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.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Renewing My Good, My Joy

Following this weekend’s multiple mass shootings across our nation and what will surely be more in the coming days, or weeks, months, or years as things stand and have stood, our country will be buried alive in body-bags, drown in all the blood and endless tears from families and close friends… I desperately had to find relief. I paused to re-balance. I had to detox and find buoyancy in my music, reminding me that there are still many decent, stable, joyful, helpful, patient, compassionate, understanding, empathetic, peace-making people who do live, love, laugh, and gladly learn… then DO those things I list making this world a safer better place.

To that end, here are my three selected life-renewing songs (out of many) that have returned to me a warm smile and a bigger heart. I’ve also included a previous happy slideshow from a previous blog-post: Amour et Coeurs Jumeaux. Let me know if you like my songs. If you feel the need or urge, share one of your favorite happy feel good songs down in the comments. I think we could all use some.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

Status Update

Several of you might be curious as to my delay in posting the 4th part and conclusion to Black Underworld Inc. I am glad to say Part IV is over three-quarters finished along with much of the conclusion. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately depending on who you are 😉 and your preferred tastes of blog-subjects, I have been beset by several simultaneous life, family, and other related significant occurrences and their ripple-effects. Obviously, these have made several inevitable interruptions and postponement to the finish of this 5-part series and any other blog-posts of late I had intended to tackle, compose, and publish. This is the quick explanation.

Thank you all for your patience, inquiries, concerns, etc. I do foresee a respite of these events and their consequences in the near future. But I can not say with any precision when it might be—as Robert Frost candidly puts it, In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on. And I am not a psychic or fortune-teller. There could very well be more unexpected curve-balls and shenanigans that the infamous Murphy and his law firm of sinister pranksters have in store for me. I hope not.

There are some gremlins too that I know could arrive at my doorstep, through unlocked windows or hatches, tunnels, ventilation pipes, or by phone… IF particular events and circumstances beyond my control went left, right, up, or down and at a particular time. Inopportune times too! Hah! I’d imagine this is exactly what an insurance underwriter wrestles with and considers daily:  damage control and minimization of risk/exposure. Can’t you just hear him punching his adding machine and the clah-clicks tallying totals as the paper-roll moves across the floor?

Bah! So that’s the polite short of it.

I am still here. Until that day or evening of some respite, please do check your new blog notifications for the Professor. I shall return as soon as all my escaped circus animals are located, returned, and settled back to normal… whatever is considered “normal.” 😛

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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