Tagged: Money

On “Not the Bad” Socialism

As an officer in the United States Air Force I defended more than an idea. I defended more than a way of life. I defended more than a nation. I defended individual people. And I believe that my experience qualifies me as an expert on defense–at least of individual people. The following is one particular defense tip for daily use.

The national politicians are going to use whatever words they believe will help gain and retain their power. But you and I are not national politicians, so our game is different. Our goal is not obtaining power, it is encouraging people to think for themselves. Our goal is encouraging people to become individuals.

Last night, I heard what I’m beginning to hear more and more as the election nears.

I agree that Russia and Venezuela are bad socialism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the good socialism–like Sweden and Norway.

Now, on the national level, President Trump has declared, “America will never become Socialist,” while his opponents respond, “Yes, I am, in fact, socialist. It is the best way.”

(Again, you and I are not national politicians or pundits. Stay in reality.)

At this point, I could have (and shamefully began to, until I quickly retreated) discussed socialism with this individual. That never works. Never. Instead, I volunteered, “The government should not be able to take my money. It is my money. Not theirs.”

As any good socialist would respond, he said, “They’re not going to take your money. They’re going to take the rich people’s money.”

I must have gotten a look that said, “What if I become rich?” because the man, while not instantaneously converting to truth, seemed to realize the immorality of his suggestion (that someone besides me gets to have my money) and we paused the discussion.

To recap: Unsuccessful defenses of the individual include, “Have you read what socialism is?” “We are not Sweden.” “Socialism is always evil.” “There is no such thing as ‘good’ socialism.”

Successful defenses of the individual include, “The government should not be able to take my money.” And, “Gas tax and tolls (the answer to his additional clarifying query, “How do we pay for roads?”).”

 

 

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Notes On Money And Self-Publishing

Some of you have suggested that you’d love to hear how book sales are going and also just about the self-publishing experience as a whole. I am flattered that you would consider my opinion on this subject valuable, and as such, will gladly indulge you to the point where you wish you had never asked.

To begin, I need to freely confess that I don’t have a clue about how to make money. I don’t. I never have. I loved my high school and college jobs–I probably would’ve worked them for free. After college I was shocked when I discovered how much I was paid to be a hero. And as for the rest of my jobs since then, I have quit them for one of two reasons. Either I felt guilty for being paid too much money or I quit because you couldn’t pay me enough money to do the job. Reiterating then, I don’t have a clue about how to make money. I don’t. I never have.

On top of this, I happen to believe that if I know anything valuable–anything of real value–I shouldn’t charge you for it. Now, I’m not going to get all Christian-ee on you, so settle down. But case in point is the Gospel. Let’s say for a moment that the story is true. Let’s say that you and I are wretched sinners without a hope, save one unbelievable notion. And let’s say that that notion is that recognizing the state of things taken together with following Jesus is the only way to balance the books, but balance the books it does. If that were the case, and I knew it to be true, I would never charge you for that information. No way.

Just the same, H- and I need money for life’s necessities, no different than you and yours. So I wrote Simon Pastor with the hope of paying for these necessities. Next up, I’ll tell you how to write a book like Simon Pastor, then I’ll share how it’s selling. Feel free to skip to the end.

Step 1 – TYPE book in MS Word

Step 2 – SAVE file every time you think of it. 😉

Step 3 – SAVE AS a PDF/A when it’s final. (Only if you care about a paperback version. If you don’t, skip to step 8)

Step 4 – CREATE createspace.com account

Step 5 – UPLOAD PDF/A file

Step 6 – FOLLOW createspace.com steps to proof book and create cover etc.

Step 7 – DOWNLOAD Kindle cover file when prompted

Step 8 – SAVE AS final MS Word file again–this time with the name Kindle added on. (You need a file to mess around with and don’t want to screw up your paperback version, that’s why I do this step.)

Step 9 – CREATE kdp.amazon.com account.

Step 10 – FOLLOW kdp.amazon.com steps to modify MS Word Kindle version as required

Step 11 – SAVE AS Web Page, Filtered

Step 12 – UPLOAD that and Kindle Cover from Step 7 to kdp.amazon.com account (plenty of instructions on their site)

Step 13 – FOLLOW the simple sequence of pricing/distributing

Step 14 – SHARE the news that Amazon is selling your book with every human being you come into contact with

Okay. Truly, it is simple. It is also free. If you don’t care to feel a paperback copy in your hands before you list it on Amazon, you never have to pay a cent–not one penny–to publish your book in either paperback or Kindle versions.

So how are sales? Since last weekend, the 4th, I have sold a grand total of twenty copies. Another one hundred eighteen kindle versions were downloaded (via the free Kindle promotion last Friday). One thing I forgot while setting the price for the eBook is that I have no idea how to make money. Amazon recommended setting the price at $3.99 when using the 70% royalty model. Up until that moment, I had been planning on selling it as cheap as possible in order to encourage heavy readership. But greed took over along with thoughts of glory and roller coasters in my backyard etc. It is a good book. I’m sure of that. But I’m also sure that while $3.99 is a cup of coffee, it doesn’t take hours to drink a cup of coffee. And it will take at least an hour to read my book. Your tv watching habits prove you are willing to waste time for free, but paying to waste time? That would be something. I see now that four bucks is a bit much to invest in possibly wasting an hour with an unknown author. So after a week I’m changing it up. I’m going back to my original plan and it is now for sale for the lowest price Amazon will let me sell it for, which is 99 cents.

I’ll update you guys next week with just a simple number update regarding how sales are doing.

Overall, the lesson learned is write what you must write. My happiness is enhanced because of writing this book. If money is deposited into my bank account, that’s great. But I will never regret writing the book. If you’re a timid soul, this post should warn you off from challenging yourself to finally write the great american novel. But we both know there are no timid writers. Good luck.

Review of Entering the Real World, by David Kramer

Entering the Real World

Christmas is around the corner. Going free association for a minute here, I’m thinking kids opening presents. Kids means youth. Youth means ignorance. Ignorance means needing instruction. Needing instruction leads me to push responsibility to someone who cares to teach and has a knack for it. And that leads to David Kramer. Since he can’t be everywhere at once, he wrote a book. It is called Entering the Real World: Timeless Ideas Not Learned In School.  (Buy it today and use promo code RLEGEN14 for 20% off).

Like his namesake, in his new book David stares down and defeats the Goliath that is the real world. Kramer moves swiftly and purposefully through his list of 149 helpful tips. Yet he goes further than most of his peer’s books and provides substantive “take action” steps to help those of us who read this genre and often think, “Great. But how do I actually do it?”

You know who you are. You have children, nieces, nephews, maybe grandkids that need useful gifts this holiday season. Schools don’t teach what we all know would’ve been nice to learn before we entered the real world. David does though. And he’s good at it. Buy the book. Give it to a young person. Improve a life.

Murder One

For Preston

Billionaire playboy, philanthropist, media mogul, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Maxwell Rudolfson was being heralded as the most benevolent creative genius America has ever produced. The streets felt safer, violent crime statistics were at an all-time low, and for the first time ever maximum security prisons had vacancies.

“As you know, I spent a lot of time contemplating the problem of violent crime in this country. One day it hit me. Certainty is security. And as awful as the idea sounded at first, I realized that it was the best solution to the rampant and ever-increasing violence that kept people locked inside their homes, living in fear. It is no lie that it took a little convincing,” Maxwell continued to a chuckling crowd, “but, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.” Cheers arose all along the mall.

Sure, life in the city had improved since the new legal code allowed each adult to murder one person so long as they filled out the proper application paperwork and notified their requested victim. Most people couldn’t believe how the general public responded so many years ago. Rather than rush into a murderous feeding frenzy, the whole of the country took a deliberate approach. Many people decided to save their kill for truly the right person. Then something astonishing happened. As the society waited to commit the unspeakable act, people lost interest. Looking back, it should have been no surprise that as we got older, we calmed down and wisened up. But still, no one, not even Maxwell Rudolfson himself, could have predicted the immensity and totality of the new-found peace and security that blanketed the country.

Meanwhile, in a nearly empty government building a department of justice official couldn’t believe his eyes. He asked the young man standing before him to wait at the counter for minute.

“Sir. You’re not going to believe this. Maxwell Rudolfson’s son just filled out an application for murder,” the official reported to his supervisor.

“Yeah. Ol’ Max figured this day would come. Who does Jr. want to kill?”

“His father.”

Why $30 Per Day Is Not A Deal

As most of you know I am divorced and don’t see my daughter for half of her life. The same goes for her mom. That can’t be changed. But expectations between her mom and I can be changed.

I bet you’d be surprised to learn that her mom reads these posts. I was. I think she hopes she’ll be able to use them against me someday in some melodramatic legal battle. It’s a great feeling, hammering in your own nails.

Most recently, we were in a mediation which had a moment where the mediator gave a look that was accompanied by a primal utterance that betrayed that he thought that paying her boyfriend’s mom $30 per day to watch H- was a deal in today’s “not my responsibility” childcare market. Here’s why it isn’t a deal.

I took H- camping last week and while we were in the bathroom she volunteered, “I saw a man lick a woman’s face on TV.” H- is four. I think at least a few of you can imagine the expression I nearly successfully held back upon hearing this.

I asked if this was at her mom’s house or “Grammy’s” house (not her grandparent on any level, to be clear). Another parenthetical–(now I know you’re not supposed to play detective as a co-parent, but I’m human.) She answered, “Grammy’s.”

“So you watch TV at Grammy’s house, eh?” I continued.

“Yep.”

“Was it while she was flipping channels?”

Even at her tender age H- has a way of seeing through any attempt of mine to pretend that I’m really not interested in the answer, so she simply resorted to, “Nevermind!”

What the fuck? Television is a poison beyond measure. Does anyone doubt this? And yet a wonderful feature of my choice in ex-wives is that now my child is being raised by it when I’m not around. And I’m supposed to be happy about the financial savings. Whatever happened to the phrase, “There is more to life than money”?

What am I supposed to do? The other option is to track down some fantastical daycare which allows her to attend only half of every month. My experience in this realm is that this is not likely. And daycares that don’t cost a fortune usually are religiously affiliated. Keep in mind that as the father, I’m paying for childcare not for when I’m at work, but for when her mother’s at work. I’m paying other people than her mother to raise her. So my options are face licking or bible stories. At this point I think I’d take bible stories, but I have a difficult time understanding why a television is ever on. I know I’m not alone on this. I spoke with a stay-at-home dad (still married) a while ago, and he said he was at some function where they were discussing how many hours of television they let their kids watch a week. He said, “An hour.”

The others said, “Wow. An hour a day. That’s great.”

And he said, “No, an hour a week. Maybe.”

They said, “How do you fill the time?”

He said, “How do you have the time?”

How do you have the time to watch television with a kid? Why would you put a kid in front of the “boob tube?” Or the “brain drain?” I know why. You do it because you’re lazy. You do it because you rush to help people that behave in a way that seems like they need help when they are really just lazy. I’ve said it so many times I’m sick of hearing myself say it, but I’ll say it again. I grew up thinking the opposite of love was hate. Then I heard the notion that the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness–and I preached that. These days, however, I’m with M. Scott Peck who wrote that the opposite of love is laziness.

Do you love your child? What’s it like finding out that she’ll admit these things to me?

It should be Miss P-, by the way. P- is not her grandmother. Words have meanings. Why your mom doesn’t care is beyond me.

World Economy In Disarray After Oprah Endorses Everything

Chicago.  In an unexpected–and unprecedented–move this past weekend, Oprah endorsed every product. The only African-American Billionaire, Miss Winfrey is making headlines around the world after her weekend decision, and doing so in every news category.

Simply put, people do not know what to do.

Since her rise to stardom, which began in 1984, Americans, and subsequently all humans, have looked to Oprah for guidance when undecided about how to spend their money. From books, to clothing, to boots, to coffee, to perfume, popcorn and more, consumers grew to love this new found ease of shopping in which they didn’t have to weigh the options themselves.

But now, in only the three hours since Captain’s Log learned of the story, virtual chaos has engulfed the world’s major cities. Every stock market has plunged, and some analysts are already predicting it will take more than twenty years to recover from this new great depression–if recovery is possible at all.

The Obama administration is the leading voice in the world’s governments call for people to remain calm. More difficult, however, has been these government’s task of asking their citizens to essentially think for themselves.

As for this American writer, the only hope is that Oprah’s thoughtless action has the unintended consequence of being the first cut in America’s citizens much needed Cesarean section. Stay tuned to Captain’s Log for further updates as this story develops.

Some Say It Was A Miracle

So there he was. Like the eleven preceding days, he woke up at 5:05am, drank some V8 and a protein shake, and ate a cup of oatmeal. Grabbing his salami sandwich, he headed from camp to the change shack where he put on a pair of coveralls, which even after washing strained the definition of clean. After a brief safety meeting he grabbed a pair of gloves and headed outside. Taking in one last moment of stillness, he rolled one ear plug at a time between his left forefinger and thumb and then placed them into his ears. Finally, he picked up a case of bottled water and began the climb up the three flights of stairs which led to the rig floor. It was his thirty-third birthday.

The day proceeded no differently from any other. That’s the beauty of the work. Suddenly, however, in an act which some might label a miracle, he looked down to the ground and saw a co-worker carrying three familiarly brown and orange cardboard pizza boxes. It seemed someone up above was smiling down on him.

The hot-n-ready’s made their way up to where he was, and he happily indulged in a slice the first moment he could. What the reader doesn’t know was that sitting on the same table, brought up to the rig floor only moments earlier, was a bag of McDoubles. Remember, now, that he had his salami sandwich waiting. So while everyone who knew him knew that the McDouble was his favorite fast food burger in the whole wide world, he had vowed that he’d stick with his sandwich that day. But now, on his birthday of all days, he was staring at his favorite burger and pizza–free for the taking. The packaging alone had him salivating like a French mastiff. And now that he had committed to the pizza, he said the hell with it. Though it remained seated fairly high on his bucket list despite its nominal price, he had never before eaten a slice of Little C’s followed by a McDouble. Unable to stand there and stare for forever, he quickly grabbed the burger and headed back outside. Within a minute he found himself gasping for air and wondering if he really was going to die choking on a McDouble. Lucky for all of us, he stayed calm, swallowed hard, and smiled a smile that rivaled the Pacific’s width. And to think he was getting paid.

I Cried At Work Yesterday

Dear H-,

I’ve been wanting to write to you directly for some time now, and finally an event at work caused me to put pen to paper. I don’t know how old you’ll be when you read this, but hopefully you’ll be old enough to understand it. If you don’t understand it, ask me or another adult about it.

The reason I decided to write to you today is that I wanted to tell you that I cried at work yesterday.

Now, I know you’ve seen me cry once, but you probably don’t remember it. And I’m sure you don’t remember why. I never saw my dad cry, but I have to believe that he did–at least once. Sometimes I think it would’ve been nice to have seen it with my own eyes as a boy. So in case you never see me cry again, I’m telling you now that I cry.

I cried yesterday because I found out that a guy who works for the same company as me was killed on the job, by the job. And in a separate incident, another guy was really badly injured and might die as well. As the group of us walked out of the noisily air conditioned trailer where we were handed this news and into the hot sun in order to get back to the dangerous work, I could only think of you. I could only think of how you look when you look at me, which is to say look up at me. Your chin sticks out; your eyes are at attention; your hair falls freely off the back of your head. You’re such a good listener. Well, it’s time to listen up again. Sad things happen in life. Really sad things. One of the appropriate responses to these sad things, even for dads, is to cry. But just because sad things happen doesn’t mean you stop living life. Sad things are a part of life–just like happy things and boring things. You have to move forward, move past them. Even though I was sad, I went back to work.

Okay. I think that’s it. I don’t have any big finale. I love you.

Pete

PS – I do have one more thing. You’re a beautiful girl H-, never doubt that.

Life In The Oil Fields Is No Movie

Well, that’s not entirely true.  One movie came to mind on about day four as I was beginning to realize that a lot of family, not to mention my one friend, would want to know what exactly it was like to work on a rig.  Maybe even you are curious to know.  Here’s my best effort to convey understanding and feeling of the job, and why it appeals to me.

It’s a lot like Lord of the Rings.  Like the quest to destroy the Precious, in which all participants agree that there is no value in attempting any action that does not assist in accomplishing that invaluable end, the oil fields have one goal.  One.  Every single activity supports that goal.  In other words, the concept ‘efficiency’ has yet to be developed as there is no need to distinguish efficient action from inefficient action.

Also like LOTR, meals are on the go.  And every once in a while a Legolas shows up with a food whose calorie content is such that “one small bite will fill the stomach of a grown man.”  Naturally, the food is consumed with little regard for this fact.  And in similar fashion to Samwise’s indefatigably loving disposition towards food, all conclude that it tastes great.

Moreover, there is a comedic relief at every turn, and something about the nature of being part of such a singular mission attracts people with fully-developed personalities. Put simply, characters abound.

Lastly, just as no one but Frodo can carry the ring to Mount Doom, in the oil fields there is no one else coming to do the work.  If something heavy must be lifted, if something stuck must be unstuck, if something dirty must be cleaned, if someone clean must get dirty, that’s what must happen.  Nothing stops the mission.  Not the clock, not the weather, not the calendar.  Not past performance, not best intentions, not relationships, not feelings.  Nothing.

The ring must be destroyed.

It’s glorious.

They Earn More Than You And They Don’t Even Know What LinkedIn Is

The restaurant doors might as well have been ripped off the hinges if they were pulled open at all.  The culprits were four men who had just finished a long day of hard work.  They were hungry and ready to sit down.  One of them, the newbie, knew he was under the microscope.  The other three would be watching his every move.  They would be silently analyzing his table manners, how he addressed the server, what meal he chose, and most importantly what beverage.  Beyond the age of caring about such things, our man was just looking to make people laugh.  The workday was over; everyone still had all their fingers and toes.  He couldn’t help but want to promote a light mood.

Asking the server to keep the chips and salsa coming, he sarcastically inquired of the men, “So, hey.  On your LinkedIn profiles, do you put your position or just ‘roughneck’?”

The driller, one might say leader of the bunch, had the most steely, unflinching eye-contact one could imagine, and after letting it linger long enough to determine the question was not rhetorical, he asked, “What?”

“You know.  On your LinkedIn profile.  Do you put ‘driller’ or the more generic ‘roughneck’?” the newbie pressed, unwilling to lose the staring contest.

“Linked-what?”

“No way.  What about you two?  It’s not surprising that this neanderthal doesn’t keep his LinkedIn profile updated, but surely you two do,” he continued, purposefully.

“Pete, what are you saying?  Linked…in?”

“Oh my god,” Pete said, unable to not connect the dots.  With an unabashed enthusiasm, he continued, “On top of you guys doing the most impressive work I’ve ever seen, you’re now going to tell me that you don’t even know what LinkedIn is?”  He almost let the “L” word slip out, but the men’s unrelenting eye contact allowed his rational side to win that battle quickly.  “And that’s why I like you guys so much.  You don’t even know what LinkedIn is.  You’re so pure and good.  LinkedIn is like facebook for people with office jobs.  It’s ridiculous.  And you just helped prove my theory.  I only use it to publish my blog posts in the hopes of getting someone to read what I write.  But I’d rather have never heard of it–like you guys.  Nice work.”

“You done?  The server’s waiting on you to order.”

“Oh.  Apologies.  I’ll do the chimichanga.”

“And to drink?”

“Do you have root beer?”