Archive for the ‘Rant.’ Category

After the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night, there have been widespread calls for gun control. Hillary Clinton should not be quoted or mentioned in any type of digital or printed media from this point forward. She is beyond irrelevant. A CBS executive was apparently fired for not having sympathy for all the redneck Trump supporters who were murdered at a country music concert. I feel like I need to remind 50 percent of the population (Trump lost the popular vote 65 mil to 62 mil) that we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. The population of the United States is 325 million. We are the 3rd most populated country on earth. China has 1.386 billion and India has 1.322 billion, and I cannot describe how lucky I feel to be living in the United States – even when things like this happen.

Over the last 15 hours, I’ve listened to the radio, watched television and read news articles online. I’ve pieced together, as best I can, what happened in Las Vegas last night. Jason Aldean was singing at an outdoor concert. At approximately 10 p.m., someone starting shooting an automatic weapon from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay hotel down into the crowd of concert goers. Out of apparently 22,000 people in the crowd, 59 were killed and 527 were some degree of injured. After several minutes, security guards in the hotel went to the room of the gunman. A security guard was shot in the leg. Police said Paddock killed himself before a SWAT team breached his hotel room overlooking the country music venue. Police report there being over a dozen guns in the hotel room.

So far, that’s all I know.

At this point, I think it’s important to watch this video by Paul Joseph Watson:

As much as I agree with this video, I don’t agree 100 percent. Machine guns aren’t banned. I own one. I made it myself. The ATF already knows – I sent them a form stating that I had manufactured one. Machine guns only melt silencers after 10 minutes of continual firing – read as “extremely rare.” Also, Mr. Watson mentions that the machine gun could have only been legal if purchased before 1986. This is also false. You can purchase a machine gun just as easily as you can a short barreled rifle or silencer – with a fingerprint card, passport photos, $200 and a 12-month wait for a background check. It is entirely possible that all 20-something firearms that the shooter was in possession of are completely legal – even if some are full automatic.

So there you have it. Nobody, on either “side” of this argument, is 100 percent correct. However, I will agree with Mr. Watson the majority of the time. Especially in this case, liberals are again showing that they are incredibly incompetent. The things that come out of some people’s mouth (or Facebook post or tweets) are shocking. How can they be so stupid? If you ban all guns, what happens to the 190 million guns current in circulation? They disappear? I’m dumbfounded on the internet each and everyday, but not just by liberals. I’m surprised at how soft Americans (even Trump supporters) are getting.

I want to get to the real reason for this blog post – perspective.

perspective

Here are some of the headlines I’ve seen today:

A Burst of Gunfire, a Pause, Then Carnage in Las Vegas That Would Not Stop

Las Vegas Shooting: One Minute Jason Aldean Was Rocking; the Next It Was ‘World War III

The drama that has unfolded today has been surprising. It happens after each and every mass shooting in America. The graphic below was made 12 hours ago, when the death count was 50 and not 59. However, you can see the rest of the mass shootings in the graph. The 1999 Columbine High School shooting had 13 as well.mass shootings

As terrible as it is for innocent concert goers to be randomly murdered on a Sunday night, the media needs to reel in the selective drama. “One second Jason Aldean was singing, the next it was WWIII.” In World War I, 38.8 million people were killed, wounded or went missing. A short 20 years later, World War II saw 73 million more people killed, wounded or missing. “Carnage in Las Vegas That Would Not Stop.” Do you know where in America there is actually “carnage that will not stop?” Chicago. So far this year, 519 people have been murdered in Chicago. The overwhelming majority of them are shootings. In September alone, 56 people were murdered. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the news article headlines reading, “A burst of gunfire, then Chicago carnage that will not stop” or “One minute it was a Chicago Bears game, the next minute it was WWIII?” Where’s the perspective?

The talk of assault weaponry, the term “mass” (as in more than one at a time), the misleading gun control drama that is meant to pull on liberal heartstrings needs to take a sideline to the talk on mental health and psychoactive drugs.

Recently at Florida State University, there was a shooting. Myron May, an assistant district attorney in New Mexico, went into FSU’s Strozier library and shot three people in the middle of the night. Apparently, documents from the investigation suggest that May was intent on ending the mental torment that had plagued him for months. He was consumed with paranoia and convinced he was a “targeted individual” being stalked and harassed.

The similarities between the Las Vegas shooter’s situation and May’s are weird. In this video, the shooter’s brother is completely shocked at his brother’s behavior. He claims no mental illness, no criminal record, no parking tickets, no religious affiliation, no political affiliation, he wasn’t a white supremacist or Muslim. So…why gun down 600 people and kill yourself? Gambling debt? Doubtful. Read more:

The mystery of Stephen Paddock — gambler, real estate investor, mass killer

Perhaps in the weeks to come, we’ll find out more.

Again, where is the perspective? We live in the greatest country in the history of the world. We also live in the relatively new modern age of technology – read as the easiest life for a human to have thus far. We slowly move from our air-conditioned houses to our air-conditioned cars so we can drive to our air-conditioned places of employment. There we stock the shelves at Wal-Mart or type on our computers all day while listening to Spotify or work a construction job at a $10 million company and still find the time to complain about NFL players taking a knee.

“Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century.”

Ahhhh, those were the good ole’ days. I wish people realized how absolutely easy their lives are compared to historical events. I’ll spend my entire life not having to worry about the Mongols or Vikings invading my country and killing or imprisoning me. Even though I did my time in Iraq and Africa, it was nothing compared to invading Normandy or Iwo Jima.

Where’s the perspective? Yes, it’s terrible 59 people died in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. No, it is not time to ban all guns. What we need to see more of is people talking about how poorly people reacted at the concert. In one of the videos, a lady can be heard saying, “Stay down. Don’t move.” They were laying on the ground in the middle of the wide open among tons of other people. Don’t know where the shooting is coming from? Fine. However, the deer-in-the-headlights look so many people had in the videos was terrifying. No matter where the shooter was at, hundreds of people simply laid on the ground and waited to get shot. Arguably, people were probably shot and/or killed because they laid there and did nothing.

That’s my perspective.

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Dear little buddy,

Posted: 20160916 in Mason, Rant., Survival

I’m trying to write you more often. It’s already been three months, and I don’t know where the time has gone. Last time I wrote, I promised myself I’d be better about writing. With work and trying to get the house ready to sell, I’m a busy man. In actuality, my mind is much, much busier than my body. Right now, I’m laying in bed unable to go to sleep. The brightness of my phone is giving away my position. Your mother could wake up at any second and nag me about still being awake so late.

Watching you grow up is so incredible, little man. I can’t believe the things you say and do. Your mother and I can’t stop taking pictures and videos. You get very upset, and then very happy, and then very sad sometimes in a short period of time. I was a kid like you once. Then, I was a teenager, and then I started dating your mom. We got married eventually, and now we have you. Nowhere in that timeline was there any kid training. I didn’t read any books on parenting. I didn’t sit through lectures or take classes on what to do. Nobody told me when to spank you and when to not. You don’t listen at all unless I raise my voice and then it brings you to tears. You run crying to mommy like I did more than yell – like I scared you or hurt your feelings. Then, I can’t bring myself to raise my voice for a while. It’s tough sometimes, but only because you have so much energy. I’m 32, your mother is 29, and we are exhausted.

I just want you to know how much we love you. We’ve already made some mistakes. You’re only two years old, but we’re doing the best we can. I know you’ll look back on these one day. I don’t know how old you’ll be. I may hide them from you until you have kids or until we have a rough spot. I just want to say now, to two-year-old you, that you’re my entire life. I may be too old and disgruntled to tell you that when you’re a senior in high school. But I’m saying it now on the record, and I hope you see it.

It’s no secret that my father and I don’t speak. I feel like I don’t know him. That’s why it’s not difficult for me to make the decision to avoid him. I don’t go to my parent’s store. I don’t go to my parent’s house. I don’t go to my grandparent’s house if I know he’s going to be there. I can see how it could be sad and depressing to others, but I don’t feel sad or depressed because he’s like a stranger to me. That’s the sad part. My father is a stranger to me. That’s why I created this blog. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep from becoming my father, and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you from having to grow up like I did. Sometimes I just want to break down and relieve all my stress but I can’t. I don’t know how – I wish I could catch a break. My mind races all night and day, and I have no outlet. It never stops, there is always something stressful going on.

Sometimes, I get the feeling that I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. Like my job and my side business is just a sham, and I’m doing everything wrong. When I mess up bad, I get super defensive, angry, I make counter accusations. I don’t take criticism well – either constructive or not. It’s just a knee jerk reaction. It’s because I grew up a fuckin loser. Like I’m sure my dad did too. It’s a defense mechanism.

I try to realize what I’m doing and saying. I try to be self aware. I try to realize how people are reacting. I always try to look at things objectively. Whether it’s about me, my ideas, my business or someone else, I try to take a step back and visualize how it’s seen by other people. I feel like that’s the key to a lot in life. It’s working on my timing, tact, tone and phrasing. I’ve read a lot of books on the subject, but they’re terrible at explaining it. It’s an out of body experience really. My father is terrible about being rude to strangers. That’s one of the reasons why I think he’s a piece of shit.

One time, I was at Wendy’s with my dad. It was just him and I. I ordered, and then he ordered. He hates cheese. He said, “A number one with no cheese.” Except he didn’t say it like you just read it. We were having a regular conversation with the girl with normal voices, and then he sounded like a fuckin pyscho saying “no cheese” so slow and loud while directing an orchestra with his pointer finger. And that’s not half of it. His burger arrived with cheese on it. He obviously knew they were too stupid to understand English and hand gestures so he checked his sandwich before he even walked away from the counter – in front of the lady. And when he saw the cheese, he lost what little patience he was born with. “I said no cheese on my burger!” Except he didn’t say it like you just read it. You’d have to meet 40-year-old Dad to get the full effect. In his mind, he just went out of his way to do these stupid poor people’s job for them, and they still messed it up because they’re too stupid to read. It was embarrassing.

It was just the little everyday interactions like that. Does he know how rude he’s being? If yes – he’s being rude on purpose therefore he’s a jerk on a high horse. If no – he’s a crazy old man that has zero self awareness. It wasn’t just a stressful day for him. It happened all the time in different situations. It happened on good days. He just thought he was better than everyone else. That’s probably the reason why he thought rules and laws didn’t apply to him. I mean, that’s why I had so many speeding tickets growing up. I didn’t think the rules applied to me at all. I just went wild, and I had to learn everything in life the hard way. Now, I’m trying to not learn things the hard way.

Your mother just yelled at me for “waking her up” somehow. It’s late. I’ll stop rambling. I love you.

Dad

November 22nd, 2015

Dear Mason,

Holy crap, time flies. Thanksgiving is in a few days. You’re getting so big! You make your mother and me so happy! You are definitely hard to keep up with, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hope you have enjoy reading these blog posts. Writing them helps me clear my head. It helps me stay on the right path and relieve stress at the same time. I probably won’t be so stressed if I’d write more often. 

A lot has happened since my last post. I don’t see how’s it’s possibly been since early March, but the date doesn’t lie. I applied for a couple of jobs that I thought were promising around that time. I was working at Minco for $12 an hour at the time. As much as I liked working there, I couldn’t support this family on that. However, I was very grateful for the job. I learned a lot about cars and trucks. I’ll have those skills to help me with my hobbies for the rest of my life. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for that job. It saved me twice – before and after the indoor shooting range. Let me tell you a story about the importance of endurance. 

When I got back from Iraq in 2008, I didn’t have much direction in life. However, that wasn’t anything new. I was basically an idiot. I bought a CTS-V with my deployment money. I rented a house. I starting working part-time at Precision Motorsports and collecting the G.I. Bill. It wasn’t long before I was broke again. Because I didn’t plan for my future at all, I fell on hard times. Again. 

In December of 2008, right around the very end of the year, I got laid off. The economy was getting bad, and I started collecting unemployment. It was $275 a week. I had a hard time paying my car payment and paying my rent. I sold the CTS-V of which I paid $21,000 for $13,000. I sold a couple of my guns to pay my rent. I started working, apparently for free, at a place called Centurion Tactical. That’s another story entirely. The owner of Centurion got arrested later, and I was only there for a couple months. A few months after that, I got arrested and that ended up getting me kicked out of the Marine Corps counterintelligence “DEP” program. That’s yet another story for another day. 

So as you can probably see, 2009 was a super shitty year for me. I did have one saving grace that year. I married your mother. It was “fairy tale,” and your mother and I were very lucky to have such a nice wedding. However, that didn’t change the fact that I was unemployed and on pre-trial release. I continued to go to community college and finally graduated from that stupid place. The GI Bill and unemployment was the only thing that saved me. Without that, I have no idea what I would have done. 

In 2010, my lawyer screwed me. I was put on probation for four years and committed to 180 Sheriff work camp days. I mean, I got royally fucked. So I had to start doing that crap too. I was still talking to my dad at this point, and I came up with the idea of an indoor shooting range. I was writing a business plan for the indoor shooting range pretty much the entire year that year. While that was getting off the ground, I managed to get my first real job in years. I worked full-time for a lawn care company before I got deployed in 2007. So in 2010, I started working for Minco, and that pretty much changed my life for the better. 

I can’t explain how much fun I had at Minco. I learned so much about working on cars and trucks. I was very thankful to get that opportunity. After only about a year and a half of making $12 an hour, I made a giant mistake. I left Minco to work with my dad at the indoor range for $10 an hour. I had been working on getting the indoor shooting range up and running since mid-2009. It was now Black Friday 2011 and my first official day working at the range. It was our grand opening. It was exciting at first. Then, it started to get frustrating. 

I wouldn’t find out how much of a disaster things were until later. The tension between my father and I got worse and worse. My mother told me at one point, Dad didn’t talk to her for about two weeks. He said he felt “alienated” and everybody was against him. What a piece of shit. I walked out on everything I had done – the planning, the writing, the arguing, the designing, the future, the investment. I walked out on my own business idea and on my own father on October 27th, 2013. I haven’t talked to him since. 

Luckily, I walked right back into Minco. I didn’t plan it, but because I had worked hard there previously, the boss was happy to have me back. At this point in time, my endurance was running out. Let me explain. It’s now the end of 2013, and I’ve been completely broke since 2008. I’ve slowly sold most of my stuff. I had nothing but a motorcycle for a long period of time. I had been to jail, probation officer meetings for two years, Sheriff work camp days for two years. I was yet to graduate, but at this point in time, I didn’t see the fucking point. I was mentally ready to give up. 

The year 2014 rolls around. I was working at Minco at age 30, and I think that’s what made me spiral. Just the fact that I was 30 years old and had a kid on the way made me feel like a piece of shit for making $12 an hour. Nothing was making me happy. I’d go to the gym and work and class, and when I got in bed, I’d cry myself to sleep in my head. If it wasn’t for you, and obviously your mother, I wouldn’t be here today. Those were dark days, Mason. I didn’t know how much endurance I truly had. Nobody ever knows. The only thing you can do is keep at it. No matter how bad things seem, they could always be worse. And even if things get worse and worse for so many years that you think you just can’t take it anymore, that you just can’t go on for one more second, stick to it for one more second and prove yourself wrong. Count to ten. Get rid of everything in your mind. Start from scratch on a new plan of attack. Don’t ever give up on yourself, but more importantly, don’t ever fucking give up on the people that love and need you. That includes your future wife, your future son, your future brothers or sisters, your future adopted brothers in the Marine Corps. You may want to quit, but you can’t. Ever. 

I kept working the dead end job at Minco until July of this year. I kept going to night classes until right around the time you were born. I later graduated with a business management degree. I finally got an awesome, well paying job. It’s Thanksgiving 2015, and your mother and I, as of last paycheck, are finally sleeping good at night because we aren’t worried about money. We are far from rich, but at least we have more than $-29 in our checking account. 

Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.

Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. It’s ironically the last of the 14 Marine Corps leadership traits. It takes more than just endurance to be a great leader, but you cannot be a great leader without great endurance. 

Love,

Dad

Read this first – – – -> What History Says About Ted Cruz’s Chances (by CNN’s Julian Zelizer)

The article above is an opinion post that a friend of mine just sent me. The article is written by a liberal CNN columnist. Read the article first, and then read my comments below:

A couple of things I notice when reading an article like this.

1. The author is a CNN liberal who wrote a book about Lyndon Johnson. That should give you an idea about his mindset. Coincidentally, this article compares Cruz’s campaign to Barry Goldwater’s campaign against Johnson 50 years ago. So he’s somewhat of a subject matter expert on LBJ’s political campaign. He fails to mention Johnson ran in 1960 against JFK and lost, then became JFK’s vice president for two years. Then, he ran for president again in 1965-69 as the “incumbent” and won.

2. He wrote this article in haste. Rumors started only a day ago that Cruz was filing for a run on Monday. Cruz’s announcement comes out in 12 hours, and he wanted to put this article out first. 5:00pm on a Sunday. It’s Julian’s and CNN’s way of damage control. Nothing more – nothing less. They are trying to persuade the low information voter.

3. The CNN author states “Cruz will test the conventional wisdom that Goldwater’s strategy was and remains a failure…Johnson defeated Goldwater in a landslide election that brought in huge liberal Democratic majorities.” Again, he fails to mention he lost the 1961 election, and why 1965 was such a landslide. He became JFK’s Vice President. JFK had a huge approval rating but was assassinated.

gallup poll approval rating
So Johnson became President for two years and then ran a reelection on JFK’s coat tails. That’s hardly comparable to a potential Hillary Clinton v. Ted Cruz battle in 2016.
4. He says stuff like, “Barring any dramatic changes in the coming months, Democrats will also have a very strong and seasoned nominee in Hillary Clinton.” I think that this is just hilarious. Hillary Clinton is in the same boat as Harry Reid, John McCain, Bill Clinton, and Mitt Romney – the are old news. So old in fact, they can’t even keep up with social media.

Where other experts like Rush Limbaugh suggest that if the Democratic Party wanted Clinton, they would have nominated her two terms ago against Obama. He also suggests that the White House is behind the email scandal leak. Obama is essentially throwing her under the bus to setup a different nominee. Probably Elizabeth Warren.

5. “Cruz is also not just someone who defends extremism, but a politician who can easily be tied to the congressional obstructionism that has turned off so much of the electorate. The Republican Party has been dragged down by the kind of politics that voters have observed in Washington. In 2014 congressional approval ratings plummeted to 14%…” He fails to define “congressional obstructionism” and how Cruz is guilty of it. Because of his filibuster in the Senate? What about all the liberal filibusters over the years? They don’t count as ‘congressional obstructionism?’

He doesn’t mention the Democrat’s approval rating either- just Congress’ approval rating as a whole. He just outright calls Cruz an extremist. He says the reason the GOP has been dragged down is because of his filibuster. He filibustered because the Republicans won’t stand up to the Democrats. The GOP is dividing, which is obvious from Glen Beck’s recent statements.
6.  “The kind of scorched earth, always say no to anything politics has not done well in terms of the favorability ratings. There have been few practitioners of this style of legislative politics as prominent as Cruz. Monday, Cruz will bask in the spotlight of his announcement. But Republicans are going to have to really think hard about whether they want to put all of their electoral eggs in this volatile basket which, at least based on the history, has a very slim chance of winning.”

Get bent Julian Zelizer. The more scared liberals get of a legitimate threat, the more lies they spread. Ted Cruz doesn’t “always say no to anything” any more than any other Senator or Representative in Congress in the last 20 years. If you think Ted Cruz is “basking in the spotlight” like Hollywood liberal celebrities, you’re an idiot. Not everybody that wants to run for President is power happy.

I’m more Republican than Democrat, and I don’t have to “really think hard” about the electoral college votes. Instead of voting for the only candidate that I think has a chance of winning the presidency, I’m going to vote for the presidential candidate that best suits me – – RAND PAUL. Ted Cruz is a close second.  🙂

DON’T TREAD ON ME.

February 16, 2015

Dear Mason,

Today is your mother’s birthday. I’m sitting in the hospital right this second with her and you. Mommy brought you to the ER because you had a 100.2 degree fever. You’ve got a bad, croopy cough and you’re wheezing a little, and they won’t let you leave just yet. That’s a story for a different day though. This is a great opportunity to write Lesson 4. I haven’t had a lot of time to write these. Why? Because I’ve been working seven days a week. Why? Because your mother and I are broke.

Let me tell you how I got to be broke at age 30 (and your mother at age 28 today, HBD!). When I was a kid, I didn’t pay attention to the way things worked. I didn’t pay for things at stores because my parents did it for me. I was just a kid. When we went grocery shopping, bought gas, or did anything that required money, us kids were just out of the loop. It was grown-up stuff, and my parents were old fashioned. Well, we never transitioned. I got older and older, and I never got a money talk. My parents never told me how things work. Come to find out, they were broke when they got married – and then still when they had me.

So – I just started wingin’ it. When I turned 15, I started bugging my parents to drive. I got my learner’s permit immediately, and started driving my parents from here to there. I didn’t buy gas because I didn’t have a job yet. I didn’t pay for the car payment or the insurance either. I didn’t know those things existed. I didn’t know how much car payments or insurance even costed. I just drove.

When I turned 16, a couple of things changed. I started taking the family minivan and driving to places by myself. It was super exciting at first, but then it leveled off a little. It turned normal and boring quick. I started really becoming independent, and my parents weren’t there to put gas in the tank. So, I got my first job. It was at Super Lube on Capital Circle, and I was making about $5.15 an hour. It was minimum wage, but gas was about $1.25 a gallon at the time. Gas was about the only thing I needed to pay for. The family minivan was already paid off. So when I got my first couple of pay checks, I didn’t have any idea what I needed to do with them. I just spent them on gas and bought “things”. I bought a paintball gun. I bought a new mountain bike at the Tallahassee Mall. My only bill was gas, and I had that well taken care of with a part time job. I just spent the rest because I had no idea I needed to stock pile cash for the future. I was a 16-year-old with no guidance. If you’re 16 reading this, please realize you’re a dumbass. Why? Because you’re going to be exactly like I was when I was 16. Please don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I changed jobs a couple times in high school. I worked at a place called Turtle’s Music with my best friend Sam. I put stickers on CD’s for $6.00 an hour. Then I got a job at Proctor GMC, Hummer, Cadillac when it existed. DCT in high school helped me and Kyle (friend from high school) get jobs there. For some stupid reason they hired two people for the same job and didn’t tell us. We ‘helped’ each other out changing oil on cars. The other guy was a 50-year-old black man, and we didn’t realize we were auditioning for the same job. I got fired shortly after. Kyle worked as a helper to a service writer. He just pulled cars around. He got fired (or quit) shortly after me. Come to find out, his dad owned Golden Corral! After that, we both started waiting tables at GC, and that’s where we both still were working when we joined the Marine Corps. It was a good high school job, and I made cash tips.

From job to job, nothing changed. I didn’t figure anything out. I didn’t know what was going on. For years and years and years, I never saw the big picture. I didn’t save any of my money. I wasn’t career oriented, but no high school kid was. Right? Having crappy jobs and making almost no money wasn’t the worst part. I started 9th grade/high school with $0 in my bank account. (I didn’t have a bank account.) I started cashing pay checks at Publix. By the time I graduated high school four years later, all the money I had to my name was in my pocket – and that was it. Maybe $200. Four years of working, and I had $200 to show for it. All the toys I bought were heavily used at this point. I made probably $10,000 or $12,000 in those couple of years, but where in the hell did that money go? Well, I’ll tell you.

My first car was a 1979 Chevy Camaro Z-28. My dad bought it for me as a surprise. It was $3,000 at a used car lot. I don’t want to hate on my dad too much at this point in the story, but we lived in a half-million dollar house at the time. Seacoast had $1 million in sales annually, and he probably made over $100,000 a year. He had just ordered a brand new Chevy Suburban from the dealership. He could have gotten me a nicer car! Haha. Anyway, I never paid for my first several cars – all Camaros. After somebody (an off-duty police officer) hit me in that car, I got a 1988 Chevy Camaro IROC-Z convertible. It was a horrible decision on Dad’s part. He got $7,000 from the insurance and paid $2,700 for this piece of crap. After it lived in the shop for months, we had over $9,000 in it. I didn’t pay for the new radiator. I didn’t pay for the new tires. I didn’t pay for the new exhaust. I didn’t pay for any of it – and I only briefly overheard how much those things costed to fix.

The first car I was personally responsible for was a 1998 Chevy Camaro V6. It was a great car when I got it. But I would soon turn it into a piece of crap. I found it for sale in the newspaper, and I started working on Dad about it. I had been driving a white Ford F-100 for working with Dad, I think. Anyway, I didn’t have any money, I was 17, and I convinced dad that I could get a loan. I convinced him that I could pay for the car payment, which was probably $150 a month, and the insurance, which was probably about the same for a driver like me. Plus gas. So now I was making $600 or $700 a month, and now I owed more than half of it in bills each month. Horrible mistake on my part. Honestly though, was it more my fault or my dumbass Dad’s for letting me do it?? What smart business man lets their kid get a car loan he can’t afford at all? So if I tell you know about something – this is why.

Regardless, I currently work at Minco Auto & Truck Accessories. My boss here is Louis. He’s five years older than me. He owns the property, the business, everything. Anyway, when he turned 16, he bought his first truck, a Ford Ranger, in cash. He saved up enough money from working at a car race shop. I’m not sure what year it was, but from his stories, it was $10,000. So here you’ve got too completely different kids. One that drug his Dad to the bank and had him co-sign on a $9,500 loan for a car with over 100,000 miles on it, and one that worked from age 14 to save money to buy a new truck. Have you ever heard of a 16-year-old in high school that bought his own truck in cash? Are any of your friends doing that? Are any of your friend’s parents buying them vehicles with no strings attached? Because I see it at Minco on a weekly basis.

This story gets more retarded. When my Dad was 16 (1973?), he walked into the Dodge dealership and bought a new Dodge Dart Sport in cash. He worked for himself for two years doing odd jobs for neighbors. He drove a dump truck at age 15. He told me he saved his money, and after he had enough, he went in and spent $3,000 on a new 1973 Dodge Dart Sport. He’s told me the story a dozen times, but it just doesn’t make any sense. My Dad loved his kids back then. He says, “I wanted you guys to have things – things that I didn’t have when I was a kid” because he grew up poor in 1970’s Crawfordville, Florida. If he knew what he was doing, why in the hell would he subject his oldest kid to almost $10,000 in debt when he was 17? What’s the life lesson there? I don’t understand why he didn’t either A) buy a car in cash and make me pay him back or B) make me save money and do without a car until I could buy one in cash. I wouldn’t find out the answer to this until 2013.

Anyway, I ended up getting that car taken away from me because of speeding tickets too. Dad sold it and paid the loan off. I had probably a dozen speeding tickets at that point. I wasn’t responsible enough for a car because I didn’t have to work to get it. I just nagged Dad and the bank gave it to me. I made some payments, was probably late on my payments here and there – and then it was gone as quickly as it arrived.

The moral of the story is that there is a point to having a job. It isn’t just something to do after school. It isn’t just so you can go to the mall or to the movies. It isn’t so you can buy toys. Having a job is about being independent. Having a job is about financial security. Financial security keeps you safe from all types of things. It buys you lawyers, doctors, car mechanics, and people to fix your house after a hurricane. It buys you guns and ammo, food, water and transportation (see my future post about surviving the zombie apocalypse). Everything in life revolves around having money. You want to invest in new business ideas, you have to pay for college books, you have to pay for health insurance. Everything requires money.

From a young age, my parents would teach me that money doesn’t buy happiness. They would say I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. My dad said he hated his job (travelling salesman), and that I needed to go to college so I didn’t have to have his job when I was his age. They said that I should find a hobby that makes me happy, and figure out how I could turn it into a paying job. All lies. Quite possibly the worst advice you could possibly give a teenager.

If I could send my 16 year old self a message, it would sound something like this:

Stop being a dumbass, and think about what you’re doing. You’re taking the rest of your life in your own hands right now. You are at a point in your life where things are transitioning. You are transitioning from being a student to being a member of the American workforce, and you don’t realize that your decisions today effect the rest of your life.

To get a good idea of what you want to be when you grow up – find a mentor. Find somebody that looks like they have things figured out. If you think working at a hospital is an awesome idea – find somebody working at a Hospital to shadow. If you think being a police officer or a lawyer is awesome, find somebody that can answer questions. Ask them questions. Anything and everything you can think of. When you are 30 years old, how much money do you want to be making? $20,000 – $30,000 – $40,000 – $50,000 a year? Do you think its easy to have a wife and kid and own a house making $20,000 a year? Do you think city cops make $50,000 a year? Think again.

If you don’t graduate from high school with good grades, it starts a habit you’ll be in the rest of your life. If you don’t go to college, be prepared to work low wage jobs for a long time. If you get a degree in something retarded, be prepared to find work far from your major. Talk to college grads, talk to as many coaches and teachers and friends and family about their experiences in the job market. See what people are doing and what they’ve learned. You aren’t going to get a job with the City or the State or the CIA or FBI – you aren’t going to be the CEO of a big company – by dropping out of college and working at Burger King. You have to work for it. You have to get an entry level job and work your way up the ladder.

Money buys you happiness. It buys you piece of mind. It buys you a home and food on the table. It buys your baby new clothes and toys. It buys happiness. You can’t be anything you want when you grow up. When I was growing up, all I cared about was racing. I cared about racing my Camaro. How many kids grow up to be professional race car drivers? That’s ridiculous.

My father should have made me work at a lawn care company all through high school and then open my own company after I graduated with a business degree. He should have made me work for a plumber or electrician or a construction company here in town. The work is not glamorous. The work sucks. I worked construction and lawn care for years while I was in the Marine Corps Reserves. However, that’s how you become your own boss. The owner of Tallahassee Landscaping owns a $350,000 boat. The owner of RH Masonry here in town has a different brand new $60,000 truck every month, and several $20,000 four-wheelers. The owners of every construction company in town are millionaires. They all have very expensive pick-up trucks and Corvettes. The owner of M Electric and W Plumbing all have brand new houses, brand new cars and have tons of money in the bank. Not to mention they are their own boss.

How did they get this way?

1. They’ve been in the same industry for 25 years. They know everything there is to know about their business.

2. They didn’t blow their money as soon as they got it.

3. They eventually started their own company instead of working for somebody else their whole life.

4. They put in long hard hours and were smart about their business decisions and money.

A famous pirate once said, “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Famous — as in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Anyway, you’ll either grow up working for the man, or you’ll be the man. Getting a job in high school should help teach you about responsibility. Taking responsibility isn’t the easiest thing to teach or learn. It sucks because its hard. It should also teach you about being financially responsible and conservative. Dave Ramsey has some Baby Steps that I’ll introduce to you at a later date. Basically, he says that you have to crawl before you can walk. Save up some money and buy a cheap car. Save up some more money, and buy a nicer car. It helps if you don’t care what other people think about you (being in a trashy car). Always have money to fall back on. Always pay for things in cash because you’ll be servant to the lender if you don’t. Banks get rich by taking people’s money. They call it interest. It’s the price you pay for borrowing money from people for things you can’t afford.

I hope this shows you the importance of money. The entire world revolves around it. I always heard when I was growing up that money can’t buy happiness. That’s a freaking lie. Ever seen someone frown on a jet ski?

Don’t be like me. Don’t move from job to job for 15 years. Don’t look for a job that you think would be super fun. You’ll regret it. High school is the time to be thinking about how much money you want to be making in 10 years and go after it. Don’t think you can be an astronaut or a lawyer or a doctor. That’s not realistic. If you get good grades in school and are very book smart, then it’s realistic. But if you’re like me, you’re street smart. Be a leader. Be decisive. Be responsible and hold yourself to a standard. Some parents hold their kids to a straight A grade standard. I’m going to hold you to a high financial responsibility standard.

I wish my parents would have done that for me.

Love,

Dad

Ah yes. The internet. It’s a evil mistress that never forgets.

The problem with the internet is the way it makes people act. The internet takes the average human being, like you and me and everybody we went to high school with, and makes them pretend to be experts. The internet is a fantasy world where you can pretend to be experts on forums for firearms and self-defense tactics, experts on car and truck forums, experts on Facebook preaching your religion, your politics, your science. It’s never ending really. It’s virtual-reality. These people aren’t like this in real life.

The IFLScience crowd are so fast paced – they don’t even read the articles. They read the titles of the articles, they feel like they’ve got the general idea of what’s going on already, they repost the article with a snarky comment so like minded readers can do the same.

The internet contains billions of pages of information to teach you anything. What do people use it for? To look at endless pages of cat memes.

The internet is a megaphone. The internet lets insignificant people reach a significant amount of people. It allows you to look inside people’s personalities that you don’t care about looking inside of. What are they really like? What kind of person do they really wish they were? People can be whatever they want online. They can post completely named pictures of themselves like on the Chive or Playboy. They can bash other religions like the Westboro Baptist Church or extremist Sunni Muslims.

In the old days, confrontation was more polite because of the risk of physical injury. Now that that’s gone, people can be as rude and hateful as possible – to people they’ve never met – and get away with it. It’s virtual-reality.

Mr. McDonald,

Congratulations on your nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a good citizen you have agreed to take on one of the most demanding and important jobs in Washington.

As a veteran yourself you can appreciate how shaken veterans and their families are by the scandals and corruption that has been exposed throughout the Veterans Administration. I know you will agree that we owe our veterans the best care and we have failed to deliver.

Given the scale of the challenge, I hope you will not mind if, as someone who has spent nearly five decades in politics and government and has seen scores of cabinet secretaries come and go, I share a few thoughts on the position to which you’ve been nominated.

Should the Senate confirm you to this post, you will take command of the VA at the most troubled time in its history. The reports of corruption, incompetence, and corruption to hide incompetence have drawn the nation’s outrage and caused your predecessor to resign. How might you succeed at reform where so many others before you have failed?

Given your lifetime spent in business, probably you are familiar with W. Edwards Deming’s famous “Red Bead Experiment.” Deming used to carry around a bin full of red beads and white beads mixed together. He would describe to audiences his intention to gather up just the white beads, and then he would blindly plunge a scoop into the bin. To his ostensible frustration, the scoop would always emerge with a mix of both kinds of beads. Feigning disbelief, he would appoint a new person to wield the scoop. Invariably, he or she would fail as well. Then Deming would proceed to the next candidate, and so on.

The point of the Deming demonstration was to illustrate that a systems problem couldn’t be solved with new people, new slogans, and new speeches. When the system is broken, the personalities don’t matter. People will fail one after the next until the system is changed.

The range and scale of the misconduct at the VA shows that the corruption there, like the doomed attempt to isolate white beads, is not just a problem of personalities but more importantly of systems, and it goes to the very core of the bureaucracy. I have attached a map we have developed at Gingrich Productions which shows 55 VA sites with major problems. We are certain this number will grow as more parts of the VA are investigated and audited.

When you have that many places in trouble simultaneously you are not dealing with a few bad apples, a failure of a few leaders, or a need for better inspections. With that many places simultaneously in trouble, you have a system and a culture that have been corrupted and are collapsing.

The agency’s own audit found that 70 percent of VA medical facilities were using improper scheduling practices to hide long wait times by falsifying data. The wait times persist despite (or more likely because of) the fact that VA doctors see less than half as many patients as doctors in the private sector.

This is a department that has 40 percent more employees and costs 90 percent more money than it did in 2006. Operating rooms close at 3:00 pm so the union cleaning staff can leave by 5:00. Officials get bonuses no matter what their performance, apparently (though 100 percent of them were given “fully successful” performance reviews or better last year–a remarkable achievement in light of the agency’s widespread mismanagement).

It takes 175 days to transfer a veteran’s medical records from the Department of Defense to the VA. The DoD and the VA spent $1.3 billion and four years trying to build software to solve this issue before announcing in February that they had given up.

Failure this thorough points to a system–the giant, fossilized bureaucracy–that is hopelessly broken and must be replaced rather than repaired. Unfortunately, the entrenched bureaucrats, the unions, and the President, along with many others in Congress who are ideologically committed to a failed model of delivering health care, all oppose the systemic changes that could actually work.

Mr. McDonald, you are about to become the next guy holding the scoop at the VA. The prison guards of the past might write legislation to give you a bigger scoop, and then they will call the problem solved. Your job, as the new champion of our nation’s veterans, will be to focus the public’s outrage and to marshal support for real change.

Opportunities to force the kind of transformation the VA needs come along once or twice in a generation. It would be a tragic mistake if, after the enormous human pain that led to your appointment, you allowed the moment to pass.

What would systemic change look like? It would begin with enforcing the right metrics, with measuring success not by how well the Department serves the bureaucrats but by how well it serves our veterans. This would mean insisting the VA meet the standards our veterans are accustomed to as consumers in every other aspect of their lives–the world where services work and are increasingly digital, mobile, virtual, and personal.

The VA is a long way from that today, and to get there it will have to become a radically different agency with many fewer bureaucrats operating under a new set of assumptions. The fight to change the VA will be big. But the ramifications could extend well beyond your single department. The whole federal bureaucracy is broken, swollen into an unrestrained fourth branch of government. If you can harness public support to transform the current VA into a system based on choice, accountability, and efficiency, you could be setting the pattern for replacing the entire bureaucratic state with a government for the modern world.

It would be a fitting conclusion to a century plagued by bureaucracy if the renewal of American governance were to begin at the VA, a department which exemplified the system’s worst tendencies from the start. Charles Forbes, the first person to hold the position to which you have been nominated, stole tens of thousands of dollars from the bureau after World War I, as did many of his cronies. The corruption is not new, but nearly 100 years of it is enough.

I hope you will be the Secretary with the courage to demand the fundamental change our veterans need. The American people will be with you, even if many in Washington are not.

Sincerely,

Newt Gingrich