Monday, March 28, 2011

Best bets for booking a last-minute trip

Just got back from my vacay in NYC! I had a wonderful time there; breaks are always good to take one's mind of this hectic pace of life and rat race world we live in. Anyway, I hope this article helps you plan your travels especially if you're like me who does things like planning for vacations at the last minute. Procrastination: biggest nation in the world!


Sometimes you just have to get away. If your wanderlust gets the better of you and the traveler inside is itching to hit the road, there are several Web sites equipped to help — fast. Whether it be a weekend getaway or a full-blown vacation, the following sites are a few of a growing number that are wholly or in part dedicated to helping you plan a last-minute trip.
For best results, keep an open mind and stay flexible — the cardinal rules of traveling last-minute on the cheap. Check out these five Web sites when the travel bug bites. offers "last second deals" for travel over the upcoming week or two. Note that these deals target weekend travelers; departures are only available between Wednesday and Saturday.

Leaving our destination options open, we plugged in dates for the upcoming weekend (leaving Philadelphia on Friday and returning Sunday). One of the cheapest results was a "Wicked Smaahrt" package in Boston, starting at just $269 per person for airfare, hotel, tax recovery and service fees. A variety of other U.S. cities were also featured for less than $400 per person. The lowest-priced international options were Toronto ("Shiny, Happy People, Eh?") from $451 per person and Mexico City from $551.

The site also offers flight/car, hotel/car and flight/luxury hotel pairings. It's owned and operated by Travelocity.

Lickety Trip Does your perfect escape entail a week in a beach house or a few days holed up in a mountain cabin? If so, consider, which specializes in last-minute vacation rentals. We found an ocean-view condo in St. Augustine that sleeps six, starting at $820 per week (including sales tax and cleaning fee) if you travel within the next two months.

While the bulk of the site's properties are in the U.S., there are more than 1,000 offerings in Europe and hundreds more around the globe. (Consider, for instance, a $482 weekly rate for an apartment in Marrakesh, Morocco, good for travel anytime in the next nine months.) Some listings do appear to be a bit outdated — we found one that hadn't posted new rates since 2007 — but with a little digging you can find some gems. See whether a vacation rental is right for you. covers every aspect of travel, including flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, cruises and even activities. For travel next weekend, we saw a four-star hotel in the Central Park area of New York City from just $164 per night with taxes. (Tack on an "Everything Chocolate" tour for $49 per person.) Less luxurious hotels are offered from $72 per night with taxes.

A couple of caveats: In several searches, the actual price (particularly for hotels) was higher than the initial advertised offer — it all depends on your travel dates. Also, a la Priceline, the site doesn't reveal the name of your hotel until after you book. You will be shown its neighborhood, star rating and amenities.

American Airlines
Every week, American Airlines offers a variety of Net SAAver Weekend Getaway fares, including domestic fares for both this weekend and the next, and international fares for the next weekend. (From the airline's Web site, click on Travel Deals and then Sale Fares.) These deals are a good bet for travelers who simply want a last-minute airfare rather than a full-out package (perhaps you don't need to book lodging because you're staying with a friend, or you'd rather rent an apartment than stay in a hotel).

This week's deals include $67 fares from Chicago to New York, $119 fares from Miami to Houston and $129 fares from Nashville to Los Angeles — all one way based on roundtrip purchase. Taxes are additional. International offerings for the following weekend start at $113 each way (Los Angeles to Los Cabos), and include destinations in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.

American isn't the only airline peddling last-minute fares; check your favorite carrier's Web site to see what's available.
If you have a specific destination in mind, your best bet is often to focus on a Web site that deals with one region specifically. has a last-minute area on its Web site that offers low-cost packages set to expire quickly. However, though you can't hem and haw about whether or not to go, you will often have plenty of time to plan — some packages can be booked for travel several months out.

As of this writing, a five-night package to the Riviera Maya that includes hotel and roundtrip airfare is available from $529 per person, good for travel anywhere between two and six months from now — but it must be booked in the next three days. If you can't wait that long to get away, you can leave this week for a four-night Bahamas getaway from $579, including roundtrip air.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

I just got a call from my bank, this is not good.

So, apparently my credit card was duplicated and used somewhere across the country. Don't worry, I won't be charged anything but it reminds me of this thing I read recently about the real problem with credit cards and thought I'd share it with all of you. What with all the credit debts and money problems in this era of economic instability, I think this article from Time will come in handy. Take your time, read it. It might not be important to you now but it may very well will once you are approached by a credit card company or need a credit card. After all, it's better to know something and not need it than to need the knowledge and not have it. Enjoy!


The Real Problem with Credit Cards: The Cardholders

The problem with the credit-card industry isn't just credit-card companies — it's you too. This week the Senate takes up a bill that would seriously clamp down on some of the industry's most unsavory practices, a piece of legislation that President Obama has said he wants on his desk by the end of the month. The bill, which builds on rules issued by the Federal Reserve Board and other agencies at the end of last year, would do away with interest-rate hikes on existing balances, prohibit issuers from putting customer payments toward lower-rate balances first and abolish the practice of raising a customer's interest rate because he was late paying a bill to someone else.

Credit-card companies, though, may not be the only ones we need to be protected from. Every penny of Americans' nearly $1 trillion in revolving debt started with someone — some individual person — whipping out a piece of plastic and making a decision to use it. We could consider that free will and just call it a day, but there's plenty of reason to believe the story isn't so simple. There are piles of evidence that people are bad decision makers when it comes to how they use credit cards. Even when presented with full and fair information, they often make decisions that are not in their own economic best interest — a reality only partly taken into account by the new rules and pending legislation. (Read a brief history of credit cards.)

Consider the teaser rate. More than a third of consumers pick one credit card over another based on which issuer has the lowest introductory interest rate. And yet people often do so in a way that leaves them with higher finance charges over time. In one study, University of Maryland economists Haiyan Shui and Lawrence Ausubel watched people pick a card with a teaser rate of 4.9% for six months over a card with a teaser rate of 7.9% for 12 months. That would make sense if the people then paid off their balances within six months. But many didn't — the average balance for the year was $2,500, with plenty of folks paying more in interest charges than they would have had they opted for the other card, considering the rates on each spiked to 16%.

It is easy to chalk that up to simple human carelessness. Certain economists, though, have another way of looking at that and similar findings. They see a systematic psychological breakdown — as a species we're just really bad at understanding costs that come later on. Instead, we assign a disproportionate amount of importance to what's immediate and tangible. We lock eyes with that initial low rate and can't look away. (And, yes, credit-card companies get that.)

It's the same thing with that laundry list of fees that come with cards. We think that we're not going to be the ones to go over our credit limit or miss a payment and trigger a penalty rate, so we give those fees little to no weight as we're deciding which card to sign up for — even though they eventually make a big difference in what we pay. "We don't tend to take into account future costs," says Oren Bar-Gill, a law professor at New York University who has studied credit-card contracts and customer behavior. "Consumers don't really know how much they're paying for their credit card." (See 25 people to blame for the financial crisis.)

Once we've got our card in hand, our behavior becomes riddled with irrationalities. In one experiment, Drazen Prelec and Duncan Simester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that people were willing to pay twice as much for basketball tickets when they were using a credit card as opposed to paying cash. Credit-card spending just doesn't feel like real money. In another study, Nicholas Souleles of the University of Pennsylvania and David Gross of the consultancy Compass Lexecon calculated that the typical consumer unnecessarily spends $200 a year in interest payments by keeping a sizable stash of cash in savings or checking while at the same time carrying a credit-card balance. In our heads, the two don't line up.

The seeming solution would be to make clear to consumers exactly how much their credit cards are costing them. In fact, over the past few decades, there has been a massive push in that direction, from the Truth in Lending Act to the "Schumer Box," which gives a one-page summary of credit-card terms in a font size dictated by the Federal Government (it needs to be large enough to catch your attention). Credit-card statements that were a page long in the early 1980s now easily run to 30. That's a lot of information. And yet America's overreliance on consumer debt has happened anyway. Why? Disclosure itself may not be enough considering the well-entrenched forms of human thinking we're dealing with. "There have been a lot of disclosure policies over the past 20 years, but they've had a limited effect on improving the market," says the University of Maryland's Ausubel. "The problem isn't in the availability of information. The problem is in the processing of the information." (Read "How the Banks Plan to Limit Credit-Card Protections.")

What we need to do, that argument continues, is frame information about how much credit cards cost in a way that really drives the point home. In 2007, a group of Senators introduced a bill that would have required credit-card companies to state on each billing statement how long it would take a person to pay off his balance and how much it would cost in principal and interest should he make only the minimum required payment each month. (That's another psychological trip-up: having a low minimum payment printed on the statement in a big font ratchets down our perception of how much we should be paying off, meaning we carry higher balances for longer.) That bill never went anywhere, but a similar provision is in the bill currently before the Senate.

The difference is that we'd be telling people not just about a particular credit card's characteristics but about what those characteristics mean in terms of human behavior. It would be similar to Federal Trade Commission rules that require auto manufacturers to say how many miles per gallon cars get whether a person is driving in the city or in the country. Depending on a person's behavior, the cost changes — and that is made clear right on the sticker. (See pictures of stores that are no more.)

Economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who now heads the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, think we should go even further. In their book Nudge, they sketch a system in which once a year credit-card companies would be required to break out all the fees, interest and other charges customers paid over the past 12 months. That information would come on a person's statement as well as electronically for easier comparison shopping. "By knowing their precise usage and fee payments, customers would get a better sense of what they are paying for," write Thaler and Sunstein. Ostensibly, people would then spend more reasonably. When a new sofa goes from costing $500 to $700 — and the pricing is transparent enough for people to realize that — fewer buy it.

The beauty with that sort of system is that it doesn't impose heavy-handed rules on people who don't need them. After all, 42% of households with credit cards pay off their bills in full each month. Telling people the cost of using their credit cards, in a way they can understand and internalize, levels the playing field and lets each person make an informed, unhindered decision for himself.

Taken from:,8599,1897362,00.html#ixzz1Hk0kyc00


So, whaddya think? Who's really at fault? Lemme know in the comments section!

Where The Light Is: Live in LA

No homo but I love this man. This was a mind-blowing concert, wished I was there!

He's got mad skills, anyone who plays the guitar knows this. Awesome, awesome artist.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Essential Robert Allen Zimmerman

It's been a long, hard week for me. Genuinely hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. For now, I'm just glad the weekend is right around the corner. Sometimes, like one days like this, I come home and feel really crappy, put some music like the one below and just play it out loud on repeat. I hope my neighbors like my music choice heh. I just love the way this song makes me feel and the way it feels, it's really a beautiful work of art.

I think this song can be interpreted in a million and one ways but to me I see it as either a decay or decadence of life or the things in life. On the other hand, I see it also as this guy working hard by day just waiting for night to come so he can get a good night's sleep. And the rest allusion is what I'm getting from now. It soothes and calms me. I guess I really like this song.

Also, since most of you have heard of Rebecca Black's Friday, here is a really good attempt to be Bob Dylan. I present Bob Dylan's cover of Friday (Bob Dylan-esque, it's not actually him!)

That's it this time, have a great weekend! And TGIF!

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Ten Minute Suicide Guide

So you're thinking about committing suicide.

That is, I figure you probably are if you're reading this, judging by the e-mail I get every day.

I obviously can't change your mind about this and I don't particularly see the need to. BUT, a person can screw up a suicide just like anything else and so I offer this guide on how to do it right. Yes, it does matter. This is the act that everyone will remember about you forever and ever. So, before you go rushing into it...

The following is a true story. I knew a girl in High School named Skyler. One day, not long after her 17th birthday, she got fed up with life and swallowed a whole bottle of pills. I would go into why, but we never knew why. All she left behind was a squiggly suicide note, scrawled in a tearful rage on the back of an Arby's receipt.

To make things worse, the devastating last line of her note, "I'M FINISHED WITH YOUR SHIT" was put down so sloppily that her family read it as, "I'M FAMISHED FOR MORE SHIT."

The family thus were led to believe that Skyler suffered from Coprophilia, or a fetish for eating human feces. And since death is no time to judge a person, Skyler's mother and father and three brothers openly embraced what they believed to be their beloved's love affair with poo. Who knows, maybe it was her shame over this unusual habit that pushed her over the edge. So they went public with the note, outing their poop-loving daughter to the community as to shed light on those still persecuted.

Skyler's classmates rallied around her memory, condemning the fecalphobes who they figured had taunted her as she took repeated trips to life's turd buffet. A memorial service was held in our school gym two days later and first up to the podium was little Kim Wittaker (a teammate on Skyler's dance team), who read this poem dedicated to her memory:

with your newfound wings,
you can fly high-ler
you'll have the poop pile of kings
and a golden poop piler
wherever you're at,
you have phat scat sat near the fat scat vat
we miss you

At this point, Principal Clark unveiled an airbrush painting by award-winning art student Cody Gunderson, which would honor Skyler's memory by forever hanging in the main entranceway of the school.

Do you get the point? Skyler didn't plan to fail. She just failed to plan. So before you get down to business, here's three things you need to think through. It won't take long:

1. Where Do You Go From Here?

I had a friend who worked as a cook at Denny's and hated it. On his feet and tossing salads all day. So he decides to rob the place, figuring he can take the money and start a new life. Instead he gets caught and goes to prison, where he winds up doing kitchen duty all day and tossing salads all night.

What I'm trying to say is that depending on where you end up, you could find yourself in the exact same bullshit you're in now. Most of us sit around the campfire late at night and talk about the afterlife as a distant, vague thing but you, if you do the suicide you're actually going to be there in a few minutes. So we have to stop talking about the afterworld as a shadowy hypothetical and start talking in terms of an actual place where you'll actually be before your next Birthday.

There are really only two popular views on the afterlife, the religious view and the nonreligious one. Now I don't know what you believe and I don't particularly care, so we'll just examine each possibility equally.

Afterlife Possibility A: Hell or something like it

If Christians are right, you can expect Hell. The best picture of Hell we have is from Italian author Dante Alighieri, who 700 years ago took a trip through Hell and then wrote an unreadable book about it.

His picture of Hell is about what you'd expect, in that there are different levels of hellness depending on what kind of an asshole you were. If you're surprised that suicides wind up in Hell at all, you have to understand that the bitch about suicide is that under the Christian scheme, it qualifies as murder. Dante's Hell has the suicide cases living in a suburb of murdererville.

This may sound unfair, but remember that murder isn't a horrible crime because of what it does to the murdered. That person is gone, what do they care? No, the crime is against the murdered person's Mom and brother and sister and best friend and all their coworkers and the people he or she owed money to. All of the people who depended on that person or would have depended on them in the future had they been allowed to live, all of the people who will feel the crushing waves of misery and loneliness due to their abrupt absence, they're the victims.

And since suicide creates the same real and emotional devastation as homocide, the two are treated as the same crime. I know, it sucks. But remember you're not being punished for what you did to yourself, but what you did to those around you when you pulled the trigger. That's the thing, suicide has a way of only hurting the people who liked you. The people who hated you will forget your name in a month and, in fact, the evil bastards who tormented you and drove you to this will actually be a little happier with you gone. Suicide is like a bunch of your friends saving up money to buy you a car and then you taking the car and running them over with it.

Dante's Hell

So under this plan you would get the murderer's punishment, which is to be plunged into a river of boiling blood, continually bitten by ravenous eels that secrete fire as venom whilst flying badgers swarm on those who try to swim out. This goes on for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 times infinity and the whole time, this video plays continuously in the background.

There are differing thoughts on the actual torture, of course. Some don't believe in the boiling blood thing and say it is merely a "boiling" pool of carnivorous maggots or a simple boiling sea of shit. But most do think that the suicide cases are continually attacked and tortured by the murderers they're imprisoned with in Hell, because to them you're such an incompetent murderer that the only victim you could find who wouldn't overpower or outwit you was yourself. Thus, suicide is considered to be the same embarrassing insult to murderdom that Uwe Boll is to the world of film.

I'm not saying their harrassment will be worse than what you currently suffer at school or at work or at home, you know your situation better than I do. I'm just saying that they're murderers and there are millions of them and some of them have had several thousand years to be driven insane with rage. They have eternity to work you over and that there are no laws to stop them. Remember that in Hell, the only punishable crime is failing to torture the nearest person weaker than you.

Again, I doubt you think you deserve all that, but you probably don't think you deserve what you got in this life, either, and that certainly didn't change anything. All I can really say in response is that it's difficult to find anyone who was ever punished for anything who actually felt like they deserved it. Also note that Christianity is not a religion for pussies.

You may also point out that your life was your own and it should be a lesser crime to destroy something that belongs to you. But the Christians reasonably point out that you didn't buy or earn or plan or construct your own birth. It happened totally without your knowledge and the subsequent life could have ended at any second if your heart had decided to stop beating (which also happens without your knowledge) or if some heavy object had fallen on you in your sleep. So they say that it's really God who owned your life and for you to claim ownership of it is like saying you own the sunlight that beats down on your face on a hot summer day.

Of course, you can take comfort in knowing that lots of smart people disagree with the above picture of Hell. Many say, for instance, that it's unjust to punish the kind, devout Buddhist right alongside the con artist who steals the life savings from an old woman, leaving her to eat dog food on the street so that he can buy a ticket on a naked pedophile cruise to Bangkok.

Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, though, also believe in an afterlife where some kind justice is carried out, be it through reincarnation or time spent in a spiritual obstacle course. What you learn in each life develops the soul and eventually you graduate. Your problem there is that suicides tend to come back as suicides. They live a couple of decades and then BLAM, they hit the reset switch and start over. So they never progress because they never give themselves a chance to learn or experience anything. If these religions are right then you've probably committed suicide before, in another life. And another, and another. And you'll do the same in the next one.

So be prepared. If whatever afterlife is coming involves justice of some kind, you'll still have to answer for the fact that you ended this life by emotionally devastating all of the people who have helped you up until now, while simultaneously having bailed out on all of the people you were supposed to have helped in your remaining decades of life. From the friend who would have needed you to talk them through a tough time a month from now to the sweet girl who you were supposed to marry six years from now, all will be waiting to kick your ass in the afterworld. And even if you survive that ass-kicking gauntlet, at the end you'll have to look this baby in the eye. He was born with a rare skin-eating disease that makes his flesh harden and tear off in chunks...

...but you'll have time before that happens because that baby is still living, 18 years later, bearing the pain and smearing lotion on his skin every hour to keep it intact and hooking himself to an IV every night so he can survive another 24 hours. Oh, and...

...he competes in triathlons.

But I digress.

Now, if you look around long enough I'm sure you can find a religion where everyone goes to a paradise of some kind after death. The obvious problem with that is that not only will Hitler be there, along with the aforementioned thieving child rapist, but all of the people making your current life a living hell will also be there with you. Forever. And for a personality prone to suicide, the sheer fact that you can't escape this time (you can't kill yourself when you're already dead) turns even this universal Heaven into a kind of Hell - unless you somehow find a way to live with those people.

And if you're figuring that, yes, you can man up and face whatever challenges the next life presents, then you might as well do that now, in this life, and skip the extra step. It's just more efficient that way.

Afterlife Possibility B: The Atheists are right

Nothing. All of us wind up in the same cold, black, non-living state. Sinner, saint, serial killer, your best friend, your worst enemy, your Mom, Osama Bin Laden, Jesus, Jeffrey Dahmer, George W. Bush, Michael Moore, Mel Gibson, child molestors, child molestor victims, all wind up in the same spiritual Terri Schiavo state of mindless vegetation.

Of course there are some scientists who say that consciousness is preserved outside of the body in a sort of Quantum energy state so that the mind can live on. These energies, they speculate, congregate with other energies and, like on Earth, the bad apples are shuttled off to be quarantined in some place where they can't do harm to the good ones.

We can't know what this is like for a suicide such as yourself, but one experimental attempt to communicate with this plane of existence was able to detect the faint sounds of screaming, badgers, and this song playing over and over again. We have no way of knowing the significance of this.

2. Suicide Methods: How are you going to do it?

Consider this one carefully.

There's a Catch-22 here, in that the methods that leave you unconscious (taking pills or sucking car exhaust) also leaves the possibility that someone will find you and rush you to the hospital.

But the methods that leave you wide awake also leave you to experience the last few seconds of absolute bodily terror that comes with the realization that the thing you feared your whole life - death - is upon you, real and ugly and big as balls. Did you see that movie The Ring? Why were you scared of that little girl? What's the worst thing she could do?

Kill you, that's what. This thing, death, this is what had you jumping in your seat at sudden noises in the dark. Fear that something would lunge out and take your life.

I turned on the TV just now, flipped around. Three cop shows, heroes catching murderers so they can't kill again. Jaws playing on TNT. What are those characters desperately running and swimming away from? Death, by shark.

It's embedded in your psyche. So at that final, suicidal moment your body will realize via the full force of all of its adrenaline and nerve impulses that now every fear has suddenly come true right in front of your eyes. The rotted little girl from the well, the guy in the hockey mask with a chainsaw, the childhood shadowy monster from under the bed, all of them are now silly caricatures compared to the actual, real, black thing facing you at the moment you pull the razor. Endless, faceless death.

It's no surprise that roof-jumpers change their minds half way down (and that people avoid jumping as a method for that reason). That is, unless you enjoy mind-blowing terror and the feeling of shitting in your pants in midair like that pooping bungee jumper guy.

So here's some other common suicide methods, with the drawbacks of each:

A. Slitting your wrists

This one simply doesn't work. I've never, ever heard of a person successfully killing himself this way. It's extremely painful and by the time you get to doing the second cut the sight of your own blood spurting everywhere sends up such alarm bells that you find yourself desperately dailing 911 while splattering plasma all over the phone. It's the ultimate in self-aware suicide in that not only can you see yourself dying in vivid splashes of red, but you can feel it. Not recommended.

B. Shooting yourself

Contrary to popular belief, shooting yourself - even with a shotgun - is not a surefire way to die. More than half of the attempted gun suicides wake up in the hospital, missing a chunk of their brain and usually mute and wheelchair-bound for the rest of their lives. Kurt Cobain could just as easily have wound up blowing off the lower half of his face, laying there on the floor sputtering for thirty hours before the mailman came by and called the cops, Kurt living on as a deformed and inarticulate mask of horror for the rest of his days. I wouldn't go this route.

C. Overdose

People think one is the most painless, taking dozens of pain pills or whatever, but your body tends to wait until you're unconscious and then vomits them back up. This leaves you alive, sleeping in a puddle of puke, next to your suicide note which, absent a corresponding suicide, will just sound gay. Obviously not the direction you wanted to go.

D. Hanging

When the Old West used hanging as a method of capital punishment, they had actual experts to do the rig. It's not easy to hang a person quickly and painlessly. What often happens is the neck is broken and you're left to dangle for 30 minutes, twitching and clawing at the rope. Or, the noose breaks and you plunge to the floor, often with a severed upper spinal cord that leaves you a Christopher Reeve paraplegic. This is the last way I would ever try to do it.

E. Throwing yourself in front of a speeding train or car

Obviously this is the worst possible method, as it forces someone else to commit murder against their will. You know that horror movie Saw? That's what the bad guy in that movie did, forced other people to commit murder. So they actually make horror movies about what you'd be doing here, forcing someone else to live with that horrific memory. No, this one doesn't even deserve discussion.

3. Is the timing right?

This is the final question you have to ask yourself. You might feel like a fool if you commited suicide only to find out you had the winning lottery ticket in your pocket (or rather, never find out).

You have to use your own judgement. I can say that I knew a kid named Brad back when I was in school, an aspiring actor. So at one point Brad sells everything he owns so he can move to Los Angeles to find his fame and fortune.

He gets door after door slammed in his face, until, desperate for money, he takes what I consider to be the worst possible job on Earth. He wore a chicken costume to stand on the sidewalk and advertise for a restaurant called El Pollo Loco. Picture it. You had these dreams in your head of hitting it big and being on movie sets and making out with starlets, and there you are, baking in the California sun in this stifling costume that smells like sweat and farts. Eight hours a day. People making snide comments as they pass. Feeling sorry for you. The humiliation must have burned like snake venom.

Sure, he found some success later. But you have to ask yourself, would any success make up for that? Or for what you're going through now? I know Brad Pitt asked himself that very thing.

Now obviously there are things you just can't overcome; some of what you hate will be with you forever. I knew a guy who was the shortest kid in his school - just five feet, two inches tall - and he never got taller. He was a black kid in a white town. And to top it all off, he had this very high, womanly voice and these effeminate gestures that just screamed "gay" every time he walked into a room, blared it like an air raid siren. And he wasn't even gay.

When I point out that he lived in the frozen wasteland of rural Minnesota, you can picture how often this guy got the crap kicked out of him by the racists and the homophobes and pretty much everybody else.

Should he have considered suicide? After all, he was already at an age when he knew he wasn't going to get any taller or whiter and his voice wasn't going to get any manlier. The kid wound up buying a guitar and, after some practice, recorded an album called Ode To My Pecker, which the record company insisted be changed to...

...Purple Rain.

What a Prince.

Life is a tricky thing to predict, that's the problem. Even if you don't have any kind of special talent, you don't know where the ride will to take you. I had an uncle named Jeff, who lived up in the mountains in the Northwest. He was so poor he could barely feed his family. But one day he was out hunting for some food and when he fired his rifle... something black bubbled up from the ground.

It was oil. Black gold. Texas tea. Well, the next thing you know, old Jeff's a millionaire. He moved away so I don't know what came of him after that, but you get the idea.

Not to say that promises of financial riches are the only thing to keep a man going. A wealthy man once came up to me and offered me $100 million dollars, and said all I had to do was let him chop off my legs and, once a day, ram a lit blowtorch up my ass.

I said no, realizing for the first time that, while I didn't have $100 million, I did have something worth more than $100 million to me. Specifically, my legs and an unburnt anus. So if I already own something worth more than $100 million it's silly to worry about the bill collector at the door demanding his few thousand. That's a true story, by the way.

The 50% Rule

This is a good standard to follow. The average person lives to be about 75 years old. So if you're less than 38 and have more than half of your life left, the odds are that, for instance, the funniest joke you'll ever hear in your life is one you haven't heard yet. It's just statistics. Odds are you also haven't yet...

...met the girl you'll love the most;

...met your best friend;

...heard your favorite album;

...started the best job you'll ever have; the best book;

...seen the best movie or played the coolest video game;

...found the hobby you're most interested in;

...had the best sex;

...had the most original, mind-blowing idea;

...met the dumbest person you'll ever meet;

...or seen the stupidest haircut.

You can make your own list. Look around your room, look around your life. If you're less than 38, the sheer odds are that the future holds a more awesome version of everything you see. You've got to weigh all of that shit. You're not really even conscious of your life until age 7 or 8, so to decide it's all bullshit after just ten or fifteen more years is like judging a movie by its poster.

Especially if you haven't had sex yet. I want to make a special point of that one. If you're at an age that you haven't had the sex, you definitely want to put off the suicide thing at least until after that. And if you're some kid with bad skin and are scoffing at me, thinking that the pretty girls don't even look at you, I'm going to let you in on one of society's biggest secrets:

Girls who look like models are never very good in bed. Don't take my word for it. Ask around.

Or, maybe you'll find out for yourself.


Remember Skyler (or "Scatler" as people came to know her afterwards). Don't do this without a note, one that's clear as to exactly who wronged you and why you felt suicide was the only choice and why your loved ones shouldn't feel guilty for it.

Now, obviously you can't judge what you've scrawled while still in a state of suicidal depression. What seems witty and biting will come off bitchy and trite. What seems deep and darkly eloquent will come of as merely goth.

Run your note by a friend first. Read it to them over the phone, get feedback. Give them a chance to suggest revisions. The best suicide notes I've read were created by inviting all of the friends over and reading it to them as a group.

If you don't have friends or at least any with writing talent, you can call a Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433 and read it to them. They deal with dozens of suicides every day and they know a good note when they hear one. They'll shoot you straight.

Take the extra step, it's worth it. You know what you risk otherwise...


Stolen from:

Funny as it may seem, this article has saved me from myself on more than one occasion. I'm posting it up hoping it does the same to you. The world is your oyster, live life as you want to live it. After all, you've only got one shot at this game. Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Life Full of Riches

This material world constantly reminds me of what I don't have. But somehow I still feel wealthy.

It was early December 2003, my first season as a Salvation Army bell ringer, when I was confronted with the question. I was standing just outside the doorway of a Wal-Mart, offering a "thank you" and a smile to each person who dropped a donation into my red kettle. A neatly dressed woman and her young son walked up to the kettle stand. While she searched her purse for some cash, the boy looked up at me. I can still see the confusion and curiosity in his eyes as he asked, "Are you poor?"

"Well," I stammered, trying to think, "I have more than some people, but not as much as others." His mother scolded him for the social no-no, and they hurried off to do their shopping. His question, however, did not leave me.

I've never thought of myself as "poor," but I can't deny certain facts. Every time I fill out my 1040 form, I fall into one of the lowest income brackets. In the past 35 years, I've taken just one vacation trip. My TV is a black-and-white set that someone gave me eight years ago.

Yet I feel nothing more than a passing whim to attain the material things so many other people have. My 1999 car shows the wear and tear of 105,000 miles. But it is still dependable. My apartment is modest, but quiet and relaxing. My clothes are well suited to my work, which is primarily outdoors. My minimal computer needs can be met at the library.

In spite of what I don't have, I don't feel poor. Why? I've enjoyed exceptionally good health for 53 years. It's not just that I've been illness-free, it's that I feel vigorous and spirited. Exercising is actually fun for me. I look forward to long, energizing walks. And I love the "can do" attitude that follows.

I also cherish the gift of creativity. When I write a beautiful line of poetry, or fabricate a joke that tickles someone, I feel rich inside. I'm continually surprised at the insights that come through my writing process. And talking with so many interesting writer friends is one of my main sources of enjoyment.

But there is one vital area of my life where I am not so well off. In a society that spends so much emotional energy on the pursuit of possessions, I feel out of place.

When I was younger, there was an exceptionally interesting person I dated. What was most important to her, she told me, was "what's on the inside." I thought I had found someone special to share my life with. Then I took her to see my apartment. At the time, I lived in a basement efficiency with a few pieces of dated furniture. The only new, comfortable chair was the one at my desk. Shortly after her visit, our relationship went straight south.

The seemingly abrupt change in her priorities was jolting. It remains a most memorable turning point in my personal journey.

In contrast to relationships, stuff just doesn't mean that much to me. I think most people feel the same way—except when there are social consequences to not having particular items. There is a commercial on the radio that begins, "Everybody wants a high-end TV …" The pressure to purchase is real. It may be true that everybody wants a high-end TV. After all, nobody wants to be a nobody.

But I'm happy to live without one. In fact, not being focused on material goods feels quite natural to me. There are many people throughout the world who would consider my lifestyle to be affluent.

Near the end of the year, when I put on the Salvation Army's red apron, something changes inside me. Instead of feeling out of place economically, I begin to feel a genuine sense of belonging. As I ring my bell, people stop to share their personal stories of how much it meant to be helped when they were going through a rough time. People helping people is something I feel deeply connected to. While I'm ringing the bell, complete strangers have brought me hot chocolate, leaving me with a lingering smile. Countless individuals have helped to keep me warm with the sentiments of the season: "Thank you for ringing on such a cold day." "Can I get you a cup of coffee?" "Bless you for your good work." December is the time of year I feel wealthiest.

Over the past four years, I've grown to understand more about myself because of a single question from a curious child. As I've examined what it means to be poor, it has become clear to me what I am most thankful for: both my tangible and my intangible good fortune.


This story from Newsweek felt like a bullet straight to the heart. I'm sure many can relate. Source:


I'm not exactly new to this blogging thing but I guess what I wanted was to started anew. A fresh start away from my past, focusing on the present hoping to mold my future.

Basically I'll just be blogging random musings. Thoughts, ideas, anything intellectual (I hope). And the occasional rant heh. But first, some good music!

Any fans of Debussy? This song makes me feel... good.