Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Thursday, September 16, 2004

On egocentrists

As I have said before, I mis-spent quite a bit of my youth as a con-man, or Applied Psychology Entrepeneur (APE). While I am not proud of this, I still carry many of the lessons I learned from that time today. Like how to figure out why people do the things they do.

One of the major reasons that people do what they do is egocentrism, or self-centeredness. Once I learned that, people became MUCH easier to figure out. You can see that egocentrism just about everywhere you look, and probably in yourself, if you actually take the time to look. While I can't actually describe the actual signs of it, due to it being more of a habit of mine, rather than a skill, I can give you some examples of it, and hope that it helps y'all see it more often.

During inclement weather, many people get the clever idea to order a pizza, so they don't have to go out in the weather, since they are probably too tired (or lazy) to cook their own meal, due to the depressive effects of inclement weather. Invariably, at least ten percent of those people will think that THEY are the ONLY people who came up with that idea, at that time, for that reason. How do I know this? Because I used to work at a pizza place, and I would have to field phone calls from people who were mad that their pizza wasn't there in twenty minutes, even though there was six inches of snow on the ground. I usually explained to the person that they weren't very clever, or original, because they weren't the only person to order a pizza because it was snowing, or raining. Also, bar time customers reacted the same way, only they were now drunk, in addition to being stupid. It never seemed to dawn on these people that we didn't sit around the store, just waiting for their phone call for an order. So, they were always, and I do mean ALWAYS, suprised that our delivery times would go up to about an hour during peak times, because of all the people who came up with the idea of ordering pizza at the same time. Egocentrism at work.

On some of the garbage routes that I go on, the municipality has a limit on how much trash can be picked up at each stop. This is due to the fact that the municipality has to pay for the gross tonnage of trash picked up by a contracting company, such as my employer. So, many municipalities put a cap on how much trash can be picked up, to limit the tax-burden on the residents of that municipality. Invariably, out of five hundred homes (on a moderate day of trash pick-up...we have some routes that are in the seven hundred home range...), twenty-five of those homes will have more than the allowed amount of trash at the curb. Now, I know that some of the people may be new to the area, and don't know the allowed amount, but they would get a new home-owner's packet telling them the allowed amount, so their laziness isn't really an excuse. The other home-owners are just being egocentric. They feel that "just this once", they can put out too much garbage, and we won't mind. Wrong. While some of the drivers will pick up a reasonable amount of excess garbage, there are always a group of home-owners who exceed even a reasonable amount of excess. Like quadruple the allowed amount. And some of them seem to use the "just this once" rationale EVERY STINKIN' WEEK! But, in their egocentrism, they just don't care that their neighbors have to pay for their excess garbage. All the home-owner knows is that they don't have to pay for it now.

The most annoying, to me, example of egocentrism is in the arena of politics. How many times have we seen a politician give a speech that appealed to the greed of the audience? Such as "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Or "It's time for the rich to pay their fair share!" (which is usually said by a weathly person to not-quite-as-wealthy-but-still-wealthy people...) No where in either of those statements is an acknowledgement that other people might be harmed by the egocentrism. All that is there is an appeal to the individual, with no thought to the individual's fellow citizens.

One thing I have learned about seeing other people's egocentrism is how to translate what they are saying into what they mean. When someone tries to get me to do something that they say will benefit me, I almost always ignore them. (some exceptions are training and safety...) But, if someone comes to me and asks me to do something for them, without trying to sell me on the idea, I will usually listen to them. I may not do it, but I will at least consider it, because they have at least taken the effort to not try and lie to me about why they want it done. If someone is honest enough to ask me to do something without trying to make it sound like I will somehow benefit from it, I will be honest enough to consider their request. But if they somehow try and convince me that I will benefit from their request, I will reject their request, because they are lying to me. They are trying to appeal to my egocentrism to satiate their egocentrism, and I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to get rid of my egocentrism. Plus, it's a trick I used to use to get money from people, so I know how easy it is.

The most obvious, yet least recognized, example of this is the concept of "free" anything. Free healthcare, free garbage pickup, free prescription drugs, free public schools. None of them are free. Someone is paying for them. And the people paying for them are the people who want them. But they don't see the cost, so they don't care about it. All of the "free" government services that certain people are advocating aren't free. The cost is just hidden in a tax-bill. Actually, to be honest, NOTHING is free. If you use a "buy one-get one free", you didn't get anything for free. The cost of the "free" one is included in the cost of the "buy" one, or later "buy" ones. If you use a "free" coupon, it isn't really free, either since your tax-bill will go up by a corresponding amount, due to the "free" item being deducted from the offering company's taxes as an advertisement expense...So, anytime someone tells me I am getting something for free, I call them a liar. Sometimes, I don't actually use the word "liar", but I will explain to them the fallacy of their statement, which could be construed the same way.

I hope this all made sense. I had an idea of what I wanted to say, and my brain wouldn't let me organize it as well as I wanted. What I do hope is that it makes enough sense for you to look at your behavior, and try and get rid of the egocentrism that you are probably harboring. If you can do that, you will start making the world a better place, if at least in your social, family, and business circles.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

On perseverence

Have you ever been so physically tired that you couldn't get your brain to work, or, if you did get it to work, it only worked in fits and starts? Well, unfortunately, that's what has been happening to me these past few weeks. While I no longer hurt nearly as much, I am still bone-tired at the end of the day. Which makes my brain work intermittently. (do NOT comment on whether that is an improvement on the former state...) So, I haven't been able to even think of anything to post on, or, if I did think of something to post on, I forget what it was by the time I get to my "new post" screen. So, that is why I have been posting so infrequently. But, I am not happy with this result. I assume that y'all keep coming here to read what I have to comment on, and y'all just ain't seeing anything to read here. Which means that I either have to give y'all something to read, or I just have to get out of the blogging business altogether. I'm not all that thrilled with the idea of the latter option (although I'm not sure I have the temperment to be a blogger, but that is another story), so I guess I'll have to go with the former option. Even if my brain ain't workin'. I'll just have to gut through the brain-fade, and hope that my brain will kick-start itself back into operation at some point. So, I will be posting daily from now on, unless I have a DAMN good reason. I just will make no promises as to the quality of the posts, or the length of the posts. I will just be forcing myself to post daily, just because it doesn't seem fair to me for y'all to be wasting your time coming here, if I ain't (first time I used that contraction correctly so far...) going to put something up for y'all to read. So, without further ado, on with the posting. Hope I don't disappoint y'all.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

On self-inflicted problems

Okay, I'll admit it. I am a computer dunce. Which has led me to some rather difficult problems. For one, I switched to Mozilla Firefox, instead of Internet Explorer. Which was a big mistake. I happen to be used to IE, and Firefox is still in beta, which means it isn't as stable as I would like it to be. It also seems to not get along with quite a few websites and programs that I use rather frequently, which means I want to go back to IE. Problem with that is, I can't find IE on my 'puter. It's still there, and I can use it, if I use the right combination of programs to find it. But, I still don't have a shortcut to it, and can't figure out where it is on my 'puter to force it to be my default browser. So, until I can find IE, I have to keep using Firefox. To confuse issues, I have ME also installed, and I like that even less than Firefox. But it gets along with Windows Media Player MUCH better than Firefox does, and also gets along better with Blogspot than Firefox. Firefox also doesn't play nice with JavaScript. So, y'all, please lend a hand, and help me to figure out how the heck to get rid of Firefox, and help me to find my prodigal IE. I know that some of y'all won't like that idea, but do it anyway, please?

On playing with new toys

Me "relaxing" at my aunt's cabin. Posted by Hello

Okay, I now have a scanner, so I decided to play with it to see if I could get a photo or two up here for y'all. I'm using the Hello program, and it doesn't seem to me to be all that easy to use. Of course, since I don't know how hard the other programs are to use, I guess I wouldn't be a good judge of difficulty. If any of y'all have any suggestions on how I can do this without dedicating days of my life to figuring out how to get the photos up onto my site, it would be much appreciated. Until then, I guess I'll have to do it the "hard" way.

But now y'all have an idea of what I look like. It's not the best photo, but it was the best of a bad bunch. I'll hunt for some more, but I don't like to have my picture taken, which you should be able to see why in the photo...I'm only slightly more telegenic than a bag full of buttholes.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

On holiday Hell

Okay, I had Labor Day off, just like the rest of y'all. I was lazy and didn't post yesterday, and I also didn't have to work, just like y'all. But, hooo-boy, did I pay for that today. It seems the company I work for likes to cram five days of trash pickup into four days during holiday weeks. I have to say, it seems the only reasonable way to do it. But, that means that this poor ole' FNG had to do a lot of trash-slingin' today. 17 tons worth of trash-slingin'. We did two routes today, to try and free up drivers (and trucks) to cover other routes. While we actually got our two routes done today (with some help from another driver who also had two routes to cover, but his were a little easier), other drivers weren't so fortunate. So, it looks like this entire week is going to be spent trying to catch up from Monday. As if I didn't hate Labor Day enough as it is. I find it hard to understand why a day called "Labor Day" actually involves everyone NOT laboring. Of course, it IS a day celebrating unions, so I guess it makes a little more sense when you look at it that way. Having had to deal with unions in the past (never as a member), I am of the opinion that union workers are just a step above government employees for the amount of work they do. Unionized government employees probably get more sleep at work than they do at home. I probably do more work by 9AM than most union government employees do all week. But that is just my opinion, based on my experiences dealing with both union workers and government workers.

Okay, since I have your attention now, I would like to provide a little Public Service for all the under-appreciated garbage men out there. While I am by no means a seasoned professional in the wild and woolly world of trash pick-up, I have slung enough trash in the past few days to form some opinions as to how you, as the trash-generating public, can make the jobs of the garbage men a little easier, and also get off of their shi'ite list.

First, do NOT cram everything in your house into your trash bags. Most municipalities seem to have a 50lb. limit on trashbags. There is a good reason for this. Those trashbags will have to gain an altitude of at least 3ft. to get into the truck, and trashbags aren't exactly known for their athletic prowess. So, those trashbags will have to be assisted in their low-altitude endeavors by a garbage man. 50lbs. is a weight that I can throw. And I mean THROW! 75lbs. means I have to pick up the bag, and hammer-throw (two-handed throw) into the truck. 100lbs. means I have to actually pick up the bag, and carry it to the truck, and try and place it into the truck. 125lbs. is a whole lotta gruntin' and groanin' to get it into the truck, and there will be some pointed questions about parentage and sexual preferences asked along the way. 150lbs. will get into the truck, but I won't be happy about it, and I can assure you, I won't think too highly of the person who placed that bag out by the curb. 175lbs. just ain't happening. So, don't try and cram everything for the week into one bag. As a Betty Crocker Helpful Hint, try and pick up that bag to a height of 3ft. If your back, or arms, or shoulders feel like they are going to take a vacation on you, then that bag just might be a little too heavy. If you have to drag the bag to the curb, that is a sure sign that you put too much in the bag. Believe it or not, it takes less time for the garbage man to load 4 bags at 50lbs. than 2 bags at 100lbs.

Second, if you have a cat, and have to throw out 50lbs. of cat litter a week, YOU ARE USING TOO MUCH CAT LITTER! Most garbage men seem to hate cats with a passion, due to cat owners (or cat property, I can never remember which) dumping 50lbs. of litter into a trash bag, and then filling the bag up the rest of the way. If you want to know why this pisses us off, just read the first Helpful Hint. I'll give you a clue. If the kitty litter weighs 50lbs., you are already at the 50lbs. limit. Oh, and I am owned by two cats myself, so I can tell you that 50lbs. of litter a week is a touch too much. Actually, it's a lot too much.

Third, when loading your cans, the 50lbs. limit is right out the window. But, don't try and cram 4 50lbs. bags into the can, just to save a trip. 2 50lbs. bags will make that can plenty hard to get into the truck. You don't have to overkill it with more bags. Three 50lbs. bags in a can isn't a picnic to get into the truck, but it can be done. I won't be happy about it, but I will do it. So, please try and keep the weight of the can to a reasonable level. Again, a Helpful Hint is to try and pick that can up 3ft., and then turn it upside down. If you can't even get it off the ground, it could be a sign that the garbage man may not be able to, either. Also, limit the amount of loose trash, and unsealed bags in your cans. Those unsealed bags have a tendency to distribute their contents at random intervals while the vehicle is traveling down the road. Same goes for the loose trash. So, if you see trash flying out of a garbage truck, it is because some knucklehead decided to put unsecured trash into their cans. Another Point to Ponder is cramming stuff into the can. If it doesn't fall into the can on its own, it won't come out of the can on its own. Which can lead to some tiring gyrations by your garbage man to unload that can. While holding the can 3ft in the air (actually, I hold the can 5ft. in the air, but it isn't any harder to hold the can at 5ft. than 3ft.). Upside down. If that can is also overweight, like, say, in the 150lb. range, it can also lead to back, neck, and shoulder injuries to the driver. So, don't cram stuff into the can. If it won't fit in the can on its own, just put it next to the can at the curb.

Fourth, if you choose to follow your community's recycling program, please actually follow it. I would imagine that most municipalities have the same rules for recycling. Namely, plastic, glass, and aluminum can be in one container, together, while paper and cardboard should be bundled together, boxes broken down, no peice larger than 3ft.X 3ft., and not mixed in with the plastic, glass, and aluminum. Also, pizza boxes are NOT, repeat NOT, recyclable. Neither is pottery. The cardboard you used as a drop sheet when you changed your oil isn't either. If you decide to mix your paper with your co-mingle (plastic, glass, and aluminum) and it isn't there when you come home, let me assure you, it didn't get recycled. It went into the trash. Garbage men do NOT have the time to sort through your recyclables to place them in their proper containers. When we have to do between 300 and 600 stops in a day, each minute we spend at each stop having to sort the trash is going to increase the chances that we will have to pull ourselves off of the road, and not finish our route. Even 30 seconds more at each stop can cause us to have to stop working early. (We are bound by DOT regulations that limit our hours worked in a day to 14 hours, and weekly hours to 60) Also, what is the point of placing all your recyclables into a container for pickup, only to have those recyclables just thrown into the trash with all the other non-recyclable stuff?

If, by chance, y'all happen to have true curbside pickup, then most of these rules don't really apply to you. If you do have true curbside pickup, let me know, so I can think about moving to where you live, and pick up the trash there. True curbside pickup is great. Most times, the driver doesn't even have to leave the vehicle. He just extends some arms, picks up the trash, dumps it, and drives off, after placing the containers back where they started. But we can't have that here, due to the age of most of the streets in the towns around here. Oh, well.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

On being a wuss

Okay, sorry for the long absence. After my week of really boring safety classes, I was hurled out into the wild and woolly world of slingin' trash. Ouch. Mega-ouch. On an easy day, I only got to load 6 TONS of trash onto the truck. On a day that was considered a "moderate" day by the more experienced driver, it was 12 TONS of trash. And y'all wanna take a guess as to who got to load all that trash? Since I'm the FNG, I get to do it. I'm not complaining about that, not in the least. I have always been of the opinion that the FNG's do all the work, because the experienced people don't need the practice. BUT, doing all that trash slingin' made for some rather, um, tired nights. Nights where the only thought I had was "Dear Lord, please let me be able to move in an hour." So, I have been very tired and sore for the past week. So, I am sorry. Next week isn't looking any better for me, due to the holiday, but I should be a little more used to it by then, so I hope to be able to post a little more next week.

Now that I am here, and posting, though, I would like to take the opportunity to do a little braggin'. When I was hired for this job, I told the interviewer (the same gentleman who inflicted that week of classes on me, btw) that I knew that I was going to be sore and tired for the first month of work. I've been doing physical labor, and I mean REAL physical labor, for the past eight years or so. So, I am aware that starting a new physical job will involve breaking in new muscles. Muscles which will not be all that thrilled about the new demands I place on them. But, strangely, I haven't actually had the soreness and pain that I would have expected from this job, and that the other person who started with me has been experiencing. All I have been feeling is fatigue and muscles just being asked to do more than I have normally asked them to do. So, I am quite pleased with my lack of pain, in comparison to what I was expecting. My only problem has been with cramping up, and that only happens when I sit for too long. I haven't had any of the pains that my supervisors and co-workers were expecting me to get. The kid (and I use that term to refer to anyone under the age of 25) who started the same day that I did has been complaining about sore fingers, and legs, and arms, and ribs, and back. I have just been tired. I guess I wasn't lyin' when I tell people that this fat-boy is stronger than he looks...

Oh, and thank you. All of you. I know that I haven't been real good about posting this last couple of weeks, and your comments and queries about my lack of posting actually do mean a lot to me. It means that y'all are reading my musings. It also means that I am not the only one who finds my musings to be at least a little interesting. I hope to be able to justify your patience with me in the near future.

Oh, and I am also hoping to get a picture or two of me up on the site in the next month or two. Since I am about to have FAR more expendable cash than I am used to, I might just be able to find the lucre to get a scanner to scan some pictures of me...

On my favorite time of year

My second favorite time of year starts on Thursday, September 9. My favorite time of year started yesterday, September 4. Football time of year. College football time of year first, and then professional football. So, expect to get some football posts from me, once the seasons get into full swing. Oh, and I am a Big 10 fan. A BIG Big 10 fan. So big of a fan, that I have actually refused to enter states because they were in the Big 10, and weren't Wisconsin... so I don't want to hear any crap about how good the Big 12 is, or how good the Pac-10 is, or how good the SEC is. They are all second rate conferences, and wouldn't last two seasons with the Big 10 style of play. Just look at what happened in Happy Valley when the Nittany Lions joined the Big 10... Joe Pa ain't behind the times. He ain't too old. The game hasn't passed him by. He just bit off more than he could chew with the Big 10. When Penn State was an independent, Joe Pa coached one game at a time, for 11 games a year. In the Big 10, you have to coach a 7 game season. The other four games are just warm ups for conference games.

Oh, and I'll get this out of my system. If a service academy plays ANYBODY, I am a fan of that academy. I root for the academies almost every game, with a few important exceptions...such as playing each other. If Army played my Badgers, I would give some serious thought to being an Army fan that day, and it takes a lot for me to root against my Badgers. I'll comment on Army-Navy when the time comes, since it is the only time each year when I say two words I hate to say...and I ain't sayin' 'em today.

For the record, my favorite college teams are, in order:

  1. The Wisconsin Badgers.
  2. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
  3. The Florida State Seminoles.
  4. Whoever plays the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
  5. Whoever plays the Miami Hurricanes.
  6. The Texas Christian Horned Toads.
  7. Whoever plays the Michigan Wolverines.
  8. Any Big 10 Team in a bowl game. This overrides any "whoever plays" rules I might have.

My favorite National Football League teams are, in order:

  1. The Green Bay Packers.
  2. The Atlanta Falcons.
  3. Whoever plays the Dallas Cowboys.
  4. Whoever plays the San Francisco Fourty-Niners.
  5. Whoever plays the Chicago Bears.
  6. Whoever plays the Minnesota Viqueens. (even though most of my fantasy football players are 'Queens...)
  7. Whichever National Football Conference team represents the NFC in the Super Bowl, unless it is one of the afore-mentioned "whoever plays" teams.
  8. The Tennesse Titans. The only American Football Conference team I can even muster the effort to care about.

So, there you have it. My favorite football teams. I can imagine that my list should spark some, um, indignation from other fans, but they are my favorite teams. So, lump it if you don't like it. :-)

On funny stuff.

Thanks to Guy S. for this link. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again, and tell all your friends. The video is in German, though the site is a Scandinavian site. Don't ask, I haven't been able to figure it out myself. I just know enough Deutsch to recognize German when I see it, and that site ain't German. It could be Danish, or Swedish, though.

Oh, the site is here. Send it to your friends. Send it to your neighbors. Send it to your family. It's that funny. A little, um, gross, but funny.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country