Automatic Manual

I’ve been taking the Greyhound bus to get to Tulsa for my work. They have the crappiest form of transportation known to man the West. They employ the time-honored tradition of both under-maintaining their buses and not having a contingency plan when their buses break down. If you ever need to get somewhere cheap and 3 days later, take the Greyhound.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I am. The Greyhound has a reasonable likelihood of getting you there only 24-36 hours late from what their ticket says, depending on how far you’re going.

In light of this waiting, it’s been a great time to catch up on my reading. I ran across a LinkedIn article that referenced this book. To save you valuable seconds of reading time, the gist of the idea is that it helps yourself and others to create a personal user manual.

Since this is a fun angle to approach self-awareness, and since I created an entire series on the Philosopher Accountant about awareness and am working on a book version of it, I figured I’d try it out. Here’s my result.

Since my brain’s a bit soupy with the whole “writing a book” thing, I think I’ll take a break from that to make a “writing instructions” thing. Here’s how you can make your own instruction manual:

  1. Devote up to an hour to really think about these questions and answer them really honestly with the first things that come to mind:
    • What is your style?
    • When do you like people to approach you and how?
    • What do you value?
    • How do you like people to communicate with you?
    • How do you make decisions?
    • How can people help you?
    • What will you not tolerate in others?
  2. Go back and look at some of the assessments you’ve done in the past like Myers-Briggs (ESFJ or INTP or BARF or whatever), DISC assessment, psychiatric hospitalization reports, that sort of thing. If you need to, find a few more for the fun of it. I used to play around on Queendom when I was a wee lad, but the internet has gobs of these.
  3. Get your friends or coworkers, if you have any, to fill out Step 1’s questions. Bribe them with cookies if they refuse.
  4. Make a final edit to turn it into something cool-looking.
  5. Go back once in a while and revisit it to see if it’s still a valid way to describe yourself.

And you’re done! Share it if you want, or do what I do and archive it for some arbitrary future use that will never happen!


The Closest Thing to an Apology They’ll Ever Get

Shame is a useless feeling. It makes you want to kill yourself, but in a way that you premeditate it to make sure you don’t leave a stain. However, even in the most shame-based cultures, there is a streak of rational behavior that can be adhered to and honored.

Recently, my Hummy Singers and I have been dealing with a particular individual’s obsession with image. As much as it is my practice to publicly express the vapid and silly things that this person in question was doing, we did what most couples probably do and had a long philosophical discussion about it.

Upon analyzing the essence of privacy, we have discovered a few truths:

  1. Privacy is a boundary, though 99% of the time it’s a boundary that is only expressed when crossed. It is technically a form of power, and it is also a form of distrust.
  2. Privacy is a relative cultural boundary. Go to Africa and they’ll tell you how much money they make and how many people depend on it, but Asians have a hard time telling you that they have a job or make money from it.
  3. There are 3 ways to reconcile who should move on a cultural boundary: the one with less power to stay in their ways, the one who asked first or more emphatically, or the one who has more power or patience to carry out the honoring.
  4. Everyone has unspoken boundaries, and it is the responsibility of the other sensitive and aware individuals to honor that boundary.
  5. Therefore, it is our moral duty to honor any unclarified boundaries that we come across.

When I was younger, I had believed that open and honest full disclosure was vitally important in all aspects of living. I have now come to realize that although this is a freaking awesome way to live and love, it is also an egregiously offensive cultural norm for anyone who regards privacy as an important value.

As a barely-professed writer, I tend to talk about people. Many writers have learned the art of using fiction to obscure what they really think about the morons they encounter in their day-to-day life, but I’ve been a bit slow to learn that particular trick, and my parents have suffered tremendously from it. Read the previous blogs all the way to the beginning for proof of that.

In light of this, I offer my direct apology. I screwed up a bit. The direct reason why is because of an over-application of David Allen’s Get Things Done System to all my doings. The dialogue has consistently gone like this:

Them: You did something wrong.

Me: What can I do to change it?

Them: You really hurt our feelings and hurt our reputation.

Me: What actionables can I do to ensure I don’t do it again?

Them: We were really hurt by what you did.

Me: What did I specifically do to hurt you?

Them: You published something about us.

Me: Should I never publish about you again?

Them: Only publish good things.

Me: That’s not going to happen if you want to be part of our personal life.

(long, awkward silence for 3 months)

(again from the top, but with more feeling)

From here on out, I’m no longer posting anything about them. Whatever problems they have can decompose inside their own minds without my desire to help them being part of it.

My theory is that this won’t change anything. At this point, the only desire they seem to express is to regret things really hard instead of the more popular flavors of revenge or reconciliation. However, my family and I would rather be on the up-and-up with the world around us than spiral downward into self-imposed adequacy or forced obscurity. If we’re going to fail, it would serve the world to know better for themselves!

Home Slice

After six very, very, very long weeks of me hearing absolutely everything with the sound of a truck idling in the background, I have finally meandered my way back home for a bit.

Like anyone with a brain that learns things, I’ve come back to my Hoomy Schwoobers and Melon with quite a few changes from when I left.

For one, I now possess about as much dead tissue on my face as on top of it. Possible light hypothyroidism doesn’t do the dome many favors, but it thankfully leaves the face-warmer alone. All I now need is to lose 150 lbs and get a latte to complete the look for a trip to Portland.

Another change is that I’ve developed a new level of self-respect. The first self-respect I ever earned came three years ago when a tirade of uncalled-for verbal abuse led me to think, “I didn’t earn you yelling at me and threatening to strike me, I’m a human being!” The second level came after I ended the contract with UPS and thought “I didn’t do anything to earn being yelled at, I did a good job!” My move from Swift is inspired by the thought “I have proven myself to be a professional driver, so I shouldn’t be treated like a number of the other steering wheel holders hired here.”

For those of you that aren’t in the know, here’s the know. Truck driving is composed of 3 major categories: Over the Road (OTR), Regional, and Local. Local zips back and forth in town with a day cab, and you’ll go home every night. Regional is a bit like Diet OTR, where you travel for a week or so and only a certain number of miles out before reintegrating with the rest of humanity. OTR puts you in a sleeper cab where you’re wandering across the entire country in what appears to be no determinate pattern until they honor your Home Time and you stagger back home after a few weeks, months or years.

Almost everyone in truck driving has to start in OTR. It’s a bit like how every doctor has to do their internship, all military personnel must endure basic, every plumber starts with scrubbing septic tanks, every board member has to get the paddle gauntlet, every MLMer has to lose all their real friends, and so on.

With that said, OTR isn’t all that bad. It’s been a great opportunity for me to write the 25 or so books I want to author, and it is the pathway to a way to keep my family from being dead.

OTR is a lifestyle along with a job, but the good OTR assignments bring you home every 2-3 weeks. Unfortunately, my driver manager was a few steps removed from the ideal definition of “good”.

I had a thriving relationship with her, assuming we redefine the word “thriving”. She and I had quite an impersonal work relationship going on. It helped that the coordinator decided that El Paso would be a good terminal for me to be based out of when I’m near Los Angeles, and the relationship has moved the same way ever since. I didn’t know what she looked like and she knew me by my truck number. It was a match made in purgatory.

There were many tiny slights I endured, most of which I don’t want to share on the basis that people are paid to scour social media for the sake of image management. I will share the final blow that drove me to disgruntlement, though.

I had delivered at La Mirada. I was about 40 miles away from the Jurupa Valley terminal I was getting off at. I was about to head home when I received a load sent to me on the Qualcomm device with an ultimatum of 2 options. I could either pick up 33,000 lbs of freight in Wilmington in downtown Los Angeles at midday and drop off something in Perris, or I could pick up 40,000 lbs of freight in Wilmington in downtown Los Angeles at midday and drop off something in Perris.

Let’s make a tangent here about expectations. In my mind, I treat an expectation as a type of calculation people make, most of the time subconsciously. Low expectations are key to happiness, but what happens when the lowest expectation you can imagine is boldly disregarded? Either lower it even harder or take a stand.

I took a stand, and I can proudly say that I’m leaving next Friday morning to start working at Melton Truck Lines after restraining myself long enough to finish the load and get the truck back to my terminal.

Melton is a much, much smaller company. I’ll be getting a significant pay increase, the company is small enough that I should have an actual relationship with my driver leader, and I had a chance to speak to one of the Melton family directly!

The company does nothing but OTR flatbed, which is far more interesting and far less fat-inducing to me, and they promise Home Time every 3 weeks, and every 2 weeks if we move. We were already planning on moving, but this pretty much seals it.

My Honey Sucklers and I have been debating what state to move to for at least a year, but we have been indecisive due to a lack of money and an uncertainty of whether we prefer hurricanes or tornadoes.

We stumbled onto this US News report amidst the other non-news the “news” seems to dispense these days. After getting all nerded up on it, spreadsheeting it, then cross-referencing it with the other sentiments we had about the racist states Super Deep South and the liberal pansies Northeast, we’ve finally settled on one: Iowa.

Interestingly, Melton’s policy sets their 2/3 week policy splits right down the 35 Interstate, which splits Iowa in half. Therefore, living on the west half of Iowa would give me 3 weeks out at a time OTR and the east half would give me 2 weeks.

This obviously means we are going to move to east Iowa, but it will take a few months of saving to get there. Logistics have a tricky tendency to be invalidated when other things like “facts” and “reality” get in the way, so I’ll spare you the 8,734 details for now.

Though we had been considering moving, we had had one minor reason to stick around: my extended family. That story has come to a resounding end when my Jumpy Cablers and I realized that we can have no relationship with my mother as long as my mother refuses to tell us what her problem is with us.

If you’re confused about this, so are we. My mom has a “problem” with us, but she refuses to talk about this “problem” and does a great job talking about everything but what she feels about us. The reason why she does this is she’s lonely she secretly hates us she’s an alien she secretly longs to be a Walmart greeter we don’t really know at all.

In California, the cost of a house is a bit more than the lifetime cost of raising a child to 18 years old ($250,000-$500,000 depending on how crappy a part of town you’re in). If you’re thinking we’re crazy, I’ll just leave this link here for all the houses you can afford in Iowa with a shopping cart wrangler job.