Floating into Eternity

So here’s the thing. People float.  They finish high school, or maybe they don’t. They get through college, or never try. They get married. They get divorced. They have babies. Babies grow up and learn to float. All the time; they float. Most of them. Almost all of them. Us, too. We float, right?

You can’t afford a new car, or that trip to Europe, or to buy a house. You can’t save enough money because you don’t earn enough. And you don’t earn enough because your job sucks. It really sucks.

Some people have jobs they love.  Sometimes those jobs pay well.

Yeah, but they just got lucky, like winning the lottery. Right place at the right time. Lightning strikes, but it doesn’t strike me.

Horse hockey. You make your own lightning. But not if you’re happy just floating.

You have to know the right people, you say.

So go out and meet those people. There’s nothing wrong with networking.

I did everything I could, you say. It just isn’t the right time.

That’s a crock. You applied for one job. Or you dropped out of the community college after one semester. It got hard. You quit.

I had a child, I had to quit, you say.

You have a child; you have to show them how to swim in this life. You have to get yourself a better boat. Quitters don’t get boats.

Naw, you say, because only the rich have boats.

So go get rich, quick or slow, but do it if that’s what you want. Get some better tools, or learn some better lines, because these are getting old.

I can’t afford college, or starting my own business, or moving to a better town, or anything else, you say.

You can’t afford to work for minimum wage, or live in a drug-infested neighborhood, or spend your time with all of those people who just want to float. Some of them are drowning and you just watch.

I can’t swim, you say.

You never tried, I say.

I’m drowning, too, you say.

Swimming is about moving your arms and legs. It’s like walking, only wetter.

I don’t like the water, you say.

You’re freaking soaked with it, I say.

Who is in Charge

I was listening to Fresh Air on National Public Radio again last night, as I am wont to do on my long commutes home. And they were interviewing a Roman Catholic bishop who was investigating a group of nuns regarding their national organization and yada yada yada. The politics of it was beyond me, as I am not a member of a church. But this bishop repeated over and over (in different terms each time, because he had a very nice vocabulary), that the Church does what it does because that’s what it has always done.

So I started thinking, do you have a right to believe what you want to believe? The bishop said you can leave and join another religion. He was trying really hard not to bash any other religions. But what if they are all kind of pig-headed? What if they are all stuck in their first century?

I do believe religions are strongly influenced by the culture of the time when they were created. But should they be flexible as times change?

In the time of Abraham, of Pilate, of Martin Luther (even Joseph Smith), women didn’t have the right to vote. Most religions were completely male-dominated. Now women can vote. They can be Prime Minister of England, US Secretary of State, maybe President of the US one day. Should old school religions continue keeping women out of the highest leadership roles?

Maybe women should start their own religion.

I’m curious to read your comments on this.

Do Not Call

So you gave someone your name and number online, or you stopped in to some store and happen to sign up for something. Your name and number got sold 40,000 times and now your phone won’t stop ringing.

You can make it stop. Answer it and tell the person on the other end who you are, and that they are to put you on the Do Not Call list, wish them a good day, and hang up.

This doesn’t usually work on collections calls, but it’s worth a try. It should work on sales solicitors, because they can get huge fines if they call again after that.

Also, get yourself on the state and national do not call lists, as that will reduce the odds that cold callers will bother you.

By telling them to put you on the do not call list, you might be turning away information or an offer you really want. So if you intentionally gave someone your name and number and then start getting calls, um, answer the phone.

How to Get Educated

There was a day when people used to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, make their own way in life, create empires starting with a rock, a stick, and three buttons (they had no duct tape, you see).

While most people who tried this kind of thing failed miserably and died penniless, the ones who succeeded have chapters written about them in our history books.

Even 100 years ago, pretty much the only people in America who got a college education were the children of the very wealthy. No one else could afford to pay for tuition.

But today we have a great equalizer. While it sucks to have $50,000 in student loans to pay back after school, it sucks much more to work in fast food, retail, or hot and noisy factories for 50 years, then die on the job and be replaced before they even drag your carcass away.

Education pays, simply put.  Not everyone with a degree has the self-motivation (or luck) to get a great job. But almost all professional jobs require degrees now. And they tend to pay a lot better than factory jobs.

If you can graduate high school in the United States, you can succeed at your local community college. But you have to have a plan. Don’t party or goof off. And don’t take a bunch of goofy classes. Take the general education classes you can transfer to the big state university or private college. In fact, call the admissions people at the state school or private school and try to get a list of gen ed classes to take at the community college. Get your freshman and sophomore classes cheap this way, then transfer to the school you really want to attend.

If you want someone else to pay for your education, talk to a military recruiter and give your country four years of your life. Make sure you understand all the rules with the GI Bill and other education benefits before you sign up.

Research career fields that pay. And find out where certain jobs are great, and where they aren’t. The US Department of Labor tracks that stuff. You pay for their services whether you want to or not. So use their website to research careers.

You Don’t Have To Answer The Phone Just Because It Rings

On my personal phone, I only pick up when it’s my mom, my sisters, my dad, my wife, my kids or my best friend. Everyone else is invited to leave a voicemail message. If it wasn’t important to them, it isn’t to me. If you aren’t expecting a call, and the number doesn’t ring a bell, let voice mail handle it. What’s left of your privacy should be important to you. Protect it.

Also, please do not give your name or number to anyone online unless you really mean it. If you’re ordering something at Amazon.com, or Sears, or Powell’s Books; that’s fine. If you really want to go to college, or you want to join a club or the National Guard; that’s fine, too. But if you’re not sure who is getting your info, don’t leave it. Go to a site that isn’t asking for it.

The job posting websites are great at this. If you see a job at Career Builder or Monster, try to find out who is offering the job and go directly to their website. Apply there. Tell them Career Builder referred you. Then everyone is happy. If the job posting doesn’t say who is offering the job, do you really want to work for that company?

A lot of people make money selling your name and number online. Don’t make it an easy buck for them.