Sunday, April 23, 2017

Who Needs Who

You are the person responsible for making sure your life is what you want it to be.   You must look out for your own best interests and in order to do that you must know what they are with sharp clarity. If you don't there are legions of people seeking to convince you they know best and to follow them, sometime with altruistic intentions and other times with purely selfish aims.   It would be ideal if we could live a bubble, protected by our own unbreakable will but in the real world getting what we need means working with others.   Aligning with others whose goals are similar to our own can be a source of immense power but only if their intentions are true.

How do we know?   Discerning a true friend and ally from the cons, thieves, liars, leeches, the time wasters and various other pathological personalities out there is sometimes tough, but possible.  Again, the most reliable way to protect yourself is to know yourself.   Have a clear idea of who you are, what you want and how you plan to make that happen (not necessarily a thing, it could also be an outcome like good health).   These  things are your ruler with which to measure the claims of others.  If your ruler is flimsy and easily bent the measurements you make will be inaccurate.    One of the things I want is to pass this country on to future generations better than I found it, one whose economy is strong, creative and sustainable.   A life in which we get what we need by making it ourselves.    Having that ideal end goal in mind allows me to know who is is working against me and who is potentially working with me.

Potentially?  Yes, because what people say and what people do is not always the same.   Talk is cheap and so it doesn't cost a faker much to spin a great story hoping to reel in a sucker.   History is littered with more examples of such people than I can list here.   The only defense is to watch closely what a person does and ignore what they say they're doing.   Lets consider a few scenarios:

Scenario 1:
You've been at Company X for two years as a long term temp with no benefits with hopes of getting hired on full time and moving up to a position doing what you are passionate about.   Every three months when you're contract is up for renewal you mention this to your supervisor.   They tell you you're a stellar, hard working employee and that if you keep it up, they'll hire you on full time and move you into department you want.   Once in awhile you get a minor role in some of the work you want to be doing but 95% of the time you're doing data entry and answering phones.   Then two months back they hired a person to do the job you wanted.   You mention it to your supervisor and they tell you the same story as before, we value you just hold on.

Fast forward a year from this fork in the road.   Fork A:   A year later you are stuck in the same job, hearing the same justification to keep doing what you are doing.   Fork B:   You say fork it, and decide to take matters into your own hands.   You do some calling around to other companies, bullshit your way past secretaries and HR and find people doing the exact job you dream of doing.   You ask them how they got there and what you might need to do  in order to accomplish the same.   You keep the same shitty job to cover rent and food, but at night you're working on getting certifications and reading up on everything mentioned in your conversations with the pros.   Eventually you get your skills leveled up, start dropping highly targeted resumes and a  year later you've got not one but two job offers for positions doing what you want and paying way more than crappy temp job.  Which option serves you best?   In that option who holds the power.

Scenario 2:

You've been on 6 dates with a girl you're crazy about.  The dates went well enough so you try to bring the relationship to the next level.   She tells you you're sweet and amazing but that she isn't ready for that right now because she's still getting over her abusive,cheating jerk of an ex.   "Well, I'm clearly better than him," you think, " I'll prove to her that I'm worthy and when I do she'll give me the love I want".   And so you go on more expensive dates, flowers delivered to her job, help her with chores, when her car breaks down you give her rides and even give her money to help fix it.   She happily accepts these things but you notice the only times you hear from her are when you initiate contact or she needs something.   One day you log into Facebook and see her and her jerk ex are now friends and she's commented on several photos of his.   Think forward a year.   You keep doing the same things hoping she'll come around.   Are you happy?   Do you feel in control of the situation?    What if instead you decide to let Miss Hard-to-Get chill for a while and talk to a bunch of attractive girls you encounter in your daily life.   To your surprise some of them have the same qualities that made your crush attractive, and some of these are attracted to you too.   A few are calling you first, making efforts to show you they care.   Maybe Miss Hard-to-Get feels a little jealous and ups her game, maybe you like one of the new girls better.  Either way, are you happy in this situation?  Do you feel in control of the outcome?

In each example one outcome shows the power which comes from seeing options and following those paths which align with your internal compass until the desired destination is reached.    The other approach is one of being impeded by external barriers that others were allowed to define.  Power is options.  It is the ability to walk away from a bad choice because better choices are apparent.   It is needing them less than they need you.   With that in mind consider a final scenario.

You live and work in a small town.   There used to be four factories but 3 have closed and went overseas.   The call center in town did too.  You still have a job with an engineering firm, but the big companies you contract with are sending more work to India or China every year.  Main Street is desolate.   You need both hands to count your friends from high school who are on heroin, in jail or dead.   The house rep for your district is seeking a 5th term.   He is a member of your chosen party and you've voted for him before because he says he cares deeply about the middle class and works tirelessly every day to help them.   His ads show how he got some grant money to help retrain people who got laid off when the last factory closed.   You do some research and see that program helped 10 people retrain.  100 were fired when the plant closed.  Your rep says free trade will benefit everyone and that the economy is improving.   It's decision time.   What would you do?  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Small Taste of Victory

In my younger days my supply of cash was chronically tight so I got into the habit of cooking many of my own meals since it is wayyy cheaper than eating out or eating prepared foods out of the box or freezer.   I especially like recipes I can cook in bulk like chili, soups and curries that I can stretch even further with a little rice.   My financial situation has improved since then but the habit of home cooking has stayed with me.   I still like saving money because now I can build it up and invest it in high quality, American made goods that last a long time, usually paying me back eventually since those things don't break or wear out like cheaper, foreign made stuff does.

When I'm at work I generally stay in instead of hitting up a McDonalds or pizza joint.   I've done it for years but I've really got a good system going now.   These days I will will cook a big batch of something and move it from the big pot right into a pint mason jars while it's still hot.   A few years ago they were also selling a canning kit with a funnel that fit their jars perfectly.   I'll freeze those jars so I have a constant variety of frozen meals ready to go.   That also makes it easier to avoid the fast food circuit.    I've found that if I leave a jar to defrost all morning it is usually defrosted enough to pour out into a dish to heat up.   In a pinch you can do it right in the jar.   The added bonus?  You're not microwaving plastic.  In the event of a long power outage you could also throw them all right into a pressure cooker and can them for indefinite storage.   This method of food storage is cheap, versatile and durable.  Best of all it is made in the USA.

The jars can be heated but I do like a wider bowl.   My old one, a piece of USA made Corelle-ware, was great for use at home but a full pint jar was just a little too much to comfortably fit in that bowl without spilling.   Instead I bought, at a very reasonable price, a Pyrex bowl, also US made (see a pattern here?).   It's a little bigger and has a lid, so I can microwave stuff without exploding beans or carrots coating the inside of the public microwave.   All told it's a perfect system that allows me to conveniently eat a variety of delicious, nutritious, money saving food.   And with that money I can re-invest in more quality goods that were made in my home country and economy.

Here is a little recipe that is an example of what I like to cook and put in my jars:

Chicken Lentil Soup


  • 1 package of chicken drumsticks (5-6 drumsticks)
  • 1.5  chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 5-6 stalks celery ( about 2 cups diced)
  • 4-5 carrots (about 2 cups diced)
  • 1 can of crushed tomato (14.5 oz can)
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • salt (to taste)
Cooking Instructions

  1.  Heat about 6 cups of water to a boil.   Add chicken drumsticks and bouillon cube.   Maintain boil for 40 mins.
  2. While chicken is cooking rinse lentils and dice onions, carrots, and celery.
  3.  Remove chicken from pot to cool.   Add lentils, veggies and spices.   Cover and cook on low heat until it boils lightly.
  4. When chicken is cool enough to handle remove and discard skin.   I use my hands to pull the chicken off the bone and break it up into bite sized pieces.   Add to pot.
  5. Cook for 1 hour or until lentil are soft.   
  6. Makes 6-8 servings and costs about $8 dollars to make.  Enjoy!
If you have any of your own recipes or links to such I encourage you to share them in the comments.