Thursday, November 18, 2010

Malcontent = Complainer

I received the November edition of the Public Employees newsletter… I know what you’re thinking… John! How can I get on that mailing list? Sorry, you’ll just have to trust that I will pass the interesting parts onto you, my dear readers.

In and amongst the reminders that our new benefits guide will be mailed to us in the coming weeks and various other interesting articles about our fellow public employees. I followed a link about a guy who weighed 600 lbs and is now 238 lbs… Impressive, huh?

After reading the article and following a link to his blog, he inspired me.


  • In 2006 I weighed over 400 lbs.
  • In 2008 I weighed 265 lbs.
  • In 2010… I’m almost back up to 400 lbs.

After reading Mr. Brown’s article and parts of his blog, I thought of my blog (my former blog). I thought of its name… malcontent (It was called "Being John Malcontent"... I thought it was clever). I thought being a rabble-rouser was a positive thing… not so much anymore. It’s one thing to not be satisfied with the world around you or your lot in life. Its quite another to be satisfied to just whine about it. So I changed the mission of Being John Malcontent (and ultimately changed the name... and the platform). This is represented by the tagline…
it's easy to be a complainer, it takes some cajones to actually do something about it.

I am going to make an effort to change the tone of the posts too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chasing the Dragon

I recently finished reading Don Miller’s To Own A Dragon: Reflections on growing up without a father. Generally, I enjoy Miller’s writing but this book was different; perhaps that is owed to the subject matter. Miller makes the expected correlation that if you didn’t have a father or if yours was emotionally absent or abusive then that is how you will view God.
I have read most of Miller’s other books; Blue Like Jazz, Through Painted Deserts and Searching for God Knows What. I gained some insight for how Miller himself was able to navigate the journey to spiritual enlightenment, but in Dragon, I didn’t have the same feeling upon completion of the book. I felt as hopeless at the end of the book as I did when I started. Miller writes:
Sometimes human life can seem no more meaningful than a fish flopping on a shore. Writhing. Out of its element. And I would love to tell you my spirituality battles this perspective, that the real problem in life is wee believe we are writing when we aren't, but it isn’t true. My spirituality, that Christian spirituality, does not tell me to close my eyes and pretend life is beautiful ant there are not problems to confront. I am told instead, I am out of water, and finding water again will require a different kind of water. I am told something happened a long time ago and you and I and everybody else were washed up on shore. We will have issues.
paul-jan-crouchThe problem I have with Miller’s metaphor is the same one I have with the idea that your Dad is God… my Dad was a sadistic bully and strangely enough, I have found God to be the same. When I was drinking the evangelical Kool-Aid I tried all the magic combinations of walking the talk and speaking the languages (including the mystical AG-ese Bought a Mazda, shoulda bought a Honda). Instead of reaping the blessings of Paul & Jan Crouch, I saw God as a cosmic Mad Scientist and me the laboratory rat. God/Dad watching me race around the maze as he laughed maniacally and moved the cheese, the walls, changing the whole fucking game. Not only did they hook me and land me, but they’re standing by as I flop about on the shore gouging myself on the sharp rocks without having the mercy to either put me out of my misery or tossing me back in the water. And some would say I just need to adjust my sights to LOVE and my world will transform… sorry, Paul & Jan… I’ve already tried that strategy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Keep your eye on the Queen

Craigs2My newest favorite show is Leverage on TNT. The writing is snappy, the actors are great, the premise is engaging and, while it’s set in Boston… its filmed in Oregon. Recently, I watched an episode called “The Three Card Monte Job”. Tom Skerritt played Nate’s (Tim Hutton) father who was a crook when Nate was growing up. Through the episode, there were flashbacks to when Nate was a kid and Dad was trying to teach him to play Three-card Monte. During the lesson’s Dad repeats, “Keep your eye on the Queen”.

Last week there was a big story about how 17 State Attorneys General sent a collective letter to Craisglist founders protesting the adult service ads one can find on the site. Bowing to this immense pressure, Craigslist announced they would no longer post Adult Service ads. If you go to your local Craigslist this morning, you will see that the Adult Service Ads are indeed CENSORED.
  • The problem is that it’s window dressing.
  • Nothing has really changed.
  • If you want some Adult companionship, all you have to do is look above and to the left.

  • They took their eye off the Queen…
  • Because it was never in play. Just like in Three-card Monte.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dream Job

Sometime this week the economists for the State of Oregon will publish the quarterly budget projection. Oregon operates on a biennial budget. That means that the budget we’re operating under in August 2010, and will continue to operate under through June 30, 2011; was determined during the spring of 2009. It’s crazy, but its how we do things in this progressive paradise.

Back in May, the economists announced that there was a $500+ million hole in the budget. Since the states cannot operate under a deficit, the Governor announced a 9% across the board cut. Basically targeting Social Services, other agencies were untouched until they “voluntarily” cut their budgets. Many of the contracted services I work with were cut and there are two open positions in my district which will remain open until… who knows when. Disaster averted.

The economists are saying that there will be ANOTHER $300-500 million hole in the budget when the quarterly budget projection is made this week. Layoffs were avoided last quarter by issuing a hiring freeze and leaving positions open. The Director is talking layoffs this time…

Should I get that pink slip, I’m thinking I should shuck my life of ALL entanglements and become a bartender in a place that Kenny Chesney would sing about…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday Secrets

Sunday Secrets is a blog, turned book, turned speaking tour. We all have secrets we desperately want to get off our chest, but are scared that people would judge or, even worse, that no one would care. The concept is simple, maybe we would tell our secrets if we could do it anonymously. So they have built a movement out of people mailing in postcards with their secrets. Sometimes the secrets are on a sticky note in a copy of the book, or found on a scrap of paper at a speaking event. Basically, getting things off your chest is good for you.
About once a month there’s a secret that could be mine. Perhaps, that is what keeps me from actually participating in the game. Tonight, there was one that could have been written by me. Not just the concept, but the words, sentiment, the emotion and even the penmanship.
I talked to my sister last night and learned that our 72-year old father is out of work… I know he needs someone to care. I know that one of us should open the door and say, “Dad, you can stay here”.
Its hard to muster up that kind of charity for the man who took every chance he could to remind me what a worthless piece of shit I was and to occasionally smack me around like the bitch he thought I was. He’s the last person on earth I turn to when I need help, because for the last 20 years there’s always been a reason not to give it.
I’m sorry, but you never seemed to want me in your home… it’s my turn to return the favor.   

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Remembering Buster

One of my favorite blog-buddies, is having a rough day. Froggy wrote this morning of the grief and loss she is enduring from the passing of The Labrador Girls.

Buster showed up in my life in 1997, he was underweight and had sore feet from walking. I had gone to lunch and when I returned the office was abuzz over this poor bedraggled dog that had appeared. One of the sales-mammals went to the store to get some food for him and there was discussion on what we were going to do with him. For me, there was no question… I stopped at the store on the way home and got doggy shampoo, a brush, a collar just for him and his own dish. He was a popular addition to the family, even though there were some idiosyncrasies we had to get used to. The girls, who were about 3 at the time decided his name would be Buster. I’m thinking that may have just been the first name they could think of shortly after watching Arthur on OPB, naming him after Buster Bunny. I’m thankful Dora had not yet gained popularity.

The Boy (3) & Buster
I took Buster to the vet to make sure he didn’t have a chip and to find out what ailments he had. He didn’t have a chip: but the vet noticed significant scaring on his face and shoulder and healed fractures; none of which had the benefit of veterinary care. I also learned that he only weighed 50 lbs, and he should have weighed around 90 lbs. We got him there, and then some.

I mentioned idiosyncrasies… once he got his vim and vigor back (he slept a lot at first) he dug holes and he RAN. He would not come when his name was called. We figured that was because he hadn’t yet learned his name. But… it never changed (a common issue with Labs). I learned the best way to get his attention was to jingle my keys and start the pickup. Buster would come running and jump in the back of the truck, many times I would stop the engine and take him in, as I wanted when I called him. But I also wanted to reinforce the behavior, so I would take him down to the river for a run. He would fetch the training buoy, telling me his former family had perhaps been hunters. I guessed that he may have been left behind by these hunters when he wouldn’t come when he was called (grin).

Buster was a tremendous member of our family for 8 years. The last couple years weren’t easy for him. He was blind and deaf, possibly due to the frequent ear infections. He had a route he would take out through the house and out to his potty-grounds. If something was moved, it was funny and sad when he would run into that object. The kids got used to being the “guide dog” for Buster. That last trip to the vet was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Even though Jack joined our family in 2008, we still miss Buster.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Show me your papers!

The federal government announced yesterday that it is going to sue the State of Arizona over their ill-conceived immigration law. Here are a few talking points of my own…

  • Something needs to be done. It’s not President Obama’s fault… It’s not President Bush’s fault… It’s not their fault that immigration reform has become a game of pandering to the various special interests. It seems that 60% of voters are going to be pissed over whatever is being discussed. But, doing nothing for so long is getting us to where we are.
  • Pres. Obama says that people who come here and work hard to participate in our economy should be rewarded. Yes, with a simple path to citizenship. These people have been working and paying taxes, social security and greasing the economy without taking anything back should be given a chance to come in and get their papers.
  • Arizona is dead wrong in their efforts to circumvent the federal government by making their own set of immigration laws. Enacting laws to protect what isn’t theirs would be like me pressing charges for someone breaking into my neighbors’ house. Arizona says they are just protecting their communities from criminals. Great, then there should be countless local laws they could be enforcing. If the individual is in the country illegally, then turn them over to INS.
  • I’m sorry, there is no way this isn’t a racist law. They will be targeting the brown people. They will be stopping and hassling the brown people… period. That’s what this is all about… the brown people.. the people who look differently and talk differently.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The State regrets to inform you…

…that you’ll be losing everything very soon.

Most people were focused on getting out of the office for the long Fourth of July weekend when the State of California announced that all 200,000 state workers will have their wages slashed to the current minimum wage, $7.25 if the state budget isn’t passed before the July payroll goes out. Gov. Schwarzenegger says this isn’t a scare tactic, but the only thing they can do in light of a 2003 California Supreme Court judgment that says the State Comptroller has no obligation to pay salaries when there is no budget.

Oregon, like California has taken a slash & burn approach to the state budget. Recently, the Governor of Oregon ordered an “across the board” 9% cut in state services. I cannot imagine what would happen if the cuts had gone so far as to cut my monthly salary down to $1,240!

Just keep digging…

The big news story here in Oregon the Kyron Horman saga. The child disappeared on June 4th after his step-mother reportedly dropped him off to school for a science fair. The case started just like every other missing child story… the parents show up on TV begging for the return of their child. Only in this case, the step-mother never shows. The police say everyone is cooperating… but the step-mother is interviewed numerous times.  Bio-mom flies to Portland to join the media circus… daily coverage on the national morning shows and cover stories in national magazines. The authorities keep saying they believe Kyron is alive, but nobody is saying what gives them that assurance.

Over the last several days Kyron’s dad has filed divorce papers AND a restraining order against the step-mom and bio-mom has been begging her (via TV) to tell them what she knows. This morning… it’s being reported that step-mom has tried put a contract out on dad not just once, but multiple times. She allegedly offered their landscaper “a large sum of money” to kill her husband because she felt he was cheating on her.

Whenever one of these cases pops into our national consciousness, I think back to Susan Smith. That overly dramatic mom who strapped her kids into their car seats and rolled the car into a lake then went on national TV, bawling her eyes out (sans tears), telling us a mysterious black man had carjacked her babies.

I really hope that Kyron is still alive… but the crazy zigs and zags of this case have me thinking he’s strapped into the back of a car in a lake somewhere in NW Oregon or SW Washington.