No, Asshole, Santa Claus Isn’t Turkish

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While Christmas often brings out the best in people, it also brings out the less-than-desirable in others.  You can’t through the season without someone pissing and moaning about a “crass display of commercialism”, stating that Jesus really wasn’t born on December 25 and/or bringing up the pagan roots of Christmas in a manner to discredit the holiday as it pertains to practicing Christians.

While all of these points are certainly valid, they almost always come from a position of the person either really, really having an axe to grind with Western civilization and/or a smug attempt at elevating ones’ self over the proles that buy into the holiday.     People love to downplay the kinds of things that other people cherish.

One great way to downplay aspects of Western civilization held sacred is to make them non-Western or at the very least piss on the things viewed as Western achievements.   This is where we hear about historical figures likely being non-white and/or hearing about someone from outside the Western world doing it better or first or the personal shortcomings of the historical figure in question.   So we hear that Euripides was black, Arabs saved Western civilization by being so advanced and Chris Columbus didn’t change the course of history or anything, but he was extremely brutal to the natives of the American landmass.

One way this happens from time to time around Christmas is the idea that Santa Claus has his origins in Turkey and therefore all of us dumb white people are celebrating a guy that wasn’t white and comes from the Islamic world.     Ugh….

It is true that the non-fictional character St. Nicolas really did come from the part of the world we now know as Turkey.  Absolutely.  However, the thing is what we now know as Turkey wasn’t inhabited by Turks, it was inhabited by Greeks.    I know that the idea that things might not have always been the way they are now is difficult for some people to grasp at times, but it’s true.   St. Nick was a Greek that lived in what ultimately became Turkey.   Doesn’t make him anymore Turkish than I can claim to be a Sioux by virtue of living where they once lived.   The Turks, with all due respect, moved into that piece of real estate almost 1000 years after St. Nick occupied it.

…and for what it’s worth, St. Nick was just a part of the mythos that eventually created the Santa Claus that we know today.   For the record, none of that mythos is remotely close to Turkish.   I know some people would like to believe this kind of bullshit because it fits nicely into a narrative they’ve created.

With that said, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever you prefer to hear.   Always be skeptical of “well, actually….” claims and the motives behind them.

Microbusiness Chronicles – Multilevel Marketing

Since we started to do what we do we’ve been rubbing elbows often with various multilevel marketing/network marketing entities….and I think every adult American below a certain socioeconomic level has encountered network marketing before.

A pattern I quickly noticed is that with these events that we do, the more MLM participation the worse the event goes.   A lot of shows have a no MLM rule, which they believe creates a more authentic crafter/producer atmosphere.   And I agree.

First, I know that someone is making money off of these kinds of businesses and that there are people who genuinely like the products they have.  In my own life I can immediately think of a couple people who have been successful with MLM businesses – I can also think of  dozens who fizzled out after the first week or two of doing it.

Ok, so when we think of “business” or “work” we normally think of two different situations – as an employee or as a owner.   You’re either working for someone or for yourself.   MLM seems to be a bizarre hybrid of the two, more similar to being a franchisee (like McDonalds, etc.) than anything else.    You have a set product line, rules to follow and some system of support like an employee.   But you also more or less choose your own level of involvement, determine the level of effort you put into it and sometimes put your own skin in the game by putting up your own money to get started.   You’re also on your own during dry times, unlike an employee.      In short, like an employee you’re given *the* business but like an owner you’re responsible for *building* the business.

People are sold into these programs by the promise of a small initial investment and then whatever time/effort you want to put into it, but I think one thing that a lot of people overlook is how much of their “personal brand” or social capital they actually burn up doing these kinds of things.  To be honest, I think a lot of people see these kinds of things and then try to avoid it like the plague.  Then it turns to “oh shit, it’s Suzie.   She’s probably going to try to sell us It Works!” because these things work on expecting people to shake down their own personal networks….and your personal network probably doesn’t want to hear it.

Some people can get away with it if whatever product actually lines up with their lives.   The only example I can think of is Advocare (and maybe Herbalife) and the personal trainer industry, where at least they can say “hey, look this works for me!” and have a captive audience.

Anyways, I think the big problem with MLM insofar as craft shows is that there’s no personality to whatever it is they’re selling….and that’s also why the people in your personal network are usually less-than-enthused with whatever the product is.   It doesn’t take any vision, creativity, etc. to do Scentsy or Lularoe.  Even though it’s “your business”, everyone sees it as someone else’s business that you’re peddling.

I think the most common criticism of MLM, half in jest, is being “cult-like”.   That’s because it’s the same idea – someone else’s idea/thing that you go out and evangelize.   Instead of talking about the normal things friends/family would talk about, you’re encouraged to talk about this or that essential oil blend and how you heard about it causing the blind to see and saving some poor woman from cancer.

Ok, so people are just generally turned off by MLM.   Yes, there are people that like the products and all but I think overall people are turned off.   If they go to some event and all they see is the same kinds of people that bug them at work about ordering Pampered Chef, they say “this sucks”, “nothing here is worth a fuck”, etc.     So I appreciate it when a show is just crafters/producers.

One of the people I can think of that has been successful with MLM is my own wife (before we met).    She started to get her Mary Kay business going again around the time RDH started to come into existence and I thank God that she decided to put that on hiatus in order to focus on *our* thing.    I really believe that if she started pushing MLM at the same time we launched our business it would’ve really watered down our brand and made people in our own little circle less interested in what we had.   Most people would view a post about MLM, no matter how personal, as spam on Facebook.   If we post about how we’ll be at this or that event or we’re working on this or that on our personal Facebook pages, I think most people aren’t annoyed with it (although you can easily step over the line).   If we did both, I think people would write off posts about RDH as spam as well.

On another note, I usually feel kind of sorry for some of the MLM vendors at these things, especially at the slower shows.   Especially the ones that don’t actually have a product that someone can pick up, buy and walk off.   We were next to an Arbonne lady at a show that we did very well at.   All she had was a few display products and a catalog.   I’m not even sure if anyone actually placed an order.  She may have gotten a few contacts to do demonstrations, but if you think about it you have to overcome quite a bit to get someone to come to your table, actually write down their address and contact info to be interested in something and then be able to follow up with them at a later date to get something set up. Then at that point the sales process begins – sounds really hard.

 

Another thing that I don’t get is that if you’re really interested in these kinds of products, is it really that much more difficult to go at it on your own?  I understand that you probably can’t make vibrators on your own and compete with Pure Romance or tasers and compete with Damsel in Defense, but there’s always some little niche you could go after on your own.   Look at Young Living – how fucking hard is it to acquire some essential oils in bulk and make your own blends?   I bet I could take one hour and figure out a source of oils, a source of bottles, labels and even a few recipes to make my own blends.    It Works?   It should be easy to come up with your own “green smoothies”.   Makeup like Avon or Mary Kay?   IDK, but I’m sure there’s something in that realm a person could easily do on their own.

At the end of the day, I think there’s just so much more opportunity in creating your own small business/microbusiness over buying in to someone else’s model.   I think everyone would rather go to one of these shows if it were populated by people who say, made their own clothes, kitchen utensils, oils, scented products, green shakes, etc. over the extremely impersonal MLMs that exist today…and I also think the people in your circle would be a lot more interested to hear about what you were doing as well.

One Week of Driving With Uber

I’m always several years behind on technology.   When I first heard about Uber, I thought it sounded like a good idea but something that wasn’t going to happen because A. I had a rusty 97 Silverado that no one would pay to ride in and B. I had a dumb phone instead of a smart one.

Here we are in the “current year” and I have a vehicle that meets Uber’s expectations and an up-to-date smart phone, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I get off work at 10PM and I’m right across the street from a strip club and close to a couple others.  I’m also close to an interstate exit.   On my way home I pass right through downtown, so I figured I’d be in a good place geographically and temporally, as people would likely be wanting to go downtown (centrally located) from around where I work (north end of the city).

This period from 10-midnight is usually just time I’m dicking the dog on the internet anyways.  Everyone is usually asleep by the time I get home and there’s not much else to do.   So I figured it’s a good use of my time.

So far I have very mixed feelings about it…

First and most importantly, I think the pay is too low once you take everything into consideration.   90 cents at the outset, 65 cents a mile and 15 cents a minute.   So a four mile trip that takes ten minutes is about $5.   That in and of itself isn’t too bad, but there’s usually anywhere from 3-12 minutes that you have to drive to go pick the person up which you don’t get paid for.   So if you go ten minutes to take someone on a short trip you could wind up making $3 for the whole ordeal.

Let me explain how it works – so you turn on an application and when someone needs a ride you get a notification and you have fifteen seconds to respond.   The notification tells you who it is, what their rating is and where they’re at and how long it will take you to get there.      So  “Jimmy D (4.7 stars) at 666 Walnut Ave.    9 minutes”.   You touch the screen to accept (or let it run out to decline) and it maps out the most direct route to the location. When you get to the location and pick the person up, you swipe a button that starts the trip just like the meter in a cab.   Then when they get in the car it shows you their desired destination and the route to take.   Then when you get them there, you hit a button to complete the trip.

Pretty slick system.    My only complaint with it is that you can’t see where the person wants to go until you commit to getting them.   I understand how this would lead to rat-fucking and turning down riders, but it kind of sucks if you’re not wanting to go way out of your way.   The system works on the fact that you can get someone to come pick you up within ten or so minutes though, so I get that.   I’m just saying, it would be nice.

The other thing that sucks is that it seems like you can do an awful lot of driving/spend a lot of time to not make that much money.   My truck isn’t exactly the most fuel efficient option either, so I’m probably getting killed there.     If you get a notification that’s ten minutes away, you drive ten minutes to get there.    Let’s say you spend ten minutes to drive them to their destination.   Then you drive towards concentrations of people, which could take you another ten minutes before you get another person to pick up eight minutes away from your current location.    Then you pick them up and drive them for ten minutes.   So within the span of an hour or so, you could have two $5 rides amounting to $10 for the hour.

Then you subtract the gas you spent and then some percentage of that would go towards wear and tear on your vehicle.   Then if you really get into it, maybe an increased likelihood of getting into an accident or something just by spending more time on the road.    So it can wind up being a lot of time to not come out of it with much money.

So it’s not really something that I really feel excited to do, because it’s kind of depressing to  be out for two hours and use up about a quarter tank of gas to come home with about $20. I think I’d have to feel really hard up to really hustle up $100 or $200 a week from Uber.

Here’s what I do like about it – it is really flexible and there are situations where I’ll be at one place in the metro area and there’s really no other option but to go the way I want to go.    I’ll probably do it in those situations.

Although I think it would be hard to turn it into a real viable second income, I do like the idea of the “nickel generator”, meaning something that kicks out a few bucks to you here and there.    I have a couple of these (a book on amazon, the Red Dragon Herbs website and an affiliate link – btw, click the one on this page to make your amazon purchases!) already and it feels nice to see *something* additional come to you every month, even if it pales in comparison to your primary income.

I can see myself doing it maybe a time or two a week.   Even though it doesn’t pay out what I’d like it to pay in order to make it a better deal, it’s also nice to know that it is something I could do if I was ever in a pinch.   It’s just depressing to think how many drunks I’d have to take from one end of the suburbs to the other in order to come up with something resembling a living wage.

General Mattis for Defense Secretary!!!!

Meme magic is real.    Picking General James “Mad Dog” Mattis (or “Chaos 6” as some of us knew him) as the Secretary of Defense kind of has the aura of something along the lines of picking Ted Nugent to run the ATF – it just seems like something that would be thrown out in jest but never actually happen.

But it did.   Or well, as long as they get it through Congress which might be a bit of a problem considering he’s only been out of the military for 3 years instead of 7.

 

I served under Mattis in Iraq.   No other general in our time has had so much bottom-up respect from the lower ranks.   He made us feel really good about who we were as warriors and what we were doing.   He set the tone and it filtered down the ranks.    I think he’ll go down in the pantheon of Marine Corps heroes, probably as the embodiment of the Marine Corps in Iraq.

Beyond my personal respect for the guy, there are a couple things I really like about this appointment….

 

  1.   He was fucked out of a promotion to Commandant of the Marine Corps by the Obama admin presumably because he would’ve resisted some of the social engineering that Obama’s administration pushed onto the Marine Corps.   Mattis would’ve ultimately followed orders, but he would’ve vocally opposed whereas the guy they actually appointed was very accommodating.   Everyone thought Mattis was the logical choice for commandant, but instead they gave it to Amos, a guy that has been very unpopular for his bullshit “reawakening” and his lack of experience.   Trump “promoting” Mattis a notch higher on the totem pole is a way to say “fuck you” to this kind of thing.
  2.  If they say that for these kinds of jobs you have to be wary of the people that actually want it, I don’t think Mattis ever had his eyes on anything beyond Commandant.   This would be uncharted territory for him.  He’s not an opportunist and (presumably) wouldn’t be looking to use it as a springboard for something else.   I can’t see him actually desiring this position and probably took it reluctantly or at least was blindsided by it.    I think he’s qualified to the job, even though he hasn’t groomed himself for it.

    3.   Trump says he’s going to drain the swamp?   This is a great pick to get that done.   If you ask Mattis what the military needs, I guarantee you he’s not going to start talking about expensive fighter jet programs or “equal opportunity”.   This guy is going to be all about standards, readiness and mindset.   I can see him not being friendly to certain sectors within the military industrial complex that seem a little too extravagant.   This guy has a real spartan mentality.

    I’ve heard a few squawks from liberals on this one, but not many.    Surprisingly my old battalion commander, a guy that I thought had a hard-on for Mattis, went on Toni Lehren (?) to talk about how he thinks Mattis SHOULDN’T get the job, which blew me away.    He’s not the only one with that opinion, but they’re definitely the minority.

    At any rate, I’m sure America’s enemies have already started shitting their pants knowing Chaos 6 will be in the captain’s chair.

A Few Thoughts on My Son’s First *Real* Christmas

This will be my son’s second Christmas.   Last year he had no clue what was going on and realistically any partaking in the holiday he did was just us projecting Christmas on to him.  I mean, I’m sure he had a great time but he had no idea what we were all doing.    This year is a little different as he can tell there’s something unique about the this period of time.   He’s really into Santa and the Christmas tree all lit up.   He likes the reindeer and he likes snowmen.   I think he’s at a point cognitively where he’ll make associations between this kind of imagery and the holiday and also that Santa brought him presents.

I’ve never really been a grinch – I’ve always appreciated Christmas as an adult.  If anything, it’s a day I take the time to reflect on many things and I suppose I’ve even developed a few personal rituals with the holiday over time.   But realistically it’s hard to get into the “Christmas spirit” when you’re in your late 20’s or 30’s and childless.    This year things are a little more exciting just because there’s a little guy here to share it with and to see his reactions to the “magical” aspect of Christmas.

So last Sunday we took him to Bass Pro Shops out on the edge of town for him to see Santa, because apparently that’s one of the best ones and they give you a free picture.    He was into it, but not at the same level he apparently was a week earlier at an event downtown.   They had a large section of the place all done up with reindeers, fake snow, snowmen, Christmas trees and all the other accoutrements of Christmas.   Nice display, I suppose.   Activities for the kids and all of that too.

We were there for about a half an hour browsing around and then left.   Admittedly it’s kind of a fun store with all the fish and dead animals.   But it had me thinking – there’s not really many places to experience Christmas in the public sphere anymore.

I’m not necessarily talking about a “war on Christmas” or anything like that.    It’s just that there aren’t many day-to-day places that people go to day-to-day that feel Christmasy.

When my parents and grandparents (and probably their parents) were kids, they would traditionally do Main Street or the town square up with wreaths, trees, lights, etc.

When I was a kid we had the shopping mall.   Yeah, people always shit on the mall as the most uncouth/kitschy thing in the world, but at the very least it was a public space that people regularly went to and experienced Christmas time.   You would have the decorations and such and Santa occupying a corner of the mall, but moreover you would have individual stores displaying whatever the hottest gift ideas of the year were.

My mom might be able to tell me about going to the big department store downtown – a vibrant place with a lot of diverse activity and that being a fond Christmas memory of her youth.    Me?   Well, I guess I would probably talk about Radio Shack and Kaybee Toys in the mall.

Honestly, my experience of experiencing Christmastime mostly through a shopping mall as a kid probably pales in comparison to a lit up town square with goods in display windows or the pageantry of the downtown department store…but it’s going to beat the fuck out of the kinds of things that will be there for my son.  He (and others in/around his generation) will get a speciality department store that merits a one-time visit and then a not-so-speciality department store that pretty much looks the same as it does all year with a few superficial decorations thrown up.   Nothing that really gives a strong Christmas aura.

Hell, since were awash in entertainment options as a society we don’t even have a commonality in that anymore.   Christmas movies come out every year making last years’ irrelevant (do any of the new ones stand the course of time like Christmas Vacation?) and we don’t even have the Christmas TV specials that *everybody* watches.

While watching Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special and then going to Spencer’s Gifts in the mall may have seemed like a superficial and soulless way to mark the holiday season, at least we can say we had something that resembled a communal expression and celebration of Christmas and rituals that we all partook in.   I just don’t think the same opportunities even exist at the same level as they did a generation ago.

It’s something I’ll have to keep in mind going forward.   If we want him to have holidays with meaning beyond a day of presents and gluttony, we will have to do the work of building ritual into it ourselves.   Target and Bass Pro Shops* won’t do it for us.

* I did really enjoy my visit there.

Sweden – Liberal Utopia to Liberal Dystopia

It seems like about 15-20 years ago you would hear Sweden brought up all the time as an example of how things *could* be.   Liberals loved to cite their socialized medicine, universal education, social security, top notch schools, rehabilitation-based justice system, environmental measures and their status as a humanitarian superpower…all while having one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Sweden’s success stood in contrast to all the bad things that Republicans/conservatives said would happen if the United States went down the democratic socialism route.   In the eyes of liberals Sweden was pretty much a utopia and the gold standard of how things ought to be in the world.

Today all I hear is bad things coming out of Sweden – examples of neoliberalism gone nuts. The rate of immigration from the third world is such that (combined with a low native Swedish birthrate) Sweden has another generation or so before it’s a majority non-Swedish place.   Moreover, Sweden has one of the highest (if not the highest) sexual assault rates in the developed world and there’s a direct correlation between this and the massive influx of migrants.   The Swedish government and media seems to be working in tandem to bring about Orwellian measures to silence any dissent against the “new Sweden” the elites are working on.

It seems like every week there’s a new story of some kind of insanity coming out of Sweden, like distributing bracelets that say “don’t rape me” as a way to curb sexual assault or someone in a position of power making a statement along the lines that native Swedes need to change and adapt to the migrants instead of the other way around.  There’s been reports of very, very young school children learning about homosexuality and fetishes from a sexual standpoint (I don’t think “hey, these people exist and this is what makes them different” is wrong but learning about *how* they have sex and explaining fetishes probably   crosses a line at that age)

It’s lead to a backlash within Sweden as the right-leaning Swedish Democrats pick up steam in electoral politics and metapolitically we see a lot of alt-right action coming out of Sweden with Red Ice Radio, The Golden One, Northern Brothers and probably a few others that I’m forgetting.    On that note, I should add that dissent from the mainstream narrative isn’t very popular in Sweden due to their natural communal and non-conformist disposition.

Anyways, there’s been an article floating around the internet saying that a UN report deems that Sweden will be a third world country by 2030.    Honestly, the figures are a little misleading but it’s undeniable that Sweden is slipping in national HDI (Human Development Index) and other social and economic markers.

All of this begs the simple question – why????

Why would Swedes willingly sacrifice the ability to pass their high-functioning and prosperous society to the next generation as they knew it?   It blows my mind.   I understand some immigration as pretty much everyone else is doing it too.   I understand that you can make some allowances for sexual liberation in a very high-trust society – but why would you jeopardize all of this especially if your country serves as a beacon of hope for all the ideals you hold dear?    It doesn’t exactly make people want to embrace neoliberalism/social democracy when the result is a police state where your daughter/wife has a good chance of getting raped by migrants.

I don’t really feel I’m wedded to any particular political/economic system, so I won’t write Sweden’s <pending> failure up to socialism.   In fact, I think socialism worked great for Sweden because it was a homogenous high trust society – everyone was pretty much on the same page culturally and the wealth gap wasn’t as inherently large as it is in other places like the US.

I will chalk it up to shortsightedness and a generation’s desire for “good feelings” over a responsibility to their progeny.   There’s maybe a Faustian desire for social justice here that will cause Sweden to ultimately lose all of the things that made Sweden, well, a leader in social justice.

In ten or fifteen years when Sweden’s welfare system begins to implode to any meaningful degree and the level of progressivism drops to accommodate the “new Swedes”, will American liberals still point and say “Well, in Sweden they do it like this….”

I doubt it.

Finally, I should add that I don’t necessarily blame the average Swede for Sweden’s predicament.   Like I said, they have a very communal and conformist culture that leads them into more nurturing roles (i.e. “let’s save the world!”) and less likely to dissent from the “general consensus”.  I think these traits are both admirable to varying extents, but again will probably create a destruction of that high-trust society that is required to keep Sweden Swedish.

Sanctuary Cities and States’ Rights

Well, this will be an interesting conundrum…

President Elect (ha!) Donald Trump throughout the campaign trail has promised to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities across the US in order to get them into compliance with federal immigration laws.   In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, mayors of the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York (as well as the governor of New York) have openly stated refusal to cooperate with the Trump administration on immigration.

So typically in America it’s the folks on the right/conservatives who are the biggest proponents of local over federal…and people on the left/liberals tend to view federal oversight as a way to put a check on local governments violating rights.   Admittedly both sides can make valid cases for these mile-high world views.   Although I tend to lean towards local knows better than federal, I’ll readily admit that sometimes local governments can overstep their power and it’s good to have the federal check on potential abuses.   So I’m not going to make a value judgment on which way of thought is inherently correct on this one.

Either way, it looks like the roles are about to be reversed on this one with the liberals standing up to the federal government while the conservatives scream about how “you lost, get over it”.   I just think it will be funny when this happens and might put some people in some ideologically uncomfortable positions.

In fact, it puts me in an ideological uncomfortable position.   I’m opposed to illegal immigration.   I even think there’s too much legal immigration.  In fact, I’ll even say that I don’t believe that filling out paperwork and following procedures really changes much.   So I’m not one of those guys who say “Well, god damn it, if they come here legally and get a job…” and I’ll even say that the more immigration happens, the less I feel I really identify with *America* as my parents and grandparents knew it, even though I’m supposed to be squarely in the “real America” camp as a white midwestern blue collar war veteran.   But just because I’m not ok with the current levels of immigration, does that mean that people in New York City or Los Angeles should shut their doors?

If the people of Los Angeles or whatever have decided that they don’t mind illegal immigrants living amongst them and are ok with using municipal funds for their benefit and it doesn’t directly affect people living outside the city, then what can I really say about it?   It’s just like someone in Oklahoma bitching about people being able to legally smoke dope in Denver.

And I’ll add this too – although I’m generally opposed to immigration, I’ll readily acknowledge that there’s some places in the United States where the situation and dynamics are different.   Los Angeles and Miami should be Hispanic cities.   There’s places in this country where that’s the culture and it cannot and shouldn’t be separated by people in places like Iowa making policy.  I’ll also say that one thing that is cool about the US is even though we’re seen as an anglo country, places like Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are very, very important Latin American cities.   It is a national strength that sometimes we don’t think about.

Here’s where it gets a little stickier – the places I’ve mentioned as coming out opposing Trump’s call to deport the illegals and shut of federal funding are in deep shit financially.   It’s pretty much a matter of “when” rather than “if” the turnip stops bleeding from these places and they’re going to have to look to their respective states and/or the federal government to get bailed out.   There’s a good chance that something like that could happen on Trump’s watch.

What happens when the federal government (or maybe the state) dangles the carrot in front of their face and says “if you want our help, it’s time to start cooperating with us on immigration…”?   For one, the federal government would be better able to sell it to the rest of the country if they get something (compliance with federal law) out of it.   Realistically there would be a lot of screaming and dragging of feet over this – why should these crackers in flyover country tell us that we need to deport our employees, neighbors, family, etc?

As if we needed something else, this could lead to another huge rift between the two Americas that exist.

“How Your Vote For Trump Affects My Family…”

Anyone with anything resembling access to social media has probably noticed that for the past year their feed has been clogged with articles and memes about peoples’ feelings on the election.   Perhaps you, dear reader, have even shared an article or meme that express your feelings on the election.

At this point I think everyone is kind of numb to these things.  I know I am, even though I’ll admit I’ve been very into the Trump campaign.   Usually I’ll just kind of chuckle and keep scrolling when I see someone post a “Donald Trump is a bad guy and really mean!” article, but today I decided to click on one…and got about three sentences into it before I saw all I needed to see from it.

The gist of it was that the author was a gay hispanic that had a black friend or something or other – a guy that checked off a lot of ‘victim’ boxes in his self identity.   This guy knew some people who said they were going to vote for Trump and although these people weren’t explicitly stating that they had it out for this guy’s identity groups, it was implied that by voting for him they were basically slapping him (or whatever pronoun the author identifies with) in the face.

To be honest, I really don’t get cross by someone simply disagreeing with me.  I’m a big enough person to be able to tolerate the fact that other people see the world differently.   That’s not what’s the issue here.

Here’s what gets me though – the fact that there are more than a few people with the mentality that other people should take into consideration their group/identity interests over my own.

So let’s say I’ve decided that I feel my bread is better buttered in a Trump administration over a Hillary Clinton administration…and I came to that conclusion by taking into consideration my experiences, world view, etc….  Why in the fuck would someone expect me to abandon this decision because THEY *feel* like it will be bad for THEM

I completely understand making your case as to why you don’t like a certain candidate.   I also understand that if you feel I’m inconsistent/incorrect in my thinking and want to point that out.   I just don’t how someone can come up with “my feelings should be more important to you than whatever internal process went in to you coming up with that conclusion geared towards your own interests”.

To be fair I think a lot of these kind of virtue signaling articles are little more than masturbation for the author and like-minded readers.   No one had their mind changed by that kind of thing.

Most media today, especially of this caliber seems to exist in an echo chamber.  No one takes it seriously outside of like-minded readers.  Deep down the authors probably know they’re writing for people who will agree with them and deep down the people sharing it on Facebook know that the only people who will acknowledge it are like-minded people and thus they’ll do so in order to boost their own social status within their peer group.

And again, even if people on the other side of the fence were reading with an open mind, no one would be convinced that they should drop their interests and adopt this other groups…unless they believe that their interests are furthered by adopting others in the way of the social credit that comes with it.   For example, you’re going to go further socially by saying “black lives matter!” as a white guy than you would saying “end white genocide” or whatever.

Even though I think a lot of these people know they’re spitting into the wind, I think there is an element of self-belief that these people have in their “work”.   I really think that if Trump wins a lot of these people will be flabbergasted on how this could happen when they’ve been “sounding the alarm” for so long.

I really think that sometime shortly before midnight on November 8, this particular segment of the country is going to be in for a very rude awakening… and I will be right here to laugh at their tears.

 

Killing a Raccoon

This has been a rough couple of weeks for my flock.   Five dead chickens over the course of four incidents involving raccoons and possibly a possum.

I’ll admit I’ve been very lax with my chickens as far as security.   I’ll leave coop doors open and the chickens come and go as they please.  We have a privacy fence which probably provides some level of security, or at least makes it harder for predators to realize what’s behind the fence.  I also felt that the presence of my dogs and their scent kept the bad guys away just because in over a year we never had any problems or evidence of possums or raccoons.

One morning I came outside to see one of our silkies alone.   I thought this was odd because usually our two silkies were always together or at least not far away.    As I walked closer to their coop I noticed clumps of feathers…and eventually a trail of feathers leading to the corner of the yard.   Fuck.   My first chicken casualty.

We started taking some precautions like actually putting them in the coop at night.    We got a little more relaxed with it after a few days…

Then one morning I woke up at 4 to let the dogs out.   I noticed the chickens were up, which was kind of strange.   I went back to bed and then woke up a few hours later…

The yard was covered in chicken feathers again…and this time I could see that it was black feathers and red.   I tried to count the living chickens and figure out which ones were killed.    Much to my dismay, my favorite chicken Peckerhead was the one who got it…and another one that was very personable.

To be honest, I didn’t care about the first silkie much.  I felt bad that one died, but these two stung a little bit.

Then immediately after sundown two days later the raccoon came and snatched up another one of my year old layers before we could put them away.    So we’re up to four….

We asked around and borrowed a raccoon trap.    Raccoons are easy enough to trap, but what do I do with it if I catch one?

Well, I live in the city limits so shooting it is out of the question…although there’s been a rash of shootings nearby lately and there’s plausible deniability that it wasn’t me.   You can’t just let them go because they’ll come right back.   If you take them far away and let them go, it’s not always a good outcome for the raccoon.  They don’t know their way around, they can spread diseases and they’ll be competing with other raccoons that are already established…and they’ll be someone elses problem too.

So we set the trap over the course of a few nights with tuna, sardines and octopus (yeah, I had a few cans stashed away.  Don’t ask)….  No bites.

Then around 4 on Saturday morning I let my dogs out and they go apeshit – there’s something in the trap!   I pull the dogs off and get them back inside so they don’t continue to wake up the neighbors, who surely have noticed that something was awry.

There he (or she?) is…. she looked small as she cowered to the floor of the cage when I walked out to her.   I sat there and we looked at each other for about twenty seconds.   Then I went back inside…

Like most people would do these days, I googled “how to kill a raccoon”.   I figured it would be cruel to try to shoot it multiple times in the head with a bb gun (and the dreaded eye shot) to kill it.   I also thought about beating it with a shovel or an axe.  Or a bat.   Or maybe I can poison it with something and it’ll die immediately?

Then there was a time issue… we had to get up and go at 7am, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to work with.   I ended up laying in bed for another hour before the alarm went off looking at my phone and pondering this raccoons’ fate.

I finally decided on my course of action…something I read in a backyard chicken forum…

 

Death by carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

Sounds outlandish.   Sounds a little…bizarre.   But after thinking it over it sounded like the most efficient, quiet and humane way to do this.   So I got a giant hefty sack and some duct tape and went out to get the raccoon.

I drug him to the front yard, a little spooked that he could claw or bite at me through the cage.   I placed him down in front of Mary’s car’s muffler and carefully placed the trap inside a hefty bag.

I was really happy to do this before all the neighbors woke up and wondered what I was doing.  I figured this is something someone might “get alarmed” and call the police or something.

I duct taped the bag to the muffler, which is more difficult than it sounds.  It took a few tries to get it on right.  I had to start the car, mutter “shit” to myself and tape it back on a couple of times.    Finally I got it on and started the car up.

I heard a little bit of grunting and some shuffling around of the tin cans inside the trap.   After a couple minutes I heard nothing.  I went inside and ate breakfast.

Twenty minutes later I went back out and kicked the cage.   No sign of life.   I pulled it off the exhaust and drug it near the trash can.  Then we went about our day.

I’ve always considered myself something of an animal lover…and it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve killed anything.   Well, besides nuisance insects and a mouse.

I felt it was justified, although it’s hard to look at a creature with some admirable qualities that is completely at your mercy and make the decision to kill it…and carry it out.   Whenever I felt bad, I just thought of poor Peckerhead and how she was torn to shreds by this raccoon (or one of his brethren)

Unceremoniously later in the afternoon, I transferred the dead raccoon into another trash bag and threw it in the trash.   Pickup day can’t come soon enough…

Even though we though we “got ’em”, we still locked up the chickens that night…and then the next night one of them lifted open the egg box and snatched the other silkie.     Fuckers.

So we have a predator problem, and it’s either going to be my flock or these raccoons.   If you say you shouldn’t kill unless it’s for food, every day I’m more or less out three eggs from the three layers that were killed.   That adds up to something, doesn’t it?

Anyways, I will remain vigilant and should I catch another raccoon, I’ll hope that I can get to it early enough to dispatch it before the neighbors wake up and get concerned about what I’m doing.

Microbusiness Chronicles – Seasonality

Our time at the Farmers’ Market is winding down, with one more date in a couple weeks.   When we started out at the beginning of the year, in my head I thought our fairly regular appearances at the Farmers Market would be good enough to make a profit and then figuring we would get a date or two at the winter market and that would be a successful year.   Then we would have a big enough customer base that we would be able to count on a few online orders a week to put us through the winter.

Turns out that’s not quite enough…or at least it’s not optimal.  There’s a whole, big holiday season and according to people who do similar things this is where most of the money is made.

Our farmer’s market season has been successful, I think.   I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started and hadn’t talked to anyone to get a good, solid ballpark figure (if that exists).   What we actually make was below what I had in mind, but not too far below.   At any rate, it wasn’t bad at all for our first season.

Although we were doing pretty good, we figured we should do more than just accept the dates that were given to us at the Farmers’ Market.   So we went looking for a few other places to peddle our wares and got a few dates at a smaller farmers’ market and hit up another place a couple hours away.   Both of these things weren’t anywhere near as successful as our regular dates, but still worth waking up for.

Anyways, we’ve been booking ourselves up for several shows in the area between Halloween and Christmas.   We’re still waiting to hear from a few other places, but it looks like we’ll have at least around a half dozen big holiday themed shows lined up.

Here’s what I’m hoping – my mentality was wrong.   Instead of the farmers’ market season being the main show, maybe this time is.   And maybe instead of getting enough recognition with our customers to coast over the winter on online sales, we’re gaining recognition for the holidays.   We’ll be putting together tea gift bags and hopefully what happens is people see us around the holidays and remember that they talked with us or bought this or that and then decide to pick up one of these bags to give out for the holidays.

…and then the people who get our bags as gifts like what they see and repeat the cycle next year.

We’ll be busy, but I’m glad.   It would be nice to pay back the <modest> loan I took out to get started on this business and maybe, just maybe pay for our honeymoon this year out of it.   We’ll see…

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