I have two cellphones: One old pay-per-minute cellphone, and a brand-spankin-new one with all the bells and whistles from a major wireless service. I don't want to mention their name here, so let's call them "Horizon."
My lovely, patient wife made me get a "real" cellphone right after she made me get a desk job. I still have the old phone hidden in my car.
My new cellphone costs me a base rate of $60 per month. It also offers pictures and email, but only if I fork out another $40 for internet access and then more to use it. It charges me extra if I drive 100 miles from home. I spend $115 per month on this service after all the little fees and taxes etc. that they add on.
My pay-per-minute cellphone offers me free text messaging and photos and email for $20 bucks per month. I spend about one hour per month on the phone, at 10 cents per minute wherever I am and wherever in the U.S. I'm calling. This works out to about $23 per month.
$115 - $23 = $92 dollars per month that I pay extra to have a "real" cellphone. Thanks, Horizon.
My wife is a beautiful, patient lady who saw past my roughness and took me in.
When we met, I was working in a pizza restaurant and spending most of my spare time involved in live-action sword fighting games. She saw the potential in me that I didn't see in myself and banned me from participating in these kinds of activities.
Now I have a decent desk job in an insurance call center, and a house in suburban Barstow. Here is the view from my cubicle at work:
I eat only healthy food (unless I'm out of the house around a mealtime. Then I have to hide the evidence.) And we go for a powerwalk every morning.
This woman has made me deliriously happy. She just doesn't like my little obsessions. So I sneak around a little and plan for the coming apocalypse.
Here's a quote from Heinlein's first published short story, "Lifeline," which was published in 1939:
"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
It seems appropriate to a time period when large businesses that have failed to practice good capitalism are asking to be saved the burden of responsibility. Corporations are just not capitalistic models. That's why they are unconstitutional.
I recently posted a rant about what makes a town livable. One of the main features was what I called a "real" coffeehouse.
I've been thinking about it a lot, and I have decided to offer a revised list of qualifications.
1)Must Sell Good Coffee
This should be a no-brainer, but so many coffeehouses sell weak, wet-ashtray-like coffee, and many others use the Starbucks model of overroasted coffee that tastes like they burnt down the village where it was grown (not completely out of the question.)
2) Must Offer a Welcome Atmosphere
I combined several of the others into this one. The coffeehouse must have comfortable chairs or sofas, it must not blare music so loud you get a headache, and it must offer free wireless access and electrical sockets for your laptop. Basically, it must make you feel as though you are welcome to stay for a couple of hours and brood over your cup of coffee. If they didn't want you to hang out, they shouldn't have opened a coffee shop. Likewise if you do hang out all day, for goodness sakes, buy something every now and then and tip well.
3) Must Allow Tipping
That's right. Not only is it a barista's right to collect tips, it should be your right, your privilege -- nay, your pleasure to help out these bohemian heroes that keep your creative juices flowing.
4) Must Not Have an Agenda
This one is pointedly geared towards people with a political or religious agenda. I'm fine that you have your agenda, but I don't want to hear about your religion, and while I'm a feminist sympathizer of the first degree, I don't think you should stare angrily at me while I drink my espresso. (You know who you are.) I just came for coffee.
Okay, here's another post-apocalyptic scenario that Kudzu Bob mentioned to me:
6) The Rapture.
Basically, all the good Baptists suddenly vanish, leaving piles of suspenders and floral-print muumuus lying around everywhere The rest of us will be Left Behind to deal with such terrible consequences such as peace in the Middle East and the financial collapse of Golden Corral.
Well, we have quite a nice list going:
1) Barstow-like post-nuclear world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Max)
2) Earth blows up, we go looking for a new homeworld (Space, 1999)
3) Polar ice caps melt, somehow producing enough water to flood the entire planet (Waterworld)
One very real early symptom of the coming apocalypse is the slow death of the independent comic. For years, these little gems have shone in the darkness of the sucky syndicated comics such Family Circus (Don't get me started on Family Circus), but they are often the first thing to disappear from independent newspapers when the economy flops.
Ask your local free indy paper to pick up one of these great comics. Here is my favorite. (I have no financial connection)
2) Earth blows up or otherwise becomes uninhabitable; we float around in space looking for a new homeworld
3) The polar icecaps melt and we live on rafts, like in the movie Waterworld.
Kudzu Bob posted that I had forgotten one of the most important scenarios: 4) Zombie apocalypse.
He's right. I haven't included the zombie scenario because I'm not prepared for it. I've been spending all my time on the raft and the armored dune buggy, and I just don't have enough time left over for the shotguns or the chainsaws, etc. That planning would entail. I promise I will work to rectify this as soon as I'm able. Money is tight since I lost my job as a chicken sexer, and my wife is constantly on to me to quit messing around with flamethrower plans, so I have to keep my head down. Thank goodness she doesn't know about my blog.
I have been building the raft near Watauga Lake, which I'm told is the second cleanest lake in the U.S. (That's part of the problem: More later on that.)
When I attempted a launch last weekend, I discovered a few flaws.
1) I've been building the base of the raft out of Styrofoam packing crates. When I launched the raft, I discovered that all the individual pieces started rubbing together. I hate the noise of Styrofoam rubbing together. It's like my own personal fingernails-on-chalkboard.
2) It turns out that modeling glue melts Styrofoam. Who knew? It's called polystyrene cement. Isn't that also the chemical name for Styrofoam?
3) The state has severe anti-dumping laws in its parks, and the park rangers don't appreciate the sight of fifty-four Styrofoam crates floating around in their lake. I tried to explain that I wasn't dumping, and that I had every intention of collecting the debris of my raft, but power often makes people blind to progress.
It may be a few days before I can post again. I'll have to pick up more shifts at the citrus farm to pay off the hefty fines imposed upon me.
I'm not giving up on the raft idea yet. Failure is seen as a sign of growth for us geniuses. I will keep you all posted in the future.
These are the folks who are responsible for putting ads on my blog. I make revenue based on people's interest in the ads on my page, and if people click on enough ads, I may be able to afford to rent the new Star Trek movie.
Apparently, my selection of themes has been giving them trouble. So far, I have seen ads for hair removal, credit repair services, and Obama political websites.
No ads for armored dune buggy parts, nor any for survival rations or rafting supplies. These would be obvious choices, considering what's coming.
The doctors say I'm a classic paranoid, but can we trust them? They want me to take personality-altering drugs. Hey, I like me.
Here are a few ad-theme ideas for Adsense:
Books on home dentistry.
Also, a note to Google: Please stop removing my "Build-It-Yourself" blog entries. Flamethrowers will be a necessary addition to cars in a few years.
In a previous blog entry, I lamented the permanent shortage of helium on the planet Earth, which will interfere with my plans for dirigible-based transport.
Don't give up hope, my dear friends! There is a solution. Space.
Apparently, there is a lot of helium in the Moon (Or is it The Moon? I'm terrible at title case.) and on other planets such as (no jokes, please) Uranus. All we have to do is get it.
The problems that I foresee are:
1) If you fill a spaceship with helium, how do you land it?
2) Space travel takes a long time and is boring. How do you stop the crew from wasting helium making funny voices for each other on the return trip?
3) How do you stop NASA and Burt Rutan from monopolizing the Helium supply? Let's face it: We can't trust NASA, not after they brought AIDS back from outer space.
I was driving back from my job as a citrus fruit colorer in Barstow last night, trying to think of a solution to these problems, but nothing came to me. I may have to stick with the armored dune buggy or the raft.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that one of my rules for success was "Never become middle class." I got a lot of email about that, asking me to explain. Here goes:
There are two classes in the U.S.A.
1) Rich People
2) Poor People
The genius of this country is that in order to change class, all you have to do is change the amount of money you have.
There is a third, imaginary class of people called "The Middle Class." This group is composed of people who would become rich if they would stop pretending to be rich.
Imagine this scenario:
You and your spouse live in a trailer/apartment. Between the two of you, you are making about $35,000 a year. Life is okay. You have an ugly used car that runs, and you have never missed a meal.
One day, one of you gets a promotion at work. Suddenly, you are making $55,000 a year. You immediately run out and "buy" two new cars and put a down payment on a house.
A year later, you are $200,000 in debt. You will never be able to pay off your debt, because it constantly generates more of itself. you buy everything with credit cards, which increases your debt. You life in a nice house and drive a nice car, but life just sucks. You are constantly worried that the economy will turn sour, that you will lose your job and suddenly find yourself back in the trailer with no car and a mountain of debt.
Congratulations. You are Middle Class.
Consider the alternative:
...One day, one of you gets a promotion at work. Suddenly, you are making $55,000 a year. You put it in the bank. Six years later, you will have enough money to buy a nice house and a slightly nicer car. If the economy goes sour, you could live on your savings. You are happy. By most peoples' standards, you are rich.
This is what I meant by "Never become middle class." In other words, always live below your means.
I have mentioned in a past blog how important I think dirigibles will be in the future, but we have hit a snag.
There is a worldwide helium shortage.
Apparently almost all of the world's helium comes from a 250-square-mile area around Amarillo, Texas. It is produced over a period of billions of years when natural gas hangs around uranium and thorium. If you don't carefully catch it during the natural gas extraction, it immediately books it for the stratosphere, never to be seen again.
It is estimated that we will run completely out of helium some time before the end of this century.
The U.S. government has a vast stockpile of it -- about 32 billion cubic feet of it -- but they are selling it off like crazy, even though they need it themselves. NASA needs about 75 million cubic feet of it each year, and they're having trouble keeping it in stock.
So what am I supposed to use in my post-apocalypticdirigible? Hydrogen? Not likely with cannibalistic mutants shooting flintlocks at me.
In reply to my post about my wife not being suited to the post-apocalyptic aftermath, Kudzu Bob sent me a link to a website that allows you to watchf the classic 1975 sci-fi movie A Boy and His Dog in its entirety.
If you've never seen it, it's worth watching, especially if you're a fan of the very talented Don Johnson.
This is a true science fiction classic which tells the tale of a boy, his libido, and his dog in a post-apocalyptic world short on ladies.
No dirigibles, sadly, but there is a marching band and a fat robot dressed like Tom Sawyer.
For a start, she's not very tough physically. The rigors of radioactive desert terrain would be too much for her.
Secondly, she's a bit of a germophobe. How can we live in a secret cabin built from the remains of a Boeing 747 if she can't drink out of a glass of water after she's found a cat hair in it?
Thirdly, she really likes showers. She sometimes takes two a day. That's fine now, but when we're living in a Barstow-like environment, I'm going to have to fight mohawked cannibals just to get drinking water. Forget showers.
The most important reason is that she's really, really sweet. According to the B-grade movies I'm basing my vision of the future on, she's almost guaranteed to die in the opening act, providing me with a motive of revenge for the rest of the movie.
I mentioned in a past blog entry that I’m anxiously awaiting the post-apocalyptic world that I was promised as a teenager. I’ve been getting more and more discouraged about it happening in my lifetime. Today writer and radio host extraordinaire Kenneth Stevens sent me a link to this article:
Huzzah, I say! The government has been working hard all this time to create the future world that I so long for. Apparently, it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. completely collapses into a collection of warring states, much like the former Soviet Union.
I hereby apologize to the government administrations that I have doubted.
A friend of mine recently had a tattoo removed. It left a massive scar on the back of her neck that basically still advertises the band Nine Inch Nails. Who knew, when she got it fifteen years ago, that one day she might not quite be as into Nine Inch Nails?
I have received so much joy from making fun of her about this, but then I got to thinking...
When I was nineteen, I started shaving my head. To me, this was a symbol of my own spiritual and social code. I grew up watching a lot of the KungFu television series (R.I.P. David Carradine, and I hope you paid the underage prostitute first), and I wanted everyone to know that I was different. After about a year of shaving my head, I decided that I would be doing it for the rest of my life, and it was a lot of shaving, so I came up with an idea: Permanent hair removal. Before we continue, let me describe an epilator to you. An epilator is a device that uses a giant vibrating spring to rip the hairs out of your legs, etc. Another feature of the expensive ones is that they electrocute the hair follicles right before ripping the hairs from the follicles. Many women regularly go through this mind-bogglingly painful experience to remove unsightly leg and bikini line (!) hairs. Continuing on... I ordered one of these neat little devices from a magazine and let my hair grow out to a stubble. One day, I sauntered into my bathroom, plugged the epilator in, applied the epilator to my scalp, and proceeded to scream like a little girl. Something you might not know about head hair is that it is much more firmly rooted than, say, leg hair. The result was that it failed to pull out my head hair, and simply started to try and rip open my scalp while repeatedly electrocuting me. The scene I viewed of myself in the bathroom mirror looked rather like a Mr. Bean sketch, with me desperately trying anything I could think of to remove the device, such as bracing myself on the sink with my foot even though that provided no leverage. It was a couple of minutes before it occurred to me to unplug the device.
I continued to shave my head for another eleven years. Now I have a head of hair that elicits Fabio or Jesus jokes on a regular basis. If my little plan had worked, I would never again have been able to grow this sexy head of hair.
My blog is supposed to be about unorthodox self improvement, so I try to have a point to each blog entry. I completely made up the part about the friend with the tattoo so i could tell you about my epilation incident and pretend that the moral is something about not judging others. The End.