I developed odd ways of coping with that. I became deeply materialistic. I’m afraid that’s not going away any time soon.

This IS the Rants subforum, and, I guess you could say I’m venting my frustration. Maybe it’s a safety valve that prevents me from doing other less healthy actions in an irrational moment. It’s not intended to be a pity party. I’m not looking for your symphathy. I may be writing this tome to myself, as a way of crystalizing the problem.

I’ve worked hard all my life—for others, making others rich, while I got used up like a dirty rag and tossed away. The problem is that I worked hard and not smart. I didn’t figure out how to leverage my position to a better position. I just languished and moved from one job to another. I think the reason why is because I have no natural talent that fits with any commercially-viable area.

They say that a lot of success is luck—being in the right place, knowing the right people. I just never knew many people, much less people that could connect me to the right people. Co-workers hated me, as I was labeled the complainer. It was too hot, or someone was smoking and the smoke was bothering me, or someone was playing a radio and it was distracting me so I couldn’t get my work done. I had numerous problems getting along with people, and these people were mostly just the dregs of society, and in no position to connect me to any lucrative opportunities. Since I lacked the genius to make my own path out of that mess, that’s where I languished for half a century.

I don’t even know how to formulate a question about any specific problem because I am overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of problems. It ranges from how do I knock down a third floor structure, when my legs aren’t steady enough to climb a ladder, to how to get good paying clients and find projects to do in videography, which is the one thing I am actually pretty good at. And hundreds of problems in between. So I just do a brain dump like this when I’m feeling particularly low. It got me practically banned from OOL last month. Sorry to burden you all with this.

Yes, and you’re a good artist as you have real, tangible TALENT. I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. I have no imagination. My mind is about as dead as a vegetable. All those years working in manual labor jobs, bored so severely that my mind went into a vegetative state. That’s how I got through long 12 hour shifts, packing tampons in boxes, sweating and choking on paper dust. I became a zombie, mentally, just to keep up the job every day. I don’t know if talent is in-born, natural, or if someone or the environment you grew up in tought it to you, or made conditions favorable to developing that talent, but you have a gift and you’re fortunate. My gifts seem to be in areas that are either highly illegal, or just have no commercial value.

I don’t see you as the enemy. I appreciate your frank, honest response. I would rather hear the truth, than the feel good cooings of a Liberal philanthropist.

Brant:

To live, one must want to live. To want to live, one must have a dream and a reasonable chance of achieving it. I stuck it out for many decades, working “shit” jobs. I saved what I could, but the wage was small, and the car broke down often, and most of my income went to transportation costs and paying off credit cards used to pay for emergency breakdown repairs. I was stuck in a cycle of struggling between trying to afford a working car and getting to work on time. When I did manage to get on top of the transportation problems, I focused on small, tangible dreams. Without the girlfriends, I spent my limited money instead on stereo equipment. But now, I want to do the impossible, which is to be successful in my own business. If I believed in the afterlife, I wouldn’t care how bad my life on earth was, since I’d have my sites set on serving God and going to Heaven. But we all know that what’s here now is IT. So I know my time is about up, I’m living on borrowed time, and I’m intending to enjoy what little I have left. I feel no guilt in that.

Michael:

I’ll check out the Ringer site. I read his books in the 80s, and recall “Looking Out for #1”. I still have that and one other book he wrote after that, in my library.

Laure:

The reality is, no ephiphany (financially) is happening, and although I keep hoping that I’ll find the work I love someday, I don’t believe there is any real financial relief coming. The fact is, working at Radio Shack or Wal-Mart isn’t bringing in enough to pay the bills. I need more income. And I tire easily now and need to rest frequently.

I’m afraid I’m too set in my ways, and too selfish to let go of the “toys” as you call them (I consider them the objects that have kept my sanity all these years)—I’m just too set in my ways.

I don’t want anything to do with social workers. They are child kidnappers and family destroyers, at the behest of the state. I would appreciate it if you don’t ever bring that up again.

The problem with my little parcel of swampland is quite unique. They way the town valuates property is by square footage, and prevailing property values in the area. Since my neighbor built a mansion to the east of me, and to the west of me is a lake, with a 19-hole golf course and country club, and most of the houses going up around this immediate area are largely valued in the $600,000-$1M range, this “rush” has inflated my property value on paper, as far as the assessor is concerned. We bought this property for $1850, 42 years ago. I still think of it as being worth only a few thousand. The land is unimproved. The house, well, I’ve been told it’s the land value, minus demolition costs. Another person familiar with environmental laws, who’s aware of the situation that dad left behind as his legacy, stated that if I ever do manage to sell this hunk of land, that it would be in my best interest to move to a foreign country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US.

And another reason why I won’t give up this place, is because I have so much blood, sweat and tears, so much raw physical effort into rebuilding the infrastructure, and I’ve ruined my health doing this, that I’m not going to throw away my investment. I’m not going to throw that away to go live in some section 8 housing with drug gangs roaming the neighborhood and shootings going on all night.

The town is stubborn. And last December, they sold the tax liens to a corporation. I’ve refused their agent entry to the property, stating that I granted them no sale of this land and that they had bought into a government-backed fraud. That was followed by more visits from the police and quite a few reasoned, calm discussions with an investigator. I think they’re playing it very cool. Maybe they’re waiting for me to die, before they swoop in. Maybe they’ll storm the place some early morning and kill us all. But I’m too old to give in. And something tells me that they’re just not sure what to do about me. They’ve never encountered an “embattled farmer” before. Maybe my talks with them have enlightened them to some degree about morality of property ownership. But I no longer care about dying. This is America, damnit. The land of the free. And this is a war between Communists and free poeople. I’m not a tax cheat. I’m a revolutionary, fighting for American ideals, which we all have mostly forgotten. If it looks like there’s going to be a war, I’ll send the loved ones to live in California with their relatives and face my lion alone.

Judith:

Right you are. I may be waiting for the right combination of words to reach me, past my mental blockade. Or I may simply have no mental faculty left that’s efficacious enough to deal rationally with life.

I’ve been told I belong in a rest home. Numerous times, I’ve been told to let go. But this house is who I am. It’s my identity, or rather, it protects all that is my identity.

I don’t believe that integrity is at odds with social skills here. I still retain much of the “gunshy” behavior left behind from a childhood of trauma and abuse from peers. As I grew up, I became xenophobic. I’ve not been able to correct that probably incorrect core premise that “people are bad, people will hurt me if I look at them or talk to them”. What I have is a phobia of strangers. I know that in business, this can’t work this way.

You’re right though. I used to say that as long as there’s life, there’s hope. If, by some unexpected miracle, I should be alive 10 years from now, I could be further ahead if I take certain steps now. It is a matter of faith. I have to believe that I’m going to buck statistics and live longer than my relatives did. My wife told me recently that I’m going to live to 120. I wish I could believe her, because I would suddenly feel that I have a second chance to have enough time to start over and build a new career. But in reality, people to want to pay the elderly a lot of money. We’re seen as passé, over the hill, useless people, who should be warehoused until we die.

I have found that two interesting things happen as you age: you become wiser in a broad sense of knowledge, but you become stupider in practical areas. Kids are really smart today. They’re quick thinkers, quick to see relationships and identify problems and their solutions. I have difficulty with these practical situations and my mind is in a fog. I have frustrating problems with inability to remember things. That’s been going on for several years. I had a stroke in 1984 and another one in 1992. I lost some of my vision after that, but also my ability to remember short-term things. I spend 50 minutes out of each hour, trying to remember what it was I was planning to do. Then when I finally figure it out, I spend 8 minutes trying to implement a means of accomplishing that task and finally two minutes actually doing the task. It’s maddeningly frustrating.

Thirty years ago, I had a pretty sharp mind, in terms of arguing philosphical matters. I was always arguing with people, because they were Socialists and I was always angered to hear them spout and spread their evil ideas. I spoke up, often in the workplace, and great arguments ensued. But I was dealing with closed-minded people. But I could recall enough of what I’d read to remember the arguments and responses to their arguments.

Today, I read a chapter from a book, and an hour later I can’t remember what I read.

All I know is that on the way out of this world, I’ll be singing Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”.

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MW writes:I've worked hard all my life—for others, making others rich, while I got used up like a dirty rag and tossed away.

During my 32 years in business, I have had many people working for me, and -I have never used up anyone like a dirty rag and then tossed him away . A good business man, would never use good workers like dirty rags, it would be against his own interest and that of the company.

Ciro

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MW writes:I've worked hard all my life—for others, making others rich, while I got used up like a dirty rag and tossed away.

During my 32 years in business, I have had many people working for me, and -I have never used up anyone like a dirty rag and then tossed him away . A good business man, would never use good workers like dirty rags, it would be against his own interest and that of the company.

Ciro

A good business owner treats everyone as a "win-win" prospect. Traditional employment however, exists to pocket as much money as possible, while paying the employees as little as possible. I enjoyed not a single advancement or promotion throughout my employed years. I felt used, abused and taken advantage of.

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OK, here goes another attempt. I think at some level you want to hear these things, or you wouldn't be posting here. You are obviously an intelligent man, you're not psychotic, but you have unhealthy mental patterns that need to be broken.

Mark, you are a tax cheat. Everybody else is paying their taxes. Why are you so special that you don't have to? It's too bad that there are property taxes, but that's the way it is. If you can't afford to pay the taxes, sell your property and rent an apartment. Dammit, my family paid $50,000 federal income tax last year on top of our little $3200 property tax bill. And here you are whining about the unfairness of it all. You said you haven't paid income taxes in decades. It's probably safe to assume that you haven't been paying self-employment tax either. Hey, maybe that's why you're ineligible for social security now. It was put into place for irresponsible people like you, but if you are so irresponsible that you won't even pay taxes, the system will not be there for you. You have had an unfair advantage all these years over those of us who have paid our taxes. Don't make yourself out to be some patriotic defender of property rights.

I cannot believe that the tax assessor's office won't reassess your property if you ask them to. They want the tax owed to be proportional to the value of the property. Don't give me this "oh I can't have anyone look at the property because of these mysterious environmental problems that aren't really problems but if anyone finds out I'll be persecuted..." Face reality, man. You have probably exhausted any goodwill you once had with any government officials, so I would advise having your wife handle these matters, but HANDLE them. If you die in a Waco-style showdown, you're not going to be remembered as a hero, you're going to be remembered as a damn fool. It doesn't have to be that way.

Once again we hear you are "too old" and "too set in your ways" to change course. You won't sell the house because of all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into it. Not even "too many happy memories", "I love that house"... no, it's clear you hate the place and it's causing you pain, and yet you hang onto it. Are you familiar with the concept of "sunk cost"? Google it.

Here are three epiphanies for you:

1) Face reality.

2) Let someone help you.

3) If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting.

It's too bad you are lacking in social skills and creativity. But guess what, I don't have any social skills or creativity to speak of either, and yet I manage to hold down a six-figure job. And Judith is right, you can work on these skills. Your whole tale of woe can be summarized "I must change my life, but I cannot change myself." Well, think about it this way: Changing yourself is a whole lot easier than changing the entire rest of the world.

My father was the most honest person I ever met, a loving father, faithful spouse, but he had an abrasive personality and did not "play well with others" at work. Despite this, he managed to support his wife and three children, hold a series of steady jobs until retirement, pay his taxes and his debts, and even build us a house in a good neighborhood, with his own two hands. He had subcontractors do the really difficult stuff, but he did almost all the work himself. I remember watching him lay the bricks and nail down the floorboards when I was four years old. And he did this evenings and weekends, while holding down a full-time job - and it wasn't a "fulfilling" job in his eyes, either. And you know what else - he didn't inherit a house, or even a dime, from his parents when they died. He grew up in Milwaukee, in a house without running water or electricity, during the Depression. He once made himself a pair of gloves out of old newspaper. What's the difference between him and you? He didn't whine about how unfair life is, he just got on with it and did the best he could.

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When you try to have your cake and eat it too, the cake eats you.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Mark,

We have all heard the bromides “life is too short” and “this is not a dress rehearsal” and each cliché is meant to underscore the message of how brief and precious life is---and sometimes the extreme is taken where one is exhorted to live everyday “as if it were one’s last”—which could have profound ethical ramifications if carried out to its logical conclusion. Seriously though—life is too short.

Life’s relatively epigrammatic span, for some people, renders it meaningless. “What’s the point?” they ask. “It’s all going to come to an end”.

This is a state of mind I have never been sympathetic to. For others, (as it is for me) it is this very fact, the fact that life will end one day—and this fact alone—that imbues their life with vitality and meaning (“This is not a dress rehearsal!”). After all, what would be the purpose to set objectives and goals if life were something infinite? NEVER-ending! Wow, I believe “life eternal” would zap life of any meaning!

Granting the reality of the inevitable end, the search for a meaningful and purposeful life goes on. And with varying degrees of stumbling in the dark, large amounts of people find varying degrees of satisfaction while others seem hopelessly unfulfilled, as measured by their own standards.

“What is the meaning of life?” is the classic inquiry of philosophers down the ages. Both Philosophers and theologians, in fact, have stepped up to the plate to offer their wares to the age old angst question, and millions have found contentment in the “words of the wise” while others still feel a hollowness at the center of their being---regardless of the large intakes of eclectic belief systems, esoteric philosophies and pop self-help books. On this account, Mark, I don’t know where you are. Are you seeking to overcome whatever troubles you have?

Some people are on an ever urgent quest to find meaning and purpose in this finite life, hungry for adventure, new experiences and romance at every corner and THIS is what I would describe as being profoundly MORAL. Morality is just as much about the quality of life: Yes, indeed, the pursuit of happiness. THIS is what it is about. But others are languishing through their lives, taking their anguish and muted despair as a “natural state of affairs”--never questioning their proclivity to not question their intellectual indolent stagnation. They have somehow bought into the whole “nausea of nothingness” and the absurdity of life.

The search for a meaningful and purposeful life goes on. Sadly, that quest can take some rather bizarre and sad turns in this dire search for meaning and purpose in a finite life: religion, psychoanalysis, Anthony Robins, crystals, herbs, Prozac, recreational drug use, sexual promiscuity, marriage and children, philanthropy, Zen Buddhism, graduate school, message boards, message boards, message boards, message boards...and more message boards, [ :cool: ] meditation, primal screams, Dr. Laura, Deepack Chopra—you name it! And for others “the big sleep” is the big reward (Those are the types who speak of there being “something better” after this earthly life; the projection of a ‘post-mortem happiness’ as being the “meaning of life” has troubling logical implications). Mark, what turn—if anything—is your quest taking in the search for happiness?

Mark, life is the search for an intellectual and emotional Atlantis, as Angie, my girlfriend, said. And in this regard, let me quote Ayn Rand:

“When people look at their childhood or youth, their wistfulness comes not from the memory, not of what their lives had been in those years, but of what life had then promised to be. The expectation of some indefinable splendor, of the unusual, the exciting, the great, is an attribute of youth—and the process of aging is the process of that expectation’s gradual extinction. One does not have to let it happen."

No, one does not have to let it happen. God, I love this quote because it really cuts to the center of a profound truth.

Humans are, by nature, thinking creatures. And thinking, by nature, is a volitional function carried out autonomously by individual minds. Use your free will to choose renewed appreciation of every moment rather than despair.

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose,” writes Mary Wollstonecraft, “a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”

After all, life is too short, and this is not a dress rehearsal. Come on, Mark. Take heed. :turned:

Victor

Edited by Victor Pross

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There is no ephinany here; there is only a slow series of realizations of how immoral, contradictory and self-serving, my life’s path has been.

As usual, responding in order of posting:

Laure:

Yes, part venting, part hoping that some answer will resonate with my inner pshyche, causing me to have that ephinany that has so far eluded me.

I don’t think of myself as a tax cheat. A conviction in a court of law does not pronounce moral reality. Not if the laws are made by evil men who steal from producers and give to non producers. I think that people who pay their taxes are tax fools.

I hold all taxpayers responsible for the destruction of America; for empowering this monstrous government, for bringing about this uncontrolled spiraling of ever-expanding and ever more invasive despotic rule. I hold taxpayers responsible because they didn’t have the courage to say “enough is enough” and employ that which the Filipino people refer to in their country as “People’s Power.” This sad state of affairs is all the fault of people who sheepishly obey the orders of the government that should instead be the servant of the people—not the dictator and terrorist that our government has become. It is too late for America, and for the world.

Do you not think that I have been to the assessor’s office to try and get my taxes reduced? I have. They knocked $200 off the valuation. And then a year later they tripled the valuation when a mass revaluation was done at the millenium. I got so angry that the police were sent to question me; they were concerned that I was going to shoot the assessor, as another elderly gent in NJ had done three weeks before.

There is a fine line between trying to reduce an assessement, and bringing on an investigation by the building inspector, the EPA and the health department. I have to walk that line carefully. The assessor is only concerned with two things: square footage and prevailing property values in the area. Granted, it’s a nice area, not too far from shopping, and free from flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical plants and major pollution.

I have had several real estate agents look at the place since 1998. None of them would list it. After I could not find a contractor who was willing to do the repairs, I embarked on an eight-year project of rebuilding the house myself. A truckload of migrant workers could have fixed this place up in a summer, but I’m working alone, living 160’lb pressure treated 2x12s on my shoulder, hauling them up a makeshift staircase, and then bringing each into position in a new framework for the roof. I replaced one joist every day and a half. Just loading and unloading these things and transporting them from Home Depot to the rooftop took most of a day and knocked me completely out.

I took a drive to Florida in 2005, stopping in the Carolinas along the way. I didn’t care for any of the places down there. I was glad to return home. I consider myself fortunate to live in this particular area. The only issue is the leaking roof and the remainder of the repairs to be done, which requires me to knock down a third story structure that has 17’ high ceilings, making it a real challenge to demolish while keeping the rain out of the roof below. Like my father before me, I’m always alone against the elements. Only back then he had me to help him. I have no one to help me.

Do you really think that if I can’t afford to pay property taxes with no mortgage payment, that I could somehow magically afford to pay rent? You don’t have a clear picture of the situation. Even to rent a halfway decent house, my wife would have to double her salary and I would have to earn as much as she does. But then we’d be minus daycare expenses for Amanda, and short on the rent. And when I did pay rent, I couldn’t keep a job. How do you think I ended up sleeping in my car? There was a period after I had my nervous breakdown where I was driving around looking for temp work in an unregistered, uninsured old clunker. I couldn’t afford insurance. I couldn’t even afford to put gas in the car one particular week. I had taken a temp job at Union Carbide, filing dockets for $4.50/hour. I was barely taking home more money than I spent on gas to commute to that job. One day, about 2/3 of the way to work, my car ran out of gas on the highway and the company canceled my contract because I didn’t show up that day. They hired a replacement immediately and by the time I was able to explain what happened, it was too late.

I can’t explain to you what it means to be too tired to sleep normal hours. I sleep 12-14 hours a night. Any less than that and I feel tired when I’m up, I feel groggy, not alert, wanting to lie down. All the way back through childhood, I always had low energy. I was always too tired to participate in sports (also too slow mentally to pick up on what was happening in the game), and later, I was always tired on the job, wanting to sit and rest often, when I was supposed to be digging that ditch or assembling a product.

The problem is that I am cursed with a desire for more than my meager abilities will afford me. I refused to accept my “lot in life” and resorted to shortcuts to get the things I wanted. You have no idea how devastating it is to be passed on by the opposite sex as you watch, 30, 40, 50 pass by and realize that you’re just a potbellied, bald, old man who may never find romance. So what do you do? You engage in materialism, because objects don’t reject you and they respond to your wishes and desire. Realizing that those things were pretty much out of reach, you live a bare subsistance lifestyle, forgoing outings, expensive TV dinners, and instead buying a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, and living on that all week. That’s how I made my meager wages add up, a little at a time.

If it wasn’t for material objects to lift my spirit and provide affirmation that life on earth wasn’t total hell, I think I would not be here at all today. What else could a person with no looks, who pulled Ds and Fs in school, do later in life?

I’m sorry if I’m not honest enough to be a good citizen and fund your corrupt government so it can grow even bigger, more corrupt and more invasive, until one day you’re either all forced to have a bloody revolution, or suffer in a dictatorship that controls every aspect of your children’s lives. I am who I am. I am not that strong that I can work fifty years in a dead end job without losing my mind. I guess I have too much belief in “a better lifestyle” than that, and sqeaking by in a rented slum apartment all my life until I die just was a scenario that was too sickening to bear.

If I knew how to implement changing my psychology, I would have done it a long time ago. I think I’m just a dunce—I am very ignorant or unable to grasp certain concepts. Reading Ayn Rand has probably increased my IQ from that of a near-retarded person to almost average, but it hasn’t helped in every area. My communication skills are about my only asset. But that only gives people the impression that I’m smart. My experience has taught me that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Brant:

Very funny.

Victor:

Yes, Life IS too short. I need another 20-30 years to start over and achieve success. Life is too short to spend it fighting the government that is supposed to serve us, not to be our slave driver. Life is too short to spend it in economic slavery. You work, and the government takes most of it away in taxes. What a waste. The more you earn, the more they tax.

Yes, I’ve had those moments of despair, where I think about the ultimate “big picture”—that one day the sun will turn supernova and burn the earth to a cinder and all human life will end long before that. I often wonder why bother living, if I’m going to die? But I also realize that thinking about such things is depressing, so I try to put that aside and enjoy the moment.

Several years ago, I had a small ephiphany about happiness and the measure thereof: it’s a ratio of expectations to reality. The person with low expectations, who achieves more than he thought he would in life, is happy. The flip side of the coin is the person who has high hope, grand expectations, but is stymied at every turn and step of the way, and who fails to attain even the first small steps toward his goal, again and again. That is misery.

I would very much like to overcome the obstacles that are stopping me from achieving wealth and the lifestyle I desire. But there’s only so many times I can get my hopes up. Reality is hitting me with strong signs every day, telling me that my days are numbered. The arthritis that makes it very painful for me to get out of bed, the cataracts that cloud my sight, the diminished mental capacity of my mental faculties, the pains in my chest whenever I exert myself—not to complain about my decrepit body, but to point out that my body is telling me to rest, but my desires are telling me that I have not yet achieved the things in life that I want.

Since Objectivism has pretty much cleared my mind of any belief in an afterlife, I am all the more angry that I am being robbed of THIS life.

My quest for happiness and its direction? Well, I did solve one problem, but going outside the country to find a dame that didn’t care what I looked like, or that I didn’t have much money. Even my meager existence looks good to a dame from a third world country. And we have a relationship based on love, not lust for the other person’s money or possessions. She is very patient with me and I sometimes think she is a gardian angel, but I know that’s silly from an O’ist viewpoint.

But while I was busy repairing my home and trying to finally get my life on track in the 11th hour, the town was busy becoming greedy and devising ways to rape the homeowners of their life’s savings.

Miss Rand’s quote is very nice, but it underscores the unpleasant reality of my own childhood. Mine was one of lack. Of being picked on and ganged up on by hoards of bullies. Of having no toys for Christmas. Of having little or no toys, period. Of parents that were ill and always fighting over money problems. They loved me, but I didn’t have ideal conditions either. In a way, it gave me appreciation for money, but as my friend tells me, it also made me covet money and fail to believe that I could achieve large amounts of money. It puts a cap on my belief in wealth-creating ability.

That’s a nice quote by Mary Wollstonecraft. Purpose DOES quiet the mind. I have noted that when I have been working on my roof repairs for several weeks, and progress is being made, I do feel better than during the winter when I can’t work on it. My best piece of mind would be me, making a steady income from videography and sound recording. And I will doggedly try to gain that status, until I draw my last breath.

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Forgive me, but I did not read all of this post, it makes me sick.

If you honestly believe you are worthless, then we can do nothing for you. If you are looking for a quick, ready made answer to your problems, you will not find it here.

If you tell yourself that you are worthless then far be it for my to sympathize with you, or even try to help.

You are on your own on this one, and until you decide what your worth is, there is no reason for me to comment further.

I will comment on this, and if I am taking this out of context, please tell me:

Yes, part venting, part hoping that some answer will resonate with my inner pshyche, causing me to have that ephinany that has so far eluded me.

Do you honestly believe that all of this can be solved by one, simple epiphany?

You are half right and half wrong.

What this takes is a decision--not a realization. It is the decision to be productive that you hold in the palm of your hands, but you choose otherwise.

Read the new article on the home page 'Good vs. Evil.'

I think it may help you, but then again, only you hold the answers to these questions.

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I still retain much of the “gunshy” behavior left behind from a childhood of trauma and abuse from peers. As I grew up, I became xenophobic. I’ve not been able to correct that probably incorrect core premise that “people are bad, people will hurt me if I look at them or talk to them”. What I have is a phobia of strangers. I know that in business, this can’t work this way.

Make no mistake, Mark, you were dealt a bad hand of cards to play. You played it as well as you could. On this particular issue, you probably figuratively squeezed your eyes shut for fear of "being hit" when you were young and haven't opened them since. Now it's time to open them again and look at other people with the eyes of an adult, not the eyes of a child or teenager surviving as best he could, and look at people again. Some may be trying to hurt you. Others may not. Still others probably aren't looking at you at all. It's important to be able to tell them apart. And it's important not to alienate the ones who may be friendly to you. And it's really important not to waste energy defending yourself from threats that may not exist; you need that energy for other things.

I have found that two interesting things happen as you age: you become wiser in a broad sense of knowledge, but you become stupider in practical areas. Kids are really smart today. They’re quick thinkers, quick to see relationships and identify problems and their solutions. I have difficulty with these practical situations and my mind is in a fog. I have frustrating problems with inability to remember things. That’s been going on for several years. I had a stroke in 1984 and another one in 1992. I lost some of my vision after that, but also my ability to remember short-term things. I spend 50 minutes out of each hour, trying to remember what it was I was planning to do. Then when I finally figure it out, I spend 8 minutes trying to implement a means of accomplishing that task and finally two minutes actually doing the task. It’s maddeningly frustrating.

I can imagine. In middle age, I'm enjoying the increasing wisdom. I am mildly frustrated by the decreased ability to memorize. I don't look forward to other decreasing abilities. I AM determined to do whatever it takes to cope with them, whether it's walking around with a notebook strapped to my belt so that I can write things down as soon as I remember them, get a dog to walk me around if I go blind, or whatever. Fight for your life, Mark; don't give it up.

It strikes me that the biggest problem you've had throughout your life is that no one has ever really believed in you, and that accordingly you don't believe in yourself. Children who grow up in the most appalling circumstances often manage to do well if there's just one person who believes in them -- an aunt, a teacher, the old man next door, whatever. It's much, much harder if there isn't. But it's possible. You must. It's been done.

Judith

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Mark, for starters, identify your values and prioritize them accordingly. If your highest value is to make a great living doing what you love, even if nobody else cares for your product, than you must deal with the repercussions of that. If your highest value is to ensure your own health and well being, then trying your whole life to make a good living doing what you love, instead of what works, is not a good idea. My advice, take up a practical career and pursue your passions on your side. You may not be happy bagging groceries (hey, I’d love it if someone paid me to debate on forums all day, MSK, any offers?) but the reality of the world is that you must work to sustain your life, to acquire the material necessities for existence. Sit down and prioritize your goals and values, and work to each according to it’s priority. Stop obsessing over colloquialisms from books, there is not always something great from every setback, when my main water supply line to my house started leaking, it setback all my goals, there was nothing good to be found in it. But the real world is made of physical objects, roofs, valves, washing machines, cars, etc, that are not perfect and that fail. That they fail does not mean a sinister malevolent force is out to make your life difficult, it means that physical objects wear and fail. Deal with it.

Also, you may very well have worked very hard at these things, but working hard at an impractical career does not guarantees success, you may spend your whole life as a mime, but don’t be surprised if you don’t make a living at it. You may want to enjoy the ‘good life’ in your ‘golden years’ but buying metaphorical lottery tickets instead of working rationally toward long term financially security is not the way to do it.

Alternatively, working on your house might have kept in you a physical condition not so deteriorated that you might have had a heart attack five years ago. Even so, keep some aspirin nearbye, taking 5 or 6 at the first signs of a heart attack can mitigate something like 60% of heart attacks (don’t know the official number, look it up, it may save your life)

Stop whining about things breaking and the work you have to do. I own two houses both built before 1940 which routinely have some random problem. Last week I was up till 3 am every night trying to re-plumb my upstairs apartment before the new tenants moved in, this after the last tenants busted 3 doors and two windows and did 1,200 worth of damage. At the same time, the water main supplying my house started to leak, the city said they must fix it, and I must pay for it. Having just gotten that fixed this weekend, costing many thousands of dollars I do not have, I walked into a flooded basement where my washing machine valve failed and got ‘stuck’ open. I subsidize my parents house because they cant afford one of their own, but I am glad they brought me into the world and one of my goals is to get them small nice place they can live in without worry.

Almost all the work I do in my house I do on my own, this while I work full time, run an online business with small time manufacturing runs, and do freelance 3D animation, AND have been designing and building a motorcycle for the past 5 years which I hope to manufacture and sell. I have very little time left over for friends or relationships.

If you’re wife is calling you worthless, then leave her. If you cant physically separate, than you ought to at least emotionally separate. You don’t even seem to like yourself, why would you expect someone else to like you?

To have credibility in your product you must provide rational evidence of it, I can’t go on your word. If you are a good filmographer, than you have to start making some movies. If you cant afford a camera, do some story boards with elaborate descriptions of your directing and editing. If you cant draw, learn to, through directed practice. I spent 3 years making a huge, ridiculously detailed 3D model of a Star Destroyer which essentially functions as my “resume” now, once I posted it I was offered a job in California working on the Starship troopers animated series. I could not go to anyone and say “yeah, I can do this great model” and expect them to believe me on my word. That’s absurd. Either you go through a conventional education system, or you teach yourself, sans the credentials of the former, you need to prove your ability through real products in the latter. Stop whining that no one will give you a chance, that no one will believe in you. They have no evidence to base that belief in.

I want to, eventually, be a motorcycle designer. There are probably only 3 or 4 people in the world who get paid explicitly for visually designing motorcycles, so I could spend half my life pursuing this ‘lottery’ ticket, or I could design and build my own. The worst mistake an inventor, artist, creative person can make is to put the onus of their success on everyone but themselves. To put everything they have worked for and dreamed for in one basket and bring it to some big wig who couldn’t possibly understand or appreciate the value of something you have spent decades developing, only for him to spend ½ second thinking about it and disregarding your idea, is to set yourself up for failure. You must take it upon yourself to promulgate your creations.

You need to settle down and pick a pragmatic rational ‘gig’ that you can work at while you pursue your other goals. Through your massive materialistic acquisitions, you obviously value a lot of things more than what you probably ought to value to be conducive to a psychological healthy life. Get rid of that stuff and crap you don’t need, get only what you need for your goals and pursue those.

You seem to have excuses for everything. You are trying to convince us, or yourself, that you have no talents ( you weren’t born with them, not that I believe such a thing is relevant see the “What is talent” thread http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/in...ic=1909&hl= ) and you are mentally slow (unlikely considering the introspection and verbal quality of your writing) and you are physically too tired to work. What should we do, come up with something that requires no mental effort and no physical effort yet allows you to be a wealthy? Hmm, the only thing I can think of is to be a crappy modern artists. San Francisco guarantees 400/month to everyone including homeless people. Move to SF and become a crappy modern artist.

“Traditional employment however, exists to pocket as much money as possible, while paying the employees as little as possible.”

And you seek to do as little work as possible, while trying to get paid as much as possible. Your income is a balance between those two things. Why are they more offensive and parasitic than you are for trying to do the exact same thing? You sound like a socialist / communist here.

The conditions you moan about are the same ones 99.99% of all humans have had to deal with throughout all of human history. You think you got problems? This kid has problems –

starvation.jpg

On a side note, at least you can be very proud of the fact that you have not contributed to the promulgation of a corrupt expanding socialist nation.

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Wow, that was a good post. Mark, listen to Matus1976, he's got some good ideas.

Goals, priorities, values. Take an objective look at them and rearrange as needed.

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"Traditional employment however, exists to pocket as much money as possible, while paying the employees as little as possible."

Is there a problem with that? An employer will 'buy' employees at the best (lowest) price they can. An employee however, is largely responsible for determining his own value through his performance. A high performing employee can demand a good price and perhaps even a premium to keep him out of the hands of the competition.

"I enjoyed not a single advancement or promotion throughout my employed years."

Not everybody has equal skills or abilities. Everbody however, can improve. Did you deliberately ever make a consistent effort to be better at your job? If not, no time like the present.

Your issues seem to stem from a long list of poor choices and irrational attitudes. You mentioned high-income as the solution, yet you know that's not a possibility. The reality of finances is always income VERSUS expenditures. You must drop expenses below income or you're screwed. Everybody has to live with this reality. You direct a lot of anger toward the tax man and evil government - even threatened the police. Use the energy to improve yourself.

Do you do a competent job at home repairs? I know many wealthy contractors that started with nothing - one handyman ad in the paper.

You write well - much better than some very educated friends of mine. What about freelance reporting? Often experience is not required You could even slide your video skills in there maybe? It's out there, but all that others will give you is opportunity - you have to deliver.

Bob

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