Belly up

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When things go belly up, especially a car, it makes for a really unpleasant rush to make a decision.

We, meaning my X and I and my teen daughter, purchased a used car back in June. We knew it wasn’t a top notch used car, but we figured it would get us a year (hopefully two) before it would need to be replaced. Since I just talked about making decisions with the X a few days ago, you can imagine that the process of finding and deciding on a car the first time was a chore, to say the least.

Well, now the car has gone belly up and the repairs (at least by the first estimate) appear to be more than the car is worth. I, nor her step-dad, are mechanically inclined when it comes to engines so doing a repair ourselves isn’t really an option. I have friends that could possibly do the work, but since the car is 30 miles from my home that isn’t exactly a “Hey, can you pop over and do some repairs?” kind of situation.

So, we…are back to trying to figure out options. Besides high school, my daughter has a part-time job and is also doing running start (college while still in high school), so the need for her transportation is kinda high as public transit isn’t the greatest or most efficient (or safe?) in the area where she lives. Thus, the options are few.

Ugh! Why are children so expensive….?

Savings

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Anyone else notice that banks, the place that needs money more than anyone to do the business of money, does nothing to encourage savings? I mean, well, they do give it lip service but that doesn’t really count.

A bank is a place to put money, to store it or save it. That’s what they were originally created for. It was safer to have it stored in one place where they could keep it safe and then when people needed it they could go there to get it out.

As time went along, the banks figured out they could make money by loaning out the money people deposited with them and then charging interest on the loan, thus making it a profitable venture to store money.

As banks increased the amount they loaned out, they needed more and more people to “invest” with them and they used the new capital to loan more money out. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, but it makes sense for all involved until…

…until it didn’t make sense to put money in the bank any more.

The interest rate you get from the bank on the money you put in the bank is almost nil. Like far all intents and purposes, it is ZERO. So, what is the benefit of putting money in the bank? Sure, there is the convenience of not carrying around piles of cash or pounds of coins, but is that all?

Banks need capital. You think they’d do something to encourage people to put there money there. I actually deposited a rather large amount of money in a bank that was giving an outstanding rate on CDs (Certificates of Deposit). That’s how a bank should generate capital.

They seem to take for granted that they are just guaranteed business, which maybe they are. Maybe consumers pay no attention at all to the fees or benefits they get from bank to bank, but it does pay to shop around and give business to banks that actually benefit you rather than just use you as an endless supply of currency to feed off of.

We need to be better consumers and actually cause the banks to fight for our money. Let’s bring the competition back and make them beg for our money instead of letting them tell us what we can do with our own money. Make sense?

Who’s with me on this?

X factor

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When you are divorced and have had a child (or children), there is always the “X factor” to consider.

It’s sad to say, but as fathers we very typically get the shaft when it comes to co-parenting the children after a divorce. There is honestly no logical reasoning behind this precedent other than the mother is nearly always seen as “the fittest parent” in these situations, regardless of the circumstances. Even when you can demonstrate, with evidence, that as a father you would be a better choice for the child’s custodial parent it is a costly uphill battle that has no guaranteed outcome.

As I was preparing the visitation calendar for 2020 for my teen daughter, it just brought back all the times where I have had to consider the X factor over the last 14 years. We divorced when she was under two so I have had a lot of considering to do, and still have a little while longer to deal with it. It has been a challenge over the years.

How will the X respond to this? What will the X do now? Is there a way to get the X to be reasonable? How crazy is my X, really? I can’t believe the X responded the way she did. Why does the X have to make everything about herself? Why does the X always make this more challenging than it needs to be? How is the X gonna take this? How can I do this so it doesn’t piss the X off? Now what does the X want? 

If you are a divorced father with children, you likely know all too well what I mean. Or, maybe you are even a mother with a crazy X, you know too. Really this post isn’t so much about fathers (though that is my experience) but about the fact that while raising children as divorced parents you are always having to consider the X factor. Everything you do seems to revolve around the other person even though you aren’t with that person every day.

I am thankful that it has gotten a little better since my daughter is now older and can transport herself, but as I was still working on a visitation calendar (which really hasn’t been followed since my daughter is old enough to have a job now) that I still have to consider the X factor when it comes to my daughter. Just a couple more years that I am REQUIRED to consider the X…then it will only have to be during major life events for my daughter. That will be a whole new chapter of X factor to deal with.

Can anyone else relate to this?

Dear Readers

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My Dear Readers,

As I pause a moment to give thanks for all that I have been given (I have not visited my computer this morning), I have to remember you.

It is because of you that we have created a little community where I have a voice to complain about things in my life, life in general, things in your lives, society, people, culture, smart and stupid people, and the list goes on…etc., etc., etc.

Essentially, you have allowed me to be your voice and in turn it has given me a voice too. I can’t always express the way I feel or think to the people who occupy my everyday life, so this has been an outlet for my frustration (and dare I say, anger?)

Some of what we talk about around here is for real and some of it is just for fun. Either way, it gives me something new to do each day in the hopes of entertaining you…or giving you something to ponder…or maybe giving you a silent fist bump knowing someone out there feels a little like you do.

So, I humbly say thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

With gratitude,

The Chief Grump

In the dark

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There is something disconcerting about entering a dark room. It is one thing when it’s your room and you are familiar with it, it is a totally different thing when the room is completely unfamiliar to you.

Over the weekend I was on an overnight adventure that required a hotel stay. I got to the hotel after dark and checked in. After receiving directions to get to the room, I learned there was an “outer” door that would lead to and entry way where I would find two doors, one for my room and one for another (an A and B room).

When I got to the room, the outer door was locked (as I expected it to be). I unlocked it and started to step in to the entry room and there was no light. None. I expected it would be motion activated, but no such luck. So, the fumbling with full hands and a phone flashlight ensued and I managed to unlock my room door. (As it turns out, someone had switched off the motion activated light.)

Once I got the room door open, the light switches by the door in the room didn’t work. So, now the fumbling Olympics of feeling your way through an unfamiliar, dark room began. I finally located a lamp on the nightstand and turned on a light. As it turns out, someone (probably the last guest) had turned off the lamp that was plugged into a switched outlet, thus making the switch useless to the next guest.

I have to say it is more than a little irritating to check into a hotel and find two lights, either near or in, your room not working. If you know your guests will be checking in after dark (we are in the winter months here, so it gets dark early), why not make sure the lights will work as expected. OR, better yet, why not make sure there is a light on IN THE ROOM when the guest gets there? It’s the little things folks. The little things that impress and make you want to stay there again. Sure, maybe most people wouldn’t notice, but I guarantee there are many who would.

Yeah, but what about the wasted power…blah blah blah…I don’t care. With LED bulbs the power usage would be minute compared to the repeat business it would generate because people notice the little things. Everyone likes to come home to a lit house on a dark night or evening. It’s these types of things that I mention when I leave a rating online.

A hotel should treat it’s guests like they are arriving home.

It’s the little things. Details matter.

Team should be spelled with an “i”

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You know that whole cliche saying about there being no “i” in team?

How many of you have experienced a situation where if there were no “i” in team nothing would get done? I think I see at least a few hands raised…

I know as a teacher I saw it happen all the time in the classroom for group projects. Students are assigned or grouped together to work on a project together and produce something for a grade. Inevitably, I could watch as the groups worked that at least one group wasn’t really functioning and the work would fall on one or two of the students in the group.

Now in the work “regular” work world, I see it happen too and those feelings for people who get stuck doing all the work come back to me. I saw it in the classroom and it would appear that some people never actually grew out of that behavior. Not the one where someone takes over when everyone is trying to work together, but the one where there is always someone in the group that is perfectly happy allowing someone else to bear the load.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the “i” in team most of the time isn’t a good thing. We should be working together and lightening the load for all. However, as adults in our professional settings we have all experienced the times where it is just easier if team was spelled with an “i”. Teim. Or teIm. Whatever, however you want to spell it.

If you want it done right, I am going to have to do it myself. Another cliche saying, but oh so true.

Takers

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I could be wrong, but I think there are really two types of people in this world.

I believe all people fall into two categories: givers and takers.

Which are you? Which do you surround yourself with? Or, maybe better put, which do you attract?

Sometimes it takes a hard evaluation of the people around you to realize where they fall, but also where you fall. I don’t believe that you can only be one, as I believe it is possible to be both.

Ultimately, I have heard (and maybe I believe this) that we should be givers first and always. That can be translated many different ways, but a quick run down will suffice – time, money, compassion, empathy, knowledge, listening, etc.

A taker, on the other hand, is someone who takes and takes and takes and quite literally could probably suck the very last breath out of you if you let them. They are the kind of people who are in constant need of everything – money, possessions, time, attentions, etc.

Honestly I try to be both. I don’t like taking, but I don’t have a problem doing so either. I don’t like giving, but it does have a limit. As such, I try to find a balance between the two and, if I am entirely honest, I like the people in my life to have a pretty good balance the the give and take as well.

Unfortunately, I must attract a lot of takers. There are several people who I can’t seem to let go of….or, can’t get rid of…they cling. They take. They need. They ALWAYS need. Thus, they always WANT and always TAKE.

It’s exhausting. Give. Give, and give some more. I am tired. I am spent.

I don’t want to do it anymore.