Sometimes I Really Feel Like…

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…. I’m taking away somehow from things my son really likes to do by asking him to participate in different projects I get involved with. I enjoy sharing knowledge and working with my son. We often learn unexpected things when we journey into fixing things that are broken or building from scratch or refurbishing something special. I didn’t grow up with an Xbox, a computer, a cell phone, the internet, or cable. I think, selfishly, that kids, not just my own, should experience different things. Not just to learn new skills and gain new experiences, but maybe see if there’s other things they enjoy. To be honest, the best feeling for me to experience is seeing the excitement in his face when he does something on his own or when he played a large part in a project. Anyway, I saw this picture and it made me think how true the statement really is and I wanted to share.

Resume Fodder & Resume Reality

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It has been my experience over the years that one’s resume is often no more than a list of jobs that one has endured year to date, mine included. Resumes do a decent job of painting a picture without any real details. The proof is in the pudding, it rears it’s ugly head when a person is put to task, when one is asked to prove their knowledge of the process, and to be able to work alone, unattended by a trainer or supervisor. We all know that after all the streamlined bullet points that most of our resume is just sugar coated bullshit. I said most people. Now you’re asking, but where are you going with all of this? Fair enough of a question, I actually have someplace I’m taking y’all. I’m taking y’all to work, my work specifically, where one of my tasks is to train new employees in our department how we do things, our culture, and how to do everything we do in the safest manner possible.

This act of training is very natural for me, it has always been easy for me to teach, from people who don’t have a clue to those who come with a little or allot of experience. So, I have worked at the same place now for almost exactly two years, I have been sent to schools as well as trained by other mechanics. As a mechanic we have a daunting task, we are responsible for the maintenance and repairs on a very broad spectrum, from building (facilities) maintenance to equipment maintenance, and everything little thing in between. I’m forbidden from mentioning the company I work for, but to give your imagination a run for its money, here are a few facts.

It all started in 1962 as a small grocery store in small town by a man with an unfilled vision, and is today the biggest retail chain in the world. From hitting the $1 billion mark for the first time in 1979, it generated more than 482 billion dollars in revenue in 2016. This is more than the total revenue of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Facebook combined! Just so you know, these are the top five most valuable brands in the world. Quite remarkable! In fact, this store brand has more revenue than the total GDP of countries like Poland, Belgium, Thailand, UAE, South Africa, Singapore, Portugal, Qatar, New Zealand, Croatia, Iceland, and Mauritius. Speaking of countries, if this store was a country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world. A country with only the stores employees alone would also be more populated than 88 countries in the world. Want more?

Wait, did someone mention employees? Well, this store has many, many of them. With more employees than McDonald’s (1.9 million), it is the biggest private employer in the world. In fact, only two organizations have more employees than this store, the US Army and the Chinese Army. You know you are big when you are competing neck and neck with the biggest armies in the world. Which is why it should be no surprise to see that it employs more people than HP, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Motors, Starbucks, Ford, Walt Disney, Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook AND American Airlines COMBINED. Phew! All of these companies: ~2,199,000 employees. This store: ~2,300,000 employees.

You might be wondering how is all of this even possible. Well, the answer lies in the fact that Americans spend more than 36 million dollars every single hour at this store. That’s 864 million dollars in just one day. Additionally, more than 200 million customers shop every single week in its various stores. In other words, more people shop at this store every week than the entire population of Germany, United Kingdom, and France combined. Of course, this means that it makes some serious profits. How much, you might ask? No less than $21,000 every single minute. This store can literally buy 30 iPhone 6S every minute, burn them and still be in profit. Most of y’all have probably figured it out by now who I work for, but I’m still not saying. However, I don’t actually work in a store, I work in the logistics part, not the retail part. I work in one of thousands of the distribution warehouses that receive and distribute groceries to only a handful, 70 or so stores, in the logistical web of stores seen world wide. Many of the details I listed above were in our latest issue of our monthly magazine. I can’t actually give them full on credit without giving away the name of the company.

Ok, now back to my role. Fortunately for me, I learned my department and it’s role very fast. Fortunately for me, I came into this mechanic’s position bringing years of mechanical experience and knowledge, the results of not having a resume full of fluff, fodder, or bullshit. And if the truth must be told, being a jack of most trades has served me well here because there are many days I have to dip into my resources of experiences to solve problems. But wait, there’s more. It was all a trap, almost like being given a lengthy rope to see if I could hang myself. Actually, becoming the trainer did come with extra money hourly and a little prestige since I’m not just another drone mechanic, I actually have a purpose and people depend on me to do my job to a higher standard. Plus, I really do like and appreciate all the daily challenges. Plus, training keeps my own skills sharp and many times I learn a little more. I never know who I will train or what their personal skillset actually contains. I’m not part of the interview process, but my words speak loudly when I have to do the person’s training review close to the end of a person’s initial 90 day period. Fortunately for me, my words, in a company this size, have merit and do determine if a person will continue in the new career he or she has chosen. A fortunate aspect of who I am and how my personality works is that I can spot bullshit a mile away and read a person in a way that interpretation is not necessarily needed. Luckily for me, the human brain has done most of the work for me because one is either mechanically inclined or one is not mechanically inclined. There is no in between and there is no fudging any of that. Remember, I NEVER see the resume that was used nor was I part of the interview process which got a person hired, I get the person cold. I suppose one could say it’s like a blind date, if it goes well for him or her, we get to move forward.

I will discuss, briefly, the latest candidate, and then let y’all get back to your lives. Sam is 32, the mother of 3 girls, recently divorced, muscle car enthusiast, and out in the workforce for the very first time ever in her life. She came in the shop this past weekend looking like an 80’s Guess Jeans poster girl and my first impression was that I’m screwed, not getting screwed by her, but the girly girly smells real nice types don’t usually like to get grease under their nails. My initial impressions were squashed real fast and I must admit I was more than a little shocked. Task one with Sam was to identify why a fully automatic shrink wrap machine was inoperable. I noticed when we arrived at the machine that it had stopped abruptly in a strange position, generally meaning something broke or seized. By the time I mentioned we need to get out the 16 foot ladder (weighing in at 135 lbs, in my opinion weighing more than her by 15 to 20 lbs) she already had it set up and was climbing to the top. She proceeded to request I hand her a flashlight, a 9/16″ open end wrench, and the 6″ crescent wrench. I’m, okay Sam. After a few minutes of silence except for a little grunting, she explained she had identified the problem, the shaft from the main drive motor which drives the rotation gearbox has either has broken into three pieces. I was also informed that we need to go back to the shop for additional tools and the parts to complete the repair. Due diligence states I have to do my own assessment and inspection, which by the look on her face, was insulting. Not my intention, just protocol.

Needless to say, I merely had to show her access procedures, where to find stuff, how to use our hand held computer, and that it was time for break. By the end of our three day weekend (42 hours) I found myself to not only be amazed but also very respectful to the fact that no matter how the package is wrapped that there is always a surprise inside. We did have time to talk, she explained she’s from a family with 8 boys and she was the baby. She had gotten pregnant in high school and married shortly after graduation to the father. She ended her dream of going to college to become a better mechanic because she liked being a wife and mother. Her ex and her were into restoring and building hot rods, an expensive hobby which is one reason they divorced, the other reason was in an argument about money (which she was not earning) that resulted in him punching her in the mouth in front of their 3 children. In her eyes they were now done.

Anyway, after getting to know Sam I realized she was going to make our team better, and even though there is 11 more weeks of training, I don’t see any problems. Wait, unless of course she doesn’t like the cold, because then she’s screwed because we spend allot of time in the -30 degree freezers. But we will find out that next weekend.

For All My Metalhead Parents Out There!

If this is how you are teaching your children the alphabet then in my book y’all are doing it right! For the rest of you, just watch and take notes!

Struggling With Dueling Personalities

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As my 18 year old daughter pushes through her second semester in college to become a RN she has come face to face with the fact that there are many psychology and sociology classes to attend. She knows the human brain really fascinates me and she knows I have my own out of the normal box way of thinking, meaning I question everything. Because of my age and personal experiences I tend to have a jaded opinion about my fellow human beings. It makes me hard to talk to at times because I don’t want to talk about “how” I got where I stand today because much of my personal past is still unknown to even the closest people in my life. Simply put, there are things I choose not to discuss, its just the way it is.

Anyway, she had a paper to write about personality disorders versus mental disorders. She didn’t know the “line” between them is often blurred, often confused, often misidentified, and very often a person gets mislabeled. Now, she is familiar with bipolar disorder since her brother struggles daily with it. She had to learn the “disorder” in order to live in peace with her brother in a comfortable manner for both of them. She thought she had this paper nailed until she asked me to review it. Its not that she had it all wrong, because she didn’t. But, because the terms are confusing, it makes the information available confusing. Jokingly, I told her that the specialists who study these and other disorders make it difficult to learn for job security, which is both true and false in every conceivable way. So, I gave her my interpretation, whether it helped or not we will have to see when she gets her grade. Below is how I see it.

Sometimes people confuse two mental disorders, only one of which could be referred to as “common” within the population which is bipolar disorder and then schizophrenia. This confusion has largely resulted from the common use of some of these names in popular media, and as short-hand by people referring to someone who is grappling with a mental health issue. The disorders, however, have little in common other than the fact that many who have them are still stigmatized by society.

Bipolar disorder is a fairly common mental disorder compared with the other two disorders. Bipolar disorder is also well-understood and readily treated by a combination of medications and psychotherapy. It is characterized by alternating moods of mania and depression, both of which usually last weeks or even months in most people who have the disorder. People who are manic have a high energy level and often irrational beliefs about the amount of work they can accomplish in a short amount of time. They sometimes take on a million different projects at once and finish none of them. Some people with mania talk at a faster rate and seem to the people around them to be constantly in motion.

After a manic mood, a person with bipolar disorder will often “crash” into a depressive mood, which is characterized by sadness, lethargy, and by a feeling that there’s not much point in doing anything. Problems with sleep occur during both types of mood. Bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally and can be first diagnosed throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar disorder can be challenging to treat because, while a person will take an antidepressant medication to help alleviate a depressed mood, they are less likely to remain on the medications which help reign in the manic mood. Those medications tend to make a person feel “like a zombie” or “emotionless,” which are feelings most people wouldn’t want to experience. So many people with bipolar disorder find it difficult to maintain treatment while in their manic phase. However, most people with bipolar disorder function relatively well in normal society and manage to cope with their mood swings, even if they don’t always keep on their prescribed medications.

However, schizophrenia is less common than bipolar disorder and is usually first diagnosed in a person’s late teens or early to late 20’s. More men than women receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which is characterized by having both hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. Delusions are the belief in something that isn’t true. People who have delusions will continue with their delusions even when shown evidence that contradicts the delusion. That’s because, like hallucinations, delusions are “irrational”, the opposite of logic and reason. Since reason doesn’t apply to someone who has a schizophrenic delusion, arguing with it logically gets a person nowhere.

Schizophrenia is also challenging to treat mainly because people with this disorder don’t function as well in society and have difficulty maintaining the treatment regimen. Such treatment usually involves medications and psychotherapy, but can also involve a day program for people who have more severe or treatment-resistant forms of the disorder.

Because of the nature of the symptoms of schizophrenia, people with this disorder often find it difficult to interact with others, and conduct normal life activities, such as holding down a job. Many people with schizophrenia go off of treatment (sometimes, for instance, because a hallucination may tell them to do so), and end up homeless, without friends or family, and sometimes end their life as a plausible solution.

All people suffer, period. No person wants or needs to be a “lab rat” in the discovery of what ails them mentally. But, society dictates we label and judge others based on our opinions, ignorance, lack of understanding, and the pure lack of compassion. I know what y’all are thinking, and yes I do judge people myself in regards to stupidity and the utter lack of common sense. So, I do live the double standard in many ways, I ride that double edge sword like the evil bitch she is. Its one of many of my personal faults. I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, but in my defense I have read about and studied this topic for many, many years because the subject is very near and dear to me. Nor do I claim that what I have interpreted or formed my own opinion on is dead nuts accurate. As with all things, interpretation is the ultimate devil in the woodpile.

We can learn allot by paying attention and observing our fellow humans, but more often than not we choose to just ignore the people around us. We have become dependent on others to guide us in life for some fucked up reason. However, I do know two doctors, y’all know who you are, who take a different approach to medicine, they look at the person first, not the diagnosis. They take into consideration that we a people with feelings, emotions, and look at alternative ways to treat the various symptoms of life. I appreciate my two friends a great deal, one day I would like to shake the hands of Kris and Rexi because they have taken time out of their lives to include me into their lives. They are both amazing women in my opinion and anyone who has them in their daily lives are truly lucky.

Anyway, in closing, helping my daughter helps me more often than not because it gives me a chance to reevaluate the things I think I know well and opens my mind to the possibilities that there are other options. I get pretty set in my damn ways sometimes but my thirst for knowledge will never be quenched as long as I’m still breathing. My dad once told me, the summer he died, that people prey on the closed mind, they prey because the closed mind is that of a victim, and they begin with the upper hand because they know how defenseless a victim is. Is it true? I still challenge myself to this very day not to be a victim with a closed mind. Do you?

Where Were You @ 2 This Morning?

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Most likely the same place I was, fast asleep in the bed. But, not everyone had that same luxury in the wee hours of this fine Tuesday, some people were up ready to rock and roll to have just a little, over 20,000 square feet, concrete poured into paving for the opening soon Brewingz restaurant here in Kingwood, Texas. I will help you with the math to make it easy for y’all, it took 41 trucks of concrete, one pump truck, and a whole slew of concrete finishers roughly 6 hours to pour it all the way out, then taking roughly another 4 1/2 hours to finish it off. I was the lucky soul, I didn’t arrive until 5 am. People have been asking what I do for a living now and the easiest way for me to put it is I work for the general contractor who is doing this construction. I don’t have anything to do with the day to day operations because at this time I’m training, being exposed to commercial construction, and learning a great deal from a very wise mentor. Anyway, I just wanted to share some pictures after a long day.

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By the way, the Brewingz logo is trademarked and was borrowed from the internet to show familiarity just in case y’all didn’t know what Brewingz is. The other photographs were taken by me personally this morning.

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Get Ready! Get Set! Let’s Gooooooooo!

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Most people would frown upon having to be at work before the ass-crack of dawn, but not me. This is my time, this is the time I know that all the people working 9-5 during the week are still curled up in their beds, dreading leaving the comforts they have been enjoying all night long. But that’s not me, I’m the person who roams my house at 3:30 a.m. because I’m plain done sleeping. Regardless if I must go to work or not, I’m up, I’ve always been like this, it’s just the way I’m wired I guess. As I roamed the job site I’m at this morning, in the calm of the morning, still dark, it gave me time to review this past week. As I have mentioned, I have started back to work luckily. With my back to it, I feel the sun beginning to break through the treeline, beginning to become visible over the horizon, peeking through the trees, over the buildings, and of course the power lines which litter the view in any direction one looks. Of course, me being me, me being the one who still likes to meet the sunrise which greets me good morning, needs to grab a picture.

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I have missed very few sunrises in my lifetime, and I have a feeling that won’t change. As I took the second picture I could hear my mother whispering in my ear not to look directly into the sun, then I clicked the picture. What can one more picture with me looking directly into a sunrise hurt, right? As I walked the job site, earbuds in, metal cranked up, I saw the overall picture with the changes that had occurred after my departure the evening before. In many ways, I felt a sigh of relief come over me, because it meant that quite possibly that there would have to be very little ass scrambling happening since there is a great deal which must happen today, as smooth as humanly possible, so concrete can be poured first thing Monday morning. I had said I would get into my new job after a few days, lucky you, today is that day, however, there still isn’t much to say, because I’m in training, I’m studying, I’m learning, and luckily for me, remembering things I never even knew that I knew. Don’t get me wrong, I’m learning more that my memory has served me, but combining the two elements has been making my transition easier for me. Whether or not that serves true with my new boss I can’t say, I probably have been frustrating the shit out if him with all of my questions, he has allot on his plate, which he just chews up, only spitting back the plate.

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Hopefully I don’t say all of this wrong, but I will try to explain my new job and the eventual role I will be in. I found quickly that much to do with the commercial construction is about a person’s title, not necessarily one’s actual experience. But then you could have my boss, who comes with many, many years of experience, but still has a title. His experience shows through and is reflected in how he works. He offers perfection, and demands one put out their own perfection, he commands this without asking, which is a great way to learn for me personally, to be mentored in a fashion that is well above “industry standard”. He is a rare breed and he makes coming to work interesting. There are many hours of the day that I spend in what I will call ” observation, collection, and absorption”, because that is part of how I learn. What better way to learn, right or wrong, good or bad, people working at their specific trade. Again, luckily for me, I spent many years working for and with my dad, before he retired, as a residential concrete contractor. To my advantage, for a great deal of what is going on right now, I know what they are doing and the concept of what they are trying to accomplish with concrete. I remember the early days when I was part of the crew, the labor, which is how my own dad taught, which was hands on. One does not know the skill of a shovel in the right hands, one cannot respect a person which the shovel if you have never done what he had done. I spent many years with a shovel in my hands, setting forms, moving concrete, and helping turn a once vacant lot into a home for a family to live. Of course, later in life, after the Air Force, my role did change in the family business, where I had the opportunity to get my feet wet on the management and supervisory side of the concrete contractor business. Those lessons, not what I have learned in school, are lessons that serve me well now, because I am being refreshed in how psychology and the stroking of egos is just as important as raising hell when something is all fucked up. I have missed the construction industry since I’ve been out of it, its great to be given the opportunities to get back in the saddle again.

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In the end, for now, I’m just the new white guy on the job site. Learning and absorbing as much as I can comprehend to build myself a knowledge base which can only benefit me as time progresses, nobody wants to have dumb employees now do they. Plus, for the second time in my life now, here is a job which involves so much more than just being a mindless zombie laboror. Eventhough I never minded the mindless monkey work because it was work and it paid the bills on time. As time progresses over the next few months I will update everyone as to how my chosen path is going. In reality, the “job” chose me, as I’m very lucky that for probably the first time in a very long time, I was in the right place at the right time to accept this outstanding opportunity. Plus, bonus here people, financially it couldn’t have been more perfect timing. I owe a debt of gratitude to the man who set it in motion and even more to the man who has given me an opportunity not to just have a job, but to have an outfuckingstanding job. Can y’all tell I’m happy? I can tell, it feels great. And now I close with a great selfie, have a great day.

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The Most Perfect Question Known

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“When I was young I spent my days and nights with so much curiosity. Curiosity because I had the uncontrollable urge to learn, I wanted to understand everything. As a child I wanted to ask the questions that would enhance my knowledge of everything imaginable. Little did I know that I was using tools I was born with to help me grow and function in the world. Many years later now and I see the same thirst of knowledge in my son. Many people consider the question of why to be annoying, I look at it as an opportunity to explore.

But why do we stop asking so many meaningful questions the older we get? Perhaps it’s because we are taught fear and learn self apprehension. I say fear because maybe we’re afraid to find out what the answer would be, afraid to learn the truth. Perhaps finding out would change our path in life, which for some might bring about new opportunities but for others may bring about anguish and anxiety. I don’t suffer this fear, I want to know the answers good or bad. Maybe that is why I see many things and just cut to the chase and ask WTF.

I also say apprehension because to ask questions might bring with it uncertainty of what we may have to face the other side of the question asked. Sometimes we may feel it’s easier for someone else to ask the questions so that we can live our life without having to make decisions. Sometimes, more often than not, it is easier to be the sheeple. Why would people prefer to be lead? Why not cut your own path? Why? Because we are taught this way early on and many continue to live their lives that way. In the end continuing the cycle of ignorance.

Beyond parenting with school aged children I believe school should play a much better part. In school we’re taught to focus on finding the correct answers to questions that have already been asked, rather than ask our own questions. The problem with that is that one can never expand their minds that way. Without expanding our minds, we hold ourselves back, and we do not think out of the box. Someone else’s belief system will also become our belief system, someone else’s version of the right way to live our lives becomes our way, the way we mature into adults is someone else’s ideas, and so the cycle continues for generation after generation after generation.

We need to be allowed the opportunity to set up our own system so that we become individuals in our own right from a very young age. We also need to recognise other people’s beliefs just as we expect them to recognise ours too. When we learn new things we push ourselves beyond what we already know. We also allow ourselves to explore other people’s opinions of what they tell us so why not take the next step and ask why. Only then will we start to view the world differently. Seeing the world from a different point of view gives us more opportunities to be encouraged, to ask more questions so that we continue to challenge ourselves further. We may even make many new connections and many new discoveries along the way.

So I ask everyone here, why ever stop asking why?”

The above represents the first draft of a speech I have been asked to give on the final night of the science camp my son left to attend Monday morning. I was told that parents, teachers, friends, relatives, and the attending 7th and 8th graders would like to hear a motivational speech from me since many of the attending students are current and past Scouts (both Boy and Girl Scouts) that look up to me. Really? 90% of the reasons I am no longer a Scout leader is because I didn’t teach just out of the books, I tried to get the young minds to question what they didn’t understand until they found an answer which satisfied their inner curiosities. But, since I had been in many of their lives for around 14 or more years I saw no reason not to accept the honor. There is one requirement, it must be about learning.

While writing it I found myself thinking about if I were to write it right here what would it sound like? And I see it needs some polishing to say the very least. I can’t speak to this crowd as if they were reading a blog post. So, I will be refining it, tweaking it, and polishing it up so it will be a shiny turd of a speech. So far it has been interesting, I can’t remember writing a speech since high school because anytime I generally speak to a crowd I do it a la carte or very off the cuff. No, I am not nervous about giving the speech and no I don’t regret accepting the challenge, I only worry about dropping an F-Bomb (fuck) or three. I probably won’t bore all of y’all with the refined version other then reporting how it all went when the deed is done.