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It’s hard to understand people sometimes…

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

When I was 11 my family lived in deserts of rural New Mexico.   The landscape in rural New Mexico is very harsh and only the hardiest of people, plants, and animals can survive.  A five year old child living in that environment can have fun playing outside in 30 degree in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.  That same five year old can keep playing right through a 100+ degree noon in that same jeans and sweatshirt.  During that same day that 5 year old would likely be impaled buy a 2 inch long, poison tipped cactus needle and pull it out by himself without even flinching.  The point is that by just being out and about in that environment creates an individual with very different definition of comfort.  I remember walking to the bus stop at 10 years years old and laughing about the icicles hanging from my hair.  I didn’t think there was anything unusual about walking around in that weather.

What I want any reader to understand is that kids that runs around in the deserts of NM don’t think much about comfort or pain.  I remember I had a friend that was target shooting with his pellet gun.   The pellet ricocheted off of the target and hit him in the face.  He dropped to the ground and we were all worried that he’d lost an eye.  When he finally showed his face the pellet was embedded into his lip.  We were all relieved.

Another story about NM was when we arrived to Edgewood NM our poodle Jamar was sniffing around and walked up on a hiding Jack Rabbit.  The rabbit proceeded to kick Jamar and hopped off.  Jamar was terrified.  We had to be careful with Jamar because the Owls were HUGE and they had been known to carry off dogs, chickens, snakes, and and even cats.

Without a doubt the rulers of the dessert were the cats.  I had seen the cats regularly fight and kill rattlesnakes, stalk and kill a jack rabbit, and even take on three huge dogs.  These cats were absolutely amazing they would make incredible jumps taking birds out in mid-flight.  We all understood how amazing these cats were.

We didn’t have trash service in Edgewood and everyone had two options.  Either you would have a tractor come out and dig a pit for you or you drive the garbage to the dump.  My friend Tommy’s family had a pit dug and one of his chores was to burn the trash every couple of days.  The word pit isn’t a good word for what they would dig, it was more like a trench.  The pits were about 8 feet long by 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

My brother and I decided to visit Tommy one day.  We walked up to the trailer and knocked on the door.  There wasn’t an answer.  We were disappointed and we started to walk back home.  We saw two tomcats that we were familiar with.

Since we shared our lunch with these cats from time to time they came right to us.  We picked the cats up and for fun I tossed one into the the pit.  It was about a 7 foot drop and the cat landed with incredible grace and managed to leap 4 feet from the bottom of the pit out in one perfectly executed hop.  Next Paul tossed his cat into the pit.  The second cat was ready and turned in mid-air caught Paul’s arm with one of his paws with claws extended and ran up his arm.  In less than a fraction of a second the cat was gone and blood was seeping from Paul’s arm.

We couldn’t figure out how a cat could turn in mid air.  We spent the next 15 minutes jumping into the pit and trying to turn in mid air as we went in.

One thing about Tommy was that his mom had some kind of painful problem and she was bedridden many days.  She was remarried to a truck driver that looked a lot like Kenny Rogers and he ADORED her.  Tommy’s step dad did everything he could to spoil her.

Tommy’s mom was sick in bed and she was watching us when we were playing.  She was absolutely furious about the cats.  She went so far as to call us “fucking spics” and pretty much any other word you could imagine.  To be honest with you when a 30 years old busty blond mom with big blue eyes calls you a “little f’ing spic” is really sends a message.

As you can probably the friendship was over because that’s just something you can never come back from.  But I have spent 30 years thinking about what happenned.  I definitely understand that I saw these cats as deadly, super predators.  I also understand that a 7 foot drop is absolutely nothing to a cat.   Another thing I understand is that what we did was absolutely stupid and even though a 7 foot drop nothing to a cat it could actually hurt that cat and even the slightest injury could put a cat at a HUGE disadvantage in the desert.

After 30 years I understand that to Tommy’s mom these cats were graceful and beautiful animals with a delicate bone structure.  She was probably very scared for the cats and it was probably very disturbing for her while she was trying to rest.

To my brother and I a cat was a different creature than a cat was to Tommy’s mother.

Cat – A 100% carnivorous, super predator that relentlessly kills on a daily bases.

Cat – A delicate and graceful creature that shows affection to anyone that’s willing to earn its trust.

Both definitions for cats are correct but they are both very different.  It was impossible for us to have a reasonable conversation about a cat.  We didn’t understand that a cat would be interested in being comfortable because we didn’t think of comfort.  We didn’t understand that a cat could be scared of a 7 foot drop.

When people try to talk about politics this issue comes up all of the time  There are people that see conservative means a person that wants minorities to be strung up and women to have absolutely no rights.  Then there are people that see conservative a person that wants to keep everyone safe, to make sure that every child has a loving mother and father, and every child gets to have a happy childhood.  The same goes for words like liberal, christian, muslim, homosexual, PETA, green peace, NRA…  These words have such different meaning to different people that a civil conversation between many americans is absolutely impossible.  We all end up saying horrible things to eachother because of these misconceptions.

The thing about Geico…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

I have a general distrust of insurance companies.  I’d say that the insurance company has tried to get out of paying for 2 out of 3 insurance events that I have ever been involved with or heard about.  I’ve also found that the higher the pay out the nastier the beneficiary has had to get paid.  In the movie “The Incredibles” they show what it’s like behind the scenes at the insurance companies and I have had very similar experiences to the one showed in the movie.  I’ve heard that insurance employees get bonuses based on their ability to convince beneficiaries that they can’t collect for some reason.

OK, so whatever, that’s expected by most people.  In 2006 I was on Highway 400 and a guy in front of me slammed on his brakes.  I managed to stop in time, but the guy behind me hit me and the three people behind them hit each other also.  We pulled over and waited for the police.  Two of the the people behind me drove off and I took pictures of their license plates as they drove off.  The police got there and I gave him the license plate numbers of the people that drove off.  The officer gave the guy behind me a ticket and said they would go after the drive offs.

I thought I was surely covered.  I had the gold plated full coverage Geico insurance (you know the Gecko) and I was not at fault.

Well guess what, I wasn’t, Geico let me down.  The accident did about $1300 in damage to my Jeep.  The guy that hit me said that he hit me because he was pushed into me by the guy behind him.  The guy behind him said that he never hit the guy behind me.

Months went by, and I called weekly to find out what was going on.  After about 3 weeks I was assigned a really nice lady with a folksy mid-western attitude.  She projected a real salt of the earth attitude.  After another two weeks we had a pretty good relationship and I trusted her.  She wanted me to sign a paper that would give Geico the right to legally pursue the case and it would make me lose all of my rights to pursue the case.  I told her that I didn’t feel comfortable with it because Geico would probably think it wasn’t worth the legal expenses.  The nice, folksy, mid-western lady pleaded with me to sign my rights away.  She told me that she loves Jesus Christ and the she sweared on Jesus Christ that Geico would make this good for me.

So I signed the papers, Geico said it wasn’t worth their time to pursue the case and I was on the hook for a $500 deductible.  A guy from Geico came by and said that it was only $800 in damage.  So I received a check for $300.

My experience is that employees at corporations will say anything for the company.  So now I pretty much don’t trust any corporation.

This is my last article that explains why when a corporation calls me trying to sell me anything or even give me anything I just say NO.  If Geico called me and offered to increase my coverage or something like that for $10, or for $5, or for free I would say NO.  I just don’t trust corporations, even if that corporation has never done anything to make me distrust them.  Walmart, Google, Geico, and BellSouth have made me almost impossible to sell to.

The thing about Bell South

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

I don’t feel very bad criticizing Bell South because they aren’t in business anymore.  An experience I had with Bell South contributed in a big way to my total distrust of American corporations.

Back in 2000 I got extremely lucky and I was able to buy fiber optic Internet service.  It was very awesome because I was getting 10MBs up and 10MBs downs.  I used to be able to take 100+ photos of the family and FTP to my website.  It would take around 15 minutes to upload them all.

In 2005 or 2006 a salesperson called my wife and told her the for merely entering into a 1 year contract they would drop our price by 5 bucks a month.  The next month sending 100+ photos took around 20 hours to upload.  I had to write a special program to upload all of the photos because the FTP would fail every couple of hours.  So for 5 bucks a month we went from 15 minute upload sessions to 20 hour upload session.  We never would have agreed to that if the phone solicitor had been honest.  We went from 10 MB per second down to 200KB per second.  They dropped the speed by 50 times for 5 bucks.

So now when anyone calls and they are trying to save us money I say NOOOOOOO.

Note: About 6 months ago I called AT&T for support and they ticked me off my wasting my time.  I eventually got through to an American and I was very upset and I told him why I was ticked and about a week later I was bumped up to 3 MB per second and it is much better.  Hopefully they will get me back up to 10MB per second again sometime.

The thing about Walmart…

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

The lesson Walmart taught me was that any corporation is one person away from being special to being just another greedy corporation.

When I was in college Walmart heavily adverstised  that they promoted “made in America”.  They would advertise that if an equivalent product was made in the USA they would always sell the american product.

So when I was in college I was pretty broke.  My back pack was falling apart and a Janson backpack cost $35.00 and it was made in the USA.  I decided to comparison shop at Walmart because they supposedly bought stuff from America.  I was looking at backpacks in the sporting department and a very nice lady asked me if I needed help (that never happens anymore) and I told her the I needed a backpack that could handle 60 pounds of books.  She assured me that the backpack had special stitching and that the back pack was made in the America.  The backpack was $16.00 so that was a $19.00 savings.

The backpack lasted about two days and it was falling apart.  I took the backpack back and I thought they would feel bad for giving me bad advice.  Intead I got a good butt chewing from the lady at the front.  She told me that I was dumb for thinking the backpack would hold all of the books and she said that I was stealing from Walmart.  They told me I could exchange it for a better one for just $20 more.  I ended up getting a really nice leather one.  Everyone at school was impressed by my new backpack.  One day I noticed that the backpack was made in China.  So I could of bought a backpack that would have been fine from my bookstore for $35.00 but instead I bought a backpack from China for $36.00.

Since then I’ve seen things go downhill.  I’ve heard rumors that Walmart forces manufacturers to produce their products in China.  I think Walmart was once a jewel of America but now it’s just another corporation.  You really can’t believe anything a corporation says or even judge a corporation based on its past good deeds because they can and do change in an instant.

This is how Walmart helped me become someone that when a company that has provided me excellent service for 6 years asks me to reduce my payment I refuse before they can even tell me what the deal is.

I’m grouchy old dude

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

I have dish for TV and they call on a regular basis.  Every time they call it goes something like:

Sales Person: “We see you pay $XX.XX a month and we can lower you bill to $XX.XX a month…”

Me: no

Sales Person: “We are going to give you $XX.XX a month”

Me: No

Sales Person: “Why would you NOT want to save money?”

Me: NO

Sales Person: “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want this?”

Me: NO NO NO NO.  QUIT CALLING ME!!!

CLICK

So how did I get to the point to where I just don’t trust anyone?  We’ve been using dish for 8 years and they have never done anything to make me distrust them.  So why wouldn’t I just take the drop in price?  I remember when I was in my teens and early 30s seeing grumpy old dudes like me and asking them, “Why are you so bitter?”  They would always say something like “it’s complicated” or “if it’s too good be true it probably is”.

So I am going to try to document exactly how I got to this point.  I would have to say four companies (Walmart, Google, Bell South, and Geico) are 90% responsible for pushing me to the state of distrust.  I hate to be unfair so I am going to limit my comments to experiences that happenned at least a year ago.  The time delay should take the emmotion out of the commentary.

More to come.