Turnips & Tranquility

Where has time gone? What in the world am I doing now halfway through my life? Why am I still busting my ass HARD and yet feel I am no better off than I was when I was 25, 35, or 45-years old?

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A dear friend called me the other week to ask how I was getting along. They had not heard from me in a long while—I am no longer on any popular social-media, namely Facebook, and for very good reasons. Remarkably and a bit perplexed by my unknown lostness, I found the concern odd. On the contrary, I am very much present, alive and stuck-in the typical hubbub of American life. Go go GO! Never stop! Never sleep! Make wheel-barrows of money in 28-hours a day! That’s the expected spirit here!

Yet, not being on Facebook, Instagram, Qzone, or Twitter apparently puts me off the grid somehow, or out of touch from civilization somewhere on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean ala Tom Hanks in Cast Away! Should I scream “WILSON!!!? Would 20-year olds even know that reference? Last I checked, my cell phone works perfectly. Live talks on the phone are still around, used, aren’t they? We do still speak face-to-face, correct? In proper English, not strictly acronyms in 30-character texts, yes?

Nevertheless, there was a good reason why my good friend called. The truth is I have indeed been swamped and overwhelmed not just since last Fall 2019, October to be exact, but particularly the entire month of February this year.

I am just trying to squeeze as much money out of everyone else FASTER than they can squeeze more money out of me.
Me, Professor Taboo from “How To Survive in a Cannibalistic Hyper-Capitalist Economy of America.” ®2020.

That was my final description of what my last two years have become after briefly explaining to my friend why I seemed to be lost somewhere out there. We both had a good laugh about my seemingly new, yet unintended mantra. This is no easy bloody race and it never ever ends, especially if one was not born into privilege or great wealth.

One debacle out of several I have found myself in these last 4-6 weeks was trying to speak with an actual LIVE human being both at my cell phone provider (Verizon) and with my bank regarding a second round of recent fraudulent debit/credit card charges in Atlanta, GA, Silverton, Idaho, San Francisco and Berkley, CA. Not only am I a continental traveler, but I seemingly fly in my supersonic Lear-jet from coast to coast and in between. I WISH! That’s the funny part. What is not at all funny is that it is quite difficult to begin speaking right away to an English-speaking human being. My first 5-mins with Verizon, as I satirically remember it:

“Welcome to Verizon Wireless Customer pleasuring. Are you calling about phone # (my cell #). Push 1 if this is correct. Push 2 if this is incorrect. Push 3 if somewhat correct. Push 4 if a little incorrect. Push 5 if you like ham sandwiches. Push 6 if you like green eggs with ham. Push 6½ if you enjoy Dr. Seuss. Push 7 if this menu gives you pleasure. Push 13 if it does not pleasure you. Push 8 if you want to hear all options again slower. Push 9 or 0 if you honestly think [laughing in background proceeds] you’ll get a human being to talk to.

[I make my selection]

“I’m sorry, I did not understand your input.” Then everything robotically returns to the beginning and repeats. I am in an eternal, computerized loop somewhere in Never-never Land.

Most likely this year will be dotted with several family funerals of very close aunts and uncles to Mom and sister. I am now at an age where many of my elderly aunts and uncles—perhaps even one or two of the oldest cousins—when numerous funerals could occur this year and next. One funeral has already taken place last month, a 91 or 92-year old uncle. Another is likely within the next 2-4 months, maybe? That generation and my mother’s and father’s generations typically had large families of five, seven, or in my Mom’s case eleven siblings.

In other personal events I am having to once again search for and find more feasible housing. Whether most Americans are thriving and succeeding in their pursuits of happiness, health, occupational and financial stability and mobility depends mostly on who you speak with… at length. It is a heated controversy right now and for very good reason! Why? Saturation of false and/or misleading information, facts, statistics, and contextual causes and effects. Take a close look at this graphic on affordable Texas housing from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Notice the $40,185 wage figure:

TX Housing Needs 2019

For more extensive details and data on “affordable” housing in Texas, a contradiction in terms I assure you, click here.

Most low-income (non-caucasian?) households in Texas barely make $28k to $38k per year ($14–$18/hr median) combined as couples and they’re lucky if they are afforded decent-to-good healthcare coverage from Texas employers trying everything within their power to avoid hiring full-time, 40-hr/week employees. With part-time employees (<30 hrs/week) health benefits do not have to be provided. In fact, in Texas there are no laws forcing employers to ever offer any health insurance to employees. Most do, however, only if you work 40-60+ hour work weeks; the higher the wages/salary, the more hours they demand expect from you. These are the extreme benefits and perks for businesses and business owners based in Texas, an At-Will labor-law state. This is one big reason why the Red-state of Texas has now become the 2nd fastest growing state in the nation the last 20-25 years. Cheap uneducated labor. It passed Florida last year I believe. Nevertheless, after three rate-hikes in 3-years and as a single man, I can no longer afford paying $1,360/month for my current housing and keep up with the cost-of-living.

On other news topics, I believe I have some 7 or 8 unfinished, Pulitzer Prize winning blog-post drafts each on different topics waiting their completion. Those have been on the dust-bin shelf since August of 2019. I’m lucky I almost finished this post. Several more go back further, one back to 2015 when a then divorcing friend said she’d Guest-post it for me about not divorcing when kids less than 18-years are involved. Hah, she’s now already remarried and never thinks about me anymore. Kind of funny really, how “traditional” marriage does that to people—their social-life shrinks to zilch, nada, near empty when it comes to the single opposite sex. Hmmm, imagine that.

On more news, last week and last Monday I had to spend an excessive amount of time on the phone with our county voter registration office as to why my new “permanent” registered card hadn’t arrived after 5-weeks of reapplying. Apparently my very “official temporary” card was invalid this year. I didn’t realize it had gotten so complicated. No wonder Texas has one of the poorest voter turnout rates some 20-years running! Hell, I’m an educated white man and it has become very challenging for me!

These last 6-weeks I’ve had to deal with my bank twice in less than 6-months on credit/debit card fraudulent charges. Wait a minute! When I started drafting this post last week I already mentioned this didn’t I? However, it does still continue so I too will continue it. HAH!

Keeping my personal and financial information private and protected these days is quickly becoming near impossible in this day and age of super hi-tech. Ah, but as a result, that births and stimulates another derivative industry that is profitable, doesn’t it? More and more businesses or corporations manipulate require all of it to do “better business” with you or provide a VIP service, even if you know it will only be a one-time transaction. Plus, more and more billing tasks or business dealings, contracts, etc, are for the most part entirely online. Gone are the days where you do your business in person, face-to-face. How sad. We are gradually losing our organic, communal-social contact and interactions with each other when facial expressions, hand and body movement, voice tones and inflections were important, critical in some cases, but are now unnecessary impossible on computer or cellphone screens. Am I the only one noticing these swift changes and higher risks? 🤔

I am going to skip over my health and hypertension concerns and developments over the last 10-12 years. Pretend like I never mentioned it. Besides, it would add 500-800 more whiny words to this post. Hahaha. All of you can thank me later for my kindness. (grin and wink)

Hey, I am not irritable! Well, not yet psychotic. No one has dialed 9-1-1 on me for the police. 🤣 On a positive note, I am totally digging Netflix’s Moving Art series by Louie Schwartzberg. Seen any of it? The photography and filming is unreal, vivid, and astonishingly beautiful and soothing! Or as I state in my title:  Tranquility. Check it out if you enjoy spectacular views and relaxing or cultural music on location. Here’s a teaser for season 3:

Well, I’m done. Time is over, gone. I’ve run out of it again. Reality in this great state and nation beckons for my loyal, patriotic servitude in this socioeconomic system for some, but not all. It could be much worse, right? 🤪 I could be fleeing for my life from gangs and drug cartels in Central America! But I’m a 7th-generation Texan-American! Those types are already here! I don’t have to relocate to appreciate what I was born into! Wooohooo! My turnips are shriveling up! 🥳 🇺🇸

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March 9, 2020 Addition — This is a provocative article and streaming series looking into the unethical, exploiting, unscrupulous practices of real estate moguls and firms across the U.S. by The Daily Beast and the Netflix series Dirty Money, season 2 airing Wednesday, March 11th.

The second season of Netflix’s docuseries examines a number of shady financial schemes—including that of “Slumlord Millionaire” (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner. […]

The overarching portrait painted by “Slumlord Millionaire” is of unrepentant real-estate scumbagggery. And somehow, it gets worse! Now ensconced in the White House, Kushner has exploited his undeserved political role to obtain lucrative financial deals for his family, which in turn has made him a figure easily exploited by foreign powers eager to gain leverage over the president. It’s a lose-lose scenario for everyone except Kushner and his cronies. The efforts of Housing Rights Initiative founder Aaron Carr and New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres have sought to end some of Kushner’s more shady tricks, such as renting units in buildings for which he doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy. Yet the man continues to live the untouchable life thanks to his stature and sway, including over dim-bulb tenants that lament their Kushner-created nightmares and yet confess that they voted for Trump because “he takes care of business.”
by Nick Schager, Netflix Takes Aim at Jared Kushner: ‘A Tier-One Predator’ — Preying on the Poor, The Daily Beast, accessed March 9, 2020

Reception and critical reviews have been highly praised for the series so far. These practices, rent-seeking techniques in business sectors, including housing markets, have also been pointed out in highly acclaimed and awarded research and published books Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer and Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University Nancy MacLean.

There are a number of other in-depth documentaries on the subject of public policies and governing, state and federal legislators and executive administrations becoming puppets to multi-million dollar corporations and their Washington D.C. lobbyists. One example is the award-winning investigative documentary Inequality for All by Jacob Kornbluth. What has happened and is happening behind the scenes of private business-sectors mixing with and influencing state/U.S. policies and governing are NOT illusions, conspiracy theories, or Victim’s Complex. They are real and factual.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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15 thoughts on “Turnips & Tranquility

    • Hahaha… I’ve been debating in my head whether to ask you or not. 😄 There’s more than two possibilities as to WHAT a “float tank” might be, in my world or in your world John. Then my imaginative, strange, twisted, unconventional, curious brain always seeking below, around, inside and out all possible meanings of your two words! 🧐 “Float”? “Tank”? Hmmm 🤔 The cogs are turning… ⚙️🔬

      To float means buoyancy, on water. I would absolutely love to sail, drift down to Brasil! Too many fabulous reasons to return, least of which to visit with you! Just need to grab my brass Victorian sextant. Float could also mean upon helium or in a hot-air balloon! Or perhaps John means travel by dromomania or wanderlust? That wouldn’t be the first time someone (professional or otherwise 😉 ) have suggested I go away, by whatever means possible… fast! 😄

      Or perhaps John simply means the rehabilitation tanks for mental, physical, and emotional therapy and recovery. I am totally familiar with Sensory Deprivation (Floating) in the SSC BDSM lifestyle and dungeons. That’s actually an excellent idea if that is what John is cleverly suggesting to me! Hmmm, but I think I’m going to ask anyway… so there’s no confusion whatsoever. 😁

      John, care to elaborate a bit more on this “float tank” advice? Is there a new scientific breakthrough that has occurred I am unaware of… either in the vanilla world or the BDSM world? Do tell.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Very true Pink. At heart and in almost all of my actions, I am predominantly a Minimalist—well, I better clarify that better since Nan is here and has read this entire blog-post with her cunning, productive eyes and mind!—by that I mean Minimalist in what this human being, the Professor, needs to live fully, finding the marrow in all possible ways. To me, that means NOT necessarily conforming to what “society” dictates is marrow, especially Conservative society! HAH!

      As you might imagine Pink, if one isn’t careful and vigilant to his Minimalist principles, it is very easy to slip/fall into that roaring, rushing river that enslaves and consumes/drowns many with its speed, power, and undercurrents. That crazy-train river will ZAP your life-energy dry… or rather with my metaphor here: lost down river to become fish-n-crab food. 😬 “Keeping up with the Joneses” has never interested me in the least. 😄

      Liked by 2 people

      • At what rate did your rent increase? After we moved to France my project has been creating affordable housing. I set myself a target of a cap rate of 1/3rd French minimum wage. I’ve been able to stick to that for almost all the apartments except for three where it’s a bit higher. Did you ever consider buying?

        Liked by 2 people

        • It increased 170% from Dec. 2019 to Feb. 2020 with a notice it will increase again next month in April. Of course 12-16 month lease contracts avoid these sorts of problems, however, a month-to-month was much more suitable for me in 2018 BEFORE all of these corporate changes they’ve made since June 2019.

          https://www.wfaa.com/article/money/rising-rents-the-hottest-spots-for-apartments-in-dallas-fort-worth/287-191ddb83-6b21-4b56-8369-37e10ef89875

          Buying? Absolutely!!! I know all of the various advantages in owning land/property—that damn sure includes all mineral rights as well!—because it only appreciates if well kept/maintained, etc. We did that (the now ex-wife) in 1998, a 1,272 sq ft starter home, 3 bedrm, 2 full baths, in a PRIME location of northwest Dallas County. Unfortunately, 3-yrs later the wife filed for divorce with our 2 small children involved, at the time an 8-yr old daughter and 16-mon old son. For THEIR sake, stability, and future I gave that equity (indirectly) to them, for a nice home to grow up in. For the following 19-yrs the State Attorney General’s Office wreaked havoc on my financial stability, occupations, credit records/scores, and indirectly my long-distance (300+ miles) relationship with my kids. Long story short Pink…

          It is a VERY long, tedious, sometimes frustrating process of repairing/recovering good-to-excellent credit rating for ANY significant future investments like a home & mortgage, particularly when you are single. 🙂

          Now, I must ask why you ask such a specific question? I’m curious! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I like to understand the circumstances that lead people to particular places in life. It’s amazing how a small turn here or there can land people to a completely different result.
            There’s a volatility/haphazardness to life that humans tend to personalise and interpret as our own responsibility or fault – when in reality we’re more like the mechanism in the gyro-compass trying desperately to stay level despite the changes in the landscape.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Pink, you are quite correct—actually profoundly, radically correct!—that every single one of us on this planet are merely mechanisms within various complex machines, ALL functioning byproducts of byproducts, so on and so on, underneath the hood of planet Earth… who herself is a mechanism within our Solar System’s. Thank you kindly for recognizing this. 😉 ❤

              You then, like myself today, by understanding those mechanisms within mechanisms, are derogatorily labeled by some of my family members, and specifically my own 26-yr old daughter now—fairly or unfairly or somewhere in between—as a weak-willed person with a Victim's Complex always belly-aching "whoa is me, whoa is me“… cry me a river sort of attitude. I’ve been told many times that the biggest reasons I’m in hard circumstances is ‘God’s punishments for the wicked non-believers and unrighteous’ or Him allowing Satan to toy with me. That accusation comes from family indoctrinated into Prosperity Theology or Gospel. Very very trendy right now in Texas; e.g. Joel Osteen’s church and split-off churches. Also incredibly WEALTHY churches and church members all awarded “God’s blessings.” 🙄 And yet my daughter and those family members are naive about the endless mechanisms in play now and the ones before them. To borrow an apropos quote from an outstanding 2013 film The Butler, this is the upset mother reprimanding her son’s naive arrogance toward his own father’s history/predicament…

              “Everything you are and everything you have is because of that butler!”Gloria Gaines, The Butler (Lee Daniels)

              Btw Pink, I forgot to mention to you that the biggest reason we (my then wife) were able to get our 1,272 sq ft starter home was because I (with help from my paternal family) put down a $35,000 initial down-payment on its mortgage. Two years later and me not even living in my new house 3-years, she divorced me. Four or five months later after that my employer was audited by the IRS, found guilty of several crimes and was forced to liquidate assets and close down 2-3 of his different businesses, one of which was mine. No job, just like that. Unemployment barely covers half (or less) of your biweekly paycheck. Three months after that when I was unable to pay my monthly child-support payment, everything began snow-balling. The Texas State Attorney General’s Office (renown nationwide as brutal on “dead beat Dads”) piles on late fees, cranks up the delinquent interest-rate (to 27% – 31%?), further exacerbating my quickly rising child-support arrears balance, AND notifies all 3 major credit bureaus in the U.S. my delinquencies every month like banks or lending companies do on mortgages. In 2-4 years time my credit rating (also used in many job interviews by companies to weed-out an overabundancy of applicants) was horrible! That began several other ripple-effects throughout my life. These techniques by government agencies and private financing businesses are equivalent to “Curing headaches by total decapitation.” 😆

              Liked by 1 person

  1. Surprise! I actually read this entire post! I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but some of your topics are simply too long, too heavy, contain too many “links” and “references,” and for me … boring. (Sorry.)

    But this one! A little peak into the life and times of Dwain was a very nice change.

    I do hope you’re able to find suitable digs for less money. Paying beaucoup bucks simply to live under a roof can be tedious.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No apologies necessary Nan. 🙂 As I was telling Pink above, I very much enjoy and am comfortable with my Minimalist lifestyle. However, it made me laugh as I thought about you always patiently reading my Maximist (is that a word? 😄) writing, comments, etc, crammed to the max. They are anything BUT Minimalist! HAH! 😛

      Happy to allow a glimpse into some personal/private stuff. In person I am quite different than what I portray (poorly?) in the blogosphere. Needless to say, my recent events have greatly slowed and often halted my courses of improved writing techniques, skills, and tips. Apologies Nan. Hopefully this won’t last much longer. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow! I feel for ya, bro! Hope things get better soon. I guess the voter registration problem isn’t surprising – you do live in Texas, after all. Keep plugging along. Just remember Bluto’s famous speech from Animal House:

    Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!… It ain’t over now, ’cause when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’!

    Liked by 1 person

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